Little Known WW2 Facts-Part 5

At the time of Pearl Harbor, the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced “sink us”), the shoulder patch of the US Army’s 45th Infantry division was the swastika, and Hitler’s private train was named “Amerika”. All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

40,000 men served on U-Boats during World War 2; 30,000 never returned

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German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City but it wasn’t worth the effort.

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Japan and Russia still haven’t signed a peace treaty to end World War II due to the
Kuril Islands dispute.

Queen Elizabeth II served as a mechanic and driver in World War II.The Queen – who served with the Number 1 ‘Beaufront’ Company, Auxiliary Territorial Service.

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The Paris Mosque helped Jews escape the Nazis by giving them Muslim IDs

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The most notable case of the mosque refuge was Simon Hilali, a Sephardic Jew who survived the Holocaust by pretending to be an Arab named Salim with the assistance of Benghrabit , the religious leader of the mosque, and later went on to become the most popular Arab-language singer of the time. According to Hilali’s obituary, Germans were so suspicious of the Jewish musician that Benghabrit had the name of Hilali’s made-up Muslim grandfather carved on a headstone in a Parisian Muslim cemetery

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Tsutomu Yamaguchi (March 16, 1916 – January 4, 2010) was a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings during World War II. Although at least 160 people are known to have been affected by both bombings, he is the only person to have been officially recognized by the government of Japan as surviving both explosion.

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On 14 February 1942, Japanese Imperial Forces advanced through Kent Ridge down Pasir Panjang Road to the Alexandra Road Military Hospital. The British 1st Malaya Infantry Brigade retreated west through the Hospital.They set up machine guns on the first and second floors to cover their retreat. A lieutenant carried a Red Cross brassard and a white flag to meet the Japanese troops, and announce surrender of non-combatants in the hospital, but was killed immediately.

Flight Sergeant Nicholas Stephen Alkemade (1922–1987) was a rear gunner in Royal Air Force  Avro Lancaster heavy bombers during World War II, who survived—without a parachute—a fall of 18,000 feet (5,500 m) when abandoning his out-of-control, burning aircraft over Germany.

On the night of 24 March 1944, 21-year-old Alkemade was one of seven crew members in Avro Lancaster B Mk. II, DS664,of No. 115 Squadron RAF. Returning from a 300 bomber raid on Berlin, east of Schmallenberg, DS664 was attacked by a Luftwaffe Ju 88 night-fighter, flown by Hauptmann Gerhard Friedrich, 1./NJG 6, caught fire and began to spiral out of control. Because his parachute was unserviceable, Alkemade jumped from the aircraft without one, preferring to die by impact rather than burn to death. He fell 18,000 feet (5,500 m) to the ground below.

His fall was broken by pine trees and a soft snow cover on the ground. He was able to move his arms and legs and suffered only a sprained leg. The Lancaster crashed in flames, killing pilot Jack Newman and three other members of the crew.

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During WW2, when Hitler visited Paris, the French cut the lift cables on the Eiffel Tower so that Hitler would have to climb the steps if he wanted to reach the top.

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The Allied secret service tried to spike Hitler’s food with female hormones to feminize him.

Agents planned to smuggle doses of oestrogen into his food to make him less aggressive and more like his docile younger sister Paula, who worked as a secretary.

Spies working for the British were close enough to Hitler to have access to his food, said Professor Brian Ford, who discovered the plot.

He explained that oestrogen was chosen because it was tasteless and would have a slow and subtle effect, meaning it would pass Hitler’s food testers unnoticed.

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The only casualty of the first bomb in WW2 to fall on British soil was a rabbit.

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Nobuo Fujita(1911 – 30 September 1997) was a Warrant Flying Officer of the Imperial Japanese Navy who flew a floatplane from the long-range submarine aircraft carrierI-25, and conducted the only wartime aircraft-dropped bombing on the continental United States of America, which became known as the Lookout Air Raid.Using incendiary bombs, his mission was to start massive forest fires in the Pacific Northwest near the city of Brookings, Oregon with the objective of drawing the U.S. military’s resources away from the Pacific Theater.

Twenty years later, the floatplane’s pilot, Nobuo Fujita, was invited back to Brookings. Before he made the trip the Japanese government was assured he would not be tried as a war criminal. In Brookings, Fujita served as Grand Marshal for the local Azalea Festival. At the festival, Fujita presented his family’s 400-year-old samurai sword to the city as a symbol of regret

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After John F. Kennedy’s WW2 PT boat was sunk, he wrote a message on a coconut asking for help. It worked. Kennedy kept the coconut and it became a Presidential paperweight.

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Karl Josef Silberbauer,  the SS officer who captured Anne Frank and her family became a member of West Germany’s intelligence service after WW2. He bought Anne Frank’s book to see if he was mentioned.

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Paul Ogorzow -WW2 Serial Killer

Paul Ogorzow

This is something that always intrigued me. How many serial killers were there during WWII and got away with it because they joined the various death squads? Where they could kill authorized by the Nazi regime, and indeed the regimes of the other axis nations.

And what differentiated those who were captured and brought to justice to those who killed indiscriminately in the name of the Nazi party? The answer would probably the Nazi ideology,although idiocy would probably be a more accurate description.

One of the WW2 serial killers was Paul Ogorzow.

Paul Ogorzow (29 September 1912 – 26 July 1941), also known as the S-Bahn Murderer, was a German serial killer and rapist who operated in Nazi-era Berlin during the height of World War II. Ogorzow was employed by Deutsche Reichsbahn, working for the commuter rail system in Berlin, the S-Bahn.

 

Ogorzow gained infamy by using the routine wartime blackouts, that took place as a result of the Allied bombing of Berlin, to more easily prey upon his victims. He was responsible for the murders of eight women during a nine-month-period from 4 October 1940 to 3 July 1941. Following his apprehension by the Kriminalpolizei (Kripo), Orgozow was executed by guillotine at Plötzensee prison in July 1941.

Paul Ogorzow was born on 29 September 1912 in the village of Muntowen, East Prussia, in what was then the German Empire (now: Muntowo, Poland).

He was the illegitimate child of a farm worker, Marie Saga. Her father later filled out his new grandson’s birth certificate, marking it with three crosses and the child’s birth name: Paul Saga.

In 1924, the now 12-year-old Saga was adopted by Johann Ogorzow, a farmer in Havelland. He eventually took Ogorzow’s surname as his own and relocated to the town of Nauen near Berlin. He initially worked as a laborer on his adoptive father’s farm and later found employment with a steel foundry in Brandenburg-an-der-Havel

Ogorzow joined the Nazi Party in 1931, at the age of 18, and became a member of its paramilitary branch, the Sturmabteilung (SA), the following year. After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Ogorzow rose modestly in the Party ranks. By the time of his capture, Ogorzow held the position of Scharführer (squad leader) in the SA.

In 1934, Ogorzow was hired as a platelayer by the Deutsche Reichsbahn (National Railroad). He steadily worked his way up through the organization, eventually working as an assistant signalman at Rummelsburg railway station in the eastern suburbs of Berlin, close to Karlshorst. This was the area where most of his crimes later occurred.

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Beginning in August 1939, while he and his family were residing in Karlshorst, Ogorzow embarked on a violent series of sexual assaults, randomly attacking, brutalizing and then raping dozens of women in and around Berlin’s Friedrichsfelde district. At that time, the neighborhood that was populated mostly by solitary housewives, whose husbands had been called up to serve in the war. It was these vulnerable women who initially served as Ogorzow’s primary source of rape victims.

The Berlin police documented 31 separate cases of rape and other sexual assaults that occurred in the area, all of which were later connected to Ogorzow. During his attacks, Ogorzow either choked his victims, threatened them with a knife, or bludgeoned them with a blunt object. In their statements, all the victims mentioned their attacker wore a railway worker’s uniform.

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Ogorzow also first began attempting to murder some of his victims during this time. His initial efforts, however, met with little success. Between August 1939 and July 1940, Ogorzow attacked and stabbed three different women, all of whom later went on to recover and serve as witnesses against him.

