The curious suicide of Hajime Sugiyama

Hajime Sugiyama

Now I am not a person who subscribes to conspiracy theories , but the suicide of Hajime Sugiyama appears to be a bit odd to me.

There were many Japanese officers who committed suicide at the end of WWII, but most would do this in the traditional way of of the ritual suicide of Seppuku, sometimes referred to as harakiri.

However, on September 12,1945 Hajime Sugiyama committed suicide by shooting himself four times in the chest with his revolver while seated at his desk in his office, 10 days after the surrender of Japan. At home, his wife also killed herself.

Getting back to Sugiyama’s  suicide though, he shot himself FOUR times in the chest with his revolver, this means he had to pull the trigger four times.

Maybe it is just me but to me that sounds quite bizarre. There are very few law enforcement agencies who would considered that to be a clear cut suicide. I am pretty sure under normal circumstances that would be treated as a homicide.

I have no way of proving that of course but to me it is a curious suicide.

 

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Jeremy spoke in class today.

jermy

The title of this blog is a line from the Pearl Jam song “Jeremy” it is one of my favourite Rock tracks and by far the best track of the album “Ten”. Although I have listened to the song hundreds of times I never really paid to much attention to the history of the song.

I assumed it was a made up tale of a made up boy in a made up school, but I was wrong. The Jeremy in the song was a real boy, who tragically committed suicide on January 8, 1991.

Jeremy Delle attended Richardson High School in Richardson, Texas

He was 15 at the time. On the fateful day he was late for his second period English class.Because of this tardiness the teacher urged Jeremy to go down to the office and get an attendance slip. However Jeremy did not go to the office, he went to his locker. Took out a with a Smith & Wesson .357 revolver and returned to the classroom . He turned to his teacher and said “Miss, I got what I really went for,” and then shot himself in front of his classmates.

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Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder read about the suicide in a newspaper article and decided to write a song about it, in a way as an ode to the troubled teenager.

Even though the song was well intended it does not portray an accurate picture of the situation.

One line of the song talks about a father who didn’t pay attention and a mother who didn’t care. This is however not true. Jeremy  was living with his father, his parents were divorced and he had been in counseling at the school which he was also new to. In the video of the song it is also suggested that he was struggling with his sexuality but according a friend that was not the case at all, in fact most of the video is totally inaccurate. Why Pearl Jam decided on this direction of the video, I don’t know.

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He was a quiet boy but there wasn’t any real evidence of bullying. The fact is the teenage years in anyone’s life are complex years, Stuck between childhood and adulthood, hormones flying of the charts. If you add an uncertain future to that and new surroundings it can easily lead to bigger problems. It is not a coincidence that a a great percentage of suicides are committed by teenage boys.

His mother said in a recent interview she said ‘That day that he died did not define his life. He was a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, a friend. He was talented,’ she said.

My heart goes out to her and the family. Each time I will hear the song now, I will say a quick prayer for a poor troubled boy and his family.

Ending the blog with Pearl Jam’s video.

 

 

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A failure as a father

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If you would not know the man in the picture you would think that it was a loving family man, doting on his daughter.

However since we know the man is Joseph Goebbels, the dynamic of this picture changes.

Goebbels did portray himself as a good family man and a loving father, but clearly he had no comprehension what constitutes a good parent.

The job of a father,or mother for that matter, is to look after the well being of their children and provide them with a safe home. The child’s needs,health and safety  is what takes priority over everything and everyone else.

But both Joseph Goebbels and his wife failed in this. Their priority was the Nazi regime. So sick and twisted were they that they judged their children by their own(Joseph and Magda’s )standards.

Rather then ensuring their children would be safe and no harm would come to them, they decided to kill them, even though they had plenty of opportunities to smuggle their kids out of Berlin.

Both parents were to blame but since Joseph was the head of the family and one of Germany’s most powerful men it makes him nothing more than a failed Father.

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The murder of the Goebbels children

Goebbels

Regardless what you think of their parents, when you analyse it the Goebbels children were victims of the same warped ideology and regime as so many other children. The only difference they may have died in less painful circumstances, at least 5 of them.

So enthralled were Joseph  and Magda Goebbels with Hitler that they gave all 6 of their children names starting with H to honor their beloved leader.

