“It Is Difficult to Know How to Begin”

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The title is a line from a 1945 letter, from Harold Porter to his mother and father in Michigan, describing the situation at the Dachau concentration camp after liberation. The letters that Pfc. Porter, who served as a medic with the 116th Evacuation Hospital, wrote to his parents are now archived at the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

When I did research on Harold Potter it could not find anything aside from the letters and the unit he served with. I did however get a lot of links to Harry Potter

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The irony here is that although JK Rowlings tales of the young wizard are totally fictional, it’s the accounts of Harold Porter which are completely unfathomable and incomprehensible because his words are true and tell a story which no one should have to witness.

Using stationery found in the abandoned office of the camp commandant, Porter found himself at a loss to convey the horrors he encountered at the Dachau concentration camp: boxcars filled with thousands of decomposing bodies, the crematorium surrounded by stacks of nude corpses, and the stacks of carefully sorted clothing belonging to the victims.

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His account is unsparing and graphic, with descriptions of what the bodies looked like, the sounds they made as they were being moved, and their odor. Days after entering the camp, he was still trying to grasp the reality of what he saw.

This is the full contents of the letter. It is a long read but it is just so important that it gets read to ensure no other soldier will ever have to write a letter like that to his parents.

“Dear Mother and Father,

You have, by this time, received a letter mentioning that I am quartered in the concentration camp at Dachau. It is still undecided whether we will be permitted to describe the conditions here, but I’m writing this now to tell you a little, and will mail it later when we are told we can.

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It is difficult to know how to begin. By this time I have recovered from my first emotional shock and am able to write without seeming like a hysterical gibbering idiot. Yet, I know you will hesitate to believe me no matter how objective and factual I try to be. I even find myself trying to deny what I am looking at with my own eyes. Certainly, what I have seen in the past few days will affect my personality for the rest of my life.

We knew a day or two before we moved that we were going to operate in Dachau, and that it was the location of one of the most notorious concentration camps, but while we expected things to be grizzly, I’m sure none of us knew what was coming. It is easy to read about atrocities, but they must be seen before they can be believed. To think that I once scoffed at Valtin’s “Out of the Night” as being preposterous! I’ve seen worse.

sights than any he described.

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The trip south from Ottengen was pleasant enough. We passed through Donauworth and Aichach and as we entered Dachau, the country, with the cottages, river, country estates and Alps in the distance, was almost like a tourist resort. BUt as we came to the center of the city, we met a train with a wrecked engine – about fifty cars long. Every car was loaded with bodies. There must have been thousands of them – all obviously starved to death. This was a shock of the first order, and the odor can best be immagined. But neither the sight nor the odor were anything when compared with what we were still to see.

Marc Coyle reached the camp two days before I did and was a guard so as soon as I got there I looked him up and he took me to the crematory.

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Dead SS troops were scattered around the grounds, but when we reached the furnace house we cam upon a huge stack of corpses piled up like kindling, all nude so that their clothes wouldn’t be wasted by the burning. There were furnaces for burning six bodies at once and on each side of them was a room twenty feet square crammed to the ceiling with more bodies – one big stinking rotten mess. Their faces

purple, their eyes popping, and with a ludicrous grin on each one.

page 3They were nothing but bones & skin.  Coyle had assisted at ten autopsies the day before (wearing a gas mask) on ten bodies selected at random.  Eight of them had advanced T.B., all had Typhus and extreme malnutrition symptoms.  There were both women and children in the stack in addition to the men.

While we were inspecting the place, freed prisoners drove up with wagon loads of corpses removed from the compound proper.  Watching the unloading was horrible.  The bodies squooshed and gurgled as they hit the pile and the odor could almost be seen.

Behind the furnace was the execution chamber, a windowless cell twenty feet square with gas nozzles every few feet across the ceiling.  Outside, in addition to the huge mound of charred bone fragments, were the carefully sorted and stacked clothes of the victims – which obviously numbered in the thousands.  Although I stood there looking at it, I couldn’t believe it.  The realness of the whole mess is just gradually dawning on me, and I doubt if it will ever on you.

There is a rumor circulating with says that the war is over.  It probably is as much as it ever will be.  We’ve all been expecting the end for several days, but were not too excited about it because we know that it does not mean too much as far as our immediate situation is concerned.  There was no celebrating – it’s difficult to celebrate anything with the morbid state we’re in.

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The Pacific theater will not come immediately for this unit; we have around 36,000 potential and eventual patients here.  The end of the work for everyone else is going to be just the beginning for us.

Today was a scorching hot day after several raining cold ones.  The result of the heat on the corpses is impossible to describe, and the situation will probably get worse because their disposal will certainly take time.

My arms are sore from the typhus shot so I’m ending here for the present.  More will follow later.  I have lots to write about now.

 

Love, Harold.”

There were pictures of the camp included with his letter but I believe the letter is compelling enough, I did include 1 picture of the corpses of the SS guards.

The reason why I included that one is because there was a debate and indeed that debate is still ongoing whether the killing of the SS guards could be considered a war crime or not. I don’t think it was, given what the liberators witnessed when they freed the camp, but that is my opinion.

References:

https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/eyewitness/html.php?section=7

https://www.fold3.com/page/1597-letter-from-harold-porter-to-his-parents-describing-dachau-concentration-camp/stories

 

 

 

 

 

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Johannes Heesters-Hitler’s & Goebbel’s buddy

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Johannes Heesters  a very controversial Dutch Tenor and actor, and although I try no to judge people I think it is save to call this man a traitor whose only passions were fame and wealth.

