The self sacrifice of Private Walter Cline Wetzel.

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The World War II Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial Margraten is a war cemetery which lies in the village of Margraten 10 km (6 mi) east of Maastricht, in the most southern part of the Netherlands.

If you have never been there it is a well worth place visting. 8.301 brave men are buried there and there are another 2,000 or so memorials of men missing in action. You will feel humble when you leave.Every time I visited there as a child I only had one question”Why did those men give their lives for people living in a foreign land?”

One of those men was Private Walter Cline Wetzel.

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Wetzel joined the Army from Roseville, Michigan in July 1941,[1] and by April 3, 1945 was serving as a private first class in the 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division. On that day, in Birken, Germany, Wetzel smothered the blasts of German-thrown grenades with his body, sacrificing himself to protect those around him. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor ten months later, on February 26, 1946, by President Harry S. Truman.723px-Harry_S_Truman,_bw_half-length_photo_portrait,_facing_front,_1945.jpg

During the Allied advance into Germany at the beginning of April 1945, he purposely smothered enemy grenade blasts in order to protect his fellow soldiers and he died as a result at the age of 25. In addition to the Medal of Honor, he also was awarded the Purple Heart, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. His Medal of Honor citation reads:(the picture below is not the actual medal of honor)dropshadowmoh

 

“Pfc. Wetzel, an acting squad leader with the Antitank Company of the 13th Infantry, was guarding his platoon’s command post in a house at Birken, Germany, during the early morning hours of 3 April 1945, when he detected strong enemy forces moving in to attack. He ran into the house, alerted the occupants and immediately began defending the post against heavy automatic weapons fire coming from the hostile troops. Under cover of darkness the Germans forced their way close to the building where they hurled grenades, 2 of which landed in the room where Pfc. Wetzel and the others had taken up firing positions. Shouting a warning to his fellow soldiers, Pfc. Wetzel threw himself on the grenades and, as they exploded, absorbed their entire blast, suffering wounds from which he died. The supreme gallantry of Pfc. Wetzel saved his comrades from death or serious injury and made it possible for them to continue the defense of the command post and break the power of a dangerous local counterthrust by the enemy. His unhesitating sacrifice of his life was in keeping with the U.S. Army’s highest traditions of bravery and heroism.”

Dear sir I thank you for your sacrifice for I know now you did not sacrifice yourself for a foreign land but for a much greater good,freedom for all and the preservation of mankind. Because of you and your brothers in arms I grew up a free man.

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Paul Grüninger,punished for being a decent human being.

 

iconSwitzerland still has a lot of questions to answer when it comes to their involvement in WWII.

Officially they were neutral but there neutrality was just like their cheeses, full of holes in them.

Half a century after the Second World War had ended, Switzerland decided to forgive the citizens punished for helping the Jews persecuted by the Nazis. Such acts of compassion had been considered by the Helvetian country as violations to the strict neutrality of Switzerland during the conflict. As a consequence of that, hundreds of Swiss lost their jobs and remained with penal records for the rest of their lives. Only after 2004 did Switzerland rehabilitate not only those known as ”Jews’ Helpers”, but also the international reputation of the country.

Paul Grüninger (27 October 1891 – 22 February 1972) was a Swiss police commander in St. Gallen.Paul_Grüninger_vermutlich_im_Jahr_1939

He was recognized as one of the Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial foundation in 1971. Following the Austrian Anschluss, Grüninger saved about 3,600 Jewish refugees by backdating their visas and falsifying other documents to indicate that they had entered Switzerland at a time when legal entry of refugees was still possible. He was dismissed from the police force, convicted of official misconduct, and fined 300 Swiss francs. He received no pension and died in poverty in 1971

 

Within six months, the violent atmosphere following the annexation of Austria in March 1938 and the terrorization of the Jews, combined with the loss of their livelihood, had induced half of Austria’s 192,000 Jews to flee the country, penniless. Consequently, the Swiss government closed its border to refugees from the German Reich, which now included Austria, and instructed its border police to turn back Jews who had no entry permits. One of the escape routes ran south of Lake Constance across the Swiss-Austrian border in the St. Margarethen area, where Paul Grüninger was in charge of the Swiss border police. Faced with the plight of the desperate Jewish refugees, Grüninger decided to permit them to cross the border, and in order to make their stay legal, falsified their dates of entry into Switzerland, so that the records showed they had entered the country before the requirement of a visa was enacted.

