The Gardelegen massacre

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On May 7th, 1945, Life Magazine published a series of photographs which showed the atrocities discovered by American troops as they fought their way across Germany during the last days of World War II. Included was the photo above, which shows the charred bodies of concentration camp prisoners who were burned to death inside a barn near the Medieval walled town of Gardelegen in eastern Germany on the night of April 13, 1945.

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The Gardelegen massacre was a massacre perpetrated by German SS and Luftwaffe troops during World War II. On April 13, 1945, on the Isenschnibbe estate near the northern German town of Gardelegen, the troops forced 1,016 slave laborers, many of them Poles, who were part of a transport evacuated from the Mittelbau-Dora labor camp into a large barn which was then set on fire. Most of the prisoners were burned alive; some were shot trying to escape. The crime was discovered two days later by F Company, 2nd Battalion, 405th Regiment, U.S. 102nd Infantry Division, when the U.S. Army occupied the area.

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On Friday, April 13th, approximately 1050 to 1100 of the concentration camp prisoners were herded inside a grain barn, piled knee-high with straw, which had been previously doused with gasoline. The barn was then deliberately set on fire by German SS and Luftwaffe soldiers and boys from the Hitler Jugend, according to the survivors. Prisoners who tried to escape from the fire were machine-gunned to death by the Germans guarding the barn, including teen-aged boys in the Hitler Jugend. A total of 1016 prisoners were burned to death or shot as they tried to escape from the unlocked barn. Around 100 of the prisoners survived, including several Russian Prisoners of War who greeted the American soldiers and led them to the scene of one of the most ignominious war crimes of World War II.

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The man who is considered to be the main instigator of the Gardelegen massacre is 34-year-old Gerhard Thiele, who was the Nazi party district leader of Gardelegen. On April 6, 1945, Thiele called a meeting of his staff and other officials at which he issued an order, which had been given to him a few days before by Gauleiter Rudolf Jordan, that any prisoners who were caught looting or who tried to escape should be shot on the spot.

On April 14, the 102nd entered Gardelegen and, the following day, discovered the atrocity. They found the corpses of 1,016 prisoners in the still-smoldering barn and nearby trenches, where the SS had had the charred remains dumped. They also interviewed several of the prisoners who had managed to escape the fire and the shootings. U.S. Army Signal Corps photographers soon arrived to document the Nazi crime and by April 19, 1945, the story of the Gardelegen massacre began appearing in the Western press. On that day, both the New York Times and The Washington Post ran stories on the massacre, quoting one American soldier who stated:

I never was so sure before of exactly what I was fighting for. Before this you would have said those stories were propaganda, but now you know they weren’t. There are the bodies and all those guys are dead.

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On April 21, 1945, the local commander of the 102nd ordered between 200 and 300 men from the town of Gardelegen to give the murdered prisoners a proper burial.

Over the next few days, the German civilians exhumed 586 bodies from the trenches and recovered 430 bodies from the barn, placing each in an individual grave. On April 25, the 102nd carried out a ceremony to honor the dead and erected a memorial tablet to the victims, which stated that the townspeople of Gardelegen are charged with the responsibility that the “graves are forever kept as green as the memory of these unfortunates will be kept in the hearts of freedom-loving men everywhere.” Also on April 25, Colonel George Lynch addressed German civilians at Gardelegen with the following statement:

“The German people have been told that stories of German atrocities were Allied propaganda. Here, you can see for yourself. Some will say that the Nazis were responsible for this crime. Others will point to the Gestapo. The responsibility rests with neither — it is the responsibility of the German people….Your so-called Master Race has demonstrated that it is master only of crime, cruelty and sadism. You have lost the respect of the civilized world.”

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Gerhard Thiele managed to elude justice in January 1946. He escaped , but it was found out he had lived in Düsseldorf at least until 1991 under a false identity.He died in 1994.

However, at least one of the SS men involved in the Gardelegen massacre was put on trial in 1947, according to Gring. She states on page 34 that SS-Untersturmführer Erhart Brauny was sentenced to life in prison. According to Gring, Brauny had been assigned to the Rottleberode sub-camp in 1944 and he was the transport leader for the prisoners evacuated from the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp who subsequently wound up in Gardelegen and were herded into the barn which was set on fire.

