Battle for Castle Itter

Castle-Itter

The Battle for Castle Itter is the only battle during WWII where the allies fought alongside the Wehrmacht.In early May 1945, American and German soldiers fought together against the Nazi SS to free prominent French prisoners of war..

The Battle for Castle Itter in the Austrian North Tyrol village of Itter was fought on 5 May 1945, in the last days of the European Theater of World War II.

Troops of the 23rd Tank Battalion of the 12th Armored Division of the US XXI Corps led by Captain John C. “Jack” Lee, Jr.

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, a number of Wehrmacht soldiers, and recently freed French VIPs defended Castle Itter against an attacking force from the 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division until relief from the American 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division of XXI Corps arrived.

The French prisoners included former prime ministers, generals and a tennis star. It may have been the only battle in the war in which Americans and Germans fought side-by-side. Popular accounts of the battle have called it the “strangest” battle of World War II.

Itter Castle (in German, Schloss Itter) is a small castle situated on a hill near the village of Itter in Austria.After the Anschluss, the German annexation of Austria, the German government officially leased the castle in late 1940 from its owner, Franz Grüner.

The castle was seized from Grüner by SS Lieutenant General Oswald Pohl under the orders of Heinrich Himmler on 7 February 1943.

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The transformation of the castle into a prison camp was completed by 25 April 1943, and the facility was placed under the administration of the Dachau concentration camp.

The prison was established to contain high-profile prisoners valuable to the Reich.Notable prisoners included tennis player Jean Borotra, former prime ministers Édouard Daladier and Paul Reynaud,former commanders-in-chief Maxime Weygand, and Maurice Gamelin,Charles de Gaulle’s elder sister Marie-Agnès Cailliau,right-wing leader and closet French resistance member François de La Rocque, and trade union leader Léon Jouhaux.

Besides the French VIP prisoners, the castle held a number of Eastern European prisoners detached from Dachau, who were used for maintenance and other menial work.

In May 1945, the last days of the war in Europe, the German guards at Schloss Itter fled. But the French prisoners were trapped, as the woods around the castle were full of roaming units of the Waffen SS and Gestapo secret police.

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The French sent out two prisoners on bicycles to find help.

On 3 May, Zvonimir Čučković, an imprisoned Yugoslav communist resistance member who worked as a handyman at the prison,left the castle on the pretense of an errand for commander Sebastian Wimmer. He carried with him a letter in English seeking Allied assistance he was to give to the first American he encountered.

The town of Wörgl lay 8 kilometres (5 miles) down the mountains, but was still occupied by German troops. Čučković instead pressed on up the Inn River valley towards Innsbruck 64 km (40 mi) distant. Late that evening he reached the outskirts of the city and encountered an advance party of the 409th Infantry Regiment of the American 103rd Infantry Division of the US VI Corps and informed them of the castle’s prisoners.[18] They were unable to authorize a rescue on their own but promised Čučković an answer from their headquarters unit by morning of 4 May.

At dawn a heavily armored rescue was mounted, but was stopped by heavy shelling just past Jenbach around halfway to Itter, then recalled by superiors for encroaching into territory of the U.S. 36th Division to the east; only two jeeps of ancillary personnel continued.

Upon Čučković’s failure to return and fearing for his life after the 2 May death at the Castle of the fleeing last commander of Dachau, Eduard Weiter, Wimmer abandoned his post. The SS-Totenkopfverbände guards departed the castle soon after, with the prisoners taking control of the castle and arming themselves with the weaponry that remained.

Failing to learn of Čučković’s effort, prison leaders accepted the offer of its Czech cook, Andreas Krobot, to bicycle to Wörgl mid-day on 4 May in hopes of reaching help there. Armed with a similar note he succeeded in contacting Austrian resistance in that town, which had recently been abandoned by Wehrmacht forces but reoccupied by roving SS. He was taken to Major Josef Gangl, commander of the remains of a unit of Wehrmacht soldiers who had defied an order to retreat and instead thrown in with the local resistance, being made its head.

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Gangl had intended to free the castle prisoners, but was unwilling to sacrifice the few troops he had in a suicidal attack on a heavily defended fortress manned by the SS; instead, he was conserving them to protect local residents from SS reprisals, in which troops shot at any window displaying either a white or Austrian flag and summarily executed males as deserters, traitors, and defeatists. His hopes were pinned on the Americans reaching Wörgl promptly and surrendering to them. Instead, he would now have to approach them under a white flag to ask for their help.

Around the same time, a reconnaissance unit of four Sherman tanks of the 23rd Tank Battalion of the 12th Armored Division of the US XXI Corps,

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under the command of Captain Lee, had reached Kufstein, Austria, 13 km (8 mi) to the north. There, in the main platz, it idled while waiting for the 12th to be relieved by the 36th Infantry Division. Asked to provide relief by Gangl, Lee did not hesitate, volunteering to lead the rescue mission and immediately earning permission from his HQ.

After a personal reconnaissance of the Castle with Gangl in the major’s Kübelwagen,

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Lee left two of his tanks behind but conscripted five more and supporting infantry from the recently arrived 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th. En route, Lee was forced to send the reinforcements back when a bridge proved too tenuous for the entire column to cross once, let alone twice. Leaving one of his tanks behind to guard it, he set back off accompanied only by 14 American soldiers, Gangl, and a driver, and a truck carrying ten former German artillerymen.6 km (4 mi) from the castle, they defeated a party of SS troops that had been attempting to set up a roadblock.

In the meanwhile, the French prisoners had requested an SS officer they had befriended during his convalescence from wounds in Itter, Kurt-Siegfried Schrader, to take charge of their defense. Upon Lee’s arrival at the Castle, prisoners greeted the rescuing force warmly but were disappointed at its small size.Lee placed the men under his command in defensive positions around the castle, and positioned his tank, “Besotten Jenny”, at the main entrance.