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Grüninger’s insubordination was discovered, and he was dismissed from the police. He was brought to trial on charges of illegally permitting the entry of 3,600 Jews into Switzerland and falsifying their registration papers. In March 1941 the court found him guilty of breach of duty. His retirement benefits were forfeited, and he was fined and had to pay the trial costs. The court recognized his altruistic motivations, but found that nevertheless, as a state employee, it was his duty to follow his instructions.

In 1954 Grüninger spoke about the court verdict:

“I am not ashamed of the court’s verdict. On the contrary, I am proud to have saved the lives of hundreds of oppressed people. My assistance to Jews was rooted in my Christian world outlook… It was basically a question of saving human lives threatened with death. How could I then seriously consider bureaucratic schemes and calculations? Sure, I intentionally exceeded the limits of my authority and often with my own hands falsified documents and certificates, but it was done solely in order to afford persecuted people access into the country. My personal well-being, measured against the cruel fate of these thousands, was so insignificant and unimportant that I never even took it into consideration.”

Ostracized and forgotten, Grüninger lived for the rest of his life in difficult circumstances. Despite the difficulties, he never regretted his action on behalf of the Jews. He was only exonerated in 1995, 23 years after his death.

On April 20, 1971, Yad Vashem recognized Paul Grüninger as Righteous Among the Nations.

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The stadium of Brühl St. Gallen is named in his honour.

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Why is it that we have the honour heroes after they have died, why not when they are still alive.

Benjamin Lewis Salomon-Army Dentist and Hero.

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The problem nowadays is there are no real heroes anymore,well at least no heroes that are honored in the media. The focus seems to be more on so called reality stars and overpaid athletes, and they are often being portrayed as being heroes for having survived the latest plastic surgery or knee injury. No wonder that there is a culture of being offended by everything.

It is time to start looking at real heroes again, members of the armed and emergency services who put their lives on the line every day or men and women who despite many hardships just keep going regardless. But since this is a historical site I want to focus on an extraordinary man,Benjamin Lewis Salomon, a man who sacrificed his life to save others even though he didn’t need to do it.

Benjamin Lewis Salomon (September 1, 1914 – July 7, 1944) was a United States Army dentist during World War II, assigned as a front-line surgeon. When the Japanese started overrunning his hospital, he stood a rear-guard action in which he had no hope of personal survival, allowing the safe evacuation of the wounded, killing at least 98 enemy troops before being killed himself during the Battle of Saipan.

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In 1940 he was drafted into the 27th Infantry Division as a private

Hailing from humble beginnings in Milwaukee, and eventually going on to own his own dental practice, Benjamin Salomon never could have imagined he would one day be one of only three dental officers in the U.S. Army to receive the Medal of Honor.

Salomon started out in the Army as an infantry private

In the mornings he would work on soldiers teeth, and in the afternoon, he would teach infantry tactics. Soon, his superiors began to notice how valuable he was becoming to the Infantry.

He proved to be an expert rifle and pistol marksman and soon worked his way up to a sergeant. Eventually, he was transferred to the Army Dental Corps and commissioned to be a first lieutenant.USA_-_Army_Medical_Dental

He was even awarded the title of “best all-around soldier” in his unit.

In May of 1944, Salomon was promoted to a captain of the 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. He had proved himself in training, and his superiors were eager to see him prove himself in battle.

By July the 7th, the Army and Marines had killed nearly 30,000 Japanese soldiers and had about 5,000 more pinned down in the island’s northwest. The Japanese were desperate and had already lost the battle, so their  commander General Saito issued the following order: “We will advance to attack the American forces and will all die an honorable death. Each man will kill ten Americans.”

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Captain Salomon was running a field hospital 50 yards behind the front line. When the Japanese attacked, he had around 30 wounded men in his station. While he was working on the wounded the Japanese entered the aid tent. Captain Salomon promptly shot the first Japanese soldier, and then another ten with his rifle. He ordered his staff to evacuate the wounded and his last words were, “I’ll hold them off until you get to safety.”

