Zeppelins,Bombing and Chocolate

Zeppelin

Ever since I was a young lad I was interested in WWII,mainly because I had a personal connection to it. But for some reason I was never really that interested in WWI, probably because the Netherlands had managed to stay out of it.

However the last few years I have become more interested in the so called ‘Great war’ the war which was supposed to end all wars, but as we know now it didn’t and in fact one of the consequences of WWI was WWII.

I only recently found out that Britain had been subjected to a Blitz like warfare during World  War i, it had been bombed a great number of times not only by airplanes but more so by Zeppelins.

On the night of 19–20 January 1915, Britain was bombed for the first time in its history. The target was  Greater Yarmouth.The Zeppelin designated L 3  was the first airship  raid to wreak havoc in  England on that fateful night.

Yarmouth

It was operated by a crew of fifteen. The dirigible was 518 feet, 2 inches (158 meters) long with a diameter of 48 feet, 6 inches (14.8 meters).

The first 2 ever civilian casualties caused by an air raid were Martha Taylor and Samuel Smith.

talot

In total  about 51 bombing raids were made by airships  on Britain during the war. These killed 557 and injured another 1,358 people. More than 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain, causing £1.5 million in damage. 84 airships took part, of which 30 were either shot down or lost in accidents. Airplanes carried out 27 raids.

It was very difficult to hunt for Zeppelins despite their size, additionally it was hard to bring them down, The metal frame protected them from bullets fired from airplanes. A new sort of bullet had to be designed. The answer came via incendiary ammunition .Incendiary bullets called “Buckingham” ammunition were supplied to early British night fighters for use against these Zeppelins . The flammable hydrogen gas of the zeppelins made incendiary bullets much more deadly than standard ones which would pass through the outer skin without igniting the gas.

BULLETS

On the evening of 5 August 1918 Sir Egbert “Bertie” Cadbury made hunt for the L 70.  which took off from Friedrichshafen with four other airships.

The commander of the L 70 was Peter Strasser the chief commander of German Imperial Navy Zeppelins and one of the architects of the Zeppelin air raids.

Strasser

Cadbury had been  attending a charity concert at which his wife was performing when an RAF orderly found him. Cadbury drove back to the airfield, where he was informed that three Zeppelins had been reported about 50 miles  to the north-east, and knowing there was only one aircraft available, an Airco DH.4.

airco

Cadbury gathered  his flying kit and ran for the airplane .With Captain Robert Leckie in the rear gunner’s seat, Cadbury climbed up to over 16,000 feet  by jettisoning his reserve fuel and some small bombs, where he saw three Zeppelins ahead and above him. He later recounted:[

“At 22.20 we had climbed to 16,400 feet and I attacked the Zeppelin ahead slightly to the port so as to clear any obstruction that might be suspended from the airship. It was a most fascinating sight – awe inspiring – to see this enormous Zeppelin blotting the whole sky above one. The tracers ignited the escaping gas, the flames spreading rapidly and turning the airship into a fireball in less than a minute. The L.70 dived headlong into the clouds. It was one of the most terrifying sights I have ever seen to see this huge machine hurtling down with all those crew on board.”

The other airships dropped their bombs blind, relying on radio bearings for navigational information but none fell on land. An attempt was made to salvage the wreckage of L 70 and most of the structure was brought ashore, providing the British a great deal of technical information. The bodies of the crew members were buried at sea.

This L 70 raid was to be last raid on Britain by Zeppelins.

After the war Cadbury resumed his job at  the family business, joining J. S. Fry & Sons, with which Cadbury’s had merged in 1918,  soon he  became the  managing director. Along with Cecil Roderick Fry, Cadbury  was pivotal in relocating Fry’s manufacturing operations from Bristol to Somerdale Garden City. At its height, the Somerdale workforce numbered over 5,000.

egbert

On 29 August 1939, Cadbury was appointed honorary air commodore of No. 928 (County of Gloucester) Squadron, a Balloon Barrage Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force.

