The forgotten Genocide-Belgian Congo.

23b43079bc99703dcf5c7adcb2de6a12

The Congo Free State was a corporate state in Central Africa privately owned by King Leopold II of Belgium founded and recognized by the Berlin Conference of 1885. In the 23 years (1885-1908) Leopold II ruled the Congo he massacred 10 million Africans by cutting off their hands and genitals, flogging them to death, starving them into forced labour, holding children ransom and burning villages. The ironic part of this story is that Leopold II committed these atrocities by not even setting foot in the Congo.

Leopold_ii_garter_knight

Under Leopold II’s administration, the Congo Free State became one of the greatest international scandals of the early 20th century.

The ABIR Congo Company (founded as the Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company and later known as the Compagnie du Congo Belge) was the company appointed to exploit natural rubber in the Congo Free State. ABIR enjoyed a boom through the late 1890s, by selling a kilogram of rubber in Europe for up to 10 fr which had cost them just 1.35 fr. However, this came at a cost to the human rights of those who couldn’t pay the tax with imprisonment, flogging and other corporal punishment recorded.

Punch_congo_rubber_cartoon

Failure to meet the rubber collection quotas was punishable by death. Meanwhile, the Force Publique (the gendarmerie / military force) were required to provide the hand of their victims as proof when they had shot and killed someone, as it was believed that they would otherwise use the munitions (imported from Europe at considerable cost) for hunting. As a consequence, the rubber quotas were in part paid off in chopped-off hands. Sometimes the hands were collected by the soldiers of the Force Publique, sometimes by the villages themselves. There were even small wars where villages attacked neighboring villages to gather hands, since their rubber quotas were too unrealistic to fill.

cong_hands_1904_1

A Catholic priest quotes a man, Tswambe, speaking of the hated state official Léon Fiévez, who ran a district along the river 500 kilometres (300 mi) north of Stanley Pool: All blacks saw this man as the devil of the Equator…From all the bodies killed in the field, you had to cut off the hands. He wanted to see the number of hands cut off by each soldier, who had to bring them in baskets…A village which refused to provide rubber would be completely swept clean. As a young man, I saw [Fiévez’s] soldier Molili, then guarding the village of Boyeka, take a net, put ten arrested natives in it, attach big stones to the net, and make it tumble into the river…Rubber causes these torments; that’s why we no longer want to hear its name spoken. Soldiers made young men kill or rape their own mothers and sisters.

cong_hands_1904_2

One junior European officer described a raid to punish a village that had protested. The European officer in command “ordered us to cut off the heads of the men and hang them on the village palisades… and to hang the women and the children on the palisade in the form of a cross”. After seeing a Congolese person killed for the first time, a Danish missionary wrote: “The soldier said ‘Don’t take this to heart so much. They kill us if we don’t bring the rubber. The Commissioner has promised us if we have plenty of hands he will shorten our service”

img

In Forbath’s words: The baskets of severed hands, set down at the feet of the European post commanders, became the symbol of the Congo Free State…. The collection of hands became an end in itself. Force Publique soldiers brought them to the stations in place of rubber; they even went out to harvest them instead of rubber… They became a sort of currency. They came to be used to make up for shortfalls in rubber quotas, to replace… the people who were demanded for the forced labor gangs; and the Force Publique soldiers were paid their bonuses on the basis of how many hands they collected

In theory, each right hand proved a killing. In practice, soldiers sometimes “cheated” by simply cutting off the hand and leaving the victim to live or die. More than a few survivors later said that they had lived through a massacre by acting dead, not moving even when their hands were severed, and waiting till the soldiers left before seeking help. In some instances a soldier could shorten his service term by bringing more hands than the other soldiers, which led to widespread mutilations and dismemberment.

cong_hands_1904(A Congolese man looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year-old daughter who was killed, and allegedly cannibalized, by the members of Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company militia)

A reduction of the population of the Congo is noted by all who have compared the country at the beginning of Leopold’s control with the beginning of Belgian state rule in 1908, but estimates of the death toll vary considerably. Estimates of contemporary observers suggest that the population decreased by half during this period and these are supported by some modern scholars such as Jan Vansina. Others dispute this. Scholars at the Royal Museum for Central Africa argue that a decrease of 15 percent over the first forty years of colonial rule (up to the census of 1924).

 

Advertisements

The NAZI’s blueprint for extermination camps.

364CE51100000578-3691589-German_troops_pose_for_a_photo_with_tribe_members_during_the_gen-a-22_1468572118970

The concept of the concentration camps was not a Nazi concept. It was in fact the British who created the first concentration camps. The first use of concentration camps was by the British during the Boer war (1899–1902).

concentration-camps

Boers and black Africans were placed in camps so that they would be unable to aid Boer guerrillas. It is reported that more than 27,000 Boers and 14,000 Africans died in the camps from disease and starvation. Most of the dead were children, clearly noncombatants in the conflict.

A little known genocide took place between 1904 and 1907 in Namibia and was carried out by the troops of the Kaiser Wilhelm II

The Herero and Nama genocide was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the German Empire undertook in German South West Africa (modern-day Namibia) against the Herero and Nama people. It is considered one of the first genocides of the 20th century.

In January 1904, the Herero people, led by Samuel Maharero and Nama(or Namaqua) Captain Hendrik Witbooi, rebelled against German colonial rule.

In August, German General Lothar von Trotha defeated the Herero in the Battle of Waterberg and drove them into the desert of Omaheke, where most of them died of dehydration.

Lothar_von_Trotha

In October, the Nama people also rebelled against the Germans, only to suffer a similar fate.

Under German colonial rule, natives were routinely used as slave labourers, and their lands were frequently confiscated and given to colonists, who were encouraged to settle on land taken from the natives; that land was stocked with cattle stolen from the Herero and Namas.

General Trotha stated his proposed solution to end the resistance of the Herero people in a letter, before the Battle of Waterberg:

geographytravel-namibia-herero-war-1904-battle-of-waterberg-1181904-AG3MXB

I believe that the nation as such should be annihilated, or, if this was not possible by tactical measures, have to be expelled from the country … This will be possible if the water-holes from Grootfontein to Gobabis are occupied. The constant movement of our troops will enable us to find the small groups of this nation who have moved backwards and destroy them gradually.

Trotha’s troops defeated 3,000–5,000 Herero combatants at the Battle of Waterberg on 11–12 August 1904 but were unable to encircle and annihilate the retreating survivors.

Survivors of the massacre, the majority of whom were women and children, were eventually put in places like Shark Island Concentration Camp,

Erichsen p.68

where the German authorities forced them to work as slave labour for German military and settlers. All prisoners were categorised into groups fit and unfit for work, and pre-printed death certificates indicating “death by exhaustion following privation” were issued.The British government published their well-known account of the German genocide of the Nama and Herero peoples in 1918

Food in the camps was extremely scarce, consisting of rice with no additions. As the prisoners lacked pots and the rice they received was uncooked, it was indigestible; horses and oxen that died in the camp were later distributed to the inmates as food. Dysentery and lung diseases were common. Despite those conditions, the Herero were taken outside the camp every day for labour under harsh treatment by the German guards, while the sick were left without any medical assistance or nursing care.[25]:76

Shootings, hangings, beatings, and other harsh treatment of the forced labourers (including use of sjamboks) were common.

Sjambok_(plastic)

A 28 September 1905 article in the South African newspaper Cape Argus detailed some of the abuse with the heading: “In German S. W. Africa: Further Startling Allegations: Horrible Cruelty”.

Contrary to the German belief, the indigenous Herero and Nama people were not savages. The Herero had a sophisticated culture, having occupied their ancient lands for centuries, while the Nama  –  the mixed-race offspring of early Dutch settlers  –  were ferocious warriors as well as Christians.

Three-and-a-half thousand innocent Africans were liquidated here at the hands of the Germans, decades before the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, with the tacit sanction of the German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and his ministers.792550-hhzwilhelm2The story of the German extermination of the Herero and Namaqua peoples has been expunged from the history books  –  and the tourists and scuba divers on the Shark Bay waterfront will find no mention of it in their guides.

shark-island-5

 

More chilling still, the book raises another awful prospect. That the Nazi crimes of World War II were not an aberration, as some have claimed, but emerged from a tradition deeply embedded in the heart of German culture, with its warped beliefs about racial superiority, going back into the 19th century.

In 1908 Eugen Fischer(a German professor of medicine, anthropology, and eugenics, and a member of the Nazi Party.  conducted field research in German Southwest Africa (now Namibia).

Eugen_Fischer

He studied the Basters, offspring of German or Boer men who had fathered children by the native women (Hottentots) in that area. His study concluded with a call to prevent a “mixed race” by the prohibition of “mixed marriage” such as those he had studied. It included unethical medical practices on the Herero and Namaqua people.He argued that while the existing Mischling descendants of the mixed marriages might be useful for Germany, he recommended that they should not continue to reproduce.

Shark Island - Death Camp - BBC

His recommendations were followed and by 1912 interracial marriage was prohibited throughout the German colonies. As a precursor to his experiments on Jews in Nazi Germany, he collected bones and skulls for his studies, in part from medical experimentation on African prisoners of war in Namibia during the Herero and Namaqua Genocide.

His ideas expressed in this work, related to maintaining the purity of races, influenced future German legislation on race, including the Nuremberg law

 

 

 

The Jesselton revolt

Jesselton

Jesselton revolt was a multiethnic uprising on the occupied island of Borneo in October of 1943. The revolt was led by a guerrilla force mainly consisted of indigenous Suluk people and ethnic Chinese. The rebels were mainly armed with spears and Indonesian swords called parang, with little or no firearms.

The Kinabalu Guerrillas were led by Albert Kwok in the west and by Mustapha Harun in the north.

The Kinabalu Guerillas, consisting of 300 Chinese and islanders people like the Suluk and Bajau. The Dusun and Sikhs, started an uprising against the Japanese on 9 October 1943, on the eve of National Day of the Republic of China. Albert Kwok was a supporter of the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China

1024px-MatSalleh-Photo.

Kwok was forced to launch the revolt ahead of schedule because the forced conscription of the native Chinese was approaching. Imam Marajukim, a Muslim cleric from Sulu in the Philippines, was involved in the resistance against Japan in the Philippines and helped supply Kwok and the Kinabalu guerillas.The Suluks were described as “strongly displeased to be anti-Japanese” Imam Marajukim helped the Chinese secure participation in the uprising from Panglima Ali’s Suluks, the Binadan inhabitants of the Mantanani and Danawan (Dinawan) islands, and the Oudar Islanders under Orang Tuah Arshad.The rank of 3rd Lieutenant within the Sulu guerrillas was granted to Kwok after he joined the resistance movement.

The Chinese and Suluks started the insurrection with a combined land and sea attack on the Japanese in Jesselton. Mantanani and other islands contributed ships to the Suluk flotilla, headed by Suluk (Sulug) Island leader Orang Tuah Panglima Ali and Oudar (Udar) Island leader Orang Tuah Arshad.Panglima Ali was the primary leader of the naval part of the uprising.

The 100-strong Chinese guerrilla force was led by Kwok first took control of the Menggatal and Tuaran police stations and then used parangs to attack the Japanese on land in Jesselton.

Jesselton,_circa_1911

While the 200-strong guerrilla force of Suluks and Bajau from the coastal islands led by Sulug Island leader Orang Tuah Panglima Ali, Udar Island leader Orang Tuah Arshad, Mantanani Island leader Jemalul and Dinawan Island leader Saruddin attacked from the sea, assaulting the city and burning down warehouses.

Dusun-Murut and Sikh Indians joined the guerillas in the attack on the Japanese. The Japanese suffered 60-90 deaths, but the guerillas were armed only with parangs and spears, so they were forced to withdraw. This led to the defeat of the uprising.

The infamous Kempeitai, whose methods of torture and interrogation were very similar to the German Gestapo, conducted the systematic Massacre of the Suluks while pursuing the remnants of the Chinese guerrillas.

Kempeitai-Featured

They bayoneted and beheaded the Suluks and burned their villages to the point that the indigenous people were almost completely wiped out. Around 3,000-4,000 of Suluks were exterminated.

“The Tokyo war crimes trial” index described Japanese atrocities as “an apparently systematic attempt to exterminate the Suluk race between February and June 1944”

Rafael Trujillo and the forgotten genocide.

era_de_trujillo_sign

Rafael Trujillo was a dictator of the Dominican Republic for decades. He was assassinated in 1961.

In early 1930, after Dominican President Horacio Vasquez faced revolts and a provisional government had been established, Trujillo named himself a candidate in the new presidential elections.

trujillo

During Trujillo’s campaign, he organized a secret police force to torture and murder supporters of the opposing candidate. Not surprisingly, Trujillo won the election by a landslide.

Shortly into Trujillo’s first term, Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, was devastated by a hurricane. Trujillo used the disaster as an excuse to impose martial law on all citizens. He also imposed “emergency taxes” and even seized the bank accounts of his opposition. Trujillo spent the next six years renovating the city and building several monuments in his own honor. Upon completing renovations, Trujillo renamed Santo Domingo “Ciudad Trujillo.

panoramica_sdq

I am not going into his career as the ruler of the Dominican Republic but into the pre WWII years.

