Syria–Lebanon Campaign

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I know what you are thinking” This is going to be one of those Isis or refugee stories” ! No it is a WWII story, but it does indicate that that part of the world has been troublesome for quite a while.

On the 8th of June  in 1941, British,Australian,Indian and Free French forces entered Syria and Lebanon in Operation Exporter.

In May, the pro-Axis Rashid Ali rose to power in Iraq and refused to allow British maneuvers within his country in accordance with the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930. Britain quickly restored the status quo ante by driving Ali and his followers out of Iraq.

And to ensure that German military supplies shipped to Ali via Syria did not result in Axis control of that country and neighboring Lebanon, Britain decided to take preventive action. With Australian and Indian support, as well as that of Free French forces, Britain invaded both Syria and Lebanon, fighting Vichy French garrisons loyal to Germany. Resistance lasted five weeks before an armistice was finally signed on July 14, giving the Allies control of both Syria and Lebanon. Among those wounded in the fighting was the 26-year-old leader of Palestinian volunteer forces, Moshe Dayan, the future hero in the fight for an independent Jewish state. He lost an eye.

Dayan

The Syria–Lebanon campaign, also known as Operation Exporter, was the British invasion of Vichy French Syria and Lebanon from June–July 1941, during World War II. Time magazine referred to the fighting as a “mixed show” while it was taking place and the campaign remains little known, even in the countries that took part. There is evidence that British censorship limited reportage of the fighting because politicians believed that knowledge of fighting against French forces could have a negative effect on public opinion in Britain and its common wealth.

The British invasion was aimed at preventing Nazi Germany from using the Vichy French-controlled Syrian Republic and French Lebanon as springboards for attacks on Egypt, as the British fought a campaign against Axis forces further west in North Africa. Although the French had ceded autonomy to Syria in September 1936, they had retained treaty rights to maintain armed forces and two airfields in the territory. From 1 April, after a coup d’état, Iraq was controlled by pro-German rebel forces under Rashid Ali. This eventually led to the outbreak of the Anglo-Iraqi War, which ended in British control over neighbouring Iraq.

In May 1941, Admiral François Darlan signed an agreement on behalf of Vichy France with the Germans, known as the “Paris Protocols”, granting German access to military facilities in Syria.The protocols were never ratified but Charles Huntziger, the Vichy Minister of War, sent orders to Henri Dentz, the High Commissioner for the Levant, that the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) and the Italian Royal Air Force  were allowed to refuel in Syria.

Disguised as Iraqi aircraft, the German and Italian aircraft landed in Syria en route to the Kingdom of Iraq during the Anglo-Iraqi War. The Germans also requested permission from the Vichy authorities to use Syrian railways to send armaments to Iraqi rebels in Mosul. There Archibald Wavell—Commander in Chief of Middle East Command—faced a threat posed by Vichy collaboration with Germany and Italy.

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.Initially, British forces to the south of Syria in the British Mandate of Palestine consisted of two main formations under the command of General Sir Maitland Wilson.

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The 5th Indian Brigade Group—commanded by Brigadier Wilfrid Lewis Lloyd—were ordered to cross the Syrian border from Palestine and take Quneitra and Deraa. It was anticipated that this would open the way for the 1st Free French Division to advance to Damascus. Four days after the commencement of the operation, this force was brought under unified command and was named Gentforce after its French commander, Major-General Paul Louis Le Gentilhomme.

 

On 9 June, the Australians were involved in heavy fighting at the Litani River in southern Lebanon. Further intense action occurred between 11-27 June at Merdjayoun, Lebanon, where Australian and British troops attacked and counter-attacked Vichy forces. On 21 June, the Syrian capital of Damascus fell to a combined Indian, British, Australian and Free French force. Fighting, however, continued in Lebanon as the Allies struggled to take the important coastal centre of Damour. With the fall of Damour on 9 July 1941, the Vichy commander, General Dentz, asked for an armistice which was signed at Acre on 13 July 1941. Altogether about 18,000 Australian troops took part in the Syrian campaign.T

The Australian 7th Division—commanded by Major-General John Lavarack(succeeded by Major-General Arthur “Tubby” Allen on 18 June when Lavarack took over Australian I Corps) had the responsibility of advancing from Palestine along the coastal road from Haifa towards Beirut. The Australian 21st Brigade was to take Beirut.

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The Australian 25th Brigade was to attack the big Vichy French airbase at Rayak. The operation was also to include a supporting commando landing from Cyprus at the south of the Litani River.

Once the two southern prongs were well engaged, it was planned that a third force, comprising formations drawn from Iraq Command, would attack Syria from Iraq. The bulk of 10th Indian Infantry Division—commanded by Major-General William “Bill” Slim 220px-William_Slim,_1950—was to advance north-west up the Euphrates River from Haditha in Iraq (upstream from Baghdad) toward Deir ez Zor and thence to Raqqa and Aleppo to threaten the communication and supply lines of the Vichy forces defending Beirut against the Australians advancing from the south, in particular the railway line running northwards through Aleppo to Turkey (at the time, Turkey was thought by some British strategists to be sympathetic to the Vichy government and to Germany).

Meanwhile, a group comprising two infantry battalions from the 10th Indian Division’s 20th Indian Infantry Brigade and two from 8th Indian Infantry Division, 17th Indian Infantry Brigade, would operate independently to capture all the territory in north-east Syria. 20th Indian Infantry Brigade were to make a feint from Mosul and the 17th Indian Infantry Brigade would advance into the Bec du Canard (or Duck’s Bill) region through which a railway from Aleppo ran eastward to Mosul and then to Baghdad.

Finally, Wilson’s plan called for Habforce—consisting of the 4th Cavalry Brigade, the 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment, the Arab Legion Mechanized Regiment each supported by field, anti-tank and anti-aircraft artillery batteries—to gather in western Iraq between Rutbah and the Transjordan border.

At the same time as the thrust up the Euphrates, this force would advance in a northwesterly direction to take Palmyra in Syria. Habforce was to secure the oil pipeline from Haditha to Tripoli. Habforce was in Iraq, attached to Iraq Command, because it had previously struck across the desert from the Transjordan border as part of the relief of RAF Habbaniya during the Anglo-Iraqi War.

Isn’t it sad in a way that we still hear the names Aleppo,Palmyra and Damascus on a daily basis nowadays.

The initial advantage that the Vichy French Air Force (Armée de l’Air de Vichy) enjoyed did not last long. The Vichy French lost most of their aircraft destroyed on the ground where the flat terrain, absence of infrastructure and absence of modern anti-aircraft (AA) artillery made them vulnerable to air attacks. On 26 June, a strafing run by Tomahawks of No. 3 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force , on Homs airfield, destroyed five Dewoitine D.520s of Fighter Squadron II/3 (Groupe de Chasse II/3) and damaged six more.

On 10 July, five D.520s attacked Bristol Blenheim bombers from No. 45 Squadron RAF, which were being escorted by seven Tomahawks from 3 Sqn.The French pilots claimed three Blenheims but at least four D.520s were destroyed by the Australians. The following day, a Dewoitine pilot shot down a Tomahawk from 3 Sqn, the only one lost during the campaign.

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By the end of the campaign, the Vichy forces had lost 179 aircraft from about 289 committed to the Levant, with remaining aircraft with the range to do so evacuating to Rhodes.

On 10 July, as the Australian 21st Brigade was on the verge of entering Beirut, Dentz sought an armistice. At one minute past midnight on 12 July, a ceasefire came into effect. To all intents and purposes, this ended the campaign and an armistice known as Armistice of Saint Jean d’Acre (also known as the “Convention of Acre”) was signed on 14 July at the “Sidney Smith Barracks” on the outskirts of the city of Acre.

