The Vinkt Massacre

Vinkt

One of the first crimes committed by the German army, in western Europe, took place in Belgium villages of Vinkt and Meighem, near Ghent, between 26–28 May 1940 during the Battle of the Lys.. The atrocity was perpetrated by the Wehrmacht, not the SS.

The Vinkt bridge crossing the Schipdonk Canal was being guarded by the 1st Belgian Division of Chasseurs Ardennais

As the German 225th Divison approached the Vinkt bridge they discovered  it blocked by refugees fleeing south. The Wehrmacht soldiers then took a number of refugees and used then as human shields.

German soldiers

On  Sunday, May 26th, the Germans took hostages  at the Meigem and Vinkt church, and at a number of  farms in the area. Some hostages were killed immediately, but the a worse event occurred  at Meigem church, where an explosion killed 27 hostages.

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The following day, Monday May 27th, Adolf Hitler, demanded Belgium’s immediate and unconditional surrender. Belgium’s King Leopold III announced to his government that he would as Commander-in-Chief, use his authority  lay down arms.

Meanwhile, the Chasseurs ardennais, were not aware  of these developments,  and were still holding and defending the bridge against vastly superior odds. For unclear reasons, the German 225th Division  started to execute their hostages, and taking new ones, executing them on the spot. Refugees were taken out at random from the endless columns on the trek south and executed immediately. One priest managed to escape, being buried under two dead colleagues. He was one of four such victims who managed to escape.

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The victims were all unarmed civilians who had posed no threat, nor were they likely to pose any future threats. They were killed for no reason whatsoever.

On May 28 the Belgian army capitulated.

As news of the carnage spread, German press sources denied it or excused it, claiming that Belgian civilians had dressed up as soldiers. The British press who knew the facts of the atrocity refused to report for fears they’d be accused of war propaganda, Which had happened during WWI after reporting ‘the rape of Belgium’

After WWII the Wehrmacht officers Kühner and  Lohmann were sentenced to 20 years of forced labour in Belgium, however after 5 years they were extradited to Germany.

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86 innocent civilians were massacred. Additionally to that another 27 killed by the explosion more then likely caused by German grenades.

Memorial to the victims of the massacre

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Sources

Vinkt Mei 1940

Wikipedia Belgium

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The Dachau Reprisals

FelixSparks2

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After the liberation of Dachau on the 29th of April 1945 a number of SS guards were tortured and executed by US troops,without a trial.

Many people refer to this as a war crime and technically it was, but the horrors these troops had witnessed was beyond imagination, The brutality was unprecedented. To be honest if I had been in there shoes I probably would have done the same.

Eyewitness: Doctor David Wilsey, an anesthesiologist, was a US Army captain when he took part in the liberation of Dachau – then saw SS guards being killed by GIs as the horrors of the camp unfolded..David W

He wrote to wife Emily that he did not have a ‘single disturbed emotion’ because he saw the Nazis as ‘SS Beasts’ that deserved to be slaughtered.

GIs tortured them by making them stand for hours in Heil Hitler salutes and pouring iced water over their naked backs before they were shot dead.

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This was a picture taken by Capt Wilsey in his letters to his wife, Emily. On the back he wrote: ‘just a sample of what we saw & lived for days after we hit Dachau. Piles like this all over!bodiesOn  On the back of the picture above, Capt Wiley wrote of the corpses: ‘This, madam (and all the world) is just a sample of what we saw and lived for days after we hit Dachau. Some in this pile are not quite dead. Nice?’

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Upon moving deeper into the complex, and the prisoner area itself, more bodies were found. Some had been dead for hours and days before the camp’s capture and lay where they had died. Soldiers reported seeing a row of cement structures that contained rooms full of hundreds of naked and barely clothed dead bodies piled floor to ceiling, a coal-fired crematorium, and a gas chamber “The stench of death was overpowering.

Lt. Col. Joseph Whitaker, the Seventh Army’s Assistant Inspector General, was subsequently ordered to investigate after witnesses came forward testifying about the killings. He issued a report on June 8, 1945, called the “Investigation of Alleged Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau” and also known as “the I.G. Report”. In 1991, an archived copy was found in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and was made public.

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Female prisoners at Dachau wave to their liberators

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Sources

Mail Online

USHMM

Laszlo Csatary- Sometimes it looks like the evil seem to live forever.

Laszlo Csatary

I am always surprised how so many evil men live to an old age. The crimes they committed don’t seem to affect them in the slightest. But yet so many fled after the war, indicating they knew they had done wrong. For innocent people don’t run away.