Trujillo was known for his open-door policy, accepting Jewish refugees from Europe, Japanese migration during the 1930s, and exiles from Spain following its civil war. He developed a uniquely Dominican policy of racial discrimination, Antihaitianismo (“anti-Haitianism”), targeting the mostly-black inhabitants of his neighboring country and those within the Platano Curtain, including many Afro-Dominican citizens. At the 1938 Évian Conference the Dominican Republic was the only country willing to accept many Jews and offered to accept up to 100,000 refugees on generous terms.

evian

In 1940 an agreement was signed and Trujillo donated 26,000 acres (110 km2) of his properties for settlements. The first settlers arrived in May 1940; eventually some 800 settlers came to Sosua and most moved later on to the United States.

Refugees from Europe broadened the Dominican Republic’s tax base and added more whites to the predominantly mixed-race nation. The government favored white refugees over others while Dominican troops expelled illegal aliens, resulting in the 1937 Parsley Massacre of Haitian immigrants.

hispaniola

It was on this day 79 years ago  Rafael Trujillo ordered the execution of the Haitian population living within the borderlands; an estimated 20,000 were killed over the five days that followed, known as the Parlsey Massacre.Dominican soldiers would hold up a sprig of parsley to someone and ask what it was. How the person pronounced the Spanish word for parsley (perejil) determined their fate.

Rafael Trujillo, a proponent of anti-Haitianism, made his intentions towards the Haitian community clear in a short speech he gave 2 October 1937 at a dance in his honor in Dajabón. He said,

For some months, I have traveled and traversed the border in every sense of the word. I have seen, investigated, and inquired about the needs of the population. To the Dominicans who were complaining of the depredations by Haitians living among them, thefts of cattle, provisions, fruits, etc., and were thus prevented from enjoying in peace the products of their labor, I have responded, ‘I will fix this.’ And we have already begun to remedy the situation. Three hundred Haitians are now dead in Bánica. This remedy will continue.

Trujillo reportedly was acting in response to reports of Haitians stealing cattle and crops from Dominican borderland residents. According to some sources, the massacre killed an estimated 20,000 Haitians living in the Dominican border—clearly at Trujillo’s direct order. However, estimates of the number of victims vary widely.

For approximately five days, from 2 October 1937 to 8 October 1937, Dominican troops killed Haitians with guns, machetes, clubs, and knives. Some died while trying to flee to Haiti across the Artibonite River, which has often been the site of bloody conflict between the two nations.

It is claimed that a majority of those who died were born in the Dominican Republic and belonged to well-established Haitian communities in the borderlands.However, it is difficult for anyone to ascertain a victim’s place of birth, especially considering that, in most cases, their identities are unknown, and their births may not have been officially recorded.

The Dominican Republic, formerly the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo, is the eastern portion of the island of Hispaniola and occupies five-eighths of the land while having ten million inhabitants. In contrast, Haiti, the former French colony of Saint-Domingue, is on the western three-eighths of the island and has almost exactly the same population, with an estimated 500 people per square mile.

download

This has forced many Haitians onto land too mountainous, eroded, or dry for productive farming. Instead of staying on lands incapable of supporting them, many Haitians migrated to Dominican soil, where land hunger was low. While Haitians benefited by gaining farm land, Dominicans in the borderlands subsisted mostly on agriculture, and benefited from the ease of exchange of goods with Haitian markets.

Due to inadequate roadways connecting the borderlands to major cities,communication with Dominican markets was so limited that the small commercial surplus of the frontier slowly moved toward Haiti.This threatened Trujillo’s regime because of long-standing border disputes between the two nations. If large numbers of Haitian immigrants began to occupy the less densely populated Dominican borderlands, the Haitian government might try to make a case for claiming Dominican land. Additionally, loose borders let contraband pass freely, and without taxes between nations, depriving the Dominican Republic of tariff revenue.

Furthermore, the Dominican government saw the loose borderlands as a liability in terms of possible formation of revolutionary groups that could flee across the border with ease, while at the same time amassing weapons and follower.

Despite attempts to blame Dominican civilians, it has been confirmed by U.S. sources that “bullets from Krag rifles were found in Haitian bodies, and only Dominican soldiers had access to this type of rifle.”

1280px-gevar_forsoksmodell_1892_krag-jorgensen_norge_-_armemuseum

Therefore, the Haitian Massacre, which is still referred to as el corte (the cutting) by Dominicans and as kouto-a (the knife) by Haitians, was, “…a calculated action on the part of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo to homogenize the furthest stretches of the country in order to bring the region into the social, political and economic fold,” and rid his republic of Haitians.

Thereafter, Trujillo began to develop the borderlands to link them more closely with urban areas.These areas were modernized, with the addition of modern hospitals, schools, political headquarters, military barracks, and housing projects—as well as a highway to connect the borderlands to major cities.

6f1f1a_e9153e2b12c6acf8e4e4a1308c80a576-1

Additionally, after 1937, quotas restricted the number of Haitians permitted to enter the Dominican Republic, and a strict and often discriminatory border policy was enacted. Dominicans continued to deport and kill Haitians in southern frontier regions—as refugees died of exposure, malaria and influenza.

In the end, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt and Haitian president Sténio Vincent sought reparations of $750,000, of which the Dominican government paid $525,000 (US$ 8,641,840.28 in 2016 dollars).

Of this 30 dollars per victim, survivors received only 2 cents each, due to corruption in the Haitian bureaucracy.

Despite the number of reported deaths by Haitian, American and British officials, and following over half a century of agricultural expansion and population growth which may have led to accidental unearthing of human remains, no mass grave containing the bodies of murdered Haitians has ever been found.

Nonetheless, the lack of graves does not prove that the killings did not take place; however, it does suggest that the number of dead was in reality much less than those commonly reported. Reports from the day have numbers ranging from as little as 1,000 dead up to 12,000 even the upper end of the scale is dwarfed by the 30,000 victims which are commonly reported in the present. This inflation of the tally is attributed by some to the propaganda of anti-Trujillo exiles who wanted to rally international support against the dictator Trujillo.

On the Dominican side, there are no known formally documented first-hand witness accounts by military personnel carrying out the executions nor from civilians. Historian and former Dominican ambassador to the United States Bernardo Vega has cited that not many weeks after the end of the alleged massacre, Haitians were once again lining up for work at Dominican sugar cane plantations, something he considers as strange as “lambs willingly walking into the slaughterhouse”

Dominican historian Bernardo Vega has chronologically tabulated many conflicting reports on the number of victims, by various sources, with none of the estimates showing the exaggerated 20,000–30,000 figures. The earliest report, dated 11 October 1937, by the United States consul in Cap-Haïtien, puts the number at “almost one thousand”. On 6 November 1937 an official diplomatic note from the Haitian to the Dominican government speaks of 2,040. By 19 December, a Haitian minister in Washington gave the number 12,168. On the first of January 1938, the Dominican foreign minister offered the figure of 547.

 

The Children of Bullenhuser Damm

1280px-Escola_Bullenhuser_Damm

In November 1944 20 Jewish children, ten boys and ten girls, had been brought from Auschwitz to the concentration camp of Neuengamme, just outside Hamburg.

Below are pictures of 3 of the children-Jacqueline Morgenstern,Georges Andre Kohn and Sergio de Desimone.

The youngsters, aged between 5 and 12 years old, came from all over Europe and were to be human guinea-pigs in a series of medical experiments conducted by the SS doctor Kurt Heissmeyer. 
135323334
Dr. Heissmeyer removed the children’s lymph glands for analysis, and he injected living tuberculosis bacteria in their veins and directly into their lungs to determine if they had any natural immunities to tuberculosis. They were carefully observed, examined and photographed as the disease progressed. The condition of all the children deteriorated very rapidly and they became extremely ill.

On April 20, 1945, the day on which Adolf Hitler was celebrating his fifty-sixth birthday and just a few days before the war ended, Heissmeyer and SS-Obersturmführer Arnold Strippel decided to kill the children in an effort to hide evidence of the experiments from the approaching Allied forces. To conceal all traces the SS transported the children to the former Bullenhuser Damm School, which had been used as a satellite camp since October 1944. They were immediately taken to the basement and ordered to undress. An SS officer later reported: “They sat down on the benches all around and were cheerful and happy that they had been for once allowed out of Neuengamme. The children were completely unsuspecting.”

The children were told that they had to be vaccinated against typhoid fever before their return journey. Then they were injected with morphine. They were hanged from hooks on the wall, but the SS men found it difficult to kill the mutilated children. The first child to be strung up was so light – due to disease and malnutrition – that the rope wouldn’t strangle him. SS untersturmführer Frahm had to use all of his own weight to tighten the noose. Then he hanged the others, two at a time, from different hooks. ‘Just like pictures on the wall’, he would recall later. He added that none of the children had cried.

taeter_frahm

Four of the adult prisoners who had been looking after them in the camp were also killed on that day., The adults are the two French doctors, Gabriel Florence and René Quenouille, and the Dutchmen Dirk Deutekom(no picture available) and Anton Hölzel.

The SS physician Kurt Heissmeyer desired to obtain a professorship. In order to do so he needed to present original research. Although previously disproven, his hypothesis was that the injection of live tuberculosis bacilli into subjects would act as a vaccine. Another component of his experimentation was based on pseudoscientific Nazi racial theory that race played a factor in developing tuberculosis.

He attempted to prove his hypothesis by injecting live tuberculosis bacilli into the lungs and bloodstream of “Untermenschen” (subhumans), Jews and Slavs being considered by the Nazis to be racially inferior to Germans.

He was able to have the facilities made available and to test his subjects as a result of his personal connections: his uncle, SS general August Heissmeyer, and his close acquaintance, SS general Oswald Pohl.

The medical experiments on tuberculosis infection were initially carried out on prisoners from the Soviet Union and other countries at the Neuengamme concentration camp. The experiments were then extended to Jews. For this Heissmeyer chose to use Jewish children. Twenty Jewish children (10 boys and 10 girls) from Auschwitz concentration camp were chosen by Josef Mengele and sent to Neuengamme. Mengele allegedly asked the children, “Who wants to go and see their mother?

The children were accompanied to Neuengamme by four women prisoners. Two were Polish nurses and one was a Hungarian pharmacist, and they were killed upon arrival at Neuengamme. The fourth woman, Polish-born Jew Paula Trocki, was a doctor. She survived the war and later gave testimony in Jerusalem about what she had witnessed:

“The transport was accompanied by an SS guard. There were 20 children, one female medical doctor, three nurses. The transport was in a separate carriage that was coupled on a normal train. Presented in this manner it appeared to be an ordinary carriage. We had to take off the stars of David lest we attract any attention. To prevent people from approaching us they said it was a transport of people suffering from typhoid fever… The food was excellent; on that journey we were given chocolate and milk. After a two-day trip we arrived at Neuengamme at ten o’clock at night”

The children were injected with live tuberculosis bacilli, and they all became ill.

Children_of_Bullinhuser_Damm

Heissmeyer then had their axillary lymph nodes surgically removed from their armpits and sent to Dr Hans Klein at the Hohenlychen Hospital for study. All the children were photographed holding up one arm to show the surgical incision. Dr Klein was not prosecuted.

The children were injected with live tuberculosis bacilli, and they all became ill. Heissmeyer then had their axillary lymph nodes surgically removed from their armpits and sent to Dr Hans Klein at the Hohenlychen Hospital for study. All the children were photographed holding up one arm to show the surgical incision. Dr Klein was not prosecuted.

The collapsing western front and imminent approach of British troops prompted the perpetrators to murder the subjects of the experiment to cover up their crimes. The orders for the murders were issued from Berlin.

The children, their four adult caretakers and six Soviet prisoners were brought by truck to the Bullenhuser Damm School in the Hamburg suburb of Rothenburgsort. The school had been taken over by the SS to house prisoners from Neuengamme used to clear rubble from the surrounding area after Allied bombing raids. The SS evacuated the building around April 11, 1945 leaving a skeleton crew of two SS guards: Ewald Jauch and Johann Frahm and a janitor. They were accompanied by three SS guards (Wilhelm Dreimann, Adolf Speck, and Heinrich Wiehagen,no picture), as well as the driver, Hans Friedrich Petersen(no picture), and SS physician Alfred Trzebinski. The children as well as others were told they were being taken to Theresienstadt. Upon arriving at the school they were led into the basement.

They were then made to undress and were then injected with morphine by Trzebinski. They were then led into an adjacent room and hanged from hooks set into the wall. The execution was overseen by SS Obersturmführer Arnold Strippel.

taeter_strippel

The first child to be hanged was so light that the noose would not tighten. Frahm grabbed him in a bearhug and used his own weight to pull down and tighten the noose. The adults were hanged from overhead pipes; they were made to stand on a box, which was pulled away from under them. That same night, about 30 additional Soviet prisoners were also brought by lorry to the school to be executed; six escaped, three were shot trying to do so, and the rest were hanged in the basement.

