Black Monday- April 13 1360

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You often hear the term ‘the coldest winter,or hottest summer on record etc’ but the oldest ongoing instrumental record of temperature in the world is the Central England Temperature record, started in 1659.

Although I am not disputing the climate change, the fact is there have been climate changes  or freak weather events ever since the world has existed.

On Easter Monday, 13th April 1360, a freak hail storm broke over English troops as they were preparing for battle with the French during the Hundred Years’ War. So brutal was the storm that over 1,000 men and 6,000 horses lost their lives that night. Convinced it was a sign from God, King Edward rushed to pursue peace with the French, marking the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years’ War.

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In April 1360, Edward’s forces burned the Paris suburbs and began to move toward Chartres. While they were camped outside the town, a sudden storm materialized. Lightning struck, killing several people, and hailstones began pelting the soldiers, scattering the horses. One described it as “a foul day, full of myst and hayle, so that men dyed on horseback .” Two of the English leaders were killed and panic set in among the troops, who had no shelter from the storm.

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French friar Jean de Venette credited the apocalyptic storm as the result of the English looting of the French countryside during the observant week of Lent.

On May 8, 1360, three weeks later, the Treaty of Brétigny was signed, marking the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years’ War.

The legacy was mentioned in Shakespearean work:

“It was not for nothing that my nose fell a- bleeding on Black Monday last, at six o’clock i’ the morning.” —Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice, ii. 5.

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The Eiffel Tower

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On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower was dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower’s designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and 200 construction workers.

The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building, and the tallest structure in Paris. Its base is square, measuring 125 metres (410 ft) on each side. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished in 1930.

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To give another indication of its height the highest summit in the Netherlands is Vaalserberg which is 2 meters lower then the Eiffel tower.

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Both buildings have been surpassed throughout the years by many other buildings. The Eiffel tower however has remained its iconic status.

Below are some pictures if the Eiffel tower throughout the ages.

20 March 1888: Completion of the first level.Construction_tour_eiffel3

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, left, explores the completed tower with a friend.eiffel_tower_under_construction_8

The Eiffel Tower during the Nazi occupation, 1940The Eiffel Tower during the Nazi occupation, 1940

Adolf Hitler visits Paris with architect Albert Speer (left) and artist Arno Breker (right), June 23, 1940.adolf_hitler_in_paris_1940

American soldiers watch the French flag flying on the Eiffel Tower, c. 25 August 1944American_soldiers_watch_as_the_Tricolor_flies_from_the_Eiffel_Tower_again

A. Citroen DS 19 in front of the Eiffel Tower, 1960sans-titre-1.6607

Zazie in the metro poses in front of the Eiffel Tower – 196017bcc7ab99fa7b3e45349c48ec273bfd

Paris to protect Eiffel Tower from terror attacks with 8ft bullet-proof glass wallnintchdbpict000253386959

 

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Punks in WWII

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Before you start thinking that this will be a blog about Punk bands like the Sex Pistols singing about WWII, you’d be wrong. In fact it has nothing to do with Punk music but more about Jazz.

I am referring to Punk as a rebellion against the establishment. During WWII there were 2 groups very similar in how they rebelled against the Nazi regime, the Swingjugend in Germany and the Zazou in France. Unlike the Punk movement in the 70’s, the Zazou and the Swingjugend could actually risk their lives or be sent to a concentration camp for their rebellion.

Swingjugend

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As the Nazi Party took power in Germany in 1933, a complete crackdown on all “subversive” elements took hold. Having dealt with his political opponents in the years prior to his rise to the chancellorship, Hitler intended to finish the job by eradicating all potential opposition.

But in the schools and out on the streets, a silent flame tingled. Teenagers were rejecting the strict militarism and code of behavior bestowed by the Nazi Party through its youth organizations―the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls

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This proved to be unsuccessful, because instead of embracing the Hitler Youth pastimes, city girls and boys crowded the swing dance joints.[2] This seemed to be the case particularly in the town of Hamburg, where the swing scene was huge.

The Swingjugend rejected the Nazi state, above all because of its ideology and uniformity, its militarism, the ‘Führer principle’ and the leveling Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community). They experienced a massive restriction of their personal freedom. They rebelled against all this with jazz and swing, which stood for a love of life, self-determination, non-conformism, freedom, independence, liberalism, and internationalism.