Laszlo Csatary,  While serving as a senior police officer in Hungarian-occupied Slovakia in 1944, he organized the deportation of approximately 15,700 Jews to the Auschwitz death camp. In 1948, a Czechoslovak court convicted and sentenced him to death in absentia.

Csatary eluded authorities, fleeing Europe for Canada. He worked there as an art dealer until 1997, when Canadian authorities found out he had lied on his passport application and revoked his citizenship. He did not surface again until 2011, when he was spotted in Budapest, Hungary

He  was born in Mány in 1915. In 1944 he was the Royal Hungarian Policeassistant to the commander in the city of Kassa in Hungary (now Košice in Slovakia).jekely 01

He was accused of organizing the deportation of approximately 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz and of having inhumanely exercised his authority in a forced labor camp. He was also accused of brutalizing the inhabitants of the city.

He was sentenced to death and lived on the run for decades.

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On 18 June 2013, Hungarian prosecutors charged Csatáry with war crimes, saying he had abused Jews and helped to deport Jews to Auschwitz in World War II. A spokesperson for the Budapest Chief Prosecutor’s Office said, “He is charged with the unlawful execution and torture of people, (thus) committing war crimes partly as a perpetrator, partly as an accomplice.”

The Budapest higher court suspended his case on 8 July 2013, however, because “Csatáry had already been sentenced for the crimes included in the proceedings, in former Czechoslovakia in 1948”. The court also added that it is necessary to examine how the 1948 death sentence could be applied to Hungarian legal practice.csatary

::Yishayahu Schachar, Jewish survivor who encountered Csatáry, said:

“I worked outside the ghetto in the brick factory, cleaning. I remember Csatary loudly screaming orders at Jews. I didn’t work under him but heard the terrible things he did. I remember women digging a ditch with their hands on his orders. He was an evil man and I hope he is brought to justice.”

But Csatáry never faced trial , on August 10,2013 he died of pneumonia in the hospital age 98.

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Sources

National Geographic

Irish Times

Wikipedia

 

 

The testimony of Otto Ohlendorf- A tale of Nazi corruption.

IRR File

Born in Berlin in 1907, Ohlendorf joined the SA in 1925 and the SS in 1926. In 1936 he joined the SD as an economic adviser and from 1939 to 1945 he served as the chief of the Reich Security Main Office’s Amt III, which studied the results of government measures on the German population. Ohlendorf is best known however, for his role as the Chief of Einsatzgruppe D, one of four mobile killing units that followed the German Army during the invasion of the USSR. Ohlendorf’s unit was responsible for the southern Ukraine including the Crimea, and was responsible for the killing of 90,000 individuals from June 1941 to March 1942.2

Ohlendorf surrendered to British authorities on 23 May 1945 and testified at the Trial of the Major War Criminals later that year. In 1947, he was the chief defendant in one of the twelve subsequent Nuremberg trials held by the U.S. Army (Case No. 9, The Einsatzgruppen Case). He was sentenced to death, and in 1951, despite the American revision of many sentences, Ohlendorf was executed by hanging.

One of the newly released documents is a seventeen-page British interrogation of Ohlendorf from August 1945 on corruption in the Nazi State. Ohlendorf, though a fanatic anti-Semite, considered himself an honest civil servant. Moreover, his educational background was in economics and from 1936 to 1945 he held economic and financial posts in the government alongside his other duties. Ohlendorf, the report begins, “is considered personally honest and he has always nursed a great dislike for corruption. The information… is therefore considered reliable.” Ohlendorf’s interrogators feared that if anything, he had held information back so that he could blackmail his fellow Nazis in the future.

Ohlendorf’s extensive comments concern details of known practices, including Hitler’s gifts of landed estates to his favorites,the corrupt practices of Reich Labor leader Robert Ley,and the obscene dishonesty of Hermann Göring.

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The interrogation adds episodes on less well-known figures too. Ohlendorf claimed that Josef Spacil, SPACILthe head of the RSHA Office in charge of administration, spent considerable efforts placing forged British banknotes into circulation for the purchase of black market items in southern Europe. Ohlendorf further explained that Germany’s main auditing firm, the Deutsche Revisons – und Treuhandgesellschaft, which audited the largest German industrial concerns, was awash with corrupt practices. Instead of providing state authorities insight into the financial health of major firms, senior auditors, who were associated with other commercial firms, used inside information for personal profit. Ohlendorf mentioned that several Nazi party district leaders, particularly in annexed Poland, also helped themselves financially. Erich Koch, the Gauleiter of East Prussia, created a foundation in his own name of which he was sole member, manager, and director, and cemented his political position by showering senior officials such as Göring with lavish gifts. In May 1945, Koch fled to Flensburg aboard a ship “loaded with riches.”