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He was sentenced to life imprisonment and died in 1950 of natural causes in prison.

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The 9th of April 1945 Executions

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The 9th of April 1945 was picked by the Nazi’s to get rid of some those they had considered to be traitors. In fact some of these men were actually heroes, since they all had been part in one way or another(or at least were convicted of that)of trying to kill Adolf Hitler during Operation Valkyrie or the 20 July plot.

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The executions by way of hanging all took place in Flossenbürg concentration camp.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer  4 February 1906 – 9 April 1945) was a German pastor, theologian, spy, anti-Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confessing Church. His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book The Cost of Discipleship has become a modern classic.

Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer was known for his staunch resistance to Nazi dictatorship, including vocal opposition to Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews.He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and imprisoned at Tegel prison for one and a half years.

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Later he was transferred to a Nazi concentration camp. After being associated with the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was quickly tried, along with other accused plotters, including former members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office), and then executed by hanging on 9 April 1945 as the Nazi regime was collapsing.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/05/26/dietrich-bonhoeffer-the-good-german/

Wilhelm Franz Canaris (1 January 1887 – 9 April 1945) was a German admiral and chief of the Abwehr, the German military intelligence service, from 1935 to 1944. Initially a supporter of Adolf Hitler, he later turned against the Nazis as he felt Germany would lose another major war. During the Second World War he was among the military officers involved in the clandestine opposition to the Nazi regime. He was executed in Flossenbürg concentration camp for high treason.

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Canaris was arrested on 23 July 1944 on the basis of the interrogation of his successor at Military Intelligence, Georg Hansen.Schellenberg respected Canaris and was convinced of his loyalty to the Nazi regime, even though he had been arrested.Hansen admitted his role in the 20 July plot but accused Canaris of being its “spiritual instigator”. No direct evidence of his involvement in the plot was discovered, but his close association with many of the plotters and certain documents written by him that were considered subversive led to the gradual assumption of his guilt. Two of the men under suspicion as conspirators who were known in Canaris’ circle shot themselves which incited activity from the Gestapo to prove he was, at the very least, privy to the plan against Hitler

Ludwig Gehre (5 October 1895 – 9 April 1945) was an officer and resistance fighter involved in the preparation of an assassination attempt against Hitler.

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At the beginning of the Second World War Gehre was active as a Captain in the Abwehr (Military Intelligence) under Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. By 1939 a group in the Abwehr had formed to remove the Nazi regime and end the War. This circle included Admiral Canaris, General Ludwig Beck, Hans von Dohnanyi, Hans Oster, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as Gehre.

By March 1943 Gehre was privy to the Military Opposition’s preparations under Henning von Tresckow to assassinate Hitler. In January 1944 Helmuth James Graf von Moltke was arrested, and in March 1944 Gehre was also taken by the Gestapo. Gehre, however, was soon able to flee and disappeared.

After the failed 20 July 1944 assassination attempt to kill Hitler, the search for Gehre intensified. Gehre, together with his wife, kept himself hidden for several more weeks. Further shelter was procured by the brothers Hans and Otto John. When Gehre realized that he was about to be discovered by the Gestapo on 1944 November 2, he shot his wife and then directed the gun toward himself. Although he was badly hurt, he survived.

Hans Paul Oster (9 August 1887 – 9 April 1945) was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany who was also a leading figure of the German resistance from 1938 to 1943. As deputy head of the counter-espionage bureau in the Abwehr (German military intelligence), Oster was in a strong position to conduct resistance operations under the guise of intelligence work; he was dismissed for helping Jews to avoid arrest.

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He was a key planner of the Oster Conspiracy of September 1938. Oster was arrested in 1943 on suspicion of helping Abwehr officers caught helping Jews escape Germany. After the failed 1944 July Plot on Hitler’s life, the Gestapo seized the diaries of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the head of the Abwehr, in which Oster’s long term anti-Nazi activities were revealed. In April 1945, he was hanged with Canaris and Dietrich Bonhoeffer at Flossenbürg concentration camp.

Karl Sack (born June 9, 1896 in Bosenheim (now Bad Kreuznach), executed April 9, 1945 in Flossenbürg concentration camp) was a German jurist and member of the resistance movement during World War II.