The citizens of Berlin in 1940 were living with rationing, nightly blackouts, and the first regular Allied bombing raids.

 

 

To add to their plight, the bodies of women who had suffered horrific abuse began to appear. Gerda Ditter’s body appeared in October, strangled and stabbed to death. In November, another young woman was thrown from a moving train. And on December 4, two more bodies were found, thrown from a moving train. One woman survived, the other didn’t.

On December 22, the body of Elisabeth Bungener was found with a fractured skull close to the railroad tracks. A week later, the body of another woman who suffered a fractured skull was found near the tracks. Another body was found in January 1941. After that, the killer disappeared for five weeks. Then on February 11 Johanna Voigt’s body was discovered, also with a fractured skull. The final victim, Frieda Koziol, was found five months later in July.

While the infamous S-Bahn Murderer was on his rampage, he was being pursued by the Kriminalpolizei (aka ‘Kripo’), Berlin’s serious crime unit. But they had a tough job finding the killer

Their biggest antagonist wasn’t the S-Bahn murderer, but the blackout. The killer’s victims weren’t the only bodies that appeared around the railroad tracks; in fact, in December of 1940 alone there were 28 deaths attributed to accidents on the railway. These were direct results of the blackout—people were hit by trains either when crossing tracks or when they accidentally stepped off train platforms. In addition, the blackouts had sparked a crime wave in Berlin, distracting from the investigation and adding to the body count as well.

Besides the blackout, the investigators were hampered by the Nazi regime. The government did not want word of the killings to cause fear among the general populace, and so they tamped down on reporting. This deprived the investigation of any tips from the general public.

Other hindrances to the investigation came from biases that shaped the investigator’s outlook. There was a tendency to trust people in uniform who held an official position. Paul Ogorzow worked for German Railways, and his uniform proved as a kind of shield.

A bigger bias though was the racial prejudices the Nazis became infamous for. Some believed the killer had to be a Jew, because large numbers of Jews worked on German Railways. Others thought it might be a British Agent attempting to sow fear in the capital. Given the Nazi’s tendency toward bizarre espionage, it at least seemed plausible. Another theory was that the killer was one of the thousands of foreign workers who were brought to Berlin to fill the need for labor. Given the large numbers of foreigners in the city, this seemed plausible.

That is, until a serious look at German Railway employees netted one name again and again. Paul Ogorzow was known among his coworkers for his hatred of women and his slacker tendencies—he had a habit of wandering off during his shifts. If it were not for his coworker’s suspicions, the Kripo may not have looked at him at all, because he was a married man with two children. Not to mention, he was a Nazi party member.

Ogorzow was brought in and subjected to intense questioning. He eventually cracked and confessed to eight murders and several assaults. His weapon of choice seemed to be a length of lead cable. In a bizarre attempt to save himself, he claimed that a Jewish doctor’s treatment for gonorrhea had awakened his murderous urges. The Kripo didn’t buy it, nor did the government. It seems that Ogorzow’s Nazi allegiance could not save him. He was executed by guillotine.

 

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Dirk J Vlug- Hero

Vlug018.jpgGiven the fact I am also a Dirk J(my J as in Johannes, the Dutch equivalent of John) I could not resist doing a piece on this man.

Dirk John Vlug  (August 20, 1916 – June 25, 1996) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.

Dirk Vlug joined the Army from Grand Rapids, Michigan in April 1941 and served as a private first class in the 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division.On December 15, 1944 near Limon in the Philippine province of Leyte, he single-handedly destroyed a group of five heavily armed Japanese tanks.

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For his actions, Vlug was issued the Medal of Honor a year and a half later, on June 26, 1946.

He subsequently left the army and joined the Michigan National Guard in May 1949, and retired with the rank of Master Sergeant in January 1951.

He had been tasked with defending the American roadblock of the Ormac Road.

When an American roadblock on the Ormoc Road was attacked by a group of enemy tanks, Private First Class Vlug left his covered position, and with a rocket launcher and six rounds of ammunition, advanced alone under intense machine gun and 37-mm fire. Loading single-handedly, he destroyed the first tank, killing its occupants with a single round. As the crew of the second tank started to dismount and attack him, he killed one of the foe with his pistol, forcing the survivors to return to their vehicle, which he then destroyed with a second round. Three more hostile tanks moved up the road, so he flanked the first and eliminated it, and then, despite a hail of enemy fire, pressed forward again to destroy another. With his last round of ammunition he struck the remaining vehicle, causing it to crash down a steep embankment. Through his sustained heroism in the face of superior forces, Private First Class Vlug alone destroyed five enemy tanks and greatly facilitated successful accomplishment of his battalion’s mission.” He was awarded his Medal on June 26, 1946.

Dirk J. Vlug is welcomed home during parade in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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As proven so often before , one man can makes a difference, this is another example that should serve to inspire us to become better men and women.

This brave man died 20 years ago today. He was buried  in the Greenwood Cemetery
Grand Rapids,Kent County.Michigan, USA Plot: Block X, Lot 203, Space 1.

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Dirk J. Vlug, we salute you.

Nicolette Bruining-WW2 Hero, Theologian and Broadcaster.

Nicolette Bruining was a truly remarkable woman and her legacy still lives on to this day, although in ways not necessarily how she had envisaged.

 

Nicolette Adriana Bruining (27 August 1886 – 12 April 1963) was a Dutch theologian and founding president of the Liberal Protestant Radio Broadcasting Corporation (Dutch: Vrijzinnig Protestantse Radio Omroep) (VPRO).

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She was also a teacher and humanitarian, assisting Jews during the Second World War. Her aid was acknowledged by the state of Israel, which posthumously awarded her as Righteous Among the Nations in 1990.

The VPRO is still broadcasting and has a number of controversial shows. Some of the programs are very cutting edge and often just go too far and I presume they don’t really reflect what Nicolette Bruining had envisaged. It showed the first nudity on Dutch TV in 1967.

Nicolette Adriana Bruining was born on 27 August 1886 in Stompetoren, Netherlands to Aida Helena Elisabeth (née Huygens) and Albertus Bruining.She graduated from Barlaeus Gymnasium in Amsterdam and decided to follow in her father’s footsteps, pursuing her university studies in theology. She enrolled at the University of Amsterdam, where her father was a professor, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1912. That same year, she began teaching religion at various schools, including the teacher training school of the Haagsch Genootschap (The Hague Society) In 1916, she presented her dissertation on the Dutch dogmatic Lutheran theologian Franz Hermann Reinhold von Frank (De Theologie van F.H.R. von Frank).She joined the Association of Liberal Protestants and served as chair of The Hague’s chapter. She also began preaching in various municipalities for both the liberal branch of the Dutch Reformed Church and the Netherlands Protestant Association.

In 1923, she helped establish the Vrijzinnige Geloofsgemeenschap NPB(Liberal Community of Faith NBP)to broaden the scope of the church. In particular, she proposed that the new medium of radio be used to disseminate the liberal Christian view.In 1925, Bruining and E. D. Spelberg set up a committee to investigate the possibility of broadcasting programming in support of their cause; they discovered that the government body responsible for broadcast licensing would only grant airtime to legally established organizations. As a result, the Central Committee went on in 1926 to establish the Vrijzinnig Protestantse Radio Omroep (Liberal Protestant Radio Broadcasting Corporation, VPRO); Bruining was president, and Spelberg secretary.Bruining publicized their approach both in their broadcasts and in the articles frequently published in the radio magazine Vrije Geluiden (Free Sounds), advocating non-sectarianism and inviting all intellectual movements to participate.

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During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II, VPRO was banned from broadcasting.

Bruining had been teaching Hebrew to upper level classes at the municipal high school in The Hague, but in 1941,

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all Jewish students were expelled and she quit teaching in protest. She transferred the course to her own home so that all her former pupils could continue studying Hebrew after school hours. After a while, Elisabeth’s former classmates stopped attending Hebrew lessons.