Next time you take a bite in any of the Cadbury bars just think about this bit of history.

cadbury

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The Jewish typewriter salesman who recommended Hitler for an Iron cross.

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I have to confess that the the title is somewhat misleading because Hugo Gutmann was not a typewriter salesman as of yet when he recommended Hitler’s award of the Iron Cross First Class.

Hugo Gutmann was one of the 12,000 Jewish military who fought for Germany during WWI.

from 29 January to 31 August, 1918 Lt. Gutmann was Adolf Hitler’s commanding officer.

Hitler on the right

Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, 1st Class, for his role as a messenger, running important information between units under fire. The decoration was given to Hitler on  August 4th, 1918,  by the regimental commander, Major von Tubeuf The 2 decorations Hitler only wore were his Iron Cross, and his Nazi Party Badge.

On 8 February 1919, Gutmann left  the German Army, but still was registered army rolls as a reserve lieutenant. In 1933, he applied  for and received his military pension – which had been protected,  for all veterans including Jewish veterans ,by President  Paul von Hindenburg. Despite the anti Jewish laws and losing his German citizenship  Gutmann was allowed to keep his pension.

Around the time of the ‘Kristallnacht’ in autumn 1938, he was arrested by the Gestapo, but SS officers who know him  and  his  relationship with Hitler had him released from custody.

But regardless  this relationship, eventually his fate would have been the same as all other Jews in Germany and the occupied territories.

In 1939, Gutmann and his family moved to  Belgium . In 1940  just prior to the invasion of the Low Countries,the Gutmanns immigrated to the United States. They initially settled  in St. Louis where Hugo secured employment  as a typewriter salesman. In the US  he changed his name to Henry George Grant. He died in San Diego, California, on 22 June 1962. He was buried at Home of Peace Cemetery in San Diego.

Hugo

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Harry Truman

sT hELEN

I know what you all will be thinking that this will be a blog about President Truman, possibly about the order he gave to drop the atomic bombs. Well, you’d be wrong. It is indeed a blog about some explosive events but nothing WWII related. In fact it isn’t about President Truman either.

The subject in this blog is Harry R Truman a resident of the state of Washington who lived near Mount St. Helens.

memorial

Truman enlisted in the US Army as a private in August 1917. and served in France during World War I.

On 24 January 1918, the SS Tuscania departed Hoboken, New Jersey, with 384 crew members and 2,013 United States Army personnel aboard, Harry R Truman was one of the 2,013. The destination was Liverpool in England.

Tuscania

On the morning of February 5th, 1918, the SS Tuscania was sighted by the German submarine UB 77.During that day, the U-Boat stalked the SS Tuscania until early evening. Under the cover of darkness at about 6:40 pm, the submarine′s commanding officer, Captain Wilhelm Meyer, ordered two torpedoes fired at the Tuscania.

ub 77

The second torpedo struck the ship and sank it in the Irish Sea. 210 of the crew and troops perished that day. Harry R Truman was not one of them.

He went on to live a long life, but his death was caused by another explosion of sorts.

Truman moved near to Mount St Helens where he owned a lodge on Spirit Lake ,near the foot of the mountain for more than 50 years. He became somewhat of a  celebrity during the two months of volcanic activity preceding the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. He figured the danger was exaggerated and told reporters

“I’m going to stay right here because, I’ll tell you why, my home and my f**king life’s here. If the mountain goes, I’m going with it”

Unfortunately the volcano did erupt and Harry R Truman did die on May 18,1980 aged 83. His home was hit by a mud and snow avalanche, and buried the site of his lodge under 150 feet (46 m) of volcanic landslide debris.. His remains were never found.

tRUMAN

Some people may think he was foolish not to leave while he still could. But he knew what he wanted and where he was happiest and that was where he and his wife, who died a few years earlier, had made a life for themselves. They had found their bit of paradise for that I admire him because so few find that place they can truly call home.