WWII Ukraine Erich Koch

Arthur Greiser, the Gauleiter of Posen, was associated “with shady dealings in gold articles which originated from the LODZ ghetto” and procured luxurious houses and a big country estate, according to Ohlendorf.

Another significant document is a lengthy interrogation of Ohlendorf by a British intelligence officer of 7 July 1945, which concerns the final days of the war, particularly regarding Heinrich HimmlerOhlendorf was in a unique position to comment. Following Hitler’s suicide, Ohlendorf was a senior economic official with the 23-day government of Karl Doenitz in Plön and then Flensburg. He spoke on the following during his interrogation:

  • Discussions held in Berlin in April 1945 between senior SS officials including Ohlendorf, SS-General Felix Steiner, and SS-General Richard Hildebrandt. These discussions aimed at the creation of a new government that could procure a separate peace with the Allies. Himmler, these men hoped, would lead this government and Hitler would be pushed aside if necessary. “Our aim,” said Ohlendorf, “was not to put up any resistance, but to let the Allies advance as far as the ELBE, having first concluded a tacit agreement that they’d halt there and thus to cover our rear for the continuation of the struggle against the East. These men, who were sober enough in all other respects, still believed that we had a sporting chance against the East.”
  • Reference to telephone orders by Himmler days before Hitler’s suicide. Ohlendorf said that Gestapo Chief Heinrich Mueller was “ordered to stay in Berlin as long as the FÜHRER remained there, as he shared responsibility for the FÜHRER’s safety.” Mueller vanished after the war, and for years it was surmised that Mueller offered himself to the U.S. or USSR for intelligence purposes. Ohlendorf’s comment that Mueller was ordered to remain adds weight to the probability that Mueller died in Berlin.
  • There is some new detail concerning Himmler’s state of mind on May 6, 1945 after Hitler’s Last Testament appointed Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz as the successor while expelling Himmler from the Nazi Party. Ohlendorf described the broad extent of Himmler’s “degrading” and “unworthy” efforts to gain a post in the Doenitz government and Himmler’s real anger on hearing that he was an “encumbrance” who would do the new government more harm than good. Also new is mention of Himmler’s belief on May 6 that Field Marshall Ferdinand Schoerner, the new Commander-in-Chief of the Army, might protect him, and his consideration of joining Schoerner’s army so that he could be killed in battle.

Ferdinand Schörner

  • Ohlendorf mentions a personal letter, dated 9 May 1945, which Himmler wrote and sent to British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. Montgomery had accepted the surrender of German forces in the Northwest on the 4th. Ohlendorf obliquely mentioned this letter’s existence at his trial in 1947 but this British interrogation provides more detail. Ohlendorf said that Himmler showed the letter to him and that he altered Himmler’s text because “it had been unfortunately worded.” Himmler then had an adjutant take the letter to Montgomery. Himmler, Ohlendorf said, was anxious about the answer. After leaving Flensburg on the 9th, he regularly sent a man to Ohlendorf to see if Montgomery had replied. Accounts of Himmler’s final days do not mention the letter, so one can only surmise what it said. It was likely a final attempt to split the Anglo-Soviet alliance. Ohlendorf said that Himmler until the very end believed that an agreement could be struck and that he hoped to be the Allies’ “confidence man in Europe.”

Otto_Ohlendorf_at_the_Nuremberg_Trials

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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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Thiaroye massacre-The forgotten WWII massacre.

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I know what you are thinking”Another forgotten atrocity committed by the Nazi regime” but you’d be wrong. this massacre was carried out by the “good” guys.

It is an often-neglected fact that the majority of General De Gaulle’s Free French Forces were not white Frenchmen but were predominantly troops from its colonies in Africa and the Middle East.

Those from West Africa were known as the “tirailleurs Senegalais” (“Senegalese sharpshooters”) but were actually from Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad, Benin, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, and Togo.

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17,000 of them died in the defence of France from Nazi occupation, and many others were captured and either died or suffered terribly in the racist German prisoner of war camps.