Some of those involved in the killings were tried by the British in the Curio Haus in Hamburg in 1946. Trzebinski, Neuengamme commandant Max Pauly, Dreimann, Speck, Jauch and Frahm were convicted and given the death sentence. They were hanged on October 8, 1946.

Two of those directly responsible for the children’s suffering and murder, Kurt Heissmeyer and Arnold Strippel, escaped initially but were caught later. Strippel had served at other concentration camps before Neuengamme, including Buchenwald. He was recognized on the street in Frankfurt in 1948 by a former Buchenwald prisoner. He was tried for the murders of 21 Jewish inmates committed on November 9, 1939 as retribution for the failed assassination of Adolf Hitler at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich by Georg Elser. Strippel was tried, convicted and sentenced to 21 life terms by a Frankfurt court in 1949

In 1964, an investigation into his involvement with the Bullenhuser Damm School murders was begun by the Hamburg prosecutor’s office. The statute of limitations had run out for manslaughter so he had to be charged with murder. Among the criteria for murder it had to be proven that the accused acted cruelly, insidiously or with motive. In 1967 the prosecutor, Helmut Münzberg, dropped the charges for lack of evidence, stating that Strippel had not acted cruelly as “the children had not been harmed beyond the extinction of their lives”.

He was released from prison in 1969. After his release, he applied for a retrial, and in 1970 his original conviction was overturned and he was retried. At this retrial, he was convicted as being just an accessory to the Buchenwald murders and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. Because he had already served 20 years in prison, 14 years longer than this sentence, he was compensated with 121,477.92 Deutschmarks.

In 1979, partly as a result of articles written by Günther Schwarberg, Strippel’s case was reopened.

Bullenhuser Damm

He was not re-incarcerated, and in 1987 the case was abandoned by the Hamburg prosecutor’s office, owing to Strippel’s frailty. Strippel died on May 1, 1994.

Kurt Heissmeyer returned to his home in Magdeburg in postwar East Germany and started a successful medical practice as a lung and tuberculosis specialist. He was eventually found out in 1959. In 1966, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. At his trial he stated, “I did not think that inmates of a camp had full value as human beings.” When asked why he did not use guinea pigs he responded, “For me there was no basic difference between human beings and guinea pigs.” He then corrected himself: “Jews and guinea pigs”.Heissmeyer died on August 29, 1967

The building at Bullenhuser Damm was used by the British as a transit camp for German POWs until 1947. It was then used by the Hydrograpichal Institute’s meteorological service until 1949, when it again became a school, for 800 boys. In 1959, the organization representing Neuengamme survivors proposed to the Hamburg school board that a memorial plaque should be placed in the school. However, it was not until 1963 that the text for the plaque was approved.

1024px-PlatzderKindervomBullenhuserDammHamburg

The text aroused controversy because it omitted mention of the Soviet victims and did not state that the children were Jewish or give any information about their personal identity. In 1980, information signs were placed in the basement of the school, and the Senate of Hamburg (government) declared the school to be a memorial site, renaming it Janusz Korczak School: Korczak was a Polish—Jewish pediatrician and author who died at Treblinka extermination camp with about 190 orphans. A rose garden was established in 1985.

Later, in the Schnelsen Quarter of the city several streets were named after the children who died at the school and a memorial tablet was installed. Much of the work of identifying the victims and of bringing the story to the public’s attention was due to the efforts of Günther Schwarberg.

In 2005, Wolfgang Peiner, Minister of Finance of Hamburg, published plans to sell the building. However, after several protests a spokesman denied these plans.

In 2011 a new exhibition (telling the story in German and English) was opened at the Memorial.

800px-RIMG0134

Not one of the children of Bullenhuser Damm was older than twelve. Stripped of their childhoods, they lived and died during the dark years of the Holocaust and were victims of the Nazi regime. Had they survived another two weeks, they would have been liberated by the Allied forces.

Alexander Hornemann, 8, the Netherlands
Eduard Hornemann, 12, the Netherlands
Marek Steinbaum, 10, Poland
Marek James, 6, Poland
W. Junglieb, 12, Yugoslavia
Roman Witonski, 7, Poland
Roman Zeller, 12, Poland
Sergio de Simone, 7, Italy
Georges Andre Kohn, 12, France
Eduard Reichenbaum, 10, Poland
Jacqueline Morgenstern, 12, France
Surcis Goldinger, 11, Poland
Lelka Birnbaum, 12, Poland
Eleonora Witonska, 5, Poland
Ruchla Zylberberg, 10, Poland
H.Wasserman, 8, Poland
Lea Klygerman, 8, Poland
Rywka Herszberg, 7, Poland
Blumel Mekler, 11, Poland
Mania Altman, 5, Poland

Ustaše- The fascists that made the Nazi’s look like boyscouts

Black_Legion_1942

The Ustaše (also called Ustashas or Ustashi) was a Croatian racist, terrorist, and Nazi-like movement. It was engaged in terrorist activities before World War II.[Under the protection of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, the Ustaše ruled a part of Yugoslavia, after Yugoslavia was occupied by Italy and Germany. At the end of World War II, the Ustaše were defeated and expelled by the Yugoslav Partisans.

Croatian politician Stjepan Radić was shot on October 1928 and died a month later. Alexander I, King of Yugoslavia, imposed a royal dictatorship in January 1929 and made all political parties illegal. Ante Pavelić left the country for Vienna. He and Gustav Perčec, a former Austro-Hungarian Lieutenant colonel, established contact with organization of Macedonian political emigres. These two groups agreed to coordinate their political activities for achieving full independence for Macedonia and Croatia. There and then, Pavelić secretly met with the leader of outlawed Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), Ivan Mikhailov, a declared enemy of Yugoslavia, and made agreement with him to cooperate against the Yugoslav state.

Due to these circumstances, the Court for the Preservation of the State in Belgrade sentenced Pavelić and Perčec to death on 17 July 1929.The exiles started organizing support for their cause among the Croatian emigration in Europe, North America, and South America. The Ustaše organization was small in numbers and was organized in military patterns. They fought Yugoslav statehood by means of terror.

The roots of the Ustaše ideology were in the Croatian nationalism of the nineteenth century. The Ustaše ideological system was chiefly based on the traditional pure Croatian nationalism of Ante Starčević.

The ideology of the movement was a blend of fascism, Roman Catholicism and Croatian nationalism.The Ustaše supported the creation of a  Greater Croatia that would span the River Drina and extend to the border of Belgrade.The movement emphasized the need for a racially “pure” Croatia and promoted genocide against Serbs, Jews and Romani people, and persecution of anti-fascist or dissident Croatians.

The Ustaše were fiercely Catholic, identifying it with Croatian nationalism. They declared that the Catholic and Muslim faiths were the religions of the Croatian people. They claimed the Islam of the Bosniaks was a religion which “keeps true the blood of Croats”.

When it was founded in 1930, as Ustaša – Croatian Revolutionary Organization it was a nationalist organization that sought to create an independent Croatian state. When the Ustaše came to power in the NDH, a quasi-protectorate established by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany during World War II, its military wings became the Army of the Independent State of Croatia and the Ustaše militia.

Starčević’s racism was further fully elaborated by Ustaša Ivo Pilar [under the pseudonym L. von Südland].His book was translated into Croatian in 1943, by Pavelić’s regime, as one of the tenets of his Ustaše and his Independent State of Croatia. At the same time, the Ustaše borrowed from traditional Croatian nationalism, the National-Socialism of Hitler, the fascism of Mussolini, and even from the program of the Croatian Peasant Party. The Ustaše aimed at an ethnically “pure” Croatia, and saw the Serbs that lived in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as their biggest obstacle.

The Ustaše persecuted the Serbs, who were Orthodox Christians. They were tolerant toward the Bosnian Muslims, claiming that the Muslims were actually ethnic Croats that converted to Islam during the Ottoman Turk occupation of Bosnia. The state even converted a former museum in Zagreb for use as a mosque. The basic principles of the movement were laid out by Pavelić in his 1929 pamphlet “Principles of the Ustaše Movement.”

The Ustaše’s problem with the Nazi ideology was that the Croats are Slavs and were considered inferior by Nazi standards. Ustaše ideology thus created a theory about a pseudo-Gothic origin of the Croats in order to raise their standing on the Aryan ladder.

At the top of the command was the Poglavnik (meaning “head”) Ante Pavelić. Pavelić was appointed the office as Head of State of Croatia after Adolf Hitler had accepted Benito Mussolini’s proposal of Pavelić, on 10 April 1941. The Croatian Home Guard was the armed forces of Croatia, it subsequently merged into the Croatian Armed Forces.

.

Germany and Italy invaded Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941. On April 10, the most senior home-based Ustaša, Slavko Kvaternik, took control of the police in Zagreb and in a radio broadcast that day proclaimed the formation of the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH). Maček issued a statement that day, calling on all Croatians to cooperate with the new authorities.

Meanwhile, Pavelić and several hundred Ustaše left their camps in Italy for Zagreb, where Pavelić set up his government on 17 April. He accorded himself the title of “Poglavnik”, – which was equivalent to “Führer,” or “Headman” in English. Pavelić’s “Independent State of Croatia” comprised territory of Croatia, Srem, and Bosnia-Herzegovina – except parts of the Dalmatian coast and islands, which were ceded to the Italians. De facto control over this territory varied for the majority of the war, as the Partisans grew more successful, while the Germans and Italians increasingly exercised direct control over areas of their interest.

All who opposed and/or threatened the Ustaše were outlawed. In early 1941, Jews and Serbs were ordered to leave certain areas of Zagreb.

Pavelić first met with Adolf Hitler on 6 June 1941.

hitlerpavelicmap31

Mile Budak, then a minister in Pavelić’s government, publicly proclaimed the violent racial policy of the state on 22 July 1941.Maks Luburić, one of the chiefs of the secret police, started building concentration camps in the summer of the same year. Ustaše activities in villages across the Dinaric Alps led to the Italians and the Germans expressing disquiet. As early as July 10, 1941, Wehrmacht General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau reported the following to the German High Command, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW):

“Our troops have to be mute witnesses of such events; it does not reflect well on their otherwise high reputation… I am frequently told that German occupation troops would finally have to intervene against Ustaše crimes. This may happen eventually. Right now, with the available forces, I could not ask for such action. Ad hoc intervention in individual cases could make the German Army look responsible for countless crimes which it could not prevent in the past”

A Gestapo report to Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, dated February 17, 1942, stated that:

“Increased activity of the bands [of rebels] is chiefly due to atrocities carried out by Ustaše units in Croatia against the Orthodox population. The Ustaše committed their deeds in a bestial manner not only against males of conscript age, but especially against helpless old people, women and children. The number of the Orthodox that the Croats have massacred and sadistically tortured to death is about three hundred thousand”

(Graphic images)

 

Italian troops in the field had competing territorial claims with their Ustaše allies and had cooperated from the start with Chetnik units operating in the southern areas that they controlled. Hitler tried to insist that Mussolini should have his forces work with the Ustaše, but senior Italian commanders, such as General Mario Roatta, ignored such orders

The Ustaše enacted race laws patterned after those of Nazi Germany. These laws were aimed against Jews, Roma, and Serbs, who were collectively declared enemies of the Croatian people. Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascists, including communists, were interned in concentration camps, the largest of which was the Jasenovac complex, where many were killed by Ustaše militia.

Jasenovac-concentration-camp-5

Ustaše_militia_execute_prisoners_near_the_Jasenovac_concentration_camp

The exact number of victims is not known. The number of murdered Jews is fairly reliable: around 32,000 Jews were killed during World War II on NDH territory. Gypsies (Yugoslav Roma) numbered around 40,000 fewer after the war. Of the number of Serbs who died, estimates tend to vary between 300,000 and 700,000.

The history textbooks in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia cited 700,000 as the total number of victims at Jasenovac. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center (citing the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust), “Ustasa terrorists killed 500,000 Serbs, expelled 250,000 and forced 250,000 to convert to Catholicism. They murdered thousands of Jews and Gypsies.”

220px-Executed_prisoners_in_Jasenovac

The Jasenovac Memorial Area, currently headed by Slavko Goldstein, keeps a list of 59,188 names of Jasenovac victims that was gathered by government officials in Belgrade in 1964. The previous head of the Memorial Area, Simo Brdar, estimated at least 365,000 dead at Jasenovac.

ja

The Belgrade Museum of the Holocaust compiled a list of over 77,000 names of Jasenovac victims. It was previously headed by Milan Bulajić, who supported the claim of a total of 700,000 victims. The current administration of the Museum has further expanded the list to include a bit over 80,000 names. During the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, Alexander Arnon (secretary of the Jewish Community in Zagreb) testified about the treatment of Jews in Yugoslavia during the war. Alexander Arnon’s testimony included estimates of six hundred of thousand killed in the Jasenovac concentration camp.