Lee had ordered the French prisoners to hide, but they remained outside and fought alongside the American and Wehrmacht soldiers. Throughout the night, the defenders were harried by a reconnaissance force sent to assess their strength and probe the fortress for weaknesses. In the morning of 5 May, a force of 100–150 Waffen-SS launched their attack.Before the main assault began, Gangl was able to phone Alois Mayr, the Austrian resistance leader in Wörgl and request reinforcements; only two more German soldiers under his command and a teenage Austrian resistance member, Hans Waltl, could be spared, who quickly drove to the castle.The Sherman tank provided machine-gun fire support until it was destroyed by German fire from an 88 mm gun; it was occupied at the time only by a radioman seeking to repair the tank’s faulty unit, who escaped without injury.

Meanwhile, by early afternoon, word had finally reached the 142nd of the desperation of the defenders’ plight and a relief force was dispatched.[29] Aware he had been unable to give its superior complete information on the enemy and its disposition before communications had been severed, Lee accepted tennis great Borotra’s gallant offer to vault the castle wall and run the gauntlet of SS strongpoints and ambushes to deliver it.[30] He succeeded, requested a uniform, then joined the force as it made haste to reach the prison before its defenders fired their last rounds of ammunition.

The relief force arrived around 16:00 and the SS were promptly defeated.Some 100 SS prisoners were reportedly taken.The French prisoners were evacuated towards France that evening,reaching Paris on 10 May.

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For his service defending the castle, Lee received the Distinguished Service Cross.

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Gangl died during the battlet from a sniper’s bullet while trying to move former French prime minister Reynaud out of harm’s way, but was honored as an Austrian national hero and had a street in Wörgl named after him.

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The Authot Stephen Harding wrote a book about the event with the title ” the Last Battle”

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Heinz Drossel-Wehrmacht Soldier and WWII Hero

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Not everyone who served in the German army were evil,nor were all of them Nazi’s. Many were drafted into the army because they had no other choice, often it was even a matter of life and death.

This blog is about Heinz Drossel, one of the German soldiers who did not only risk his life on the battlefield but also by defying the Nazi regime.

Heinz Drossel (September 21, 1916 – April 28, 2008) was a German lieutenant in World War II who was named one of the Righteous Among the Nations, shared with his parents, for helping Jews escape persecution. He was the son of Paul and Elfriede Drossel, anti-Nazis and shared their political philosophy, refusing to join the Nazi Party. Drafted in November 1939, Drossel served in the Battle of France before serving on the Eastern Front for the rest of the war.

Drossel, the son of ardent anti-Nazis, completed his education in law just before the war but was barred from joining the legal profession because he refused to join the Nazi party or its affiliated organizations.

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Instead, he was drafted into the army. While remaining steadfast in his opposition to the Nazis, he took part in the invasion of France in 1940 and then was sent to the Eastern Front to fight against the Soviet Union. He was commissioned as an officer in 1942.

At great risk to his own life, Drossel acted on his convictions in the most extreme circumstances. In 1941, he released Russian prisoners to return to their own lines rather than execute them as he was directed. When his unit captured a Russian officer, Drossel quietly defied his commander’s order to take him back to headquarters where he knew the prisoner would be shot. Rather he turned the officer loose and directed him toward the Russian lines, telling him, “I am no killer. I am a human being.”

On leave in Berlin in 1942 while recovering from illness, Drossel came across a young woman who, seeing him approach in his uniform, seemed increasingly agitated as he neared and poised to leap from the railing of a bridge into the river below. He stopped her from jumping and, while trying to calm her fear, learned that she was Jewish and was terrified that she would be discovered and sent to a concentration camp. Drossel took Marianne Hirschfeld to his family’s apartment, which had been empty since they had left Berlin for the little town of Senzig in the nearby countryside to escape the danger of the night-time bombing raids by the Allies. Risking his own life, he kept her secret and gave her money so she could find a safe place to stay before he returned to his unit.They married after the war.

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In 1945, while on leave to visit his parents at Senzig, a Nazi supporter in the community denounced friends who were Jewish and had been living quietly with forged identification papers.Even at this late stage of the war the Nazi indoctrination was still very strong. Jack and Lucie Hass, their daughter Margot, and her friend, Ernst Fontheim, faced imminent arrest and asked the Drossels for help. Heinz quickly took Jack Hass and Fontheim to the safety of the family apartment in Berlin, and found Margot and her mother shelter in another apartment. The Gestapo arrived in Senzig the next day to find no trace of them.

On May 4, just four days before the war would end, he was ordered by the Waffen-SS to lead his troops in a suicidal attack on Soviet positions.

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Drossel refused in fact Drossel told his unit to open fire on the SS unit and when threatened with execution, he was saved with the capitulation of the Wehrmacht. He was briefly imprisoned by the Soviets and released before the end of the year.

Drossel was released from a Russian prison camp and went home. In the streets of a ruined Berlin he encountered Marianne Hirschfeld, who he had saved three years earlier. They were married in 1946. Heinz Drossel was able to take up his legal career. He became a judge, retiring in 1981.

Ernst Fontheim moved to Ann Arbor with his wife Margot where he became a senior research scientist in the department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences at the University of Michigan.

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In 2001 the German government awarded Heinz Drossel its highest civilian medal and he was honored as one of the Righteous Among Nations by Yad Vashemwas honored as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, . He said, “After I got the honor of Yad Vashem, I have spoken before more than 5,000 German young people in schools and high schools. It’s necessary to give young people the courage to be human.

Heinz Drossel died in April, 2008 in Simonswald, Germany

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The Sounds of WWII

In every war music is very important, the same applied to WWII. Music lifted the spirit and boosted the morale of the troops. Organisations like USO(United Service Organisation) and the British equivalent ENSA(Entertainments National Service Association) provided much needed entertainment for the troops.

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Starts like Vera Lynn,Bob Hope and Irving Berlin would often perform for soldiers all over the world.