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As colonial subjects, tirailleurs (colonial infantry) were not awarded the same pensions as their French (European) fellow soldiers during and after World War II, pensions that had been promised to them at the beginning of the war. The pensions for veterans of both races were calculated on the basis of living costs in their countries of birth, supposedly lower in colonies than in metropolitan France. These soldiers additionally claimed they were owed back pay due to an order issued by the Minister of Colonies authorizing benefits for ex-prisoners of war from West Africa, which both fell short of the benefits given to French prisoners of war and was in any case not implemented.

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This discrimination led to a mutiny by about 1,300 Senegalese tirailleurs at Camp Thiaroye on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal. on 30 November 1944. The tirailleurs involved were former prisoners of war who had been repatriated to West Africa and placed in a holding camp awaiting discharge. They demonstrated in protest against the failure of the French authorities to pay salary arrears and discharge allowances. An immediate grievance was the unfavorable exchange rate applied to currency brought back by the repatriated soldiers from France. A French general, briefly held by the tirailleurs, promised to have the rate changed to a par with that applicable to white veterans.

In the early hours of 1 December, French troops attacked. Despite the mutineers being unarmed, they came in shooting, with armoured cars, mounted machine guns and even a US Army tank.

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The official death toll of the repression was 35, although meticulous research by French historian Armelle Mabon suggests a much higher number of victims – around 3-400 – which is more in line with the estimations of veterans.

The mass grave into which the bodies were dumped has yet to be discovered.

In March the following year, 34 of the survivors were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison by a military tribunal.

In 1947, those imprisoned were amnestied, however some had already died in prison. To date they have not been pardoned, nor has the French government apologised.

Like much of France’s violent and oppressive colonial history, the Thiaroye massacre is not taught in schools, and a 1988 film about the event, Camp de Thiaroye directed by Ousmane Sembène, was banned in France, and Senegal as well.

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The Trent Park recordings- Documenting evil.

 

Bsecret-listener-001-1024x579elow is a rare picture of Hitler briefing his top brass. For years they claimed to know nothing about the Holocaust. But  extraordinary secret recordings – made by the British – explode that myth.

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Between 1942 and 1945, MI-19, a division of the British Directorate of Military Intelligence, created a number of Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centres in and around London. The most important of these centers was at Trent Park, in North London. Sophisticated tapping equipment was installed, and secret gramophone recordings were made of conversations between German general staff officers. They were treated hospitably, provided with special rations of whisky and allowed regular walks on the grounds. The hidden microphones and listening devices allowed the British military (MI19) to gather important information and an intimate insight into the minds of the German military elite.

Trent Park Camp, gefangene deutsche Offiziere

Following are some excerpts if the transcripts.

In one cell conversation, army General Edwin Graf von Rothkirch und Trach talks about his time in the Polish town of Kutno.

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I knew an SS leader pretty well, and we talked about this and that, and one day he said: ‘Listen, if you ever want to film one of these shootings? …I mean, it doesn’t really matter. These people are always shot in the morning. If you’re interested, we still have a few left over, and we could also shoot them in the afternoon if you like.”

In December 1944, Generalleutnant Heinrich Kittel, commander of 462 Volksgrenadier division, told General-major Paul von Felbert, commandant of Feldkommandantur 560: “The things I’ve experienced! In Latvia, near Dvinsk, there were mass executions of Jews carried out by the SS.”

“I got up and went outside and said: “What the hell’s all this shooting about?” The orderly said to me: “You ought to go over there, sir, you’ll see something.” 300 Men had been driven in from the town, they dug a communal grave then marched home again. The next day along they came again, men women and children – the executioners first laid all the clothes out in a big pile. And then twenty women were made to take up their positions – naked – on the edge of the trench. Someone gave the command and the twenty women dropped like ninepins down into the trench. I went away and I thought: “I’m going to do something about this. So I went over to the Security Service man and I said: “once and for all, I forbid these outside executions, where people can look on. If you kill people in the woods or somewhere where no-one can see, that’s your business. But I absolutely forbid another day’s shooting here. We draw our drinking water from deep springs; we’ll get nothing but corpse water!

“There were about 15 SS men and perhaps 60 Latvians, known to be the most brutal people in the world.

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Men, women and children – they were counted off and stripped naked. The executioners first laid all the clothes in one pile. Then 20 women had to take up their position – naked – on the edge of the trench. They were shot and fell down into it.”

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“What did they do to the children?” asked Felbert. Kittel – who sounded “very excited” at this point, according to the transcriber – answered: “They seized three-year-old children by the hair, held them up and shot them with a pistol and then threw them in. I saw that for myself. One could watch it.”

