Munich Oktoberfest bombing 1980

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I don’t want to make this a political blog but I can’t avoid some politics without telling the factual story. Last weekend’s elections in Germany did see a rise of popularity of far right politics(and no matter what the leaders of AFD say, that is what they are).

Despite the fact the German economy is sound and unemployment is low, the AFD was able to tap into the fears of the German citizens, the fear for Islam. And yes there are valid grounds to fear Jihadi extremists. The truth of the matter  though no terror groups act out of  religion but out of political reasons and then use any excuse to validate this political act, be it religion,animal rights or otherwise.

Today marks the 37th anniversary of the biggest terror attack in Germany and this attack was not committed by Arabs or Muslims but by a German student, named ,Gundolf Köhler. Although he may have had accomplices.Gundolf_Köhler

It is beyond dispute that Gundolf Köhler, a university student from the Swabian town of Donaueschingen, made the bomb, took it to Munich and deposited it at the scene of the crime. But even today, 37 years later, his motives remain unclear.

Köhler was also killed in the attack, because the bomb went off too soon. Few people believe that he committed suicide, however. He was said to be technically adept and knowledgeable about explosives. But the student also had ties to Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann, a banned neo-Nazi terrorist organization, and had taken part in their exercises a number of times.

At 10:19 p.m. on 26 September 1980, a bomb exploded at the main entrance to Oktoberfest, killing 13 people instantly (including Köhler) and injuring 225 people. Amongst the individuals killed were one Briton, one Swiss, and three German children, aged 6, 8, and 10; the remaining victims were West German adults.

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The bomb had been planted in a litter bin at about waist level, allowing it to wreak significant havoc upon detonation. Approximately 50 of the 225 “non fatal” casualties experienced serious, life-threatening injuries with the potential to impact the afflicted individuals for the rest of their lives. The area affected by the bombing was the size of a soccer field, which measures at 100 yards long (the same size as a football field) and 60 yards wide. Such demonstrates the devastating impact of this bomb and underscores why it was able to impact a large number of people. Furthermore, analysis of the bomb provides insight into why it was able to be particularly devastating. Reconstruction from the site of the bombing indicates that it was created from a British mortar projectile manufactured in 1954. This particular projectile was modified to ensure an intense degree of fragmentation, which would assist in causing as many fatalities (and severe injuries) as quickly as possible.

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The key eyewitness remains a dubious figure. Frank Lauterjung was able to provide more details about the attack than anyone else. He survived the explosion, even though he was only a few meters away, because he had had a “bad feeling” and thrown himself to the ground before the bomb detonated. Investigators questioned Lauterjung at least five times in 1980. He died of heart failure two years later, when he was only 38. But when he was questioned, the State Office of Criminal Investigation in Munich ignored his most explosive statement.

Lauterjung told investigators that he had noticed Köhler engaged in a heated conversation with two men in green parkas near the site of the bombing, about half an hour before the attack.

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An unnamed nurse told ARD that shortly after the Munich bombing she recalled treating a young man whose lower arm was missing.

“The arm had been injured by an explosion and had to be amputated,” the nurse told ARD. “But he wouldn’t say how he got hurt – he was proud of it. I went into his room and he was smiling all over.

She said he was never visited by his parents but only by “groups of men”, and added: “He disappeared after a week without even having his stitches removed.”

Ulrich Chaussy, the journalist behind the ARD documentary, has suspected irregularities in the Oktoberfest attack investigation for decades. He has long-believed that the severed hand, which was destroyed by federal prosecutors in 1987, did not belong to Köhler.The formal investigation into the bomb attack was stopped in 1982. Mr Chaussy’s investigations prompted the case to be reopened in December 2014.

 

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Secret message in a bullet

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One of the biggest mistakes Hitler made during WWII was actually partnering up with Benito Mussolini and his army.

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The Italian army was extremely effective before the war and well into 1941. The Italian army invaded Ethiopia and Albania and crushed the defending armies. However this was against countries with outdated tech, small armies and horrible leadership. So the Italian army, with more modern technology and better leadership (than the defenders at least) proved the Italian army to be a formidable opponent. Of course this was against nations that were significantly weaker than the Italian Army.

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Against militaries with equal strength, the Italian army was possibly the worst in combat. Compared to the other belligerents, the Italian army had outdated technology, most being designed or purchased around the early 1930’s, horrible leadership and insufficient support or intelligence.

In 1944, an Allied soldier somewhere in the south of Tuscany scribbled a coded message onto a scrap of paper, rolled it up, and stuffed it inside a bullet for safe keeping. It was August, and the tide of WWII was rapidly changing. The Allies were pushing into Europe and soon, the war would be over in Europe.

Recently, a team of Italian metal-detector fans were roaming around in southern Tuscany, picking up bits and pieces here and there. Then, someone found something odd.

It was a bullet that had been inverted into its own casing. It struck them as strange, since soldiers needed all the bullets they could get. When they pried the bullet out of its casing, they found something that no one had seen in decades.

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Hiding messages in bullets was actually not an uncommon practice. A bullet was opened, the powder dumped out, and a message placed inside. Bullets were small, making them easy to carry and to hide, and they could also be easily thrown away if a soldier was captured. Bullets made especially good message carriers because they could literally be left lying around anywhere; bullets are a pretty common site on a battlefield.

It’s dated 8/13/44. The order of the month and day, as well as historical evidence, mean the soldier who wrote this was probably American.

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So what does the coded message say?

“THEY THROW GRENADES. WE PULL PINS AND THROW BACK.”

And underneath:

“NOTIFY REINFORCEMENTS STAND DOWN–NOT NEEDED”

This means that during one engagement, the American soldiers, one of whom wrote this note were catching grenades thrown by the Axis soldiers, but their pins were still intact. What was the reason?

It seems that the grenades in question were an Italian variety that had two pins instead of the typical one. Both needed to be pulled in order for the grenade to detonate. But the grenades coming in on the American soldiers had only one pin pulled, which means that the soldiers throwing them were not Italian, as they would have been trained in how to use them, but German.

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Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943, so the only troops still fighting there would have been German–and they would not have known that the Italian grenades had two pins. Imagine their surprise when the same grenades came flying back, and this time, they did explode. The Americans did their research, and it helped–to the point where reinforcements were definitely not needed.