Often these entertainers would do this at the risk of their own lives.Dancer Vivian Hole (stage name Vivienne Fayre) was killed in the Netherlands in 1945 when the scenery truck in which she was travelling ran over a land-mine.

But the sounds of WWII were more then just songs or jokes, they were also broadcasts by the resistance to convey messages .Below are some of the sounds of WWII.

Broadcasts would begin with “Before we begin, please listen to some personal messages.” It was clear to nearly everyone that they were coded messages, often amusing, and completely without context. Representative messages include “Jean has a long mustache” and “There is a fire at the insurance agency,” each one having some meaning to a certain resistance groups.

Excerpts from Radio Londres. These messages were inserted with the radio program in the form of personal greetings, they were often peculiar and obviously had hidden meanings intended to a specific audience. The last two messages (taken from the poem, Chanson d’automne) was to inform the underground movement that Operation Overlord (D-Day landings) was to commence in 24 hours.

 

1945: Churchill announcing the end of World War II in Europe

Vera Lynn

Irving Berlin

George Formby

The Andrew Sisters

Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna

BBC D-day announcement

Eddie Leonski- US Soldier and Serial Killer

War time is a great opportunity for evil men to act upon their instincts and get away with it. Fortunately they don’t always succeed. When I was doing research on Paul Ogozow, the S-Bahn murderer, I discovered there was a whole list of serial killers that operated during WWII and even in WWI.

Eddie Leonski, a US soldier who was stationed in Melbourne,Australia was one of them.

Private Edward Joseph Leonski of the United States Army, a heavy drinker, raped and strangled to death with his own hands three women in Melbourne: about 3 May 1942, he killed 40-year-old Mrs. Ivy Violet McLeod, about 9 May 31-year-old Mrs. Pauline Thompson, and on about 18 May 41-year-old Miss Gladys Lilian Hosking. He was arrested on 22 May, was tried by an American Court Martial and sentenced to death for triple murder on 17 July 1942. It was the first and only time that the citizen of another country was tried and sentenced to death in Australia under the law of his own country. Leonski expressed himself to be lucky with his death sentence. In spite of this, he was declared sane, and was hanged at Pentridge Gaol on 9 November 1942.

Edward Joseph Leonski (December 12, 1917 – November 9, 1942) was a United States Army soldier during World War II. He was also a serial killer responsible for the strangling murders of three women in Melbourne, Australia. Leonski was known as both the “Brownout Strangler”, given Melbourne’s wartime status of keeping low lighting (not as stringent as a wartime blackout) and also as the “Singing Strangler” due to his self-confessed motive for the killings being a twisted fascination with female voices, especially when they were singing, and his claim that he killed the women to “get at their voices”

Born into a Polish-American family in New Jersey, Leonski grew up in an abusive, alcoholic family, and one of his brothers was committed to a mental institution. According to a psychologist who interviewed Leonski during his trial, his mother had been overprotective and controlling. Leonski had been bullied by other neighborhood kids and called a mama’s boy. Accordingly, the psychologist ruled that Leonski’s crimes were born of his resentment and hatred of his mother and thus constituted “symbolic matricide.”

He was called up for the U.S. Army in February 1941 and arrived in Melbourne on February 2, 1942.

On May 3, 1942, Ivy Violet McLeod, 40, was found dead in Albert Park, Melbourne. She had been beaten and strangled, and because she was found to be in possession of her purse it was evident that robbery was not the motive.

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Just six days later, 31-year-old Pauline Thompson was strangled after a night out. She was last seen in the company of a young man who was described as having an American accent.

Gladys Hosking, 40, was the next victim, murdered on May 18 while walking home from work at the Chemistry Library at Melbourne University. A witness said that, on the night of the killing, a disheveled American man had approached her asking for directions, seemingly out of breath and covered with mud. This description matched the individual Pauline Thompson was seen with on the night of her murder, as well as the descriptions given by several women who had survived recent attacks.

Joan Robb, whom he had previously told had the voice of an angel, was due to have a date with him the night he was captured.

These survivors and other witnesses were able to pick 24-year-old Edward Leonski out of a line-up of American servicemen who were stationed in the city during World War II. A private in the 52nd Signal Battalion, Leonski was arrested and charged with three murders.

Although Leonski’s crimes were committed on Australian soil, the trial was conducted under American military law. Leonski confessed to the crimes and was convicted and sentenced to death at a United States Army general court-martial on July 17, 1942. Gen. Douglas MacArthur confirmed the sentence on October 14, 1942, and a Board of Review upheld the findings and sentence on October 28, 1942. General Court-Martial Order 1 promulgated Leonski’s death sentence on November 1, 1942. In a departure from normal procedure, on November 4, 1942, MacArthur personally signed the order of execution (in subsequent executions, this administrative task was entrusted to MacArthur’s Chief of Staff, Richard Sutherland). Leonski was hanged at Pentridge Prison on November 9, 1942.

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Leonski’s defense attorney, Ira C. Rothgerber,attempted to win an external review, even from the U.S. Supreme Court, but was unable to do so. Rothgerber kept the issue alive after the war, and Leonski’s case contributed to the development of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

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Leonski was temporarily interred at several cemeteries in Australia. His remains were eventually permanently interred in Section 9, Row B, Site 8 at Schofield Barracks Post Cemetery (located between Wahiawa and Kunia) on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii. His grave is located in a section of the facility reserved for prisoners who died in military custody.

In 1986 director Philippe Mora directed the movie “Death of a Soldier” which is based on the case of Eddie Leonski.

 

 

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Forgotten History-Rab Concentration camp

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It is a popular misconception that the concentration camps were a Nazi invention, but in fact the British had already established concentration camps in South Africa during the 2nd Boer war.

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It could be argued that the Indian reservations in the US were also concentration camps.

But of course the sort of camps which were established just before and during WWII were of a complete different level,than the South African camps and Native American reservations.