However, Nicolette insisted that Elisabeth should continue studying with her, on a private basis, and the two became close friends. In July 1942, when Elisabeth’s father refused to report for work in Germany, he was forced to find a hideout for himself and his family. He turned to Nicolette for assistance. For the following three years, Nicolette became the intermediary between Elisabeth, her eight-year-old sister, Anita, and the underground movement.

Nicolette found a hiding place for Anita with Hermina Heinen-Rots in Aalten, Gelderland. However, finding a hideout for Elisabeth was more complicated because she was over 16 years old and therefore required forged papers. During this time, Elisabeth was forced to relocate several times and each time Nicolette, often with her friend Jacoba van Tongeren*, was instrumental in the move. On more than one occasion, Nicolette accompanied Elisabeth to her new hideout by train.

This was especially dangerous because she was well known as the head of the Liberal Protestant Radio Organization and as a vociferous opponent to the occupation. Throughout this time, Nicolette provided Elisabeth with food coupons, the price of which was astronomical. Nicolette also delivered letters between Elisabeth, Anita, and their parents, before the latter were deported. One Sunday in April 1943, Nicolette took upon herself the task of telling Elisabeth that her parents had been betrayed and sent to Westerbork.

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Nicolette, who was not married and had no children, became very attached to Elisabeth and Anita during the war. They all remained in contact afterwards.

Like anyone else aiding or harboring Jews, Nicolette would have surely faced the Death penalty if she had been found out. The fact that she was a prominent figure in the Netherlands multiplied those risks manifold.

In 1945, VPRO was allowed to go back on the air. Bruining and Spelberg were fully reinstated in 1947. In 1951, when the Dutch Television Foundation was established, Bruining served on its board as a representative of VPRO. Throughout the 1950s, she hosted a program known as Today; owing to her preferences, the program was broadcast live.

She was very disciplined and committed to her work, this earned her the nickname of the Golda Meir of Liberal protestant movement.

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Between 1948 and 1957 she was the President of the International Union of Liberal Christian Women, which was part of the International Association of Religious Freedom

In 1945, VPRO was allowed to go back on the air. Bruining and Spelberg were fully reinstated in 1947. In 1951, when the Dutch Television Foundation was established, Bruining served on its board as a representative of VPRO. Throughout the 1950s, she hosted a program known as Today; owing to her preferences, the program was broadcast live. She retired in 1956 and was made honorary president of VPRO for life.Bruining died on 12 April 1963 in The Hague.

Posthumously, she was honored by the government of Israel on 7 March 1990 as one of the Righteous Among the Nations,an award granted to recognize non-Jews for assisting Jews in surviving the Holocaust,for her assistance to the Waisvisz family.

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Limerick Mental Health Organise Fun Event

Limerick News Blog

A fantastic night of fun and frolics is happening on July 2nd at Limerick Milk Market. Organised by Limerick Mental Health Awareness are, showing Disney’s Maleficent, a wonderful movie, a wonderful fairytale, showing us nothing is ever good or evil, everyone has a story to be told.

Among the treats planned are stalls, magic from Steve Spade, face painting by Playful Penguin Parties , LED hoop performances & a magical fancy dressing competition.
All proceeds from the event go to The Blue Box. A children’s therapy service based in Limerick.

Tickets can be purchased at the Milk Market on market days in the lead up to July 2nd and are limited to 300. 

You can reach Limeick Mental Awareness on their facebook page.

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Holocaust and Humour.

I realize that this blog will probably cause some controversy, but bear with me. I do not intend to disrespect the survivors, on the contrary I always do my best to honour them and aim to remind everyone  to how these people suffered. Nor do I want to diminish the horrors of that darkest era of human history.

The movie “La vita e bella” (Life is beatiful) is a good example where the Holocaust was portrayed in a humorous way and yet very sad and poignant.

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People often cope with dire circumstance by applying their sense of humour and I am sure this wouldn’t have been different during the Holocaust. If you just look at the amount of Jewish comedians, it is clearly an indication that the Jewish people have a great sense of humour.

Victor Borge, Mel Brooks, the Marx Brothers,George Burns were all comedic geniuses.

 

And even nowadays a significant part of the comedy fraternity are from Jewish ascend, the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Ben and his father Jerry Stillet,Julia Lous Dreyfuss and Sacha Baron Cohen to name but a few.

 

The list of Jewish comedians is endless, and I wonder is it because of their persecution over the centuries  that they have developed this often dark sense of humour or is it in their genes.

Humour has a long tradition in Judaism dating back to the Torah, but Jewish humour generally refers to the more recent stream of verbal, self-deprecating and often anecdotal humour originating in Eastern Europe and which took root in the United States over the last hundred years.

Jewish humour is rooted in several traditions. The first is the intellectual and legal methods of the Talmud, which uses elaborate legal arguments and situations often seen as so absurd as to be humorous in order to tease out the meaning of religious law.

Many people think of comedy as irrationally optimistic and therefore frivolous, but that is a misconception. As Mark Twain remarked, “The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.”

In April 2016 Director Ferne Pearlstein made a Feature documentary about humor and the Holocaust, examining whether it is ever acceptable to use humor in connection with a tragedy of that scale, and the implications for other seemingly off-limits topics in a society that prizes free speech.

 

Did you hear the one about the murder of 6 million Jews? In the documentary The Last Laugh, writer and director Ferne Pearlstein canvasses comedians ranging from Mel Brooks to Sarah Silverman, Holocaust survivors and anti-racism activists to ask whether the Nazi death camps are an appropriate subject for humour.

Finding humour in a situation is finding some incongruity, that is, some disparity between the way things are and the way they should be; and that requires a critical mind. Successful comedians are never unintelligent or unnoticing people. During the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, humorists were among the first to call attention to what was going wrong. The earliest criticisms of the Nazis came not from politicians or clergy, but from cabaret entertainers and newspaper cartoonists. At a time when most Americans did not want to know what was going on in Europe, Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator called our attention to Hitler’s insanity.

In the ghettoes, Hitler’s “masterpiece” was referred to as Mein Krampf (My Cramp). His theory of the Master Race was the butt of dozens of jokes. There are two kinds of Aryans, one went: non-Aryans and barb-Aryans. Others mocked the disparity between the icon of the tall, blonde, muscular Aryan and the actual physiques of Hitler, Goebbels, and Goering.

This critical spirit worked against the Nazi propaganda machine. Research on brainwashing, indeed, has shown that humor may be the single most effective way to block indoctrination.

Because humor interfered with their propaganda and revealed the awful truth about the Nazis, they were quite afraid of humor. Hitler, wrote one biographer, had “a horror of being laughed at.”When well-known figures made fun of him, Hitler viciously attacked them. Bertold Brecht, for example, was declared an enemy of the Reich, stripped of his citizenship, and forced to flee Germany.

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One of the first actions of the new Nazi government was the creation of a “Law against treacherous attacks on the state and party and for the protection of the party uniform.” As Hermann Goering reminded the Academy of German Law, telling a joke could be an act against the Führer and the state. Under this law, telling and listening to anti-Nazi jokes were acts of treason. Several people were even put on trial for naming dogs and horses “Adolf.” Between 1933 and 1945, five thousand death sentences were handed down by the “People’s Court” for treason, a large number of them for anti-Nazi humor.

One of those executed was Josef Müller, a Catholic priest who had told two of his parishioners the following story:

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A fatally wounded German soldier asked his chaplain to grant one final wish. “Place a picture of Hitler on one side of me, and a picture of Goering on the other side. That way I can die like Jesus, between two thieves.”

The indictment against Müller called this joke “one of the most vile and most dangerous attacks directed on our confidence in our Führer. . . . It is a betrayal of the people, the Führer, and the Reich.”

Despite the trials and executions, anti-Nazi jokes flourished. There were even jokes about the prosecution of joke-tellers, like the story of the comedian who was locked in solitary confinement until he had recited every anti-Nazi joke he knew. His internment, of course, lasted years.