Helga Susanne.Hildegard Traudel,Helmut Christian,Holdine Kathrin,Hedwig Johanna and Heidrun Elisabeth.

Obersalzberg, Besuch Familie Goebbels bei Hitler

There also was a half brother called Harald, born in November 1921. from a previous marriage between Magda Goebbels nee Behrend Rietschel and German business man Günther Quandt,founder of several companies including BMW. Harald,He served as a lieutenant in the Luftwaffe during World War II.   he survived the war and together with his half brother Herbert Quandt, ran their father’s businesses including the aforementioned BMW after the war. The picture below is a photograph of the whole Goebbels family including the half brother Harald.Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1978-086-03,_Joseph_Goebbels_mit_Familie

Like any child anywhere in the world a child is formed and conditioned by the environment it grows up in, as was the case with the Goebbels children. And on the surface they were loved by their parents, and  maybe even a bit deeper then the surface but not much. For any normal thinking and loving parent will do anything to safeguards their child’s life.

In the case of the Goebbels parents their love for Hitler was bigger then the love for their children. On May 1st 1945 ,a day after Hitler committed suicide, Joseph and Magda Goebbels decided to follow suit and also kill the children. Some people say they did this because of fear what the soviet army might do to the children, they imagined it a fate worse then death, Joseph Goebbels was of course well aware what this might entail, for he was one of the leaders of the regime who slaughtered millions of children in the most horrendous conditions , and he  had lost not one night sleep over it.

But I believe they killed their own kids so that could die pure Aryan, for there had been plenty of opportunities to smuggle their kids to the west of Germany where the US and UK troops had occupied the country. Many of those who had been in the bunker did just do that and could have easily taken the kids with them, if they had been asked.

Adolf Hitler [Misc.]

Joseph and Magda wrote goodbye letters to Harald, explaining their decision, calling death the “the only possible and honorable conclusion.” Magda, convinced she was sparing her children from a life of humiliation, finalized the plan to end their lives.

It isn’t entirely clear as to who helped the Goebbels poison their children. The plan was to sedate them, but it is not certain who actually administered the drugs that put the children to sleep. The most likely candidate was Helmut Kunz,Helmut Kunz a dentist who served as one of the Nazi’s chief medical officers. Supposedly, Magda had asked him to help her kill the children, but he refused to do it, saying he was “incapable” of such an act. She then told him that it was an order from Hitler, and he agreed to do it.

Kunz did give the children morphine, but it’s unclear who gave them the cyanide. Magda was unable to do it and was said to have called Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger, one of the SS’s doctors, to administer the “candy” to the children.

He gave the children cyanide in some form of chocolate.

Rochus Misch, the bunker telephone/radio operator, stated that Werner Naumann told him that he had seen Hitler’s personal physician, Dr Stumpfegger, give the children something “sweetened” to drink.[Another account says that the children were told they would be leaving for Berchtesgaden in the morning, and Stumpfegger was said to have provided Magda with morphine to sedate them. Erna Flegel claims that Magda reassured the children about the morphine by telling them that they needed inoculations because they would be staying in the bunker for a long time.

On the same night that their children were killed, Magda and Joseph Goebbels went into the study in the Führerbunker. According to legend, the couple stood near where Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun had died and been burned as they bit into cyanide and shot themselves, perhaps at the same time. Another theory is that Günther Schwägemann, Günther SchwägemannNazi officer and object of their daughter Hedwig’s affection-Hedwig insisted, in 1944, that when she grew up she was going to marry Günther Schwägermann, having been captivated by the fact he had a fake eye.  -shot them. The bodies of Magda and Joseph Goebbels were set on fire.

On 3 May 1945, the day after Soviet troops led by Lt. Col. Ivan Klimenko had discovered the burned bodies of their parents in the courtyard above, they found the children down in the Vorbunker dressed in their nightclothes, with ribbons tied in the girls’ hair after they died.