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And the guns fell silent.

wwi

November 11, 1918. 10:59 am, one last volley of machine gun fire, one last soldier to die.Henry Nicholas John Gunther took one last charge with his bayonet, The enemy warned him , but he wanted to proof himself.He wanted to show his demotion from Sergeant to Private had been unjustified.

One last hoorah, one last act of bravery. The enemy warned him again but to no avail,  Henry N. Gunther kept going, the machine guns rattled, Henry N Gunther fell down,dead. But a Sergeant he was yet again.

Henry

His misguided act of bravery was more an act of madness ,because 60 seconds later the war was over. But he wasn’t to blame the so called Great War was based on human insanity.

November 11, 1918. 11:00 am the guns fell silent.

What was supposed to end before Christmas 1914 lasted 4 bloody years 40 million dead and for what?

The guns fell silent but soon they would fire again.

END OF WAR

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Opha May Johnson-US Marine

mARINE

Today marks the 100th anniversary of real girl power. Om August 13th 1918,Opha May Johnson became the first Female US Marine.

World War I was drawing to an end when the Marine Corps decided to fill some of the gaps left behind by all the men fighting overseas. In 1918, Johnson was the first of 300 women who reported for duty. They made headlines in newspapers all across the country.

Marines

Newspaper articles, OF 1918 AND ALSO the published history of Women Marines in World War I,  reported Johnson’s first duties were as a clerk at Marine Corps headquarters, managing the records of other female reservists who joined after she did.

joins

Ironically when she joined the marines she was not yet allowed to vote.

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Resources

National Library of Congress

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Creating the conditions for the Holocaust

stab.JPG

Nowadays it is very easy to blame social media for widely distributing fake news on a large scale by means of memes and other ways. However this is nothing new, about 100 years ago this was happening through way of propaganda postcards and cartoons(after all a meme is nothing else then a digital propaganda or satirical postcard or cartoon) spread via post or newspapers.

Long before Hitler came to power, German politicians like Friedrich Ebert already blamed  communists,socialists and especially the Jews for losing WWI, by creating the ‘stab in the back’ myth.

The stab-in-the-back myth was believed despite even though it was entirely false .German Jews had loyally and bravely served in the German army during WWII. In fact their numbers were out of proportion in ratio to their numbers in the population. A fact that was emphasized by the “Reich Federation of Jewish Front Soldiers”

Soldiers

Several myths  were deliberately propagated alongside older prejudices. Myths such as:

  • The Jews had started the war to bring Europe to financial ruin and to bring it under Jewish control.
  • Jews exploited the misery of the war to enrich themselves and prolonged it to lead the Bolshevik Revolution in furthering the aim of world revolution.

These myths were enhanced by propaganda postcards and cartoons.

stab in the back

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The origin of the term “stab-in-the-back” itself can possibly attributed to General Erich Ludendorff and dated to the autumn of 1919. Ludendorff was having dinere with the head of the British Military Mission in Berlin,  General Sir Neill Malcolm. Malcolm asked Ludendorff why he thought Germany lost the war. Ludendorff replied with his list of excuses, including that the home front failed the army.

Malcolm asked him: “Do you mean, General, that you were stabbed in the back?” Ludendorff’s eyes lit up and he leaped upon the phrase like a dog on a bone. “Stabbed in the back?” he repeated. “Yes, that’s it, exactly, we were stabbed in the back”.

Conservatives, nationalists and ex-military leaders began to speak critically about the peace and Weimar politicians, socialists, communists and especially Jews, It was suggested that they had not been supportive during the war and had played a part in selling out Germany to its enemies.

stab 4

By the time the Nazis came to power the foundations had already been laid.

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Sources

Encyclopedia 1914-1918

USHMM

 

The hills are alive with the sound of sinking Ships.

 

Georg_von_Trapp.jpgWho hasn’t heard of the Sound of Music, an immensely popular movie about the von Trapp family.

