Forgotten History-Hannie Schaft resistance fighter.

When we think of WW2 heroes we (including me) tend to think only of men, this is of course wrong.

There were many women who gave their lives during the war. This story is about Hannie Schaft, although the title Forgotten History is slightly incorrect in a Dutch context because Hannie’s story has been told in a book which has also been made into a movie.Known as “Het meisje met het rode haar” the girl with the red hair. I do believe her story is not that well known outside of the Netherlands. Although

Jannetje Johanna Schaft was born on September 16, 1920. Her nickname was Jo or Jopie. Hannie was the name she used later on in the resistance group. She grew up in the northern part of Haarlem (a city 12 miles west of the capital Amsterdam), where she lived with her parents and her 5 year older sister Annie. Annie died in 1927 from diphtheria. Jo was very quiet and shy. She was very good at school, her GPA (Grade Point Average) was even the highest of her class. The political development in Germany was a frequently discussed subject in her family.

They were worried about Hitler and his national socialism in Germany, but also about Mussert and his national socialistic party in the Netherlands. At the time the war broke out, Hannie went to law school at the university of Amsterdam. From the moment that the Germans occupied Poland in 1939 on, Hannie tried to help. She sent small packages to captured Polish officers with a program of the International Red Cross. When the Germans occupied Holland, Hannie tried to help people too and she offered resistance. An example is that when the Jews weren’t allowed to walk in a park anymore in 1941 Hannie said: ‘If they aren’t allowed to walk there, I won’t walk there either’. Little by little she got more involved with the resistance movement.

From 1942 on all Jews had to wear a yellow star.

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When the need for false identity cards increased to help Jews in hiding, Hannie stole identity cards in all sorts of public areas for them. In the spring of 1943 there were several razzia’s at the universities. Later the Germans announced that every college graduate had to go to Germany to work there for a while and finally the college students who wanted to continue their education had to sign a loyalty affidavit to the Germans. Hannie didn’t sign and so she quit school.

Her mother was a Mennonite and her father was attached to the Social Democratic Workers’ Party. During her law studies at the Universiteit van Amsterdam she became friends with the Jewish students Philine Polak and Sonja Frenk. This made her feel strongly about actions against Jews. With the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II university students were required to sign a declaration of allegiance to the occupation authorities. When Hannie refused to sign the petition in support of the occupation forces, she could not continue her studies and moved in with her parents again. She became more and more active in the resistance movement and helped people who were hiding from the Germans with stolen identification cards and food-coupons.

She went back to Haarlem, where she joined the RVV, the council of resistance. She said that food aid wasn’t enough for her, she was willing to offer armed resistance. The RVV ordered her and another member of the group to ‘eliminate’ an officer of the German secret police, the Sicherheits Dienst. Hannie was scared to death but she fired. Instead of a shot, a click was heard and nothing happened. The SD officer introduced himself as Frans van der Wiel, the commandant of the resistance group. It appeared to be a test. Although Hannie had past the test, she was furious. Hannie got to know many people who were involved with the resistance. That is how she met Truus Oversteegen and her sister Freddie, who were also members of the resistance group. Hannie was 19, Truus was 16 and Freddie only 14 at the beginning of the war. Truus became the leader when they worked together because Hannie was a bit dreamy, according to Truus, and Freddie was still too young. Most of the work existed of spreading illegal newspapers, transportation of weapons, stealing and/or falsifying identity cards, sabotage, disguising as German girls to extract information from the German soldiers and bringing Jewish children to hiding places. Hannie took also part in bigger actions. In November 1943 Hannie and a few other members of the resistance group tried to blow up a power station near Haarlem. Only a part of the explosives did actually explode, so only one transport system was damaged. Although the attempt didn’t work for one hundred percent, it gave the people hope.

Hannie also eliminated several members of the German secret police and Dutch collaborators. One example is that on March 15, 1945 Hannie and Truus saw Ko Langendijk, a hairdresser who betrayed people for money. Hannie and Truus shot him. They hid in a hotel afterwards. Remarkably was that Hannie powdered her face because she wanted to die pretty. Luckily they didn’t get caught.

