Isolating the Jews.

duif

Long before the first trains left for the concentration camps , the Jews in Germany were isolated. Not yet by putting them in ghettos but by removing them from every aspect of social life.

On this day 80 years ago the Jews were forbidden to keep  carrier pigeons ,aka homing or postal pigeons, as ordered by The Reich Ministry of the Interior.

You may think”What’s the big deal in that?” It may not look like a very harsh measure but this law was the last law ensuring the Jews would have no communication with the outside world.

Any one who knows something about keeping carrier pigeons knows that these birds were not just common pigeons . They are trained for a long time and it is very costly.

So not did the Nazi regime starve the Jews from the last means of communication, it also destroyed a hobby of those who would have invested a lot of time and money.

Yet another bit of psychological torment.

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Hamburger SV-Altona 93:Final score 4-2. The match on April 29, 1945.

FOOTBALL

There was a bit of a scandal this week in Dublin. On of the Dublin based soccer teams,Ballybrack, pretended that one of their star players was killed in a car crash. The team wanted to postpone an up coming match and came up with the death as an excuse. The ting is though there was no crash, the player didn’t die in fact he knew nothing of this  at all.

This bizarre incident reminded me of another bizarre soccer event. On April 29, 1945 two Hamburg teams, Hamburger SV and Altona 93 played a league match.

 

Some of you might think how bizarre was that.Well, compared to the aforementioned Irish team that was desperate to avoid playing, the 2 Hamburg teams were desperate to play the match despite a remarkable backdrop.

Hamburger SV was without 3 of its star players Rudi Noak, Werner Höffmann and Eugen Kahl, but that wasn’t what made this match so remarkable. The date was April 29 1945. Nearly everyone in Germany must have known the war was coming to an end. Even Hitler knew because on that same day he married Eva Braun, knowing quite well that they would end their lives the following day.

The Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American forces. Nearer to Hamburg about 50 km away at Lauenburg,British forces crossed the Elbe river just a few hours before the match started.

troops

Despite all this ,hundreds of football fans would make their way to the stadium, not knowing what fate awaited them.

Hamburger SV beat Altona 93 by 4-2in what would be the last soccer match of the third reich.

 

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Social Equality

ah

Be careful what you wish for.

A leader that works with and for the people.Free higher education,pensions, health insurance,family and child support.A variety of public services including paid vacations, not just days off but actually weeks away and trips abroad, sponsored by the state.State supported and sponsored entertainment.Jobs for everyone, full employment.

Professors and mail man who greet each other in an equal and cordial manner

Al this wasn’t just a Utopia it was all a reality for the Germans in Nazi Germany, well at least for those who fit the nation’s desired profile, the Aryan profile. The greeting was Heil Hitler it became the universal greeting and a symbol of social equality.

So when you are promised a utopia better ask how all this is been paid for the and  motivation behind the promise, because this utopia could carry a very high price tag.

amf

 

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Indifference becomes hate.

hate

They say that money of the root of all evil. It isn’t. Hate is the root of all evil and indifference is the root of all hate.

Indifference can turn ordinary but ill informed people into hateful individuals and mobs. Ill informed because they believe what their leaders tell them,without questioning them.

I could do this blog about any era in history because throughout history there have been many occasions where indifference became hate, but I will focus on the darkest era , WWII.

The picture above is of Jewish women in Linz, Austria who were exhibited in public with a cardboard sign stating “I have been excluded from the national community”

German students taking part in race education classes, 1943.The 3 groups displayed on the poster are, from top to bottom, “East Baltic race” Alpine race” and “Dinaric race”. All these three groups were considered part of the sub-races of the Caucasian race.

education

Sinti in the courtyard of Hohenasperg Prison prior to their deportation to camps in Poland. May 22, 1940.

sinti

A women accused of racial defilement for having a romantic affair with a Polish man, Altenburg, Thuringia, Germany. 7 February 1942. Again with a cardboard sign stating “I have been excluded from the national community”

mockery

The indifference was partially caused by self interest. Hitler made promises in relation to the prosperity and he created the perception that he kept his promises. Although the economic recovery had already started before he came to power, the dire situation in Germany prior to that was still fresh in the  memories of many citizens.