Some of the jokes wore their hostility on their face, but many were more subtle, like the story of the Jewish father teaching his son how to say grace before meals.

“Today in Germany the proper form of grace is ‘Thank God and Hitler.’”
“But suppose the Führer dies?” asked the boy.
“Then you just thank God.”

Besides the anti-Nazi jokes, there were even a few occasions for humor in dealing directly with the Nazis. Early in the Third Reich, Peter Lorre, who had become famous as the murderer in the movie M, was living in Vienna. Goebbels, not knowing that Lorre was Jewish, asked him to come to Germany. Lorre answered with a telegram: “There isn’t room in Germany for two murderers like Hitler and me.”

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Some of the best humor against the Nazis went right over their heads. Sigmund Freud was living in Vienna when the Germans marched into the city. They arrested him but then said he would be allowed to leave the country if he would sign a statement saying he had not been mistreated. Freud sat down and wrote the following note:

To Whom It May Concern:
I can heartily recommend the Gestapo to anyone.
Sigmund Freud

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If humour served as a sword, a spiritual weapon, against the oppressors, it was also a spiritual shield against the indignities and horrors of daily life. As Emil Fackenheim, philosopher and survivor of Auschwitz, said simply, “We kept our morale through humour”

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According to a tale in the Talmud, the prophet Elijah said that there will be reward in the next world for those who bring laughter to others in this one.Now during the Holocaust, Jewish humor was somewhat different from earlier times. Traditional comic figures like the schnorrer (beggar), the schlmazl (fallguy), and the shlmiel (klutz), for example, were missing. But the functions of humor were much the same as in earlier history: it was a vehicle for critical thinking, it promoted group solidarity, and it helped people survive in a hostile world.

In Man’s Search for Meaning, psychiatrist Viktor Frankl described how he trained a fellow Auschwitz prisoner, a surgeon, in the survival value of humor. He proposed to his comrade that every day they would tell each other at least one funny story about something that could happen after their liberation. Other prisoners also invented “amusing dreams about the future.” One imagined that when he had returned home, he would be at a dinner party and would beg the hostess to ladle the soup “from the bottom.”

 

Beyond the fantasies, humor helped prisoners to face the reality of their predicament without going insane. Frankl described being in a group who were shaved of every hair and then herded into showers. “The illusions some of us still held were destroyed one by one, and then, quite unexpectedly, most of us were overcome by a grim sense of humor. We knew that we had nothing to lose except our ridiculously naked lives. When the showers started to run, we all tried very hard to make fun, both about ourselves and about each other. After all, real water did flow from the sprays!

In the critical spirit of Judaism, even God is not beyond questioning. Job and Abraham questioned Him in the Bible. In the Holocaust, Elie Weisel tells us, God was even put on trial by rabbis in one camp, and found guilty. During the Nazi occupation of Romania, Emil Dorian composed this short prayer: “Dear God, for five thousand years we have been your chosen people. Enough! Choose another one now.”Dorian did not give up his faith, nor did the rabbis who tried God, but their critical attitude made them stronger as a group and thus helped them resist the forces oppressing them. I would like to close, as you might expect, with a story, one which brings together the three functions of humor during the Holocaust.

Goebbels was touring German schools. At one, he asked the students to call out patriotic slogans.
“Heil Hitler,” shouted one child.
“Very good,” said Goebbels.
“Deutschland über alles,” another called out.
“Excellent. How about a stronger slogan?”
A hand shot up, and Goebbels nodded.
“Our people shall live forever,” the little boy said.
“Wonderful,” exclaimed Goebbels. “What is your name, young man?”
“Israel Goldberg.”

I would have loved to have seen Goebbels face.

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WW2 Diary Entries

Most people will know Anne Frank’s diary , but of course Anne wasn’t the only person who kept a diary during those dark, uncertain days. Below are some excerpts from random diaries of citizens and also soldiers from both sides of the divide.

Starting off with a bit of Anne Frank’s Diary.

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  • “It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.
    It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more”

    – July 15, 1944

Michihiko Hachiya, Hiroshima Resident
August 6, 1945

“We started out, but after 20 or 30 steps I had to stop. My breath became short, my heart pounded, and my legs gave way under me. An overpowering thirst seized me and I begged Yaeko-san to find me some water. But there was no water to be found. After a little my strength somewhat returned and we were able to go on.

I was still naked, and although I did not feel the least bit of shame, I was disturbed to realize that modesty had deserted me . . . Our progress towards the hospital was interminably slow, until finally, my legs, stiff from drying blood, refused to carry me farther. The strength, even the will, to go on deserted me, so I told my wife, who was almost as badly hurt as I, to go on alone. This she objected to, but there was no choice. She had to go ahead and try to find someone to come back for me.”

Wilhelm Hoffman, German Soldier
July 29, 1942

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“The company commander says the Russian troops are completely broken, and cannot hold out any longer. To reach the Volga and take Stalingrad is not so difficult for us. The Fuhrer knows where the Russians’ weak point is. Victory is not far away.”

Hayashi Ichizo, Japanese Kamikaze Pilot
March 21, 1945

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“To be honest, I cannot say that the wish to die for the emperor is genuine, coming from my heart. However, it is decided for me that I die for the emperor. I shall not be afraid of the moment of my death. But I am afraid of how the fear of death will perturb my life . . . 

Even for a short life, there are many memories. For someone who had a good life, it is very difficult to part with it. But I reached a point of no return. I must plunge into an enemy vessel. As the preparation for the takeoff nears, I feel a heavy pressure on me. I don’t think I can stare at death . . . I tried my best to escape in vain. So, now that I don’t have a choice, I must go valiantly.”

George Orwell, Resident Of London
September 15, 1940

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“This morning, for the first time, saw an aeroplane shot down. It fell slowly out of the clouds, nose foremost, just like a snipe that has been shot high overhead. Terrific jubilation among the people watching, punctuated every now and then by the question, “Are you sure it’s German?” So puzzling are the directions given, and so many the types of aeroplane, that no one even knows which are German planes and which are our own. My only test is that if a bomber is seen over London it must be a German, whereas a fighter is likelier to be ours.”

Dorothy May Brooks,Citizen

“June 27th Mrs Jocelyn called and asked if I would have an evacuee. I agreed.
June 30th My Dad went to hospital to visit 2 welsh boys home from Dunkirk.
July 4th My little evacuee arrived. Boy of 5 years called Peter Bowles.
July 6th Dad brought the 2 wounded Welsh boys for tea.”

Charles F. Bruns.Army 3rd Divison, 10th Combat.

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Oct 26, 1942 – Monday

“We are to find out where we are going to night. We had to carry some secrete maps up today. While we were carrying the maps up, one fell open and we saw the name of Morocco. Monday night our Officers told us we were going to Casablanca. That is a town in Morocco, Africa. Nobody knows whether the French troops there are friendly or not. The sea has been fairly rough today and no excitement occurred.”

Zygmunt Klukowski, Polish Doctor
October 21, 1942

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“From early morning until late at night we witnessed indescribable events. Armed SS soldiers, gendarmes, and “blue police” ran through the city looking for Jews. Jews were assembled in the marketplace. The Jews were taken from their houses, barns, cellars, attics, and other hiding places. Pistol and gun shots were heard throughout the entire day. Sometimes hand grenades were thrown into the cellars. Jews were beaten and kicked; it made no difference whether they were men, women, or small children.

All Jews will be shot. Between 400 and 500 have been killed. Poles were forced to begin digging graves in the Jewish cemetery. From information I received approximately 2,000 people are in hiding. The arrested Jews were loaded into a train at the railroad station to be moved to an unknown location.

It was a terrifying day, I cannot describe everything that took place. You cannot imagine the barbarism of the Germans. I am completely broken and cannot seem to find myself.”

Diary of Co-Pilot Robert F. Toner:

This one seems to be okay at first glance but when you look further you see the right page is blank. probably indicating that he died on the 12th.

