Bambi, Nazis and an erotic novel.

Bambi

I have to start with an apology,because next time you watch the Disney classic ‘Bambi’ you will see that young little deer in a different light, after reading this blog.

Felix Salten was a Hungary born Austrian Jewish author.When he was 4 weeks old he moved from Pest in Hungary to Vienna in Austria. I will not focus too much on his life but will pick out just a few elements, which will be interesting enough.

In 1923 he wrote his most famous story “Bambi: Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde” or in English “Bambi: a life in the Woods” In 1928 it was translated in English.  In 1933, he sold the film rights to the American director Sidney Franklin for the sum of $1,000,Franklin in return transferred to rights to the Disney company.

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Hitler was a great fan of the Disney movies, it is said that his favourite movie was “Snow White”

In 1942 the book was turned into a movie by the Walt Disney Studio with the title “Bambi”.

Prior to that in 1936, the Nazis had banned the book and when after the annexation of Austria, Felix Salten moved with his wife to Zürich in Switzerland, where he remained until he  died on 8 October 1945, aged 76.

By now I can hear you think” Didn’t he mention an erotic novel in the title?” You would be right; I did mention that, however there is a caveat.The novel I am referring to is “Josephine Mutzenbacher – The Life Story of a Viennese Whore, as Told by Herself” The caveat is that the book was written anonymously, but it is widely believed it was in fact written by Felix Salten. Today the Austrian Government designated Salten as the sole author.

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The plot  in Josephine Mutzenbacher is that of first-person narrative, structured in the format of a memoir. The story is told from the point of view of an accomplished aging 50-year-old Viennese courtesan who is looking back upon the sexual escapades she enjoyed during her unbridled youth in Vienna

The book has been turned into a series of pornographic movies. Out of curiosity when I was a youngster,many moons ago, I attempted to watch one of them, but after a few minutes I turned it off, not because I am prudish but because it was so boring.

This does mean however that Felix Salten’s books have become films from one extreme to the other extreme, totally child friendly to xxx rated. I don’t know how many authors can claim that.

Leaving you with an innocent image.

Bambi still

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Funky Claude was running in and out.

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Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple is one of if not ‘the’ most iconic Rock anthems of all times, from the 1st nano second it starts you know what song it is. First the Guitar riff, followed by the Hi Hat, then the drums and the pounding bass, It just doesn’t get better then that.

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The song is the tale of a recording session in Montreux, Switzerland which didn’t go as planned.

Deep Purple were going to use a mobile recording studio which was in the Casino in Montreux. The were going to record straight after a live concert by ‘Frank Zappa and the Mothers of invention’ but a fire started and the place burned down, after a Zappa fan had fired a flare into the casino’s ceiling

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Now rather then listing all the events in the song, I will have the song at the end of this blog. I will however pick out 1 event. The heroic actions of Claude Nobs, he is the ‘Funky Claude’ mentioned in the song.

Claude Nobs who was the founder and the promoter of the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Nobs saved several young concert goers who did hide in the Montreux Casino , thinking they would be sheltered from the flames. Nobs, who had served as a volunteer fireman, knew that the casino wasn’t  a safe place and acted immediately to get them out. ‘Funky Claude was running in and out pulling kids out the ground’

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Nobs not only rescued concertgoers from the blaze, but also helped Deep Purple regroup afterwards, offering them a new place to record. Deep Purple wrote the song about that day and it became one of their biggest hits.

 

 

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Basel massacre

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The Basel massacre of Jews took place on 9 January 1349, as part of the Black Death persecutions of 1348–1350.

Following the spread of the Black Death through the surrounding countryside of Savoy and subsequently Basel, the Jews were accused of having poisoned the wells, because they suffered a lower mortality rate than the local gentiles from the pestilence.

The Black Death, which is estimated to have killed between 75 and 200 million people in the middle of the fourteenth century, arrived in central and western Europe in 1348. The pandemic spread through Savoy and soon began to kill people in the city of Basel.