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The Vichy French forces lost approximately 6,000 men; of these roughly 1,000 had been killed. In addition, there were 37,736 Vichy French prisoners of war. When given the choice of repatriation to Metropolitan France or joining the Free French, a total of 5,668 men chose to join General Charles De Gaulle’s forces.The total number of civilians and military personnel repatriated was 37,563. Eight convoys, consisting of three hospital ships and one “gleaner” ship, sailed for France between 7 August and 27 September 1941 and arrived without incident.Prisoners taken by the Vichy French forces were returned as well. It was determined that several British prisoners of war had been sent out of Syria even after the armistice was signed. The delay in obtaining the return of these prisoners led to the detention of Dentz and 29 of his most senior officers in Palestine. They were released in due course as the British prisoners were returned to Syria.

Sir Arthur Roden Cutler, later an Australian diplomat and Governor of New South Wales. A Lieutenant at the time, Cutler was awarded the British Commonwealth’s highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross (VC), for his actions at the Battle of Merdjayoun. Cutler lost a leg as a consequence of the fighting. Jim Gordon, Australian Private soldier, awarded the VC for his actions at the Battle of Jezzine..

Jezzine

Below are some pictures of the campaign that lasted 6 weeks.

Arthur Seyss-Inquart: A dangerous fool

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Arthur Seyss-Inquart was a dangerous fool for thinking that the Dutch population would subscribe to the Nazi ideas, although there was a substantial minority in the Netherlands who did endorse the National Socialist philosophy , the majority of the Dutch did not follow Hitler’s ideas.

 

Arthur Seyss-Inquart(22 July 1892 – 16 October 1946) was an Austrian Nazi politician who served as Chancellor of Austria for two days – from 11 to 13 March 1938 – before the Anschluss annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, signing the constitutional law as acting head of state upon the resignation of President Wilhelm Miklas.

Wien, Arthur Seyß-Inquart, Adolf Hitler

During World War II, he served the Third Reich in the General Government of Poland and as Reichskommissar in the Netherlands. At the Nuremberg trials, he was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death.

Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the son of a teacher, was born in Stannern, in Austria, on 22nd July, 1892. The family moved to Vienna in 1907 and Seyss-Inquart studied law before joining the Austro-Hungarian Army. During the First World War he saw action against the Russian Army on the Eastern Front and in Italy before being badly wounded in 1917.

After the war Seyss-Inquart became a lawyer in Austria. He developed extreme right-wing views and joined the German Brotherhood.

A strong advocate of Anschluss, Seyss-Inquart became a state counselor in May 1937. The following February Kurt von SchuschniggKurt_Schuschnigg_1934 appointed him minister of the interior and served as chancellor for a brief spell in March, 1938, before Hitler took control of the country.

Seyss-Inquart has a series of jobs under the Nazis including governor of Ostmark and minister without portfolio in Hitler’s cabinet. When the German took control of Poland Seyss-Inquart served as deputy governor under Hans Frank. In May 1940, he became Reich Commissioner of the Netherlands.

 

Seyss-Inquart drafted the legislative act reducing Austria to a province of Germany and signed it into law on 13 March. With Hitler’s approval he became Governor of the newly named Ostmark, with Ernst Kaltenbrunner his chief minister and Josef Burckel as Commissioner for the Reunion of Austria (concerned with the “Jewish Question”).

Seyss-Inquart also received an honorary SS rank of Gruppenführer and in May 1939 he was made a Minister without portfolio in Hitler’s cabinet. Almost as soon as he took office, he ordered the confiscation of Jewish property and sent Jews to concentration camps. Late in his regime, he collaborated in the deportation of Jews from Austria.

Following the invasion of Poland, Seyss-Inquart became administrative chief for Southern Poland, but did not take up that post before the General Government was created, in which he became a deputy to the Governor General Hans Frank.

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He fully supported the heavy-handed policies put into effect by Frank, including persecution of Jews. He was also aware of the Abwehr’s murder of dozens of Polish intellectuals.

Following the capitulation of the Low Countries Seyss-Inquart was appointed Reichskommissar for the Occupied Netherlands in May 1940, charged with directing the civil administration, with creating close economic collaboration with Germany and with defending the interests of the Reich. Among the Dutch people he was mockingly referred to as “Zes en een kwart” (six and a quarter), a play on his name. He supported the Dutch NSB and allowed them to create a paramilitary Landwacht, which acted as an auxiliary police force.

Other political parties were banned in late 1941 and many former government officials were imprisoned at Sint-Michielsgestel.

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The administration of the country was controlled by Seyss-Inquart himself and he answered directly to Hitler.He oversaw the politicization of cultural groups from the Nederlandsche Kultuurkamer  “right down to the chessplayers’ club”, and set up a number of other politicised associations.

He introduced measures to combat resistance, and when a widespread strike took place in Amsterdam, Arnhem and Hilversum in May 1943, special summary court-martial procedures were brought in, and a collective fine of 18 million guilders was imposed. Up until the liberation, Seyss-Inquart authorized the execution of around 800 people, although some reports put this total at over 1,500, including the executions of people under the so-called “Hostage Law”, the death of political prisoners who were close to being liberated, the Putten raid,

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and the reprisal executions of 117 Dutchmen for the attack on SS and Police Leader Hanns Albin Rauter.

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Although the majority of Seyss-Inquart’s powers were transferred to the military commander in the Netherlands and the Gestapo in July 1944, he remained a force to be reckoned with.

There were two small concentration camps in the Netherlands – KZ Herzogenbusch near Vught, Kamp Amersfoort near Amersfoort,

and Westerbork transit camp (a “Jewish assembly camp”) Anne Frank stayed in the hut shown to the left(replica) from August until early September 1944, when she was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

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There were a number of other camps variously controlled by the military, the police, the SS or Seyss-lnquart’s administration.

These included a “voluntary labour recruitment” camp at Ommen (Camp Erika). In total around 530,000 Dutch civilians forcibly worked for the Germans, of whom 250,000 were sent to factories in Germany. There was an unsuccessful attempt by Seyss-Inquart to send only workers aged 21 to 23 to Germany, and he refused demands in 1944 for a further 250,000 Dutch workers and in that year sent only 12,000 people.

Seyss-Inquart was an unwavering anti-Semite: within a few months of his arrival in the Netherlands, he took measures to remove Jews from the government, the press and leading positions in industry. Anti-Jewish measures intensified after 1941: approximately 140,000 Jews were registered, a ‘ghetto’ was created in Amsterdam and a transit camp was set up at Westerbork. Subsequently, in February 1941, 600 Jews were sent to Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps. Later, the Dutch Jews were sent to Auschwitz. As Allied forces approached in September 1944, the remaining Jews at Westerbork were removed to Theresienstadt. Of 140,000 registered, only 30,000 Dutch Jews survived the war.

When the Allies advanced into the Netherlands in late 1944, the Nazi regime had attempted to enact a scorched earth policy, and some docks and harbours were destroyed. Seyss-Inquart, however, was in agreement with Armaments Minister Albert Speer over the futility of such actions, and with the open connivance of many military commanders, they greatly limited the implementation of the scorched earth orders.At the very end of the “hunger winter” in April 1945, Seyss-Inquart was with difficulty persuaded by the Allies to allow airplanes to drop food for the hungry people of the occupied northwest of the country.