During World War II, various German military commanders gave different figures for the number of Serbs, Jews and others killed on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia. They circulated figures of 400,000 Serbs (Alexander Lehr); 350,000 Serbs (Lothar Rendulic); between 300,000 (Edmund Glaise von Horstenau); more than “3/4 of a million Serbs” (Hermann Neubacher) in 1943; 600-700,000 until March 1944 (Ernst Fick); 700,000 (Massenbach).

The role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust in Croatia is still a subject of great controversy. It is complicated due to several factors, such as:

  • The Communists who came to power after the war sought to undermine the influence of the Church by associating them with the Ustaše. Priests and monks were often depicted as direct participants in the Holocaust.
  • Some (mostly Serbian) authors sought to depict the Vatican as taking the opportunity to expand eastwards through forced conversions.
  • Some (mostly Croat) authors sought to depict the Church as being entirely innocent, pointing out that certain priests, including Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, rescued Jews and others from prosecution.
  • As always, the Vatican’s Secret Archives are only open to those the Church wishes to admit.

As with most things in life, the truth is likely somewhere in between the two extremes. While some priests and monks did directly participate in the killings, including the notorious “Brother Satan” Filip Majstorović and “Serbkiller king” Petar Brzica, most were defrocked once the Vatican got word of their deeds.

Others, such as the Archbishop of Vrhbosna Ivan Šarić did not directly participate in the violence, but composed hymns of praise to the Ustaše leaders and agreed that “strong-handed” measures were required to ensure the peace of the country. The above mentioned Stepinac, the foremost church leader in the country, at first welcomed the Ustaše, but was quickly disillusioned when he heard of the massacres they committed, and managed to save some Jews and others from certain death. Still, he continued to hold communion for the Ustaše leaders, and generally failed to publicly condemn them (though he did write letters of protest to Pavelić). In contrast, clergymen such as Archbishop of Mostar Alojzije Mišić and priest Marko Oršolić publicly condemned the Ustaše yet suffered no repression.

NDH_-_salute

At the end of war, Ustaše continued fighting for a short while after the formal surrender of German Army Group E on 9 May 1945, and many refugees attempted to escape to Austria. Pavelić, however, with the help of associates among the Franciscans, managed to escape and hide in Austria and Rome, later fleeing to Argentina.

The remaining Ustaše went underground or fled to South America and countries such as Canada, Australia, Germany, with the assistance of Roman Catholic churches and their grassroots supporters Some of them persisted in their crusade against Yugoslavia.

With the defeat of the Independent State of Croatia, the movement ceased to exist. Infighting over the failure to establish a Croatian state also fragmented the surviving Ustaše. Ante Pavelić formed the Croatian Liberation Movement, which drew several of the former state’s leaders. Vjekoslav Vrančić founded a reformed Croatian Liberation Movement, and was its leader.

Vjekoslav Luburić helped form a organization called the “Croatian National Resistance” (Hrvatski narodni odpor). This became the most violent of the Ustaše organizations which were born after the WWII. Luburić commanded the organization for twenty-five years from his refuge in Spain. His organization was heavily involved in racketeering, attempted murder, extortion, hijacking, terrorist bombings, and other violent crimes. After his death, his successors on the organization commanding post sought out criminal organization ties with La Cosa Nostra, the Provisional IRA, and the Croatian Mafia in San Pedro.Odpor was banned in Germany for terrorist activities and operated (in the USA and Canada) between legitimate emigre functions and a thuggish underworld. Its leaders tried to distance the organization from the acts of the so-called renegade elements that hijacked international flights and served prison sentences for extortion. Odpor embraced a radical nationalist ideology that differed only marginally from Ustaše ideology.

The Odpor’s most spectacular terrorist action was hijacking TWA Flight 355 on September 10, 1976. This terrorist action was masterminded by Zvonko Bušić, then the leader of the American branch of Odor. He and four other Croatian terrorists carried out the hijacking. Bušić also planted a bomb at Grand Central Station in New York City.

250px-Grand_Cental_Terminal2007

An attempt to dismantle the bomb ended in a blast which killed one police officer and injured three others. All of the terrorists surrendered, and Bušić was sentenced to life in prison. The other four terrorists were sentenced to various long-term imprisonments.

Blagoje Jovovic, a Serb, shot Ante Pavelić near Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 9th, 1957. Pavelić was injured and later died.

Another Ustaše terrorist organization, the Croatian Revolutionary Cell, Bruno Busic Department, bombed the R. S. Schullz publishing house in Percha on Lake Starnberg, Germany, on August 19, 1981. The group, which claims to be based in Paris, used one kilogram of Swiss Mark 2 dynamite. They threatened to use two more kilograms the following week if the firm published Tito’s memoirs.

fter World War II, the Ustaša movement was split into several organizations and there is presently no political or paramilitary movement that claims its legacy as their “successor”. The term “ustaše” is today used as (derogatory) term for Croatian ultranationalism. The term “Ustaše” is sometimes used among Serbs to describe Serbophobia or generally to defame political opponents. When Slobodan Milošević was at the end of his rule, the protesters called him “Ustaša”

Slobodan_Milosevic_Dayton_Agreement

Deportation of the Crimean Tatars 1944

Let it never be said that the Eurovision Songcontest can’t be an inspiration to write a historical piece.

The lyrics for “1944” concern the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, in the 1944, by the Soviet Union at the hands of Joseph Stalin. Jamala was particularly inspired by the story of her great-grandmother Nazylkhan, who was in her mid-20s when she and her five children were deported to barren Central Asia. One of the daughters did not survive the journey. Jamala’s great-grandfather was fighting in World War II in the Red Army at this time and thus could not protect his family.

The forcible deportation of the Crimean Tatars from Crimea was ordered by Joseph Stalin as a form of collective punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazi occupation regime in Taurida Subdistrict during 1942-1943.

stalin1-620x435

The state-organized removal is known as the Sürgünlik in Crimean Tatar. A total of more than 230,000 people were deported, mostly to the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. This included the entire ethnic Crimean Tatar population, at the time about a fifth of the total population of the Crimean Peninsula, as well as smaller numbers of ethnic Greeks and Bulgarians.

A large number of deportees (more than 100,000 according to a 1960s survey by Crimean Tatar activists) died from starvation or disease as a direct result of deportation. It is considered to be a case of ethnic cleansing.  For a long time Crimean Tatars and Soviet dissidents called for recognition of the genocide of Crimean Tatars. On November 12, 2015 parliament of Ukraine adopted a resolution recognizing the event as a genocide and declared 18 May as a Day of Remembrance for the victims of Crimean Tatar genocide.

The events of World War II   had a huge impact on the entire Crimean Tatar population. The Axis occupation of the Crimean peninsula precipitated a brutal war between Soviet partisans and German and Romanian forces. This war involved Crimean Tatars on both sides. After the Soviet victory   in World War II, the Stalin regime exiled the entire Crimean Tatar population to Uzbekistan and Eastern Russia. Crimean Tatar soldiers in the Red Army found themselves rewarded for their loyalty with harsh forced labor in coal mines and lumber camps in the Urals. These events still haunt the Crimean Tatars both demographically and psychologically. In 1939, the Soviet census counted 218,179 Crimean Tatars in the Crimean ASSR.[By 1953, their numbers in the USSR had dropped to 165,259 people scattered throughout Kazakhstan, Central Asia, the Urals, and Siberia. This loss becomes even more staggering when the pre-war growth of the Crimean Tatar population is taken into account. Between 1923 and 1939, the Crimean Tatar population increased from 150,000 to over 218,000.The scale of this demographic loss gives a small indication of the traumatic devastation the war, deportations, exile, and forced labor had upon the Crimean Tatars.

When the Soviet Union was first established, Crimean Tatars were recognized as the indigenous people of the Crimean peninsula under the policy of Korenizatsiya, and the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Crimean ASSR) was established.

Ukposter

Under this administration, Crimean Tatars enjoyed cultural autonomy and the promotion of their culture, as the Crimean Tatar language had co-official language status along with Russian and Crimean Tatar cultural activities, including establishment of cultural institutions, museums, libraries and theaters, proliferated. However, under Joseph Stalin, the official policy of the Soviet government turned to one of repression. Under the policy of dekulakization, a number of Crimean Tatars were deported to Siberia and the Ural Mountains and the Crimean Tatar people suffered from the Soviet famine of 1932–33, which was exacerbated by the destructive effects of collectivization on Crimean Tatar orchards, vineyards and farms.

In September 1941, during the German 11th Army and troops from the Romanian Third Army and Fourth Army entered the Crimean Peninsula and started the Crimean Campaign of World War II. By November, they controlled the entire peninsula except for the city of Sevastopol. After a siege lasting for months, Sevastopol also fell and the peninsula was occupied by Army Group A with the 17th Army.

-Soldier_and_Sailor-_Memorial_to_Heroic_Defenders_of_Sevastopol

With the fall of the peninsula to the Germans, the resistance activity of the Soviet partisans, led by A.N. Mokrousov and A.V. Martynov and organized by the NKVD and activists of the Communist Party began. However, Crimean Tatars were banned from joining this movement. Historian J. Otto Pohl has accused Mokrousov and Martynov of incompetence and extreme racism against the Crimean Tatar population. Some Crimean Tatar communists were forced out of their refuges in woodlands by the partisans, which resulted in their execution by the occupying German forces. The partisans specifically targeted and destroyed Crimean Tatar villages; according to Pohl, this was not because of their suspected collaboration but rather a “Slavic animosity against the Tatars”. Crimean Tatar villages were also pillaged for food by the partisans.

On 2 January 1942, the German government authorized the formation of “self-defense battalions” by the Crimean Tatars, and by 15 February, 1,632 Crimean Tatars had already been recruited into these troops Overall, the number of Crimean Tatar men who joined these battalions was around 2,000, a figure which was “given Stalin’s terror, surprisingly [small]” according to The Guardian.The motivations of Crimean Tatar men who joined these battalions varied. Some were members of the defeated 51st Army and had been taken as prisoners of war by the German Army. They joined the battalions to avoid the harsh conditions in the POW camps in Simferopol and Mykolaiv, where starvation and disease were rife. Some aimed to protect their villages from the activities of Soviet partisans. However, 15% of the adult male Crimean Tatar population remained active in the ranks of the Red Army, and some Crimean Tatars were taken to Germany as forced laborers, called Ostarbeiter

The official Soviet explanation for the deportations was that the Crimean Tatars betrayed the USSR and collaborated with Nazi Germany. GKO resolution 5859ss officially accused the Crimean Tatars of mass treason.

In the period of the Fatherland war many Crimean Tatars betrayed the Motherland, deserted from units of the Red Army defending the Crimea, and turned over the country to the enemy, joined German formed voluntary Tatar military units to fight against the Red Army in the period of occupation of the Crimea by German-Fascist troops and participated in German punitive detachments. Crimean Tatars were particularly noted for their brutal reprisals towards Soviet partisans, and also assisted the German occupiers in organizing the forcible sending to German slavery and mass destruction of Soviet people.Crimean Tatars actively collaborated with the German occupying powers, participating in the so called “Tatar National Committees” organized by German intelligence and were extensively used by the Germans to infiltrate the rear of the Red Army with spies and diversionists. “Tatar National Committees,” in which the leading role was played by White Guard-Tatar emigres, with the support of the Crimean Tatars directed their activity at the persecution and oppression of the non-Tatar population of the Crimea and conducted work in preparation for the forcible separation of the Crimea from the Soviet Union with the assistance of the German armed forces.

Most of the 20,000 Crimean Tatars in German military units, however, retreated to Germany in May 1944. The majority of Crimean Tatar young men remaining in the USSR were Red Army soldiers fighting against the Germans. Most of the Crimean Tatar population remaining in the Crimea in May 1944 were women and children.The Soviet government did not merely send suspected German collaborators and their families into exile. Instead it deported innocent women, children, invalids, Red Army veterans, Communist Party members and Komsomolists without exception. In March 1949 the special settlements contained8,995 former Red Army soldiers of Crimean Tatar nationality.These veterans included 534 officers, 1,392 sergeants, and 7,079 rank and file soldiers. Also among the Crimean Tatar special settlers were 742 Communist Party members and 1,225 Komsomolists.The charges of treason against the Crimean Tatar nation were thusspurious. A fact recognized by the Soviet government in 1967.