It seems that history has also forgotten about the concentration camps built by the Fascist regime of Italy. Although Il Duce, Mussolini is often seen as a farcical figure, he was nevertheless a very evil man following a very disturbed philosophy.

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Italy is often portrayed as having been a somewhat benign fascist power during World War II, a reluctant partner of the Nazi regime. The wartime Italian Army is remembered as hapless and inefficient compared to the ruthlessly brutal German war machine

One of the camps established by the Italians was the Rab Concentration camp.

The Rab concentration camp was one of the several Italian concentration camps and was established during World War II, in July 1942, on the Italian-occupied island of Rab (now in Croatia). According to historians James Walston and Carlo Spartaco Capogeco,at 18%, the annual mortality rate in the camp was higher than the average mortality rate in the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald (15%). According to a report by Monsignor Jože Srebrnič, Bishop of Krk (Veglia) on 5 August 1943 to Pope Pius XII:

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“witnesses, who took part in the burials, state unequivocally that the number of the dead totals at least 3500”.

In September 1943, after the armistice with Italy, the camp was closed, but some of remaining Jewish internees were deported by German forces to the extermination camp at Auschwitz.Yugoslavia, Greece and Ethiopia requested extradition of some 1,200 Italian war criminals, who, however, were never brought before an appropriate tribunal as the British government, at the beginning of the Cold War, saw in Pietro Badoglio a guarantor of an anti-communist post-war Italy.

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Under the Italian army commander Mario Roatta’s watch the ethnic cleansing and the violence against the Slovene civil population easily matched the German with the summary executions, hostage-taking and hostage killing, reprisals, internments into Rab and Gonars concentration camps, the burning of houses and villages. Additional special instructions that included instruction that the orders must be “carried out most energetically and without any false compassion” were issued by Roatta.:

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“if necessary don’t shy away from using cruelty. It must be a complete cleansing. We need to intern all the inhabitants and put Italian families in their place.”
Mario Roatta in his Circolare No.3 “issued orders to kill hostages, demolish houses and whole villages: his idea was to deport all inhabitants of Slovenia and replace them with Italian settlers” in Province of Ljubljana, in response to Slovene partisans resistance in the province.

Following Roatta’s orders, one of his soldiers in his July 1, 1942 letter wrote home:

“We have destroyed everything from top to bottom without sparing the innocent. We kill entire families every night, beating them to death or shooting them.”

Roessmann Uroš, one of the Rab internees, a student at the time, remembers:

“There were frequent razzias when the train taking us to school in Ljubljana from our village of Polje pulled in to the main station. Italian soldiers picked us all up. Some were released, and others were sent to (Italian) concentration camps. Nobody knew who decided, or on what grounds.

Anton Vratusa, a former prisoner at Rab who went on to be Yugoslavia’s ambassador at the United Nations, 440px-Anton_vratusasaid that there were four distinct camps at Rab and a place that prisoners darkly referred to as the fifth camp, a cemetery where the hundreds who died of cold, starvation or illness were buried.

The camp at Rab, built near the village of Kampor, was one of a number of such camps established along the Adriatic coast to accommodate Slovenian and Croatian prisoners. Opened in July 1942, it was officially termed “Camp for the concentration and internment of war civilians – Rab”

Slovenes and Croatians, many of whom were women and children, including pregnant women and newborns, suffered from cold and hunger in open-air tents, surrounded by barbed wire fence and guard towers. At its peak there were up to 15,000 internees.

Conditions at the camp were described as appalling: “filthy, muddy, overcrowded and swarming with insects”. The Slovene writer Metod Milač, an inmate at the camp, described in his memoirs how prisoners were quartered six to a tent and slowly starved to death on a daily diet of thin soup, a few grains of rice and small pieces of bread. Prisoners fought with each other for access to the camp’s meager water supply, a single barrel, while many became infested with lice and wracked with dysentery caused by the unhygienic conditions. Part of the encampment was washed away by flash flooding. Some of the Italian authorities eventually acknowledged that the treatment of the inmates was counterproductive; in January 1943, the commanding officer of the 14th Battalion of Carabinieri complained:”In the last few days some internees have returned from the concentration camp in such a state of physical emaciation, a few in an absolutely pitiful condition, that a terrible impression has been created in the general population. Treating the Slovene population like this palpably undermines our dignity and is contrary to the principles of justice and humanity to which we make constant reference in our propaganda”

By 1 July 1943, 2,118 Yugoslav Jews were recorded having been interned by the Italian army. Starting in June 1943, they were moved into a newly constructed section of the Rab concentration camp, alongside the Slovenian and Croatian section. Unlike the Slovene and Croatian prisoners, the Jewish ones were provided with proper accommodation, sanitation and services; they were provided with wooden and brick barracks and houses in contrast to the overcrowded tents sheltering the Slavic prisoners.

Historian Franc Potočnik, also an inmate in the Slavic section of the camp, described the much better conditions in the Jewish section:

“The [Slavic] internees in Camp I could watch through the double barriers of barbed wire what took place in the Jewish camp. The Jewish internees were living under conditions of true internment for their ‘protection’, whereas the Slovenes and Croatians were in a regime of ‘repression’. . . . They brought a lot of baggage with them. Italian soldiers carried their luggage into little houses of brick destined for them. Almost every family had its own little house…. They were reasonably well dressed; in comparison, of course, to other internees.”

The difference in treatment was the consequence of a conscious policy by the Italian military authorities. In July 1943, the Civil Affairs Office at the 2nd Army HQ issued a memorandum on “The Treatment of Jews in the Rab Camp”, which was enthusiastically approved by chief of the office and the 2nd Army’s chief of staff.

The memorandum’s author, a Major Prolo, urged that the infrastructure of the camp must be:

“…comfortable for all internees without risk to the maintenance of order and discipline. Inactivity and boredom are terrible evils which work silently on the individual and collectivity. It is prudent that in the great camp of Rab those concessions made to the Jews of Porto Re  to make their lives comfortable should not be neglected.”