Hannie had to be very careful. She couldn’t tell her parents anything about her work for the resistance group. The nazi’s were looking for her, so she was obliged to dye her hair black and to wear glasses made out of clear glass

After a sub-department of the Raad van Verzet in Velsen killed a farmer, without authorization from the groups’ leaders, Hannie brought a list of names of the ones who did that to her leaders.

Afterwards the named people on this list were given to the Sicherheitsdienst, which meant a certain death. After the war this episode was investigated by a special commission

On March 21, 1945 Hannie was arrested at a routine checking because she had illegal newspapers and her pistol in her bag.Pistool_van_Hannie_Schaft

Soon the Germans recognized her as the girl with the red hair, for whom they had been looking for so long. On April 17, 1945 she was executed in the dunes.

It is the evening of 17 April 1945. A truck leaves the Huis van Bewaring, a prison on the Amstelveenseweg in Amsterdam. The truck contains a Dutch driver, three German soldiers and the Dutch detective, Maarten Kuijper.These men form the escort for one prisoner, a young Dutch woman of 24. They drive to the German Ortskommandantur in Haarlem where a soldier of the Feldgendarmerie (Gefreiter) equipped with a shovel gets in. The truck moves off again and the new man gives directions to the beach at Overveen, a few miles away. The truck stops near the beach where a path leads into the sand dunes.

DUIN

Kuijper and the German, Mattheus Schmitz, lead their prisoner into the dunes, the man with the shovel bringing up the rear. Schmitz, who is walking a few paces behind the girl, draws his pistol and fires, she cries out in pain but does not fall. Kuijper, seeing she has a wound to the head but is still standing, levels his machine pistol and takes his turn. This time the bullets find their mark and the young woman falls dead.

Kuijper then helps the Gefreiter bury the body in a shallow grave, they are keen to be done with their work and in their haste long strands of red hair are left protruding from the sand

After the war, in these dunes the remains of 422 members of the resistance were found, 421 men and one woman, Hannie Schaft. She was reburied at the honorary cemetery Erebegraafplaats Bloemendaal in the dunes in Overveen Hannie Schaft was given a state funeral at the Erebegraafplaats on 27 November 1945 in the presence of Queen Wilhelmina who called her the “symbol of the Resistance”in the presence of Princess Juliana and her husband Prince Bernard. Later, as queen, Juliana unveiled a bronze commemorative statue in the Kenau Park in nearby Haarlem, her birthplace. Hannie Schaft also received the ‘Wilhelmina resistance cross’ and a US decoration.

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Shortly after the war, the communist movement enjoyed popularity, partly because of the effort of the USSR in defeating the Nazis. However, with that country’s increasing influence in Eastern Europe, the popularity decreased. Because the Dutch communist party celebrated her as an icon, her popularity decreased too, to the point that the commemoration at Hannie’s grave was forbidden in 1951. The commemorators (who were estimated to number over 10,000) were stopped by several hundred police and military with the aid of four tanks. A group of seven managed to circumvent the blockade and reached the burial ground, but were arrested when they tolled the bell. From the next year on, the communists decided to prevent another such scene by holding their commemoration in Haarlem instead.

 

She was celebrated as a hero in some of the former Warsaw Pact (former eastern European communist countries) The DDR even had a stamp issued in her memory.Her name had been used a bit in a political context during the cold war which had alienated some war veterans.

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A number of schools and streets were named after her. For her, and other resistance-heroines, a foundation has been created; the Stichting Nationale Hannie Schaft-herdenking. A number of books and movies have been made about her. She features in De Aanslag by Harry Mulisch, also released as a movie directed by Fons Rademakers. Ineke Verdoner wrote a song about her. Author Theun de Vries wrote a biography of her life.

 

<a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/search/ref=as_li_qf_sp_sr_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&index=aps&keywords=ASIN%3A%20B0100KJ1UY&linkCode=ur2&tag=dirkdeklein-21″>ASIN: B0100KJ1UY</a><img src=”https://ir-uk.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=dirkdeklein-21&l=ur2&o=2&#8243; width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

 

Forgotten History- ABBA and WW2

History of Sorts

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The baby in this picture is no other than Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad, from ABBA.She was one of the approximately 12,000 known as the Tyskerbarnas or German children.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s story is typical of the suffering of thousands. After her birth in November 1945 – the result of a liaison between her mother, Synni, and a German sergeant, Alfred Haase – her mother and grandmother were branded as traitors and ostracized in their village in northern Norway. They were forced to emigrate to Sweden, where Anni-Frid’s mother died of kidney failure before her daughter was two.