Goebbels family

Based on autopsy findings, there was some trouble when it came to giving Helga the poison. She either woke up from her slumber and resisted taking it or the dosage was insufficient to kill her. When Russian doctors autopsied Helga’s body, they found bruises, indicating that there had been a struggle. Her jaw may have been broken as well.Helga

Helga was killed age 12,Hildegard was killed age 11.Helmut was age 9 when he was killed.Holdine was eight years old at the time of her death.Hedwig was six years old, four days shy of her seventh birthday, at the time of her death. And Heidrun was only 4 when she was killed.

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I know some people will say”They deserved what was coming to them” and to an extend I can understand that sentiment, but these kids were not responsible for the actions of their parents, in fact they were a victim of the warped ideology their parents had subscribed to.

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The desperate act of Ernst Kurt Lisso,Deputy Mayor of Leipzig.

Deputy Mayor Ernst Kurt Lisso and his family after committing suicide by cyanide to avoid capture by US troops, 1945 (1)

As the Red Army and the Western Allies pressed closer and closer to Berlin suicides grew. Thousands of Germans committed suicide in the spring of 1945, rather than face occupation and the expected abuse by their victors. 3,881 people were recorded as committing suicide during April in the Battle of Berlin, although the figure is probably an underestimate. Although the motives was widely explained as the “fear of the Russian invasion”, the suicides also happened in the areas liberated by the British and American troops.

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On the 18th April 1945 a number of officials of Leizig committed suicide in the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus). The Deputy Mayor of Leipzig Ernst Lisso decided to end his life but also that of his wife and daughter as the Americans press towards the city hall. In the death tableaux his wife Renate Lisso sits across from her husband and most shockingly his daughter Regina sits on the bench. She has an armband on and presumably was part of the German Red Cross aiding German soldiers before her premature death. In another room, the mayor and his wife and daughter similarly killed themselves before the Allied forces could do their worst. In both cases they used cyanide capsules.

Deputy Mayor Ernst Kurt Lisso and his family after committing suicide by cyanide to avoid capture by US troops, 1945 (2)

Unlike in Japan–where many people also killed themselves at the end of the war–suicide is not embedded in German culture as a potential response to shame or dishonor. Yet thousands of people felt that life was no longer worth living if it wasn’t under the Nazi order. Perhaps the expected hardships and privations of defeat, coupled with family and personal losses during the war, drove many people over the edge.

Life Magazine reported that: “In the last days of the war the overwhelming realization of utter defeat was too much for many Germans. Stripped of the bayonets and bombast which had given them power, they could not face a reckoning with either their conquerors or their consciences. These found the quickest and surest escape in what Germans call selbstmord, self-murder.”

Deputy Mayor Ernst Kurt Lisso and his family after committing suicide by cyanide to avoid capture by US troops, 1945 (3)

There were several reasons why some Germans decided to end their lives in the last months of the war. First, by 1945 Nazi Propaganda had created fear among some sections of the population about the impending military invasion of their country by the Soviets or Western Allies. Information films from the Reichs Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda repeatedly chided audiences about why Germany must not surrender telling the people they faced the threat of torture, rape and death in defeat. Secondly, many Nazis – who had been indoctrinated in unquestioning loyalty to the party – also felt obliged to follow the example of Adolf Hitler when it was reported that the Führer had taken his own life. Finally others killed themselves because they did know what would happen to them following defeat.

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The tragic death of Szmul Zygielbojm-The man who exposed the Holocaust to the allies.

Szmul-Zygielbojm-1023x946My heart was broken when I heard about this Hero. If the allies just would have listened to him and taken him serious so many lives including his own could have been saved. What make this even more tragic and poignant that he did not die by direct Nazi violence but by his own hand due to grieve and frustration.

When Szmul Zygielbojm stood up and denounced ‘the greatest crime in history’ in 1942 the Polish politician was revealing to the world for the first time the full horror of the unfolding Holocaust.

Three years before the liberation of the death camps, Zygielbojm issued his clarion call but also sowed the seeds of his own destruction warning it would ‘be a shame to go on living’ if nothing were done.

Szmul Zygielbojm (February 21, 1895 – May 11, 1943) was a Jewish-Polish socialist politician, leader of the Bund, and a member of the National Council of the Polish government in exile.

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He committed suicide to protest the indifference of the Allied governments in the face of the Holocaust.