In a battle that lasted a reported 15 hours, Solomon managed to kill nearly 100 Japanese fighters with a machine gun.

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Later on, his comrades followed a bloody trail to his bullet-riddled body, which was found curled around the gun he used. He was shot about 76 times.

Capt. Edmund G. Love, the 27th Division historian, was a part of the team that found Salomon’s body. At the request of Brig. Gen. Ogden J. Ross, the assistant commander of the 27th Division, Love gathered eyewitness accounts and prepared a recommendation for the Medal of Honor for Salomon.

The recommendation was returned by Maj. Gen. George W. Griner, the commanding general of the 27th Division. grinerOfficially, Griner declined to approve the award because Salomon was “in the medical service and wore a Red Cross brassard upon his arm. Under the rules of the Geneva Convention, to which the United States subscribes, no medical officer can bear arms against the enemy.” However, the guideline for awarding the Medal of Honor to medical non-combatants states that one may not receive the Medal of Honor for actions in an “offensive”. More recent interpretations of the Convention, as well as the US Laws of Land Warfare allow use of personal weapons (i.e., rifles and pistols) in self-defense or in defense of patients and staff, as long as the medical soldier does not wear the Red Cross. Part of the problem in Salomon’s citation was that a machine gun is considered a “crew-served”, not an individual weapon.

In 1951, Love again resubmitted the recommendation through the Office of the Chief of Military History. The recommendation was returned without action with another pro-forma reason: the time limit for submitting World War II awards had passed. In 1969, another Medal of Honor recommendation was submitted by Lt. Gen. Hal B. Jennings, the Surgeon General of the United States Army.

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In 1970, Stanley R. Resor, Secretary of the Army, recommended approval and forwarded the recommendation to the Secretary of Defense. The recommendation was returned without action.

In 1998, the recommendation was re-submitted by Dr. Robert West (USC Dental School) through Congressman Brad Sherman.Finally, on May 1, 2002, President George W. Bush presented Salomon’s Medal of Honor to Dr. West. Salomon’s Medal of Honor is displayed at the USC Dental School.

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In addition to the Medal of Honor, Benjamin Salomon was awarded a Purple Heart, the American Defense Service Medal, The American Campaign Medal, The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

I salute you Captain Benjamin Lewis Salomon,may your example be an inspiration for generations to come.

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Burial:
Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
Glendale
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Plot: Great Mausoleum, Columbarium of Guidance, N-21994

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Viktor Ullmann-Musical Hero who didn’t give up.

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I was struggling to find an appropriate title for this blog because so much can be said about this man.

I am passionate about music although I am not necessarily that keen on classical music, I do listen to the works of great composers like Mozart,Beethoven.Satie,Ravel and Strauss.However all these great composers pale in comparison to Viktor Ullman.

Born into a Catholic family of Jewish origin, Viktor Ullmann studied in Vienna, where he was introduced into the circle of Schoenberg’s pupils, his literary interests embracing Karl Kraus, Wedekind, Heinrich Mann and others. In 1919 he moved to Prague, where he served as chorus répétiteur and conductor under Zemlinsky.

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He began to establish himself as a composer in the 1920s, working from 1929 to 1931 as director of music at the Zurich Schauspielhaus before moving to Stuttgart. In 1933 he returned to Prague, working as a freelance musician.

On 8 September 1942 he was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

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Up to his deportation his list of works had reached 41 opus numbers and contained an additional three piano sonatas, song cycles on texts by various poets, operas, and the piano concerto Op. 25, which he finished in December 1939, nine months after the entry of German troops into Prague. Most of these works are missing. The manuscripts presumably disappeared during the occupation. Thirteen printed items, which Ullmann published privately and entrusted to a friend for safekeeping, have survived.

The particular nature of the camp at Theresienstadt enabled Ullmann to remain active musically: he was a piano accompanist, organized concerts (“Collegium musicum”, “Studio for New Music”), wrote critiques of musical events, and composed, as part of a cultural circle including Karel Ančerl, Rafael Schachter, Gideon Klein, Hans Krása, and other prominent musicians imprisoned there. He wrote: “By no means did we sit weeping on the banks of the waters of Babylon. Our endeavor with respect to arts was commensurate with our will to live.”