 

Though they were not an organized political-opposition organization, the whole culture of the Swing Kids evolved into a non-violent refusal of the civil order and culture of National Socialism.

From a paper of the National Youth Leader:

The members of the Swing youth oppose today’s Germany and its police, the Party and its policy, the Hitlerjugend, work and military service, and are opposed, or at least indifferent, to the ongoing war. They see the mechanisms of National Socialism as a “mass obligation”. The greatest adventure of all times leaves them indifferent; much to the contrary, they long for everything that is not German, but English.

From 1941, the violent repression by the Gestapo and the Hitlerjugend shaped the political spirit of the swing youth. Also, by police order, people under 21 were forbidden to go to dance bars, which encouraged the movement to seek its survival by going underground.

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The Swing Kids of Hamburg at some point had contacts with another famous resistance movement, when three members of the White Rose (German: Weiße Rose) developed a sympathy for the Swing Kids. No formal cooperation arose, though these contacts were later used by the Volksgerichtshof (“People’s Court”) to accuse some Swing Kids of anarchist propaganda and sabotage of the armed forces. The consequent trial, death sentences and executions were averted by the end of the war.

On 18 August 1941, in a brutal police operation, over 300 Swingjugend were arrested. The measures against them ranged from cutting their hair and sending them back to school under close monitoring, to the deportation of the leaders to concentration camps. The boys went to the Moringen concentration camp while the girls were sent to Ravensbruck.[10]

This mass arrest encouraged the youth to further their political consciousness and opposition to National Socialism. They started to distribute anti-fascist propaganda. In January 1943, Günter Discher, as one of the ringleaders of the Swing Kids, was deported to the youth concentration camp of Moringen.

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On 2 January 1942, Heinrich Himmler wrote to Reinhard Heydrich calling on him to clamp down on the ringleaders of the swing movement, recommending a few years in a concentration camp with beatings and forced labor:

The crackdown soon followed: clubs were raided, and participants were hauled off to camps.

Zazou

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In France a similar movement like Germany’s Swingjugend arose by the name Zazou.The zazous were a subculture in France during World War II. They were young people expressing their individuality by wearing big or garish clothing (similar to the zoot suit fashion in America a few years before).

On March 27 1942, France’s Vichy government issued the barbershop decree, demanding that barbers collect cut hair and donate it to the war effort to make slippers and sweaters. The rebellious Zazous refused and grew their hair long. The Zazous were directly inspired by jazz and swing music. A healthy black jazz scene had sprung up in Montmartre in the inter-war years. Their name  was inspired by a line in a song – Zah Zuh Zah – by Cab Calloway

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Vichy had started ‘Youth Worksites’ in July 1940, in what Zazous perceived as an attempt to indoctrinate French youth.  The Vichy regime was very concerned about the education, moral fibre and productivity of French youth. In 1940 a Ministry of Youth was established. They saw the Zazous as a rival and dangerous influence on youth.

In 1940, 78 anti-Zazou articles were published in the press, a further nine in 1941 and 38 in 1943.

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The Vichy papers deplored the moral turpitude and decadence that was affecting French morality. Zazous were seen as work-shy, egotistical and Judeo-Gaullist shirkers.

By 1942 the Vichy regime realised that the national revival that they hoped would be carried out by young people under their guidance was seriously affected by widespread rejection of the patriotism, work ethic, self-denial, asceticism and masculinity this called for.

Soon, round-ups began in bars and Zazous were beaten on the street. They became Enemy Number One of the fascist youth organisations, Jeunesse Populaire Française. “Scalp the Zazous!” became their slogan. Squads of young JPF fascists armed with hairclippers attacked Zazous. Many were arrested and sent to the countryside to work on the harvest.

At this point the Zazous went underground, holing up in their dance halls and basement clubs.

Though they did not suffer like their contemporaries in Germany, nevertheless, in a society of widespread complicity and acquiescence, their stand was courageous and trail-blazing.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks

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Sources

Queens of Vintage

Timelne

Libcom

Special thank you to Norman Stone who pointed me to the story of the Zazou.

There are no monsters under my bed

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There are no monsters under my bed who want to hurt me or do me harm

There are no monsters under my bed, but I wish there were for I know they aren’t real.