When the Nazis ordered Jewish leaders to help with the creation of a ghetto in the Polish capital, Zygielbojm publicly opposed the command – and was subsequently smuggled out of the city.

After travelling to Belgium, France and the US, where he spoke at a series of meetings to raise awareness about the plight of Jews, he eventually found himself in London in March 1942 to join the National Council of the Polish government in exile.

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Realising that he was dealing with a sceptical non-Jewish public, Zygielbojm used British newspapers and the BBC to pass on detailed information he was being supplied with from occupied Europe.

In June 1942, The Daily Telegraph headline read ‘Germans murder 700,000 Jews in Poland’ and readers were told it was ‘the greatest massacre in the world’s history

WWII Warsaw Ghetto 1943

In April 1943, the US and UK governments met in Bermuda, supposedly to come up with answers to the unfolding plight of Jews in occupied Europe.

Ironically this happened just as the Jewish resistance rose up the Warsaw Ghetto despite facing overwhelming numbers of well armed Nazi troops.

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An estimated 13,000 Jews died during the uprising and the 50,000 or so survivors were immediately shipped to extermination camps.

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In May, Zygielbojm realised that the Allies were not going to act and then, to compound his despair, he learnt that his wife Manya and son Tuvla had died in Warsaw.

On the 12th of May he took an overdose of sodium amytal at his home in west London and left a long and detailed suicide note, explaining his decision to take his own life.

In a long, detailed “suicide letter”, addressed to Polish president Władysław Raczkiewicz and prime minister Władysław Sikorski, Zygielbojm stated that while the Nazis were responsible for the murder of the Polish Jews, the Allies were also culpable:

The responsibility for the crime of the murder of the whole Jewish nationality in Poland rests first of all on those who are carrying it out, but indirectly it falls also upon the whole of humanity, on the peoples of the Allied nations and on their governments, who up to this day have not taken any real steps to halt this crime. By looking on passively upon this murder of defenseless millions tortured children, women and men they have become partners to the responsibility.

I am obliged to state that although the Polish Government contributed largely to the arousing of public opinion in the world, it still did not do enough. It did not do anything that was not routine, that might have been appropriate to the dimensions of the tragedy taking place in Poland….

I cannot continue to live and to be silent while the remnants of Polish Jewry, whose representative I am, are being murdered. My comrades in the Warsaw ghetto fell with arms in their hands in the last heroic battle. I was not permitted to fall like them, together with them, but I belong with them, to their mass grave.

By my death, I wish to give expression to my most profound protest against the inaction in which the world watches and permits the destruction of the Jewish people.

Szmul_Zygielbojm_suicide_letter_1943

He wished his letter to be known not only by the Polish President and prime minister in exile. He wrote: “I am certain that the President and the Prime Minister will send out these words of mine to all those to whom they are addressed, and that the Polish Government will embark immediately on diplomatic action and explanation of the situation, in order to save the living remnant of the Polish Jews from destruction.”

After his death, Zygielbojm’s seat in the Polish exile parliament was taken over by Emanuel Scherer.

Zygielbojm’s younger son, Joseph, survived the Ghetto’s destruction. After taking a leadership role in the Polish resistance during the war, he immigrated to the United States, where he became a scientist at NASA. He died in 1995, survived by his sons, Arthur and Paul.

Heinrich Himmler’s suicide-at the end he was nothing but a coward

 

LandscapeIn 1945 disillusioned Himmler believed victory had slipped from Germany’s grasp and secretly attempted to start peace negotiations with Eisenhower in a bid to escape a war crimes trial. But Eisenhower refused to have anything to do with Himmler. A furious Hitler declared Himmler a traitor, stripped him of his powers and expelled him from the Nazi Party.

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Rejected by his former comrades and hunted by the Allies, Himmler attempted to go into hiding. He disguised himself by shaving off his mustache, wearing an eye patch over his left eye and carrying false identity papers under the name of Sergeant Heinrich Hitzinger. With a small band of companions, he headed south on 11 May to Friedrichskoog, without a final destination in mind. They continued on to Neuhaus, where the group split up. On 21 May, Himmler and two aides were stopped and detained at a checkpoint set up by former Soviet prisoners of war. Over the following two days, he was moved around to several camps and was brought to the British 31st Civilian Interrogation Camp near Lüneburg, on 23 May.

