Titus Brandsma-Catholic Priest and WW2 Martyr


Although a lot of Catholic clergy men,and other Christian ministers, turned a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime, there were still a great number of them who couldn’t remain silent and paid the ultimate price for this.

Titus Brandsma was one of those brave men who stood up for what they believed in and were killed for it.

Titus Brandsma, O.Carm., was a Dutch Carmelite friar, Catholic priest and professor of philosophy. Brandsma was vehemently opposed to Nazi ideology and spoke out against it many times before the Second World War. He was imprisoned in the infamous Dachau concentration camp, where he died. He has been beatified by the Catholic Church as a martyr of the faith.

The life of Titus Brandsma began in the quiet countryside of Friesland, Holland, where he was born on February 23, 1881, and ended some sixty years later on July 26, 1942, in the notorious hospital of the Dachau concentration camp.

He was born Anno Sjoerd Brandsma to Titus Brandsma (died 1920) and his wife Tjitsje Postma (died 1933) at Oegeklooster, near Hartwerd, in the Province of Friesland, in 1881.His parents, who ran a small dairy farm,


were devout and committed Catholics, a minority in a predominantly-Calvinist region.

With the exception of one daughter, all of their children entered religious orders.

As a young boy, Brandsma did his secondary studies in the town of Megen, at a Franciscan-run minor seminary for boys considering a priestly or religious vocation.

Brandsma entered the novitiate of the Carmelite friars in Boxmeer on 17 September 1898, where he took the religious name Titus (in honor of his father) by which he is now known, and professed his first vows in October 1899.

Ordained a priest in 1905, Brandsma was knowledgeable in Carmelite mysticism and was awarded a doctorate of philosophy at Rome in 1909. He then taught in various schools in the Netherlands. From 1916 on, he initiated and led a project to translate the works of St. Teresa of Ávila into Dutch.

In 1921 Brandsma worked to resolve a controversy concerning Belgian artist Albert Servaes’ depiction of the Stations of the Cross. From this came his series of meditations on each of the 14 stations.

One of the founders of the Catholic University of Nijmegen (now Radboud University), Brandsma became a professor of philosophy and the history of mysticism at the school in 1923. He later served as Rector Magnificus. He was noted for his constant availability to everyone, rather than for his scholarly work as a professor.


Brandsma also worked as a journalist and was the ecclesiastical adviser to Catholic journalists by 1935.


That same year he did a lecture tour of the United States, speaking at various institutions of his Order.

Just before this lecture tour, Archbishop De Jong of Utrecht appointed Fr. Titus as spiritual advisor to the staff members of the more than thirty Catholic newspapers in Holland; around the same time, the policies of Adolf Hitler, the new German Chancellor, began to become know  in the Netherlands, and were openly criticized by Titus in his teaching and in the press

After the invasion of the Netherlands by the Third Reich in May 1940, it was Brandsma’s fight against the spread of Nazi ideology and for educational and press freedom that brought him to the attention of the Nazis. In January 1942 he undertook to deliver by hand a letter from the Conference of Dutch Bishops to the editors of Catholic newspapers in which the bishops ordered them not to print official Nazi documents, as was required under a new law by the German occupiers. He had visited 14 editors before being arrested on the 19th of that month at the Boxmeer monastery.

After his arrest in January 1942, Titus was first imprisoned in the Dutch penitentiary in Scheveningen .which had been taken over by the Nazis.

In cell #577 of Scheveningen penitentiary, Titus composed a poem on solitude and his experience of the presence of God that became famous in the Netherlands.. …“Never were you, 0 Lord, so near.. .“ This is Titus’ original copy written February 12-13, 1942.


On March 20, 1942, Titus and others were brought from prison at Scheveningen to the Dutch concentration camp at Amersfoort. While there, Titus was given this rosary by a fellow prisoner. There are different stories about it, and there seems to have been more than one such rosary. It seems that the maker of this gift to Titus was himself executed later on. His name was Piet (Peter) Holfsloot.


After being held prisoner in Scheveningen, Amersfoort, and Cleves, Brandsma was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp, arriving there on 19 June. His health quickly gave way, and he was transferred to the camp hospital. He died on 26 July 1942, from a lethal injection administered by a nurseof the Allgemeine SS, as part of their program of medical experimentation on the prisoners

A grave marker at Dachau in the background are the prisoner barracks whereTitus was executed by lethal injection July 26, 1942 and cremated three days later.

Below are the death certificates and notification issued after his death.

Brandsma is honored as a martyr within the Roman Catholic Church. He was beatified in November 1985 by Pope John Paul II. His feast day is observed within the Carmelite Order on 27 July.

In 2005 Brandsma was chosen by the inhabitants of Nijmegen as the greatest citizen to have lived there. A memorial church now stands in the city dedicated to him.

Brandsma’s studies on mysticism was the basis for the establishment in 1968 of the Titus Brandsma Institute in Nijmegen, dedicated to the study of spirituality. It is a collaboration between the Dutch Carmelite friars and Radboud University Nijmegen.

In his biography of Brandsma, The Man behind the Myth, Dutch journalist Ton Crijnen claims that Brandsma combined some vanity, a short tempered character, extreme energy, political simpleness, true charity, unpretentious piety, thorough decisiveness and great personal courage. His ideas were very much those of his own age and modern as well. He offset contemporary Catholicism’s negative theological opinion about Judaism with a strong disaffection for any kind of Antisemitism in Hitler’s Germany. Brandsma was honoured by the city of Dachau with a street adjoining the former camp, albeit one of the narrowest streets in the town.


WWII Propaganda Part 2

Propaganda was and still a very effective tool to win the hearts and minds of the population.Both allies and axis nations used propaganda to recruit and raise funding for the war efforts, and also the political good will of the ordinary citizen.

In this blog I will be looking the Propaganda used by the allies


This image depicts a WWW-II-era ad issued during food-rationing days in America. From 1943, the “Fleischmann Yeast Bread Recipe,” promoted by a character known as “War Production Joe,” encourages people to eat bread. There was a time, during January of 1943, when the federal government (via the Food Administrator Claude R Wickard) issued a ban on sliced bread. It was soon abandoned, however, since monetary savings (from not slicing the bread) were negligible.


During WWII, Americans—like people in other parts of the world—were subject to rationing of items like gasoline and food. Encouraging U.S. citizens to grow—and preserve—their own food, the federal government hired artists—such as Alfred Parker, who created this poster during 1943—to be as self-sufficient as possible.


Photograph of an American World War II propaganda poster, called “In the Face of Obstacles – Courage,” by Jes Wilhelm Schlaikjer / U.S. War Department.



As depicted in this WWII-era poster, the U.S. federal government urged people to set-aside 10% of their income to buy war bonds. Poster-creators often used the theme of sacrifice—particularly the sacrifice made by war-widows—as a theme for war-bond posters.