He concluded with a clear reference to Italian awareness of the massacres of Jews that were ongoing elsewhere in German-occupied Europe:

“The Jews have the duties of all civilians interned for protective reasons, and a right to equivalent treatment, but for particular, exceptional political and contingent reasons , it seems opportune to concede, while maintaining discipline unimpaired, a treatment consciously felt to be ‘Italian’ which they are used to from our military authorities, and with a courtesy which is complete and never half-hearted.”

Some members of the Italian military also saw humane treatment of the Jews as a way of preserving Italy’s military and political honour in the face of German encroachments on Italian sovereignty; Steinberg describes this as “a kind of national conspiracy [among the Italian military] to frustrate the much greater and more systematic brutality of the Nazi state.” According to the Slovenian Rab survivor, Anton Vratuša,  “We were prisoners; they were protected people. We used their assistance”

By mid-1943 the camp’s population stood at about 7,400 people, of whom some 2,700 were Jews. The fall of Mussolini in late July 1943 increased the likelihood that the Jews on Rab would fall into German hands, prompting the Italian Foreign Ministry to repeatedly instruct the General Staff that the Jews should not be released unless they themselves requested it. The ministry also began to put in place a mass transfer of the Jews to the Italian mainland. However, on 16 August 1943 the Italian military authorities ordered that the Jews were to be released from the camp, although those that wished could stay.[14]

The island remained in Italian hands until after the Armistice with Italy was signed on 8 September 1943, when the Germans seized control. About 245 of the Jewish inmates of the camp joined the Rab Brigade of the 24th Division of the People’s Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia, forming the Rab battalion, though they were eventually dispersed among other Partisan units.

Although most of the Jews from the camp were evacuated to Partisan-held territory,204 (7.5%) of them, the elderly or sick, were left behind and were sent to Auschwitz by the Germans for extermination.Ivan Vranetić was honored as one of the Croatian Righteous among the Nations for saving the Jews evacuated from Rab in September 1943.

 

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Lesser Know WW2 Facts-Part 6

The decision to implement the “Final Solution” or Die Endlosung was made at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin on January 20, 1942. Heinrich Himmler was its chief architect. The earliest use of the phrase “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem” was actually used in an 1899 memo to Russian Tzar Nicholas about Zionism.

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The Germans used the first jet fighters in World War II, among them the Messerschmitt ME-262. However, they were developed too late to change the course of the war.

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Until late 1942, it was common for German U-boats to provide torpedoed survivors with food, water, and the direction of the nearest landmass. This ended when a U-boat towing lifeboats and flying the Red Cross flag was attacked by a US bomber.This was issued in the Laconia Order after the Laconia incident.

During the Nazi occupation of France, Hitler did not destroy the Canadian Vimy Memorial and told the Allies that it remained intact, as he admired the peaceful nature of the sculpture.

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During the outbreak of World War II, London Zoo killed all their venomous animals in case the zoo was bombed and the animals escaped.

Japanese war criminal, Tojo Hideki, attempted suicide after the surrender. He was saved and resuscitated by Allied forces, who then hanged him.

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The SS ran a brothel named “The Kitty Salon” for foreign diplomats and other VIPs in Berlin. It was wiretapped, and 20 prostitutes underwent several weeks of intense indoctrination and training. They were specifically trained to glean information from clients through seemingly innocuous conversation.

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The most important medical advance that saved soldiers’ lives during WWII was the blood transfusion.

SS Leader Heinrich Himmler frequently carried out occult rituals in an ancient German castle, and may have believed he was the reincarnation of Germany’s first king.

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Below are just some random rare and weird pictures from WWII, some of them are creepy.

 

Paula Hitler- The sins of the Brother.

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Can you hold people accountable for the actions of their siblings?

Generally not ,but in this case it is a bit more complicated, since the sibling was the most evil man ever to roam the earth.

It would have been easier if she just had admitted her brother’s wrong doings, rather then insisting that she could not believe he was able to have done the things that people said he had done. At the end of the day it is my opinion that complacency does make you an accomplice , but that is all it is , my opinion.

Paula Hitler (also known as Paula Wolff)(21 January 1896 in Hafeld, Austria– 1 June 1960 in Berchtesgaden) was the younger sister of Adolf Hitler and the last child of Alois Hitler, Sr. and his third wife, Klara Pölzl.

Paula Hitler was born on the 21st January 1896 and died on the 1st of June 1960. At the time of her various interviews with the US intelligence services she was in possession of a passport with the date of 21st November 1896 as her birth date (see interview dated 5th June 1946) however the first date is more accepted. She was born at Rauschergut in Hartfeld, Gemeinde Fischelham (upper Austria).

Paula was the younger sister of Adolf Hitler and the last child of Alois Hitler and his third wife Klara Pölzl. Paula was born in Hartfeld, Austria and was the only full sibling of Adolf Hitler to survive infancy after their brother Edmund died of measles in February 1900 .

After their mother died, Hitler turned over his share of their orphans pension to Paula when he went to Vienna to study art. Apparently, Paula lived with her half-sister Angela throughout childhood, but details are very sketchy. She did not see Adolf between 1908 and 1921, when he arranged to meet her in Vienna and to her delight, took her shopping.

Paula worked for an insurance company in Vienna until she was sacked for no other reason that the boss of the company disapproved of her brother’s political activity in Germany. Paula appealed to Adolf for help and he provided her with a monthly income and a larger sum each Christmas.

By her own account, after losing a job with a Viennese insurance company in 1930 when her employers found out who she was, Paula received financial support from her brother (which continued until his suicide in 1945), lived under the assumed family name Wolff at Hitler’s request (this was a childhood nickname of his which he had also used during the 1920s for security purposes) and worked sporadically. Hitler appears to have had a low opinion of her intelligence, referring to both Paula and his other sister Angela as “stupid geese”.