Lance Corporal Muller told Sergeant Faust about his experiences as his unit moved into Russia.

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Everywhere we saw women working. Extraordinarily lovely girls. We drove past; we would simply pull them into the armoured car, rape them and throw them out again.
And did they curse!

Horst Minnieur was one of a new group of POWs, who saw action on the Eastern Front.

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“We were actually there when a pretty girl was shot.

But she knew she was going to be shot.
We were going past on motorcycles and we saw a procession and suddenly she called to us. She said they were going to be shot. And at first we thought that she was making some sort of joke.”

Yes. You couldn’t tell that she was a Jewess; she was quite a nice type, too. It was just her bad luck that she had to die with the others. 75,000 Jews were shot there.”

Luftwaffe pilot Fried described what happened after a routine transport flight…

FRIED

2I was at Radom once and had my midday meal with the Waffen S.S. battalion there. An S.S. captain or whatever he was said: “Would you like to come along for half-an-hour? Get a machinegun and let’s go.” So I went along. I had an hour to spare and we went to some barracks and there we slaughtered 1,500 Jews. There were some twenty men with machine-guns. It was over in a couple of seconds, and nobody thought anything of it.”

Polish_farmers_killed_by_German_forces,_German-occupied_Poland,_1943

INTERROGATOR BENTZ

“You fired, too?”

FRIED
“Yes, I did. There were women and children there, too!”

BENTZ
“They were inside as well?”

FRIED
“Whole families, some were screaming terribly others were just apathetic.”

None of the men imprisoned at Trent Park were ever prosecuted for war crimes.

Trent Park Camp, gefangene deutsche Offiziere

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The sinking of MS Sinfra-Survivors Executed

MS_Fernglen_after_being_launched_at_Akers_Mekaniske_Verksted_(1929)

Sinfra was a cargo ship built in 1929 as Fernglen by Akers Mekaniske Verksted in Oslo, Norway, for a Norwegian shipping company.

MS_Fernglen_being_launched_at_Akers_Mekaniske_Verksted_(1929)

The ship was sold to Swedish owners in 1934 and to a French company in 1939, on the last occasion having her name changed to Sinfra.

Sinfra was confiscated by German authorities in 1942, and used by them in the Mediterranean. On 19 October 1943, Sinfra was bombed and sunk by Allied aircraft north of Souda Bay, Crete. Around 2,000 people were killed in the sinking, the majority being Italian POWs.

 

When Armistice between Italy and the Allies was announced on September 8, 1943, the Italians on the island were offered the choice of continuing to fight with the Germans or to be sent to perform forced labor. The Germans used ships to transport those who would not continue fighting.

The armistice was signed on The British battleship Nelson in Malta,Eisenhower signed for the Allies and Badoglio for Italy.

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On 18 October 1943, 2,389 Italian prisoners were loaded into the cargo hold of Sinfra to be transported to Piraeus on the Greek mainland.There were 204 Germans on board the ship, as well as a cargo of bombs. Less than an hour after departing Souda Bay, accompanied by the escort vessels GK 05 and GK 06,the ship came under Allied air attack. A total of ten USAAF North American B-25 Mitchell and RAF Bristol Beaufighter aircraft engaged the ship, some 19 nautical miles (35 km) north of Souda Bay.

At 22:05, after nightfall, Sinfra was struck by a torpedo near the front hatch, and at 23:00 the ship was hit by a bomb which penetrated the engine room.The hits knocked out the ship’s steering and set Sinfra on fire. At 02:31 on 19 October, the ship blew up and sank.Most of those who died in the sinking were Italian POWs. The number of dead is disputed, with estimates ranging from 1,857 or 2,098 killed, up to 5,000 dead.Amongst the survivors were 597 Italians, 197 Germans and 13 Greeks. Some 3% of the Germans on board died in the sinking, while according to conservative estimates close to 77% of the Italians perished.

The ship had insufficient safety equipment in relation to the number of people on board.In addition to the two escort vessels, eleven other German vessels responded to the SOS signals sent out by Sinfra. The rescue vessels were under orders to prioritize the rescue of Germans.While rescue efforts were going on, a No. 603 Squadron RAF Bristol Beaufighter strafed a German Dornier Do 24 flying boat which was participating in the rescue.

dornier-do-24-luftwaffe

The Do 24 later sank.As Sinfra burned, the German guards on board locked the prisoners in the holds and threw hand grenades at them.When the panicking surviving prisoners broke out of the holds and charged the guards, attempting to board life boats, the guards opened fire with small arms and machine guns, killing many. According to Italian naval archives, some 500 Italians were rescued from the sinking ship, but after the survivors had been brought to Chania, Crete, about half of them were executed “for undisciplined behaviour … and the killing of guards” during the sinking.