The duty officer, Captain Thomas Selvester, began a routine interrogation. Himmler admitted who he was, and Selvester had the prisoner searched. Himmler was taken to the headquarters of the Second British Army in Lüneburg, where doctor Wells conducted a medical exam on him. When the doctor saw a dark object in a gap in Himmler’s lower jaw, he ordered him to come closer to the light and tried to remove the glass capsule. Suddenly Himmler bit on the cyanide capsule and at the doctor’s fingers. Himmler fell to the ground and someone shouted “The bastard beats us!”.

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The smell of prussic acid spread through the room. “We immediately upended the old bastard and got his mouth into the bowl of water which was there to wash the poison out”, noted Major Whittaker in his diary. “There were terrible groans and grunts coming from the swine”. Himmler’s tongue was secured in an attempt to prevent him from swallowing the poison.

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Doctor Wells tried resuscitation but it was in vain. He was dead within 15 minutes. At least one death mask of Himmler was taken. On 25 May an autopsy was conducted, the teeth configuration compared, and the brain and part of his skeleton removed. Shortly afterward, Himmler’s body was buried in an unmarked grave near Lüneburg. The grave’s location remains unknown.

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Germanwings Flight 9525-Andreas Lubitz’s homicidal suicide flight.

WRECKAGE OF THE AIRBUS A320 IS SEEN AT THE SITE OF THE CRASH, NEAR SEYNE-LES-ALPES

It’s hard to believe this happened  today 2 years ago. I know the title is slightly contradictory but I think it’s the most appropriate way to describe the tragedy.

On March 24 2015 Germanwings flight 9525 took off from Barcelona airport headed for Dusseldorf in Germany. But the Airbus A320 never made it to its final destination.

Shortly after the plane reached its assigned cruising altitude, it suddenly began a rapid descent.

Moments later the doomed passenger jet crashed into the French Alps northwest of Nice, killing all 144 passengers and six crew members on board.

An investigation into the devastating event concluded that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz caused the crash in an apparent murder-suicide. The then 27-year-old had a history of depression and suicidal tendencies, even declared “unfit for work” by a doctor. _81925461_81925460

Friends and neighbours described him as a “quiet” but “fun” character, who enjoyed his job.

In response to the incident and the circumstances of Lubitz’s involvement, aviation authorities in some countries implemented new regulations that require the presence of two authorized personnel in the cockpit at all times. Three days after the incident, the European Aviation Safety Agency issued a temporary recommendation for airlines to ensure that at least two crew members—including at least one pilot—were in the cockpit during the entire duration of the flight. Several airlines announced that they had already adopted similar policies voluntarily.

Germanwings Flight 9525 took off from Runway 07R at Barcelona–El Prat Airport on 24 March 2015 at 10:01 a.m. CET  and was due to arrive at Düsseldorf Airport by 11:39 CET.The flight’s scheduled departure time was 9:35 CET.According to the French national civil aviation inquiries bureau, the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), the pilots confirmed instructions from French air traffic control at 10:30 CET. At 10:31 CET, after crossing the French coast near Toulon, the aircraft left its assigned cruising altitude of 38,000 feet (12,000 m) and without approval began to descend rapidly. The air traffic controller declared the aircraft in distress after its descent and loss of radio contact.

The descent time from 38,000 feet was about ten minutes; radar observed an average descent rate of approximately 3,400 feet per minute or 58 feet per second (18 m/s). Altitude_Chart_for_Flight_4U9525_register_D-AIPX.svg

Attempts by French air traffic control to contact the flight on the assigned radio frequency were not answered. A French military Mirage jet was scrambled from the Orange-Caritat Air Base to intercept the aircraft. 1024px-Mirage_2000C_in-flight_2_(cropped)

According to the BEA, radar contact was lost at 10:40 CET; at the time, the aircraft had descended to 6,175 feet (1,882 m).The aircraft crashed in the remote commune of Prads-Haute-Bléone, 100 kilometres (62 mi) north-west of Nice.

