Kurt Jozef Rudolf Rosenthal -One name out of 6 million.

I could have done a piece on any of the millions of victims of the Holocaust. The reason why I picked Kurt Jozef Rudolf Rosenthal, is because he was murdered today 80 years ago.

His story is still important today because he was a refugee, trying to find a better future but he found death instead.

He was born in Arnsberg, Germany , on 12 May 1922.He was murdered in Mauthausen, 25 July 1941.

His life was interrupted in many ways. When he was 14 he decided to flee Germany. His Parents had already done so and fled to Zurich in Switzerland. Young Kurt decided to go to the Netherlands, I presume because it was quite near. Why his parents didn’t take him with them to Zurich I don’t know.

In 1934, a Quaker school was set up in Eerde (Ommen town),in the Netherlands . A few young German Jewish refugees attended the school, where they were educated for a farming life in Israel. Kurt Jozef Rudolf Rosenthal was one of them, he registered on September 3,1936.

In 1940 Kurt felt unsafe in Eerde and moved to Amsterdam, at that stage his Parents had already moved there. They were reunited again as a family.

Kurt managed to raise enough money to get a Visa for the USA, however he would have to travel through Germany for it. I don’t know why he didn’t but I can only imagine that he thought he would not survive that journey. He would more then likely be right in that assumption. During the early Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, things had not changed all that much for the Jews. So Kurt probably still felt safe enough.

Kurt never left for the US. On June 11,1941, he was picked up together with 310 other men. He ended up in Schoorl transit camp, originally a Dutch army camp from 1939 to 1940), but was converted to a Nazi concentration camp (1940–1941) near the village of Schoorl in the Netherlands.

From Schoorl, Kurt was deported to Mauthausen. Austria on June 26,1941. Where He was murdered nearly a month later, on July 25,1941.

Aside from the fact he was murdered there are a few things that disturb me in his story. First of all, why did he have to raise money to get a Visa. At that stage it must have been clear to the US authorities what the Nazis were about and what they were doing. Visa should have been provided at no costs.

Why was there no Dutch family who could have looked after a 14 year old refugee.

I don’t know what happened to his parents but I can only assume they were also murdered.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/32097/kurt-jozef-rudolf-rosenthal

https://westerborkportretten.nl/westerborkportretten/kurt-rosenthal

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Dagobert Stibbe- Not just a name or statistic, but a Human Being.

Dagobert Stibbe was born in Amsterdam, 13 October 1918. He was murdered in Auschwitz, 23 June 1943.

He was a student at the Technische Hogeschool(Technical University)Delft. He tried to escape to Switzerland, but this failed. He was caught on 2 June 1943 just 15 meters away from French-Swiss border. He was sent to the transit camp Drancy in France From there he was deported to the ‘Aussenkommando Jawischowitz’, that was part of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

There he had to work in a coal mine. His last letter was sent on June 18,1943.

But he was not just a victim of the Holocaust. He was also a student, a son, a friend. A Human Being who contributed to society. A young man who still had a life to live.

His fellow students from the Lyceum in Amsterdam, where he as a student in 1935, were very fond of him. He was described as a spontaneous, lively young man. He played the accordion, and his awkwardness endeared him to the people around him. His honesty and his bravery to stand up for his convictions made him stand out. He was overall a fun guy to be around.

His fellow students were so fond of him that they couldn’t bother finding out the actual date he died. In a memorial piece about him they said that he died after July in the coal mine. The memorial was posted in 1947, 2 years after the war. However in their defense the date of June 23, appears to be an estimate. On his death certificate the date is given between June 23,1943 and May 1, 1945.

I often see these types of memorials of victims of the Holocaust, written or compiled by friends or colleagues. But to me they really are quite hollow. I don’t want to be judgmental, but what did they do to help the victims?

I know it is easy for me to say because I was never put in that situation, but I would hope I would at least have some level of bravery, even if it was to speak out.

Sources

https://www.oorlogslevens.nl/tijdlijn/Dagobert-Stibbe/02/148282

https://www.wiewaswie.nl/nl/detail/85029256

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/149814/dagobert-stibbe

https://www.geni.com/people/Dagobert-Stibbe/6000000000351944519

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NSNAP-The Dutch Nazi Party& the traitor Riphagen.

nsnap

The NSNAP could be considered a NSDAP wannabe. However it would be foolish to trivialize their existence.