Convinced that the Jews of the city were dying of the disease less frequently than the Christians, the local population soon began to accuse the Jews of poisoning the wells. Although accurate statistical evidence is lacking, numerous theories have been put forward to explain why Jews may have appeared to have suffered less from the disease. While one of these is based on the simple observation that Christians were less likely to see Jewish victims due to the fact they were buried in separate cemeteries, another suggests that strict Jewish dietary rituals meant that Jewish homes were much less appealing to the rats that are believed to have carried the plague.

Under pressure from the powerful guilds, many of whom had obtained confessions from local Jews under torture, the City Fathers responded with extraordinary ruthlessness. Having separated children from their parents, the adult Jews were a specially constructed wooden barn on an island in the Rhine. Here they were shackled together and the structure set on fire, leaving the victims to burn alive. The surviving children were forcefully converted to Christianity, while Jews were banned from the city for 200 years.

The Black Death itself continued to ravage Europe for around another four years, killing between 30 and 60 per cent of the entire population of the continent.

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Swiss war crimes-The mistreatment of Prisoners of War

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Wauwilermoos was an internment as well as prisoner-of-war penal camp during World War II in Switzerland, situated in the municipalities of Wauwil and Egolzwil in the Canton of Luzern. Established in 1940, Wauwilermoos was a penal camp for internees, including for Allied soldiers during World War II, among them members of the United States Army Air Forces, who were sentenced for attempting to escape from other Swiss camps for interned soldiers, or other offenses. In addition to Hünenberg and Les Diablerets, Wauwilermoos was one of three Swiss penal camps for internees that were established in Switzerland during World War II. The intolerable conditions were later described by numerous former inmates, by various contemporary reports and studies.

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Once in the custody of the Swiss government, American airmen were considered “internees.” Internees are treated almost identically to POWs under the laws of war, excepting that by definition an internee is held in a neutral state. Some other US soldiers entered Switzerland by foot, for which they earned the status of “evadee.” Evadees were not kept in camps, and could come and go as they pleased. Internees, on the other hand, were usually restricted to a specific area and kept under guard.

The Swiss were determined to adhere strictly to the rules governing internees, largely because they were under constant threat of invasion by the German Army.

Captain André Béguin was the commander of the camp whose cruel regime during the war times was tolerated by the authorities.

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Serving as Captain in the Swiss Army, Béguin was also a Nazi sympathizer.As member of the National Union, he had previously lived in München, Germany. “He was known to wear the Nazi uniform and to sign his correspondence with ‘Heil Hitler'”

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Any hint of impartiality toward the Allies could have incurred dire consequences for a state that professed neutrality, particularly one surrounded completely by the Axis. USAAF personnel caught attempting escape were punished severely, sometimes well beyond the limits stipulated in the laws of war.

The Swiss government’s policy toward neutrality was clearly illustrated by the fact that some USAAF bombers attempting to land in Switzerland were attacked by Swiss fighters and anti-aircraft weapons.

After landing in Switzerland, interned crewmembers were typically interrogated and then quarantined for a short period before movement to a permanent internment camp.

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Raiding a German airfield on 18 March 1944, a German air combat fighter struck a B-17 bomber of the 511th Squadron, 351st Bombardment Group (Heavy), piloted by Lt. George Mears.

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A German aircraft shot out two of the B-17’s engines and an oil fire started on a third. The pilot and copilot were able to regain control, and headed for Switzerland to land there. In September 1944 George Mears, 1st Lt. James Mahaffey and two other officers tried to escape to the French-Swiss border before they were arrested and sent to the Wauwilermoos prison camp.

2nd Lt. Paul Gambaiana was another USAAF airman sent there. Just before D-Day his aircraft went down, the crew “wanted to get back to our base so we attempted to leave Switzerland, and they got us and put us there. It was a Swiss concentration camp. About the only thing I can remember … we had cabbage soup which was hot water and two leaves of cabbage floating around…The rest I have put away and forgotten. I’m trying to forget the whole thing,” Gambaiana said in a telephone interview from his home in Iowa in 2013.