There are no monsters under my bed, but there are monsters everywhere else.

The monsters can be a stranger, a teacher, a neighbor or a friend.

The monsters don’t look scary or ugly. They are well dressed and are well to do.

The monsters even wear uniforms designed by well known designers.

The monsters don’t really know me and yet they want me dead.

The monsters, are they afraid of me? Am I a monster to them?

The monsters they now know who I am, they now know my name. It’s Rachel Narcyz age 11 from Paris.

The monsters put me on a train to a camp called Auschwitz.

But here is the thing, they are not monsters. They are human beings, they need oxygen just like I do. They need food and sleep. They speak the same language and read the same books, Some of them even pretend to care.

They are not monsters, they are human just like me. But I am dead.

There are no monsters under my bed.

 

Picture source

Yad Vashem

The trans-Saharan railway

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The phrase “From hero to zero” is probably the most appropriate way to describe Philippe Pétain.

Pétain was after World War I regarded ,without a doubt, the most accomplished defensive tactician of any army and one of France’s greatest military heroes and was presented with his baton of Marshal of France at a public ceremony at Metz by President Raymond Poincaré on 8 December 1918.

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However after the Nazi occupied France in June 1940 he was very eager to please his new lords. He would their puppet and they would pull his strings. If they told him to jump, he would ask “How high?” If they ordered him to deport Jews he would say “How many?”. He and his Vichy regime would be serve their Nazi masters any which way they could.

France has always been a colonial power therefore there would be many French Jewish citizens living and working  in the North African colonies like Algeria,Tunisia and Morocco.

In October, 1940, Pétain’s Vichy government, not the Germans, passed antisemitic legislation called the Statut des Juifs.

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There was no German pressure on Pétain to promulgate racial laws in the fall of 1940. Just to illustrate how eager the Vichy regime was to implement the Statut des Juifs, below a timeline comparison between the time it took for the Nazis to implement the antisemitic laws and how long it took for the Vichy regime.

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Nor was there German pressure on Pétain to apply these racial laws to the colonies of North Africa. Finally, there was no German pressure on Pétain to repeal the Crémieux Decree, which had made the Jews of France and of Algeria and Tunisia full citizens 70 years before in 1870..

North Africa

One of the first moves of the pro-German Vichy regime was to revoke the effects of the Crémieux Decree, thereby abolishing French citizenship for Algerian Jews, affecting some 110,000 Algerians. Under Admiral Darlan and General Giraud the antisemitic legislation was applied more severely in Algeria than France itself, under the pretext that it enabled greater equality between Muslims and Jews.

Philippe Pétain signed a bill to construct a trans-Saharan railway, which was to be built by prisoners of war and Jews.

Approximately 2,000 Algerian Jews were put into labor and concentration camps throughout Algeria, including the camps at Bedeau and Djelfa. Though the camps were not a Vichy innovation, the plan to construct a trans-Saharan railroad to serve coal mines across North Africa was an exclusively Vichy initiative. Work camps were set up for this purpose. Prisoners were forced to labor in difficult conditions, performing strenuous work, for ten hours each day. They were poorly fed and housed, and lived in terrible sanitary conditions. Tortures and atrocities were inflicted by the guards for the slightest breach of the rules; the internees were not treated as human beings. Many died from beatings; even more died from outbreaks of typhus or just from exhaustion and hunger.

Although there is a lot of information available om the construction of the Burma railroad, there is relatively little information on the construction of the Trans-Saharan railway and how many perished.

The Algerian Jewish community survived due to the early Allied Liberation of Algeria in November 1942.

liberation

However, the Jews were not entirely “liberated.” It took until October of 1943 for all of the anti-Jewish laws to be cancelled and for the Jews of Algeria to be reinstated as citizens of France. Giraud  promulgated the cancellation of Vichy statutes on March 14, 1943, retained exceptionally the decree abolishing citizenship rights for Algerian Jews, in so far as he attributed France’s defeat to the Jews.[10] His decision was overruled, on appeal, by the CFLN( French Committee of National Liberation)in October of 1943.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks

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Sources

Yad Vashem

Wikipedia

Jacques Cousteau-Oceanic explorer,Naval officer and Resistance fighter.