While in Theresienstadt  he composed Der Kaiser von Atlantis oder Die Tod-Verweigerung (The Emperor of Atlantis or The Disobedience of Death) is a one-act opera  with a libretto by Peter Kien.

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On 16 October 1944 he was deported to the camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where on 18 October 1944 he was killed in the gas chambers.

About 1943, Ullmann and Kien were inmates at the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt (Terezín) when they collaborated on the opera. It was rehearsed at Theresienstadt in March 1944, but the Nazi authorities interpreted the work’s depiction of the character of the Kaiser as a satire on Adolf Hitler and did not allow it to be performed.

 

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Ullmann entrusted his manuscripts to a fellow-prisoner, Dr. Emil Utitz, a former Professor of Philosophy at the German University in Prague, who served as the camp’s librarian. Utitz survived the camp and passed the manuscripts on to another survivor, Dr. Hans Gunther Adler, a friend of Ullmann’s, some of whose poems Ullmann had set to music. The score was a working version with edits, substitutions, and alternatives made in the course of rehearsals. Dr. Adler deposited the original manuscripts and two copies of the libretto in his possession at the Goetheanum in Dornach, the center for the anthroposophical movement with which Ullmann was associated.

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The manuscripts subsequently passed to the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basle.

The world premiere was presented by the Dutch National Opera (DNO) on 16 December 1975 at the Theater Bellevue in Amsterdam. In 1976 DNO presented two performances in Brussels and a further four in Spoleto.It was recreated in April 1977 by the San Francisco Spring Opera Theater for its American premiere, and the same group also presented the New York premiere at the Lepercq Space at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on 19 May 1977. DNO revived their production in Amsterdam in June 1978 and later that year presented five performances in Israel. In 1979 DNO presented two performances at the Nottingham Playhouse, England. All of these performances were conducted by Kerry Woodward.

Despite an uncertain future with a high probability of being killed, Viktor Ullman just kept going. To me the ultimate heroes are those who don’t give up not even when they are facing torture and death. Viktor is therefor a Hero in my books.

 

 

 

 

Seymour Zimmerman-WWII Hero

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Who is Seymour Zimmerman?

To be honest I don’t know. All I know he died for my freedom and his name is on a memorial stone  in the American War Cemetery of Margraten in the Netherlands.8,3001heroes who sacrificed their lives are buried there. Unfortunately Seymour’s body was never found.

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This is all I know of him.

Radio Op. S/Sgt. Seymour Zimmerman MIA/KIA
Hometown: Walden, Massachusetts
Squadron: 576th BS 392th Bomb Group
Service # 11115346
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart
Pilot 2nd/Lt. Herman H. Miller MIA/KIA

Target: VORDEN AIRFIELD
Missing Air Crew Report Details
USAAF MACR#: 02563 AIRCRAFT:
Date Lost: 18-Nov-43
Serial Number: #42-64435
Aircraft Model B-24

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Aircraft Letter: “B”
Aircraft Name: (No Nickname) 21 st Mission
Location:Suspected of downed in the waters off the enemy coast.
Cause: flak fire hits 10 MIA/KIA

The briefed target for this mission was Hansdorf airfield which aircrews had difficulty locating with Vorden air field being struck as an alternative. Briefing for (36) aircrews was held between 0600-0730, all taking off starting at 0930. The 579th Squadron was assigned lead with Colonel Rendle, 392nd Commander, riding in the lead ship as Command Pilot and Captain Weiland as lead Bombardier. Because of poor weather over the briefed primary route, the Group elected to bomb the Target of Opportunity of Vorden, achieving excellent results. From 12-15 single and twin engine enemy aircraft were encountered as well as light but accurate flak. The bombing results at Vorden created massive destruction to the airfield and supporting facffities. Nine (9) aircraft were battle damaged by flak and one aircrew and aircraft were lost. 2nd Lieutenant H. H. Miller of the 576th and pilot of aircraft #435 with his crew were seen on return with #3 engine afire followed by an explosion directly beneath the aircraft. The explosion was believed to have been a bomb still aboard the aircraft. Just as the aircraft began crossing of the English Channel, it was seen to begin a turn and head for the enemy coast again which was the last the crew and aircraft were heard from all listed as MIA.