They took the easy way out

Eduard_Wirths

After all the suffering,death and destruction they caused there were several in the Nazi leadership ,and lower ranks , who were too cowardly to stand trial and killed themselves instead.In this summary I am excluded Hitler, Himmler,Goebbels and Goering because I have already done separate blogs on their suicides.

Eduard Wirths ,

picture above  (4 September 1909 – 20 September 1945) was the Chief SS doctor (SS-Standortarzt) at the Auschwitz concentration camp from September 1942 to January 1945. Thus, Wirths had formal responsibility for everything undertaken by the nearly 20 SS doctors (including Josef Mengele, Horst Schumann and Carl Clauberg) who worked in the medical sections of Auschwitz between 1942–1945.

Wirths was captured by the Allies at the end of the war and held in custody by British forces. Later, on 20 September 1945, knowing that he would surely face trial for numerous war crimes, Wirths committed suicide by hanging.

Johannes Blaskowitz

Johannes Blaskowitz

A German general during World War II and recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.16822

Blaskowitz was charged with war crimes during the Nuremberg Trials in the High Command Trial (Case No. XII).

In one notorious case he was accused of ordering the execution of 2 deserters after the German surrender. He committed suicide on 5 February 1948: after breaking away from his guards, he threw himself off a balcony into the inner courtyard of the court building

Robert Ley

Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-2008-0922-501,_Robert_Ley

He headed the German Labour Front from 1933 to 1945.

As Nazi Germany collapsed in early 1945, Ley was among the government figures who remained fanatically loyal to Hitler.He last saw Hitler on 20 April 1945, Hitler’s birthday, in the Führerbunker in central Berlin. The next day he left for southern Bavaria, in the expectation that Hitler would make his last stand in the “National Redoubt” in the alpine areas. When Hitler refused to leave Berlin, Ley was effectively unemployed. On 16 May he was captured by American paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division in a shoemaker’s house in the village of Schleching. Ley told them he was “Dr. Ernst Distelmeyer,” but he was identified by Franz Xaver Schwarz, the treasurer of the Nazi Party and a long-time enemy.

Robert_Ley_arrested

At the Nuremberg Trials, Ley was indicted under Count One (“The Common Plan or Conspiracy to wage an aggressive war in violation of international law or treaties”), Count Three (War Crimes, including among other things “mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilian populations”) and Count Four (“Crimes Against Humanity – murder, extermination, enslavement of civilian populations; persecution on the basis of racial, religions or political grounds”). Ley was apparently indignant at being regarded as a war criminal, telling the American psychiatrist Douglas Kelley and psychologist Gustave Gilbert who had seen and tested him in prison: “Stand us against a wall and shoot us, well and good, you are victors. But why should I be brought before a Tribunal like a c-c-c- … I can’t even get the word out!”

On 24 October, three days after receiving the indictment, Ley strangled himself in his prison cell using a noose made by tearing a towel into strips, fastened to the toilet pipe in his cell.

R_ley_cell

Franz Friedrich Böhme

Franz Böhme

An Austrian general in the Wehrmacht during World War II, serving as Commander of the XVIII Mountain Corps, Hitler’s ‘Plenipotentiary Commanding General’ in the Balkans, and commander-in-chief in German-occupied Norway during World War II. Böhme stood trial in Nuremberg in the Hostages Trial for having massacred thousands of Serbian civilians.

Defendants_in_the_dock_and_their_lawyers_during_Hostages_Trial_USHMM_16806

After being captured in Norway, he was brought before the Hostages Trial, a division of the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, and charged with war crimes committed in Serbia during his control of the region in 1941. He had upped the ante of retaliatory strikes against Serbs, killing a hundred Serbs for every German killed, and fifty for every German wounded; this resulted in the massacre of thousands of civilians. When his extradition to Yugoslavia seemed imminent, Böhme committed suicide by jumping from the 4th story of the prison in which he was being held. His body was interred at St. Leonhard-Friedhof in Graz.