She found her father by chance three decades later. They met for an emotional reunion in her Swedish villa, instigated by Benny Anderson, an Abba founder and Anni-Frid’s then husband.

It is alleged that some 0f these ‘Tyskerbarnas’ were even used as guinea pigs in drugs trials. These kids were part of a programme called Lebensborn e.V…

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Forgotten History-Mengele’s reluctant assistants

I am not going into the details of the horrific acts of the evil personified called Joseph Mengele. His quote ‘The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it’ is chilling but also quite accurate, people just couldn’t fathom the evilness of the Nazi regime.

The fact is that Mangele was assisted pursuing his evil agenda until the day he died, even after the war he was allowed to continue his experiments. Even a reward of close to $2.5 million did not help getting him brought to justice. Clearly he must have been helped by government officials in high positions of several governments across the globe and mainly the German, Argentinian and US administrations.

More surprisingly though is the assistance he got in Auschwitz.

Berthold Epstein

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Berthold Epstein (1 April 1897, Pilsen, then part of Austria-Hungary – 9 June 1962 in Prague) was a pediatrician, professor, and scientist and was conscripted as a doctor in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

He was born into a Jewish family. He rose to become professor and director at a Kinderklinik (“Children’s Clinic”) affiliated with the German Hospital in Prague prior to World War II. He was married to Ottilie née Eckstein.

He travelled to Norway on March 15, 1940 and was accepted on the recommendation of the Norwegian pediatric association, one of the few physician refugees who was licensed to practice medicine in Norway. As it turned out, he arrived just before the German invasion on April 9, 1940. He was encouraged to apply for the position as the head of the pediatric clinic at Rikshospitalet, but the Nazi persecution of Jews put an end to such ambitions.Instead, Dr. Epstein conducted research on tuberculosis until he was arrested on October 27, 1942 and deported on the SS Donau on November 26 the same year.

Epstein’s family died at Auschwitz whilst he was assigned as a camp physician. Several efforts were made—among others by Prince Carl of Sweden—to liberate him from the camp, but he was not allowed to leave.

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Dr. Epstein was assigned to the Jewish Camp in Auschwitz. There, he was assigned to assist Josef Mengele, who conducted experiments on human beings, mostly Jewish children, concerning a possible treatment of noma, a deadly and disfiguring form of malnutrition-induced gangrene. About 3000 people died due to the research, which included infecting healthy test persons deliberately with the disease.

Epstein remained in the camps and survived the war. He returned to Prague and testified in the Soviet war crimes trials on genocide. He was a chair of the pediatric clinic (1949–1962).He died in 1962.

Miklós Nyiszli

Miklos Nyiszli

Miklós Nyiszli (June 17, 1901, Szilágysomlyó, Austria-Hungary – May 5, 1956, Oradea, Romania) was a Jewish prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Nyiszli, his wife, and young daughter, were transported to Auschwitz in June 1944. On arrival, Nyiszli felt impelled to volunteer himself as a doctor and was sent to work at number 12 barracks where he operated on and tried to help the ill with only the most basic medical supplies and tools. He was under the supervision of Josef Mengele, an SS officer and physician. Mengele decided after observing Nyiszli’s skills to move him to a specially built autopsy and operating theatre. The room had been built inside Crematorium 2 (Crematorium 1 being in Auschwitz Town camp), and Nyiszli, along with members of the 12th Sonderkommando, were housed there.

One day, after the gassing of a new shipment of prisoners, Nyiszli was summoned by prisoners working in the gas chambers who had found a girl alive under a mass of bodies in a gas chamber. Nyiszli and his fellow prisoners did their best to help and care for the girl but she was eventually discovered by SS guards and shot.This incident was dramatized in the film The Grey Zone.