People at a crowded dormitory of a lodging house for the homeless in Berlin in 1920.

homeless

German World War I veteran and amputee begs for money on the street.1923.

wwi

For many who had suffered Hitler had become a champion for their cause and they were willing to look away from the things the Nazis did, because they had a roof of their heads and food on the table and they were indifferent to the price that was paid for that new found prosperity.

AH

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And the guns fell silent.

wwi

November 11, 1918. 10:59 am, one last volley of machine gun fire, one last soldier to die.Henry Nicholas John Gunther took one last charge with his bayonet, The enemy warned him , but he wanted to proof himself.He wanted to show his demotion from Sergeant to Private had been unjustified.

One last hoorah, one last act of bravery. The enemy warned him again but to no avail,  Henry N. Gunther kept going, the machine guns rattled, Henry N Gunther fell down,dead. But a Sergeant he was yet again.

Henry

His misguided act of bravery was more an act of madness ,because 60 seconds later the war was over. But he wasn’t to blame the so called Great War was based on human insanity.

November 11, 1918. 11:00 am the guns fell silent.

What was supposed to end before Christmas 1914 lasted 4 bloody years 40 million dead and for what?

The guns fell silent but soon they would fire again.

END OF WAR

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Karl Friedrich Stellbrink-Lübeck martyr.

Martyr

Karl Friedrich Stellbrink was one of the 4 Lübeck Martyrs.I could have done a blog on all 4 but the reason why I chose Stelbrink is three fold.

  1. He was the only non Catholic clergy man of the 4.
  2. He was the first to be arrested.
  3. His wife was also victimized.

All four men were executed by beheading on 10 November 1943 less than 3 minutes apart from each other at Hamburg’s Holstenglacis.

The men all opposed the Nazi regime.

martyrs

The four priests spoke publicly against the Nazis – at the start discreetly like distributing pamphlets to friends and congregants. Later they copied and distributed the anti-Nazi sermons of the Catholic Bishop August von Galen.

Stellbrink had joined the Nazi party but he soon realized their warped ideology,and its incompatibility with his Christian teaching.He declined to break off his friendship with his Jewish friends and in 1937 he left the party.

In his sermon on Palm Sunday, March 29,1942 he uttered the following words “In the misery of our home city we hear God’s voice” The previous night the city was bombed by the allied forces,killing more then 300 people. His sermon was interpreted as a divine punishment by God on the Nazi regime.He was arrested just over a week later on April 7, 1942.

On 22 and 23 June 1943 he and the other 3 men were put on trial. They were all sentenced to death. On November 10 ,1943 they were all beheaded within a few minutes of each other.

After his death, Stellbrink’s widow was billed for his court costs, imprisonment, and execution.

Lubeck

There is no doubt that the Christian churches should have done more, but their paralysis was caused by fear, the world had not witnesses such evil before. Although their inaction is in one way understandable it is still no excuse.

However often people forget that on an individual level there were many Christians that helped save the lives of Jews and others, by putting their own lives at risk.

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The November pogrom-Kristall nacht.

Kristaal nacht

This is not meant to be an accusation because since I didn’t live in those times, I just don’t know how I would have reacted.

It is however something that has intrigued me.How come the majority of the Germans and Austrians did not see how wrong the November pogrom was? I can nearly understand why they turned a blind eye to the boycott of Jewish shops and even the occasional attack on Jews, they probably thought it was just a few extreme right thugs who carried out those attacks. But Kristall nacht was not just some vandalism, it was a direct nationwide assault on religion and an act of war against the Jews.

During the Night 9-10 November, hundreds of synagogues were destroyed in Austria, Germany, and Sudetenland.

pogrom

While the synagogues were burning, firemen were instructed only to stop the  fires if nearby buildings were threatened by the flames.

At least 91 Jewish citizens were killed and about 30,000 Jewish men were arrested.The excuse used for these attacks was the shooting of diplomat Ernst vom Rath by 17 year old Jewish student Herschel Grynszpan, in Paris.

