Symphony of destruction.

symphony

People who know me, know I am a big Heavy Metal fan ,and one of my favourite tracks is called Symphony of Destruction by Megadeth.But this blog is about a different Symphony, a Symphony which was composed and first performed amidst great destruction.

The piece of music is common;y known as the Leningrad Symphony, It was Dmitri  Shostakovich 7th Symphony.

The disturbing news of the German attack on the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, had reached Leningrad at midday June 22 as Molotov announced the attack via loudspeakers throughout the city.

barbarossa

The 35-year-old composer Shostakovich  was head of the Leningrad Conservatoire’s piano department. He began work on his Seventh Symphony in the first hot days of July.

He had volunteered for the army but was dismissed because of his poor eyesight.

Shostakovich

Instead he became a volunteer for the Leningrad Conservatory’s firefighter brigade. However as a musician he set his talents to work and help the war effort in a different way. I did not research this but as a musician myself I know how powerful music can be, it cam alter moods, lift spirits and boost morale.

When Shostakovich played the first two tacts of his Seventh Symphony to some of his friends, in the besieged city of Leningrad in the summer of 1941, the performance was brutally interrupted by a German bombardment.

Shostakovich endured and worked with an inhuman intensity to finish what would become his best known work. Not because he wanted to become rich from it but because he knew how important art was and especially music in the most dire circumstances.

The first full performance in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) was given in August 1942 by a half-starved orchestra, whose emaciated state is symbolised by the drummer Dzaudhat Aydarov, who had literally been rescued from the dead.

Karl Eliasberg, the conductor on that occasion, stated that Soviet artillery pounded known German battery positions  prior to the start of  concert in order to silence them.

It was the same Eliasberg who went to the morgue looking for the drummer Aydarov,He found his presumed cadaver  still moving and breathing.

Despite the destruction around them and being under siege by the German army, the people of Leningrad still found a bit of comfort by buying a ticket for the mammoth work which lasted for over 78 minutes. 78 minutes where they could forget the war, the hunger and the despair.

ticket

Below is the music  the symphony in its full length.

 

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Sources

Classic FM

The Guardian

BBC

YouTube

 

 

 

 

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Michael Kitzelmann, his conscience got the better of him.

Michael Kitzelmann

It would be absurd to say that every German soldier was bad. There were some who saw what was happening and protested against it and paid the ultimate price for it.

Michael Kitzelmann had been a loyal soldier of the Wehrmacht. He was company commander at the age of  24,  and was awarded the Iron Cross,Second Class for bravery in battle. He was also a devout Catholic.  In letters to his parents and in talks with his fellow soldiers he would be critical  of war and destruction of those responsible,during Operation Barbarossa.Russland, Halbkettenfahrzeug mit Geschütz

Between January and May 1942 he was assigned  to a unit combating  partisans in Russia, where he witnessed  atrocities committed by  the Einsatzgruppen  on the Russian population and against the Jews.

Traumatized and shocked by these experiences he started to re-examine his conscience. He to detest the Nazis and openly criticize commands.

His attitude resulting from a Christian rejection of war and the Nazi leaders responsible became  apparent in his letters home and discussions with fellow soldiers.

A  comrade betrayed  him in March 1942, whilst he  was being treated for an injury in a hospital. Kitzelmann was subsequently arrested in April 1942.  On Good Friday 1942,he was  sentenced to death for undermining military force.

He  was executed  by firing squad on 11 June 1942 in Oryol prison.Before his execution, he forgave the sergeant who had betrayed him.

Orel_Tsentral-Prison_in_old

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Happy Birthday Mr Stalin

josef_stalin_0

Don’t worry this is not a blog honouring Joseph Stalin, it is however looking at the relations between Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin on Stalin’s 60th and 61st birthsay.

On December 18 1939 Joseph Stalin received 2 telegrams from the Nazi leadership for his 60th Birthday, One from Hitler another on from Joachim von Ribbentrop, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Below the translated versions of the telegrams

Mr. JOSEPH STALIN,
Moscow.
Please accept my most sincere congratulations on your sixtieth birthday. I take this occasion to tender my best wishes. I wish you personally good health and a happy future for the peoples of the friendly Soviet Union.
ADOLF HITLER

Mr. JOSEPH STALIN,
Moscow.
Remembering the historic hours in the Kremlin which inaugurated the decisive turn in the relations between our two great peoples and thereby created the basis for a lasting friendship between us, I beg us to accept my warmest congratulations on you birthday.
JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Exactly 1 year later on Stalin’s 61st birthday ,Hitler issued Directive No. 21 on the German invasion of the Soviet Union, codenamed Operation Barbarossa.