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Before David Attenborough explored the oceans in the Blue Planet, Jacques Cousteau had been doing it for decades and he did much more then that. When it comes to Oceanic exploration he literally wrote the book.

The title ” The Silent World” was released this day 65 years ago.

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As a kid I would be glued to the Television every time they aired one of Cousteau’s explorations, they would be the highlight of the week. In this blog I will be focusing on his work during WWII and the years after the war..

During World War II, when Paris fell to the Nazis, Jacques  Cousteau and his family took refuge in the small town of Megreve, near the Swiss border. For the first few years of the war, he quietly continued his underwater experiments and explorations. In 1943 he met Emile Gagnan, a French engineer who shared his passion for discovery. Around this time, compressed air cylinders were invented and Cousteau and Gagnan experimented with snorkel hoses, body suits and breathing apparatus.

In  that time, they developed the first aqua-lung device allowing divers to stay underwater for long periods of time.

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Cousteau was also instrumental in the development of a waterproof camera that could withstand the high pressure of deep water. During this time, Cousteau made two documentaries on underwater exploration, Par dix-huit mètres de fond (“18 Meters Deep”) and Épaves(“Shipwrecks”).

Par 18 mtres

Having kept bonds with the English speakers (he spent part of his childhood in the United States and usually spoke English) and with French soldiers in North Africa (under Admiral Lemonnier), Jacques-Yves Cousteau (whose villa “Baobab” at Sanary (Var) was opposite Admiral Darlan’s villa “Reine”), helped the French Navy to join again with the Allies; he assembled a commando operation against the Italian espionage services in France, and received several military decorations for his deeds. At that time, he kept his distance from his brother Pierre-Antoine Cousteau, a “pen anti-semite” who wrote the collaborationist newspaper Je suis partout (I am everywhere) and who received the death sentence in 1946. However, this was later commuted to a life sentence, and Pierre-Antoine was released in 1954.

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In 1947, Cousteau, using the Aqualung, set a world’s record for free diving, reaching a depth of 300 feet. The following year, Dumas broke the record with a 306-foot dive. The team developed and perfected many of the techniques of deep-sea diving, working out rigorous decompression schedules that enabled the body to adjust to pressure changes. This physically demanding, dangerous work took its toll; one member of the research team was killed during underwater testing.

On July 19, 1950, Cousteau bought Calypso, a converted U.S. minesweeper

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Jacques-Yves Cousteau died of a heart attack on 25 June 1997 in Paris, 2 weeks after his 87th birthday.He was buried in the family vault at Saint-André-de-Cubzac, his birthplace.An homage was paid to him by the town by naming the street which runs out to the house of his birth “rue du Commandant Cousteau”, where a commemorative plaque was placed.

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Coco Chanel-Fascist designer

coco-chanel

During the Second World War, many well-known fashion brands were accused of collaborating with the Nazis. However, Coco Chanel, the iconic founder of the luxury brand, is not only accused of fraternizing with high-level Nazi officials but that she capitalized on her powerful connections to oust Jewish business partners in her company. Her loyalty to the German party did not end there.

Recent French documents revealed that she also may have been Agent 7124 (Codename: “Westminster”) for the Nazi intelligence organization, the Abwehr.

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In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Chanel closed her shops, maintaining her apartment situated above the couture house at 31 Rue de Cambon. She claimed that it was not a time for fashion; as a result of her action, 4,000 female employees lost their jobs.   Her dislike of Jews, reportedly inculcated by her convent years and sharpened by her association with society elites, had solidified her beliefs. She shared with many of her circle a conviction that Jews were a threat to Europe because of the Bolshevik government in the Soviet Union.

During the German occupation, Chanel resided at the Hotel Ritz. It was noteworthy as the preferred place of residence for upper-echelon German military staff. Her romantic liaison with Baron (Freiherr) Hans Günther von Dincklage  a German diplomat in Paris and former Prussian Army officer and Attorney General who had been an operative in military intelligence since 1920, the handsome von Dincklage would meet and become lovers with Coco Chanel. The two moved in together, residing for a period in Paris’ Ritz Hotel.

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Chanel was enlisted as an Abwehr spy under the command of General Walter Schellenberg.