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ANONYMOUS GIRL DIARIST FROM THE LODZ GHETTO

“When it’s so cold, even my heart is heavy. There is nothing to cook today; we should be receiving three loaves of bread but we will be getting only one bread today. I don’t know what to do. I bought rotten and stinking beets from a woman, for 10 marks. We will cook half today and half tomorrow. Does this deserve to be called life?”
Anonymous girl diarist, March 6, 1942

“Beautiful, sunny day today. When the sun shines, my mood is lighter. How sad life is. When we look at the fence separating us from the rest of the world, our souls, like birds in a cage, yearn to be free. Longing breaks my heart, visions of the past come to me. Will I ever live in better times?”
Anonymous girl diarist, March 7, 1942

Brigitte Eicke, a Berlin teenager in World War II

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1 February 1944“The school had been bombed when we arrived this morning. Waltraud, Melitta and I went back to Gisela’s and danced to gramophone records.

March 1945“Margot and I went to the Admiralspalast cinema to see ‘Meine Herren Söhne.’ It was such a lovely film but there was a power cut in the middle of it. How annoying!”

Annette Le Page,Army Nurse

Jan.7th 1943
“Have just returned from a wonderful leave — given quite unexpectedly. We left Cairo on Dec. 22nd, arriving at Jerusalem on Dec 23. with a Padre friend who escorted us, as there was no room elsewhere we stayed at the King David Hotel, which is the best place in Jerusalem, the food was not up to standard so we fed at the Y.M.C.A. restaurant which is immediately opposite. Margaret & I shared a beautiful double room with bathroom attached, we rather revelled in the luxury of it all I am afraid for two nights, then we moved to a pension after the Xmas rush was over on Boxing Day.
We visited the 16th G. H. which is in the Kaisers Palace on Mount Olivet — saw Mary Jack and all other friends, arranged to meet them at night to go to Bethlehem.
It was a wonderful experience to be in Bethlehem on Xmas eve, we were present at the Broadcast service. It was also very reminiscent of other — happier Xmases — my thoughts were enfolding you all & prayers were prayed for you all, by my friends also.
On Xmas day — we had to celebrate by having our Xmas breakfast at the Hotel — after which we attended the Church of Scotland morning service, there being no Methodist service — the first Xmas service since I left home — I mean in a Church — we walked over the hills and had our Xmas dinner at the Y.M. we spent the rest of the day with Mary Jack at the hospital.
On Boxing day we went to the American Colony, where we were most comfortable — we walked over the hills & went to Nahaiyel a seaside place & up to Metulla, on the Syrian Border. We went to Eir Karin — the village where John the Baptist was born, & climbed the hill, at the top of which, is a house and church owned by Miss Carey — she has a picture of the entire Carey family taken whilst the Bishop was visiting G’sey & what was more had a G’sey grandfather clock — we talked & talked & decided that we would fly home together with Mary Dorey, who is also in Palestine.
We loved the wild flowers – scarlet anemones — wild iris nestling in their leaves on the ground — picked oranges & lemons from the trees — it was a wonderful time — if somewhat saddened by not being able to share it with you both.”

 Willy Peter Reese German infantry man(entry dates unknown)

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”We danced in the railway carriages and fired into the air, made a captured Russian woman dance naked for us and smeared her breasts with boot polish, we made her as drunk as we were,”

“The dead piled up and the desperate fought on behind the walls of their corpses. My comrades fell, blown to pieces by direct hits, wounded or with nervous breakdowns,”

”This was no longer a battle, only murder. During short counter attacks we found our missing comrades cut to pieces and maimed, and we took no prisoners either”

 

More little known WWII facts

While the Hiroshima atomic bomb was being built in New Mexico all applicants for menial jobs at the plant did not get a job if they could read. This was because the US authorities didn’t want staff reading secret papers.

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When the former commander of the Nazi extermination camp Treblinka, Kurt Franz, was arrested in 1959, a search of his home yielded a scrapbook with horrific photos of the massacre titled “Beautiful Years.”

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Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

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The Polish poet Stanislaw Jerzy Lec was a journalist working in Poland when the Nazis invaded. He tried to flee to Romania but was caught and wound up at the Ternopil concentration camp, where he was led into the woods, given a shovel, and forced to dig his final resting place.

The guards who had taken Lec became bored and hungry. One of them was forced to stand with the prisoner while the rest left to get supper. Lec waited until the right moment and killed his captor with a blow to the neck. He later captured the moment with the following poem:

He who had dug his own grave
looks attentively
at the gravedigger’s work,
but not pedantically:
for this one
digs a grave
not for himself

Donning the dead man’s SS uniform, Lec made his way to Warsaw, where he met members of the Polish resistance. There, he put his literary skills to use publishing underground newspapers. He was also fluent in German and wrote leaflets for the resistance. He ended the war as a major in the Polish army and fought in battles pushing back against the Nazis

During World War II Marmite was prescribed as a cure for tropical diseases like burning feet and Beriberi.

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Mistel Flying Bomb

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Developed in 1942 by the German Sailplane Association, the Mistel was a concept for an unmanned aircraft packed with explosives, guided to its target by a pilot in a fighter aircraft attached above it. The idea itself was demonstrated in 1943, but it was not until 1944, when the tide of war had truly turned against Nazi Germany, that the idea was put into practice.

More than 100 Ju-88 bombers were stripped of their hardware and converted into gigantic flying bombs packed with 1,800 kilograms (4,000 lb) of explosives, with struts added to attach the guiding aircraft on top of the Ju-88. The Mistel was an extremely slow composite aircraft; it flew at just 240 kilometers per hour (150 mph), making it an easy target for Allied aircraft if it was spotted. The Mistel was also an inaccurate weapon. Many missed their targets, despite their guiding pilots claiming otherwise.

Below are 2 diary entries from a Russian Citizen and an SS officer.

Lena Mukhina, Leningrad ResidentJanuary 3, 1942.

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“We are dying like flies here because of the hunger, but yesterday Stalin gave another dinner in Moscow in honor of the British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden. This is outrageous. They fill their bellies there, while we don’t even get a piece of bread. They play host at all sorts of brilliant receptions, while we live like cavemen, like blind moles.”

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­To say that the Russian people had it rough during World War II would be a monumental understatement. Depending on the source, it’s estimated that between 7–20 million Russian civilians died as a direct result of the conflict. In Leningrad alone, as many as 750,000 civilians starved to death as the Germans placed the city under siege for over two years, from September 1941 to January 1944. The above diary entry was written by 17-year-old resident Lena Mukhina just a few months into the siege.
As the blockade wore on, residents were reduced to eating rats, cats, earth, and glue. There were widespread reports of cannibalism. At the time the entry above was written, Lena was living with her aunt, who tragically died from hunger a month later. Lena managed to survive by concealing the death from the authorities, allowing her to continue using her aunt’s food card. In later entries, she begins to plot an escape to Moscow. Her diary ends suddenly on May 25, 1942, when she made a dangerous journey to safety across Lake Ladoga. Lena died in 1991, a few short months before the Soviet Union finally collapsed.

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Felix Landau, SS Officer ,July 12, 1941.

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“At 6:00 in the morning I was suddenly awoken from a deep sleep. Report for an execution. Fine, so I’ll just play executioner and then gravedigger, why not. Isn’t it strange, you love battle and then have to shoot defenseless people. Twenty-three had to be shot, amongst them the two above-mentioned women. They are unbelievable. They even refused to accept a glass of water from us.

I was detailed as marksman and had to shoot any runaways. We drove one kilometer along the road out of town and then turned right into a wood. There were only six of us at that point and we had to find a suitable spot to shoot and bury them. After a few minutes we found a place. The death candidates assembled with shovels to dig their own graves. Two of them were weeping.

The others certainly have incredible courage. What on earth is running through their minds during these moments? I think that each of them harbors a small hope that somehow he won’t be shot. The death candidates are organized into three shifts as there are not many shovels.

