The brave words from a Mother to her Daughter.

olga

This story is both heartbreaking and uplifting. Heartbreaking because it is a story about a mother who knew she was going to die. Uplifting because her last words were so positive and courageous, despite the fate that awaited her.

Olga Bancic was born on May 10, 1912 to a large Jewish family living in the Bessarabia province when it was still part of the Russian Empire.

In 1936, she traveled to France, where she supported communist activists in transporting weapons to Spanish Republican forces fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Shortly before the outbreak of WWII she gave birth to her Daughter Dolores, the child’s father was Alexandru Jar. After the outbreak of the war Olga left Dolores in care with a French family. Olga joined a resistance group.

She was arrested on November 6, 1943 by the Gestapo, during the interrogation she was tortured.Despite the torture she refused  give information about her comrades.

On February 22,1944 Olga and 22 others were sentenced to death. All male defendants were executed later that day at Fort Mont-Valérien. Olga had been the only female defendant and due to a loophole in the French law which prevented women from being executed on French soil, Olga was deported to Stuttgart. She was executed in Stuttgart on May 10,1944 , her 32nd birthday. She was decapitated with an axe in the local prison’s courtyard.

One of her last deeds was throwing a letter out of a window during her transportation to her place of execution. The letter had a note attached to it saying.:

“Dear Madame: I ask you to please give this letter to my little girl Dolores Jacob after the war. This is the last wish of a mother who will only live twelve more hours.”

Miraculously the letter did reach Dolores, who had been given the name Dolores Jacob, the letter said the following:

“My dear little daughter, my darling little love

Your mother is writing the last letter, my dear little daughter; tomorrow at 6:00, on May 10, I will be no more.

Don’t cry, my love; your mother doesn’t cry any more either. I die with a peaceful conscience and with the firm conviction that tomorrow you will have a happier life and future than your mother’s. You will no longer have to suffer. Be proud of your mother, my little love. I always have your image before me.

I’m going to believe that you will see your father, and I have hope that he’ll meet a fate different from mine. Tell him that I always thought of him, as I always thought of you. I love you both with all my heart. Both of you are dear to me. My darling child, your father is, for you, also a mother. He loves you a lot. You won’t feel the loss of your mother. My darling child, I finish this letter with the hope that you will be happy all your life, with your father, with everyone.

I kiss you with all my heart, a lot a lot.

Farewell my love.

Your Mother”

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The darker and also heroic side of Dior.

dior

I think mostly everyone has heard of the name Dior. The fashion house Dior is one of the most successful fashion houses in the world.

However there is a darker history behind the name and on the other hand also a tale of heroism is connected to the name. Especially the family’s history during WWII is a complicated one.

In 1937 Christian Dior was working for the designer Robert Piguet, but in September 1939 he was called up for military service because if the declaration of war.

Luckily enough  for him, his unit was not in the path of the German advance in May and June 1940 and he and his unit were demobilized quite soon after the French-German armistice on June 22nd, 1940. He stayed in the unoccupied of France for a while and did not return to Paris until 1941.

paris

In 1942 he joined the fashion house Lucien Lelong, where he worked closely together with legendary designer Pierre Balmain.

Dior designed dresses for the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators. Looking at that now it is easy to be judgmental about his fraternizing with the enemy,but other designers like Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin, and Nina Ricci did the same, people did what they felt they had to do to survive. They also wanted to ensure that the couture would remain in Paris

On the other hand there was Christian’s younger sister, Catherine Dior. In 1941 she joined “Massif Central’, a Resistance network which was set up in the summer of 1940. by Polish military intelligence officers in exile in France. and were  focused on gathering and transmitting intelligence about German troop movements and weapon production.Catherine had joined them as a courier. which was extremely dangerous.

In June 1944 she was caught and arrested by the Carlingue, the French members of the Gestapo sometimes referred to as Gestapistes. After Catherine was tortured by the Carlibgie she was put on one of the last trains out of Paris, which departed on August 15, just days before the liberation of the city, her destination was Ravensbruck concentration camp.

ravensbruck

Between the time of her arrest and the time of her deportation, Christian tried  to seek  release for his sister,  via the Nazi contacts he made at his job and also via the Swedish diplomat Raoul Nordling, who mediated in the release of prisoners in the past. Unfortunately the efforts bore no fruits.