Nyiszli was appalled by the disregard for human life and lack of sympathy for human suffering shown by the SS guards and officers. But like all in the camp, his actions were dictated by his tormentors: he was forced to perform what for him were immoral acts. As he said:

An event never before experienced in the history of medicine worldwide is realized here: Twins die at the same time, and there is the possibility of subjecting their corpses to an autopsy. Where in normal life is there the case, bordering on a miracle, that twins die at the same place at the same time? […] A comparative autopsy is thus absolutely impossible under normal conditions. But in Auschwitz camp there are several hundred pairs of twins, and their deaths, in turn, present several hundred opportunities!”

During the roughly eight months he spent in Auschwitz, Nyiszli observed the murder of tens-of-thousands of people, including the slaughter of whole sub-camps at a time. These sub-camps held different ethnic, religious, national, and gender groups. For example, there was a Gypsy camp, several women’s camps, a Czech camp, and so on. Each sub-camp usually housed between 5,000–10,000 prisoners, and some had even higher populations. Nyiszli was often told which camps were to be exterminated next as it would signal that an increased workload was imminent.

When Nyiszli discovered that the women’s camp his wife and daughter lived in, Camp C, was to be liquidated, he bribed an SS officer to transfer his wife and daughter to a women’s work camp. Nyiszli remained in Auschwitz until shortly before its liberation by the Soviet army on January 27, 1945. On January 18 Nyiszli, along with an estimated 66,000 other prisoners, was forced on a death march that took the prisoners into various parts of the Third Reich’s territories including: German occupied Poland (which was part of Greater Germany), Czechoslovakia, Germany proper, present-day Austria and further into various smaller concentration camps in Germany.

Nyiszli’s first major stop after the forced march out of Auschwitz was the Mauthausen concentration camp in northern Austria, near the city of Linz. After a three-day stay in a quarantine barracks at Mauthausen, he was sent to the Melk an der Donau concentration camp, about three hours away by train. After a total of 12 months of imprisonment, including two months in the Melk an der Donau camp, Nyiszli and his fellow prisoners were liberated on May 5, 1945, when U.S. troops reached the camp. Nyiszli’s wife and daughter also survived Auschwitz and were liberated from Bergen Belsen. He never worked with a scalpel again after the war.

Nyiszli died of a heart attack on 5 May 1956. His daughter Susanna married in 1952 and had a daughter, Monica. She died on 8 January 1983. His wife Margareta died on 5 September 1985, aged 84.

In 1951 he wrote a book called “Auschwitz’a Doctor’s eyewitness account”

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Some passages in his book have been discredited, not all accounts were factual. However he did state that some of it was fictional. It also is a case that some of the translation may not have come across correctly.

It is never the less still an amazing story that both these Jewish doctors had become the reluctant assistants of Joseph Mengele. I am not judging them because I believe when anyone is put in that situation all you do is try to survive in anyway you can, that doesn’t mean it is always the right way, it is just the right way for that time.

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

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Sources

http://www.auschwitz.dk/Nyiszli.htm

http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v20/v20n1p20_Provan.html

http://obscuritanjournal.blogspot.ie/2010/10/curious-case-of-dr-miklos-nyiszli.html

Elvis and the Colonel

It may surprise many people but Elvis never performed outside of the Americas. The only country outside the US he ever toured was Canada, and even with that it was a short tour of about 5 concerts.In 1957 Elvis performed two shows at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on April 2, two shows at the Auditorium in Ottawa on April 3, and one show at Empire Stadium in Vancouver on August 31.

Elvis did spend some time in Germany serving the US army, and whilst there he did visit Paris and he did have a stop over in Scotland.Between 1958 and 1960

The reason for not going abroad is not because he didn’t like travelling or was afraid to fly, which some have suggested, no the reason is more simple than that albeit also a bit sinister.

The reason was Colonel Tom Parker, he is often seen as the man behind Elvis’s success but in fact he wasn’t a nice man at all.

Colonel Thomas Andrew “Tom” Parker (born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk; June 26, 1909 – January 21, 1997)

“The Colonel” displayed a ruthless devotion to his own financial gain, rather than his client’s interests, and took more than the traditional 10–15 percent of his earnings (reaching up to 50 percent by the end of Presley’s life). Presley said of Parker, “I don’t think I’d have ever been very big if it wasn’t for him. He’s a very smart man. For many years, Parker falsely claimed to have been born in the United States, but it eventually emerged that he had been born in the Netherlands.

http://www.geni.com/people/Dries-van-Kuijk-alias-The-Colonel-Tom-Parker/6000000034574144222

These are some of the theories believed Col.Parker used as excuses .