The co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings jet barricaded himself in the cockpit and “intentionally” sent the plane full speed into a mountain in the French Alps, ignoring the pilot’s frantic pounding on the door and the screams of terror from passengers, a prosecutor stated.

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz’s “intention was to destroy this plane,” Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said, laying out the horrifying conclusions reached by French aviation investigators after listening to the last minutes of Flight 9525.

He had battled with vision problems and insomnia for several months, it said, caused by a psychiatric disorder rather than anything physical.

He was taking medication for both psychiatric issues and insomnia, and had been given doctor’s notes excusing him from work. But he never showed them to the airline.

“On the day of the accident, the pilot was still suffering from a psychiatric disorder, which was possibly a psychotic depressive episode and was taking psychotropic medication,” the report found.

“This made him unfit to fly.”

But the report found he had hidden the evidence, and neither the airline nor his colleagues could have known about his circumstances.Those who knew Lubitz have described him as an affable young man, who gave no indications he was harbouring any harmful intent.

A German criminal investigation into the crash concluded in January that Lubitz bore sole responsibility for crashing the jet.228128

 

Guenther Lubitz, the killer’s father, rejected the findings as “false”, arguing that they were not thorough enough.

He and his wife placed a loving tribute to their son in a local newspaper to mark the first anniversary of the crash, angering families of the victims, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports.

 

 

Joachim Gottschalk’s suicide.

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Gottschalk, the son of a physician, was born in the small town of Calau, in the Prussian province of Brandenburg, on April 10 1904. He attended the Gymnasium high school in Cottbus and from 1924 worked for four years on seagoing vessels. He later began an theatrical education in Cottbus and Berlin. During an engagement in Stuttgart, he met with his later wife, the Jewish actress Meta Wolff  They married on 3 May 1930 in Halberstadt, shortly before Hitler came to power. They had a son, Michael, who was born in February 1933.

After the Nazi party took power in 1933, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels promoted the establishment of the Reichskulturkammer (Chamber of Culture) instituition. Actors were required to apply for membership in the Theaterkammer (Chamber of Theatre) for an “Aryan certificate” which meant a prohibition (Berufsverbot) for Meta Wolff.

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The couple managed to avoid the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws and rising tide of anti-semitic violence in Nazi Germany. From 1934 Gottschalk performed at the Schauspielhaus Frankfurt and in 1938 joined the Volksbühne ensemble in Berlin. In the same year he began his film career starring in the romance You and I directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner, side by side with the popular German actress Brigitte Horney.

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During World War II , Gottschalk and Horney appeared as a “dream couple” in a string of successful movies.

One day Gottschalk took his Jewish wife to a social function and introduced her to some of the prominent Nazis who were present. Although the Nazis were charmed, Goebbels  learned about this incident, and decreed that Gottschalk would be required to separate from his Jewish wife. When Gottschalk refused, Goebbels ordered Gottschalk’s wife and child transported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The minister’s Special Representative Hans Hinkel insisted on the divorce and Gottschalk was told he would never work as an actor againHans Hinkel

Gottschalk insisted on accompanying Meta and Michael to Theresienstadt, but Goebbels ordered Gottschalk inducted into the German Army, the Wehrmacht.

On 6 November 1941, minutes before the expected arrival of the Gestapo at their house in Berlin-Grunewald, Gottschalk and his wife committed suicide by gas poisoning after sedating their son, who died with them.

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They are buried at the Stahnsdorf South-Western Cemetery. Though warned by Minister Goebbels, Brigitte Horney and Wolfgang Liebeneiner, as well as other artists like Gustav Knuth, Hans Brausewetter, Werner Hinz, and Ruth Hellberg attended the funeral.

Goebbels ordered no further mentions of Gottschalk in the German newspapers.Because of Nazi censorship, most of his devoted fans did not learn of the awful circumstances of his death until after the war. In 1947 Kurt Maetzig directed the movie Marriage in the Shadows after a novella by Hans Schweikart based on Gottschalk  and Wolff.Ehe_im_schatten

 

The 2002 drama Times Like These written by John O’Keefe is  also based on this tragedy.

 

 

Leonidas Squadron-Germany’s Suicide Squadron.