The U.S. government, via the various branches of military service, created many posters to recruit American women during World War II. This image depicts one such poster, intended to influence women to become members of the Womens Army Corps (WACs)


People in America, the UK and the Soviet Union worked extremely hard to create war assets to use against Hitler and his Nazis. This image depicts a poster, created by the TASS News Agency on or about 26 May 1944, which reflects the cooperation between these WWII Allies. Their mutual objective was to annihilate Hitler and his forces.


Joe Dope was a fictional cartoon character created by artist Will Eisner. Joe’s purpose was clear, during the WWII era—to remind American military men to avoid doing inapproriate things on and off the job. Image online via the Library of Congress. Click on it for a much-better view.



During the war, the U.S. government (via “Uncle Sam”) urged Americans to grow gardens whether they lived in the city or in the country. This poster is an example.



The poster below is a Dutch poster with the text” Get out, Indonesia has to be liberated”


The 2 posters below were Polish, unfortunately I don’t know what they say, but the pictures are clear enough.

A big worry was that people would unwittingly give information to people who were not suppose the hear the information, a great number of posters would warn for this.

We have all seen the “Keep Calm and …….” Posters,Memes,T-Shirts etc and most of us, me included, would have presumed the origin of this slogan was fairly recent. But in fact it first appeared in 1939, it was rediscovered in 2000.The posters were designed in Spring of 1939 and were aimed to re-assure the British public.There were 2 more posters which had the same lay out one said “Your Courage,Your Cheerfulness.Your Resolution will bring us Victory.” the 3rd one said “Freedom is in Peril, defend it with all your might”




The Music from the eighties.

History of Sorts

The 80’s was a mixed decade in relation to music. There were some really great songs and some really rubbish ones. Although I was a genuine Rocker and Metal head I have to admit that Tainted love by soft cell is the ultimate 80s song, but that is my opinion.

It was the decade that introduces us to the new romantics like Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and a Flock of Seagulls.

1981 --- Members of Duran Duran are, from left: Simon Le Bon (vocals), John Taylor (bass), Andy Taylor (guitar), Nick Rhodes (keyboards), Rodger Taylor (drums). --- Image by © Lynn Goldsmith/Corbisseagulls

1985 --- Members are, from left to right, John Keeble, Gary Kemp, Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, and Steve Norman. --- Image by © Fabio Nosotti/CORBIS It was also the decade where the rock gods decided to turn up the volume by a few notches with the likes of Metallica,Slayer and Megadeth


Political awareness also became more prominent in the 80’s songs like “Free Nelson Mandela” by the Special AKA or the sweet sounding but nevertheless poltical themed “Give me hope Joanna” by Eddie Grant both songs directed to the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Or Sting’s indictment to the cold war “Russians” to name…

View original post 286 more words

Forgotten Hero- Walter Süskind

Walter Süskind (29 October 1906 – 28 February 1945) was a German Jew who helped about 600 Jewish children escape the Holocaust. He was a member of the Dutch Jewish council (Dutch: Joodsche Raad) during the Second World War.

Süskind was born in Lüdenscheid in Germany as the first child of Hermann Süskind and Frieda Kessler. He had two younger brothers, Karl Süskind  , Alfred Süskind  as well as a foster brother Robert Salzberg. He had also the Dutch nationality due to the fact that his grandparents were Dutch.

In 1929 Walter Suskind became the director of Prussian and Polish margarine sales, for the German company Bolak. In 1935 Suskind married Hannah Natt, and in 1937 Robert Salzberg emigrated  to the United States of America.

In March 1938 Suskind and his wife, Hannah’s mother Fran Natt and Walter’s mother Frieda Suskind emigrated to Holland,because of the persecution of Jews by the Nazis. Suskind starts working on a sales job for Unilever, and in 1939 a baby girl is born called Yvonne, he discussed with Robert Salzberg the possibility of emigrating to the USA to work for Unilever.

In June 1941 Salzberg informs the Suskind’s that sponsorship has been arranged but a month later the Germans cease all emigration. In July 1942 the Amsterdam Jewish Council appointed Suskind to manage the Judische Schouwburg – The Dutch Theatre as a deportation centre for Jews in Amsterdam.

Hollandsche Schouwburg dutch theatre

In that position he could manipulate the personal data of children in particular. His close relationship with the German authorities helped him in his activities to help children escape. He especially tried to get close with the SS officer Ferdinand aus der Fünten, who was then the second man of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Amsterdam.


From 1942 until his deportation to Westerbork, he lived at the Nieuwe Prinsengracht 51 in the center of Amsterdam


with his wife Johanna and their daughter Yvonne Süskind.

Walter Suskind & daughter

The deportation centre that Suskind supervised was called the Hollandsche Schouwburg, a gutted theatre located in the Jewish centre of Amsterdam.Directly across the street from the Schouwburg there was a crèche,the nursery on the Plantage Middenlaan. Tram lines ran on the street between the two buildings, and as trams passed by children were smuggled out of the Schouwburg, into the crèche, without being observed by the Germans.

The Nazis put the young children in the crèche instead of in the theater. The Jewish director of the nursery, Henriette Henriques Pimentel, together with Süskind and economist Felix Halverstad (who also worked at the Hollandsche Schouwburg), set up a system to rescue children via the nursery. Children were secretly brought to the Hervormde Kweekschool (Reformed Teacher Training College), two houses from the theater. They got there through the garden. They received help from the head of the school, Johan van Hulst. From there, the children went into a backpack, shopping bag or laundry basket to be transported to Limburg and Friesland by train and tram, often with help from the Utrechts Kindercomité (Utrecht Children’s Committee) of Piet Meerburg and the NV, a secret organization that managed to organize many addresses in Limburg. Süskind and Felix Halverstad ensured that these children were not registered and removed their names from the records of the theater. Thanks to this plan, about 600 children were saved.

Over time Suskind was perceived to be a Nazi collaborator when quite the opposite was true, but the operation was never betrayed or discovered by the Nazis.Only a few people directly involved with the escapes ever knew the existence and the details of the dangerous rescue mission.In September 1943 Suskind was arrested and spent three nights in Scheveningen prison, he was released but shortly after the whole family was arrested and sent to Westerbork transit camp.

Suskind was released but his wife and daughter were kept imprisoned at Westerbork and despite several attempts to free them by the Dutch Resistance, they all fail.On 2 September 1944 Suskind learns his family are about to be deported to Theresienstadt he joins them and his deported to Theresienstadt. Suskind had forged a letter from the Nazis describing how invaluable Suskind had been to the Nazis, and he tried to present this letter to the Commandant of Theresienstadt Karl Rahm,

Karl Rahm

but a Jew intercepted him and pushed him into a cattle car bound for Auschwitz-Birkenau.His wife and daughter were gassed on arrival at Birkenau but Suskind was selected to enter the camp.