Strange, I am completely unmoved. No pity, nothing. That’s the way it is and then it’s all over. My heart beats just a little faster when involuntarily I recall the feelings and thoughts I had when I was in a similar situation”

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The London Cage torture
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Housing the London Cage, Kensington Palace Gardens in London witnessed its fair share of war crimes during the Second World War. The Cage was essentially a set of cells and rooms used to hold and interrogate captured members of the Schutzstaffel and Gestapo. Everything from starvation and sleep deprivation to brutal beatings was practiced within its walls. to extract information and, in some cases, confessions.

Though undeniably a war crime, no participants were ever prosecuted. The British government, for the most part, turned a blind eye to the abuse – despite multiple complaints from various parties – arguing that it was justifiable given the situation.

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Blanche Osborn Bross

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This WWII era photograph was used to show Americans that women were doing their part to fight the war – even when they really weren’t. The four women pictured here, in front of the famous “Pistol Packin’ Mamma” aircraft, were part of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots program – better known as the WASPs. One of the four – the farthest on the right – is Blanche Osborn Bross.

The WASPs were a very exclusive club. Over 25,000 women applied for the program, and only 2,000 were selected of which barely 1,000 graduated and became pilots. Though they did not see wartime action, some of them did die in airplane accidents. After the war, Blanche Osborn Bross continued to fly, and later served with the Red Cross in China. She died at the age of 92.

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BMW

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During World War II, the BMW workforce was made up of slave laborers provided by the Nazis. Some sources put the figures as high as 50,000. Hold on to your driving gloves, however, because this gets much worse. BMW was then owned by Günther Quandt, and he and his son Herbert were very buddy-buddy with Hitler and his regime. BMW’s factories exclusively produced aircraft and motorcycle parts for the Nazi war effort. In fact, many inmates were put to work on the Luftwaffe engines, namely the BMW 132.

The Quandts also benefited greatly from the eradication of Jews and their livelihoods—they were handed multiple businesses seized from enslaved Jews. In 2001, following an internal report commissioned by BMW themselves, the company’s profits from the war were revealed. After the report was published, Gabriele Quandt told German’s Die Zeit newspaper that it was true that many laborers died working for the company.

During the second world war over 56,000 carrier pigeons were sent into action with some of them actually receiving medals of bravery.

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Returning A Fallen Enemy’s Personal Effects To His Fiance

0314Unlike so many of his peers, Erwin Rommel—one of Germany’s greatest tacticians—served his country with professionalism and humanity. His men in the Afrikakorps did as well.

In 1946, one of his engineers wrote a poignant letter to the fiance of a British pilot revealing how her beloved died an honorable death by their hands during a 1941 battle. The engineer, Gernot Knopp, wrote to Dorothy Bird of how her fiance William Ross came under heavy anti-aircraft fire during a raid on his fuel ship in eastern Libya. Although Ross died in the mission, the Germans admired his courage and buried him with full military honors, with Rommel himself in attendance. Knopp sent her not only the letter but also Ross’s personal effects and a photo that showed the pilot’s final resting place.

Although Bird already knew about Ross’s death, details from her fiance’s final moments relieved her greatly.

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The Miracle Babies Of Kaufering Concentration Camp

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We associate concentration camps with so much death and suffering that it’s nearly impossible to imagine anything good coming from them. Yet against all odds, seven babies born inside a camp survived their ordeal healthy and unharmed.

Their mothers were Jewish women of Hungarian origin locked up in an auxiliary camp in Kaufering. They took great pains to hide their pregnancies from the Nazi eyes to avoid being killed or transferred to the more infamous camp at Dachau. The other prisoners helped the mothers by hiding the babies and taking care of them whenever the mothers had to work. One Jewish woman who oversaw the camp for the Nazis even bore a severe beating after she brought a stove to the mothers’ quarters to help them survive the winter.

For the US soldiers who later liberated the camp, it was an uplifting sight to see the live and healthy mothers and their babies among the dead and emaciated prisoners.

Operation Anthropoid-The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich.

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On the twenty-ninth of May, 1942, Radio Prague announced that Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, lay dying at the Bulovka hospital in Prague from wounds sustained in a daring ambush by Czech partisans as his car passed through the city outskirts at Holesovice, on the Rude Armady VII Kobylisky not far from the Vltava river.

The assassins attempted to kill Heydrich with automatic weapons but experienced a malfunction so a grenade was then tossed at the car by one of the Czechs. The resulting explosion caused sever damage to the right rear wing of the Mercedes, puncturing the tire and blowing a large hole in the bodywork.The attackers then fled and, Heydrich attempted to shoot at the escaping assassins but his weapon also misfired. He then staggered back to the car and collapsed on the hood in severe pain.

The operation was carried out in Prague on 27 May 1942 after having been prepared by the British Special Operations Executive with the approval of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile. Although only wounded in the attack, Heydrich died of his injuries on 4 June 1942. His death led to a wave of merciless reprisals by German SS troops, including the destruction of villages and the killing of civilians.

Heydrich had been important in the rise of Adolf Hitler; as a Nazi potentate, he was given overall charge of the Final Solution and the Holocaust of the Jews in Europe. Despite the risks, the primary purpose of Anthropoid, from the Czech perspective, was to confer legitimacy on Edvard Beneš’s government-in-exile in London.

Operation Anthropoid – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Heydrich had been the chief of the RSHA since September 1939 and was appointed acting Protector of Bohemia and Moravia after replacing Konstantin von Neurath in September 1941. Hitler agreed with Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and Heydrich that von Neurath’s relatively lenient approach to the Czechs promoted anti-German sentiment, and encouraged anti-German resistance by strikes and sabotage.

On September 27, 1941, the Czech Press Agency released the news that the Reich Protector Konstantin von Neurath had fallen ill.

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and Hitler had named a substitute Reich Protector, Reinhard Heydrich.

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Heydrich came to Prague to “strengthen policy, carry out countermeasures against resistance”, and keep up production quotas of Czech motors and arms that were “extremely important to the German war effort”. During his role as de facto dictator of Bohemia and Moravia, Heydrich often drove with his chauffeur in a car with an open roof. This was a show of his confidence in the occupation forces and in the effectiveness of his government.Due to his brutal efficiency, Heydrich was nicknamed the Butcher of Prague, the Blond Beast, and the Hangman.

One of Heydrich’s first decrees, dated September 29, 1941,concerning the treatment of Jews and closing of synagogues stated:

“…Jewish synagogues and places of prayer have not been used for religious purposes for some time. Instead, they have become centers for all kinds of Jewish subversive elements and focal points of illegal whispered propaganda. For this reason I have ordered the closing of all Jewish synagogues and places of prayer.”

By late 1941, Hitler controlled almost all continental Europe, and German forces were approaching Moscow.The Allies deemed Soviet capitulation likely. The exiled government of Czechoslovakia under President Edvard BenešEdvard_Beneš

was under pressure from British intelligence, as there had been very little visible resistance since the occupation of the Sudeten regions of the country in 1938. (Occupation of the whole country began in 1939.) The takeover of these regions was enforced by the Munich Agreement, and the subsequent terror of the German Reich broke the will of the Czechs for a period.

The resistance was active from the very beginning of occupation in several other countries defeated in open warfare (e.g., Poland, Yugoslavia, and Greece), but the subjugated Czech lands remained relatively calm and produced significant amounts of materiel for the Third Reich. The exiled government felt that it had to do something that would inspire the Czechs as well as show the world that the Czechs were allies.

Reinhard Heydrich was chosen over Karl Hermann Frank as an assassination target due to his status as the acting Protector of Bohemia and Moravia as well as his reputation for terrorizing local citizens. The operation was also intended to demonstrate to senior Nazis that they were not untouchable

 

The operation was given the codename Anthropoid, Greek for “having the form of a human”, a term usually used in zoology. Preparation began on 20 October 1941 with the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). Warrant Officer Jozef Gabčík (Slovak) and Staff Sergeant Karel Svoboda (Czech) were chosen to carry out the operation on 28 October 1941 (Czechoslovakia’s Independence Day). Svoboda was replaced with Jan Kubiš (Czech) after a head injury during training, causing delays in the mission as Kubiš had not completed training, nor had the necessary false documents been prepared for him.