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https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/04/29/operation-manna-and-operationchowhoundending-the-dutch-famine/

Although he knew the war was lost, Seyss-Inquart did not want to surrender. This led General Walter Bedell Smith to snap: “Well, in any case, you are going to be shot“. “That leaves me cold“, Seyss-Inquart replied, to which Smith then retorted: “It will

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Before Hitler committed suicide in April 1945, he named a new government headed by Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz in his last will and testament, in which Seyss-Inquart replaced Joachim von Ribbentrop, who had long since fallen out of favour, as Foreign Minister. It was a tribute to the high regard Hitler felt for his Austrian comrade, at a time when he was rapidly disowning or being abandoned by so many of the other key lieutenants of the Third Reich. Unsurprisingly, at such a late stage in the war, Seyss-Inquart failed to achieve anything in his new office.

He remained in his posts until 7 May 1945, when, after a meeting with Dönitz to confirm his blocking of the scorched earth orders, he was arrested on the Elbe Bridge at Hamburg by two members of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, one of whom was Norman Miller (birth name: Norbert Mueller), a German Jew from Nuremberg who had escaped to Britain at the age of 15 on a kindertransport just before the war

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and then returned to Germany as part of the British occupation forces.Miller’s entire family had been killed at the Jungfernhof Camp in Riga, Latvia in March 1942.

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At the Nuremberg trials, Seyss-Inquart was defended by Gustav Steinbauer and faced four charges: conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity.

During the trial, Gustave Gilbert, an American army psychologist, was allowed to examine the Nazi leaders who were tried at Nuremberg for war crimes. Among other tests, a German version of the Wechsler-Bellevue IQ test was administered. Arthur Seyss-Inquart scored 141, the second highest among the defendants, behind Hjalmar Schacht.

Seyss-Inquart was acquitted of conspiracy, but convicted on all other counts and sentenced to death by hanging. The final judgment against him cited his involvement in harsh suppression of Nazi opponents and atrocities against the Jews during all his billets, but particularly stressed his reign of terror in the Netherlands. It was these atrocities that sent him to the gallows.

Upon hearing of his death sentence, Seyss-Inquart was fatalistic: “Death by hanging… well, in view of the whole situation, I never expected anything different. It’s all right.”

He was hanged on 16 October 1946, at the age of 54, together with nine other Nuremberg defendants. He was the last to mount the scaffold, and his last words were the following: “I hope that this execution is the last act of the tragedy of the Second World War and that the lesson taken from this world war will be that peace and understanding should exist between peoples. I believe in Germany.”

Before his execution, Seyss-Inquart had returned to Catholicism, receiving absolution in the sacrament of confession from prison chaplain Father Bruno Spitzl.

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His body, as those of the other nine executed men and the corpse of Hermann Göring, was cremated at Ostfriedhof (Munich) and the ashes were scattered in the river Isar.

D-Day: Operation Overlord

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So much has already been written and said about Operation Overlord, more commonly known as D-Day. that I couldn’t possibly add any value to the documentation of that day on the 6th of June 1944.

All I can say is that I am thankful to those who gave their lives for my freedom.The same freedom that is now so often squandered and taken for granted that I sometimes feel ashamed and embarrassed.

All that I will do is post images of that day and I am hoping no one will ever forget the sacrifices made that day and the many days after.

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The Media:

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The German spin on things.

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First meeting of Josef Stalin (USSR), Franklin D.Roosevelt (USA) and Winston Churchill (Britain) meeting in Tehran, Iran in 1943.

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The sacrfices

 

Thank you boys. Tonight I will be drinking on you.

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The first men on Utah Beach — WW2: The Big One

Soldiers come ashore on Utah Beach on D-Day (National Archives) By George Morris In the dim but rising light of about 6:30 a.m., Leonce Haydel, of Gramercy, Louisiana, became one of the first Allied soldiers to step on the French beach. He was not expected to return. “It was a suicide mission,” Haydel said. “What […]

via The first men on Utah Beach — WW2: The Big One

Forgotten History-The Bombing of Chongqing

Bombing of Chongqing.

Very little is know in the west about WWII in China except for the fact that it really started before anywhere else.One could argue that the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War at July 1937 was really the start of WWII in Asia.

One could also argue that the first mass atrocities of WWII started at the Nanking Massacre or Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking or Rape of Nanjing, was an episode during the Second Sino-Japanese War of mass murder and mass rape by Japanese troops against the residents of Nanjing (then spelled Nanking), then capital of the Republic of China. The massacre occurred over six weeks starting December 13, 1937, the day that the Japanese captured Nanjing. During this period, soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army murdered Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants numbering an estimated 40,000 to over 300,000, and perpetrated widespread rape and looting.

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One of the worst affected cities in China was Chongqing ( formerlyChungking )a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities in China. Administratively, it is one of China’s four direct-controlled municipalities (the other three are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin), and the only such municipality in inland China.

The Chinese Air Force was unprepared at the outbreak of the war. The Japanese air attacks went essentially unopposed.

Between February 18, 1938 – August 23, 1943 a total of 268 air raids were conducted against Chongqing, with more than 11,500, mainly incendiary, bombs dropped. The targets were usually residential areas, business areas, schools, hospitals and other non-military targets. These bombings were probably aimed at cowing the Chinese government, or as part of the planned Sichuan invasion.

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The worst one was probably the bombing which happened today 75 years ago.

On June 5, 1941, bombing in China’s former capital sent thousands of residents fleeing to a bomb shelter, where they suffocated. The Chongqing massacre and other Japanese attacks would sour Sino-Japanese relations for decades.

At the start of the second Sino-Japanese War in 1938, the Japanese began bombing China’s new capital city of Chongqing (Chungking). During the five-year campaign, the Japanese killed an estimated 11,889 people, wounded 14,100 and destroyed 17,608 buildings, according to the Chongqing Municipal Government.

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Chongqing had grown four times its pre-war size after becoming the new capital of China in 1938, but when the bombing began, many of the nearly 1 million citizens, unable to defend themselves, were forced into hiding as the only refuge from constant Japanese bombardment.

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One of the worst bombings came on June 5, 1941, and lasted more than three hours. More than 2,500 Chongqing residents fled to shelter in one of the town center’s tunnels, the Jiaochangkou Tunnel. There they suffocated as they waited for the end of the assault.Others died during the mass panic that ensued.

Bombing of Chongqing

Many people died, both in the bombings and also in the air-raid shelters, especially babies, from heat and exhaustion and diarrhea.

.The Japanese attack on Chongqing came three years after the massacre at Nanjing. Events like the “Rape of Nanjing” and the bombing of Chongqing set the stage for Japanese brutality and dominance over China, and caused decades of Sino-Japanese hostility.

It is not very clear how many people died on the 5th of June 1941, some records say 2,500 others say 4,000.The only thing that is certain is that these were all civilians and civilians had been the specific target of the Japanese air force.

Three-thousand tons of bombs were dropped on the city between 1939 and 1943.According to photographer Carl Mydans, the spring 1941 bombings were “the most destructive shelling ever made on a city”, although by comparison 2,300 tons of bombs were dropped by Allied bombers on Berlin in a single night during the Battle of Berlin. A total of 268 air raids were conducted against Chongqing.

In March 2006, 40 Chinese who were wounded or lost family members during the bombings sued the Japanese government demanding 10,000,000 yen (628,973 yuan) each and asked for apologies. “By filing a lawsuit, we want the Japanese people to know about Chongqing bombings,” said a victim.

 

Unfortunately they lost the law suit.

 

MS St. Louis- The Voyage of the Damned

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Before I get into the main story there is something I have to say. This is only my opinion based on my observation and it is not a political statement.The events in this story do have stark similarities to what is happening now, where countries are closing their borders for refugees.