But in the 1930’s in Germany there had been many other assassinations and they never triggered widespread violence as the November pogrom.

Hugh Greene who worked as a reporter for  The Daily Telegraph in Berlin, wrote the following:

“Mob law ruled in Berlin throughout the afternoon and evening and hordes of hooligans indulged in an orgy of destruction. I have seen several anti-Jewish outbreaks in Germany during the last five years, but never anything as nauseating as this. Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of otherwise decent people. I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle-class mothers held up their babies to see the ‘fun'”

damage

To add insult to injury ,after the event the Jewish community was forced to pay for the damage caused to the synagogues and properties, They were  fined 10 billion Reichsmarks.

If Kristallnacht wasn’t an indication of what the Nazis had planned for the Jews, then what was. There was still time to put a halt to it then, but it seems people had just become to indifferent by then.

paper

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Hitler’s promise of prosperity.

eco germany

A question people often ask me is “Why did so many Germans believe Hitler and the NSDAP?”

Hitler did not keep his hate for Jews and other groups e deemed unworthy a secret. In fact he wrote about it in Mein Kampf and other political publications.So why did so many Germans endorse him and his policies?

eco hitler

That question is actually not so hard to answer.

There were a few factors and it also came down to timing.One of the reasons te Nazis cited for the woes of the German people was the treaty of Versailles. Te treart had caused undue hardships for Germany after WWI,but by 1924 the allied had realized that. The hyper inflation  in Germany causing simple daily things like bread and milk to cost millions of reich marks, had not gone unnoticed.

versailles

The Dawes Plan (as proposed by the Dawes Committee, chaired by Charles G. Dawes) was an initial plan in 1924 ease the World War I reparations that Germany had to pay.

The years 1924 to 1929 became known as the ‘Golden Years’, Germany had crawled out of poverty, at least for a big part, and by 1928 unemployment had gone down from a 15% to 8%.By this stage the Germans did not see the Nazis policies as viable policies for the country.

The event that brought changes to that was the  Wall Street Crash of October 29, 1929,which started the great depression.

crash

Strapped for cash, the United States began to recall loans from Europe. As one of the consequences unemployment started to rise. The economy of Germany, relied heavily on investment from the US, and suffered more than any other country in Europe.

Germany’s unemployment rate rose to 30% by 1932. Hitler promised to get the nation back to full employment, and he succeeded but it came with a price tag.Although by the 1933 elections the economy had already started to pick up somewhat.

The Nazis introduced policies to increase manual labour and banned the introduction of some labour-saving machinery.If a company wanted to reduce its workforce it needed permission from the government.

Gradually Jews were forcibly removed from the labour force and they were replaced by non Jewish Germans.

Women were encouraged to give up their jobs to become homemakers.

The army and the armament industry was rebuild.

Massive infrastructure projects like the motor ways were built.

autobahn

The mass production of radios was encouraged, this wasn’t only to reduce unemployment but also to ensure everyone had a media for propaganda.

Hitler had a vision for every German family to own a car, he was influenced by Henry Ford.

ford.PNG

The Nazis abolished tax on cars . Ferdinand Porsche, a well-known designer for high-end vehicles and race cars, had been trying for years to get a manufacturer interested in a small car suitable for a family. In 1934 Hitler became involved and ordered the production of the ‘People’s car’ Volkswagen.

ah vw

Especially the Jews and also the disabled were used as scapegoats for the economical hardships of the past.

By 1937 German unemployment had fallen from six million to one million.

It is nor surprising that the Germans fell for Hitler’s promises for he delivered on some of them, and especially the promise on the recovery of the economy

The standard of living though had not improved like it had done in the 1920s. Eventually this new ‘prosperity’ came at a high price,millions were slaughtered and Germany was once again left in ruins during WWII.

An important lesson is to be learned here. If election promises are kept, what is the price tag that comes with it.

 

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The ‘Captain’-the evil of Willi Herold

Willi

Last week a lady  asked me how was it possible that people committed so may awful atrocities during WWII, did their conscience not bother them. She also thought it must have taken years for people to be indoctrinated in evil thinking.