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Karl Sack studied law in Heidelberg where he joined a Burschenschaft (Burschenschaft Vineta) and after a time in legal practice became a judge in Hesse. He married Wilhelmine Weber and had two sons. In 1934, Sack joined the newly established Reichskriegsgericht (Reich Military Court) where he quickly rose to a senior position. He was able to delay proceedings against Army Commander-in-Chief Werner von Fritsch who had been falsely accused of homosexuality by the Gestapo in an attempt to discredit him for his opposition to Hitler’s attempts to subjugate the German armed forces. In the fall of 1942, Karl Sack became Judge Advocate General of the Army.

During World War II, Sack maintained contacts within the resistance circles in the military, including Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Major General Hans Oster and Hans von Dohnanyi, as well as with others within the Abwehr (German military intelligence). He was part of the attempt to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944 and after that failed attempt he was arrested on August 9, 1944. In the very last days of the war, he was brought before an SS drumhead court-martial presided over by Otto Thorbeck. He was sentenced to death and hanged 2 days later. Sack had been slated for the role of Justice Minister within a planned post-coup civilian government.

In 1984, Sack’s role as a member of the resistance was remembered with a bronze plaque placed in the former Reichskriegsgericht in Berlin-Charlottenburg. There was some opposition to this honour as Sack favoured a far-reaching interpretation of what constituted desertion, which must have led to more than a few death sentences.

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Theodor Strünck (7 April 1895, Pries – 9 April 1945, Flossenbürg concentration camp) was a German lawyer and resistance worker, involved in the July 20 plot.

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Theodor Strünck studied legal science, graduating at the University of Rostock in 1924, and became a lawyer (later a director) at an insurance company. Initially sympathising with National Socialism, he then turned to opposing the regime on their seizure of power and the subsequent decline in the rule of law. In 1937 he became a Hauptmann in Germany’s reserve forces, working in the Wehrmacht section of the Amt Ausland/Abwehr under Hans Oster. He came into contact with Carl Goerdeler and organised meetings of German Resistance members in his own home.

For his participation in the 20 July 1944 plot, Theodor Strünck was arrested on 1 August, dishonourably discharged from the army on 24 August as part of the “Ehrenhof” (so that the Reichskriegsgericht or Reich Courts Martial would no longer have control of his sentencing), and on 10 October condemned to death by the People’s Court under its president Roland Freisler. He was then imprisoned in Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he was executed together by hanging on 9 April 1945.

The Germans were busy on the 9th of April because additionally to the 6 men mentioned above they also executed Georg Elser by hanging in the Dachau concentration camp.

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Johann Georg Elser (4 January 1903 – 9 April 1945) was a German worker who planned and carried out an elaborate assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler and other high-ranking Nazi leaders on 8 November 1939 at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich.A time bomb that Elser constructed and placed near the speaking platform failed to kill Hitler, who left earlier than expected, but killed eight people and injured over sixty-two others. Elser was held as a prisoner for over five years until executed at the Dachau concentration camp.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/10/19/what-if-the-assassination-attempts-on-hitler/

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/02/27/forgotten-history-german-resistance/

Elise and Otto Hampel-Defiant heroes

Like in so many other conflicts often the inhabitants of the aggressor nation are also victims as was the case in Germany. Many defied the Nazi regime and paid the ultimate price for it.

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Otto and Elise Hampel were a working-class couple who created a simple method of protest while living in Berlin during the early years of World War II. They composed postcards denouncing Hitler’s government and left them in public places around the city. They were eventually caught, tried, and beheaded in Berlin’s Plötzensee Prison in April 1943.

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On this day in 1943, a working-class German couple were executed for treason and sedition in Berlin, Germany: Otto and Elise Hampel’s reign of postcard-writing terror had finally come to its conclusion.

Elise Lemme married Otto Hampel in 1935.

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She was a domestic servant and a member of the National Socialist Frauenschaft (Women’s League). Otto had served in WWI and was a factory worker. After the death of Elise’s brother, a soldier killed during the German assault on France, she and her husband decided to oppose the Nazi regime in their own way. They had handwritten  about 200 postcards and leaflets anonymously which called upon people not to buy Nazi papers, to refuse to serve in the war and to overthrow Hitler.