The MS St. Louis was a German ocean liner most notable for a single voyage in 1939, in which its captain, Gustav Schröder, tried to find homes for 908 Jewish refugees from Germany.

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After they were denied entry to Cuba, Canada, and the United States, the refugees were finally accepted in various European countries, and historians have estimated that approximately a quarter of them died in death camps during World War II.

After Kristallnacht in November 1938, many Jews within Germany decided that it was time to leave.

Though many German Jews had emigrated in the preceding years, the Jews who remained had a more difficult time leaving the country because emigration policies had been toughened. By 1939, not only were visas needed to be able to enter another country but money was also needed to leave Germany. Since many countries, especially the United States, had immigration quotas, visas were near impossible to acquire within the short time spans in which they were needed. For many, the visas were acquired after it was too late.

The St. Louis set sail from Hamburg to Cuba on May 13, 1939. The vessel under command of Captain Gustav Schröder was carrying 937 refugees seeking asylum from Nazi persecution.[Captain Schröder,was a non-Jewish German who went to great lengths to ensure dignified treatment for his passengers.

On Saturday, May 13, 1939, the passengers boarded. Women and men; young and old. Each person who boarded had their own story of persecution.

One passenger, Aaron Pozner, had just been released from Dachau. On the night of Kristallnacht, Pozner along with 26,000 other Jews had been arrested and deported to concentration camps. While interned at Dachau, Pozner witnessed brutal murders by hanging, drowning, and crucifixion as well as torture by flogging and castrations by a bayonet.Surprisingly, one day Pozner was released from Dachau on the condition that he leave Germany within fourteen days.

Though his family had very little money, they were able to pool enough money to buy a ticket for him to board the S.S. St. Louis. Pozner said goodbye to his wife and two children, knowing that they would never be able to raise enough money to buy another ticket to freedom. Beaten and forced to sleep amongst bloody animal hides on his journey to reach the ship, Pozner boarded with the knowledge that it was up to him to earn the money to bring his family to freedom.

Many other passengers had either left family members behind while some were also going to be meeting relatives that had traveled earlier. As the passengers boarded they remembered the many years of persecution that they had been living under. Some had come out of hiding to board the ship and none were certain that they would not receive the same kind of treatment once aboard. The Nazi flag flying above the ship and the picture of Hitler hanging in the social hall did not allay their fears. Earlier, Captain Gustav Schroeder had given the 231 member crew stern warnings that these passengers were to be treated just like any others. Many were willing to do this, two stewards even carried Moritz and Recha Weiler’s luggage for them since they were elderly.

The journey to Cuba was a joyous affair. The passengers aboard the St. Louis were treated with contempt before they boarded, but once on the ship they were treated like privileged tourists.

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Crew members treated the passengers well—Captain Schröder insisted on this. Elegantly clad stewards served foods that by 1939 were rationed in Germany; there was a full-time nursemaid to care for small children when their parents sat to eat.

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There were dances and concerts, and the captain allowed passengers to hold Friday evening religious services in the dining room and even permitted them to throw a tablecloth over a plaster bust of Hitler that sat there. Children were given swimming lessons in the on-deck pool. Passengers felt that they were, in the words of Lothar Molton, a boy traveling with his parents, on “a vacation cruise to freedom.

The ship dropped anchor at 04:00 on May 27 at the far end of the Havana harbor and was denied entry to the usual docking areas. The next six days on the harbor were tumultuous times. The Cuban government, headed by President Federico Laredo Brú, refused to accept the foreign refugees.

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Although passengers had previously purchased legal visas, they could not enter Cuba either as tourists (laws related to tourist visas had recently been changed) or as refugees seeking political asylum. On May 5, 1939, four months before World War II began, Havana abandoned its former pragmatic immigration policy and instead issued Decree 937, which “restricted entry of all foreigners except U.S. citizens requiring a bond of $500 and authorization by the Cuban secretaries of state and labor. Permits and visas issued before May 5 were invalidated retroactively.”None of the passengers were aware that the Cuban government had retroactively invalidated their landing permits.

In the end, only 29 passengers were allowed to disembark in Cuba. Twenty-two of them were Jewish and had valid US visas; the remaining six—four Spanish citizens and two Cuban nationals—had valid entry documents. Another passenger, after attempting to commit suicide, was evacuated to a hospital in Havana.

MS St. Louis – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Telephone records show American officials Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, and Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the Treasury had made some efforts to persuade Cuba to accept the refugees. Their actions, together with efforts of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, were not successful.

Prohibited from landing in Cuba, Captain Schröder circled off the coast of Florida, hoping for permission to enter the United States. Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, advised Roosevelt not to accept the Jews, however. Captain Schroder considered running aground along the coast to allow the refugees to escape, but, acting on Cordell Hull’s instructions, US Coast Guard vessels shadowed the ship and prevented such a move.

It was today 77 years ago they were denied permission to land in Florida.

After the St. Louis was turned away from the United States,a group of academics and clergy in Canada tried to persuade Canada’s Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, to provide sanctuary to the ship’s passengers, as it was only two days from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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But Canadian immigration official Frederick Blair, hostile to Jewish immigration, persuaded the Prime Minister on June 9 not to intervene. In 2000, Blair’s nephew apologized to the Jewish people for his uncle’s action.

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The situation of the vessel deteriorated as Captain Schröder negotiated and schemed to find them a safe haven. (At one point he formulated plans to wreck the ship on the British coast to force the passengers to be taken as refugees.) He refused to return the ship to Germany until all the passengers had been given entry to some other country. US officials worked with Britain and European nations to find refuge for the travelers in Europe.[10] The ship returned to Europe, docking at Antwerp, Belgium, on June 17, 1939 with 907 passengers.

The United Kingdom agreed to take 288 of the passengers , who disembarked and traveled to the UK via other steamers. After much negotiation by Schröder, the remaining 619 passengers were allowed to disembark at Antwerp.

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224 were accepted by France , 214 by Belgium , and 181 by the Netherlands  Without any passengers, the ship returned to Hamburg. The following year, after the Nazi German invasions of Belgium and France in May 1940, all the Jews in those countries were at renewed risk, including the recent refugees.

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By using the survival rates for Jews in various countries, Thomas and Morgan-Witts, the authors of Voyage of the Damned, estimated that 180 of the St. Louis refugees in France, 152 of those in Belgium, and 60 of those in the Netherlands survived the Holocaust. Including the passengers who landed in England, of the original 936 refugees (one man died during the voyage), roughly 709 survived the war and 227 did not.

Later research by Scott Miller and Sarah Ogilvie of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum found that fewer had actually survived and estimated 254 deaths:.

 

Afraid of flying! Me?

Air.malta.a320-200.9h-aep.arp

Anyone who suffers from Aviophobia or fear of flying stop reading now!!!

No really.

Anyway for those are still there let me start by apologizing. I apologize in advance in case you are ever in the position that you have to board a plane with me.The examples below will explain why.

The 1st time I boarded a plane I was the tender age of 16 I think. It was a flight from Schiphol Amsterdam to Luqa, Malta international airport. This was back in the 80s. Let me put it this way flying with Air Malta as your first aviation experience, in the 80s, is not the best way of being introduced to flying. We all have experienced turbulence , but for the whole flight and a very rough landing,not very pleasant.

singa

Call me a fool but I tend to be a sucker for punishment, so the 2nd time I also flew Air Malta. Well that was the plan, turned out Air Malta had overbooked(any one who has even been on a Maltese bus, will see how this could happen)to my luck they changed the flights to Singapore airlines and as a cherry on a cake,1st class. However being a young innocent 17.5 year old I missed the first course of my meal because I was trying to figure out how to eat that hot wet sausage. Turned out this was a hot cloth rolled for convenience, to wipe your hands.