But fate was in Catherine’s favor ,she had been put to work in a munitions factory in the camp and survived the war. She was liberated in April, 1945 and returned to Paris the following month.

After the was she received the Croix de Guerre, the Combatant Volunteer Cross of the Resistance, the Combatant’s Cross, the King’s Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom (from Britain), and being named a chevalière of the Légion d’Honneur.

Catherine also publicly distanced herself from the daughter of her other brother Raymond. Françoise Dior after the niece married Colin Jordan, a British Neo-Nazi leader.

niece

In November, 1952, Catherine was called to testify against 14 former members of the Carlingue before a military tribunal in Paris.Catherine helped to preserve her brother Christian’s legacy after his death in 1957, she was involved with the opening of the Dior Museum in Granville. Catherine died in 2008.

dior 2

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Sources

Fashionunfiltered.com

Jezebel.com

 

Stealing the last bit of comfort.

dolls

People can be conditioned to commit evil acts but some are just born evil.

In February 1944 two French Jewish sisters Denise and Micheline Lévy were about to be put on a transport to Auschwitz. They were lined up in the small French village of Gemeaux

sisteers levy

One of the last acts they experienced before being put on the train was not an act of kindness but an act of pure evil.

A French police officer snatched the 2 dolls the girls were carrying(picture at the top of the blog). There was no need for him to do this, he was not ordered to do so, He just did it because he could and in his own pathetic,sick little mind he thought it was the right thing to do. Depriving these 2 little angels from the last bit of comfort they had.

The Gendarme knew the 2 girls were going to be killed but yet he could not find that little bit of humanity to let the girls keep those dolls. He did not even keep the dolls to perhaps give to other girls, he just discarded the toys.

A shop keeper found the dolls on the street and picked them up and gave  to Mrs Gilles in the village. She gave the dolls to her twin daughters, who in return gave them to their nieces, However none of the girls ever played with them because they knew the history of the dolls.

One of the nieces who is now in her forties decided to give the dolls to the THE SHOAH MEMORIAL in Paris, where they are now.

 

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Source

The Telegraph

 

 

 

 

The brutal execution of Robert-François Damiens.

damiens

Regicide is the deliberate killing of a monarch, or the person responsible for the killing of a person of royalty. Through the ages there have been a great number of regicides, the last one happened this century. In June 1,2001 the Nepalese Royal Family was allegedly massacred by Crown Prince Dipendra of Nepal.

However this blog is about a failed regicide. On On 5 January 1757 French King Louis XV was stabbed by Robert-François Damiens. The king survived the attempt possible because of the layers of clothing he was wearing, in the midst of winter.

luois xv

Guards had captured Robert-François Damiens but the King ordered him not be harmed, well at least not yet.

Damiens was jailed and was tortured in jail in order to ascertain if there were any accomplices to the assassination attempt.

On March 28,1757  Damiens was fetched from jail. He supposedly said “The day will be hard” and how right he was.

He was initially  tortured in where his legs were painfully compressed by devices called “boots”. The tortured then continued with red-hot pincers; the hand with which he had used to hold the knife during the assassination attempt was burned using sulfur. Then molten wax, molten lead, and boiling oil were poured into his wounds.

He was sentenced to death by drawing and quartering and was subsequently  brought to the royal executioner, Charles Henri Sanson, who harnessed horses to Damiens’s  arms and legs to be dismembered. Damiens’ limbs however,did not separate easily: the officiants ordered Sanson to cut Damiens’ tendons, and once that was done the horses were able to perform the dismemberment.Once Damiens was dismembered, to the applause of the crowd, his reportedly still-living torso was burnt at the stake.

sentence

Damiens was the last person  to be executed in France by drawing and quartering,

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How Curious George nearly didn’t make it.

george

I don’t think there is anyone on the planet who hasn’t heard of Curious George, you may not have read the books or watched the cartoons or movies, but you will recognize the iconic Chimpanzee when you see him.

Although it is an iconic children’s book character and has a strong brand recognition, it could have easily been a different story, His origin tells a story of luck but indirectly also a tale of a false sense of security.

Curious George was written by H.A Rey and his wife Margret.