Remembered for his roles in such mid 20th-century German-language films as Viktor und Viktoria and Die Jungfrau auf dem Dach, this Dutch-born actor also performed in numerous stage productions and released two vocal music albums.

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Heesters was born in Amersfoort, Netherlands, the youngest of four sons. His father Jacobus Heesters (1865–1946) was a salesman and his mother Geertruida Jacoba van den Heuvel (1866–1951), a homemaker.

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Heesters was fluent in German from a very early age having lived for several years in the household of a German great uncle from Bavaria. Heesters decided to become an actor and a singer at the age of sixteen and began vocal training. Heesters specialized in Viennese operetta very early in his career, and made his Viennese stage debut in 1934 in Carl Millöcker’s Der Bettelstudent (The Beggar Student).

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Aged 31, Heesters permanently moved to Germany with his wife and daughters in 1935. His signature role was Count Danilo Danilovitch in Franz Lehár’s Die Lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow). His version of Count Danilo’s entrance song, “Da geh’ ich ins Maxim“, was well known. During his time in Germany, he performed for Adolf Hitler and visited the Dachau concentration camp, which made him a controversial figure for many Dutch. Joseph Goebbels placed Heesters on the Gottbegnadeten (God gifted) list as an artist considered crucial to Nazi culture.

Heesters, a charmer like Maurice Chevalier, was the most honored non-German entertainer in Nazi Germany. With such prominent endorsement, he went on to a career in film, stage and television after the war, and went on to win many awards. But only in German-speaking countries did people excuse his opportunistic wartime behavior. In the 1960s he tried to do a show in the Netherlands, as the anti-Nazi Captain Georg van Trapp in “The Sound of Music” and was hooted off the stage.

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Heesters funded the German war machine by donating money to the weapons industry.This helped to make Heesters a very controversial figure in the late 1970s. Heesters always denied these accusations despite reliable evidence.

Heesters befriended several high-ranking Nazi-officials and SS-officers.Hitler is known to have been an avid admirer of his acting skills.

At the same time, he was idolized by the Swingboy subculture, who admired his pale face and combed long black hair and tried to copy his attire. His style contrasted that promoted by the Hitlerjugend.

Heesters met Hitler several times.especially in the role of Count Danilo. Throughout the war Heesters continued to perform for German soldiers in camps and barracks. According to German author Volker Kühn, Heesters did perform for the SS at the Dachau concentration camp.

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Kühn cites as evidence the testimony of a Dachau inmate, Viktor Matejka, who worked for the SS and told Kühn he pulled the curtain when Heesters performed in 1941.According to German writer Jürgen Trimborn  however, the interview with Matejka may not be reliable as it occurred some fifty years after the performance was said to have taken place.

In December 2009, Heesters lost his libel suit against Kühn. While acknowledging having visited the camp, he denied having performed as entertainment for the SS troops.

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In its ruling, the German court did not find that Kühn’s allegations were not true, but rather that too much time had passed for an accurate determination of fact to be made.

Heesters, who died in 2011 at the age of 108, said he was “gullible, credulous and naive”, and had no idea what was going on inside German concentration camps. Then again, he also said Hitler was “a good guy”

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He worked until he was 105  and lived to be 108 years old , at the time of his death, was worth an estimated 65,000,000 dollars, sometimes associating with evil does pay.

IBM and the Holocaust

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Punch cards, also called Hollerith cards after IBM founder Herman Hollerith, were the forerunner of the computers that IBM is famous for today. These cards stored information in holes punched in the rows and columns, which were then “read” by a tabulating machine. The system worked like a player piano . First designed to track people and organize a census, the Hollerith system was later adapted to any tabulation or information task.

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From the first moments of the Hitler regime in 1933, IBM used its exclusive punch card technology and its global monopoly on information technology to organize, systematize, and accelerate Hitler’s anti-Jewish program, step by step facilitating the tightening noose. The punch cards, machinery, training, servicing, and special project work, such as population census and identification, was managed directly by IBM headquarters in New York, and later through its subsidiaries in Germany, known as Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft (DEHOMAG), Poland, Holland, France, Switzerland, and other European countries.

Among the punch cards published are two for the SS, including one for the SS Rassenamt, or Race Office, which specialized in racial selections and coordinated with many other Reich offices. A third card was custom-crafted by IBM for Richard Korherr, a top Nazi statistician and expert in Jewish demographics

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who reported directly to Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler and who also worked with Adolf Eichmann. Himmler and Eichmann were architects of the extermination phase of the Holocaust. All three punch cards bear the proud indicia of IBM’s German subsidiary, DEHOMAG. They illustrate the nature of the end users who relied upon IBM’s information technology.

Iin 1937, with war looming and the world shocked at the increasingly merciless Nazi persecution of the Jews, Hitler bestowed upon Watson a special award — created specifically for the occasion — to honor extraordinary service by a foreigner to the Third Reich.

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The medal, the Order of the German Eagle with Star, bedecked with swastikas, was to be worn on a sash over the heart. Watson returned the medal years later in June 1940 as a reaction to public outrage about the medal during the bombing of Paris. The return of this medal has been used by IBM apologists to show Watson had second thoughts about his alliance with the Reich. But a newly released copy of a subsequent letter dated June 10, 1941, drafted by IBM’s New York office, confirms that IBM headquarters personally directed the activities of its Dutch subsidiary set up in 1940 to identify and liquidate the Jews of Holland. Hence, while IBM engaged in the public relations maneuver of returning the medal, the company was actually quietly expanding its role in Hitler’s Holocaust. Similar subsidiaries, sometimes named as a variant of “Watson Business Machines,” were set up in Poland, Vichy France, and elsewhere on the Continent in cadence with the Nazi takeover of Europe.