The real reason for the deportation of the Crimean Tatars appears to be related to Soviet foreign policy objectives in the Middle East.The Stalin regime had designs on Turkish territory after WWII. Moscow desired to obtain the Turkish provinces of Kars and Adharan. It also wanted to establish military bases in the Dardenelle Straits. In March 1945, Molotov informed the Turkish ambassador to Moscow that the Soviet Union was not going to renew the 1925 Soviet-Turkish Treaty of Neutrality. On 7 July 1945, Molotov formally requested that Turkey allow Soviet naval bases in the Straits and cede Kars and Ardahan. Stalin reiterated this request at both the Yalta and Potsdam summits.On 20 May 1945, the USSR demanded that Turkey acquiesce to Soviet desires on these matters.At this time the USSR began to put military and diplomatic pressure on Turkey to meet its demands. Part of this campaign involved a massive anti-Turkish propaganda effort among Armenians and Georgians in the Caucasus. Soviet actions aimed at forcing Turkey to meet its demands continued until September 1946. They ended when President Truman returned the body of the recently deceased Turkish ambassador to the US back to Turkey. Truman sent the ambassador’s body back on board the Battleship Missouri escorted by the Aircraft Carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt and several destroyers.Moscow understood this not so subtle message and ceased its bullying of Ankara.

The Stalin regime deported the Karachays, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Crimean Tatars, and Meskhetian Turks in preparation for this anti-Turkish campaign. All of these Muslim nationalities had historical and cultural ties to Turkey. They also all occupied strategic areas of the Soviet Union in relation to Turkey. The Meskhetian Turks inhabited the Georgian-Turkish border, the Karachays, Chechens, Ingush, and Balkars lived near the main highways through the Caucasus, and the Crimean Tatars made their homes near the naval bases and facilities of the Black Sea Fleet. The Stalin regime feared that these nationalities would not be completely loyal to the USSR in the event of a conflict with Turkey. In the minds of Stalin and Beria these ethnic groups represented a potential pro-Turkish fifth column living close to vulnerable Soviet military assets. Thus one of the main reason for the deportation of these groups was to prevent any espionage, sabotage, diversion, or other assistance to Ankara by their members in the event of a Soviet-Turkish conflict. The importance of the Crimean peninsula in such a conflict had already been demonstrated in the Crimean War in the last century. The Soviet leadership believed that military control of the Black Sea depended upon a solidly loyal population in the Crimea.   Hence the Stalin regime deemed it necessary to deport the Crimean Tatars with theirlinguistic, cultural and historical ties to Turkey far away from the region to Uzbekistan and the Ural

A total of 238,500 people were deported, compared to a recorded total of 9,225 Crimean Tatars who had served in anti-Soviet Tatar Legions and other German-formed battalions.

The deportation began on 18 May 1944 early morning in all Crimean-inhabited localities and lasted until 16:00 on 20 May 1944.More than 32,000 NKVD troops participated in this action.

The forced deportees were given only 30 minutes to gather personal belongings, after which they were loaded onto cattle trains and moved out of Crimea. A deportee recalled the knocking of their door at 3 am on 18 May and being given 15 minutes to get ready.[16] Despite the fact that the decree allowed the deportees to take their “personal items, clothing, household objects, dishes and utensils, and up to 500 kilograms of food per family” with them,some deportees did not take anything with them as the events were reminiscent of the Holocaust, and they expected to be killed soon.[16] The deportees were brought to central gathering stations in Simferopol and Bakhchysarai, and after a short waiting period, loaded on trains.

TRAIN

183,155 – 193,865 Crimean Tatars were deported, 151,136 of them to Uzbek SSR, 8,597 to Mari ASSR, 4,286 to Kazakh SSR, the rest 29,846 to the various oblasts of Russian SFSR.According to NKVD records, 2,444 Crimean Tatar families were separated during the deportation.This was considered to be intentional by the Crimean Tatars, as they believed that the aim of the Soviet government was to achieve their deaths by any means; if not physically, then through grief and loneliness.At the same moment, most of the Crimean Tatar men who were fighting in the ranks of the Red Army were demobilized and sent into forced labor camps in Siberia and in the Ural mountain region.

According to eyewitness accounts, the NKVD officials forgot to deport the Crimean Tatars in the fishing villages of the Arabat Spit. On 19 July 1944, during a celebration about the deportation, when Bogdan Kobulov learned about these villages, he allegedly ordered that no Crimean Tatar should be left alive within 24 hours. Following this, all inhabitants of these villages were locked up in an old and big boat, which sailed to the deepest part of the Azov Sea and was then sunk. Soviet soldiers awaited in a nearby ship with machine guns.There are some theories that this incident is a myth. While there is no documentary evidence, Crimean Tatars refute these theories by eyewitness accounts, such as that of linguist Naciye Bekir.

Arabat_arrow

The train journey of the deportees to the destinations was carried out under harsh conditions and resulted in a large number of deaths. Michael Rywkin puts the number of deaths during the train journeys at 7,900, but Aurélie Campana wrote that this number could be underestimated. According to official Soviet data, 7,889 people, amounting to approximately 5% of the Crimean Tatar population was presumed dead during the deportation. The deportation was carried out in sealed box cars, and thousands of deportees died because of thirst. Beria related to Stalin that “no excesses were committed” during the deportation.

The cars were called “crematoria on wheels” by Crimean Tatars. The doors and windows were tightly bolted to prevent the entry of fresh air, there was no medical care and little food.This led to the deaths of especially elderly people and children, who could not withstand the suffocating conditions and the lack of food. Grigorii Burlitskii, a NKVD officer overseeing the deportation who later defected, reported that “they were packed into wagons like sardines, the wagons were locked and sealed and put under the guard of military detachments”. According to testimonies, the doors of the cars were only opened upon arrival to the Kazakh steppe and the dead were dumped along the railway track, with the deportees not given the time to bury them.

Deportation_of_Crimean_Tatars-854x300

Men and women were deported together, which constituted a problem due to embarrassment when it came to personal hygiene. According to eyewitness reports, a girl had her intestines explode as she was too shy to defecate in the presence of the men on the train. While some wealthy Crimean Tatars did take gold jewelry, ornaments and coins with them, they often had to trade them for food along the journey.

The deportation was poorly planned and executed; local authorities in the destination areas were not properly informed about the scale of the matter and did not receive enough resources to accommodate the deportees. The lack of accommodation and food, the failure to adapt to new climatic conditions and the rapid spread of diseases had a heavy demographic impact during the first years of exile

The Soviet government provoked xenophobia amongst the inhabitants of the destinations against the Crimean Tatars, as a part of a policy of demonization and dehumanization. According to Greeta Lynn Uehling, they were given precautions that “cyclops” and “cannibals” would be arriving and were advised to stay away from them.Some deportees were examined upon arrival by locals to determine if they had horns on their skulls.

From May to November 10,105 Crimean Tatars died of starvation in Uzbekistan (7% of those deported to the Uzbek SSR). Nearly 30,000 (20%) died in exile during the following year and a half according to NKVD data.

Upon their arrival in Central Asia, Crimean Tatars were forced to live in special settlement camps, administered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and surrounded by barbed wire. They were forced to report to the settlement commanders every three days, providing an account of their family and work progress. Leaving the camps was punished by five years of hard forced labor.According to Soviet dissident information, many Crimean Tatars were also made to work in the large-scale projects conducted by the GULAG system. In these forced labor camps, deportees recall being assigned the heaviest tasks available and awoken before dawn for 12-hour workdays. According to official Soviet statistics, 86,917 deportees were placed in jobs under the Council of People’s Commissars, with the greatest number (56,961 people) being sent to Narkomzem.

The Crimean Tatars found the first years of exile in Uzbekistan extremely difficult. The Uzbeks met the exiled Crimean Tatars with hostility.NKVD agitatorspublicly slandered the Crimean Tatars as traitors and Nazi collaborators in Uzbekistan prior to their arrival. This NKVD propaganda stressed Crimean Tatar collaboration with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union while Uzbeks fought in the Red Army. Not only did the Uzbeks refuse to assist the dislocated Crimean Tatars, but in some cases they stoned them. The hostility of the Uzbeks dissipated after they learned the Crimean Tatars were fellow Muslims. Far from being Nazi collaborators who believed Central Asians were untermenschen (subhumans), the Crimean Tatars shared the same religious beliefs and traditions as the Uzbeks. The initial hostility of the Uzbeks, however, meant that the Crimean Tatars had to face the burdens of exile without any local assistance during 1944 and 1945

In Uzbekistan, Stalin ordered the settlement of Crimean Tatars in kolkhozes (collective farms), sovkhozes (state-owned farms) and settlements around factories for industrial and agricultural production.

The deportees partially provided the required workforce for the industrial development of the area. Regardless of their former profession and skills, Crimean Tatars were forced to do heavy labor. Their places of residence consisted of barracks, makeshift shelters, parts of factories and communal housing. This contrasted with their traditional lifestyle in villages and resulted in its destruction.

Crimean Tatar activists tried to evaluate the demographic consequences of the deportation. They carried out a census in all the scattered Tatar communities in the middle of the 1960s. The results of this inquiry show that 109,956 (46.2%) Crimean Tatars of the 238,500 deportees died between July 1, 1944 and January 1, 1947 due to starvation and disease.There are estimates that the death toll in the first five years is closer to 30% of the deported Crimean Tatar population.

The Soviet government planned the ethnic assimilation of the Crimean Tatar community into the Central Asian population. It destroyed Tatar cultural assets; this included the destruction of Tatar monuments and burning of Tatar manuscripts and books,including those by Lenin and Marx.

 

Tatar mosques were converted into cinemas and warehouses, gravestones of Tatars were used as building material. Exiled Crimean Tatars were banned from speaking of Crimea and official Soviet texts, including the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, erased all references to them. When applying for internal passports, “Crimean Tatar” was not accepted as an existing ethnic group and those that designated themselves as “Crimean Tatars” were automatically denied passports.The traditional production methods of the Crimean Tatars were destroyed through the force labor imposed on them.

The Soviet Union engaged in a policy of “toponymic repression” against Crimean Tatars. This commenced with a decree from the Party Committee of the Crimean Oblast on 20 October 1944, ordering the renaming of all Tatar, Greek and German-language place names (including mountains and rivers), and was followed by a decree of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Presidium on 14 December, stipulating the renaming of all districts and district centers to Russian-language names. Two more decrees followed on 21 August 1945 and 18 May 1948, resulting in the renaming of 1389 more Crimean Tatar towns and villages.

The Soviet government of the time denied the nature of the deportation by claiming that it was voluntary and reflecting it in this light to the domestic and international media. At the time of the deportations, the term “resettlement” was used by the NKVD instead of “deportation”.

A revisionist approach was adopted in the historical presentation of Crimean Tatars, where they were represented as bandits and thieves that had no developmental contributions. In some Soviet spy novels, they were vilified as evil Nazi agents and traitors.

On 28 April 1956, by the decree of the Supreme Soviet Presidium of the USSR, the Crimean Tatars were released from special settlement, accompanied by a restoration of their civil rights. In the same year, the Crimean Tatars started a petition to allow their repatriation to Crimea. They held mass protests in October 1966, but these were violently quelled by the Soviet military. On 21 June 1967, the first meeting of the Soviet government, represented by the KGB Chairman, the Minister of the Internal Affairs and the Secretary of the USSR Supreme Soviet with a Crimean Tatar delegation took place. Prompt rehabilitation of Crimean Tatars were promised, but never fulfilled. On 27 August and 2 September 1967, thousands of Crimean Tatars took to the streets to protest in Tashkent. The protests were cracked down upon, but prompted official Soviet response.

Although a decree of the Supreme Soviet Presidium issued on 5 September 1967 removed the charges against Crimean Tatars, the Soviet government did nothing to facilitate their resettlement in Crimea and to make reparations for lost lives and confiscated property. Crimean Tatars, having a definite tradition of non-communist political dissent, succeeded in creating a truly independent network of activists, values and political experience. In 1968, 300 families were allowed to return, but this was only for propaganda purposes.Crimean Tatars, led by the Crimean Tatar National Movement Organization, were not allowed to return to Crimea from exile until the beginning of the Perestroika in the mid-1980s.

The 1991 RSFSR law On the Rehabilitation of Repressed Peoples addressed rehabilitation of all ethnicities repressed in the Soviet Union. However the law had various deficiencies, including unclear legal status of a number of peoples, such as Crimean Tatars moved across the borders of Soviet republics, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.After the annexation of Crimea by Russia, on April 21, 2014 Vladimir Putin signed the decree No 268

putin

“О мерах по реабилитации армянского, болгарского, греческого, крымско-татарского и немецкого народов и государственной поддержке их возрождения и развития”. (“On the Measures for the Rehabilitation of Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Crimean Tatar and German Peoples and the State Support of Their Revival and Development”), amended by Decree no. 458 of September 12, 2015. The decree addressed the status of the mentioned peoples which resided in Crimean ASSR and were deported from there.

After the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the Crimean parliament recognized the 20th century history of Crimean Tatars as a “tragic fate.”

russian-invasion-of-crimea

Crimean activists were calling for the recognition of the Sürgünlik as genocide. This was also supported by Soviet dissidents.Greta Lynn Uehling, in her book Beyond Memory: The Crimean Tatars’ Deportation and Return, wrote that the deportation of the Crimean Tatars satisfied the definition of genocide according to the UN Genocide Convention, as despite the fact that not all Crimean Tatars were exterminated, the genocidal intent of destroying a particular ethnic group and implementing calculated policies to achieve this was present.[On November 12, 2015 Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a resolution on recognition of Crimean Tatars’ genocide. On May 11, 2016, it appealed to the international community, particularly the United Nations, OSCE, European Parliament and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to recognize the deportation as genocide.