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The stylish designer journeyed to Spain with Baron Louis de Vaufreland, whose responsibility was to identify who could be drafted into spying for the Third Reich. Chanel regularly rubbed shoulders with the British nobility, including the British ambassador to Spain, providing Vaufreland with an excellent cover.

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World War II, specifically the Nazi seizure of all Jewish-owned property and business enterprises, provided Chanel with the opportunity to gain the full monetary fortune generated by Parfums Chanel and its most profitable product, Chanel No. 5. The directors of Parfums Chanel, the Wertheimers, were Jewish. Chanel used her position as an “Aryan” to petition German officials to legalize her claim to sole ownership.

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On 5 May 1941, she wrote to the government administrator charged with ruling on the disposition of Jewish financial assets. Her grounds for proprietary ownership were based on the claim that Parfums Chanel “is still the property of Jews” and had been legally “abandoned” by the owners.

“I have,” she wrote, “an indisputable right of priority … the profits that I have received from my creations since the foundation of this business … are disproportionate … [and] you can help to repair in part the prejudices I have suffered in the course of these seventeen years.”

Chanel was not aware that the Wertheimers, anticipating the forthcoming Nazi mandates against Jews had, in May 1940, legally turned control of Parfums Chanel over to Félix Amiot, a Christian French businessman and industrialist. At war’s end, Amiot returned “Parfums Chanel” to the hands of the Wertheimers.

During the period directly following the end of World War II, the business world watched with interest and some apprehension the ongoing legal wrestle for control of Parfums Chanel. Interested parties in the proceedings were cognizant that Chanel’s Nazi affiliations during wartime, if made public knowledge, would seriously threaten the reputation and status of the Chanel brand. Forbes magazine summarized the dilemma faced by the Wertheimers: [it is Pierre Wertheimer’s worry] how “a legal fight might illuminate Chanel’s wartime activities and wreck her image—and his business.”

After the war’s end, Chanel was never prosecuted for her active collaboration with the Germans. After Germany lost the war, the defeated couturier spent seven years in Switzerland with her lover, Baron von Dincklage. Eventually, in 1954, she managed to re-establish Chanel with the surprising aid of Pierre Wertheimer .

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At the end of the war, Schellenberg was tried by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal, and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for war crimes. He was released in 1951 owing to incurable liver disease and took refuge in Italy. Chanel paid for Schellenberg’s medical care and living expenses, financially supported his wife and family, and paid for Schellenberg’s funeral upon his death in 1952.

Next time you spray a bit of Chanel just think of it’s history.

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Gilles de Rais-Joan of Arc’s murderous guard

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Gilles de Rais was probably born in late 1405 to Guy II de Montmorency-Laval and Marie de Craon in the family castle at Champtocé-sur-Loire. He was an intelligent child, speaking fluent Latin, illuminating manuscripts, and dividing his education between military discipline and moral and intellectual development.Following the deaths of his father and mother in 1415, Gilles and his younger brother René de La Suze were placed under the tutelage of Jean de Craon, their maternal grandfather.Jean de Craon was a schemer who attempted to arrange a marriage for twelve-year-old Gilles with four-year-old Jeanne Paynel, one of the richest heiresses in Normandy, and, when the plan failed, attempted unsuccessfully to unite the boy with Béatrice de Rohan, the niece to the Duke of Brittany. On 30 November 1420, however, Craon substantially increased his grandson’s fortune by marrying him to Catherine de Thouars of Brittany, heiress of La Vendée and Poitou .Their only child Marie was born in 1429.

At an early age Rais distinguished himself militarily, fighting first in the wars of succession to the duchy of Brittany (1420) and then for the duchess of Anjou against the English in 1427. He was assigned to Joan of Arc’s guard and fought several battles at her side, including the relief of Orléans in 1429.

Joan of Arc

He accompanied her to Reims for the consecration of Charles VII, who made him marshal of France. He continued to serve in Joan of Arc’s special guard and was at her side when Paris was attacked. After her capture, he retired to his lands in Brittany.

Rais had inherited extensive domains from both his father and his maternal grandfather (Guy de Laval and Jean de Craon, respectively) and had also married a rich heiress, Catherine de Thouars (1420). He kept a more lavish court than the king, dissipating his wealth on the decoration of his châteaux and the maintenance of a large train of servants, heralds, and priests. He was a munificent patron of music, literature, and pageants, in one of which he figured (The Mystery of Orléans). When his family secured a decree from the king in July 1435, restraining him from selling or mortgaging the rest of his lands, he turned to alchemy. He also developed an interest in Satanism, hoping to gain knowledge, power, and riches by invoking the devil.