Particularly powerful are the released copies of the IBM concentration camp codes. IBM maintained a customer site, known as the Hollerith Department, in virtually every concentration camp to sort or process punch cards and track prisoners.

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The codes show IBM’s numerical designation for various camps. Auschwitz was 001, Buchenwald was 002; Dachau was 003, and so on. Various prisoner types were reduced to IBM numbers, with 3 signifying homosexual, 9 for anti-social, and 12 for Gypsy. The IBM number 8 designated a Jew. Inmate death was also reduced to an IBM digit: 3 represented death by natural causes, 4 by execution, 5 by suicide, and code 6 designated “special treatment” in gas chambers. IBM engineers had to create Hollerith codes to differentiate between a Jew who had been worked to death and one who had been gassed, then print the cards, configure the machines, train the staff, and continuously maintain the fragile systems every two weeks on site in the concentration camps.

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Recently -released photographs show the Hollerith Bunker at Dachau. It housed at least two dozen machines, mainly controlled by the SS.

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The foreboding concrete Hollerith blockhouse, constructed of reinforced concrete and steel, was designed to withstand the most intense Allied aerial bombardment. Those familiar with Nazi bomb-proof shelters will recognize the advanced square-cornered pillbox design reserved for the Reich’s most precious buildings and operations. IBM equipment was among the Reich’s most important weapons, not only in its war against the Jews, but in its general military campaigns and control of railway traffic. Watson personally approved expenditures to add bomb shelters to DEHOMAG installations because the cost was born by the company. Such costs cut into IBM’s profit margin. Watson’s approval was required because he received a one-percent commission on all Nazi business profits.

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Two telling U.S. government memos, now published, are remarkable for their telling irony. The first is a State Department memo, dated December 3, 1941, just four days before the attack on Pearl Harbor and as the Nazis were being openly accused of genocide in Europe. On that day in 1941, IBM’s top attorney, Harrison Chauncey, visited the State Department to express qualms about the company’s extensive involvement with Hitler. The State Department memo recorded that Chauncey feared “that his company may some day be blamed for cooperating with the Germans.”

The second is a Justice Department memo generated during a federal investigation of IBM for trading with the enemy. Economic Warfare Section chief investigator Howard J. Carter prepared the memo for his supervisors describing the company’s collusion with the Hitler regime. Carter wrote: “What Hitler has done to us through his economic warfare, one of our own American corporations has also done … Hence IBM is in a class with the Nazis.” He ended his memo: “The entire world citizenry is hampered by an international monster.”

At a time when the Watson name and the IBM image is being laundered by whiz computers that can answer questions on TV game shows, it is important to remember that Thomas Watson and his corporate behemoth were guilty of genocide. The Treaty on Genocide, Article 2, defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” In Article 3, the treaty states that among the “acts [that] shall be punishable,” are the ones in subsection (e), that is “complicity in genocide.” As for who shall be punished, the Treaty specifies the perpetrators in Article 4: “Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3 shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials, or private individuals.”

In February 2001, an Alien Tort Claims Act claim was filed in U.S. federal court against IBM for allegedly providing the punched card technology that facilitated the Holocaust, and for covering up German IBM subsidiary Dehomag’s activities. In April 2001, the lawsuit was dropped. Lawyers said they feared proceeding with the suit would slow down payments from a special German Holocaust fund created to compensate forced laborers and others who had suffered due to the Nazi persecution. IBM’s German division paid $3 million into the fund, although the corporation made clear that it was not admitting liability with its contribution.

In 2004, the human rights organization Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action (GIRCA) filed suit against IBM in Switzerland. However, the case was dismissed in 2006 due to an expiration of time under the statute of limitations.

Edwin Black is the author of IBM and the Holocaust, The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation, newly released in the Expanded Edition.

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Holocaust – the statistics

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Victims Killed
Jews 5.93 million
Ethnic Poles 2.7–3.2 million
Ukrainian Slavs 3 million
Soviet POWs 2–3 million
Belarusian Slavs 1.5 million
Serbs 300,000–500,000
Disabled 270,000
Romani 90,000–220,000
Freemasons 80,000–200,000
Slovenes 20,000–25,000
Homosexuals 5,000–15,000
Jehovah’s
Witnesses
2,500–5,000
Spanish Republicans 7,000

 

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The numbers are truly staggering but to be honest I don’t really care if 500,000 or 15 million got killed, for these numbers are statistics and that is all they are.But every number has a story.

I am interested in the first victim, for the Holocaust didn’t start at the 6th million Jewish victim but the first.

On April 12th 1933 Arthur Kahn was executed in the newly build concentration camp,Dachau.

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Ernst Goldmann, Rudolf Benario and Erwin Kahn were executed shortly afterwards. This fact is important to determine where the guilt lies for the Holocaust. In April 1933 the world knew about Dachau and although there are no records about it but these executions most have certainly being mentioned in the global media.

Because of the political situation in Germany there were thousands of international reporters working and living in Germany, and they surely most have heard of the executions of 4 Jewish men.