Suskind did not survive Auschwitz, there is some confusion as to how he met his death is , one version is that he died on the death march from the camp in January 1945, another version is that he was killed by Dutch inmates of Auschwitz, who thought he was a collaborator.


I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks



Gordon Cummins-The Blackout Ripper


Wartime is the perfect opportunity for killers to apply their ‘trade’, when a body is found the authorities will automatically assume that it is just another victim of war, at least that is what John Cummins must have thought when he copied Jack the ripper in February 1942. But unlike Jack the Ripper Cummins just wasn’t that clever.

Gordon Frederick Cummins (1914 – 25 June 1942), known as the Blackout Killer and the Blackout Ripper, was an English serial killer who murdered four women in London in 1942. The Ripper tag came from similarities with the Jack the Ripper murders, as both killers mutilated their victims.

Gordon Frederick Cummins was allegedly the ilegimate son of a titled member of the peerage. His claims of noble birth led others to call him “The Count”. He married a theatre producer’s secretary in 1936. When World War II began in September 1939, he enlisted in the R.A.F

From the start of that conflict, the streets and buildings of London were kept dark as a precaution against aerial bombing by the Luftwaffe. Street lamps were not lit; the windows of houses, shops, offices and factories were painted over, shuttered or screened off with thick curtains. Showing even a chink of light could lead to an appearance in court and a heavy fine. As bombs fell upon the capital, Londoners took refuge in cellars, underground train stations and public air raid shelters. In a period of six days in February 1942, in the midst of a darkened, blitzed city, Cummins (then 28 years old) murdered four women and attacked two others. Three of his victims were mutilated after death. The newspapers dubbed him “The Blackout Ripper”


Cummins had volunteered to retrain for aircrew duties and had been posted to RAF ACRC (Aircrew Reception Centre) Regents Park, London. There, serving members of the RAF and new recruits were assessed for training. This intake ran from 2 to 25 February when trainees were posted to ITW (Initial Training Wing) at home for three months ground training before commencing flying training, or to Blackpool prior to going overseas for training. At the time of his arrest, Cummins had neither a previous criminal record nor a known history of violence.

Over six days in February 1942, Cummins took advantage of London’s night-time blackout conditions to murder four women and attempt to murder two others. He mutilated the bodies of three of his victims.

Evelyn Hamilton

On Sunday 9 February 1942, the body of 40-year-old pharmacist Evelyn Hamilton was discovered in an air raid shelter in Montagu Place in Marylebone. She had been strangled and her handbag stolen.

Evelyn Oatley

On Monday 10 February, the naked body of 35-year-old Evelyn Oatley (also known as Nita Ward) was discovered in her flat on Wardour Street. As well as having been strangled, her throat had been cut and she had also been sexually mutilated with a can opener.Fingerprints found on the can opener confirmed earlier suspicions that the strangler was left-handed.

Margaret Lowe

On Tuesday 11 February, a 43-year-old prostitute, Margaret Florence Lowe (also known as Pearl), was murdered in her flat in Gosfield Street, Marylebone. She had been strangled with a silk stocking and her body mutilated with a variety of implements including a razor blade, a knife and a candlestick. The pathologist, Bernard Spilsbury, after seeing her injuries commented that they were “quite dreadful” and that the murderer was “a savage sexual maniac”.

Doris Jouannet

On Wednesday 12 February 1942, 32-year-old Doris Jouannet (also known as Doris Robson) was murdered in the ground floor flat that she shared with her husband. She had been strangled with a scarf and her naked body sexually mutilated. It was at this point the newspapers began to describe the killer as the Blackout Ripper, in reference to the similarities with Jack the Ripper.

Greta Hayward

On Friday 14 February 1942, Greta Hayward was attacked in a doorway near Piccadilly Circus by a man in RAF uniform whose sexual advances she had previously rejected. She managed to escape as her attacker was interrupted by the arrival of a delivery boy making his rounds. The attacker then ran off.

Mrs. Mulcahy

Not to be deterred, he shortly picked up another prostitute, Mrs Mulcahy, in Regent Street. He gave her £5 while they went by taxi to her flat in Paddington. When they got there she started to remove her clothes. According to Mrs Mulcahy, ‘a strange look came over his face.’ Cummins grabbed her by the throat and squeezed. Mrs M, who had kept her boots on because of the cold, kicked him in the shins, making him release her. Cummins recovered his composure, gave her another £5, and left. He left his belt behind this time.

When Cummins had been disturbed by the delivery boy during the attack on Greta Hayward, he left behind his RAF–issued gas mask case. The gas mask container had the service number 525987 on the side, identifying it as belonging to Cummins.



On 16th February, the police arrested Gordon Frederick Cummins in the St. John’s Wood district. His fingerprints matched those on the bloody tin opener and a search of his quarters turned up several items that belonged to his victims.

On 27th April, Gordon Cummins was tried for the murder of Evelyn Oatley at the Old Bailey (before Mr Justice Asquith). He was charged with only one murder – presumably so that the authorities could immediately charge him with any of the other 3 homicides in the unlikely event of an acquittal in the Oatley case. The Prosecution was handled by Mr G.B. McClure; Cummins was represented by Mr J. Flowers. The trial lasted only a single day and the jury took a mere 35 minutes to find Cummins guilty of the murder of Evelyn Oatley. He was sentenced to death by hanging.

Lord Chief Justice Humphreys dismissed Cummings’ appeal and confirmed the sentence. On 25th June, “The Blackout Ripper” was executed at London’s Wandsworth Prison; an air raid was in progress over the city as he was led to the gallows.



I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks


Varian Fry-Journalist and WWII Hero


As so often before Varian Fry is the prove that one man can make a difference.

Varian Mackey Fry (October 15, 1907 – September 13, 1967) was an American journalist. Fry ran a rescue network in Vichy France that helped approximately 2,000 to 4,000 anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees to escape Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

Varian Fry was born in New York City. His parents were Lillian and Arthur Fry, a manager of the Wall Street firm Carlysle and Mellick. The family moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey in 1910. He grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey and enjoyed bird-watching and reading. During World War I, at 9 years of age Fry and friends conducted a fund-raising bazaar for the American Red Cross that included a vaudeville show, ice cream stand and fish pond. He was educated at Hotchkiss School from 1922 to 1924 when he left the school due to hazing rituals. He then attended the Riverdale Country School, graduating in 1926.

An able, multi-lingual student, Fry scored in the top 10% on the entrance exams to Harvard University and, while a Harvard undergraduate, founded Hound & Horn, an influential literary quarterly, in 1927 with Lincoln Kirstein. He was suspended for a prank just before graduation and had to repeat his senior year. Through Kirstein’s sister, Mina, he met his future wife, Eileen Avery Hughes, an editor of Atlantic Monthly who was seven years his senior and was educated at Roedean School and Oxford University. They married on June 2, 1931.