Rey

Hans Augusto Reyersbach was born in September 1898 in Hamburg , Germany,near the world-famous Hagenbeck Zoo, which gave him a lifelong love for animals and drawing.  His wife Margret was born on May  16 1906 also in Hamburg, her father Felix Waldstein had been a member of the Reichstag. the German parliament from 1871 to 1918. Hans and Margret both Jewish. The two first met in Hamburg at the 16th birthday party of Margret’s sister. They met again in Brazil, where Hans had a job as a bathtubs salesman Margret had moved to Brazil to escape the rise of Nazism in Germany. On August 16, 1935 they got married and went to Paris on their honeymoon, they fell in love with the place and decided to stay there.

Although Hitler had come to power in Germany it is apparent that the Rey’s felt safe in their new home, as most of the Parisians and the rest of France felt. Although the French were anxious of the developments in Germany, they did not envisage any danger to come from their eastern neighbour.

While in Paris, Hans’s animal drawings were noticed by a French publisher, who commissioned Hans  to write a children’s book. The book was to be” Rafi. and the Nine Monkeys” or “Rafi et les neuf singes” in French. It was published in 1939.

9 monkes.JPG

One of the characters in the book was George, although he was called Fifi in the French version. Hans Rey thought that George deserved a book of his own.

But alas, war broke out.

On June 10, 1940, German troops were a few days away from Paris. People were trying to flee by  every way possible, cars,bicycles or whatever they could find. The Rey’s had left it a bit late but they managed to get 2 bikes.In fact Ray built the bikes himself, he had bought enough spare parts for 2 bicycles.

They left Paris only a few hours before it fell. Among the few possessions they were able to bring was the illustrated manuscript of Curious George.

Their journey  took them to Bayonne, France.On June 20, 1940.They crossed the Spanish border, where they purchased train tickets to Lisbon. Because they still had Brazilian passport  they returned to Brazil, they journeyed on from Brazil to New York.

The couple soon went to Houghton Mifflin publishers , they bought the manuscript for $1,000 and an additional three stories. The only demand  was that they change the name of Fifi to George.

The rest is history.

So next time you read a Curious George story yourself or to your children or other youngsters, remember that George nearly didn’t make it.

george fifi

 

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The parts of a dismembered Lady arrive in New York.

liberty

When  214 crates containing the body parts of a Lady, arrive on a ship, in the harbor, you would expect a frantic Police investigation/ But nothing could be further from the truth, the Police just couldn’t care less.

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Well to be honest I could not blame the Police on this occasion. Because the Lady in this case was no one else then the Lady known as the Statue of Liberty.

The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York on June 17 in 1885 aboard the French frigate Isère. She was a gift gift from the people of France.

About 250,00 onlookers lined Battery Park, while hundreds of boats pulled into the harbor to welcome the Isère.

Statue_of_Liberty_Arrives_in_New_York_Harbor

After being reassembled, the 450,000-pound statue, which was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886, by President Cleveland, who said, “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.” Standing more than 305 feet from the foundation of its pedestal to the top of its torch.

ststue

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The Tulle Massacre- The hanging of 99

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What a sense of relief it must have been when the French people found out that the allied troops had finally arrived on June 6 1944. Unfortunately though D-Day wasn’t the end of the war it was only the start of the end and many innocent lives were still lost between that day and the end of WWII.

The citizens of the town of Tulle found out only 3 days after D-Day that the war was still raging in the most brutal way possible.

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After a successful attack by the French Resistance group Francs-tireur on 7 and 8 June 1944, the arrival of Das Reich troops forced the Maquis(French Resistance) to flee the city of Tulle (department of Corrèze) in south-central France.

Resistance operations in Tulle had been planned by the commander of the Maquis FTP of Corrèze, Jacques Chapou , aka Klébe

The offensive started on June 7 1944 at 5 AM with a Bazooka attack on the barracks of the security forces at Champ de Mars. This action  functioned as the signal to begin the attack.

The fighting centered  around three main areas: the armory, the gendarmerie barracks and the girls’ school, which housed German troops.