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Their campaign lasted for two years before they were eventually betrayed and arrested.

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What actually happened was that almost all the cards were delivered to the authorities immediately. Nobody wanted to be caught in possession of such dangerous words.

Because of the sheer number of postcards and the long duration of their distribution, the Gestapo at first thought they were dealing with a much larger group of traitors. Doubtless they were frustrated that this riffraff, who couldn’t even write properly (the postcards were full of grammatical errors and misspellings), were able to evade them for so long.

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But the Hampels’ resistance activities eventually caught up with them.

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They were unrepentant after their arrests in October 1942, and had little to say for themselves, beyond Otto’s statement that he was “happy” about protesting against Hitler. Roland Freisler‘s People’s Court duly condemned them to die for “preparation for high treason” and “demoralizing the troops.” They were executed by guillotine in the Plötzensee Prison.

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For some reason, unlike their equally courageous, naive and doomed counterparts in the White Rose, the Hampels’ story didn’t really catch on with historians.They were saved from oblivion by the dangerously unstable, drug-addicted author Rudolf Ditzen, aka Hans Fallada, who came upon their Gestapo file after the war.

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His 1947 novel,”Every man Dies Alone, written in just 24 days, is closely based on Elise and Otto’s story. This book was Fallada’s swan song; he died weeks before its publication.

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Deutschland 1980’s-the Music.

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I know what you are thinking “Didn’t he already do a piece on Deutschland ’83?” and you’d be right , but this blog is not about that show nor its follow up “Deutschland ’86”.

This piece is about the music in Germany in the 80’s. It always fascinated me that for this relatively short period of time the German music industry basically turned itself on its head. It went from the folky Schlager music to the NDW(Neue Deutsche Welle) German new wave and punk music,complemented with some rock acts.

Well at least for West Germany, East Germany was a different story altogether.

Below are some examples of that weird musical era in Germany. I do apologize for the first 2 songs but in order to get a feel for the paradox and to have a balance I felt compelled to put them in here.You can fast forward if you  so please.(I did)

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The situation in the East

“Sonderzug nach Pankow” (Special Train to Pankow) is a song by the German rock singer Udo Lindenberg, released as a single on 2 February 1983.

It was a reaction to the refusal by the East German government to allow the West German singer perform a concert in East Germany .The text of this approximately three minutes long song is aimed  directly to East German leader Erich Honecker.

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The melody is based on the 1941 swing classic “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller. It did eventually did lead to Udo Lindenberg being granted to do 1 concert in East Germany on 25 October 1983. The concert was part of the “Rock für den Frieden”(Rock for Peace) festival.

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German Rock

These guys must have listened to Led Zeppelin a lot.

Finishing up with the band that no one talks about anymore ,Milli Vanilli. Ironically the lip syncing scandal they were involved in has more or less become the standard in the Music industry nowadays.

Terror Attacks

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Europe was hit by yet an awful terror attack and my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

It is only going to be a matter of time before the loony left,neo liberals  and the far right will be spouting their theories on who and what is to blame.On the one side we will have the claims of the ‘poor disenfranchised youth’ and the other side we’ll have ‘all muslims are terrorists’ and both will point the finger to the current refugee crisis.

But lets look at some facts.

Yes there is an issue with the management of the current refugee crisis.

The irony is that the one world leader who actually was willing to do something about this, inadvertently caused the opposite effect.I have great respect for Angela Merkel but in her naivety she has caused this crisis to happen. I know she did it with the best of intentions and it was very noble but it wasn’t thought through.

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It is a fact that when you invite everyone to come there is a big chance that that is exactly what will happen. Add the fact that Europe’s borders are a bit like an Emmenthal cheese,full of holes, you are inviting disaster.

This became very evident to me after watching an RTE documentary called ‘the Crossing’ about the refugee rescue efforts of the Irish Naval ship the LE Samuel Beckett in the the Mediterranean.

Most of the  rescued refugees said they wanted to go to Germany. In fact the smugglers had used Merkel’s open welcome, the smugglers had given some  of the refugees, the false promise  that once they got to Germany they would get free accommodation and a limitless credit card.

If you invite people to come without any proper vetting facilities being in place ,you take the risk that you also invite lunatics with a major chip on their shoulder.