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She later claimed to have seen her brother about once a year during the 1930s and early 1940s. She worked as a secretary in a military hospital for much of World War II, but eventually gave the job up because she found the work too difficult (It is unknown if was for medical reasons or not).

She took the name Wolf (or Wolff) at her brother’s insistence and it is interesting to note the Adolf himself used the name Wolf to denote his various headquarters throughout the war years: The Wolf’s Gorge and Wolf’s Lair.

Paula never married, or had children and died of natural caused on the 1st of June 1960 and was buried in the Bergfriedhof in Berchtesgaden under the name of Paula Hitler.

There is some evidence Paula shared her brother’s strong German nationalist beliefs, but she was not politically active and never joined the Nazi Party. During the closing days of the war, at the age of 49, she was driven to Berchtesgaden, Germany, apparently on the orders of Martin Bormann.

She was arrested by US intelligence officers in May 1945 and debriefed later that year. A transcript shows one of the agents remarking she bore a physical resemblance to her brother. She told them that the Soviets had confiscated her house in Austria, that the Americans had expropriated her Vienna apartment, and that she was taking English lessons.

She characterized her childhood relationship with her brother as one of both constant bickering and strong affection.

 Paula later told about Adolf and their childhood during her interrogations after the war:

“My brother was very good in some subjects, and very weak in others. He was the weakest in mathematics and, as far as I can remember, in physics, also. His failures in mathematics worried my mother. He loved music. He preferred Wagner even then. Wagner was always his favorite.”

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Paula said that she could not bring herself to believe that her brother had been responsible for the Holocaust. She had also told them that she had met Eva Braun only once.

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Paula was released from American custody and returned to Vienna, where she lived on her savings for a time, then worked in an arts and crafts shop. In 1952, she moved to Berchtesgaden in Germany, reportedly living “in seclusion” in a two-room flat as Paula Wolff. During this time, she was looked after by former members of the SS and survivors of her brother’s inner circle.

In February 1959, she agreed to be interviewed by Peter Morley, a documentary producer for British television station Associated-Rediffusion. The resulting conversation was the only filmed interview she ever gave and was broadcast as part of a programme called Tyranny: The Years of Adolf Hitler. She talked mostly about Hitler’s childhood and refused to be drawn on political questions. Footage from this and a contemporary interview with Peter Morley was included in the 2005 television documentary The Hitler Family (original German title Familie Hitler. Im Schatten des Diktators), directed by Oliver Halmburger and Thomas Staehler.

In a statement  in 1957 she said the following about her brother.

“Sir – do not forget one thing! Your name will be long disintegrated with your corpse – forget and decayed – while the name Adolf Hitler will still shine and blaze! You cannot kill him with your liquid manure tubs, neither strangle him with your ink-daubed, greasy fingers – you can not extinguish his name from hundred thousand souls – to that you are very small and too small!

Where he has loved… it happened around Germany. Where he has fought… it happened around Germany. Where he has been absent… it happened around Germany, and if he argued about honour and respect, it was around German honour and German respect…

And what did you give up to now? And who of you wanted to give his life for Germany? You have had before your eyes always only the power and the wealth, the pleasure, the food and the gluttony – a marvellous life without responsibility – if you have thought of Germany!

Count on it, sir – alone the pure, unselfish thinking and action of the leader is enough for the immortality!

The fact that his fanatical struggle for Germany was not successful, as for example Cromwells struggle once in Britain – also this maybe lies in the mentality, because the Briton does not forget with all slope to the vanity, to envy and to the recklessness – still to be an Englishman, and the loyalty to his crown lies to him in the blood – while the German is everything, only not primarily German in his desire for being successful. Thus you small souls do not care, if the whole nation goes to ruins. Your leading idea is not: Common good goes before self-interest, but always only vice versa! And with this idea you want to prevent the immortality of a greater man?

What I wrote down in the first postwar years, is still valid in 1957 and confirms the correctness of my conviction

Paula died on 1 June 1960, at the age of 64,the last surviving member of Hitler’s immediate family. She was buried in the Bergfriedhof in Berchtesgaden/Schönau under the name Paula Hitler. In June 2005, the wooden grave marker and remains were reportedly removed and replaced with another burial, a common practice in German cemeteries after two or more decades have elapsed. In May 2006, however, it was reported the grave marker had been returned to Paula’s grave and a second marker had been added, indicating another more recent burial in the same spot.

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Little Known WW2 Facts-Part 5

At the time of Pearl Harbor, the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced “sink us”), the shoulder patch of the US Army’s 45th Infantry division was the swastika, and Hitler’s private train was named “Amerika”. All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

40,000 men served on U-Boats during World War 2; 30,000 never returned

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German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City but it wasn’t worth the effort.

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Japan and Russia still haven’t signed a peace treaty to end World War II due to the
Kuril Islands dispute.

Queen Elizabeth II served as a mechanic and driver in World War II.The Queen – who served with the Number 1 ‘Beaufront’ Company, Auxiliary Territorial Service.

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The Paris Mosque helped Jews escape the Nazis by giving them Muslim IDs

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The most notable case of the mosque refuge was Simon Hilali, a Sephardic Jew who survived the Holocaust by pretending to be an Arab named Salim with the assistance of Benghrabit , the religious leader of the mosque, and later went on to become the most popular Arab-language singer of the time. According to Hilali’s obituary, Germans were so suspicious of the Jewish musician that Benghabrit had the name of Hilali’s made-up Muslim grandfather carved on a headstone in a Parisian Muslim cemetery

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Tsutomu Yamaguchi (March 16, 1916 – January 4, 2010) was a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings during World War II. Although at least 160 people are known to have been affected by both bombings, he is the only person to have been officially recognized by the government of Japan as surviving both explosion.