But behind the idyllic portrayal of the family lies a darker origin. I will not focus on the singing legacy in this blog but more on that ‘darker side of the story.

Georg von Trapp’s first wive was Agatha Whitehead granddaughter of Robert Whitehead, the inventor of  the modern torpedo.

And how bizarre this may sound for Austria is a landlocked country, Georg von Trapp was a captain in the Austro-Hungarian navy during WWI. The Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy did include some of the Baltic nations.

450px-Austro-Hungarian_Monarchy_(1914).svg.png

After World War I broke out, he was given command of the U-Boat U-5, a small, 100-foot-long submarine displacing 240 tons, on April 17, 1915. U-5’s ventilation system wasn’t in the best of state  and sometimes filled the sub with poisonous fumes.While in command of SM U-5 he sank two enemy warships.

SMU-5_Trapp

On April 27, less than two weeks after assuming command, U-5 sank the French cruiser Leon Gambetta just off the heel of Italy’s boot. The 12,000 ton Gambetta sank in ten minutes and 684 of its crew, out of 821, were lost. Von Trapp had difficulties coming to terms with the realities of modern warfare:

“So that’s what war looks like! There behind me hundreds of seamen have drowned, men who have done me no harm, men who did their duty as I myself have done, against whom I have nothing personally; with whom, on the contrary, I have felt a bond through sharing the same profession.

— Captain Georg von Trapp”

French_cruiser_Leon_Gambetta (1)

von Trapp was later given command of another submarine on October 14, 1915. The  SM U-14 which had previously been the French submarine Curie, before it was sunk, while trying to infiltrate an Austro-Hungarian Naval base,and salvaged by the Austrian Navy.

SM_U-14_(Austria-Hungary)

 

While in command of the SM U-14 he sank 11 allied ,mainly cargo, vessels.

For his endeavours in the Navy he received several honors, among them the Military Order of Maria Theresa, the highest award given in the Austrian Navy. Von Trapp was the most decorated officer in the Austrian Navy and was knigted, earning the title “Ritter” and became Georg Johannes, Ritter von Trapp.

On 3 September 1922, Agatha von Trapp died of scarlet fever. In  1926, Maria Franziska, the 2nd oldest daughter, was recovering from an illness and could not go to school. Therefor Georgvon Trapp recruited  Maria Augusta Kutschera, from the nearby Nonnberg Abbey, as a tutor,and not as a governess as is the case on the musical.

On 26 November 1927, the 47 year old Georg married the 22 year old Maria Augusta Kutschera.

Maria von Trapp

When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, von Trapp was offered a commission in the German Navy,But he couldn’t reconcile with the Nazi ideology. Realizing  that he could not  really decline the offer without the threat of arrest, possibly for his entire family, von Trapp decided to leave Austria.

Via Italy they eventually ended up in the US.

I think the exploits of Georg vonTrapp, prior to  Maria Augusta Kutschera would have made a much more fascinating movie, but that is just my opinion.

800px-Trapp_Family_Singers_1941

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The Führer is dead. Auf nie wiedersehen.

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For all of you who don’t know German, the second part of the title translates to “that we will never see you again” It has always been a puzzle to me why the death of Adolf Hitler was not turned into a global holiday. Maybe it is because of fears it also may be used by followers of the Austrian turned German leader.

I know History Channel is airing a show celled “Hunting Hitler” aiming to proof that he didn’t die but escaped to Argentina, their investigation is omitting some key elements though, like eye witness reports of those in the bunker. They also work on the assumption that he was last seen in public on his birthday April 20 1945, this is also not true. This is the last picture taken of Hitler on April 28 1945.

htler_last_picture

Another key factor they fail to mention in the show is the fact that a day before he killed himself he got married to Eva Braun. Aside from all of that, he often said if he felt the war was lost he’d kill himself. So let’s forget about all these conspiracy therories for a while.

The world reacted in different ways on the news of his death.