In 1933 Germany wasn’t yet the powerful nation it became in later years and it would have been so easy for the allied governments and the league if nations  to intervene and hold Hitler and his henchmen to account ,for Germany was still bound to the treaty of Versailles. And if they would have read “Mein Kampf” they would have seen the blueprint of things to come

But they failed to do so therefor giving Hitler a cart blanche to do whatever he wanted to do.

Nazi Germany were the executioners but they were empowered by the league of nations.

 

Operation Paperclips-Evil deeds rewarded.

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Operation Paperclip (also Project Paperclip) was the code name for the O.S.S.–U.S. Military rescue of scientists from Nazi Germany, during the terminus and aftermath of World War II. In 1945, the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency was established with direct responsibility for effecting Operation Paperclip.

The primary purpose for Operation Paperclip was for the U.S. to gain a military advantage in the burgeoning Cold War, and later Space Race, between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

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By comparison, the Soviet Union were even more aggressive in recruiting Germans: during Operation Osoaviakhim, Soviet military units forcibly (at gunpoint) recruited 2,000+ German specialists to the Soviet Union during one night.

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The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) established the first secret recruitment program, called Operation Overcast, on July 20, 1945, initially “to assist in shortening the Japanese war and to aid our postwar military research.” The term “Overcast” was the name first given by the German scientists’ family members for the housing camp where they were held in Bavaria.[4] In late summer 1945, the JCS established the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA), a subcommmittee of the Joint Intelligence Community, to directly oversee Operation Overcast and later Operation Paperclip.

The JIOA had one representative of each member agency of the Joint Intelligence Committee: the army’s director of intelligence, the chief of naval intelligence, the assistant chief of Air Staff-2 (air force intelligence), and a representative from the State Department.In November 1945, Operation Overcast was renamed Operation Paperclip by Ordnance Corps (United States Army) officers, who would attach a paperclip to the folders of those rocket experts whom they wished to employ in America. President Truman formally approved Operation Paperclip and expanded it to include one thousand German scientists in a secret directive, circulated on September 3, 1946.

One of the most well-known recruits was Werner von Braun, the technical director at the Peenemunde Army Research Center in Germany.(dresses as civilian in the picture below)

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who was instrumental in developing the lethal V-2 rocket that devastated England during the war.

Peenemünde, Start einer V2

Von Braun and other rocket scientists were brought to Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico, as “War Department Special Employees” to assist the U.S. Army with rocket experimentation. Von Braun later became director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle, which eventually propelled two dozen American astronauts to the Moon.

SS General Hans Kammler, who as an engineer had constructed several concentration camps, including Auschwitz, had a reputation for brutality and had originated the idea of using concentration camp prisoners as slave laborers in the rocket program. Arthur Rudolph, chief engineer of the V-2 rocket factory at Peenemünde, endorsed this idea in April 1943 when a labor shortage developed. More people died building the V-2 rockets than were killed by it as a weapon. Von Braun admitted visiting the plant at Mittelwerk on many occasions, and called conditions at the plant “repulsive”, but claimed never to have witnessed any deaths or beatings, although it had become clear to him by 1944 that deaths had occurred.He denied ever having visited the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp itself, where 20,000 died from illness, beatings, hangings, and intolerable working conditions.

Some prisoners claim von Braun engaged in brutal treatment or approved of it. Guy Morand, a French resistance fighter who was a prisoner in Dora, testified in 1995 that after an apparent sabotage attempt, von Braun ordered a prisoner to be flogged, while Robert Cazabonne, another French prisoner, claimed von Braun stood by as prisoners were hanged by chains suspended by cranes.However, these accounts may have been a case of mistaken identity.Former Buchenwald inmate Adam Cabala claims that von Braun went to the concentration camp to pick slave laborers: “[…] also the German scientists led by Prof. Wernher von Braun were aware of everything daily. As they went along the corridors, they saw the exhaustion of the inmates, their arduous work and their pain. Not one single time did Prof. Wernher von Braun protest against this cruelty and bestiality during his frequent stays at Dora. Even the aspect of corpses did not touch him: On a small area near the ambulance shed, inmates tortured to death by slave labor and the terror of the overseers were piling up daily. But, Prof. Wernher von Braun passed them so close that he was almost touching the corpses.

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Von Braun was not the only one who had actively taken a part in the genocide. Many more of the Operation Paperclip scientist had committed awful crimes, but yet they were rewarded with a comfortable job working for

Every year since 1963, the Space Medicine Association has given out the Hubertus Strughold Award to a top scientist or clinician for outstanding work in aviation medicine.

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In April 1935 the government of Nazi Germany appointed Strughold to serve as the director of the Berlin-based Research Institute for Aviation Medicine, a medical think tank that operated under the auspices of Hermann Göring’s Ministry of Aviation

In October 1942, Strughold attended a medical conference in Nuremberg at which SS physician Sigmund Rascher delivered a presentation outlining various medical experiments he had conducted, in conjunction with the Luftwaffe, in which prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp were used as human test subjects.

 

These experiments included physiological tests during which camp inmates were immersed in freezing water, placed in air pressure chambers and made to endure invasive surgical procedures without anesthetic. Many of the inmates forced to participate died as a result. Various Luftwaffe physicians had participated in the experiments and several of them had close ties to Strughold, both through the Institute for Aviation Medicine and the Luftwaffe Medical Service.

 

 

The Inn keeper who told Hitler to take his business elsewhere.

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Hitler maintained three residences during the Third Reich: the Old Chancellery in Berlin, his Munich apartment, and Haus Wachenfeld (later the Berghof), his mountain home on the Obersalzberg.