  • Parker’s claims that foreign security was poor, relative to the USA.
  • Parker’s belief that outside influences (managers, agents etc.) would inform Presley of how unusual his contract with Parker was.
  • Parker’s claim that there was a lack of venues large enough to accommodate a star of Presley’s stature. All of these excuses were given to Presley when he would show an interest in touring abroad and, known to avoid confrontation, Presley would never argue against them.
  • Some promoters wanted to charge fans the equivalent of $100 per ticket. Parker did not wish the fans to be ripped off, and this was another reason he turned down overseas offers.

In fact Col.Parker had entered the USA illegally

At age 15, Parker moved to Rotterdam, gaining employment on the boats in the port town.At age 17, he first displayed signs of wanting to run away to America to “make his fortune”.A year later, with enough money to sustain him for a short period, he entered America illegally by jumping ship from his employer’s vessel. During his first visit there, he traveled with a Chautauqua educative tent show, before returning briefly to the Netherlands. there were questions about a murder in Breda in which Parker might have been a suspect or at least a person of interest.This might have motivated Parker to avoid seeking a passport, as the Netherlands has an active extradition treaty with the United States, and Parker might have wanted to avoid criminal arrest by Dutch authorities in that case.

Parker returned to America at age 20, finding work with carnivals due to his previous experience in the Netherlands.He enlisted in the United States Army, taking the name “Tom Parker” from the officer who interviewed him, to disguise the fact he was an illegal immigrant.

He never became Colonel either, in fact he had deserted the Army He was punished with solitary confinement, from which he emerged with a psychosis that led to two months in a mental hospital,and he was discharged from the Army due to his mental condition.

After the Army Tom Parker had several jobs in fact he was barely surviving the great depression.

His first steps into the entertainment industry were taken in 1938 , when he met one of America’s first crooners Gene Austin.

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Austin offered Parker the opportunity to move to Nashville, Tennessee, where music was becoming big business, but for reasons unknown Parker turned him down. Instead, Parker decided to stay in Temple Terrace, Florida, with his family, perhaps to avoid having to fill in paperwork that could expose his illegal status.Within a year, however, he had the opportunity to become a legal citizen within the United States by way of the 1940 Alien Registration Act; a bill passed by the United States Government to allow illegal aliens the chance to become US citizens in return for their promise to fight for the country during World War II, if required. Parker decided against registering, possibly to prevent his previous Army record from becoming public.

This is indicates the paranoia ‘Colonel Tom Parker’ was suffering from.

He did manage a few more artists, Minnie Pearl,Tommy Sands and Hank Snow

However in 1955 Parker became aware of this young singer called Elvis. In February 1955 Elvis signed a contract with Tom Parker, which basically sealed his fate in relation to touring outside of America.

There is no doubt that Tom Parker did turn Elvis into the icon he has become, but I believe Elvis would have become the star he was anyway even without Tom Parker.

Following Presley’s death, Parker set up a licensing operation with Factors Etc. Inc, to control Presley merchandise and keep a steady income supporting his estate. It was later revealed that Presley owned 22% of the company, Parker owned 56%, and the final 22% was made up of various business associates.[Due to an ill-advised agreement between Parker and Presley that gave RCA sole ownership of all his recording royalties prior to 1973, the estate was relying heavily on the income from Factors Etc. Inc. However, because Parker was still entitled to 50% of all Presley’s income, and after taxes were taken off, the overall amount going towards the upkeep of the estate was less than $1 million a year.

In January 1979, it was discovered that Presley had lost out on royalties for songs on which he had been listed as an author and/or composer because Parker had unwisely advised him not to sign up to ASCAP or its younger competitor,BMI.Experts in the field at the time estimated that it had potentially cost Presley millions of dollars and worse for Parker, it had also potentially cost him those millions of dollars.