On the other hand some of the worst terror attacks in the west were perpetrated long before the current refugee crisis.

New York 9/11-2001 -2,996 killed

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Madrid 3/11-2004 attack 192 Killed

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London 7/7 -2005 attack-52 killed

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Before people start blaming all religions of all evil ever committed in history,yes there are Muslim terrorists. But there are also Christian terrorist,Pagan Terrorist,Atheist terrorists and Animal Right terrorists, and even anti racism terrorists. Or as I like to call them “Lunatics with a warped sense of entitlement and disturbed political agendas”

Below are a few examples.

Anders Behring Breivik

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His religion is a Pagan religion called Odinism, although he had been a Christian before.He killed 77 in Norway on the 22nd of July 2011, this was also before the current refugee crisis.

Volkert van der Graaf

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is a Dutch convicted murderer who assassinated politician Pim Fortuyn, the leader of the Pim Fortuyn List (LPF), on 6 May 2002.

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This occurred during the political campaign for the Dutch general elections of 2002. An environmental and animal rights activist,he said at his trial that he murdered Fortuyn to stop him from exploiting Muslims as “scapegoats” and targeting “the weak members of society” in seeking political power. I know some people will say he wasn’t a terrorist but a murderer, however when Theo van Gogh was murdered in a similar way, but by a Muslim,that crime was branded a terror attack . Even though both murders were nearly identical, therefore I will not cherry pick and will call Pim Fortuyn’s murder also a Terror attack.

Mohammed Bouyeri

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Mohammed Bouyeri (born 8 March 1978) is a Moroccan-Dutch radical Islamic terrorist and convicted murderer who is serving a life sentence without parole for the assassination of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh. He holds both Dutch and Moroccan citizenship.

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Filmmaker Theo van Gogh was notorious for his insults to “everyone respected in postwar multicultural Dutch society, including Jews and Muslims” but who “also helped bring Muslim actors onto Dutch television.”In 2004, he and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who was a Dutch member of parliament at the time, directed a short film called Submission, Part I about Islam and violence against women.

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In the film women are shown wearing transparent clothes with verses of the Quran written on their bodies. The film aired in August 2004 on Dutch television in prime time, the ensuing outcry led the Dutch police to offer police protection for both directors, but van Gogh refused.

The 26-year-old Bouyeri assassinated van Gogh in the early morning of 2 November 2004, in Amsterdam, in front of the city’s East Borough office (stadsdeelkantoor) on the corner of the Linnaeusstraat and Tweede Oosterparkstraat, while he was bicycling to work.

Luigi Galleani

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An Italian atheist and anarchist active in the United States from 1901 to 1919, viewed by historians as an insurrectionary anarchist. He is best known for his enthusiastic advocacy of “propaganda of the deed”, i.e. the use of violence to eliminate tyrants and oppressors and to act as a catalyst to the overthrow of existing government institutions. From 1914 to 1932, Galleani’s followers in the United States (known as i Galleanisti), carried out a series of bombings and assassination attempts against institutions and persons they viewed as class enemies.After Galleani was deported from the United States to Italy in June 1919, his colleagues are alleged to have carried out the Wall Street bombing of 16 September 1920, which resulted in the deaths of 38 people.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/09/16/wall-street-bombing/

Revolutionary Anti-Racist Action(Revolutionaire Anti-Racistische Actie)

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Revolutionary Anti-Racist Action or Revolutionaire Anti-Racistische Actie, often abbreviated RaRa was a Dutch Revolutionary group, although in the Netherlands the group was called a ‘political violent activist’-group The name “RaRa” in Dutch means “Guess …” (who we are),

RaRa was active in the 1980s and 1990s within the Netherlands, bombing sites to express opposition to the apartheid policies of South Africa as well as to the Dutch asylum legislation.Their bombings caused a lot of material damage. Amazingly no one was killed but it could have easily resulted in a great number of fatalities.

Of course there have been other terrorists organizations who caused a great number of fatalities in Europe, UDA,UVF,RAF,ETA,IRA and Baader Meinhof group to name but a few.