James Misuraca spoke about the compound of single-storey buildings surrounded by barbed wire, the armed Swiss guards with dogs, and the commandant, “a hater of Americans, a martinet who seemed quite pleased with our predicament”. Sleeping on lice-infested straw. Arriving on 10 October 1944, Misuraca and two other U.S. officers made an escape on 1 November. They had “timed the rounds of the guards, climbed out a window and over wire fences and walked for miles”. Then an U.S. Legation officer drove them to Genève at the border to France, and on 15 November they reached the Allied lines.

Most of the Wauwilermoos prisoners had never shared their stories until Mears’s grandson contacted them. The “survivors reported filthy living quarters, of skin rashes and boils, all reported that they were underfed. Some reported being held in solitary for trying to escape. Some went in weighing in the 180s and 190s and came out 50 pounds lighter”.

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In early December 1944 USAAF First Lieutenant Wally Northfelt was nearing his second month of imprisonment at Wauwilermoos. Nine months earlier, the navigator’s B-24 bomber crash-landed at the Dübendorf airfield. Northfelt attempted to escape from Switzerland near Geneva in September 1944, but he was apprehended by border guards and confined at Wauwilermoos. After his arrival at the punishment camp, Northfelt quickly tired of the “meager rations of coffee, bread, and thin soup” which he blamed in part for his weight loss of forty pounds over the course of his time in Switzerland. Northfelt claimed that “he was only able to get enough food to survive by purchasing it off the black market”. Northfelt was also ill; sleeping on dirty straw had caused him sores all over his body, and he had problems with his prostate gland.

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Medical care was given by a doctor, Northfelt claimed, who was “specialized in women’s cases”. Northfelt claimed Béguin was a “pro-Nazi” who “only cleaned up the camp when inspections by high ranking officers or American dignitaries were announced”.

Presumably on 3 November 1944 when the U.S. embassy was informed by three American soldiers who fled from Wauwilermoos,delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who visited Wauwilermoos “failed to notice much amiss”, and ICRC member Frédéric Hefty wrote: “If iron discipline is the norm, there is also a certain sense of justice and understanding that helps with the re-education and improvement of the difficult elements sent there”.

The reports contained statements from internees that the camp was “a relaxing place that they would happily return to”. However, “the internees provided their statements in return for favours from Béguin”. even were “Kapo-similar preferred prisoners.” The conditions in the camp had not been reported correctly: “Switzerland’s wartime general, Henri Guisan, demanded that all Red Cross reports about the internment camps be submitted to army censors first if delegates wanted access” noted historian Dwight S. Mears. The American military attaché in Bern warned Marcel Pilet-Golaz,Marcel_Pilet-Golaz Swiss foreign minister in 1944, that “the mistreatment inflicted on US aviators could lead to ‘navigation errors’ during bombing raids over Germany”.

Although the ICRC inspected the camp on a few occasions, headed by Swiss Army Colonel Auguste Rilliet, the inspection team simply noted that sanitary conditions could be improved, and prisoners were not aware of the length of their sentences or why they were in the camp in the first place. Only just prior to the removal of the commandant in September 1945, Rilliet rated the camp conditions unsatisfactory, in spite of the fact that Wauwilermoos was the subject of official protests by the United States, Great Britain, Poland, Italy, and even prevented normalization of diplomatic relations with the USSR. This may have been due to a secret agreement between the ICRC and the Swiss Army, which gave the Swiss Army permission to review and censor inspection reports prior to their release to foreign powers. Numerous Swiss citizens reported that the conditions at Wauwilermoos were in violation of the 1929 Geneva Conventions, including as below-mentioned, a Swiss Army medical officer, an officer on the Swiss Army’s General Staff, and also by the editors of two Swiss newspapers.