The Nationaal-Socialistische Nederlandsche Arbeiderspartij (National Socialist Dutch Workers Party were founded in 1931 by Ernst Herman van Rappard(seen below in an SS uniform)

Ernst

He was born in the Banyumas Regency, Central Java, Dutch East Indies.His educative years he spent in the Hague and later in the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands.He subsequently studied economics in Berlin and Munich and there became supportive of Nazism.

The NSNAP-advocated the incorporation of the Netherlands into the Third Reich.Unlike its bigger counterpart, the NSB, the NSNAP’s main focus was anti-Semitism Although the NSB soon followed with anti-Semitic policies.

nsnap brlrid

The party failed to make any headway in the Dutch political scene, at the 1937 election it only achieved 998 votes. Soon the party was split in 3 smaller parties ,none of them were successful.

The German invasion of the Netherlands didn’t benefit the NSNAP at all.

invasion

By December 14 all political partied with the exception of the NSB were banned in the Netherlands. van Rappard joined the Waffen SS and most of the remaining members joined the NSB.

One of these members would become one the nation’s most evil and devious*if not the most evil) collaborators.

Dries Riphagen was a Dutch criminal involved in prostitution and jewelry fraud.During the war, Riphagen continued his clandestine businesses by working with the Germans as an intermediary agent of the  Sicherheitsdienst (or SD), in Amsterdam.

Riphagen

He was very manipulative and would gain the trust of many Jews by promising them either a hiding place or escape abroad. In return they would have to handover their valuables, again he promised that he would only a small bit of the valuable as a sweetener for th SD, he would keep the majority safe for and return it to them after the war.

In fact he kept most of their belonging for himself and betray the whereabouts of the Jews to the SS. He betrayed hundreds of Jews and would also receive a reward for every Jew captured.

Riphagem was also responsible for recruiting Jews in helping find more Jews or infiltrate i the resistance network. He would blackmail the Jews,often young attractive Women, by threatening to send them and their families if they wouldn’t co-operate.

One of these women was Beje Wery.

Betje

Betje aka Bella Tuerlings ,agreed to work for the Devisenschutzkommando(part of the SD) as a so-called Vertrauens-Frau (V-Frau), or as a spy, in order to safe her mother who was Jewish and her Father who was half Jewish/ She had been arrested for not weaing a yellow star and spent a day in Westerbork, her Husband ,Frans Teurlings, managed to get her released. He died in 1943 in a car crash.  In 1944 she infiltrated in her late husband’s network who created fake ID’s and other documents and traded in black market bonds. She handed over several of the network  to her Riphagen, they were executed.

Riphagen was arrested after the war but he managed to escape , he ended up in Argentina where he became a oersonal friend to Juan and Evita Peron.

peron

Not only was he friend ,Riphagen also worked for Perón’s secret service as an instructor in anti-communist tactics.

After Peron was overthrown, Riphagen returned to Europe. The Dutch government were not aware of this. In 1988, they asked for Riphagen to be extradited from Argentina but he had died in 1973 in Switzerland from cancer.

Beje Wery was arrested after the war and sentenced for life, but she was released in the 1950’s . She died in 2006.

Ernst Herman van Rappard died of a brain hemorrhage in the central prison hospital in Vught, on January 11,1953.

In 2016 ,director Pieter Kuiper shot the movie “Riphagen: The Untouchable” about Dries Riphagen. Which is currently available on Netflix.

film

 

 

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Sources

Go2war2.nl

The rupturedduck

Wikipedia Netherlands

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Deep-Purple-Smoke-On-The-Water-1973

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.

Smoke_on_the_Water_riff

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

FZ MOI

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’

Claude_Nobs

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

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Sources

Gibson

Basel massacre

basel4

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

Notlandung_37-07_-_Wauwilermoos_Luftaufnahme_Lager-_und_Aussenbereich

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.

lager_eingang

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.

Forced_Landing_-_Flugplatz_Dübendorf_B17_and_B24__1944

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”.

Notlandung_37-09_-_Wauwilermoos_Gartenarbeiten_zur_Selbstversorgung

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.

Notlandung_37-24_-_Wauwilermoos_Baracke_Innenbereich

 

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.

Notlandung_38-40_-_Wauwilermoos_Béguin_mit_Schweizer_Militärkader_Stufe_Hauptmann_bis_Oberst

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

Létudiant-en-théologie-neuchâtelois-Maurice-Bavaud-Photo-wikipédia

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.

800px-House_of_Romanoff

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.
https://dirkdeklein.net/2017/10/27/paul-gruningerpunished-for-being-a-decent-human-being/
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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.

(Grüninger’ s daughter plants a tree in the avenue of the Righteous)righteius

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..

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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.

B-24 Liberator

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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