While working as a foreign correspondent for the American journal The Living Age, Fry visited Berlin in 1935 and personally witnessed Nazi abuse against Jews on more than one occasion and “turned him into an ardent anti-Nazi”. He said in 1945, “I could not remain idle as long as I had any chances at all of saving even a few of its intended victims.”

Following his visit to Berlin, Fry wrote about the savage treatment of Jews by Hitler’s regime in the New York Times in 1935. He wrote books about foreign affairs for Headline Books, owned by the Foreign Policy Association, including The Peace that Failed.It describes the troubled political climate following World War I and the break-up of Czechoslovakia and the events leading up to World War II.

Greatly disturbed by what he saw, Fry helped raise money to support European anti-Nazi movements. Following the Occupation of France in August 1940, he went to Marseille as an agent of the newly formed Emergency Rescue Committee in an effort to help persons wishing to flee the Nazis, and circumvent the processes by French authorities who would not issue exit visas. Fry had $3,000 and a short list of refugees under imminent threat of arrest by agents of the Gestapo, mostly Jews. Clamoring at his door came anti-Nazi writers, avant-garde artists, musicians and hundreds of others desperately seeking any chance to escape France.


Arriving in Marseilles in August 1940, Fry settled in his room in the hotel Splendide, and began writing letters to the people on his list. Rumors of his arrival had spread, and hundreds of people came to ask him for assistance. He soon discovered that the American consulate was not going to help him get people to the US, and that he would have to work independently. Faced with the plight of the desperate refugees, Fry decided to act and began finding ways – most of which were illegal – to smuggle out those refugees who faced immediate danger of falling into German hands. The lines of refugees in front of his hotel room were so long that he rented an office and put together a group of associates – American expatriates, French nationals and refugees – to help him in the process of classification. They established the American Rescue Center (Centre Americain de Secours) and began interviewing between 60-70 people every day. Years later Fry described how he faced the dilemma of who was to be helped: “We had no way of knowing who was really in danger and who wasn’t. We had to guess, and the only safe way to guess was to give each refugee the full benefit of the doubt. Otherwise we might refuse help to someone who was really in danger and learn later that he had been dragged away to Dachau or Buchenwald because we had turned him away.”

At great personal risk, Varian Fry set up contacts with the French Resistance and the Corsican mob, hired forgers, bribed border guards, and he personally escorted Franz Werfel and Heinrich Mann over the Pyrenees – his rescue efforts made an indelible influence on our culture.

Although he had no experience in underground work, Fry put a manifold operation into place. His office dealt in legal as well as illegal ways: Once the two hundred US visas were exhausted, Fry’s office tried to obtain visas to other countries; a former Viennese cartoonist was enlisted to forge documents; some refugees were smuggled on French troopships to North Africa – still under French control – disguised as demobilized soldiers; other refugees were spirited out of France over land.

Fry tried twice to appeal to US Secretary of State Cordell Hull. “Thousands find themselves in prisons and concentrations camps of Europe without hope of release because they have no government to represent them….Cannot the US and other nations of the Western Hemisphere take immediate steps, such as creation of new Nansen passports [formerly used to help stateless Russian refugees] and extension of at least limited diplomatic protection to holders of them?”, he wrote on November 10, 1940. Both his letters remained unanswered.

Fry’s activities reached such significant dimensions that it became difficult to keep them secret. The French police decided to take firm action against him. The US Embassy in Vichy and the Consulate in Marseille, adhering to their country’s strict immigration policy, didn’t intervene on Fry’s behalf. As a first step the French police raided his offices. In December 1940, he was arrested and held for a while on a prison ship in the Marseille harbor. But nothing deterred him from working on. He remained in France even though his passport expired, and continued his rescue activities. He was ultimately arrested by the French police in August 1941, given one hour to pack his things, and was then accompanied to the Spanish border. He was told that his expulsion had been ordered by the French Ministry of Interior in agreement with the American Embassy. Fry was to describe his departure: “It was grey and rainy as I boarded the train. I looked out of the windows and innumerable images crowded my mind. I thought of the faces of the thousand refugees I had sent out of France, and the faces of a thousand more I had had to leave behind.

Fry wrote and spoke critically against U.S. immigration policies particularly relating to the issue of the fate of Jews in Europe. In a December 1942 issue of The New Republic, he wrote a scathing article titled: “The Massacre of Jews in Europe”.


“There are some things so horrible that decent men and women find them impossible to believe, so monstrous that the civilized world recoils incredulous before them. The recent reports of the systematic extermination of the Jews in Nazi Europe are of this order… we can offer asylum now, without delay or red tape, to those few fortunate enough to escape from the Aryan paradise. There have been bureaucratic delays in visa procedure which have literally condemned to death many stalwart democrats… This is a challenge which we cannot, must not, ignore.“

Fry, Varian. “The Massacre of Jews in Europe.” The New Republic, 1942

According to Fry’s estimate his office dealt with some 15,000 cases by May 1941. Of these, assistance was provided to approximately 4,000 people; 1,000 out of them were smuggled from France in various ways. Among the Jews Fry helped to smuggle out of France were a number of well-known figures, such as Hanna Arendt, Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz, Siegfried Kracauer, Franz Werfel, Lion Feuchtwanger and many others.

When asked as to his motives, Fry responded that when he had visited Berlin in 1935, he saw SA men assaulting a Jew, and he felt he could no longer remain indifferent.

After his forced return to the United States Varian Fry was put under the surveillance of the FBI. For the rest of his life he was avoided by his former colleagues and friends and until his premature death in 1967 at age 59, he made a living as a Latin teacher in a boys’ school. Shortly before his death, the French government awarded him with the Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur.


In 1994 he was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.


Varian Fry’s son planted a tree in his honor at Yad Vashem in 1996. The ceremony was attended by US State Secretary Warren Christopher, who on that occasion apologized for the State Department’s abusive treatment during the war years.


It is scary to know that we have not learned from the heroic actions of this man. Today there are journalists across the globe reporting on the things they see happening and they are not being listened to and ignored by their governments.

Emil Jannings-Oscar Winner and Nazi propagandist.

This is a slightly different story from the WWII era but nevertheless still an intriguing one. WWII wasn’t only death and destruction ‘normal’ life went on too. People would still go to the Cinema and watch movies. However in Germany these movies were often used as propaganda tools to divert the attention of what was really going on.

Emil Jannings, original name Theodor Friedrich Emil Janenz (born July 23, 1884, Rorschach, Switzerland—died January 2, 1950, Strobl, near Salzburg, Austria) internationally known German actor famous for his tragic roles in motion pictures.

To date, he is still the only German to have won the Best Actor Oscar.