Already since 1942, several on-site inspections had been made by the Swiss officials. For instance Major Humbert, army doctor  and head physician in the Seeland district of the Swiss Federal Commissioner of Internment and Hospitalization (FCIH), menitioned in three reports in January and February 1942, the “enormous morbidity” in the penal camp: “The moral atmosphere in the camp is absolutely untenable”. Although Major Humbert also noted the despotic punishment catalog and psychological deficits of the commandant of the prison camp, Captain André Béguin, his complaints resulted in no reactions by the authorities, and in February 1942 Humbert was dismissed.

In the same year an investigation against Béguin was conducted because of possible espionage in favour of Nazi Germany. Although Colonel Robert Jaquillard, chief of the counterintelligence service of the army, spoke against the retention of Captain Béguin as commander of the camp, his report came to the chief of the legal department of the Swiss federal internment department, Major Florian Imer. After an inspection by Imer in the penal camp Wauwilermoos, Imer noted that “in particular the allegations of Major Humbert were exaggerated for the most part”. Another report in January 1943 noted the camp’s bad sanitary condition. At the end of 1944, Ruggero Dollfus, interim Swiss Federal commissioner for internment  complained again about the poor sanitation, and, among others, Dollfus noted that the Red Cross auxiliary packets were confiscated by Béguin, and nearly 500 letters from and to the airmen had been withheld by the commandant. Although the camp was visited by inspectors, its commanding officer, Béguin, was suspended and banned from entering the camp not earlier than on 5 September 1945. On 24 September he was taken into custody. On 20 February 1946, the military court sentenced Béguin to three and a half years in prison.

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Maurice Bavaud and the Swiss government’s lack of courage.

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There have been many attempts to assassinate Hitler, bizarrely enough they all failed.The attempt by Maurice Bavaud is one of the lesser known ones, Partially because it was overshadowed by the events unfolding due to the ‘Kristallnacht-Night of Broken glass’

Student Maurice Bavaud, 25, who was from the western Swiss town of Neuchatel, was executed in Berlin’s notorious Ploetzensee prison after failing in his attempt to shoot Hitler at a Nazi parade in Munich on Nov. 9, 1938.

Bavaud was a Catholic theology student, attending the Saint Ilan Seminary, Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, and a member of an anti-communist student group in France called Compagnie du Mystère. The group’s leader, Marcel Gerbohay, had a lot of influence over Bavaud. Gerbohay claimed that he was a member of the Romanov Dynasty, and convinced Bavaud that when communism was destroyed, the Romanovs would once again rule Russia, in the person of Gerbohay.

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Bavaud believed what Gerbohay had told him, became obsessed with the idea that killing Hitler would help the plans to materialise, and finally decided to carry out the assassination himself.

On October 9, 1938, Bavaud travelled from Brittany to Baden-Baden, then on to Basel, where he bought a Schmeisser 6.35 mm (.25 ACP) semi-automatic pistol.

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In Berlin, a policeman, Karl Deckert, overheard Bavaud saying that he would like to meet Hitler personally. Deckert advised Bavaud that a private audience could be arranged if Bavaud could obtain a letter of introduction from a suitable foreign VIP. Deckert advised him to travel to Munich for the anniversary of the 1923 “Beer Hall Putsch”, which Hitler attended every year. Bavaud followed those instructions by buying a ticket for a seat on the reviewing stand by posing as a Swiss reporter, intending to shoot Hitler as the latter passed during the parade. Bavaud abandoned this attempt when, on November 9th, Hitler turned out to be marching in the company of other Nazi leaders whom Bavaud did not want to injure.

Bavaud next purchased expensive stationery and forged a letter of introduction in the name of the French nationalist leader Pierre Taittinger, which claimed that Bavaud had a second letter for Hitler’s eyes only. He travelled to Berchtesgaden in the belief that Hitler had returned there, only to find that Hitler was still in Munich. When Bavaud returned to Munich, he discovered that Hitler was just leaving for Berchtesgaden.

Obersalzberg, Berghof von Adolf Hitler

Having exhausted his money, Bavaud stowed away on a train to Paris, where he was discovered by a conductor who turned him over to the police. He was interrogated by the Gestapo and admitted his plans to assassinate Hitler.