 

Battle of Crucifix Hill & Captain Bobbie E.Brown

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Today marks the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Crucifix Hill.The Battle of Crucifix Hill was a World War II battle that took place on 8 October 1944, on Crucifix Hill (Haarberg, Hill 239), next to the village of Haaren in Germany and was a part of the U.S. 1st Division’s campaign to seize Aachen, Germany. The Battle of Aachen was part of the drive to the Siegfried Line. The hill was named after a large crucifix mounted on the top of the hill. The objective of the battle was to gain control of the hill, which was laced with a maze of pillboxes and bunkers, so that the main objective of encircling Aachen could be completed. The hill was held by units of the German 246. Volksgrenadierdivision.

246-_inf_divThe 18th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 1st Infantry Division, commanded by Col. George A. Smith Jr., directed its 1st Battalion (commanded by Lt. Col. Henry G. Leonard, Jr.) to take the hill employing special pillbox assault teams equipped with flamethrowers, Bangalore torpedoes, and demolition charges.

 

A battery of tank destroyers and self-propelled guns were to provide supporting direct fire at the pillboxes. As the leading rifle platoon of C Company assaulted the first pillbox, flanking fire from a nearby pillbox gun emplacement took the platoon in crossfire. The pinned-down soldiers also experienced an intense artillery barrage on their exposed positions.

Capt. Bobbie E. Brown

When World War II began he was the First Sergeant in the Headquarters Company of Patton’s 2nd Armored Division. After fighting across North Africa, he received battlefield promotion to Second Lieutenant and transferred to the 1st Infantry Division. He led a platoon of Company C up Omaha Beach on D-Day.

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While fighting across France he assumed command of his unit when his Company Commander was killed.

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A few days later the promotion became official. At 04:00, October 8, 1944, he received orders for an attack on Crucifix Hill. Of 43 known pillboxes and bunkers, his company was responsible for numbers 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 29, and 30. After a formation of P-47 Thunderbolts finished an air strike at 13:15, he led his company out of positions in a graveyard at the foot of the hill.

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They made it about 150 yards (140 m) to an antitank ditch in front of pillbox 18 before heavy German fire forced them to seek cover. He turned to his platoon Sergeant, “Get me a couple of flamethrowers, some pole and satchel charges.” Once armed with those, he had his riflemen lay down a base of fire, then started crawling alone toward the pillbox. A bomb had earlier blown a hole near the pillbox, which he jumped into and dropped a satchel charge through an aperture by a door. The pillbox erupted, clouds of smoke billowing from its rifle ports.

He wriggled his way back to his men to pick up more charges and went back uphill 35 yards (32 m) past the still smoking bunker and toward pillbox 19 while under heavy machine-gun fire. Several mortar rounds fell nearby, slamming his body to the ground. Once in range, he dropped a pole charge through a 12-inch (300 mm) opening, blowing a hole in the pillbox, followed with a satchel charge. On his way back downhill for more charges, he noticed blood covering one knee. Then his Sergeant told him, “Sir, there’s bullet holes in your canteen.” He had no idea when he’d been hit.

Pillbox 20 was perhaps the largest and most heavily armed fortification on the hill. A turret, mounting a cut-down 88 mm cannon, revolved 360 degrees on the top, while the concrete walls were 6 feet (1.8 m) thick. The structure was manned by 45 soldiers with no less than 6 machine-guns. Following a communications trench 20 yards (18 m) from number 19 to 20, he threw 2 satchel charges through a steel door that an ammunition-laden soldier was entering through. With the destruction of pillbox 20, enemy resistance on Crucifix Hill soon crumbled, allowing allied forces to mop up, and securing the 1st Division’s flank.

He was wounded during street fighting in Aachen when an artillery shell landed practically beside him. Numb, blood streaming from his nose, ears, and mouth, he headed for an aid station. He spent several months in a hospital in Belgium, then went home on a 30-day leave. He rejoined Company C in Germany and fought with it into Czechoslovakia. After the war ended, he flew home to receive his Medal of Honor on August 23, 1945.