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Hitler asked his neighbor Karl Schuster, the owner of the Türken Inn, to sell him a piece of his adjacent property. Schuster refused on the grounds of having six children to consider, but offered to let Hitler use the land for free. Despite having supported the National Socialist Party in its early years and been a member since 1930, as well as having known Hitler personally for a decade, Schuster soon learned that old loyalties meant little to the Führer when someone stood in his way.

A month after Schuster refused Hitler’s request, he found himself accused of having insulted the drunken SA and SS men who frequented his inn. The incident triggered a boycott by the Berchtesgaden chapter of the NSDAP, whose members blocked the hotel’s entrance and forced out guests and staff, leaving only the family within. When they tried to leave, they were hit by rocks and spat upon by the pilgrims waiting near Haus Wachenfeld. Ostensibly because of the threat to his safety, Karl Schuster was taken into “protective custody” and imprisoned for two weeks. Hitler, meanwhile, refused all contact with his neighbor, and as the hotel’s finances went into the red, Schuster sought out buyers. Offers evaporated, however, when local officials made clear that the hotel’s license would not be renewed.

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Finally, Angela Raubal, Hitler’s sister, who lived with him at Haus Wachenfeld—and who was wholly unsympathetic to her neighbor’s plight but aggrieved by how it inconvenienced her—notified Martin Bormann, Hitler’s private secretary and manager of his Obersalzberg properties.

Bormann compelled Schuster to sell him the inn and, after the family left in November 1933, transformed it into barracks for Hitler’s SS bodyguards.

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The Schuster family was forbidden to resettle anywhere near the Berchtesgaden region, and its adult members were compelled to sign an agreement not to speak about having been Hitler’s neighbor or about their expulsion. When Schuster did confess to his new neighbors, who were suspicious of a man who refused to talk about his past, he was again imprisoned.

Around Berchtesgaden, by contrast, talk about the family’s treatment was spreading, prompting the town’s NSDAP chapter in January 1934 to publish a notice in the local newspaper forbidding any further discussion of the Schuster case. Those who disobeyed were warned that they would be labeled enemies of the state and sent to the Dachau concentration camp,including Karl Schuster.

When the Gestapo arrested him,Schuster’s wife laid down in front of the vehicle in an attempt to stop them,but to no avail.

Karl Schuster, a broken man, blamed himself for his family’s ruin and died of a heart attack in 1934, at the age of 58.

The liberation of Dachau

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I have been to Munich several times over the last 15 years or so, and every time I visited the city I planned to take the short train journey to Dachau.But for some bizarre reason I never got there.It was as if fate didn’t want me to go there, maybe it was afraid I wasn’t ready to face the horrors that were committed there, for I am an emotional man,not whiny but emotional.

I can not even fathom the disgust and hate the allied troops must have felt when they liberated the camp this day 72 years ago.

Below are pictures if what they found when they arrived on 29 April 1945, subsequently the same day Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun.

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Polish survivors celebrating the liberation of Dachau

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Walenty Lenarczyk, a prisoner at Dachau, stated that following the camp’s liberation “prisoners swarmed over the wire and grabbed the Americans and lifted them to their shoulders… other prisoners caught the SS men… The first SS man elbowed one or two prisoners out of his way, but the courage of the prisoners mounted, they knocked them down and nobody could see whether they were stomped or what, but they were killed.”Elsewhere in the camp SS men, Kapos and informers were beaten to a pulp with fists, sticks and shovels. There was at least one incident where American troops turned away from two prisoners beating a German guard to death with a shovel, and Lt. Bill Walsh witnessed one such beating.Another soldier witnessed an inmate stomping on an SS trooper’s face until “there wasn’t much left.” When the soldier said to him, “You’ve got a lot of hate in your heart,” he simply nodded.

An American chaplain was told by three young Jewish men, who had left the camp during liberation, that they had beaten to death one of the more sadistic SS guards when they discovered him hiding in a barn and dressed as a peasant.

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Killings by the American soldiers

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Some of the American troops who liberated Dachau were so appalled by conditions at the camp that they machine-gunned at least two groups of captured German guards. It is officially reported that 30 SS guards were killed in this fashion, but conspiracy theorists have alleged that more than 10 times that number were executed by the American liberators.

he German citizens of the town of Dachau were later forced to bury the 9,000 dead inmates found at the camp.

Lt. Col. Felix L. Sparks, a battalion commander of the 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, Seventh United States Army, wrote about the incident. Sparks watched as about 50 German prisoners captured by the 157th Infantry.

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Regiment were confined in an area that had been used for storing coal. The area was partially enclosed by an L-shaped masonry wall about 8 ft (2.4 m) high and next to a hospital. The German POWs were watched over by a machine gun team from Company I. He left those men behind to head towards the center of the camp where there were SS who had not yet surrendered; he had only gone a short distance when he heard a soldier yell, “They’re trying to get away!” and then machine-gun fire coming from the area he had just left. He ran back and kicked a 19-year-old soldier nicknamed “Birdeye” who was manning the machine gun and who had killed about 12 of the prisoners and wounded several more. The gunner, who was crying hysterically, said that the prisoners had tried to escape. Sparks said that he doubted the story; Sparks placed an NCO on the gun before resuming his journey towards the center of the camp.Sparks further stated:

It was the foregoing incident which has given rise to wild claims in various publications that most or all of the German prisoners captured at Dachau were executed. Nothing could be further from the truth. The total number of German guards killed at Dachau during that day most certainly did not exceed fifty, with thirty probably being a more accurate figure. The regimental records for that date indicate that over a thousand German prisoners were brought to the regimental collecting point. Since my task force was leading the regimental attack, almost all the prisoners were taken by the task force, including several hundred from Dachau.