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MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: The eye-witness accounts from returning 392nd crewmembers (Lts. Swangren, Metz and Gries) stated that the missing crew plane was last seen with #3 engine on fire after which a large explosion was observed beneath the ship. After this explosion the aircraft was observed to be going down, out of control, and headed back towards the Dutch coast. It was subsequently concluded that this aircrew had gone down in the waters off the enemy coast as no information was ever recovered on this situation, either in enemy or friendly force reporting. The eye-witness accounts felt that the large explosion of this plane was due to bombs of the ship, flak fire hits the cause.

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: No records exist of any survivor reports from this aircrew.

Dear Sir I salute you, although your body was never found your memory is very much alive.

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Marion Pritchard-Van Binsbergen- WWII Hero-Real Girl power.

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Dutch hero Marion Pritchard-Van Binsbergen died at the age of 96 in Washington on December 11th, 2016.

Marion Pritchard, (née van Binsbergen; was a Dutch-American social worker and psychoanalyst, who distinguished herself as a savior of Jews in the Netherlands during the Second World War. Pritchard helped save approximately 150 Dutch Jews, most of them children, throughout the German occupation of the Netherlands.In addition to protecting these people’s lives, she was imprisoned by Nazis, worked in collaboration with the Dutch resistance, and shot and killed a Dutch Nazi.

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Marion Pritchard grew up in the Netherlands, the daughter of liberal judge Jacob van Binsbergen, who was on the board of regents for the prisons of Amsterdam. Her parents encouraged her to express her feelings and to expect honest answers from them. She recalled going to school with Jews in every class and reported that they were “considered Dutch like everyone else”. At age 19, she enrolled in a school for social work in Amsterdam

When the war started in May 1940, she was studying social sciences at the University of Amsterdam.

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During her social work studies, Pritchard (then van Binsbergen) was arrested while staying overnight during curfew with friends, who—unbeknownst to her—had been distributing transcripts of Allied radio broadcasts, and was imprisoned for seven months.

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A year later, when the Germans began with the mass deportation of Jews, Marion intervened again. Along with 10 friends, she started a resistance that helped Jews find places to hide, getting them food stamps and false identities.

She then took on more dangerous activities when she was tasked with delivering a package to a home in the northern part of the country. Along the journey, she was given a baby girl by a stranger. Upon reaching her destination, she found out that the people she was supposed to deliver the package to had been arrested. She then took shelter with a man and his wife, originally not part of the operation, who agreed to take care of her and the baby

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Marion also managed to hide Fred Polak and his three children for over three years in a home outside Amsterdam. When Germans raided the home with a Dutch police officer, she hid the Jewish family under the floor. The Dutch officer returned and found the family. Marion shot him to protect them and hid his body, with the help of a local mortician, by burying it in a coffin that already contained someone else.

After the war she joined the United Nations and helped refugees who were displaced from their home. Here she met her husband Anton Pritchard, a US Army officer. They moved to the United States, where she continued to work with refugees.

George Joseph Peters-WWII Hero,sacrificed his life for others.

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Born: Mar. 19, 1923 . Cranston Providence County  Rhode Island, USA.

Died:Mar. 24, 1945 Düsseldorf .Düsseldorfer Stadtkreis .Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.

World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. He served in the United States Army during World War II as a Private in Company G, 507th Parachute Infantry, 17th Airborne Division. He was awarded the CMOH for his bravery at Fluren, Germany, on March 24, 1945.