Fast forward a decade or so.Aer Lingus 11 April 1996 Dusseldorf -Dublin.

aer lingus

My wife and I were on the last flight out of Dusseldorf, after we left a big part of the Airport burned down.After our 2 weeks stay in Ireland, we contacted Aer Lingus to ask where we would be returning to, with the knowledge that Dusseldorf would be closed, we needed to know to arrange transport from the Airport to home. To my surprise the friendly lady told me that we still would be landing in Dussledorf, and who was I to argue with the expert.So my lift was arranged. Then after we boarded the plane we were told by the Captain we’d be landing in Maastricht, which was great for us because that was only 5 miles from home. However our ride was not too happy about the fact he drove for nothing to Dusseldorf. We hadn’t been able to contact him in the pre-mobile communication era.

ryan

Then sometime in 2005 I forget the exact date, because of the trauma. Shannon Airport to Brussels South-Charleroi,carrier Ryanair the not frills(but enough thrills) airline. About 15 minutes before we land something that sounded and felt like an explosion. I thought sayonara baby.The silence afterwards is something I will never forget. about 10 minutes after the ‘explosion’ the Captain announced that we had been hit by lightning and had lost one engine but the other one was still okay so we still would be landing as scheduled.

Skip forward to June 2008.

quantas

I had to fly for a business trip and training to Sydney. via London Heathrow and Bangkok.However my starting point was Dublin to London with Aer Lingus( I won’t even mention the delay) Finally arrived at LHR and luckily the Qantas flight coming in had also been delayed, which evened out my initial delay. All good and well, got on board, got my seat and sat down, made myself comfortable. Captain introduced himself via the intercom, start the engines and then nothing.Another announcement that there had been issues with the engines but all would be sorted soon. Soon being 17 hours later, from which 10 we were stuck inside the plane on the tarmac. After 10 hours they got us of board with the promise we could go into a hotel paid for by Qantas where we could sleep for a bit and have some food, because that 1 bag of peanuts and 500ml of water we got on board did not really fill us. They also said when we would get back there would be a brand new plane waiting for us. Now before I left the plane I had left a bit of my boarding card in the pocket of the seat in front of me.

I remember I was thinking of Rainman at the time where Raymond said that Qantas never crashed, I knew then why, because they never take off in the first place.

After 6 hours or so the coach came to collect us to transport us to the airport to our brand spanking new plane, imagine the excitement.However when I got back to the same allocated seat number as the previous plane to my surprise I spotted the bit of boarding card in the pocket of the seat in front of me. Naturally I was impressed with the service and when I commented on this to one of the crew, saying that how great it was that they had taken out all the seats of the other plane and put it on this one, she gave me a nervous smile and I did see very little of her after that. I should have know really because when we boarded I noticed that they had also given the ‘new’ plane the same name as the other one.

I could mention my dealings with Virgin Airlines(Europe not Atlantic) or Sobelair but they are no longer in operation.

I could also talk about the time I accidentally boarded a plane to the Ukraine where I should have boarded one to Germany, due to a power outage in Shannon Airport(luckily in those days you could still tell the crew that you had to get off) Or the numerous suitcases I lost, at one stage I jokingly said at check in ” I want that suitcase going to Madrid, that one to Milan and the last one to Paris” where the clerk answered ” I can’t do that” my reply was “Why not you did it the last time” Or literally ever other flight bar 2 that went wrong, but I think you get the point.

Although flying with me can be dangerous, eventually you always land safe albeit not necessarily your intended destination.

The Death Match 9 August 1942

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With the  World cup well on its way it is time to go back into darker history of football .

Although as a Dutchman it aches me to admit that the Germans generally put up a good team for the tournament, there is however a black mark in the German football history.

KIEV, Ukraine — There are few striking features about Start Stadium except its disrepair. Wooden planks in the grandstand, like neglected teeth, are mostly loose or missing. Behind the tiny seating area, though, a sturdy column rises and supports a statue. It depicts a muscular, naked man heroically kicking a soccer ball into the beak of a trampled eagle.

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On the 9th of August 1942, a group of men who worked at Kiev’s Bakery #3 took on the might of the Nazi Luftwaffe team and triumphed.  The game was dubbed the “Death Match”.  It was a match that went down in legend and folklore.  It was a match that was used for Soviet propaganda.  It was a match that provided the inspiration for the 1981 film Escape to Victory.  It was a match where the events surrounding the game are still being discussed and debated.  It had come about because of the remarkable feats of F.C. Start.

On the 19th of September 1941 the Nazis successfully invaded and captured Kiev.  A few days after they took over the city, the Nazis slaughtered over 33,000 Jews at the ravine of Babi Yar.

Babi_Jar_ravijn

In their attempts to keep the local population under control the Nazi rulers decided to introduce a series of football matches in June 1942.  It was part of an effort to distract and pacify the populace with a sense of “normality.”  Little did they know that a group of former Dynamo and Lokomotiv Kiev players who worked at a bakery would turn into a symbol of resistance for the people of Kiev.

The formation of F.C. Start effectively began with Nikolai Trusevich.  Trusevich was the goalkeeper of Dynamo Kiev before the outbreak of World War II.  He enlisted in the army to defend Kiev but soon became a prisoner of war and was held in the Darnitsa camp after the Nazi’s captured the city.  Trusevich was eventually released, after signing papers pledging loyalty to the new regime (not that he had much choice considering the alternative), and returned to Kiev.

On August 6, 1942 FC Start played the German team Flakelf. There was an estimated 2,000 spectators in attendance, with each spectator paying a total of five rubles to attend. Zenit Stadium was lined with SS soldiers and police dogs as an attempt to intimidate the Start players.

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(I am not sure if this is an actual picture or from the movie which was made in 2012)

The Flakelf team consisted of German soldiers who manned antiaircraft guns around Kiev. FC Start dominated the first game by defeating the Germans 5-1. The German team would demand a rematch. The “Death Match” or second match took place on 9 August 1942 at the Kiev city stadium against the German team Flakelf, made up of air defense artillery football players.

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With an audience of 2000,the teams met again three days later, in the later so-called “Death Match”. The poster informed that Flakelf had a “strengthened” team but did not reveal any names. But it named 14 Start players, amongst them Lev Gundarev, Georgi Timofeyev and Olexander Tkachenko, Ukrainian policemen under German command.

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The score was 5–3 in favour of Start. Only the first half of the match is documented: The Germans opened the score, then Ivan Kuzmenko and Makar Honcharenko two times marked the 3–1 score for half time. After the match a German took a photograph of both teams showing a relaxed atmosphere. Some days later he offered a copy to former Lokomotiv player Volodymyr Balakin.This photograph was never published in Soviet times.

Afterwards the winners drank a glass of self-made vodka and met at a party in the evening.

There were stories that in the aftermath of the match the players of F.C. Start were rounded up and executed.  That wasn’t the case though as the team played one more game a week after the infamous “Death match,” thrashing Rukh 8:0.

On the 18th of August 1942 the Gestapo arrived at Bakery #3 and read out a list of names who were required for questioning.  The names were of the players of F.C. Start.  The Gestapo wanted to prove that the players were agents of the NKVD, the secret police, and knew that the organization had links to Dynamo Kiev prior to the war.  Apparently a picture of Nikolai Korotkykh in an NKVD uniform was discovered and he was tortured to death.  The story goes that his sister had turned him in after being interrogated by the Nazis.