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Medal of Honor citation:

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“He commanded Company C, 18th Infantry Regiment, on October 8, 1944, when it, with the Ranger Platoon of the 1st Battalion, attacked Crucifix Hill, a key point in the enemy’s defense of Aachen, Germany. As the leading rifle platoon assaulted the first of many pillboxes studding the rising ground, heavy fire from a flanking emplacement raked it. An intense artillery barrage fell on the American troops which had been pinned down in an exposed position. Seeing that the pillboxes must be neutralized to prevent the slaughter of his men, Capt. Brown obtained a pole charge and started forward alone toward the first pillbox, about 100 yards away. Hugging the ground while enemy bullets whipped around him, he crawled and then ran toward the aperture of the fortification, rammed his explosive inside and jumped back as the pillbox and its occupants were blown up. He rejoined the assault platoon, secured another pole charge, and led the way toward the next pillbox under continuous artillery mortar, automatic, and small-arms fire. He again ran forward and placed his charge in the enemy fortification, knocking it out. He then found that fire from a third pillbox was pinning down his company; so he returned to his men, secured another charge, and began to creep and crawl toward the hostile emplacement. With heroic bravery he disregarded opposing fire and worked ahead in the face of bullets streaming from the pillbox. Finally reaching his objective, he stood up and inserted his explosive, silencing the enemy. He was wounded by a mortar shell but refused medical attention and, despite heavy hostile fire, moved swiftly among his troops exhorting and instructing them in subduing powerful opposition. Later, realizing the need for information of enemy activity beyond the hill, Capt. Brown went out alone to reconnoiter. He observed possible routes of enemy approach and several times deliberately drew enemy fire to locate gun emplacements. Twice more, on this self-imposed mission, he was wounded; but he succeeded in securing information which led to the destruction of several enemy guns and enabled his company to throw back 2 powerful counterattacks with heavy losses. Only when Company C’s position was completely secure did he permit treatment of his 3 wounds. By his indomitable courage, fearless leadership, and outstanding skill as a soldier, Capt. Brown contributed in great measure to the taking of Crucifix Hill, a vital link in the American line encircling Aachen”

After the war ended, Brown spent the next two years in and out of hospitals, as army doctors tried to repair the physical damage inflicted by 13 war wounds. He completed his 30 years of service to his country in 1952.

Like so many men who had experienced intense combat, Brown was tormented by traumatic memories of his experiences during the war. Unable to find a good civilian job, he became a janitor at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Haunted by unhappy memories of combat and in constant pain from war-related injuries, he committed suicide, by a self-inflicted gunshot to his chest, on November 8, 1971. He was subsequently buried in section 46, site 1021-17 of Arlington National Cemetery.

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Deutschland 83

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One of my favourite TV shows and I was delighted to find out there will be a second season called Deutschland 86, because it is set 3 years later.

I only lived literally a walking distance from Germany in 1983 and in fact most of my life. Growing up as a kid I didn’t really think anything of it but in hindsight it was kinda bizarre.

Little did I know then, that we were really not that far away from the ‘battlegrounds’ of the cold war, even though the fact there were plenty of staff of the AFCENT (Allied Forces Central Europe Netherlands) in town and surrounding cities. One of the former coal mines was actually used as part of their HQ.

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And surely the AWACS planes (a Boeing 707 type plane with a radar dish on top of it) should have been a give away.

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Oblivious I just went about my business without a care in the world. Naively I felt quite safe where I lived, because often I had seen American Marines marching between Geleen and Heerlen(two municipalities in the south of the Netherlands), chanting stuff like “I like working for Uncle Sam” In fact I thought it was cool, and in a way it was I suppose.

Not realizing those very soldiers were there to assist the Dutch army in case of a potetntial WW3 breaking out.

The Germans though were a funny bunch particularly when it came to their music. From the 50’s to the early 80’s there music was really Schlagers, it can only be described as German folk music I suppose, I would call it crap but it is still very popular with some people who I don’t want to offend.

At the start of the 80’s though a new direction of German music emerged, it was called ‘die Neue Deutsche Welle, New German wave and it brought a few great bands and songs to the front. Bands like Nena,Trio,Bap and indeed Peter Schilling whose song Major Tom is used as the theme for Deutschland 83

 

One of my favorites of the NDW is a Cologne band called BAP , the song is about the Kristal Nacht (in english known as the night of broken glass) from a dark period in German history. The band sings in the local Cologne dialect which is very similar to the Limburg dialect. I will leave it with that. I hope you enjoy this little peace of history. Enjoy the song.