 

Monument to the Forced Deportation of Crimean Tatars in Sudak.

Monument_in_Sudak_(Monument_of_Crimean_Tatars_Deportation)

Forgotten History-Alfred Rosenberg

Although this probably isn’t forgotten by historians and WWII aficionados, I think that at large it is forgotten by most others and especially the younger generations.

Although his name would indicate a Jewish origin it was never proven he was from Jewish descend.

Alfred Ernst Rosenberg ( 12 January 1893 – 16 October 1946) was a Baltic German theorist and an influential ideologue of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by  Dietrich Eckart.

Dietrich_Eckart_by_Karl_Bauer

He later held several important posts in the Nazi government. He is considered one of the main authors of key National Socialist ideological creeds, including its racial theory, persecution of the Jews, Lebensraum, abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles, and opposition to degenerate modern art. He is known for his rejection of and hatred for Christianity,having played an important role in the development of German Nationalist Positive Christianity.At Nuremberg he was sentenced to death and executed by hanging for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Born in Reval, Russia (today, Tallinn, Estonia), to an Estonian mother and Baltic German father, Rosenberg studied architecture in Riga and Moscow before fleeing revolution-torn Russia in 1918 for Germany. Already a committed anti-Bolshevik and anti-Semite, he became heavily involved in the post-World War I ultra-nationalist scene in Munich. In early 1919 he became an early member of the Nazi Party’s predecessor organization, the German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or DAP). Gaining renown as the author of antisemitic tracts, he quickly made the acquaintance of Dietrich Eckart, one of the early, influential promoters of Adolf Hitler. In an article published in Eckart’s own journal, Auf gut Deutsch (In Plain German), Rosenberg made clear a key component of his ideology: the equation of Jews with Bolshevism and communist revolution (“Judeo-Bolshevism”). At Eckart’s encouragement, Rosenberg joined the fledgling Nazi Party and began writing for its flagship newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter. He became the newspaper’s senior editor in 1923.

BEOBACHTER

Antisemitic diatribes featured prominently in Rosenberg’s writings. His efforts helped spread The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Germany and denounce the Weimar Republic as an aberration born from defeat and manipulated by “Jewish traitors.”

On November 9, 1923, Rosenberg participated in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, which resulted in Hitler’s arrest.

 

Tasked by Hitler as interim leader of the Nazi Party, Rosenberg struggled to prevent the Nazi movement’s disintegration. After Hitler’s release, Rosenberg returned to journalism and began his chief work, The Myth of the Twentieth Century (Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts), published in 1930.

Though neither officially translated into another language nor endorsed by Hitler as the authoritative expression of Nazi ideology, the book sold approximately one million copies by the late war years and boosted Rosenberg’s standing as Party ideologue

As the Nazi Party’s chief racial theorist, Rosenberg oversaw the construction of a human racial “ladder” that justified Hitler’s racial and ethnic policies. Rosenberg built on the works of Arthur de Gobineau, Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Madison Grant, as well as on the beliefs of Hitler. He placed Blacks and Jews at the very bottom of the ladder, while at the very top stood the white “Aryan” race. Rosenberg promoted the Nordic theory which regarded Nordics as the “master race”,superior to all others, including to other Aryans (Indo-Europeans).

Rosenberg reshaped Nazi racial policy over the years, but it always consisted of Aryan supremacy, extreme German nationalism and rabid antisemitism. Rosenberg also outspokenly opposed homosexuality – notably in his pamphlet “Der Sumpf” (“The Swamp”, 1927) – he viewed homosexuality (particularly lesbianism) as a hindrance to the expansion of the Nordic population.

sumpf

Rosenberg’s attitude towards Slavs was flexible and depended on the particular nation involved. As a result of the ideology of “Drang nach Osten” Rosenberg saw his mission as the conquest and colonization of the Slavic East In Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts Rosenberg describes Russian Slavs as being overwhelmed by bolshevism. Regarding Ukrainians, he favoured setting up a buffer state to ease pressure on the German eastern frontier, while agreeing with the notion of the exploitation of Russia for the benefit of Germany

Rosenberg argued for a new “religion of the blood”, based on the supposed innate promptings of the Nordic soul to defend its noble character against racial and cultural degeneration. He believed that this had been embodied in early Indo-European religions, notably ancient European (Celtic, Germanic, Greek, Roman) paganism, Zoroastrianism, and Vedic Hinduism.

He rejected Christianity for its universality, for its doctrine of original sin (at least for Germans whom he declared on one occasion were born noble), and for its teachings on the immortality of the soul.Indeed, absorbing Christianity enfeebled a people.[Publicly, Rosenberg affected to deplore Christianity’s degeneration owing to Jewish influence.Following Chamberlain’s ideas, he condemned what he called “negative Christianity” (the orthodox beliefs of Protestant and Catholic churches), arguing instead for a so-called “positive” Christianity based on Chamberlain’s claim that Jesus was a member of an Indo-European, Nordic enclave resident in ancient Galilee who struggled against Judaism.Significantly, in his work explicating the Nazi intellectual belief system, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, Rosenberg cryptically alludes to and lauds the anti-Judaic arch-heretic Marcion and the Manichaean-inspired, “Aryo-Iranian” Cathari, as being the more authentic interpreters of Christianity versus historically dominant Judaeo-Christianity; moreover these ancient, externally Christian metaphysical forms were more “organically compatible with the Nordic sense of the spiritual and the Nordic ‘blood-soul’.” For Rosenberg, the anti-intellectual intellectual, religious doctrine was inseparable,from serving the interests of the Nordic race, connecting the individual to his racial nature. Rosenberg stated that “The general ideas of the Roman and of the Protestant churches are negative Christianity and do not, therefore, accord with our (German) soul.” His support for Luther as a great German figure was always ambivalent.

In January 1934 Hitler had appointed Rosenberg as the cultural and educational leader of the Reich. The Sanctum Officium in Rome recommended that Rosenberg’s Myth of the Twentieth Century be put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (list of books forbidden by the Catholic Church) for scorning and rejecting “all dogmas of the Catholic Church, indeed the very fundamentals of the Christian religion” During World War II Rosenberg outlined the future envisioned by the Hitler government for religion in Germany, with a thirty-point program for the future of the German churches. Among its articles:

  • the National Reich Church of Germany would claim exclusive control over all churches
  • publication of the Bible would cease
  • crucifixes, Bibles and saints were to be removed from altars
  • Mein Kampf would be placed on altars as “to the German nation and therefore to God the most sacred book”
  • the Christian Cross would be removed from all churches and replaced with the swastika.

Swastika

Compared to other members of the Nazi elite like Hermann Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, or Joseph Goebbels, Rosenberg before the war lacked the executive authority that came with a cabinet portfolio. His burning ambition for higher office was undermined by his frequent squabbles with competitors, his inability to forge alliances, and his reputation as an inept administrator. A stepping-stone towards greater political power came in 1938 when Hitler approved Rosenberg’s idea for a new, fully Nazified university system (Hohe Schule) that would ground the Party’s and the nation’s future elite in racist ideology.

In 1940 Rosenberg was made head of the Hohe Schule (literally “high school”, but the German phrase refers to a college), the Centre of National Socialist Ideological and Educational Research, out of which the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg developed for the purpose of looting art and cultural goods.

ERR_Seal

The ERR were especially active in Paris in looting art stolen from famous Jewish families such as the Rothschilds and that of Paul Rosenberg. Hermann Goering used the ERR to collect art for his own personal gratification. He created a “Special Task Force for Music” (Sonderstab Musik) to collect the best musical instruments and scores for use in a university to be built in Hitler’s home town of Linz, Austria. The orders given theSonderstab Musik were to loot all forms of Jewish property in Germany and of those found in any country taken over by the German army and any musical instruments or scores were to be immediately shipped to Berin.

 

Following the invasion of the USSR, Rosenberg was appointed head of the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories (Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete).

ab 1942 Amtssitz des Ministers für die besetzten Ostgebiete Alfred Rosenberg, später Umbau zum Gästehaus der Reichsregierung

ab 1942 Amtssitz des Ministers für die besetzten Ostgebiete Alfred Rosenberg, später Umbau zum Gästehaus der Reichsregierung

Alfred Meyer served as his deputy and represented him at the Wannsee Conference.

Another official of the Ministry, Georg Leibbrandt, also attended the conference, at Rosenberg’s request.

Rosenberg had presented Hitler with his plan for the organization of the conquered Eastern territories, suggesting the establishment of new administrative districts, to replace the previously Soviet-controlled territories with new Reichskommissariats.

These would be:

  • Ostland (Baltic countries and Belarus),
  • Ukraine (Ukraine and nearest territories),
  • Kaukasus (Caucasus area),
  • Moskau (Moscow metropolitan area and the rest of nearest Russian European areas)

Although Rosenberg regarded all the Soviet peoples as subhumans for their communist beliefs,such suggestions were intended to encourage certain non-Russian nationalism and to promote German interests for the benefit of future Aryan generations, in accord with geopolitical “Lebensraum im Osten” plans. They would provide a buffer against Soviet expansion in preparation for the total eradication of Communism and Bolshevism by decisive pre-emptive military action.

Following these plans, when Wehrmacht forces invaded Soviet-controlled territory, they immediately implemented the first of the proposed Reichskommissariats of Ostland and Ukraine, under the leadership of Hinrich Lohse and Erich Koch, respectively. The organization of these administrative territories led to conflict between Rosenberg and the SS over the treatment of Slavs under German occupation. As Nazi Germany’s chief racial theorist, Rosenberg considered Slavs, though lesser than Germans, to be Aryan. Rosenberg often complained to Hitler and Himmler about the treatment of non-Jewish occupied peoples.He proposed creation of buffer satellite states made out of Greater Finland, Baltica, Ukraine, Caucasus

In a 1941 conference speaking about the Jewish Question, he said:

Some six million Jews still live in the East, and this question can only be solved by a biological extermination of the whole of Jewry in Europe. The Jewish Question will only be solved for Germany when the last Jew has left German territory, and for Europe when not a single Jew stands on the European continent as far as the Urals… And to this end it is necessary to force them beyond the Urals or otherwise bring about their eradication.

He made no complaints about the murders of Jews. At the Nuremberg Trials he claimed to be ignorant of the Holocaust, despite the fact that Leibbrandt and Meyer were present at the Wannsee conference.

schedule

Since the invasion of the Soviet Union intended to impose the New Order, it was essentially a war of conquest. German propaganda efforts designed to win over Russian opinion were, at best, patchy and inconsistent. Alfred Rosenberg was one of the few in the Nazi hierarchy who advocated a policy designed to encourage anti-Communist opinion among the population of the occupied territories. His interest here was mainly in the non-Russian areas such as the Ukraine and the Baltic States; however, supporters of the Russian Liberation Army were somewhat able to win him over.

Amongst other things, Rosenberg issued a series of posters announcing the end of the Soviet collective farms (kolkhoz). He also issued an Agrarian Law in February 1942, annulling all Soviet legislation on farming, restoring family farms for those willing to collaborate with the occupiers. But de-collectivisation conflicted with the wider demands of wartime food production, and Hermann Göring demanded that the collective farms be retained, save for a change of name. Hitler himself denounced the redistribution of land as “stupid”.

There were numerous German armed forces posters asking for assistance in the Bandenkrieg, the war against the Soviet partisans, though, once again, German policy had the effect of adding to their problems. Posters for “volunteer” labour, with inscriptions like “Come work with us to shorten the war”, hid the appalling realities faced by Russian workers in Germany. Many people joined the partisans rather than risk being sent to an unknown fate in the west.

Another of Rosenberg’s initiatives, the “Free Caucasus” campaign, was rather more successful, attracting various nationalities into the so-called Eastern Legion (Ostlegionen), though in the end this made little difference in the outcome of the war on the Eastern Front.

Rosenberg was arrested at the end of the war. Rosenberg was captured by Allied troops at the end of the war in Flensburg-Mürwik. He was tried at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, and found guilty on all four counts of the indictment for conspiracy to commit aggressive warfare, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

The final judgment against him named him one of the principal planners of the invasions of Norway and the Soviet Union. It also held him directly responsible for the systematic plunder of the occupied countries of Europe, as well as the brutal conditions in Eastern Europe.[During his trial he wrote his memoirs, which were published posthumously and with analytical commentary by Serge Lang and Ernst von Schenck.

He was sentenced to death and executed with other condemned co-defendants at Nuremberg on the morning of 16 October 1946. His body, as those of the other nine executed men and the corpse of Hermann Göring, was cremated at Ostfriedhof (Munich) and the ashes were scattered in the river Isar.