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On 14 February 1942, Japanese Imperial Forces advanced through Kent Ridge down Pasir Panjang Road to the Alexandra Road Military Hospital. The British 1st Malaya Infantry Brigade retreated west through the Hospital.They set up machine guns on the first and second floors to cover their retreat. A lieutenant carried a Red Cross brassard and a white flag to meet the Japanese troops, and announce surrender of non-combatants in the hospital, but was killed immediately.

Flight Sergeant Nicholas Stephen Alkemade (1922–1987) was a rear gunner in Royal Air Force  Avro Lancaster heavy bombers during World War II, who survived—without a parachute—a fall of 18,000 feet (5,500 m) when abandoning his out-of-control, burning aircraft over Germany.

On the night of 24 March 1944, 21-year-old Alkemade was one of seven crew members in Avro Lancaster B Mk. II, DS664,of No. 115 Squadron RAF. Returning from a 300 bomber raid on Berlin, east of Schmallenberg, DS664 was attacked by a Luftwaffe Ju 88 night-fighter, flown by Hauptmann Gerhard Friedrich, 1./NJG 6, caught fire and began to spiral out of control. Because his parachute was unserviceable, Alkemade jumped from the aircraft without one, preferring to die by impact rather than burn to death. He fell 18,000 feet (5,500 m) to the ground below.

His fall was broken by pine trees and a soft snow cover on the ground. He was able to move his arms and legs and suffered only a sprained leg. The Lancaster crashed in flames, killing pilot Jack Newman and three other members of the crew.

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During WW2, when Hitler visited Paris, the French cut the lift cables on the Eiffel Tower so that Hitler would have to climb the steps if he wanted to reach the top.

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The Allied secret service tried to spike Hitler’s food with female hormones to feminize him.

Agents planned to smuggle doses of oestrogen into his food to make him less aggressive and more like his docile younger sister Paula, who worked as a secretary.

Spies working for the British were close enough to Hitler to have access to his food, said Professor Brian Ford, who discovered the plot.

He explained that oestrogen was chosen because it was tasteless and would have a slow and subtle effect, meaning it would pass Hitler’s food testers unnoticed.

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The only casualty of the first bomb in WW2 to fall on British soil was a rabbit.

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Nobuo Fujita(1911 – 30 September 1997) was a Warrant Flying Officer of the Imperial Japanese Navy who flew a floatplane from the long-range submarine aircraft carrierI-25, and conducted the only wartime aircraft-dropped bombing on the continental United States of America, which became known as the Lookout Air Raid.Using incendiary bombs, his mission was to start massive forest fires in the Pacific Northwest near the city of Brookings, Oregon with the objective of drawing the U.S. military’s resources away from the Pacific Theater.

Twenty years later, the floatplane’s pilot, Nobuo Fujita, was invited back to Brookings. Before he made the trip the Japanese government was assured he would not be tried as a war criminal. In Brookings, Fujita served as Grand Marshal for the local Azalea Festival. At the festival, Fujita presented his family’s 400-year-old samurai sword to the city as a symbol of regret

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After John F. Kennedy’s WW2 PT boat was sunk, he wrote a message on a coconut asking for help. It worked. Kennedy kept the coconut and it became a Presidential paperweight.

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Karl Josef Silberbauer,  the SS officer who captured Anne Frank and her family became a member of West Germany’s intelligence service after WW2. He bought Anne Frank’s book to see if he was mentioned.

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Paul Ogorzow -WW2 Serial Killer

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This is something that always intrigued me. How many serial killers were there during WWII and got away with it because they joined the various death squads? Where they could kill authorized by the Nazi regime, and indeed the regimes of the other axis nations.

And what differentiated those who were captured and brought to justice to those who killed indiscriminately in the name of the Nazi party? The answer would probably the Nazi ideology,although idiocy would probably be a more accurate description.

One of the WW2 serial killers was Paul Ogorzow.

Paul Ogorzow (29 September 1912 – 26 July 1941), also known as the S-Bahn Murderer, was a German serial killer and rapist who operated in Nazi-era Berlin during the height of World War II. Ogorzow was employed by Deutsche Reichsbahn, working for the commuter rail system in Berlin, the S-Bahn.

 

Ogorzow gained infamy by using the routine wartime blackouts, that took place as a result of the Allied bombing of Berlin, to more easily prey upon his victims. He was responsible for the murders of eight women during a nine-month-period from 4 October 1940 to 3 July 1941. Following his apprehension by the Kriminalpolizei (Kripo), Orgozow was executed by guillotine at Plötzensee prison in July 1941.

Paul Ogorzow was born on 29 September 1912 in the village of Muntowen, East Prussia, in what was then the German Empire (now: Muntowo, Poland).

He was the illegitimate child of a farm worker, Marie Saga. Her father later filled out his new grandson’s birth certificate, marking it with three crosses and the child’s birth name: Paul Saga.

In 1924, the now 12-year-old Saga was adopted by Johann Ogorzow, a farmer in Havelland. He eventually took Ogorzow’s surname as his own and relocated to the town of Nauen near Berlin. He initially worked as a laborer on his adoptive father’s farm and later found employment with a steel foundry in Brandenburg-an-der-Havel

Ogorzow joined the Nazi Party in 1931, at the age of 18, and became a member of its paramilitary branch, the Sturmabteilung (SA), the following year. After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Ogorzow rose modestly in the Party ranks. By the time of his capture, Ogorzow held the position of Scharführer (squad leader) in the SA.

In 1934, Ogorzow was hired as a platelayer by the Deutsche Reichsbahn (National Railroad). He steadily worked his way up through the organization, eventually working as an assistant signalman at Rummelsburg railway station in the eastern suburbs of Berlin, close to Karlshorst. This was the area where most of his crimes later occurred.