By 1980, the cost of running the estate was estimated to be as much as $500,000 a year.Priscilla and the Trust were prepared to let Parker continue to handle Presley’s business affairs, and petitioned the court to that end.However, Judge Joseph Evans, aware that Lisa Marie Presley was still a minor, appointed attorney Blanchard E. Tual to investigate Parker’s management.Tual, once appointed as Lisa Marie’s guardian ad litem, chose to investigate the entire period of Parker’s management of Presley; his preliminary finding was that Parker’s management deal of 50% was extortionate compared to the industry average of 15–20%.He also noted that Parker’s handling of Presley’s business affairs during his lifetime, including the decision to sell off past royalties to RCA for $5.4 million in 1973, was “unethical” and poorly handled. During a second, more detailed investigation, Tual discovered that all earnings were paid directly to the Trust instead of Parker. By this time, with the IRS demanding almost $15 million in taxes, the estate was facing bankruptcy.The truth about Parker was now known.

On August 14, 1981, Judge Evans ordered EPE to sue Parker for mismanagement. In response to this, Parker countersued.The case against Parker was settled out of court in 1983, with the estate paying him $2 million,and the termination of his involvement in any Presley related earnings for five years.He was also ordered to hand over any Presley audio recordings or visual images that he owned.

Parker had worked as a “consultant” for Hilton Hotels since Presley’s death,with some believing he was working to pay off debts owed to the casino from his gambling during Presley’s performances there.Part of this role resulted in Parker keeping the same fourth-floor suite he occupied when Presley was alive, but by 1984, with his gambling debts reportedly rising again, he was evicted.On the surface, however, relations between the two were as good as ever, with Parker helping the Hilton to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Presley’s death.

The disputes with the Presley estate did not terminate his association with his most high-profile client. Parker appeared at posthumous events honoring Presley, such as the 1993 issuing of the United States Postal Service stamp honoring the King of Rock and Roll. He also became friendly with the estate again, attending special ceremonies and events in Memphis, invited by Priscilla. However, he did occasionally step on their toes by commenting negatively on some of their decisions. In 1994, following the marriage of Lisa Marie and Michael Jackson, Parker stated that Presley would not have approved,and in 1993, interest in Presley’s enduring legend, interest that is sometimes notable for its obsessiveness, provoked Parker to remark, “I don’t think I exploited Elvis as much as he’s being exploited today.

In 1994, a Golden Palm Star on the Walk of Stars in Palm Springs, California was dedicated to him.

I don’t know what is more amazing, the fact that the Colonel was Elvis’s manager for so long or that it was. The mystery of Colonel Parker’s identity could have already been solved in 1960, when Drees van Kuijk’s(aka Col. Tom Parker) sister recognized her brother when she saw his picture with Elvis in a newspaper. Until now it is still unclear why the authorities didn’t act.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/colonel-parker-managed-elvis-career-but-was-he-a-killer-on-the-lam-108042206/?no-ist

Ironically because of all this Elvis became the front runner in technology in a way. Not many artists before him had done global concerts via satellite. His concert Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite was broadcast to more then 40 countries. Viewing figures have been estimated to be between 1 and 1.5 billion viewers worldwide. The show was the most expensive entertainment special at the time, costing $2.5 million.

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I have been an Elvis fan all of my life and until this day I still vividly remember where I was when I heard the news when he passed away. I was about 9 at the time, when I came home from school that day,my mother told me the news.I pretended as if it meant nothing to me, but I ran up the stairs and cried like I never cried before, It felt like I just lost a close friend or family member.

This is one of my favorite songs by the King.

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Forgotten History-Ode to the Fallen Soldier

These are pictures from the War Cemetery at Margraten, near Maastricht in the Netherlands.

The tall memorial tower can be seen before reaching the cemetery which covers 65.5 acres (26.5 ha). From the cemetery entrance the visitor approaches through the Court of Honor with its pool reflecting the chapel tower. The visitors’ building is on the right and the museum with its three engraved operations maps describing the achievements of the American Armed Forces in the area during World War II is on the left. At the base of the tower facing the reflecting pool is a statue representing the grieving mother of her lost son

Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial

The walls on either side of the Court of Honor contain the Tablets of the Missing on which are recorded the names of 1,722 American missing who gave their lives in the service of their country and who rest in unknown graves. Beyond the chapel and tower is the burial area which is divided into sixteen plots. Here rest 8,301 American dead, most of whom lost their lives nearby. Their headstones are set in long curves. A wide tree-lined mall leads to the flag staff which crowns the crest

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It is because of these men I am free to work and travel in Europe. My life is quite prosperous. If it hadn’t been for these brave souls the life of me and my family would have been different. Even though I was born way after WW2 I am in no doubt that their selfless acts made an major impact on my life. Therefor I salute them.