21 a

Hitler_and_von_Brauchitsch_1941

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The Jäger Report- The mathematics of evil

jaeger

5 Months=137,346 deaths, that is the disturbing mathematical equation that could be made from the Jäger report.

Not human beings, just numbers on a spreadsheet created by a man who claimed I was always a person with a heightened sense of duty”

The so-called Jäger Report (full title: Complete tabulation of executions carried out in the Einsatzkommando 3 zone up to December 1, 1941) was written on 1 December 1941 by Karl Jäger, commander of Einsatzkommando 3 (EK 3), a killing unit of Einsatzgruppe A which was attached to Army Group North during the Operation Barbarossa.

GermanSoldsiers&sovietpeople

It is the most detailed and precise surviving chronicle of the activities of one individual Einsatzkommando, and a key record documenting the Holocaust in Lithuania as well as in Latvia and Belarus.

Oberstes Gericht, Globke-Prozess, Beweisstück

SS-Standartenfuehrer Karl Jaeger, was a Swiss-born mid-ranking official in the SS of Nazi Germany and Einsatzkommando

Among all Nazi documents detailing dastardly acts of mass murder and other atrocities, the “Jaeger Report” is one of the most horrifying.  It provides a very detailed account of the murderous rampage of this “special squad” in Nazi-occupied USSR. Usually, the figures for Jews who were murdered by EK 3 are broken into “Jewish men”, “Jewish women”, and “Jewish children”.

The report commences with:

    1. “Secret Reich Business! 5 copies Complete list of executions carried out in theEK 3 area up to 1 December 1941.”

And goes on to list the daily numbers of the victims; some typical entries are (see the sixth page):

    1. 20.9.41 in Nemencing
      1. 128 Jews, 176 Jewesses, 99 Jewish children
      1. 22.9.41 in Novo-Wilejka
      1. 468 Jews, 495 Jewesses, 196 Jewish children
      1. 24.9.41 in Riess
      1. 512 Jews, 744 Jewesses, 511 Jewish children
      1. 25.9.41 in Jahiunai
      1. 215 Jews, 229 Jewesses, 131 Jewish children 27.9.41 in Eysisky
      1. 989 Jews, 1,636 Jewesses, 821 Jewish children.

_digging_of_OWN graves

Jaeger flatly describes how the victims were rounded up, taken into secluded areas, and shot – men, women, and children:

“Depending on the number of Jews a place for the graves had to be found and then the graves dug. The distance from the assembly point to the graves was on average 4 to 5 Km. The Jews were transported in detachments of 500 to the execution area, with a distance of at least 2 Km between them.”

Piaśnica_before_execution

The most shocking aspect of the report is the ‘matter of fact- another day in the office’ type of language was used.

“I can state today that the goal of solving the Jewish problem for Lithuania has been achieved by Einsatzkommando 3. In Lithuania, there are no more Jews, other than the Work Jews, including their families. They are:

		In Schaulen		around   4,500
		In Kauen		  “     15,000
		In Wilna		  “     15,000

I also wanted to kill these Work Jews, including their families, which however brought upon me acrimonious challenges from the civil administration (the Reichskommisar) and the army and caused the prohibition: the Work Jews and their families are not to be shot!

The goal of making Lithuania free of Jews could only be attained through the deployment of a raiding commando with selected men under the leadership of SS First Lieutenant Hamann, who completely and entirely adopted my goals and understood the importance of ensuring the co-operation of the Lithuanian partisans and the competent civilian positions.

The implementation of such activities is primarily a question of organization. The decision to systematically make every district free of Jews necessitated an exhaustive preparation of each individual operation and reconnaissance of the prevailing circumstances in the applicable district. The Jews had to be assembled at one or several locations. Depending on the number, a place for the required pits had to be found and the pits dug. The marching route from the assembly place to the pits amounted on average to 4 to 5 kilometers. The Jews were transported to the place of execution in detachments of 500, at intervals of at least 2 kilometers. The attendant difficulties and nerve-wracking activity occasioned in doing this are shown in a randomly selected example:

In Rokiskis, 3,208 people had to be transported 4.5 kilometers before they could be liquidated. To accomplish this task in 24 hours, more than 60 of the 80 available Lithuanian partisans had to be allocated for transportation and cordoning off duty.”

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Jäger escaped capture by the Allies when the war ended, assumed a false identity, and was able to assimilate back into society as a farm hand until his report was discovered in March 1959. Arrested and charged with his crimes, Jäger committed suicide by hanging himself in prison in Hohenasperg while he was awaiting trial in June 1959.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a 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

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