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The Leonidas Squadron, formally known as 5th Staffel of Kampfgeschwader 200 was a unit which was originally formed to fly the Fieseler Fi 103R (Reichenberg), a manned version of the V-1 flying bomb, in attacks in which the pilot was likely to be killed, or at best to parachute down at the attack site. The Reichenberg was never used in combat because Werner Baumbach, the commander of KG 200, and his superiors considered it an unnecessary waste of life and resources.

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He preferred to use the Mistel bomb instead, piloted from a regular Luftwaffe single-seat fighter used as an integral parasite aircraft, as the only manned part of the composite aircraft Mistel ordnance system, which released the lower, unmanned flying bomb component aircraft towards its target and returned.

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The establishment of a suicide squadron (staffel) was originally proposed by Otto Skorzeny and Hajo Herrmann. The proposal was supported by noted test pilot Hanna Reitsch.

 

The idea proposed was that Germany would use volunteers as suicide pilots in order to overcome the Allies’ numerical advantages with their fanatic spirit. The idea had roots in German mythology that was glorified by Nazi propaganda. Hitler was reluctant, but eventually agreed to Reitsch’s request to establish and train a suicide attack air unit, with the proviso that it would not be operated in combat without his approval. The new unit, nicknamed the “Leonidas Squadron”, became part of KG 200. It was named after Leonidas I, the king of Sparta who in 480 BC resisted the invading Persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae with 300 elite warriors who fought to the last man.

Reitsch’s plan was to attack Allied invasion shipping using the Messerschmitt Me 328 as a suicide weapon which would dive into the sea underneath ships and explode a 900 kilograms (2,000 lb) bomb.

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Heinrich Himmler approved the idea, and suggested using convicted criminals as pilots. The Luftwaffe’s High Command was unenthusiastic; Erhard Milch turned the plan down as impractical, and Hermann Göring showed little interest. Adolf Hitler was against the idea of self-sacrifice, believing that it was not in keeping with the German character, and furthermore did not see the war situation as being bad enough to require such extreme measures. Despite this, he allowed Reitsch to proceed with the project after she had shown the plan to him in February 1944. Günther Korten, the Luftwaffe’s head of general staff, gave the matter to the commander of KG 200 to deal with.

Over 70 volunteers, mostly young recruits, came forward; they were required to sign a declaration which said, “I hereby voluntarily apply to be enrolled in the suicide group as part of a human glider-bomb. I fully understand that employment in this capacity will entail my own death.”

Problems were experienced in converting the Me 328, and the decision was taken to use instead a manned version of the V-1 flying bomb, the Fieseler Fi 103R (Reichenberg); however, it never entered operation.

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On 9 June 1944, Karl Koller announced that a Gruppe of KG 200 equipped with special Focke-Wulf Fw 190s was ready for “total operations”.

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Each aircraft carried a heavy bomb, due to whose weight the machines could not carry enough fuel for a return flight, and the pilots were trained only using gliders. This project came to nothing, and Werner Baumbach, at that stage the commander of KG 200, persuaded his friend Albert Speer that it would be more productive to use the men against Russian power stations than the Allied invasion fleet; Speer passed this on to Hitler.

During the Battle for Berlin the Luftwaffe flew “Self-sacrifice missions” (Selbstopfereinsätze) against Soviet held bridges over the Oder River. These ‘total missions’ were flown by pilots of the Leonidas Squadron under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Heiner Lange from 17 April until 20 April 1945, using any aircraft that were available.

While suicide missions were never officially part of Allied strategy, there were a number of instances of British, Polish, American and Soviet pilots sacrificing themselves to destroy enemy targets.

One of the first casualties of the war was Leopold Pamula, a Polish pilot who intentionally slammed his outclassed PZL P.11c into a German aircraft in the opening hours of the war.

 

Colin P. Kelly, was heralded for flying his own plane into an enemy warship in much the same way kamikazes would do two and a half years later.

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According to the story, only three days after the Pearl Harbor raid, Kelly’s B-17 Flying Fortress came under attack by Zeroes after bombing a Japanese warship off the Philippines.

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The doomed pilot kept his stricken plane in the air long enough for the crew to escape, at which point he deliberately plowed his Flying Fortress right into the smokestack of the Japanese ship Ashigara.

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