I told her that it actually takes a very short time for the human psyche to be conditioned to commit evil acts, Experiments like the ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ and the ‘Third Wave’ has shown it only takes a few days.

The case of Willi Herold shows that people believe authoritative leaders put those leaders in an uniform and the critical thinking gets abandoned, no questions are asked not even a quick check to see if this leader is really who he claims to be.

Willi Herold  was born on 11 September 1925 in Lunzenau, Saxony, the son of a roofer. There is not much more known about Willi as a child, but what he did as a teenager is what makes his story intriguing and disturbing.

Herold

He joined the Wehrmacht on September 30,1943, he had just turned 18.

At the final stages  of World War II, in April 1945,with Germany’s war efforts in chaos, Willi,separated from his comrades,hungry  and desperate  for warmth, comes across an abandoned car with a suitcase that contains an  uniform of a Luftwaffe Captain . He put on this uniform and pretended to be the officer, gathering around him a number of equally lost soldiers. Rather then trying to finish the war somewhere sound and safe Herold becomes a personification of the Nazi regime, upending the German army’s bureaucracy and establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with.

On 11 April 1945, Herold’s group arrived at the Aschendorfermoor prison camp, which housed German army deserters as inmates,

aschen

Herold told the German authorities at the camp that he was acting under the direct orders of Adolf Hitler and he was to take over  command of the camp. Herold and his men then began to murder inmates guilty of any transgression,like trying to escape. Within the followin eight days, Herold had more than 100 camp inmates murdered.

After the camp was hit by an air raid  most of the surviving inmates succeede to escape. Herold and his men left the camp and committed several further war crimes; they hanged a farmer in Leer, East Frisia, who had hoisted the white flag, and also murdered five Dutchmen for alleged espionage.

Retreating from approaching Allied troops, Herold’s group arrived in a town in Lower Saxony ,Aurich, where they were arrested by the local German commander, But Herold was soon released by mistake.

On May 23, 1945 He was arrested by the Royal Navy for stealing a loaf of bread. After an investigation and the questioning of witnesses, Herold was identified as a wanted war criminal. On 1 February 1946, Herold and his men were forced by the British occupying forces to dig up the remains of the inmates they had  murdered at Aschendorfermoor camp ,a total of 195 bodies were excavated. On 29 August 1946, Herold and six other co-defendants were sentenced to death, 5 others were acquitted. On 14 November 1946 Willi Herold was executed by guillotine.

trial

Willi Herold was only 19 when he ordered those men to be murdered.

In 2017 a movie was made about the events,directed by Robert Schwentke,  titled ‘The Captain’ or ‘Der Hauptmann’

captain

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Sources

IMDb

CBS News

Der Spiegel

 

 

 

 

Execution was not enough

Plotzensee

Many opponents of the Nazi regime found their untimely death in Plotzensee prison. Those executed were German resistance fighter, but also Polish and French forced laborers, and many others.

A great number were executed by guillotine but on September 3 the guillotine was damaged beyond repair after an RAF raid. From then one the methods of executions were hanging or firing squad.

After execution, the bodies were released to Hermann Stieve, an anatomist at the medical college of what is now Humboldt University of Berlin. He and his  assistants dissected the bodies  for research purposes.

Herrman

Stieve had a particular  interest in the effects of stress on the menstrual cycle, and produced  230 papers based on this research, among them one that demonstrated that the rhythm method was not an effective method of preventing conception.

He received prison records which contained  information on how the women had reacted to their death sentences, and also how well they had adjusted to prison life, and the timing of their menstrual cycles.

One of his research subjects was Liane Berkowitz,a German resistance fighter of the Red Orchestra organisation.

Liane

Liane was arrested and sent to  the women’s prison on Barnimstraße, while she was pregnant.Her  daughter Irina was born on 12 April 1943 in prison. The grandmother took care of the child from July 1943.

Liane was executed on 5 August 1943,only 2 days away from her 19th birthday. Her remains were sent to Hermann Stieve.

Liane’s  daughter Irina died on 16 October 1943 in hospital in Eberswalde under suspicious circumstances.

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