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Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš were airlifted along with seven soldiers from Czechoslovakia’s army-in-exile in the United Kingdom and two other groups named Silver A and Silver B (who had different missions) by a Royal Air Force Halifax of No. 138 Squadron into Czechoslovakia at 10 pm on 28 December 1941.

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Gabčík and Kubiš landed near Nehvizdy east of Prague; although the plan was to land near Pilsen, the pilots had problems with orientation.The soldiers then moved to Pilsen to contact their allies, and from there on to Prague, where the attack was planned.

In Prague, they contacted several families and anti-Nazi organisations who helped them during the preparations for the assassination.Gabčík and Kubiš initially planned to kill Heydrich on a train, but after examination of the logistics, they realised that this was not possible. The second plan was to kill him on the road in the forest on the way from Heydrich’s seat to Prague. They planned to pull a cable across the road that would stop Heydrich’s car but, after waiting several hours, their commander, Lt. Adolf Opálka (from the group Out Distance), came to bring them back to Prague. The third plan was to kill Heydrich in Prague.

On 27 May 1942 at 10:30, Heydrich proceeded on his daily commute from his home in Panenské Břežany to Prague Castle. Gabčík and Kubiš waited at the tram stop at a tight curve near Bulovka Hospital in Prague 8-Libeň. The spot was chosen because the curve would force the car to slow down. Josef Valčík was positioned about 100 metres (109 yards) north of Gabčík and Kubiš as lookout for the approaching car.

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Heydrich’s green, open-topped Mercedes 320 Convertible B reached the curve two minutes later.

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Gabčík stepped in front of the vehicle and tried to open fire with his Sten submachine gun, but it jammed.

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Heydrich ordered his driver, SS-Oberscharführer Klein, to stop the car, then stood up to shoot Gabčík with his Luger pistol.

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Kubiš threw a modified anti-tank grenade(concealed in a briefcase) at the vehicle and its fragments ripped through the car’s right rear bumper, embedding shrapnel and fibres from the upholstery in Heydrich’s body upon detonation, even though the grenade failed to enter the car. The grenade also injured Kubiš.

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Following the explosion, Gabčík and Kubiš fired at Heydrich with their Colt M1903 pistols but failed to hit him, as they were shocked by the explosion as well.

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Heydrich staggered out of the car, apparently unaware of his shrapnel injuries, returned fire, and tried to chase Gabčík, but he soon collapsed. Klein returned from his abortive attempt to chase Kubiš, who fled the scene by bicycle. Now bleeding profusely, Heydrich ordered Klein to chase Gabčík on foot, saying “Get that bastard!”.Klein chased him into a butcher shop, where Gabčík shot him twice with his pistol, severely wounding him in the leg, and then escaped to a local safe house via tram. Gabčík and Kubiš were initially convinced that the attack had failed.

A Czech woman and an off-duty policeman went to Heydrich’s aid and flagged down a delivery van. Heydrich was first placed in the driver’s cab, but complained that the truck’s movement was causing him pain. He was then transferred to the back of the truck, placed on his stomach, and taken to the emergency room at Na Bulovce Hospital. He had suffered severe injuries to his left side, with major diaphragm, spleen, and lung damage as well as a fractured rib. A Dr. Slanina packed the chest wound, while Dr. Walter Diek (the Sudeten German chief of surgery at the hospital) tried unsuccessfully to remove the splinters.

He was rushed to the Bulovka emergency room shortly after 11:00 a.m. and was registered under the number 12.555/42. Heydrich’s spleen had been fatally damaged and he contracted blood poisoning from grenade shrapnel, seat-spring splinters, and horse-hair used to cushion the cars upholstery.

On May 27, 1942, Karl. Hermann Frank, declared a state of civil emergency. Posters appeared in the streets offering a reward for information on the perpetrators. Himmler, at Hitler’s headquarters in Rastenburg was immediately notified of the incident and ordered Dr. K. Gebhardt, his personal physician and Professor of Orthopedics in Berlin, to fly at once to Heydrich’s bedside.

Gebhardt landed in Prague the evening of May 27, and followed Heydrich progress closely even telephoning Himmler twice a day to report on his patient’s status

He soon developed a fever and suffered from copious wound drainage until June 2, but the following day the fever appeared to have subsided. However, around noon, while Heydrich was sitting in bed eating a late breakfast, he suddenly went into shock and quickly lapsed into a deep coma from which he never recovered.

He died at 4:30 a.m. the next morning, June 4, 1942. The death of the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia was recorded in the Bulovka death register as “Nr 348/1942.Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich.

Cause of death: gunshot wound/murder attempt/wound infection

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Hitler ordered the SS and Gestapo to “wade in blood” throughout Bohemia to find Heydrich’s killers. Hitler wanted to start with brutal, widespread killing of the Czech people but, after consultations, he reduced his response to only some thousands. The Czech lands were an important industrial zone for the German military and indiscriminate killing could reduce the productivity of the region.

Things went from bad to worse for the ANTHRPOID team and their collaborators in hiding. Karel Čurda another of the men from the OUT DISTANCE unit, who left Prague immediately after the assassination and hid out with his mother in Nová Hlína near Třeboň, was captured by the Gestapo and betrayed the names of the team’s local contact persons for the bounty of 1 million Reichsmarks.

Karel Čurda

Čurda betrayed several safe houses provided by the Jindra group, including that of the Moravec family in Žižkov. At 05:00 on 17 June, the Moravec flat was raided.

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The family was made to stand in the hallway while the Gestapo searched their flat. Mrs. Marie Moravec was allowed to go to the toilet, where she bit into a cyanide capsule and killed herself. Mr. Alois Moravec was unaware of his family’s involvement with the resistance; he was taken to the Peček Palác together with his 17-year-old son Ata, who was interrogated with torture throughout the day but refused to talk. The youth was stupefied with brandy, shown his mother’s severed head in a fish tank, and warned that, if he did not reveal the information that they were looking for, his father would be next. Ata’s strong willpower finally snapped, and he told the Gestapo what they wanted to know. Vlastimil “Ata” Moravec was executed by the Nazis in Mauthausen on 24 October 1942, the same day as his father, his fiancé, her mother, and her brother were executed

At 3:45 am on June 18, 1942, SS-Brigadeführer Karl von Treuenfeld, issued an order to the Reserve Battalion Deutschland and the Guard Battalion Prague to surround the area around the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius. The location of where Kubiš, Gabčík and Opálka were hiding.

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German Police under the command of Gestapo Chief Heinz Pannwitz and Nazi Secretary of State Karl Frank quickly overpowered the priest, Father Vladimir Petrek and von Treuenfeld was given the order to attack. The battled ensued for fourteen hours as the Czech parachutists put up fierce resistance.The Germans first searched the church warden’s apartment. They quickly found the window with an unscrewed inside grating, which would have been used in the event of the paratroopers’ escape.  The Gestapo and SS then proceeded to the inner section of the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius, where Adolf Opálka, Josef Bublík and Jan Kubiš were keeping guard in the gallery and the choir.

The attackers tried to reach the choir through a narrow staircase, under cover fire provided by Adolf Opálka. Wounded and nearing the end of his ammunition Adolf Opálka took poison and simultaneously ended his life with a pistol shot to the left temple.

After the inside of the church was overrun, the battle shifted to the crypt, the only entrance to which led through a small ventilation opening in the western part of the church which was accessible from the street outside. The Germans seized this opportunity and ordered in the Prague fire department to begin flooding the crypt with water and tear gas.