8301 are buried here each one a son, a husband, a boyfriend, a father but most of all a human being.

This is my ode to them.

Thank you soldier for setting my country free.

You did not want to die but yet you gave your life.

It was for strangers you sacrificed yourself, who weren’t even family.

Your ambitions were cut short never again did you see your wife.

 

Thank you, young man to liberate my land.

Your youth stolen from you by a violent act of hate.

A picture of a young girl you held in your hand

The blood drenched battlefield sealed both your fate

 

Thank you proud parents for sending us your son.

The pain you feel is something I will never be able to comprehend

But know this your child did not die in vain, his memory will go on

Even if everyone else forgets, I will remember until my end.

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

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What if? Anne Frank and Adolf Hitler

History of Sorts

I am always intrigued by the concept of What if? What would have happened if  a certain event would have had an alternative outcome.Sometimes it may just have minor consequences but in other cases it could have altered history completely. These are 2 examples. The first one about Anne Frank, whose situation mirrors the current refugee crisis. The second example is about Adolf Hitler, a split second decision could have saved the lives of millions.

Documents uncovered in 2007 revealed that Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank, desperately attempted to secure asylum in the United States

It is not clear when Otto Frank had initially applied for a Visa but it is is believed he was quite late with the application. although the exact date is not know we know the year was 1941. The Frank family had already moved to Amsterdam from Germany at that stage. And in 1941 things…

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Forgotten History-WW2 Hero John Steele.

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Who is John Steele I hear you say. Well to be honest until recently I had never heard of him either. It’s just that I am a great WW2 movies fan I came across his name.

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In the movie ” the Longest Day” about D-Day there are a few scenes which made me wonder if they really happened. Some of them are quite funny, there is one scene where a German patrol and an American patrol pass each other by not realizing they are enemies and just walk on minding their own business. Another one where a German officer puts on his boots the wrong way. However there are also some sad scenes. One is showing a paratrooper whose parachute was caught in one of the pinnacles of the church tower.

I could not find anything on the patrols or the visually impaired German officer but the story of the paratrooper is true and really happened. This Paratrooper’s name was Private John Steele. he was the American paratrooper who landed on the church tower in Sainte-Mère-Église, the first village in Normandy liberated by the Americans on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

On the night before D-Day (June 5–6, 1944), American soldiers of the 82nd Airborne parachuted into the area west of Sainte-Mère-Église in successive waves. The town had been the target of an aerial attack and a stray incendiary bomb had set fire to a house east of the town square. The church bell was rung to alert the town of the emergency and townspeople turned out in large numbers to form a bucket brigade supervised by members of the German garrison. By 0100 hours, the town square was well lit and filled with German soldiers and villagers when two sticks (planeloads of paratroopers) from the 1st and 2nd battalions were dropped in error directly over the village.

The paratroopers were easy targets, and Steele was one of only a few non-casualties. His parachute was caught in one of the pinnacles of the church tower, causing the cables on his parachute to stretch to their full length, leaving him hanging on the side of the church to witness the carnage. The wounded paratrooper hung there limply for two hours, pretending to be dead, before the Germans took him prisoner. Steele later escaped from the Germans and rejoined his division when US troops of the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment attacked the village capturing thirty Germans and killing another eleven. For these actions and his wounds, Steele was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and the Purple Heart for being wounded in combat.

Though injured, Private Steele survived his ordeal. He continued to visit the town throughout his life and was an honorary citizen of Ste. Mère Église. The tavern, Auberge John Steele, stands adjacent to the square and maintains his memory through photos, letters and articles hung on its walls. Steele died of throat cancer on May 16, 1969 in Fayetteville, NC just three weeks short of the 25th anniversary of the D-Day invasion

But his story as a brave soldier starts much earlier and continued well past the episode in Sainte Mère Église. There is much more to the story of paratrooper John Steele.