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His citation reads “Pvt. Peters, a platoon radio operator with Company G, made a descent into Germany near Fluren, east of the Rhine. With 10 others, he landed in a field about 75 yards from a German machinegun supported by riflemen, and was immediately pinned down by heavy, direct fire. The position of the small unit seemed hopeless with men struggling to free themselves of their parachutes in a hail of bullets that cut them off from their nearby equipment bundles, when Pvt. Peters stood up without orders and began a l-man charge against the hostile emplacement armed only with a rifle and grenades. His single-handed assault immediately drew the enemy fire away from his comrades. He had run halfway to his objective, pitting rifle fire against that of the machine gun, when he was struck and knocked to the ground by a burst. Heroically, he regained his feet and struggled onward. Once more he was torn by bullets, and this time he was unable to rise. With gallant devotion to his self-imposed mission, he crawled directly into the fire that had mortally wounded him until close enough to hurl grenades which knocked out the machine gun, killed 2 of its operators, and drove protecting riflemen from their positions into the safety of a woods. By his intrepidity and supreme sacrifice, Pvt. Peters saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers and made it possible for them to reach their equipment, organize, and seize their first objective.”

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Dear Sir I salute you for because of you and your brothers in arms. I was born in freedom. I shall not forfeit your sacrifice.

Next time I am in Margraten I will visit your grave.

Roger Casement-Irish Hero and the Congo

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Roger Casement was born in Sandycove, County Dublin in September 1864 and raised in Ballycastle County Antrim following the death of his parents..

between 1911 and shortly before his execution for treason, when he was stripped of his knighthood and other honours, was an Irish-born civil servant who worked for the British Foreign Office as a diplomat, and later became a humanitarian activist, Irish nationalist, and poet. Described as the “father of twentieth-century human rights investigations”, he was honoured in 1905 for the Casement Report on the Congo and knighted in 1911 for his important investigations of human rights abuses in Peru. He then made efforts during World War I to gain German military aid for the 1916 Easter Rising that sought to gain Irish independence.

On this day in 1916 he was sentenced to death for his part in the Easter Rising.

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However I will not go in to his involvement in the Easter Rising in this blog, my focus will be on his Congo report known as the Casement report.

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The Casement Report was a 1904 document written  detailing abuses in the Congo Free State

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which was under the private ownership of King Leopold II of Belgium.

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This report was instrumental in Leopold finally relinquishing his private holdings in Africa. Leopold had had ownership of the Congolese state since 1885, granted to him by the Berlin Conference, in which he exploited its natural resources (mostly rubber) for his own private wealth.

For many years prior to the Casement Report there were reports from the Congo alleging widespread abuses and exploitation of the native population. In 1895, the situation was reported to Dr Henry Grattan Guinness (1861–1915), a missionary doctor. He had established the Congo-Balolo Mission in 1889, and was promised action by King Leopold later in 1895, but nothing changed. H. R. Fox-Bourne of the Aborigines’ Protection Society had published Civilisation in Congoland in 1903, and the journalist E. D. Morel also wrote several articles about the Leopoldian government’s behaviour in the Congo Free State.

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On 20 May 1903 a motion by the Liberal Herbert Samuel was debated in the British House of Commons, resulting in this resolution: “.. That the Government of the Congo Free State having, at its inception, guaranteed to the Powers that its Native subjects should be governed with humanity, and that no trading monopoly or privilege should be permitted within its dominions, this House requests His Majesty’s Government to confer with the other Powers, signatories of the Berlin General Act by virtue of which the Congo Free State exists, in order that measures may be adopted to abate the evils prevalent in that State.

Subsequently, the British consul at Boma in the Congo, the Irishman Roger Casement was instructed by Balfour’s government to investigate. His report was published in 1904, confirmed Morel’s accusations, and had a considerable impact on public opinion.

Casement met and became friends with Morel just before the publication of his report in 1904 and realized that he had found the ally he had sought. Casement convinced Morel to establish an organization for dealing specifically with the Congo question. With Casement’s and Dr. Guinness’s assistance, he set up and ran the Congo Reform Association, which worked to end Leopold’s control of the Congo Free State. Branches of the association were established as far away as the United States.

The Casement Report comprises forty pages of the Parliamentary Papers, to which is appended another twenty pages of individual statements gathered by Casement as Consul, including several detailing grim tales of killings, mutilations, kidnappings and cruel beatings of the native population by soldiers of the Congo Administration of King Leopold. Copies of the Report were sent by the British government to the Belgian government as well as to nations who were signatories to the Berlin Agreement in 1885, under which much of Africa had been partitioned. The British Parliament demanded a meeting of the fourteen signatory powers to review the 1885 Berlin Agreement. The Belgian Parliament, pushed by socialist leader Emile Vandervelde 

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and other critics of the King’s Congolese policy, forced a reluctant Leopold to set up an independent commission of enquiry.