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Beginning in August 1939, while he and his family were residing in Karlshorst, Ogorzow embarked on a violent series of sexual assaults, randomly attacking, brutalizing and then raping dozens of women in and around Berlin’s Friedrichsfelde district. At that time, the neighborhood that was populated mostly by solitary housewives, whose husbands had been called up to serve in the war. It was these vulnerable women who initially served as Ogorzow’s primary source of rape victims.

The Berlin police documented 31 separate cases of rape and other sexual assaults that occurred in the area, all of which were later connected to Ogorzow. During his attacks, Ogorzow either choked his victims, threatened them with a knife, or bludgeoned them with a blunt object. In their statements, all the victims mentioned their attacker wore a railway worker’s uniform.

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Ogorzow also first began attempting to murder some of his victims during this time. His initial efforts, however, met with little success. Between August 1939 and July 1940, Ogorzow attacked and stabbed three different women, all of whom later went on to recover and serve as witnesses against him.

The citizens of Berlin in 1940 were living with rationing, nightly blackouts, and the first regular Allied bombing raids.

 

 

To add to their plight, the bodies of women who had suffered horrific abuse began to appear. Gerda Ditter’s body appeared in October, strangled and stabbed to death. In November, another young woman was thrown from a moving train. And on December 4, two more bodies were found, thrown from a moving train. One woman survived, the other didn’t.

On December 22, the body of Elisabeth Bungener was found with a fractured skull close to the railroad tracks. A week later, the body of another woman who suffered a fractured skull was found near the tracks. Another body was found in January 1941. After that, the killer disappeared for five weeks. Then on February 11 Johanna Voigt’s body was discovered, also with a fractured skull. The final victim, Frieda Koziol, was found five months later in July.

While the infamous S-Bahn Murderer was on his rampage, he was being pursued by the Kriminalpolizei (aka ‘Kripo’), Berlin’s serious crime unit. But they had a tough job finding the killer

Their biggest antagonist wasn’t the S-Bahn murderer, but the blackout. The killer’s victims weren’t the only bodies that appeared around the railroad tracks; in fact, in December of 1940 alone there were 28 deaths attributed to accidents on the railway. These were direct results of the blackout—people were hit by trains either when crossing tracks or when they accidentally stepped off train platforms. In addition, the blackouts had sparked a crime wave in Berlin, distracting from the investigation and adding to the body count as well.

Besides the blackout, the investigators were hampered by the Nazi regime. The government did not want word of the killings to cause fear among the general populace, and so they tamped down on reporting. This deprived the investigation of any tips from the general public.

Other hindrances to the investigation came from biases that shaped the investigator’s outlook. There was a tendency to trust people in uniform who held an official position. Paul Ogorzow worked for German Railways, and his uniform proved as a kind of shield.

A bigger bias though was the racial prejudices the Nazis became infamous for. Some believed the killer had to be a Jew, because large numbers of Jews worked on German Railways. Others thought it might be a British Agent attempting to sow fear in the capital. Given the Nazi’s tendency toward bizarre espionage, it at least seemed plausible. Another theory was that the killer was one of the thousands of foreign workers who were brought to Berlin to fill the need for labor. Given the large numbers of foreigners in the city, this seemed plausible.

That is, until a serious look at German Railway employees netted one name again and again. Paul Ogorzow was known among his coworkers for his hatred of women and his slacker tendencies—he had a habit of wandering off during his shifts. If it were not for his coworker’s suspicions, the Kripo may not have looked at him at all, because he was a married man with two children. Not to mention, he was a Nazi party member.

Ogorzow was brought in and subjected to intense questioning. He eventually cracked and confessed to eight murders and several assaults. His weapon of choice seemed to be a length of lead cable. In a bizarre attempt to save himself, he claimed that a Jewish doctor’s treatment for gonorrhea had awakened his murderous urges. The Kripo didn’t buy it, nor did the government. It seems that Ogorzow’s Nazi allegiance could not save him. He was executed by guillotine.

 

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Dirk J Vlug- Hero

Vlug018.jpgGiven the fact I am also a Dirk J(my J as in Johannes, the Dutch equivalent of John) I could not resist doing a piece on this man.

Dirk John Vlug  (August 20, 1916 – June 25, 1996) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.

Dirk Vlug joined the Army from Grand Rapids, Michigan in April 1941 and served as a private first class in the 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division.On December 15, 1944 near Limon in the Philippine province of Leyte, he single-handedly destroyed a group of five heavily armed Japanese tanks.

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For his actions, Vlug was issued the Medal of Honor a year and a half later, on June 26, 1946.

He subsequently left the army and joined the Michigan National Guard in May 1949, and retired with the rank of Master Sergeant in January 1951.

He had been tasked with defending the American roadblock of the Ormac Road.

When an American roadblock on the Ormoc Road was attacked by a group of enemy tanks, Private First Class Vlug left his covered position, and with a rocket launcher and six rounds of ammunition, advanced alone under intense machine gun and 37-mm fire. Loading single-handedly, he destroyed the first tank, killing its occupants with a single round. As the crew of the second tank started to dismount and attack him, he killed one of the foe with his pistol, forcing the survivors to return to their vehicle, which he then destroyed with a second round. Three more hostile tanks moved up the road, so he flanked the first and eliminated it, and then, despite a hail of enemy fire, pressed forward again to destroy another. With his last round of ammunition he struck the remaining vehicle, causing it to crash down a steep embankment. Through his sustained heroism in the face of superior forces, Private First Class Vlug alone destroyed five enemy tanks and greatly facilitated successful accomplishment of his battalion’s mission.” He was awarded his Medal on June 26, 1946.

Dirk J. Vlug is welcomed home during parade in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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As proven so often before , one man can makes a difference, this is another example that should serve to inspire us to become better men and women.

This brave man died 20 years ago today. He was buried  in the Greenwood Cemetery
Grand Rapids,Kent County.Michigan, USA Plot: Block X, Lot 203, Space 1.

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Dirk J. Vlug, we salute you.