Some historians claim this incident constituted a war crime, I don’t subscribe to that point of view. The allied troops witnessed evil which was beyond anything they had ever witnessed. The slaughter of innocent,mostly civilian lives.

The German citizens of the town of Dachau were later forced to bury the 9,000 dead inmates found at the camp.

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Dr Klaus Schilling

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Klaus Karl Schilling (born 5 July 1871 in Munich, Bavaria, Germany; died 28 May 1946 in Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria, West Germany),  was a German tropical medicine specialist, particularly remembered for his infamous participation in the Nazi human experiments at the Dachau concentration camp during World War II.

Though never a member of the Nazi Party and a recognized researcher before the war, Schilling became notorious as a consequence of his enthusiastic participation in human research under both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. From 1942 to 1945, Schilling’s research of malaria and attempts at fighting it using synthetic drugs resulted in over a thousand cases of human experimentation on camp prisoners.

He was appointed the first-ever director of the tropical medicine division of the Robert Koch Institute in 1905, where he would remain for the subsequent three decades.

Robert Koch-Institut, 1900

Upon retirement from the Robert Koch Institute in 1936, Schilling moved to Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, where he was given the opportunity to conduct immunization experiments on inmates of the psychiatric asylums of Volterra and San Niccolò di Siena.(The Italian authorities were concerned that troops faced malarial outbreaks in the course of the Italo-Ethiopian War.) As Schilling stressed the significance of the research for German interests, the Nazi government of Germany also supported him with a financial grant for his Italian experimentation.

Schilling returned to Germany after a meeting with Leonardo Conti, the Nazis’ Health Chief, in 1941.

Leonardo Conti

By early 1942 he was provided with a special malaria research station at Dachau’s concentration camp by Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS. Despite negative assessments from colleagues, Schilling would remain in charge of the malaria station for the duration of the war.

Although in the 1930s Schilling had stressed the point that malaria research on human subjects could be performed in an entirely harmless fashion, the Dachau subjects included experimentees who were injected with synthetic drugs at doses ranging from high to lethal. Of the more than 1,000 prisoners used in the malaria experiments at Dachau during the war, between 300 and 400 died as a result; among survivors, a substantial number remained permanently damaged afterward.

In the course of the Dachau Trials following the liberation of the camp at the close of the war, Schilling was tried by an American tribunal, with an October 1945 affidavit from Schilling being presented in the proceedings.

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After the war, Dr. Schilling was arrested by the American Army and charged with participating in a “common plan” to violate the Laws and Usages of War because he conducted experiments on Dachau prisoners, using various drugs in an effort to find a cure for malaria. Most of his subjects were young Polish priests whom Dr. Schilling infected by means of mosquitoes from the marshes of Italy and the Crimea, according to author Peter Padfield in his book entitled “Himmler.” The priests were chosen for the experiments because they were not required to work, as were the ordinary prisoners at Dachau.

One of the prosecution witnesses at the trial of the German Major War Criminals at Nuremberg was Dr. Franz Blaha, a Czech medical doctor who was a Communist political prisoner at Dachau.

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An affidavit signed by Dr. Blaha was entered into the main Nuremberg trial. It was marked Document Number 3249-PS, Exhibit USA-663. His comments in this affidavit about Dr. Schilling are quoted below from the transcript of the Nuremberg trial for January 11, 1946

“During my time at Dachau I was familiar with many kinds of medical experiments carried on there on human victims. These persons were never volunteers but were forced to submit to such acts. Malaria experiments on about 1,200 people were conducted by Dr. Klaus Schilling between 1941 and 1945. Schilling was personally ordered by Himmler to conduct these experiments. The victims were either bitten by mosquitoes or given injections of malaria sporozoites taken from mosquitoes. Different kinds of treatment were applied including quinine, pyrifer, neosalvarsan, antipyrin, pyramidon, and a drug called 2516 Behring. I performed autopsies on the bodies of people who died from these malaria experiments. Thirty to 40 died from the malaria itself. Three hundred to four hundred died later from diseases which were fatal because of the physical condition resulting from the malaria attacks. In addition there were deaths resulting from poisoning due to overdoses of neosalvarsan and pyramidon. Dr. Schilling was present at my autopsies on the bodies of his patients.”

The 74-year-old Dr. Schilling was convicted at Dachau and hanged. In his final statement to the court, Dr. Schilling pleaded to have the results of his experiments returned to him so they could be published. During his trial, he tried to justify his crime by saying that his experiments were for the good of mankind.

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The tribunal sentenced Schilling to death by hanging on 13 December 1945. His execution took place at Landsberg Prison in Landsberg am Lech on 28 May 1946.

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Sonderaktion Krakau-the raid on Polish scholars.

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On November 6, 1939, Obersturmbannführer SS Bruno Müller ordered the the faculty of the University of Krakow to assemble for a special lecture to present the Nazis’ vision for Poland.

Upon arrival the faculty found themselves among the first casualties of the systematic deconstruction of the country. Codenamed the Sonderaktion Krakau, the professors were all taken into custody and deported to the concentration camps of Sachsenhausen and Dachau.

A little over two months after the German Invasion of Poland, the Gestapo chief in Kraków SS-Obersturmbannführer Bruno Müller,bruno_muller_ss-obersturmbannfuhrer

commanded Jagiellonian University rector Professor Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński to require all professors to attend his lecture about German plans for Polish education.