Bavaud was tried by the Volksgerichtshof on December 18, 1939, naming as his motives that he considered Hitler a danger to humanity in general, to Swiss independence, and to Catholicism in Germany. Swiss diplomacy made no effort to save Bavaud; Hans Fröhlicher, the Swiss ambassador to Germany even publicly condemned Bavaud’s assassination attempt. An offer from the Germans to exchange Bavaud for a German spy was turned down, and Bavaud was sentenced to death. He was executed by guillotine in the Berlin-Plötzensee prison on the morning of May 14, 1941.

On November 2 2007 the then Swiss President Pascal Couchepin admitted  that the Swiss government at the time could have done more to defend Maurice Bavaud.

“With hindsight, the then Swiss authorities did too little to intervene on behalf of the condemned person… he deserves our recognition,” Couchepin said.

“Bavaud anticipated the disaster Hitler would wreak upon the world. Switzerland failed him.”

The government announcement came in response to a motion by parliamentarian Paul Rechsteiner.800px-Paul_Rechsteiner_(2007)

“Even though it was only the end of 1938, he understood what Hitler would mean and took his statements seriously – even if politicians around the world didn’t,” Rechsteiner said.

As for the Swiss authorities’ reaction, Rechsteiner blames a “lack of courage”.

“The case resembles that of Paul Grüninger, who saved hundreds, maybe thousands, of lives but who wasn’t rehabilitated until 1995,” he said.

Grüninger was a police commander in St Gallen who was prosecuted for forging documents that allowed Jewish refugees into Switzerland.
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“Swiss history has to be looked at in a new way and we must pay tribute to those people who had the courage to do something.”

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Paul Grüninger,punished for being a decent human being.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

In 1954 Grüninger spoke about the court verdict:

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

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

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

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

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

The bombing of Schaffhausen-Switzerland.

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74 years ago on April 1, 1944  the United States air force accidentally bombed the Swiss city of Schaffhausen, mistaking it for a German target. Some 400 incendiary and demolition bombs were dropped, killing 40 people and destroying large parts of the city.

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About 15 B24 planes unleashed their bombs, mistaking the city for the target of Ludwigshafen am Rhein near Mannheim, about 235 km north of Schaffhausen.

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Bad weather had broken up the American formation over France and winds that nearly doubled the groundspeed of the bombers confused the navigators. The radar systems also failed to function. As Schaffhausen is on the north side of the River Rhine, it was apparently assumed to be the German city.

Switzerland was neutral during the Second World War but the fear of being bombed was acute. Up until then, air raid warnings had been sounded many times in Schaffhausen with no follow up attacks, so people felt relatively safe. When the alarm went off on April 1, many did not take it seriously and failed to take cover.

US President Franklin Roosevelt sent a personal letter of apology to the mayor of Schaffhausen and by October 1944, $4 million had been paid in restitution.

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After the bombing, the Swiss began to paint their roofs with the white cross of the Swiss flag.

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Forgotten History-The Swiss Airforce during WWII.

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Although Switzerland remained neutral throughout World War II, it had to deal with numerous violations of its airspace by combatants from both sides – initially by German aircraft, especially during their invasion of France in 1940. Zealous Swiss pilots attacked and shot down eleven German aircraft, losing two of their own, before a threatening memorandum from the German leadership forced General Guisan to forbid air combat above Swiss territory.

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Later in the war, the Allied bomber offensive sometimes took US or British bombers into Swiss airspace, either damaged craft seeking safe haven or even on occasions bombing Swiss cities by accident.

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Swiss aircraft would attempt to intercept individual aircraft and force them to land, interning the crews. Only one further Swiss pilot was killed during the war, shot down by a US fighter in September 1944. From September red and white neutrality bands were added to the wings of aircraft to stop accidental attacks on Swiss aircraft by Allied aircraft.

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From 1943 Switzerland shot down American and British aircraft, mainly bombers, overflying Switzerland during World War II: six by Swiss air force fighters and nine by flak cannons, and 36 airmen were killed. On 1 October 1943 the first American bomber was shot near Bad Ragaz: Only three men survived.