The focus the following day was on the girls’ school. the Resistance fighters  set fire to the school building around 3 PM.About 2 hours later , in circumstances that remain unclear and disputed, the Germans tried to leave, if one of them was waving a white cloth, others were carrying live grenades. In all the chaos, the Maquis opened fire with automatic weapons; some soldiers were cut down at close range, by exploding grenades, which would explain the injuries observed on the horribly mutilated corpses. An estimated  were killed.

When the 2nd SS Panzer Division ‘Das Reich’ entered the town they found 40 dead bodies of the German 3rd Battalion/95th Security Regiment garrison troops near the school, their bodies badly mutilated.

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On 9 June 1944, after arresting all men between the ages of sixteen and sixty, the SS and members of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) ordered 120 of the prisoners to be hanged, of whom 99 were actually hanged.

Tulle

The citizens of Tulle had been warned by a text on a poster

“Forty German soldiers were murdered in the most horrible manner by a band of communists. For the guerillas and those who helped them, there is a punishment, execution by hanging. Forty German soldiers were murdered by the guerrillas, one hundred and twenty guerrillas and their accomplices will be hanged. Their bodies will be thrown in the river — Poster signed by the commanding General of the German troops.

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In the days that followed, 149 men were sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where 101 lost their lives. In total, the actions of the Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SS, and the SD claimed the lives of 213 civilian residents of Tulle.

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Source

Herodote.net

Back to Normandy

Robert Desnos- the death of a poet

Robert_Desnos

Robert Desnos was born in Paris on 4 July 1900,the son of a successful café owner,He was a French surrealist poet who played a key role in the Surrealist movement.

When World War II broke out in 1939, he  was drafted as a sergeant. His wartime journalism appeared in magazines such as Europe, Commune, and Ce-Soir. In 1940, he started writing for the newspaper Aujourd’hui.

today

By the early 1940s, he was working for the French Resistance, provided information collected during his job at the paper Aujourd’hui and made false identity papers. As well as  publishing, articles critical of the Occupation, under pseudonyms.

The Nazis eventually discovered his role in the Resistance and was arrested by the Gestapo on 22 February 1944.

Desnos was first  sent to Auschwitz, but was later  transferred to Theresienstadt concentration camp via Buchenwald concentration camp.He died on June 8 1945 in “Malá pevnost”, which was an inner part of Terezín used only for political prisoners, from typhoid, a month after the camp had been liberated by the allies.

Robert_Desnos_au_camp_de_Terezin,_1945

Ending the blog with a translated version of  one of his poems

Epitaph

lived in those times. For a thousand years
I have been dead. Not fallen, but hunted;
When all human decency was imprisoned,
I was free amongst the masked slaves.

I lived in those times, yet I was free.
I watched the river, the earth, the sky,
Turning around me, keeping their balance,
The seasons provided their birds and their honey.

You who live, what have you made of your luck?
Do you regret the time when I struggled?
Have you cultivated for the common harvest?
Have you enriched the town I lived in?

Living men, think nothing of me. I am dead.
Nothing survives of my spirit or my body.

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Sources

Poetry foundation

Poem Hunter

When Jules Verne bombed Berlin

Berlin_Le-Jules-Verne-va-pa

No this is not a long lost book written by Jules Verne, it is however a forgotten event which happened on June 7 1940, a few days after Germany  bombed Paris.

PARIS

The Jules Verne was the name of a Farman 223.4 airplane of the French Navy. Determined to revenge the bombing of the French capital,The French Air Ministry sent orders to Captain Daillière,capt dalliere who was then at an airfield in Bordeaux with the Farmans.

most of the aircraft in the French air force were obsolete and had already been destroyed by the Luftwaffe.

The operation really was noting short of  a suicide mission,  but undeterred Daillière quickly developed a plan for a surprise attack that would take advantage of Jules Verne’s, a rather ungainly four-engine aircraft, only real strength: its exceptional range. He oversaw a number  of modifications to the aircraft at the Toussus-le-Noble airfield,  including the installment of a 7.5 mm Darne machine gun in the right rear access door, eight Alkan bomb shackles under the aircraft, a bomb sight, extra fuel tanks as well as an autopilot. Tricolores were also added.