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Near the altar, under a carpet, the Germans found an entrance into the crypt covered with a stone slab. After destroying it with explosives, they discovered steep stairs leading into the crypt; the Czechs were now fighting from all sides.Pannwitz and Frank had Čurda brought in to try and persuade the men in the crypt to surrender, but his shouts for them to give themselves up were met by fire form the defenders guns.  The Czech’s thought they might have a chance if they could tunnel there way out of the crypt into the sewer system below, but Jan Kubiš suffered from multiple gun shot and grenade wounds and died of blood loss.

The remaining defenders both exhausted and their ammunition just about gone, chose suicide over capture. Josef Gabčík ended his own life with a pistol shot. Fourteen German soldiers had been killed and many more injured in the series of attacks. The dead paratroopers were carried out in front of the church and identified by the traitor Karel Čurda.

 

The assassination led to the reprisal of the complete destruction of the village of Lidice, 173 Lidice men were shot on that fateful day in the garden of the Horak farm.

Jan Kubiš’ girlfriend, Anna Malinova, was arrested in the aftermath of the assassination, and died in Mauthausen concentration camp.  Many Resistance helpers were also arrested and murdered, including Father Petrek

The Germans erected a monument to Heydrich which was torn down by the Czechs in 1945.

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Hitler granted Lina, Heydrich’s widow, heavily pregnant at the time of his death, the estate at Panenske Brezany, and she ended her days as a hotel-keeper on the island of Fehmarn.

“I have only a few words to dedicate to this dead man. He was one of the best National Socialists, one of the strongest defenders of German Reich, one of the biggest opponents of all the enemies of the Reich. He fell as a martyr for the preservation and safeguarding of the Reich. As leader of the party and as leader of the German Reich, I give you, my dear comrade Heydrich, the highest recognition I have to bestow, the uppermost level of the German Order.

The events of this operation have been remembered in several monumments.

And have also been told in several movies.

In 1943 two movies were made Hitler’s Madman by Douglas Sirk and Hangmen also die by Fritz Lang.

In 1964 Jiří Sequens directed the Czech Movie Atentat

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In 1975 Operation Daybreak starring Timothy Bottoms and Martin Shaw , directed by Lewis Gilbert.

In all fairness I don’t think the movie did the story any justice. the performances were weak.

I am looking forward to the upcoming movie “Operation Anthropoid” directed by Sean Ellis.

Stop that Island! The remarkable story of HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen

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Without trying to blow my own trumpet, or in this case my countries trumpet, it is a well know fact that the Dutch are among the most inventive people in the world. As was the case with the crew of the HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen(and HMAS Abraham Crijnssen for a while)

Sometimes in life, the guy with the drunken, so-crazy-it-just-might-work ideas hits one out of the park and saves the day.This seems to be what happened in 1942 aboard the HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen, the last Dutch warship standing after the Battle of the Java Sea.

HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen was a minesweeper of the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNN). Built during the 1930s, she was based in the Netherlands East Indies when Japan attacked at the end of 1941. Ordered to retreat to Australia, the ship was disguised as a tropical island to avoid detection, and was the last Dutch ship to escape from the region. On arriving in Australia in 1942, she was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as HMAS Abraham Crijnssen and operated as an anti-submarine escort. Although returned to RNN control in 1943, the ship remained in Australian waters for most of World War II. After the war, Abraham Crijnssen operated on anti-revolution patrols in the East Indies, before returning to the Netherlands and being converted into a boom defence ship in 1956. Removed from service in 1960, the vessel was donated to the Netherlands Sea Cadet Corps for training purposes. In 1995, Abraham Crijnssen was acquired by the Dutch Navy Museum for preservation as a museum ship.

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After the Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies in 1941 and their decisive defeat of a combined Dutch, British, Australian, and US naval force, the remaining Dutch ships in the East Indies were ordered to flee to Australia. Many Dutch ships were either scuttled or fell prey to Japanese warships or aircraft patrolling their escape routes.

However, the HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen, a tiny minesweeper with little in the way of offensive armament or speed, was able to successfully escape to Australia because the captain came up with a crazy scheme. He disguised the entire ship as a small island.1a-ship-disguised-as-island-rawAlthough the Abraham Crijnssen was a relatively small ship, it was still a big object—approximately 55 meters (180 ft) long and 7 meters (25 ft) wide. So the crew used foliage from island vegetation and gray paint to make the ship’s hull look like rock faces.

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Moving only at night, the ship was able to blend in with the thousands of other tiny islands around Indonesia, and the Japanese didn’t notice the moving island. The Abraham Crijnssen was the last Allied ship that escaped the Dutch East Indies.

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.The ship was based at Surabaya in the Netherlands East Indies when Japan invaded in 1941.Following the Allied defeats at the Battles of the Java Sea and Sunda Strait in late March 1942, all Allied ships were ordered to withdraw to Australia.Abraham Crijnssen was meant to sail with three other warships, but found herself proceeding alone.

To escape detection by Japanese aircraft (which the minesweeper did not have the armament to defend effectively against), the ship was heavily camouflaged with jungle foliage, giving the impression of a small island Personnel cut down trees and branches from nearby islands, and arranged the cuttings to form a jungle canopy covering as much of the ship as possible.Any hull still exposed was painted to resemble rocks and cliffs.To further the illusion, the ship would remain close to shore, anchored and immobile during daylight,

(see if you can spot it)

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and only sail at night She headed for Fremantle, Western Australia, where she arrived on 20 March 1942; Abraham Crijnssen was the last vessel to successfully escape Java, and the only ship of her class in the region to survive.

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The Crijnssen managed to go undetected by Japanese planes and avoid the destroyer that sank the other Dutch warships, surviving the eight-day journey to Australia and reuniting with Allied forces.

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After arriving in Australian waters, the minesweeper underwent a refit, which included the installation of new ASDIC equipment.

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On 28 September, the minesweeper was commissioned into the RAN as HMAS Abraham Crijnssen.She was reclassified as an anti-submarine convoy escort, and was also used as a submarine tender for the Dutch submarines that relocated to Australia following the Japanese conquest.The ship’s Dutch sailors were supplemented with survivors from the British destroyer HMS Jupiter and Australian personnel, all under the command of an Australian lieutenant.

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The wardroom tradition of hanging a portrait of the commissioned ship’s reigning monarch led to some tension before it was decided to leave Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands on the bulkhead instead of replacing her with King George VI of the United Kingdom, which was installed in the lieutenant’s cabin.

It was agreed however that Miss Hayworth was worthy of wardroom status and she was installed on the bulkhead opposite Queen Wilhelmina.

While escorting a convoy to Sydney through Bass Strait on 26 January 1943, Abraham Crijnssen detected a submarine on ASDIC. The convoy was ordered to scatter, while Abraham Crijnssen and HMAS Bundaberg depth charged the submarine contact.

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No wreckage of the suspected submarine was found.A pair of hastily released depth charges at the start of the engagement damaged the minesweeper; several fittings and pipes were damaged, and all of her centreline rivets had to be replaced during a week-long dry-docking.

Abraham Crijnssen was returned to RNN service on 5 May 1943, but remained in Australian waters for most of World War II.On 7 June 1945, the minesweeper left Sydney for Darwin, with the oil lighter (and former submarine) K9 in tow.On 8 June, the tow cable snapped, and K9 washed ashore at Seal Rocks, New South Wales.

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Abraham Crijnssen was used for mine-clearing sweeps of Kupang Harbour prior to the arrival of a RAN force to accept the Japanese surrender of Timor.

The ship was removed from the Navy List in 1960. After leaving service, Abraham Crijnssen was donated to the Sea Cadet Corps (Zeekadetkorps Nederland) for training purposes. She was docked at The Hague from 1962 to 1972, after which she was moved to Rotterdam. The ship was also used as a storage hulk during this time.

In 1995, Abraham Crijnssen was marked for preservation by the Dutch Navy Museum at Den Helder.She was retrofitted to her wartime configuration.

Amazingly I was able to find out most of the details of the HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen, even which pictures hang in the wardroom, but I could not find out any crew members name and most importantly who came up with the idea. If anyone knows please let me know.

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