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The officers were interned in Davos, airmen in Adelboden. The representative of the U.S. military in Bern, U.S. military attaché Barnwell R. Legge, instructed the soldiers not to flee so as to allow the U.S. Legation to coordinate their escape attempts, but the majority of the soldiers thought it was a diplomatic ruse or did not receive the instruction directly.

On 1 October 1944 Switzerland housed 39,670 internees in all: 20,650 from Italy, 10,082 from Poland, 2,643 from the United States, 1,121 from the United Kingdom (including five Australians), 822 from the Soviet Union and 245 from France. In September the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was commissioned by the U.S. supreme command to organize the escapes of 1,000 American internees, but the task was not effectively accomplished before late winter 1944/45.

 

Soldiers who were caught after their escape from the internment camp, were often detained in the Wauwilermoos internment camp near Luzern.

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Official Swiss records identify 6,501 airspace violations during the course of the war, with 198 foreign aircraft landing on Swiss territory and 56 aircraft crashing there.

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Rosette Wolczak- the Death of a teenager.

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Rosette “Rose” Wolczak (19 March 1928 – 23 November 1943) was a Jewish child victim of the Holocaust. Born in France in 1928, she came to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1943 as a refugee, and was expelled for what the Swiss authorities ruled to be indecent behavior. She was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where she was gassed upon her arrival in November 1943.

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Rosette Wolczak left Grenoble for Annecy, leaving this town on 24 September 1943. She arrived in Saint-Julien-en-Genevois in Haute-Savoie by coach, this village being in the zone libre. A smuggler took her to cross the wired fences between the villages of Soral and Certoux .Rosette was arrested by a Swiss border-guide, who wrote an arrest report.

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She was taken to the police station in Bernex and then transferred to the Cropettes screening centre in Geneva, without her being able to contact her cousin residing in Geneva. She had given his address on the declaration she made to the authorities responsible for assessing her request on 27 September 1943. Her cousin, C. Neufeld, lived at Gaspard Valette Avenue, 10, in Geneva.

The Cropette screening center was located in a primary school used as a shelter center for clandestine refugees arriving in Switzerland during World War II. Forty-two percent of the Jewish refugees seeking asylum in Switzerland transited through Geneva in 1943. The cantonal archives indicate that 2526 persons transited there, of which 1622 were Jewish. Among these, 80 were expelled and 17 deported to German concentration camps.

Rosette Wolczak was a minor upon her arrival in Geneva, so she received a temporary authorisation to stay in Switzerland. She was sent to the transit camp of Plantaporrêts, when she had to wait to pass under the responsibility of the federal department of justice and police. She was obliged to give away the 30 francs she had to the authorities, and to comply with strict rules.

Rosette was caught in a dormitory lying on straw bed with a young French soldier who had escaped from Germany. The Swiss soldier who found them made a report; during the questioning, Rosette revealed that she had been abused by another man. The man in question then indicated that Rosette had had sexual relations with four military guards during the Jewish New Year celebration of Rosh Hashanah. She was arrested for indecent behavior and sent to the Saint Antoine Prison.

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On 13 October, the Colonel Chenevière gave the order to expel Rosette Wolczak to the border, and the First Lieutenant Daniel Odier wrote a note demanding the execution of the sentence as quickly as possible in order to “set an example”. Rosette Wolczak was finally sent away for disciplinary reasons on 16 October 1943.

With the 30 francs that were given back to her by the prison authorities, she crossed the frontier at the Moulin de la Grave with three other refugees. She was arrested on 19 October 1943 and sent by the German border guards to the Pax hotel in Annemasse.From there, she was transferred to the Drancy internment camp, arriving on 26 October 1943. She received the matricule number 7114.

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She was deported to Auschwitz on 20 November 1943 in the deportation convoy  number 62. After the call assembling the deportees at half past six in the morning, the convoy left the Bobigny station at eleven-fifty, taking away 1 200 persons, including 640 men, 560 women, and 164 children under eighteen years of age.