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The rector agreed and sent an invitation throughout the university for a meeting scheduled at the administrative centre building in the Collegium Novum . On November 6, 1939 at the lecture room no. 56 (or 66, sources vary) at noon, all academics and their guests gathered; among them, 105 professors and 33 lecturers from Jagiellonian University (UJ), 34 professors and doctors from University of Technology (AGH) some of whom attended a meeting in a different room, 4 from University of Economics (AE) and 4 from Lublin and Wilno.

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The academics filled the hall but no lecture on education was conducted. Instead, they were told by Müller that the university did not have permission to start a new academic year , and that Poles are hostile toward German science, and act in bad faith. They were arrested on the spot by armed police, frisked and escorted out. Some senior professors were kicked, slapped in the face and hit with rifle butts. Additional 13–15 university employees and students who were onsite were also arrested, as well as the President of Kraków, Dr Stanisław Klimecki who was apprehended at home that afternoon.

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All of them, 184 persons in total, were transported first to prison at Montelupich street, then to barracks at Mazowiecka, and – three days later – to a detention center in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland), where they spent 18 days split between two prison facilities: the detention centre (Untersuchungsgefängnis, at the Świebodzka 1 Street), and the Strafgefängnis penal complex at Kleczkowska 35. The Gestapo were unprepared for such a large transfer of prisoners, and awaited permission to send them to Buchenwald concentration camp which was filled to capacity. As a result, on November 27, 1939 at night, they were loaded onto a train to Sachsenhausen concentration camp located on the other side of Berlin, and in March 1940, sent further to Dachau concentration camp near Munich after a new batch of younger academics taken prisoner arrived.

Following loud international protest by prominent Italians including Benito Mussolini and the Vatican,101 professors who were older than 40 were released from Sachsenhausen on February 8, 1940. Additional academics were released later. Many elderly professors did not survive the roll-calls held twice a day in snow and rain, and the grim living conditions in the camp where dysentery was common and warm clothes were rare. Twelve died in the camp within three months, and another five within days of release. Among the notable professors who died in the camp were Ignacy Chrzanowski (UJ; Jan 19, 1940), Stanisław Estreicher (UJ; Dec 29, 1939), Kazimierz Kostanecki ( Jan 11, 1940), Antoni Meyer (AGH; Dec 24, 1939), and Michał Siedlecki (Jan 11, 1940, after roll-call). In March 1940 the able prisoners from Kraków who remained alive were sent to Dachau concentration camp and most of them, but not all, released in January 1941 on intervention.

Many of those who went through Sonderaktion Krakau and the internment, in 1942 formed an underground university in defiance of the German punitive edicts. Among the 800 students of their underground college was Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II, taught by prof. Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński among others.

John-Paul Ii In Zaire In August, 1985.

Today there is a plaque commemorating the events of Sonderaktion Krakau in front of Collegium Novum in Kraków. Every November 6, black flags are hung outside all Jagiellonian University buildings, and the Rector of the University lays wreaths to honor those who suffered.

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Hubertus Strughold-“Father of Space Medicine”,but at what cost?

Hubertus Strughold

Every year since 1963, the Space Medicine Association has given out the Hubertus Strughold Award to a top scientist or clinician for outstanding work in aviation medicine.

Dr. Hubertus Strughold (1898-1986) is known as the “Father of Space Medicine”. He first coined the term “space medicine” in 1948 and was the first and only Professor of Space Medicine at the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine. He was a co-founder of the Space Medicine Branch of the Aerospace Medical Association in 1950. In 1963, the Space Medicine Branch initiated the “Hubertus Strughold Award”, which is given each year for the greatest achievement in space medicine

Dr. Hubertus Strughold MD, Ph.D (June 15, 1898 – September 25, 1986) was a German-born physiologist and prominent medical researcher. Beginning in 1935 he served as chief of Aeromedical Research for the German Luftwaffe, holding this position throughout World War II. In 1947 he was brought to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip and held a series of high-ranking medical positions in both the US Air Force and NASA.

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For his role in pioneering the study of the physical and psychological effects of manned spaceflight he became known as “The Father of Space Medicine”.Following his death, Strughold’s activities under the Nazis came under greater scrutiny and allegations surrounding his involvement in Nazi-era human experimentation greatly diminished his reputation.

In April 1935 the government of Nazi Germany appointed Strughold to serve as the director of the Berlin-based Research Institute for Aviation Medicine, a medical think tank that operated under the auspices of Hermann Göring’s Ministry of Aviation.

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Under Strughold’s leadership the Institute grew to become Germany’s foremost aeromedical research establishment, pioneering the study of the medical effects of high-altitude and supersonic speed flight along with establishing the altitude chamber concept of “time of useful consciousness”. Though Strughold was ostensibly a civilian researcher, the majority of the studies and projects his Institute undertook were commissioned and financed by the German armed forces (principally the Luftwaffe) as part of the ongoing German re-armament. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Strughold’s organization was absorbed into the Luftwaffe itself as part of its Medical Service. It was renamed the Air Force Institute for Aviation Medicine, and placed under the command of Luftwaffe Surgeon-General(Generaloberstabsarzt) Erich Hippke.

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Strughold himself was also commissioned as an officer in the German air force, eventually rising to the rank of Colonel (Oberst).