Jannings is best known for his collaborations with F.W. Murnau and Josef von Sternberg, including 1930’s The Blue Angel, with Marlene Dietrich.



Der blaue Engel was meant as a vehicle for Jannings to score a place for himself in the new medium of sound film, but Dietrich stole the show. Jannings later starred in a number of Nazi propaganda films, which made him unemployable as an actor after the fall of the Third Reich.




In 1929, the first year of the Academy Awards, Jannings won a Best Actor award for his performances in the American-made films The Way of All Flesh (1927, now lost), in which he played an embittered family man, and The Last Command (1928), in which he was an exiled Russian general reduced to playing bit parts in war films. (During the early years of the awards, actors could be nominated for multiple performances.) With the advent of sound in American cinema, Jannings was forced because of his thick accent to abandon his career in the United States. He continued to work in German films, but his support of the Nazi regime made him a pariah elsewhere in the world. He continues to be a subject of great controversy, though many of his detractors begrudgingly admit that he was one of the finest actors of his generation.

After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Jannings continued his career in the service of Nazism and cinema. During the Third Reich, he starred in several films which were intended to promote Nazism, particularly the Führerprinzip (prescribed the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich)by presenting unyielding historical characters, such as Der alte und der junge König (The Old and the Young King 1934), Der Herrscher (The Ruler 1937) directed by Veit Harlan, Robert Koch (1939), Ohm Krüger (Uncle Kruger, 1941) and Die Entlassung (Bismarck’s Dismissal, 1942).


He also performed in his famed role in The Broken Jug directed by Gustav Ucicky. Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels named Jannings an “Artist of the State” (Staatsschauspieler) in 1936.

St. Wolfgang, Goebbels und Emil Jannings

The shooting of his last film Wo ist Herr Belling? was aborted, when troops of the Allied Powers entered Germany in Spring 1945. Jannings reportedly carried his Oscar statuette with him as proof of his former association with Hollywood. However, his active role in Nazi propaganda meant that he was subject to denazification, and a comeback attempt would not be legal.

The Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of any remnants of the National Socialist ideology (Nazism).


It was carried out specifically by removing from positions of power and influence those who had been Nazi Party members and by disbanding or rendering impotent the organizations associated with Nazism. The program of denazification was launched after the end of the Second World War and was solidified by the Potsdam Agreement.

Ironically, in the same period Dietrich would become a US citizen and an influential anti-Nazi activist, spending much of the war entertaining troops on the front lines and broadcasting on behalf of the OSS.


Dietrich particularly loathed Jannings for his Nazi ties, and would later refer to her former co-star as a “ham”.

According to Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and The Legend (Simon and Schuster, 2011), Jannings was not actually the winner of the first best actor vote, but the runner-up. While researching her book, Orlean discovered that it was in fact Rin Tin Tin, the German Shepherd dog, one of the biggest movie stars of his time, who won the vote. The Academy, however, worried about not being taken seriously if they gave the first Oscar to a dog, chose to award the Oscar to the human runner-up.

Jannings retired to Strobl near Salzburg, Austria, and became an Austrian citizen in 1947.He died in 1950, aged 65, from liver cancer.He is buried in the St. Wolfgang cemetery.


His Best Actor Oscar is now on display at the Berlin Filmmuseum.

His Birth place of Rorschach, Switzerland, honored him with a special star (similar to the ones on the Walk of Fame in L.A.), which was revealed on November 12, 2004. Only hours prior to the ceremony, the town’s council learned of Jannings’ efforts on behalf of the Nazis during World War II. A few days later, the star was removed.I am a bit cynical about this especially in 2004 where information was readily available about Emil Jannings, I find it hard to believe they weren’t aware of his involvement with the Nazi party and especially Joseph Goebbels.


John Rabe- Forgotten Hero


Initially I was reluctant to call this blog Forgotten hero for the fact that this man was an active member of the Nazi party and was a follower of Hitler. However having looked at the lives he saved at risk of his own life there is no other way but to call this man a Hero. Also he became a member of the NSDAP when he was living outside of Germany and he would not have been exposed to the day to day crimes committed by the Nazi regime.


John Heinrich Detlev Rabe  was a German businessman and Nazi Party member who is best known for his efforts to stop the atrocities of the Japanese army during the Nanking (Nanjing) Occupation and his work to protect and help the Chinese civilians during the event. The Nanking Safety Zone, which he helped to establish, sheltered approximately 200,000 Chinese people from slaughter during the massacre. He officially represented Germany and acted as senior chief of the European–American establishment that remained in Nanjing, the Chinese capital at the time, when the city fell to the Japanese troops.


When the invading Japanese Army overran the Nationalist Chinese capital in December 1937, soldiers embarked on a two-month rampage of looting, rape and killing that left tens of thousands of Chinese civilians dead in what became known as the Rape of Nanking.

Born in Hamburg on November 23, 1882, Rabe pursued a career in business and went to Africa for several years. In 1908 he left for China, and between 1910 and 1938, he worked for the Siemens AG China Corporation in Mukden, Peking, Tientsin, Shanghai and later Nanjing. Rabe suffered from diabetes by the time he was working in Nanjing which required him to have his regular dose of insulin

Many Westerners were living in the Chinese capital city of the time, as Nanking was until December 1937, conducting trade or on missionary trips. As the Japanese army approached Nanking (now Nanjing) and initiated bombing raids on the city, all but 22 foreigners fled the city, with 15 American and European missionaries and businessmen forming part of the remaining group.On November 22, 1937, as the Japanese Army advanced on Nanking, Rabe, along with other foreign nationals, organized the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone and created the Nanking Safety Zone to provide Chinese refugees with food and shelter from the impending Japanese slaughter. He explained his reasons thus: “… there is a question of morality here…I cannot bring myself for now to betray the trust these people have put in me, and it is touching to see how they believe in me.” The zones were located in all of the foreign embassies and at Nanking University.


Mr. Rabe was ordered by Siemens to leave for the safer grounds of Wuhan, a few hundred miles west on the Yangtze River. But he refused. Instead, he became chairman of a group of about two dozen German and American missionaries, doctors and professors who established a neutral zone in Nanjing as a haven for Chinese refugees.

Rabe was elected as its leader, in part because of his status as a member of the Nazi party and the existence of the German–Japanese bilateral Anti-Comintern Pact. This committee established the Nanking Safety Zone in the western quarter of the city. The Japanese government had agreed not to attack parts of the city that did not contain Chinese military forces, and the members of the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone attempted to persuade the Chinese government to move all their troops out of the area. They were partly successful.

On December 1, 1937, Nanjing Mayor Ma Chao-chun ordered all Chinese citizens remaining in Nanking to move into the Safety Zone and then fled the city.

Rabe also opened up his properties to help 650 more refugees.