The Irish Taosieach(prime minister), Éamon de Valera,  and president Douglas Hyde, bot offered condolences to Germany when the news of Hitler’s death broke.Ireland was neutral during WWII and de Valera stated he was only following diplomatic protocol.

The German embassy in Sweden flew the flag at half mast the day Hitler died, April 30, 1945.

The German embassy in Sweden flying the flag at half mast the day Hitler died, April 30th 1945

In the Netherlands mock mourning cards were published, the one below is using the Veni,Vidi,Vici (came.saw,conquered) analogy. Translation Hitler came but not to England,Hitler Saw Moscow, Hitler lost the war.rouwkaart hitler

Below are some news headlines covering the death of Hitler.

The announcement of Hitler’s and Goebbels’s death in the Bredasche Courant, Dutch Newspaper.

breda

Headline from “The Stars and Stripes” for May 2, 1945.

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Headline of La France Soir

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The Germans had a different spin on the news the headlines in the Oberdonau-Zeitung seems to indicate rather then having committed suicide he was ‘fallen’, he ‘sacrificed’ his life in the battle against Bolshevism.

500px-Oberdonau-Zeitung_-_Meldung_vom_Tode_des_Führers

The Daily Mail also reported the appointment of Doenitz as the new German leader.daily_mail_may_2nd_1945

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What if Henry Tandey had taken that shot.

henry-tandey

Most of you will never have heard of the soldier called Henry Tandey, but this very soldier could have allegedly changed the course of history by carrying out one action. It could actually be disputed he changed the course of history by not firing that one shot.

Henry Tandey   was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was the most highly decorated British private of the First World War.

On Sept. 28, 1918, one of the greatest mysteries of World War I is said to have taken place. During the fifth battle of Ypres, near the French village of Marcoing, 27-year-old Henry Tandey earned the Victoria Cross, which along with other medals, made him the highest decorated private of the First World War.

Q 57546

But during the battle, a wounded and defenseless Austrian soldier i the German army stumbled into Tandey’s line of fire. Though he had his gun pointed right at him, Tandey decided not to kill him. This one act of compassion would forever overshadow his military record.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain would be the first to hear about this story from the German that Private Tandey had spared. His name was Adolf Hitler.

hitler-military-uniform

Apparently Hitler identified the soldier carrying the wounded man as Tandey from the photo of him in the newspaper clipping he had obtained in 1918.[16]

In 1938, when Neville Chamberlain visited Hitler at his alpine retreat, the Berghof, for the discussions that led to the Munich Agreement, he noticed the painting and asked about it. Hitler replied:

“That man came so near to killing me that I thought I should never see Germany again; Providence saved me from such devilishly accurate fire as those English boys were aiming at us.”

Although the story is disputed by some, but Tandey heard the story from an officer who had, in turn, heard the story from Chamberlain. Tandey admitted he had spared soldiers on the 28 Sept. but could not confirm if Hitler was one of them.

adolf-hitler-ww1

When the Coventry Herald interviewed him in 1939, he said: “According to them, I’ve met Adolf Hitler. Maybe they’re right but I can’t remember him.”

A year later he seemed more certain. “If only I had known what he would turn out to be. When I saw all the people and women and children he had killed and wounded I was sorry to God I let him go.”

What if he had just taken that shot.

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Sources

BBC News

Vconline

Sometimes the good guys live a long life-Johan van Hulst WWII Hero.

jvh-curtain

Only the good die young all the evil seem to live forever are lyrics from an Iron Maiden song. For many years I thought this to be true for I saw so many evil men living a long life, however luckily I was wrong in that assumption. Sometimes good men do live a long life, like Johan van Hulst who died on 22 March aged 107.

He was a key player  of a  network that helped at least 600 Dutch babies and children escape the Nazis.Those children survived thanks to carefully orchestrated operations that smuggled them away right in front of the Nazis seeking to send them to concentration camps.