Throughout the trial, it was agreed that Rosenberg had a decisive role in shaping Nazi philosophy and ideology. Examples include: his book, Myth of the Twentieth Century, which was published in 1930, where he incited hatred against “Liberal Imperialism” and “Bolshevik Marxism”; furthering the influence of the “Lebensraum” idea in Germany during the war; facilitating the persecution of Christian churches and the Jews in particular; and opposition to the Versailles Treaty.

According to Joseph Kingsbury-Smith, who covered the executions for the International News Service, Rosenberg was the only condemned man who, when asked at the gallows if he had any last statement to make, replied with only one word: “No”

 

 

Hitler was a leader oriented towards practical politics, whereas, for Rosenberg, religion and philosophy were key and culturally he was the most influential within the party.Several accounts of the time before the Nazi ascension to power, indeed, speak of Hitler as being a mouthpiece for Rosenberg’s views, and he clearly exerted a great deal of intellectual influence.

Rosenberg’s influence in the Nazi Party is controversial. He was perceived as lacking the charisma and political skills of the other Nazi leaders, and was somewhat isolated. In some of his speeches Hitler appeared to be close to Rosenberg’s views: rejecting traditional Christianity as a religion based on Jewish culture, preferring an ethnically and culturally pure “Race” whose destiny was supposed to be assigned to the German people by “Providence”. In others, he adhered to the Nazi Party line, which advocated a “positive Christianity”.

After Hitler’s assumption of power he moved to reassure the Protestant and Catholic churches that the party was not intending to re-institute Germanic paganism. He placed himself in the position of being the man to save Positive Christianity from utter destruction at the hands of the atheistic anti-theist Communists of the Soviet Union.This was especially true immediately before and after the elections of 1932; Hitler wanted to appear non-threatening to major Christian faiths and consolidate his power. Further, Hitler felt that Catholic-Protestant infighting had been a major factor in weakening the German state and allowing its dominance by foreign powers.

Some Nazi leaders, such as Martin Bormann, were anti-Christian and sympathetic to Rosenberg.Once in power, Hitler and most Nazi leaders sought to unify the Christian denominations in favor of “positive Christianity”. Hitler privately condemned mystical and pseudo-religious interests as “nonsense”. However, he and Goebbels agreed that after the Endsieg (Final Victory) the Reich Church should be pressed into evolving into a German social evolutionist organisation proclaiming the cult of race, blood and battle, instead of Redemption and the Ten Commandments of Moses, which they deemed outdated and Jewish.

Heinrich Himmler’s views were among the closest to Rosenberg’s, and their estrangement was perhaps created by Himmler’s abilities to put into action what Rosenberg had only written. Also, while Rosenberg thought Christianity should be allowed to die out, Himmler actively set out to create countering pagan rituals.

Rosenberg was married twice: to Hilda Leesmann, an ethnic Estonian, in 1915 (divorced in 1923), and to Hedwig Kramer in 1925,with whom he was married until his execution. He and Kramer had two children: a son who died in infancy and a daughter, Irene, who was born in 1930.His daughter has refused contact with anyone seeking information about her father.

The question remains was he influenced by Hitler or did he influence Hitler?

 

Forgotten History- The T-4 Holocaust victims:the killing of the disabled

Aktion_brand

The T4 program was a program devised to commit the most vile of crimes ever committed in history. Initially it was ‘sold’ under the motto of mercy killings for the ‘incurably ill’ , several rationales for the program had been offered, including eugenics, compassion, reducing suffering, racial hygiene, cost effectiveness and pressure on the welfare budget. But it quickly turned into the killing of the disabled.

2456381721_6155481dd4_b

Just a note before I continue and I don’t mean this to be a political blog but the fact hasn’t escaped me that some of these rationales are currently used in several euthanasia and abortion legislation across the western world.

Adolf Hitler initiated this program in 1939, and, while it was officially discontinued in 1941, killings continued covertly until the military defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.

In October 1939, Adolf Hitler empowered his personal physician and the chief of the Chancellery of the Führer to kill people considered unsuited to live. He backdated his order to September 1, 1939, the day World War II began, to give it the appearance of a wartime measure. In this directive, Dr. Karl Brandt and Chancellery chief Philipp Bouhler were “charged with responsibility for expanding the authority of physicians…so that patients considered incurable, according to the best available human judgment of their state of health, can be granted a mercy killing.”

Within a few months, the T4 Program—named for the Chancellery offices that directed it from the Berlin address Tiergartenstrasse 4—involved virtually the entire German psychiatric community.

t4

A new bureaucracy, headed by physicians, was established with a mandate to kill anyone deemed to have a “life unworthy of living.” Some physicians active in the study of eugenics, who saw Nazism as “applied biology,” enthusiastically endorsed this program. However, the criteria for inclusion in this program were not exclusively genetic, nor were they necessarily based on infirmity. An important criterion was economic. Nazi officials assigned people to this program largely based on their economic productivity. The Nazis referred to the program’s victims as “burdensome lives” and “useless eaters”

The program’s directors ordered a survey of all psychiatric institutions, hospitals, and homes for chronically ill patients. At Tiergartenstrasse 4, medical experts reviewed forms sent by institutions throughout Germany but did not examine patients or read their medical records. Nevertheless, they had the power to decide life or death.

While the program’s personnel killed people at first by starvation and lethal injection, they later chose asphyxiation by poison gas as the preferred killing technique. Physicians oversaw gassings in chambers disguised as showers, using lethal gas provided by chemists. Program administrators established gas chambers at six killing centres in Germany and Austria: Hartheim, Sonnenstein, Grafeneck, Bernburg, Hadamar, and Brandenburg. The SS  staff in charge of the transports donned white coats to keep up the charade of a medical procedure. Program staff informed victims’ families of the transfer to the killing centres. Visits, however, were not possible. The relatives then received condolence letters, falsified death certificates signed by physicians, and urns containing ashes.

In mid-1939 Hitler authorized the creation of the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses (Reichsausschuss zur wissenschaftlichen Erfassung erb- und anlagebedingter schwerer Leiden), headed by Dr. Karl Brandt, his personal physician, and administered by Herbert Linden of the Interior Ministry as well as SS-Oberführer Viktor Brack.

200px-Viktor_Brack_Nürnberg_2

Brandt and Bouhler were authorized to approve applications to kill children in relevant circumstances, though Bouhler left the details to subordinates such as Brack and SA-Oberführer Werner Blankenburg.

Extermination centres were established at six existing psychiatric hospitals: Bernburg, Brandenburg, Grafeneck, Hadamar, Hartheim, and Sonnenstein. They played a crucial role in developments leading to the Holocaust.As a related aspect of the “medical” and scientific basis of this programme, the Nazi doctors took thousands of brains from ‘euthanasia’ victims for research.

From August 1939 the Interior Ministry began registering children with disabilities, requiring doctors and midwives to report all cases of newborns with severe disabilities; the ‘guardian’ consent element soon disappeared. Those to be killed were identified as “all children under three years of age in whom any of the following ‘serious hereditary diseases’ were ‘suspected’: idiocy and Down syndrome (especially when associated with blindness and deafness); microcephaly; hydrocephaly; malformations of all kinds, especially of limbs, head, and spinal column; and paralysis, including spastic conditions”.The reports were assessed by a panel of medical experts, of whom three were required to give their approval before a child could be killed.

The Ministry used various deceptions when dealing with parents or guardians particularly in Catholic areas, where parents were generally uncooperative. Parents were told that their children were being sent to “Special Sections” for children, where they would receive improved treatment. The children sent to these centres were kept for “assessment” for a few weeks and then killed by injection of toxic chemicals, typically phenol; their deaths were recorded as “pneumonia”. Autopsies were usually performed, and brain samples were taken to be used for “medical research”. This apparently helped to ease the consciences of many of those involved, since it gave them the feeling that the children had not died in vain, and that the whole programme had a genuine medical purpose.

Once war broke out in September 1939, the programme adopted less rigorous standards of assessment and a quicker approval process. It expanded to include older children and adolescents. The conditions covered also expanded and came to include

“various borderline or limited impairments in children of different ages, culminating in the killing of those designated as juvenile delinquents. Jewish children could be placed in the net primarily because they were Jewish; and at one of the institutions, a special department was set up for ‘minor Jewish-Aryan half-breeds'”.

At the same time, increased pressure was placed on parents to agree to their children being sent away. Many parents suspected what was really happening, especially when it became apparent that institutions for children with disabilities were being systematically cleared of their charges, and refused consent. The parents were warned that they could lose custody of all their children, and if that did not suffice, the parents could be threatened with call-up for ‘labour duty’. By 1941 more than 5,000 children had been killed.The last child to be killed under Action T4 was Richard Jenne on 29 May 1945 in the children’s ward of the Kaufbeuren-Irsee state hospital in Bavaria, Germany, more than three weeks after troops from the U.S. had occupied the town.

ROSER 2

The first adults with disabilities to be killed on a mass scale by the Nazi regime were not Germans, but Poles. They were shot by the SS men of Einsatzkommando 16, Selbstschutz and EK-Einmann under direct command of SS-Sturmbannführer Rudolf Tröger, with overall command by Reinhard Heydrich during the genocidal Operation Tannenberg in which 36,000–42,000 people including Polish children died before the end of 1939 in Pomerania.

All hospitals and mental asylums of the Wartheland were emptied. The region was incorporated into Germany and earmarked for resettlement by Volksdeutsche following the German conquest of Poland. Notably, the technology for mass gassing of hospital patients had not been invented yet. In the Danzig (now Gdańsk) area, some 7,000 Polish patients of various institutions were shot, while 10,000 were killed in the Gdynia area. Similar measures were taken in other areas of Poland destined for incorporation into Germany.The first experiments with the gassing of patients were conducted in October 1939 at Fort VII in Posen (occupied Poznań), where hundreds of prisoners were killed by means of carbon monoxide poisoning in an improvised gas chamber developed by Dr Albert Widmann, chief chemist of the German Criminal Police (Kripo).

 

In December 1939 Reichsführer of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, witnessed one of these gassings, ensuring that this invention would later be put to much wider uses

The idea of killing adult mental patients soon spread from occupied Poland to adjoining areas of Germany, probably because Nazi Party and SS officers in these areas were most familiar with what was happening in Poland. These were also the areas where Germans wounded from the Polish campaign were expected to be accommodated, which created a demand for hospital space. The Gauleiter of Pomerania, Franz Schwede-Coburg, sent 1,400 patients from five Pomeranian hospitals to undisclosed locations in occupied Poland where they were shot. Likewise, the Gauleiter of East Prussia, Erich Koch, had 1,600 patients murdered out of sight. In all, more than 8,000 Germans were killed in this initial wave of killings carried out under the command of local officials, although Himmler certainly knew and approved of them.

 

The sole legal basis for the programme was a 1939 letter from Hitler, not a formal ‘Führer’s decree’ which would carry the force of law. Hitler deliberately bypassed Health Minister Conti and his department, who might have raised questions about the legality of the programme.
Leonardo Conti
He entrusted it to his personal agents Bouhler and Brandt. The programme was administered by Viktor Brack.
200px-Viktor_Brack_Nürnberg_2

 

and his staff from Tiergartenstraße 4 disguised as the “Charitable Foundation for Cure and Institutional Care” offices which served as the front. It was supervised by Bouhler and Brandt.

The officials in charge included Dr Herbert Linden, who had been heavily involved in the children’s programme; Dr Ernst-Robert Grawitz, chief physician of the SS

220px-ErnstRobertGrawitz

and August Becker, an SS chemist.

They personally selected doctors who were to carry out the operational part of the programme; based on political reliability as long-term Nazis, professional reputation, and known sympathy for radical eugenics. The list included physicians who had proved their worth in the child-killing programme, such as Unger, Heinze, and Hermann Pfannmüller. The new recruits were mostly psychiatrists, notably Professor Carl Schneider of Heidelberg, Professor Max de Crinis of Berlin and Professor Paul Nitsche from the Sonnenstein state institution. Heyde became the operational leader of the programme, succeeded later by Nitsche

In early October all hospitals, nursing homes, old-age homes and sanatoria were required to report all patients who had been institutionalised for five years or more, who had been committed as “criminally insane”, who were of “non-Aryan race”, or who had been diagnosed with any of a list of specified conditions. These included schizophrenia, epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea, advanced syphilis, senile dementia, paralysis, encephalitis and “terminal neurological conditions generally”. Many doctors and administrators assumed that the purpose of the reports was to identify inmates who were capable of being drafted for “labour service”. They tended to overstate the degree of incapacity of their patients, to protect them from labour conscription – with fatal consequences.When some institutions refused to co-operate, teams of T4 doctors (or in some cases Nazi medical students) visited them and compiled their own lists, sometimes in a very haphazard and ideologically motivated way.At the same time, during 1940 all Jewish patients were removed from institutions and killed.