The Nanking Massacre killed 50,000 to 60,000 civilians according to John Rabe, while Rabe and his zone administrators tried frantically to stop the atrocities. His attempts to appeal to the Japanese by using his Nazi Party membership credentials only delayed them; but that delay allowed hundreds of thousands of refugees to escape. The documentary Nanking credited him for saving the lives of 250,000 Chinese civilians. Other sources suggest that Rabe rescued between 200,000 and 250,000 Chinese people.

In his diary Rabe documented Japanese atrocities committed during the assault upon and occupation of the city. On December 13, 1937, he wrote:


It is not until we tour the city that we learn the extent of destruction. We come across corpses every 100 to 200 yards. The bodies of civilians that I examined had bullet holes in their backs. These people had been presumably fleeing and were shot from behind. The Japanese march through the city in groups of ten to twenty soldiers and loot the shops … I watched with my own eyes as they looted the café of our German baker Herr Kiessling. Hempel’s hotel was broken into as well, as almost every shop on Chung Shang and Taiping Road.

In his interactions with Japanese authorities, Rabe first took a conciliatory tone. On December 14, 1937, Rabe handed a letter of thanks to the Japanese army commander stating that the people in the Safety Zone were all safe and not one shot had been fired. The following is a part of his letter of thanks.

Dec. 14, 1937,

Dear commander of the Japanese army in Nanking, We appreciate that the artillerymen of your army didn’t attack to the Safety Zone. And we hope to contact with you to make a plan to protect general Chinese citizens who are staying in the Safety Zone… We will be pleased to cooperate with you in anyway to protect general citizens in this city. –Chairman of the Nanking International Committee, John H. D. Rabe.

On December 17, 1937 he wrote in a very different tone:

Two Japanese soldiers have climbed over the garden wall and are about to break into our house. When I appear they give the excuse that they saw two Chinese soldiers climb over the wall. When I show them my party badge, they return the same way. In one of the houses in the narrow street behind my garden wall, a woman was raped, and then wounded in the neck with a bayonet. I managed to get an ambulance so we can take her to Kulou Hospital… Last night up to 1,000 women and girls are said to have been raped, about 100 girls at Ginling Girls’ College alone. You hear nothing but rape. If husbands or brothers intervene, they’re shot. What you hear and see on all sides is the brutality and bestiality of the Japanese soldiers.

On December 17, Rabe wrote a letter as chairman to Kiyoshi Fukui, second secretary of the Japanese Embassy. The following is an excerpt:

In other words, on the 13th when your troops entered the city, we had nearly all the civilian population gathered in a Zone in which there had been very little destruction by stray shells and no looting by Chinese soldiers even in full retreat… All 27 Occidentals in the city at that time and our Chinese population were totally surprised by the reign of robbery, raping and killing initiated by your soldiers on the 14th. All we are asking in our protest is that you restore order among your troops and get the normal city life going as soon as possible. In the latter process we are glad to cooperate in any way we can. But even last night between 8 and 9 p.m. when five Occidental members of our staff and Committee toured the Zone to observe conditions, we did not find any single Japanese patrol either in the Zone or at the entrances!

Having received no answer to his request, Rabe wrote again to Fukui the following day, this time in an even more desperate tone:

We are sorry to trouble you again but the sufferings and needs of the 200 000 civilians for whom we are trying to care make it urgent that we try to secure action from your military authorities to stop the present disorder among Japanese soldiers wandering through the Safety Zone… The second man in our Housing Commission had to see two women in his family at 23 Hankow Road raped last night at supper time by Japanese soldiers. Our associate food commissioner, Mr. Sone, has to convey trucks with rice and leave 2,500 people in families at his Nanking Theological Seminary to look after themselves. Yesterday, in broad daylight, several women at the Seminary were raped right in the middle of a large room filled with men, women, and children! We 22 Occidentals cannot feed 200,000 Chinese civilians and protect them night and day. That is the duty of the Japanese authorities …

On the February 10, 1938, Rabe wrote in his diary:

Fukui, whom I tried to find at the Japanese embassy to no avail all day yesterday, paid a call on me last night. He actually managed to threaten me: “If the newspapers in Shanghai report bad things, you will have the Japanese army against you”, he said… In reply to my question as to what I then could say in Shanghai, Fukui said “We leave that to your discretion.” My response: “It looks as if you expect me to say something like this to the reporters: The situation in Nanking is improving everyday. Please don’t print any more atrocities stories about the vile behavior of Japanese soldiers, because then you’ll only be pouring oil on fire of disagreement that already exists between the Japanese and Europeans.” “Yes”, he said simply beaming, “that would be splendid!”

John Rabe gave a series of lectures in Germany after he came back to Berlin on April 15, 1938, in which he said, “We Europeans put the number [of civilian casualties] at about 50,000 to 60,000.” Rabe was not the only figure to record the Japanese atrocity. By December 1937, after the defeat of the Chinese soldiers, the Japanese soldiers would often go house-to-house in Nanking, shooting any civilians they encountered. Evidence of these violent acts come from diaries kept by some Japanese soldiers and by Japanese journalists who were appalled by what was transpiring.


It is not clear whether Mr. Rabe embraced the oppression of Jews and other groups in Nazi Germany. He lived outside Germany during the time of Hitler’s rise to power, and there is no record of the extent of his activities in the Nazi Party after he returned to Germany in 1938.But I doubt very much that he agreed with Hitler’s final solution. There is no doubt in my mind he was seduced by the idea of a German empire, like many Germans were.

Upon his return to Germany in February 1938, Mr. Rabe wrote a letter to Hitler, asking him to persuade Japan to stop the atrocities. But he was arrested by the Gestapo, interrogated for three days and ordered to keep silent on the subject.

From there Mr. Rabe’s life headed into a downward spiral. Between 1938 and 1945, Mr. Rabe worked on and off for the Siemens Company, including a brief stint in Afghanistan.

As World War II intensified, Mr. Rabe wrote increasingly in his diary about hunger and the ravages of war; he and his family in Berlin had to eat nettles and acorn soup.


Because Mr. Rabe was one of the about 9 percent of Germans who were members of the Nazi party, he had to petition to be de-Nazified by the Allies after the war in order to hold a job. His first petition was denied, and Mr. Rabe had to appeal.

Ultimately, in June 1946, Mr. Rabe was granted de-Nazification status because of his humanitarian acts in China. But the investigation proved draining, and he died of a stroke in 1950.

In 1997 his tombstone was moved from Berlin to Nanjing (as it is now) where it received a place of honor at the massacre memorial site.


In 2005, Rabe’s former residence in Nanking (as it then was) was renovated and now accommodates the “John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall”, which opened in 2006.


Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup-the French deportation of the Jews.


Today marks the 79th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup.

During the so-called “Vel d’Hiv” raid, which took place on July 16 and 17, 1942, the victims were held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver, a cycling stadium in Paris’s 15th arrondissement.