In October 1942, Strughold and Hippke attended a medical conference in Nuremberg at which SS physician Sigmund Rascher delivered a presentation outlining various medical experiments he had conducted, in conjunction with the Luftwaffe, in which prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp were used as human test subjects.

These experiments included physiological tests during which camp inmates were immersed in freezing water, placed in air pressure chambers and made to endure invasive surgical procedures without anesthetic. Many of the inmates forced to participate died as a result. Various Luftwaffe physicians had participated in the experiments and several of them had close ties to Strughold, both through the Institute for Aviation Medicine and the Luftwaffe Medical Service.

Following the German defeat in May, 1945, Strughold claimed to Allied authorities that, despite his influential position within the Luftwaffe Medical Service and his attendance at the October 1942 medical conference, he had no knowledge of the atrocities committed at Dachau. He was never subsequently charged with any wrongdoing by the Allies. However, a 1946 memorandum produced by the staff of the Nuremberg Trials listed Strughold as one of thirteen “persons, firms or individuals implicated” in the war crimes committed at Dachau. Also, several of the former Luftwaffe physicians associated with Strughold and the Institute for Aviation Medicine (among them Strughold’s former research assistant Hermann Becker-Freyseng) were convicted of crimes against humanity in connection with the Dachau experiments at the 1947 Nuremberg Doctor’s Trial.

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During these proceedings, Strughold contributed several affidavits for the defense on behalf of his accused colleagues.

In October 1945 Strughold returned to academia, becoming director of the Physiological Institute at Heidelberg University. He also began working on behalf of the US Army Air Force, becoming chief scientist of its Aeromedical Center, located on the campus of the former Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research. In this capacity Strughold edited German Aviation Medicine in World War II, a book-length summary of the knowledge gained by German aviation researchers during the war.

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In 1947 Strughold was brought to the United States, along with many other highly valuable German scientists, as part of Operation Paperclip. With another former Luftwaffe physician, Richard Lindenberg, Strughold was assigned to the US Air Force School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field near San Antonio, Texas.

It was while at Randolph Field that Strughold began conducting some of the first research into the potential medical challenges posed by space travel, in conjunction with fellow “Paperclip Scientist” Dr. Heinz Haber.Strughold coined the term “space medicine” to describe this area of study in 1948. The following year he was appointed as the first and only Professor of Space Medicine at the US Air Force’s newly established School of Aviation Medicine (SAM), one of the first institutions dedicated to conducting research on the so-called “human factors” associated with manned spaceflight.

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Under Strughold, the School of Aviation Medicine conducted pioneering studies on issues such as atmospheric control, the physical effects of weightlessness and the disruption of normal time cycles.In 1951 Strughold revolutionized existing notions concerning spaceflight when he co-authored the influential research paper Where Does Space Begin? in which he proposed that space was present in small gradations that grew as altitude levels increased, rather than existing in remote regions of the atmosphere. Between 1952 and 1954 he would oversee the building of the space cabin simulator, a sealed chamber in which human test subjects were placed for extended periods of time in order to view the potential physical and psychological effects of extra-atmospheric flight. Strughold obtained US citizenship in 1956 and was named chief scientist of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Aerospace Medical Division in 1962. While at NASA, Strughold played a central role in designing the pressure suit and onboard life support systems used by both the Gemini and Apollo astronauts. He also directed the specialized training of the flight surgeons and medical staff of the Apollo program in advance of the planned mission to the Moon. Strughold retired from his position at NASA in 1968.

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During his work on behalf of the Air Force and NASA, Strughold was the subject of three separate US government investigations into his suspected involvement in war crimes committed under the Nazis. A 1958 investigation by the Justice Department fully exonerated Strughold, while a second inquiry launched by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1974 was later abandoned due to lack of evidence. In 1983 the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations reopened his case but withdrew from the effort when Strughold died in September, 1986. Following his death, Strughold’s alleged connection to the Dachau experiments became more widely known following the release of US Army Intelligence documents from 1945 that listed him among those being sought as war criminals by US authorities.

These revelations did significant damage to Strughold’s reputation and resulted in the revocation of various honors that had been bestowed upon him over the course of his career. In 1993, at the request of the World Jewish Congress, his portrait was removed from a mural of prominent physicians displayed at Ohio State University. Following similar protests by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Air Force decided in 1995 to rename the Hubertus Strughold Aeromedical Library at Brooks Air Force Base, which had been named in Strughold’s honor in 1977. His portrait, however, still hangs there. Further action by the ADL also led to Strughold’s removal from the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico in May 2006.

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Further questions about Strughold’s activities during World War II emerged in 2004 following an investigation conducted by the Historical Committee of the German Society of Air and Space Medicine. The inquiry uncovered evidence of oxygen deprivation experiments carried out by Strughold’s Institute for Aviation Medicine in 1943. According to these findings six epileptic children, between the ages of 11 and 13, were taken from the Nazi’s Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre to Strughold’s Berlin laboratory where they were placed in vacuum chambers to induce epileptic seizures in an effort to simulate the effects of high-altitude sicknesses, such as hypoxia.

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While, unlike the Dachau experiments, all the test subjects survived the research process, this revelation led the Society of Air and Space Medicine to abolish a major award bearing Strughold’s name. A similar campaign by American scholars prompted the US branch of the Aerospace Medical Association to announce in 2012 that it would also consider rechristening a similar award, also named in Strughold’s honor, which it had been bestowing since 1963. The move was met with opposition from defenders of Strughold, citing his massive contributions to the American space program and the lack of any formal proof of his direct involvement in war crimes