As with the child inmates, the adult cases were assessed by a panel of experts, working at the Tiergartenstraße offices. The experts were required to make their judgments solely on the basis of the reports, rather than on detailed medical histories, let alone examinations. Sometimes they dealt with hundreds of reports at a time. On each they marked a + (meaning death), a (meaning life), or occasionally a ? meaning that they were unable to decide. Three “death” verdicts condemned the person concerned. As with reviews of children, over time these processes became less rigorous, the range of conditions considered “unsustainable” grew broader, and zealous Nazis further down the chain of command increasingly made decisions on their own initiative.Picture below is of Hartheim Euthanasia Centre where more then 18,000 patients were killed.

1024px-Alkoven_Schloss_Hartheim_2005-08-18_3589

The first gassings in Germany proper took place in January 1940 at the Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre.

250px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-11695,_Brandenburg,_Hauptgebäude_des_Zuchthauses

The operation was headed by Viktor Brack, who said: “the needle belongs in the hand of the doctor.”Bottled pure carbon monoxide gas was used.At trials, Brandt described the process as a “major advance in medical history” Once the efficacy of the method was confirmed, it became standardised, and instituted at a number of centres across Germany under the supervision of Widmann, Becker, and Christian Wirth – a Kripo officer who later played a prominent role in the extermination of the Jews as commandant of newly built death camps in occupied Poland. In addition to Brandenburg, the killing centres included Grafeneck Castle in Baden-Württemberg (10,824 dead), Schloss Hartheim near Linz in Austria (over 18,000 dead), Sonnenstein Euthanasia Centre in Saxony (15,000 dead), Bernburg Euthanasia Centre in Saxony-Anhalt and Hadamar Euthanasia Centre in Hesse (14,494 dead). The same facilities were also used to kill mentally sound prisoners transferred from concentration camps in Germany, Austria and occupied parts of Poland.

Bishop Jan Maria Michał Kowalski killed at Hartheim Euthanasia Centre.

Condemned patients were ‘transferred’ from their institutions to newly built centres in the T4 Charitable Ambulance buses, called the Community Patients Transports Service. They were run by teams of SS men wearing white coats, to give it an air of medical care. To prevent the families and doctors of the patients from tracing them, the patients were often first sent to transit centres in major hospitals, where they were supposedly assessed. They were moved again to “special treatment” (Sonderbehandlung) centres. Families were sent letters explaining that owing to wartime regulations, it was not possible for them to visit relatives in these centres. Most of these patients were killed within 24 hours of arriving at the centres, and their bodies cremated.For every person killed, a death certificate was prepared, giving a false but plausible cause of death. This was sent to the family along with an urn of ashes (random ashes, since the victims were cremated en masse). The preparation of thousands of falsified death certificates took up most of the working day of the doctors who operated the centres.

During 1940 the centres at Brandenburg, Grafeneck and Hartheim killed nearly 10,000 people each, while another 6,000 were killed at Sonnenstein. In all, about 35,000 people were killed in T4 operations that year. Operations at Brandenburg and Grafeneck were wound up at the end of the year, partly because the areas they served had been cleared and partly because of public opposition. In 1941, however, the centres at Bernburg and Sonnenstein increased their operations, while Hartheim (where Wirth and Franz Stangl were successively commandants) continued as before. As a result, another 35,000 people were killed before August 1941, when the T4 programme was officially shut down by Hitler. Even after that date, however, the centres continued to be used to kill concentration camp inmates: eventually some 20,000 people in this category were killed.

In 1971 the Austrian-born journalist Gitta Sereny conducted a series of interviews with Franz Stangl,

Stangl,_Franz

who was in prison in Düsseldorf after having been convicted of co-responsibility for killing 900,000 people as commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps in Poland. Stangl gave Sereny a detailed account of the operations of the T4 programme based on his time as commandant of the killing facility at the Hartheim institute. He described how the inmates of various asylums were removed and transported by bus to Hartheim. Some were in no mental state to know what was happening to them, but many were perfectly sane, and for them various forms of deception were used. They were told they were at a special clinic where they would receive improved treatment, and were given a brief medical examination on arrival. They were induced to enter what appeared to be a shower block, where they were gassed with carbon monoxide (this ruse was later used on a much larger scale at the extermination camps)

After the official end of the euthanasia programme in 1941, most of the personnel and high-ranking officials, as well as gassing technology and the techniques used to deceive victims, were transferred under the jurisdiction of the national medical division of the Reich Interior Ministry.Further gassing experiments with the use of mobile gas-chambers (Einsatzwagen) were conducted at Soldau concentration camp by Herbert Lange following Operation Barbarossa. Lange was appointed commander of the Chełmno extermination camp in December 1941. He was given three gas vans by the RSHA, converted by the Gaubschat GmbH in Berlin,and already before February 1942 killed a total of 3,830 Polish Jews and around 4,000 Gypsies under the guise of “resettlement”.After the Wannsee conference, the knowledge acquired in the process was then put to use by Reinhard Heydrich in the deadliest phase of the Holocaust. Beginning in spring 1942 three industrial killing centres were built secretly in east-central Poland. The SS officers responsible for the Aktion T4, including Christian Wirth, Franz Stangl, and Irmfried Eberl, were all given key roles in the implementation of the “Final Solution” for the next two years. The first killing centre equipped with stationary gas chambers modelled on Action T4 was established at Bełżec in the General Government territory of occupied Poland. Notably, the decision preceded the Wannsee Conference of January 1942 by three months

Like the Judenrat (“Jewish Council”) leaders during the Holocaust, psychiatrists were able to save some patients during the T4 Program, at least temporarily, but only if they cooperated in sending others to their death. The handicapped killing centres developed gas chambers like those later used at extermination camps. As the extermination camps did later, the handicapped killing centres installed ovens to dispose of dead bodies. The death camps that followed took the technology to a new level. The extermination camps could kill thousands at one time and burn their bodies within hours.

On August 24, 1941, almost two years after the T4 Program was initiated, it appeared to cease. In fact, it had gone underground and continued covertly during the war years. While the program claimed over 70,000 victims during its two years of open operation, the killing centres murdered even more victims between the official conclusion of the program and the fall of the Nazi regime in 1945. The total number killed under the T4 Program, including this covert phase, may have reached 200,000 or more. The official conclusion of the T4 Program in 1941 also coincided with the escalation of the Holocaust, the culmination of Nazi programs to eliminate those deemed an embarrassment to the “master race”

t4 victims

“Because God cannot want the sick and ailing to reproduce.” is what it says on the propaganda poster below.

t4ff

Forgotten History-The Hardaga & the Kabiljo families:Holocaust and Bosnian Muslim Genocide survivors

hardag

There really isn’t such a thing as a happy Holocaust story but I think this is probably could be seen as a ‘happy’ story.

It doesn’t only portray extreme bravery but also that deep down good people are the same, regardless of what religious differences they have. Especially in the present time where there are so many negative stories about Muslims and to a lesser extend of Jews it is important that a story like the one of these 2 families gets told.

The story spans approximately 50 years and is about the Hardaga and Kabiljo(aka Kavilio) families

During the Second World War, the Germans invaded Yugoslavia. After they seized Sarajevo in 1941, the Gestapo opened an office across the street from the home of  Mustafa Hardaga, a local furniture salesman.

mustafa

The Nazi occupation was vicious. The city’s old synagogue was looted, 400-year-old Torah scrolls were burned.

At night, the Hardagas could hear the screams of prisoners being tortured in Gestapo jail cells.

Amid the brutality, Hardaga and his wife Zejneba agreed to take in Hardaga’s friend and business partner Yosef Kabiljo(Kavilio), whose own home had been destroyed during a Nazi bombing raid. Kabiljo, his wife and daughter were Jewish. They hid behind clothes in the back of a walk-in closet when the Gestapo came to the Hardaga home to check documents.

“We were only 10 metres away from the Germans and hiding the Kabiljo s right under their noses,” said Salih Hardaga, Sara’s brother, who was born a year before the Germans invaded Yugoslavia.

The Hardagas were conservative Muslims, with the women covering their faces with a veil in the presence of strangers.

“Never before had a strange man stayed with them,” Yosef Kabiljo testified later to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial authority. “They welcomed us with the words: ‘Josef, you are our brother, and your children are like our children. Feel at home and whatever we own is yours.’”

The Hardaga women never again wore veils in front of Kabiljo.

“When I was growing up, my mother Zejneba always said, ‘You can’t control how rich you will be, or how smart or successful you will be,’” Pecanac said. “But she said you can control how good you will be.”

veil

 

The Kabiljos stayed with the Hardagas until Josef Kavilio was able to move his wife and children to Mostar, a Bosnian city that was under Italian rule.

Kabiljo stayed behind to liquidate his business but he could not escape detection forever. Eventually he was arrested and imprisoned by the Ustasa.

ustas

Because of the heavy snow, the prisoners could not be transferred from Sarajevo to the infamous Jasenovac camp near Zagreb, where the Croatians systematically killed Serbs, Jews and Roma.

Instead the prisoners were taken, with their legs chained, to clear the roads from snow. This is where Zejneba saw Kvilio. Kavilio later testified that he saw her standing at the street corner, her face traditionally veiled, watching the plight of their family friend with tears in her eyes. Undisturbed by the danger, she began to bring food to the prisoners.

Josef Kavilio eventually managed to escape and returned to the Hardaga home. The family welcomed him warmly and nursed him back to health. The Gestapo headquarters were nearby, and the danger was immense. In his testimony Josef described the notices on the walls threatening those who would hide Serbs and Jews with the death penalty. Not wanting to endanger the Hardagas life, Josef decided to flee to Mostar and join his family.

After September 1943, when the Italian areas came under German occupation, the Kavilio family had to move yet again. They fled to the mountains and joined the partisans.

partians

After the war they returned to Sarajevo. Again they stayed with the Hardagas until they could find a place of their own. The Hardagas also returned the jewelry that the Kavilio family had left with them for safekeeping.

Their saviours paid a steep price for helping Jews. Mustafa Hardaga’s Father in Law, Ahmed Sadik, was executed by the Nazis because he helped to forge documents with Christian names for Jewish families like the Kavilios and had hid a Jewish family in his house.

 

Half a century later, the Hardagas were themselves saved by the Kavilios during the Bosnian Civil War.

Threatened by the continuous shelling of Sarajevo, the Kavilio family appealed to the President of Bosnia to permit their erstwhile saviours to travel to Israel.

In 1992, shattered Bosnia was on fire. The phone lines to Sarajevo were down, leaving friends and family worried about their loved ones. Salih Hardaga, who had moved to Mexico in 1974, watched TV news programs, hoping for a glimpse of his sister or mother in Sarajevo.

In Jerusalem, too, the Kabiljos tuned in to the evening newscasts, unsure whether the Hardagas were still alive. While Mustafa Hardaga had died during the 1960s, the Kabiljos had stayed in touch with Zejneba and Pecanac, who was born in 1957.

They contacted an Israeli journalist who was heading to cover the war. The journalist passed on a message to a local community organization in Sarajevo that the Kabiljo family was searching for Zejneba.

A message was sent back to Israel that Zejneba, then 76, and her youngest daughter Sara were still in Sarajevo.

“There was no talk about leaving Sarajevo because there was no time,” Pecanac said. “One day things were OK. The next, soldiers were surrounding the city, the city was split into sections, and there were UN troops and snipers and bombings.

 

Pecanac was stunned to hear the Kabiljos were trying to help.

She had heard the full family story only in 1984, when the Kabiljo family asked Yad Vashem to recognize the Hardagas and Ahmed Sadik as Righteous Among the Nations, an honour given to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Zejneba at the Hall of Remembrance, Yad Vashem 1985, courtesy of Yad Vashemhardag mem

“My dad had died and my mother didn’t talk about it very much,” Pecanac said of the family’s heroism.

After learning that Zejneba was still alive, the Kabiljos again contacted Yad Vashem and officials agreed to help organize a rescue.

In early 1994, Pecanac, Branimir, Sacha and Zejneba joined 300 other refugees on a convoy of six buses that streaked through the shattered streets of Sarajevo.

“I remember we passed 34 checkpoints, and all the soldiers at the checkpoints wanted were U.S. dollars,” Pecanac said. “But without the help of the Kabiljos, we would not have been on the bus. When Yad Vashem wrote a letter to the president of Bosnia, asking that we be allowed to leave, he said no. It only happened after the Kabiljos managed to get the case all the way to (Israeli Prime Minister) Yitzhak Rabin.

rabin-sm

The Hardaga family was given its choice of destinations. Pecanac and her mother picked Jerusalem.

jerusalem

The rescue was extraordinary — one family saving another from genocide, only to see the favour returned half a century later.

“Imagine that you are in such a state and need help and you get it from the same family your family saved 50 years earlier,” said Pecanac, who converted to Judaism and now works for Yad Vashem. “It is an amazing story.”

A few months after Zejneba and her family arrived in Jerusalem, they were asked to meet Rabin.

“We went in and talked for a bit and my mother turned to Rabin and said, ‘Can I offer you some advice?’” Pecanac said. “The whole place went quiet. Who was this old woman to give advice to the prime minister of Israel?

“He said OK, and she said, ‘Please, try to make peace in the Middle East. Don’t let Jerusalem become Sarajevo.’”

.