8,160 Jews, including more than 4,000 children, were locked up in the stadium in terrible sanitary conditions before being transported by train in cattle wagons to transit camps and deported. None of the children – who were all deported to Auschwitz – survived.


The Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup , was a Nazi directed raid and mass arrest of Jews in Paris by the French police, code named Opération Vent printanier (“Operation Spring Breeze”), on 16 and 17 July 1942. The name “Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup” is derived from the nickname of the Vélodrome d’Hiver (“Winter Velodrome”), a bicycle velodrome and stadium where a majority of the victims were temporarily confined.

The roundup was one of several aimed at eradicating the Jewish population in France, both in the occupied zone and in the free zone. According to records of the Préfecture de Police, eventually 13,152 Jews were arrested including more than 4,000 children. They were held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver in extremely crowded conditions, almost without water, food and no sanitary facilities, as well as at the Drancy, Pithiviers, and Beaune-la-Rolande internment camps,then shipped in rail cattle cars to Auschwitz for their mass murder.


French President Jacques Chirac apologized in 1995 for the complicit role that French policemen and civil servants served in the raid.

The Vel’ d’Hiv was available for hire to whoever wanted it. Among those who had booked it was Jacques Doriot, a stocky, round-faced man who led France’s largest fascist party, the PPF.

It was at the Vel’ d’Hiv among other venues that Doriot, with his Hitler-like salute, roused crowds to join his cause. Among those who helped in the Rafle du Vel’ d’hiv were 3,400 young members of Doriot’s PPF.

The Germans demanded the keys of the Vel’ d’Hiv from its owner, Jacques Goddet,


who had taken over from his father Victor and from Henri Desgrange. The circumstances in which Goddet surrendered the keys remain a mystery and the episode is given only a few lines in his autobiography.

The Vel’ d’Hiv had a glass roof, which had been painted dark blue to avoid attracting bomber navigators.

veldhiv ext b

The glass raised the heat when combined with windows screwed shut for security. The numbers held there vary according to accounts but one established figure is 7,500 of a final figure of 13,152. They had no lavatories: of the 10 available, five were sealed because their windows offered a way out and the others were blocked.The arrested Jews were kept there with only water and food brought by Quakers, the Red Cross and a few doctors and nurses allowed to enter. There was only one water tap. Those who tried to escape were shot on the spot. Some took their own lives.

Although French police had already begun arresting both foreign and French Jews in 1941, the raids in July 1942 were the first ones in which women, children and the elderly were also taken.Intelligence from the time shows that the population found the roundup shocking.

The position of the French police was complicated by the sovereignty of the Vichy government, which nominally administered France while accepting occupation of the north. Although in practice the Germans ran the north and had a strong and later total domination in the south, the formal position was that France and the Germans were separate. The position of Vichy and its leader, Philippe Pétain, was recognised throughout the war by many foreign governments.


The independence, however fictional, had to be preserved. 

On 2 July 1942, René Bousquet attended a planning meeting in which he raised no objection to the arrests and worried only about the “embarrassing [gênant]” fact that the French police would carry them out. Bousquet succeeded in a compromise that the police would round up only foreign Jews. Vichy ratified that agreement the following day.


Thee police were acused for rounding up children of less than 16 years of age, the order was given by Pétain’s minister, Pierre Laval, supposedly as a “humanitarian” measure to keep families together.

This was fiction, given that the parents of these children had already been deported, and documents of the period have revealed that the anti-semitic Laval’s principal concern was what to do with Jewish children once their parents had been deported. The youngest child sent to Auschwitz under Laval’s orders was 18 months old.

Three former SS officers testified in 1980 that Vichy officials had been enthusiastic about deportation of Jews from France. The investigator Serge Klarsfeld found minutes in German archives of meetings with senior Vichy officials and Bousquet’s proposal that the roundup should cover non-French Jews throughout the country.

Many policemen had leaked the information the day before the rai ; the Germans were furious. They had hoped to arrest 27,427 Jews in and around Paris, but eventually they ‘only’ arrested 13,152.This figure includes the arrests from a simultaneous round-up, during which nearly 5,000 adults were sent to the Drancy transit camp and deported.


In the two months that followed the Vel’ d’Hiv arrests some 1,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz every two or three days. By the end of September 1942 almost 38,000 Jews had been deported to Auschwitz from France. In 1945 only some 780 of them remained alive.

The French reactions to the arrest and deportation of Jews varied between active collaboration with the Germans, indifference, and empathy toward the persecuted Jews. Most of the civil administration and the French policemen who had been allocated to conduct the arrest collaborated with the authorities. A minority, however, tried to aid Jews in escaping, either by turning a blind eye toward escapees, or by actively aiding such escapes and providing Jews with hiding places. Many elements within French society – leading figures in the Church, the press and the underground – expressed revulsion at the events and protested against them. Public condemnation of the arrest and deportation of Jews was primarily sparked by the difficult sight of women arrested along with their babies. This negative public sentiment found its way into the official reports of governmental authorities and even the police.

The internment camp at Drancy – which is now the subsidised housing that it was intended to be – was easily defended because it was built of tower blocks in the shape of a horseshoe. It was guarded by French gendarmes.

Frankreich, Paris, festgenommene Juden im Lager

The camp’s operation was under the Gestapo’s section of Jewish affairs. T

Heinz Röthke was in charge of the camp. It was under his direction from August 1942 to June 1943 that almost two-thirds of those deported in SNCF box car transports requisitioned by the Nazis from Drancy were sent to Auschwitz. Drancy is also the location where Klaus Barbie transported Jewish children that he captured in a raid of a children’s home,


before shipping them to Auschwitz where they were killed. Most of the initial victims, including those of the Vel’ d’Hiv, were crammed in sealed wagons and died en route due to lack of food and water. Those who survived the passage died in the gas chambers.

After the liberation in 1944, the camp was run by the Resistance ,who used it to house those .they considered collaborators with the Germans. When a pastor was allowed in on 15 September, he discovered cells 3.5m by 1.75m that had held six Jewish internees with two mattresses between them.The prison returned to the conventional prison service on 20 September.

Pierre Laval’s trial opened on 3 October 1945, his first defence being that he had been obliged to sacrifice foreign Jews to save the French. Uproar broke out in the court, with supposedly neutral jurors shouting abuse at Laval, threatening “a dozen bullets in his hide”.It was, said the historians Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper, “a cross between an auto-de-fé and a tribunal during the Paris Terror. From 6 October, Laval refused to take part in the proceedings, hoping that the jurors’ interventions would lead to a new trial. Laval was sentenced to death, and tried to commit suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule. Revived by doctors, he was executed by firing squad at Fresnes on 15 October.

René Bousquet  was acquitted of “compromising the interests of the national defence”, but declared guilty of Indignité nationale(national indignity) for involvement in the Vichy government.