On June 7, the Farman was fueled to capacity and loaded with eight 551-pound bombs and a case of 22-pound incendiaries. Daillière and his crew consisting of  flight engineer Corneillet, navigator Comet (who had crossed the Atlantic before the war), pilot Yonnet, radioman Scour and bombardier Deschamps. took off at 15:30 hours, heading north along the Atlantic coast.

verne3

The crew turned east, flying along the English Channel and slightly off the Belgian and Dutch coast and Northern Germany where, over the Schleswig island of Sylt, they encountered their first heavy AA fire. Jules Verne, flew low to avoid detection, then flew over a stretch of the North Sea and crossed southern Denmark,  wich had been occupied by Germany since April 1940. The bomber cruised over the Baltic Sea and turned south across a lonely stretch of the German coast.

As they headed south, they notice a glow on the horizon: Berlin. Daillière and his crew had expected the German capital would  have a wartime blackout in force, but  to their pleasant surprise it was as brightly lit . The Germans clearly did not  expect an air raid, and certainly not one coming from the direction of the Baltic sea. Approaching  the eastern suburbs around midnight, Jules Verne simulated a landing approach at Tempelhof Airport in the southern suburbs, then headed north to the Tegel area. They reached the Siemens-Werke within minutes, and while Yonnet dropped the bombload on the factory, Corneillet and Des champs pushed a dozen incendiary bombs out the passenger door.

Flying a straighter path back to France than the Jules Verne’s outbound route to Berlin, Dailliere made for Paris by crossing the very heart of Germany, and landed at Orly Airfield at 13:30 on June 8. .They had met no resistance on the return trip, and when the aircraft touched down, it had covered nearly 3,000 miles in 13.5 hours.

The French exaggerated the raid somewhat. They described it as having been accomplished by a “formation” of bombers, and reported – truthfully – that no bombers had been lost.

verne4

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Necdet Kent rescuing Jews from an train heading to Auschwitz.

necdet-kent-968b6fb3-49f8-4e51-9e72-38cce50b83c-resize-750.jpeg

It maybe an naive notion but I believe there are only 2 types of people in this world,good and bad.

Bad people will always do bad and evil things regardless, they may on occasion maybe charitable and do something good, but at the end only to serve their own interest.

On the other hand sometimes good people can be weak when faced with danger or their own mortality, and therefore do things they usually wouldn’t do, which result in evil being permitted.

However there are those who see evil for what it is and regardless what the consequences are for them, they will do everything to stop it. They are the heroes we don’t always read or hear about.

İsmail Necdet Kent was such a man. He was a Turkish diplomat who risked his life to save Jews during World War II

After he was posted as as vice consul to Athens, Greece.He moved to Marseille in France  1941 and 1944. where he was appointed to the post of vice consul.

Marseille, Hafenviertel. Deportation von Juden

At sometime  in 1943, Kent rushed to the Saint Charles train station in Marseilles and boarded a train bound for the Auschwitz concentration camp after Nazi guards refused to let some 70 Jews with Turkish citizenship disembark. After more than an hour on the train, the guards let Kent and the Jews leave.

A Jewish assistant at the consulate had alerted Kent  that  about 80 Turkish Jews resident in Marseilles had been loaded into cattle cars for immediate transport to certain death in Auschwitz  The Jews were crammed one on top of the other in the wagon, which was meant to transport cattle.Overcome with sorrow and anger at the sight, Kent approached the Gestapo commander at the station, and demanded that the Jews, whom he said were Turkish citizens, be released.

Jews being deported from France

The official refused to comply, saying that the people were nothing but Jews.

Not willing to give up , and with a surge of courage and human benevolence, Kent turned to the Jewish aide from the consulate and said, “Come on, we’re getting on this train, too.” Pushing aside the soldier who tried to stop him, he jumped into the wagon. The German officer demanded Kent to get off the train , but he refused.

The train took off, but at the next station, German officers boarded and apologized to Kent for not failing to let  him off at Marseilles, they had  a car was waiting for him  to take him back to his office. But Kent explained that the mistake was not that he was on the train – but that 80 Turkish citizens had been loaded on the train.

“As a representative of a government that rejected such treatment for religious beliefs, I could not consider leaving them there,” he said. Dumbfounded by his  defiance an uncompromising stance, the Germans caved in  let everyone off the train.

Although Turkey was a neutral country at that time, Kent could have easily been killed fro his act of defiance.

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Source

Yad Vashem

Jewish Virtual Library