The remaining members of the team were sent to a concentration camp at Syrets.  It was there, six months after they had been arrested, that Alexei Klimenko, Ivan Kuzmenko and Nikolai Trusevich met their fate.  The commander of the concentration camp, Paul Radomski, had ordered the prisoners of the camp to line-up and decreed that every third one would be shot.  There are differing reasons given for his decision to exact punishment, ranging from revenge for attacks by Soviet partisans to retribution for prisoner disobedience.  No matter what, they were three pillars of the F.C. Start side were felled.  Trusevich, it was said, was wearing the goalkeeping top he wore for F.C. Start in the final moments of his life.nikolai-trusevich

 

Makar Goncharenko, Mikhail Sviridovsky and Feodor Tyutchev, who were in Kiev as part of the work squad, took their opportunity to flee fearing that they would be killed if they returned to Syrets.

The reports give several reasons for the execution:

  • A conflict concerning the dog of the camp commandor Paul Radomski: Some prisoners were said to have beaten it with a shovel in the camp kitchen. On this situation one of the prisoners had attacked an SS soldier.Radomski
  • Punishment for the escape of some prisoners.
  • Disobiedience of prisoners who were ordered to hang other prisoners who tried to flee from the camp.
  • A sabotage act of partisans on a tank repair facility

After the fall of the Nazis the Soviet government initially played down the story of F.C Start with the exploits of the team only being recognized and broadly told in the late 1950s.  The regime soon came to realize the propaganda value of using the legend of F.C. Start to further their ideological cause. From then on the Soviet government used the story of F.C. Start for their own purposes.  They promoted the myth that a number of the team were immediately shot after the game and died for their ideology and ideals.  Indeed, when Goncharenko was discussing the aftermath of game in 1985 he claimed that Trusevich’s last words were “long live Stalin, long live Soviet Sport.”  Again, there are differing accounts of exactly what words, if any, Trusevic uttered.  Goncharenko may have felt obliged to give the regime’s version of events..

After the publication of a report in a German newspaper repeating the Soviet version a case about the “Death Match” was opened by the prosecution office of Hamburg in July 1974.As Soviet authorities did not collaborate on the case, it was closed in March 1976. In 2002 the Ukrainian authorities informed Hamburg about their new investigation. So the case was reopened, but finally closed by the investigation commission in February 2005. The commission was not able to find any connections between the game and the execution of people who participated in it, nor any person responsible for the executions being still alive. Radomski had been killed on 14 March 1945.

Either way one can not help but wonder if these men were killed because of the match.

Many may never have heard of this story while some may have forgotten it but the city of Kyiv shall forever remember this incredibly brave group of eleven men who stood for everything the city believed in, the men who held this city together through one year of the war, the men who defeated Germany, the men who expressed themselves through the sport they loved, the men who wanted to free Ukraine!

Two movies were inspired on the event. Although the 1981 one movie “Escape to Victory”directed by John Huston is only very loosely based on the match, the only similarities it has is a match between Germans and Non Germans during WWII. In the movie the Germans play allied POWs.

EscapeToVictory

In 2012 the Russian movie “Match” ,which is actually based on the event , caused quite some controversy in the Ukraine.

Regulators said the film could incite aggressive fans just weeks before Ukraine hosted several games played by Germany’s national team during the 2012 European Championship from June 8-July 1.

‘There always are people – hooligans – who use football to spill out their aggression and some of those people may be influenced by (the film),’ said political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko.

 

In the Dynamo Kiev Stadium  in Kiev a monument has been erected depicting some of the players reputedly executed by the Nazis.

monument

Whether the players were eventually executed or not I don’t really know for certain, but given the fact that the Germans were defeated twice must have been a blow to the Nazi propaganda machine and therefore it would not surprise me in the slightest that the  men were killed because of this.

Donation

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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Karl Brandt Phyiscian or mad man

Primum non nocere is a Latin phrase that means “first, do no harm.

Non-maleficence, which is derived from the maxim, is one of the principal precepts of bioethics that all healthcare students are taught in school and is a fundamental principle throughout the world. But yet a great number of the Nazi physicians ignored this principle. Karl Brandt being one of the worst of them.

Today is the 68th anniversary of his execution.

Karl Brandt was born on the 8 of January 1904. He became a doctor and in August 1933, was summoned to Upper Bavaria to treat Wilhelm Bruckner, Hitler’s adjutant’s, who had been hurt in an automobile accident. Adolf Hitler was so impressed with his work that he invited Dr. Brandt to become his personal physician.

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Brandt joined Hitler’s inner circle and was given the rank of major-general in the Waffen-SS. He was also appointed Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation.

In 1935 Heinrich Hoffman recommended that Adolf Hitler should be examined by Dr. Theodor Morell. Morell claimed Hitler was suffering from “complete exhaustion of the intestinal system” and recommended treatment of vitamins, hormones, phosphorus, and dextrose.

Theodor_Morell

Brandt warned Hitler he was in danger of being poisoned by these large dosages of drugs and vitamins. Hitler rejected Brandt’s advice and replied: “No one has ever told me precisely what is wrong with me. Morrell’s method of cure is so logical that I have the greatest confidence in him. I shall follow his prescriptions to the letter.” Later he was to remark: “What luck I had to meet Morell. He has saved my life.”

Brandt was responsible for the Law for the Protection of Hereditary Health that was used to introduce compulsory sterilization. In August, 1939 the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Serious Hereditary and Congenially Based Diseases was established.

In the context of the 1933 Nazi law Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses (Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring), he was one of the medical scientists who performed abortions in great numbers on women deemed genetically disordered, mentally or physically handicapped or racially deficient, or whose unborn fetuses were expected to develop such genetic “defects”. These abortions had been legalized, as long as no healthy Aryan fetuses were aborted

On September 1, 1939, Brandt was appointed by Hitler co-head of the T-4 Euthanasia Program, with Philipp Bouhler.

https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/forgotten-history-the-t-4-holocaust-victimsthe-killing-of-the-disabled/

https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/action-14f13-the-killing-of-the-sick/

Additional power was afforded Brandt when on July 28, 1942, he was appointed Commissioner of Sanitation and Health (Bevollmächtiger für das Sanitäts und Gesundheitswesen) by Hitler and was thereafter only bound by the Führer’s instructions alone. He received regular promotions in the SS; by April 1944, Brandt was a SS-Gruppenführer in the Allgemeine-SS and a SS-Brigadeführer in the Waffen-SS. On April 16, 1945, he was arrested by the Gestapo for moving his family out of Berlin so they could surrender to American forces. He was condemned to death by a military court and then sent to Kiel.Brandt was released from arrest by order of Karl Dönitz on May 2, 1945. He was later placed under arrest by the British on May 23, 1945.

Brandt’s medical ethics, particularly regarding euthanasia, were influenced by Alfred Hoche, whose courses he attended.

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Like many other German doctors of the period, Brandt came to believe that the health of society as a whole should take precedence over that of its individual members. Because society was viewed as an organism that had to be cured, its weakest, most invalid and incurable members were only parts that should be removed. Such hapless creatures should therefore be granted a “merciful death” (Gnadentod).In addition to these considerations, Brandt’s explanation at his trial for his criminal actions – particularly ordering experimentation on human beings – was that “… Any personal code of ethics must give way to the total character of the war”. Historian Horst Freyhofer asserts that, in the absence of at least Brandt’s “tacit” approval, it is highly unlikely that the grotesque and cruel medical experiments for which the Nazi doctors are infamous, could have been performed. Brandt and Hitler discussed multiple killing techniques during the initial planning of the euthanasia program, during which Hitler asked Brandt, “which is the most humane way;” Brandt suggested the use of carbon monoxide gas, whereupon Hitler gave his approval and instructed Brandt to reach out to other physicians and begin to coordinate the mass killings.