 

Its findings confirmed Casement’s report in every detail. This led to the arrest and punishment of officials who had been responsible for murders during a rubber-collection expedition in 1903 (including one Belgian national who was given a five-year sentence for causing the shooting of at least 122 Congolese natives).

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.-the forgotten Roosevelt.

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The Roosevelt name must be one of the best known names in US and world history, for it was the name of not 1 but 2 legendary presidents.

A lesser known but not a lesser heroic man was Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt III (September 13, 1887 – July 12, 1944), known as Theodore Jr., an American government, business, and military leader. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was instrumental in the forming of the American Legion in 1919 following his valiant service in the United States Army during World War I. He later served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of Puerto Rico (1929–32), Governor-General of the Philippines (1932–33), Chairman of the Board of American Express Company, Vice-President at Doubleday Books. Returning to the Army in 1940, he led the first wave of troops at Utah Beach during the Normandy landings in 1944, earning the Medal of Honor for his command. He died in France 36 days later, holding the rank of Brigadier General.

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Five months before the allied landings in Normandy, Roosevelt was assigned to the U.S 4th Infantry Division (Ivy Division), and was stationed in England. Roosevelt had requested to lead the attack on Utah Beach with the first wave of soldiers; however, this request was repeatedly denied by Major General Barton. Barton eventually agreed, albeit reluctantly, and Barton made it very clear that he did not expect Roosevelt to live through the initial landings on Utah Beach.

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As a result of this agreement from Barton, Roosevelt would be the only General to land with the first wave of troops on any of the allied beaches on D-Day.

At the time of the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944, Roosevelt was a frail man, not in the best of health; needing the aid of a walking stick. His health had suffered as a result of the first World War. Despite his poor health, he proved to be a fine leader and as depicted in the film the longest day, he would famously state: “We’ll start the war from right here!”. He made this famous quote after discovering that the allied landings on Utah Beach were approximately 2 km off course.

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His decision to start the battle regardless of this error, worked in favour of the allies. As many of the German’s stationed in this area were redeployed to deal with the allied paratroopers dropping over Sainte Marie Du Mont, resistance from this part of the Atlantic Wall coastal defences was considerably weaker than expected.

Later in the day, once the beach head at Utah Beach was secured, General Barton came ashore and to his great surprise, Roosevelt was waiting to meet him. Barton never expected to see him alive and both men were filled with great emotion.

On July 12th 1944, after being involved in fierce fighting, Roosevelt died from a heart attack. He was buried at the Omaha Beach American Cemetery in Colleville Sur Mer, Normandy. He was buried next to his brother, Quentin Roosevelt, who was killed in the first World War.

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Theodore Roosevelt Jr. is buried in Plot: Plot D, Row 28, Grave 45.

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For his bravery, Theordore Roosevelt Jr was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Dear Sir, I salute you.

Honouring a fallen Father on Father s day

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To most of us,including me Joseph H. Hercker is just a random name. But to Joan Hercker it is the name of her Father. A man who sacrificed his future Father’s days so that others could celebrate theirs.

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He was born 2 July 1918,Philadelphia,Pennsylvania.

In February 1945 Joseph Hercker was stationed in France

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As a member of the Crusader Group, andflew 16 combat sorties between February 6 andApril 3, 1945, in the European Theater of Operations.

On April 3, after completing a”medium” bombing mission of marshalling yards
at Hameln and Holzmeinden in central Germany,his plane was separated from the rest of the formation in overcast weather.

It is not clear what happened, but when the formation broke cover there was no sign of his aircraft, and it never made it back to base. Joseph Hercker and the pilot, William Norlund, an only child from Vineland, were Killed in Action. Hercker was
buried first in Ittenbach No. 1, Germany,eventually his wife was asked if she wanted him brought back to the States or buried in the Netherlands.

Hercker parents thought she had been through enough already, so his final resting place is at the American war cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands.

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Dear Sir I thank you and salute you. Your sacrifice and bravery has bought my freedom. I pledge that I will use this freedom keeping your memory and the memories of your brothers in arms alive.