In 1942, two years after the German invasion of the Netherlands, Johan van Hulst – the son of a furniture upholsterer-was the director of the Reformed Teacher Training College, a Protestant religious seminary at Plantage Middenlaan 27, Amsterdam.

Across the street at Plantage Middenlaan 24 was the Hollandse Schouwburg theatre, the main clearing site for the Jews living in Amsterdam who had been issued deportation notices by the Nazi government.

LR_039_ afb.01 recht

While the records of those detained there are no longer available, historians believe about 46,000 people were deported from the old theatre over about 18 months up to the end of 1943.

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Children who arrived at the Schouwburg with their families were separated and sent to the neighbouring nursery at Plantage Middenlaan 31 run by Henriëtte Pimentel. Who was  brought up in a well-to-do Portuguese-Jewish family.

Henriëtte_Henriquez_Pimentel_(1876-1943)

The nursery shared a back garden with the college that van Hulst directed.

The deportation centre’s administrator was a German-Jewish man named Walter Süskind, entrusted to run the centre by Nazis who disregarded his Jewish heritage.

12.01.27.Walter-Suskind-met-kleinkinderen

Soon after starting his work there however, he noticed that it was easy to help people escape.His close relationship with the German authorities helped him in his activities to help children escape. He especially tried to get close with the SS officer Ferdinand aus der Fünten, who was then the second man of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Amsterdam. He falsified arrival numbers, claiming for example that 60 people instead of 75 had arrived on a particular day, and then letting 15 people escape.

His task became easier when, in early 1943, the Nazis took over a crèche across the road from the theatre – and next door to Van Hulst’s school – to place Jewish children before deporting them to concentration camps.

Süskind joined forces with the head of the nursery, Henriëtte Pimentel, sneaking children to safety when a tram passed in front of the nursery.creche-1976Working with Pimentel, Süskind and dozens of other volunteers, van Hulst arranged for the children to be spirited over the hedge separating the neighbouring back yards of the nursery and the teachers’ college, often assisted by the teachers-in-training or local university students.When the time came to move the rescued children and babies away from the school, they would be hidden in containers such as bags, sacks or laundry baskets.Numerous methods were used to move the hidden children from the school. In one method, the operation’s helpers would then wait for the moment a tram passed, blocking the view of Nazi guards at the facing Hollandsche Schouwberg, to cycle away with the hidden child.

The operation came to a halt on September 29, 1943 when the Nazis sent Pimental and 100 children from the nursery to Nazi concentration camps.[6] Decades later, van Hulst described the days preceding the closure to Yad Vashem: “Now try to imagine 80, 90, perhaps 70 or 100 children standing there, and you have to decide which children to take with you. … That was the most difficult day of my life. … You know for a fact that the children you leave behind are going to die. I took 12 with me. Later on I asked myself: ‘Why not 13?'”

In total, the operation had rescued about 600 Jewish babies and children.The punishment for aiding Jews was death.

Van Hulst received the Yad Vashem Distinction in 1970.[11] During a state visit to Israel in 2012, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of van Hulst “We say, those who save one life saves a universe. You saved hundreds of universes. I want to thank you in the name of the Jewish people, but also in the name of humanity.prime minister

After the war Van Hulst served as a politician at several levels. From 1956 until 1981 he was a member of the Dutch Senate. From 1961 until 1968 he was a member of the European Parliament and from 1969 until 1972 he was chairman of the CHU. From 1972 until 1981 Van Hulst was group leader in the Senate; first for the CHU and from 1977 on for the CDA(Christian Democrats).

For all the attention he later received for his success at saving lives, Dr. van Hulst said he was traumatized by memories of those he could not rescue.Some of the children Johan van Hulst helped rescue were so young that they no longer remember the daring acts that saved their lives.

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Sources

BBC

CNN

Washington Post

NPR

Yad Vashem

Special thanks to Norman Stone and Melody Ziff for reminding me of this Hero.