The euthanasia programme was known as T-4 and began in autumn 1939. According to Ulf Schmidt, the author of Karl Brandt: The Nazi Doctor, the first person to die as a result of the T-4 programme was Gerhard Kretschmar, a child born on 29th February 1939. Documents show that the parents, who lived in the south-eastern region of Saxony, petitioned Adolf Hitler asking for the child to be “put to sleep”. Brandt claimed “it was a child who was born blind, an idiot – at least it seemed to be an idiot – and it lacked one leg and part of one arm.”

Carbon monoxide gas was selected as the means of death and several asylums were equipped with chambers for this purpose. Between October 1939 and August 1941, T-4 killed over 70,000 people.

 

“Because God cannot want the sick and ailing to reproduce.” is what it says on the propaganda poster below.

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As theSecond World War progressed the euthanasia program was used to exterminate people said to be biologically inferior, such as Jews, Poles, Russians and Gypsies.

Karl Brandt and his wife Anni were members of Hitler’s inner circle at Berchtesgaden where Hitler maintained his private residence known as the Berghof.

This very exclusive group functioned as Hitler’s de facto family circle. It included Eva Braun, Albert Speer, his wife Margarete, Dr. Theodor Morell, Martin Bormann, Hitler’s photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler’s adjutants and his secretaries. Brandt and Hitler’s chief architect Albert Speer were good friends as the two shared technocratic dispositions about their work. Brandt looked at killing “useless eaters” and the handicapped as a means to an end, namely since it was in the interest of public health. Similarly, Speer viewed the use of concentration camp labor for his defense and building projects in much the same way.As members of this inner circle, the Brandts had a residence near the Berghof and spent extensive time there when Hitler was present. In his memoirs, Speer described the numbing lifestyle of Hitler’s inner circle, forced to stay up most of the night listening to the insomniac Nazi leader’s repetitive monologues or to an unvarying selection of music. Despite Brandt’s closeness to Hitler, the dictator was furious when he learned On 16th April, 1945 the doctor had sent Anni and their son toward the American lines in hopes of evading capture by the Russians.

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Only the intervention of Heinrich Himmler, Albert Speer, and the direct order of Admiral Doenitz after Brandt had been captured by the Gestapo and sent to Kiel in the war’s closing days, saved him from execution by the Nazi’s.

Brandt was one of the defendants in the trial of 23 SS physicians and scientists that began at Nuremberg on 9th December, 1946.The Doctor’s trial.

In court he was asked why he followed instructions to carry out medical experiments on patients. Brandt argued: “Would you believe that it was a pleasure to me to receive the order to start euthanasia? For fifteen years I had laboured at the sick-bed and every patient was to me like a brother, every sick child I worried about as if it had been my own. And then that hard fate hit me. Is that guilt? Was it not my first thought to limit the scope of euthanasia?… With the deepest devotion I have tortured myself again and again, but no philosophy and no other wisdom helped here. There was the decree and on it there was my name. I do not say that I could have feigned sickness. I do not live this life of mine in order to evade fate if I meet it. And thus I affirmed Euthanasia. I realise the problem is as old as man, but it is not a crime against man nor against humanity. Here I cannot believe like a clergyman or think as a Jurist. I am a doctor and I see the law of nature as being the law of reason. From that grew in my heart the love of man and it stands before my conscience.” The court was unimpressed and Brandt was sentenced to death.

With six others, he was sentenced to death by hanging, and all were executed at Landsberg Prison on June 2, 1948.

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Nine other defendants received prison terms of between fifteen years and life, while a further seven were found not guilty.

Serial Killers-Not only a US and UK phenomenon

When we say serial killers we tend to think that this is really only a US and UK thing with a few exceptions every once in a while,. Maybe it is because the UK and US serial killers are more well known because of the media and several Hollywood portrayals.

We have all heard of Jeffrey Dahmer,Ted Bundy,John Wayne  Gacy, Peter Sutcliffe and Jack the Ripper, with the exception of Jack the Ripper all of these men were eventually caught.

But it is not restricted to the US and the UK it really is a global phenomenon, for the lack of a better word, in fact the most prolific serial killer is from Colombia.

Luis Garavito Child-murderer, torture-killer, and rapist known as ”La Bestia” (“The Beast”). Confessed to killing 140 children over a 5-year period in Colombia. He is suspected of murdering over 300 victims, mostly street children.

Luis_Garavito

Garavito was arrested on 22 April 1999. He confessed to murdering 140 children, and was charged with killing 172 altogether throughout Colombia. He was found guilty on 139 of the 172 accounts; the others are ongoing. Although the maximum sentence for murder in Colombia multiplied by 139 comes to 1,853 years and 9 days, Colombian law limits imprisonment to 40 years. Because he helped police find some bodies, as well as to his confessions, his sentence was further reduced to 22 years.He may possibly qualify for even earlier release for further cooperation and good behavior.

Although the first officially recorded serial killer was H. H. Holmes

H._H._Holmes

Herman Webster Mudgett (May 16, 1861 – May 7, 1896), better known under the name of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes or more commonly just H. H. Holmes, was one of the first documented serial killers in the modern sense of the term. In Chicago, at the time of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Holmes opened a hotel which he had designed and built for himself specifically with murder in mind, and which was the location of many of his murders. While he confessed to 27 murders, of which nine were confirmed, his actual body count could be up to 200.He brought an unknown number of his victims to his World’s Fair Hotel, located about 3 miles (4.8 km) west of the fair, which was held in Jackson Park. Besides being a serial killer, H. H. Holmes was also a successful con artist and a bigamist.

In October 1895, Holmes was put on trial for the murder of Benjamin Pitezel, and was found guilty and sentenced to death. By then, it was evident that Holmes had also murdered the Pitezel children. Following his conviction, Holmes confessed to 30 murders in Chicago, Indianapolis and Toronto (though some he confessed to murdering were, in fact, still living), and six attempted murders. Holmes was paid $7,500 (worth $213,330 today) by the Hearst newspapers in exchange for his confession.

hearst

Holmes gave various contradictory accounts of his life, initially claiming innocence and later that he was possessed by Satan. His propensity for lying has made it difficult for researchers to ascertain the truth on the basis of his statements.[28] While writing his confessions in prison, Holmes mentioned how drastically his facial appearance had changed since his imprisonment. He described his new, grim appearance as “gruesome and taking a Satanical Cast”, and wrote that he was now convinced that after everything that he had done, he was beginning to resemble the Devil.

On May 7, 1896, Holmes was hanged at Moyamensing Prison, also known as the Philadelphia County Prison, for the murder of Benjamin Pitezel.

However it is believed although it wasn’t officially documented a French Nobleman by the name of Gilles de Rais, killed people centuries before H.H Holmes was even born.

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Gilles de Rais (born 1404) is considered to be the precursor to the modern serial killer. Before he began his killing spree, he rode as a military captain in the army lead by St Joan of Arc – though it is unlikely that she knew him. He was accused and ultimately convicted of torturing, raping and murdering dozens, if not hundreds, of young children, mainly boys.

According to surviving accounts, Rais lured children, mainly young boys who were blond haired and blue eyed (as he had been as a child), to his residences, and raped, tortured and mutilated them, often ejaculating, perhaps via masturbation, over the dying victim. He and his accomplices would then set up the severed heads of the children in order to judge which was the most fair. The precise number of Rais’s victims is not known, as most of the bodies were burned or buried. The number of murders is generally placed between 80 and 200; a few have conjectured numbers upwards of 600. The victims ranged in age from six to eighteen and included both sexes. Although Rais preferred boys, he would make do with young girls if circumstances required.