Emil Haussmann

Emil_Haussmann_at_the_Nuremberg_Trials

A  German SS-Sturmbannführer, in Einsatzkommando 12 of Einsatzgruppe D, which perpetrated the Holocaust in occupied Ukraine. Haussmann was accused in 1947 at the Einsatzgruppen Trial.43043

Haussmann took part in Einsatzkommando 12 during the invasion of the Soviet Union. In 1947 he was one of 24 defendants at the Einsatzgruppen Trial. On 29 July 1947, he received the indictment along with his co-defendants: (1) crimes against humanity, (2) war crimes, and (3) membership in a criminal organization. Two days later, before the arraignment, Haussmann committed suicide in his cell and was removed from the process.Thus, he was the only defendant at the Einsatzgruppen trial who escaped a sentence.

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Rüsselsheim massacre-The lynching of six American airmen.

russelsheim-map

Not all war crimes during WWII were committed by armed forces, some of them were done by ‘regular’ citizens and factory workers.

Russelsheim, Germany, is a typical industrial town, producing Opel cars in partnership with General Motors. The town, just east of Mainz, with a population of 60,000, has a historic district, and is not unlike any of the hundreds of towns throughout Germany. This town, chartered in 1437, is the center for the assembly of autos, and is the sixth largest engine producer in the world.

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Walking through the town it seems typical with the hustle of busy townspeople and the attractive homes. Underneath this calm existence enjoyed by the citizens, one would not suspect that Russelsheim hides a dark secret better left untold.They hope someday to outlive the horrible massacre, so terrible as to defy description.

During World War II, Rüsselsheim, an industrial town that housed many key targets, including the Opel plant, was bombed several times by the Royal Air Force (RAF). The RAF followed a policy of “area bombing” of cities at night while the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) relied on “precision bombing” by day.

On the afternoon of August 24, 1944, an American B-24 bomber named Wham! Bam! Thank You Ma’am, commanded by 2nd Lt. Norman J. Rogers Jr, was shot down while taking part in an attack on Hanover and the crew parachuted down near Hutterup.

B-24_WHAM_BAM

One lookout alerted both the local fire brigade and the military detachment at the nearby airfield and patrols were dispatched to find the downed Americans. One of the nine airmen, Staff Sgt. Forrest W. Brininstool, had serious flak injuries to his abdomen. After landing on the farm, he was given first aid by an elderly couple and in return, Brininstool gave them his silk parachute, a valuable item for peasants. Within a few hours, most of the crew were captured by German personnel and taken into an interrogation room in the town hall in Greven.After that, most of the crew-members, including Rogers, were taken to an air base near the town where they slept for the night. Brininstool was taken to a medical clinic where he was operated on for shrapnel wounds then was moved to a hospital in Münster to undergo a second operation.

The next morning, Brininstool still remained behind in the hospital while the others were loaded onto a train for a trip south to the Dulag Luft in Oberursel, north of Frankfurt. At every stop along the way, after German civilians noticed the Americans on the train, crowds would form at the windows, shouting in anger at the “terror fliers” and shaking their fists, spitting on the windows.

On the night of August 25, the RAF sent 116 Avro Lancasters

683-12to Rüsselsheim in order to attack the Opel factory on a bombing mission, dropping 674 2,000-lb bombs and more than 400,000 incendiaries on the city, destroying the plant and damaging the railtracks, more by far than any previous air raid on Rüsselsheim in World War II. Towards the end of the bombing raid, a German air raid warden, Joseph Hartgens, mobilized residents in Russelsheim to put out the fires in their homes.

In the morning of August 26, most of the American bomber crewmembers were still proceeding to their original destination. However, the train line was heavily damaged by the RAF in the previous night so the airmen were taken off the train and forced to walk to Rüsselsheim to catch another train. The prisoners were escorted by two German soldiers. As the Americans marched through Rüsselsheim, the townspeople, assuming the fliers were Canadians who had taken part in the previous night’s raid, quickly formed and immediately turned into an uncontrollable angry mob.

Two women, Margarete Witzler and Käthe Reinhardt, shouted out, “There are the terror flyers. Tear them to pieces! Beat them to death! They have destroyed our houses!” One of the crew-members replied back in German, “It wasn’t us! We didn’t bomb Rüsselsheim!” Nevertheless, one woman threw a brick at the crew and that precipitated a riot during which the townspeople attacked the prisoners with rocks, hammers, sticks and shovels. Three Opel workers arrived with iron bars and starting beating the men to death to the cries of the crowd.

The mob was joined by air raid warden Josef Hartgen, who was armed with a pistol.The German soldiers who guarded the crew-members made no attempt to prevent the beatings.