Rais was chosen as one of four lords on July 17, 1429 and was officially declared a Marshal of France on that same day. Rais was not present when Joan was burned at a stake by the English in May 1431.

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A year after Joan’s death, his grandfather died on November 15, 1432 and left his sword and breastplate to René de La Suze, Rais’ younger brother, as a way to punish Rais for the reckless spending of his fortune.

In 1435, now bankrupt and no longer involved with the military, Rais began selling his properties to support his extravagant lifestyle. On July 2, a royal edict denounced Rais and prohibited him from selling any further property, Rais subsequently left Orléans.Rais’ first murders occured between 1431 and 1433, with the help of his accomplices, Rais kidnapped and killed an unknown number of children, some were even used rituals involving alchemy and demon summoning. On one occasion, Rais provided a contract with a demonic entity named Barron and attempted to summon him, but grew frustrated after no demon manifested. Having being told that Barron demanded the soul of at least one child, Rais murdered a boy and dismembered him, placing his limbs inside a glass vessel, but again, no demon manifested. On May 15, 1440, Rais abducted and murdered a cleric, which caught the attention of the Bishop of Nantes, who investigated him and discovered his heinous crimes, forty bodies of his victims were found. Rais subsequently confessed to the murders and was sentenced to death along with his accomplices. Rais was hanged and burned on October 26, 1440.

It is alleged he murdered more then 100 children.Gilles de Rais is believed to be the inspiration for the 1697 fairy tale “Bluebeard” (“Barbe bleue”) by Charles Perrault.

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Thiaroye massacre-The forgotten WWII massacre.

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I know what you are thinking”Another forgotten atrocity committed by the Nazi regime” but you’d be wrong. this massacre was carried out by the “good” guys.

It is an often-neglected fact that the majority of General De Gaulle’s Free French Forces were not white Frenchmen but were predominantly troops from its colonies in Africa and the Middle East.

Those from West Africa were known as the “tirailleurs Senegalais” (“Senegalese sharpshooters”) but were actually from Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad, Benin, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, and Togo.

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17,000 of them died in the defence of France from Nazi occupation, and many others were captured and either died or suffered terribly in the racist German prisoner of war camps.

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As colonial subjects, tirailleurs (colonial infantry) were not awarded the same pensions as their French (European) fellow soldiers during and after World War II, pensions that had been promised to them at the beginning of the war. The pensions for veterans of both races were calculated on the basis of living costs in their countries of birth, supposedly lower in colonies than in metropolitan France. These soldiers additionally claimed they were owed back pay due to an order issued by the Minister of Colonies authorizing benefits for ex-prisoners of war from West Africa, which both fell short of the benefits given to French prisoners of war and was in any case not implemented.

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This discrimination led to a mutiny by about 1,300 Senegalese tirailleurs at Camp Thiaroye on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal. on 30 November 1944. The tirailleurs involved were former prisoners of war who had been repatriated to West Africa and placed in a holding camp awaiting discharge. They demonstrated in protest against the failure of the French authorities to pay salary arrears and discharge allowances. An immediate grievance was the unfavorable exchange rate applied to currency brought back by the repatriated soldiers from France. A French general, briefly held by the tirailleurs, promised to have the rate changed to a par with that applicable to white veterans.

In the early hours of 1 December, French troops attacked. Despite the mutineers being unarmed, they came in shooting, with armoured cars, mounted machine guns and even a US Army tank.

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The official death toll of the repression was 35, although meticulous research by French historian Armelle Mabon suggests a much higher number of victims – around 3-400 – which is more in line with the estimations of veterans.

The mass grave into which the bodies were dumped has yet to be discovered.

In March the following year, 34 of the survivors were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison by a military tribunal.

In 1947, those imprisoned were amnestied, however some had already died in prison. To date they have not been pardoned, nor has the French government apologised.

Like much of France’s violent and oppressive colonial history, the Thiaroye massacre is not taught in schools, and a 1988 film about the event, Camp de Thiaroye directed by Ousmane Sembène, was banned in France, and Senegal as well.