At the transcript of the trial, one of Gilles servants Henriet (an accomplice to his crimes) described the actions of his master, which were essentially:

Henriet soon began to collect children for his master, and was present whilst he massacred them. They were murdered invariably in one room at Machecoul. The marshal used to bathe in their blood; he was fond of making Gilles do Sillé, Pontou, or Henriet torture them, and he experienced intense pleasure in seeing them in their agonies. But his great passion was to welter in their blood. His servants would stab a child in the jugular vein, and let the blood squirt over him. The room was often steeped in blood. When the horrible deed was done, and the child was dead, the marshal would be filled with grief for what he had done, and would toss weeping and praying on a bed, or recite fervent prayers and litanies on his knees, whilst his servants washed the floor, and burned in the huge fireplace the bodies of the murdered children. With the bodies were burned the clothes and everything that had belonged to the little victims. An insupportable odour filled the room, but the Maréchal do Retz inhaled it with delight

Execution by hanging and burning was set for Wednesday 26 October 1440. At nine o‘clock, Gilles and his two accomplices made their way in procession to the place of execution on the Ile de Biesse. Gilles is said to have addressed the crowd with contrite piety and exhorted Henriet and Poitou to die bravely and think only of salvation. Gilles’ request to be the first to die had been granted the day before. At eleven o’clock, the brush at the platform was set afire and Rais was hanged. His body was cut down before being consumed by the flames and claimed by “four ladies of high rank” for burial. Henriet and Poitou were executed in similar fashion but their bodies were reduced to ashes in the flames and then scattered.

Of course sometimes it is the ones you trust the most who turn out to be the real monsters, like in the case of Dr Harold Shipman.

Harold_Shipman_mug_shot

Harold Frederick Shipman (14 January 1946 – 13 January 2004) was a British GP and one of the most prolific serial killer in recorded history. On 31 January 2000, a jury found Shipman guilty of 15 murders, but an inquiry after his conviction confirmed he was responsible for at least 218. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and the judge recommended that he never be released.

The Shipman Inquiry, chaired by Dame Janet Smith, began on 1 September 2000. Lasting almost two years, it was an investigation into all deaths certified by Shipman. About 80% of his victims were women. His youngest victim was a 41-year-old man Much of Britain’s legal structure concerning health care and medicine was reviewed and modified as a result of Shipman’s crimes. He is the only British doctor to have been found guilty of murdering his patients, although various other doctors have been acquitted of similar crimes in the country.

Shipman injected the victim with a lethal dose of the painkiller diamorphine and then signed a death certificate attributing the incident to natural causes. His motives were unclear; some speculated that Shipman may have been seeking to avenge the death of his mother, while others suggested that he thought he was practicing euthanasia, removing from the population older people who might otherwise have become a burden to the health care system. A third possibility raised was that he derived pleasure from the knowledge that, as a doctor, he had the power of life or death over his patients and that killing was the means through which he expressed this power. Despite his forgery of the will of one of his victims, financial gain appears not to have been a serious motive.

Shipman died on 13 January 2004, the day before his 58th birthday, after hanging himself in his cell at Wakefield Prison.

Several years ago I watched a movie called Citizen X.

X

It was based on the true story of a Russian serial killer who, over many years, claimed over 50 victims, mostly under the age of 17. In what was then a Communist state, the police investigations were hampered by bureaucracy, incompetence and those in power. The story is told from the viewpoint of the detective in charge of the case.

The name of this killer was Andrei Chikatilo

This case intrigued because I vividly remembered parts of  court case being televised and I remembered him sitting in  a cage in the courtroom.

Andrei Chikatilo was a Ukrainian serial killer, nicknamed the Butcher of Rostov and ‘The Red Ripper.’ He was convicted of the murder of 53 women and children between 1978 and 1990. In 1978, Chikatilo moved to Shakhty, a small coal mining town near Rostov, where he committed his first documented murder. On December 22, he lured a nine-year-old girl to an old house which he bought in secret from his family and attempted to rape her.

Yelena_Zakotnova

(Yelena Zakotnova, aged 9. Murdered 22 December 1978.)

When the girl struggled, he stabbed her to death. He ejaculated in the process of knifing the child, and from then on he was only able to achieve sexual arousal and orgasm through stabbing and slashing women and children to death. Despite evidence linking Chikatilo to the girl’s death, a young man, Alexsandr Kravchenko, was arrested and later tried and executed for the crime.

He established a pattern of approaching runaways and young vagrants at bus or railway stations and enticing them to leave. A quick trip into a nearby forest was the scene for the victim’s death. In 1983, he did not kill until June, but then he murdered four victims before September. The victims were all women and children. The adult females were often prostitutes or homeless tramps who could be lured with promises of alcohol or money. Chikatilo would usually attempt intercourse with these victims, but would usually be unable to get an erection, which would send him into a murderous fury. The child victims were of both sexes, and Chikatilo would lure them away with his friendly, talkative manner by promising them toys or candy. In the USSR at the time, reports of crimes like child rape and serial murder were often suppressed by the state-controlled media, as such crimes were regarded as being common only in “hedonistic capitalist nations.”

On 13 September 1984, exactly one week after his 15th killing of the year, Chikatilo was observed by an undercover detective attempting to lure young women away from a Rostov bus station. He was arrested and held. A search of his belongings revealed a knife and rope.He was also discovered to be under investigation for minor theft at one of his former employers, which gave the investigators the legal right to hold him for a prolonged period of time. Chikatilo’s dubious background was uncovered, and his physical description matched the description of the man seen with Dmitry Ptashnikov in March prior to the boy’s murder. A sample of Chikatilo’s blood was taken; the results of which revealed his blood group to be type A, whereas semen samples found upon a total of six victims murdered by the unknown killer throughout the spring and summer of 1984 had been classified by medical examiners to be type AB. Chikatilo’s name was added to the card index file used by investigators; however, the results of his blood type analysis largely discounted him as being the unknown killer. (By Chikatilo’s arrest, the index file had expanded to include over 25,000 individuals investigated in connection with the murders.

Chikatilo was found guilty of theft of property from his previous employer and sentenced to one year in prison, but was freed on 12 December 1984 after serving three months.

In 1988 Chikatilo resumed killing, generally keeping his activities far from the Rostov area. He murdered a woman in Krasny-Sulin in April and went on to kill another eight people that year, including two victims in Shakhty. Again there was a long lapse before Chikatilo resumed killing, murdering seven boys and two women between January and November of 1990. He was finally caught when trying to approach young children whilst under police surveillance.

He went to trial on April 14, 1992. Despite his odd and disruptive behavior in court, he was judged fit to stand trial. During the trial he was famously kept in a cage in the center of the courtroom; it was constructed for his own protection from the relatives of the deceased. The trial had a very disturbing atmosphere. The relatives kept shouting threats and insults to Chikatilo, demanding the authorities to release him so that they could execute him on their own. He was found guilty of 52 of the 53 murders and sentenced to death for each offense.

He was executed by firing squad (shot in the back of the head) on February 14, 1994 after Russian president Boris Yeltsin refused a last ditch appeal by Chikatilo for clemency.

The novel Child 44 is loosely based on Chikatilo.

Most of these men looked like ordinary men, not the bogey man we were warned about as kids.

bogeyman (1)

The one thing that they have in common is that were all evil and not all of them had a bad childhood in fact most of them were very privileged. Although I am not a psychiatrist so this is my own opinion, I do believe that some people are just born evil.

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