Wolczak arrived in Auschwitz on 23 November 1943. According to deportee testimonials, elderly people and children under 16 years of age were generally gassed upon arrival, as they were considered inept to work. Rosette was gassed to death on the day she arrived.

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Nazi plunder and thievery

Italien, Überführung von Kunstschätzen

Besides the murders and genocide committed by the Nazi’s ,they didn’t shy away from stealing and plundering either.

The plundering and stealing refers to art theft and other items stolen as a result of the organized looting of European countries during the time of the Third Reich by agents acting on behalf of the ruling Nazi Party of Germany. Plundering occurred from 1933 until the end of World War II, particularly by military units known as the Kunstschutz, although most plunder was acquired during the war. In addition to gold, silver and currency, cultural items of great significance were stolen, including paintings, ceramics, books, and religious treasures. Although most of these items were recovered by agents of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program(MFAA), affectionately referred to as the Monuments Men, on behalf of the Allies immediately following the war, many are still missing.

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There is an international effort under way to identify Nazi plunder that still remains unaccounted for, with the aim of ultimately returning the items to the rightful owners, their families or their respective countries.

Below are just some items which were stolen.

Jean Metzinger, 1913, En Canot (Im Boot), oil on canvas, 146 x 114 cm (57.5 in × 44.9 in), exhibited at Moderni Umeni, S.V.U. Mánes, Prague, 1914, acquired in 1916 by Georg Muche at the Galerie Der Sturm, confiscated by the Nazis circa 1936, displayed at the Degenerate Art show in Munich, and missing ever since.

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Degenerate art (German: Entartete Kunst) was a term adopted by the Nazi regime to describe Modern art. Such art was banned on the grounds that it was un-German, Jewish, or Communist in nature, and those identified as degenerate artists were subjected to sanctions. These included being dismissed from teaching positions, being forbidden to exhibit or to sell their art, and in some cases being forbidden to produce art.

Degenerate Art also was the title of an exhibition, held by the Nazis in Munich in 1937, consisting of modernist artworks chaotically hung and accompanied by text labels deriding the art. Designed to inflame public opinion against modernism, the exhibition subsequently traveled to several other cities in Germany and Austria.

Adolf Hitler and Adolf Ziegler visit the Degenerate Art Exhibition, 1937.

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Albert Gleizes, 1912, Landschaft bei Paris, Paysage près de Paris, Paysage de Courbevoie, missing from Hannover since 1937.

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Aleksander Gierymski’s Jewess with Oranges discovered on 26 November 2010 in an art auction in Buxtehude, Germany

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German loot stored at Schlosskirche Ellingen, Bavaria (April 1945)

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Hitler assesses looted art

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In 1943 and 1944 the shore of Lake Toplitz served as a Nazi naval testing station. Using copper diaphragms, scientists experimented with different explosives, detonating up to 4,000 kg charges at various depths. They also fired torpedoes from a launching pad in the lake into the Tote Mountains, making vast holes in the canyon walls. Over £100 million of counterfeit pound sterling notes were dumped in the lake after Operation Bernhard, which was never fully put into action. There is speculation that there might be other valuables to be recovered from the bottom of the Toplitzsee. There is a layer of sunken logs floating half way to the bottom of the lake, making diving beyond it hazardous or impossible. Gerhard Zauner, one of the divers on the 1959 expedition, reports that he saw a sunken aircraft below this layer.

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Nazi gold stored in Merkers Salt Mine.

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The Amber Room Removed from Catherine Palace, Saint Petersburg, by Germans during World War II and transported to Germany. Estimated (adjusted) value: $142 million.

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Nearly half of the gold looted by the Nazis from the Dutch central bank during the Second World War remains to this day in Switzerland, a reminder of the Alpine nation’s controversial role as a financial conduit for Hitler’s regime. About 61,000kg of Dutch war gold, currently value at about €2bn, is believed to be still in Swiss possession.

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