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Joe Kennedy Jr-One last mission

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I always like ‘What if?’ scenarios. What if Joe Kennedy Jr would not have embarked on his last mission, would we be remembering the assassination of JFK? Or would Joe Kennedy have been President of the USA?

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The story of the Kennedy family is not only tragic it is also amazing and its legacy still lives on today.

High expectations were placed on the first born son of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. In the wake of his support for the pre-war policy of appeasement, Joseph P. Kennedy knew he would never be President.

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He seamlessly transferred his ambition to his children, anointing the oldest, Joe Jr, as his proxy for the White House. Joe Jr was living the Ivy League life of the east coast social elite until the call to England interrupted his idyllic lifestyle as President Roosevelt appointed the elder Kennedy to be his ambassador to England. Joseph Sr placed huge pressure on Joe Jr, instilling his Irish American insecurities on his son to always compete and win. In peace and war, Joe Jr’s pursuit of excellence propelled him forward. War hero was the next expectation place on him.

Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., a lieutenant in the Navy, died in 1944 testing a very rudimentary drone program called Operation Aphrodite.

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Here’s how it worked: the Navy would load up B-17’s or B-24’s with a ton of explosives, and then control them via radio from a trailing aircraft and steer them into targets kamikaze-style.

There was just one issue, the technology did not exist for these remotely-piloted aircraft to take off. So a crew had to take off the aircraft, get it to a safe altitude, and then parachute from the vessel.

Operation Aphrodite was combat tested program, meaning they tested the development of this new weapon by simply trying to make it happen in actual combat scenarios.

Although Joe Kennedy Sr had asked his son to maybe reconsider this mission, Joe Kennedy Jr had responded that he wanted to do just one more mission and this one was very safe.

On August 12, 1944, KennedyJOE KENNEDY JR. and Lieutenant Wilford John Willy took off in a converted B-24 Liberator (the drone versions were designated BQ-8) from Royal Air Force Station Fersfield, near Norwich. Their target was a massive underground military complex called the Fortress of Mimoyecques that had the potential to launch devastating attacks directly at London. Several minutes short of the planned bail out, an electrical fault in the Liberator caused the Torpex to detonate. In a thunderous instant.The single US Navy BQ-8 detonated prematurely over the Blyth estuary, eastern England, killing Lieutenant Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. and Lieutenant Wilford J. Willy

 

A formerly classified telegraph captures what happened:

ATTEMPTED FIRST APHRODITE ATTACK TWELVE AUGUST WITH ROBOT TAKING OFF FROM FERSFIELD AT ONE EIGHT ZERO FIVE HOURS PD ROBOT EXPLODED IN THE AIR AT APPROXIMATELY TWO THOUSAND FEET EIGHT MILES SOUTHEAST OF HALESWORTH AT ONE EIGHT TWO ZERO HOURS PD WILFORD J. WILLY CMA SR GRADE LIEUTENANT AND JOSEPH P. KENNEDY SR GRADE LIEUTENANT CMA BOTH USNR CMA WERE KILLED PD COMMANDER SMITH CMA IN COMMAND OF THIS UNIT CMA IS MAKING FULL REPORT TO US NAVAL OPERATIONS PD A MORE DETAILED REPORT WILL BE FORWARDED TO YOU WHEN INTERROGATION IS COMPLETED

The irony was that the mission was not necessary because the previous attack on Mimoyecques which initially deemed to be a failure had in fact been succesful.

Tallboy, or Bomb, Medium Capacity, 12,000 lb, was an earthquake bomb developed by the British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis and used by the RAF during the Second World War.

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On the 6th of  July 1944 –  The tall boy was dropped on the Mimoyecques  V3-weapon targets,believed to be Hitler’s super weapon .Damage was unknown at the time, and efforts continued. In September, allied ground forces found galleries blocked with earth and debris where Tallboys had hit one of the shafts. The V-weapon was revealed to be the V-3 cannon.

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A young officer called Earl Olsen had spotted a potentially defect in the control panel of the BQ-8  and reported it to his superiors.But since he wasn’t a high ranking officer and had no official qualifications in electronics his concerns were dismissed, even by Joe Kennedy  himself. What if they just would have listened to Earl Olsen.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks

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