He was given five years of Dégradation nationale(national degradation), a measure immediately lifted for “having actively and sustainably participated in the resistance against the occupier”. Bousquet’s position was always ambiguous; there were times he worked with the Germans and others when he worked against them. After the war he worked at the Banque d’Indochine and in newspapers. In 1957, the Conseil d’État gave back his Legion of Honour, and he was given an amnesty on 17 January 1958, after which he stood for election that same year as a candidate for the Marne.

On 16 July 1995, the President, Jacques Chirac, ruled it was time that France faced up to its past and he acknowledged the role that the state had played in the persecution of Jews and other victims of the German occupation. He said:

“These black hours will stain our history for ever and are an injury to our past and our traditions. Yes, the criminal madness of the occupant was assisted (‘secondée’) by the French, by the French state. Fifty-three years ago, on 16 July 1942, 4500 policemen and gendarmes, French, under the authority of their leaders, obeyed the demands of the Nazis. That day, in the capital and the Paris region, nearly 10,000 Jewish men, women and children were arrested at home, in the early hours of the morning, and assembled at police stations… France, home of the Enlightenment and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, land of welcome and asylum, France committed that day the irreparable. Breaking its word, it delivered those it protected to their executioners”

A fire destroyed part of the Vélodrome d’Hiver in 1959 and the rest was demolished. A block of flats and a building belonging to the Ministry of the Interior now stand on the site. A plaque marking the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup was placed on the track building and moved to 8 boulevard de Grenelle in 1959. On 3 February 1993, the President, François Mitterrand, commissioned a monument to be erected on the site.


It stands  on a curved base, to represent the cycle track, on the edge of the quai de Grenelle. It is the work of the Polish sculptor Walter Spitzer and the architect Mario Azagury. Spitzer’s family were survivors of deportation to Auschwitz. The statue represents all deportees but especially those of the Vel’ d’Hiv. The sculpture includes children, a pregnant woman and a sick man. The words on the monument are: “The French Republic in homage to victims of racist and antisemitic persecutions and of crimes against humanity committed under the authority of the so-called ‘Government of the State of France.'”

A memorial plaque in memory of victims of the Vel’ d’Hiv raid was placed at the Bir-Hakeim station of the Paris Métro on 20 July 2008.



I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks


More unusual WWII facts-Part 8

American fighter pilot William Bruce “Bill” Overstreet Jr. (April 10, 1921 – December 29, 2013) shot down a German Messerschmitt Bf-109G after chasing it through the arches of the Eiffel Tower.

During WWII the United States asked Mexicans to cross the border to work agricultural jobs. Wouldn’t Donald Trump just love this.

A British proposal to have a sniper assassinate Hitler that was vetoed because it was ‘unsportsmanlike‘.


During WWII, when Sergeant Leonard A. Funk was confronted by 90 German soldiers that had captured his squad, he began to laugh hysterically at the situation. Many of the enemy soldiers began to laugh along with him, until Funk wiped out his machine gun, gunning down 21 and capturing the rest.

T13BeanoGrenadeAmerica designed a grenade the weight and size of a baseball because they believed young American troops should be able to throw them




Millin was a 21-year-old private in Britain’s First Special Service Brigade when his unit landed on the strip of coast the Allies code-named Sword Beach, near the French city of Caen at the eastern end of the invasion front chosen by the Allies for the landings on June 6, 1944.

Millin is best remembered for playing the pipes whilst under fire during the D-Day landing in Normandy.Pipers had traditionally been used in battle by Scottish and Irish soldiers.[5] However, the use of bagpipes was restricted to rear areas by the time of the Second World War by the British Army. Lovat, nevertheless, ignored these orders and ordered Millin, then aged 21, to play. When Private Millin demurred, citing the regulations, he recalled later, Lord Lovat replied: “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.” He played “Highland Laddie” and “The Road to the Isles” as his comrades fell around him onSword Beach.Millin states that he later talked to captured German snipers who claimed they did not shoot at him because they thought he had gone mad.


Three bodies were found in a storage room on the USS West Virginia when she was re-floated after Pearl Harbor. A calendar kept by the men indicated that they had survived for over two weeks after the attack.


Actress Greta Garbo worked as a spy for the Allies during World War II and made plans to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The plan fell through only when the Swedish government prevented her from traveling to Germany.


The US playing card company ‘Bicycle’ had manufactured a playing card in WW2. That, when the card was soaked, it would reveal an escape route for POWs. These cards were Christmas presents for all POWs in Germany.


John Harlan Willis (June 10, 1921 – February 28, 1945) was a United States Navy hospital corpsman who was killed in action during World War II while attached to a Marine Corps rifle company. He was awarded the United States military’s highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—posthumously, for heroism above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

On February 19, 1945, he landed with the 3rd Battalion, 27th Marines on Iwo Jima. He participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima as a rifle company platoon corpsman and, on February 28, while aiding fallen Marines during a fierce action near Japanese-held Hill 362, he was wounded by shrapnel and ordered back to the battle-aid station. Disregarding his injuries, Willis returned to the battle area to resume casualty assistance. He was treating a wounded Marine when the enemy attacked his position with hand grenades. After throwing eight grenades back at the enemy, he was killed when a ninth grenade exploded in his hand. For his heroic actions that day during the battle, Willis was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Nazis used tickle torture. A man named Heinz Heger was being kept in the Flossenberg concentration camp during the Holocaust. He recounted observing this strange form of torture in his book The Men with the Pink Triangle. He recalls witnesses a man being tickled with goose feathers. The man was naked and was tickled in many places of his body, including the feet, armpits and legs. The man initially stayed silent, but eventually began laughing, which eventually turned into crying.

African soldiers fighting against the Japanese in Burma during WWII appropriated and manipulated the rumors that they were cannibals. To demonstrate this, soldiers pretended to eat the ‘meat’ of fallen soldiers so that remaining survivors would flee in fear.

Sub-Lieutenant Saburō Sakai (25 August 1916 – 22 September 2000) was a Japanese naval aviator and flying ace of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.

After winning one of the most famous dogfights of WWII, he managed to fly over 4 hours back to base despite being blind and paralyzed down the entire left side of his body from enemy fire; he endured and survived emergency surgery without anesthesia immediately afterward.

Albania had about 200 Jews at the beginning of the war.It subsequently became a safe haven for several hundred Jewish refugees from other countries.At the Wannsee Conference in 1942, Adolf Eichmann, planner of the mass murder of Jews across Europe, estimated the number of Jews in Albania that were to be killed at 200. Nevertheless, Jews in Albania remained protected by the local Muslim population and this protection continued even after the occupation of Albania by Nazi forces after the capitulation of Italy on September 8, 1943. At the end of the war, Albania had a population of 2,000 Jews.