After the airmen collapsed from the beatings, Hartgen lined them up in the curb and shot six in their heads but ran out of ammunition, leaving two of the airmen, William M. Adams and Sidney Eugene Brown, alive. The mob then put the airmen on a cart and took them to a cemetery. Those who moaned were further beaten.

bodies_exhumed

During the attack, an air raid siren sounded and the mob ran for cover. Adams and Brown managed to crawl from the bloody cart and fled toward the Rhine River, avoiding capture for four days. However, they were discovered by a policeman and brought to their original destination, the camp in Oberursel where they remained until after the war in Europe ended.

When the Third Army took Russelsheim in March, 1945, only seven months later, they were told that eight British airmen had been murdered by the citizens of the town. Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States established a military tribunal which would put on trial anyone involved in commiting a crime against Allied POWs. They would be classified as war criminals. The U.S. Army would investigate the beating deaths of the eight airmen in Russelsheim. Captain Luke P. Rogers was assigned to investigate any alleged crimes. He chose the Russelsheim crimes as his first investigation. It was still believed the crew members were “British”, not Americans. Rogers proceeded to Russelsheim with his assistant and a group of interpreters. He was presented with a list of twenty-one alleged conspirators. Gathering eyewitness accounts of the “Death March” Rogers was sickened by the brutality of the event. He had many of the instigators in custody, but was actively searching for Josef Hartgen, the reported leader of the mob. Rogers released four of those he arrested for lack of evidence. His next step was to dig up the bodies of the crewmen. His team was shocked to find only six bodies after expecting to find eight. They were further shocked to learn that they were Americans, not British as previously assumed.

Rogers gathered all his evidence, and turned it over to the War Crimes Branch. Lt. Col. Leon Jaworski would present the case against the Russelsheim civilians. Finally the much wanted instigator, Josef Hartgen, was captured and rushed to Wiesbaden for interrogation. While in jail he attempted suicide by slashing his wrist on the mattress springs. He was rushed to the hospital, and after recovering was returned to jail.

Part of the Geneva Convention of 1929 states that “Prisoners must at all times be treated with humanity and protected particularly against acts of violence”. Also, the Hague Convention stipulates that “In addition to the prohibitions provided by special conventions, it is expressly forbidden to kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer any means of defense, has surrendered at discretion”. It was specified that “German civilians are bound to observe the laws of war”.As Loen Jaworski was the Trial Judge Advocate, the defense was led by Lt. Col. Roger E. Titus. He had the unenviable position of defending the enemy. A group of eleven of the accused, including Hartgen, were first on trial.

Hartgen_guilty.jpg

All pleaded not guilty. Testimony against them was by 21 witnesses. The trial lasted six days, with eyewitness testimony to the cold-bloodied assassinations by Josef Hartgen, and chilling accounts of the bludgeoning of the airmen. They could not account for the two missing men, as everyone was certain there had been eight originally. As the trial proceeded Josef Hartgen was accused of extreme brutality, and vicious and unthinkable conduct in the execution of the defenseless airmen. Five of the group, including Hartgen, were found guilty and sentenced to death. The remainder were given varying prison terms.

Hartgen_hanging

The question lingered as to what happened to the two crewmembers, Sgt. William M. Adams, and Sgt. Sidney E. Brown. The crew originally consisted of nine, with S/Sgt. Brininstool wounded and sent to a German hospital, and six executed.

Three weeks after the trial General Davidson received a letter from Sgt. William M. Adams, and Sgt. Sidney Brown. Both had been returned to the U.S. The letter fully explained their experience during the “Death March”, and their miraculous escape, only to be captured four days later. They offered to supply any information they had concerning the ordeal. They had survived the beatings. While the cart with the bodies was at the cemetery awaiting burial, Adams and Brown were able to crawl from under the bodies and escape. After their recapture they were sent to Stalag Luft IV, a POW camp for airmen. Both were liberated in May by the Ninth Army and the British Army. They Returned to the U.S. and gave the authorities what information they had. In the meantime Hartgen and four others were hung on Nov. 10. Otto Stolz was convicted of beating the airmen and helping Hartgen load the bodies in the cart, and accompanying the cart to the cemetery where he fatally beat some of the airmen who were still alive. He was sentenced to death and hanged. It must be noted that none of the women were executed even though they were the primary instigators who excited the crowd to riot and helped in the beatings. The bodies of Austin, Dumont, and Sekul were transferred to their respective hometowns, while the bodies of Rogers, Williams, and Tufenkjian are buried in France.

Tufkenjan