There are some inconsistencies in various stories that have been cobbled together about him, but it is clear that John Steele was a fearless and brave soldier. He had volunteered his service as a paratrooper and had earlier served in the 82nd Airborne Division in North Africa, prior to parachuting into combat in Sicily with F Company, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.  On the night of 9 July 1943, John broke his left leg and was sent to a hospital in North Africa.  After he recovered he returned to Italy and fought with his unit from Salerno to Naples.

During his jump into Ste. Mère Église on the night of 5-6 June 1944, John was wounded by a shell fragment and was unable to steer his parachute.  As he dangled from the church spire while a battle was going on below him, he tried to cut himself free but his jump knife slipped from his hand. He dangled helplessly for more than two hours, until a German soldier named Rudolf May cut him down and took him prisoner. Despite being wounded, he escaped three days later and rejoined a nearby Allied unit. He was then transferred to a hospital in England for recovery.

After recovery from his latest wounds, he returned to action and parachuted into action nearNijmegen Netherlands where he participated in the liberation of that city.  In November of 1944 he participated in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes region near Reims, France.  When the Allies crossed the Rhine River into Germany in early 1945, John Steele was there, advancing with his unit from Frankfurt to the crossing of the Elbe River, when World War II ended.  He finally returned to the United States in September 1945.

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Today, these events are commemorated by the Airborne Forces Museum in Place du 6 June in the centre of Ste-Mère-Église and in the village church where a parachute with an effigy of Private Steele in his Airborne uniform hangs from the steeple. Bullet holes are still visible in the church’s stone walls. Inside, there are stained glass windows, with one depicting the Virgin Mary with paratroopers falling in the foreground.

http://www.army.mil/article/22006/church-tower-windows-pay-tribute-to-paratroopers-who-jumped-into-first-town-liberated-during-world-war-ii/

This is just one of the thousands of the forgotten histories of WW2.

Thanks to brave soldiers like John Steele  the people in Europe now live a prosperous life and have freedom it is important that the sacrifices which were made are never forgotten.

More and more I hear the pleas for history to be taken out of the school curriculum but it is my believe and conviction that history is now more important than it ever was. If we forget our history we will forsake our future.

 

Forgotten History-The Nazis that got away

It is a well known fact that 1000’s of Nazi’s escaped after the war and fled to South America, what is a less know fact that some of them returned to Europe and the US and lived a good life. Here are just a few examples.

Otto Skorzeny

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Otto Skorzeny (12 June 1908 – 5 July 1975) was an Austrian SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) in the German Waffen-SS during World War II. After fighting on the Eastern Front, he accompanied the rescue mission that freed the deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from captivity. Books and papers written about him prior to the 2013 release of records pursuant to the Nazi War Crimes Declassification Act incorrectly refer to him as “Field Commander” of the operation. Skorzeny was the leader of Operation Greif, in which German soldiers were to infiltrate through enemy lines, using their opponents’ languages, uniforms, and customs. At the end of the war, Skorzeny was involved with the Werwolf guerrilla movement.

Although he was charged with breaching the 1907 Hague Convention in relation to Operation Greif, the Dachau Military Tribunal acquitted Skorzeny after the war. Skorzeny fled from his holding prison in 1948, first to France, and then to Spain. He later lived in Ireland.He was Hitler’s favourite Nazi commando, famously rescuing Mussolini from an Italian hilltop fortress, and was known as “the most dangerous man in Europe”.After World War Two, he landed in Argentina and became a bodyguard for Eva Perón, with whom he was rumoured to have had an affair.

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So when Otto Skorzeny arrived in Ireland in 1959, having bought a rural farmhouse in County Kildare, it caused much intrigue.At 6ft 4in and 18 stone, known as ‘scarface’ due to a distinctive scar on his left cheek, Skorzeny was an easily recognisable figure as he popped into the local post office.

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http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-30571335

Friedrich Buchard

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Friedrich Buchardt (17 March 1909 in Riga – 21 December 1982 in Nußbach) was a Baltic German SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) who commanded Vorkommando Moskau, one of the divisions of Einsatzgruppe B. He then worked for MI6 until 1947, and then, presumably, for the CIA. Buchardt was never molested by the law, being one of the agents of more sinister reputation who was used by the West, and he died at the age of 73

From January to September 1942, he supervised the deportation of about 80,000 Jews and Romani to Chełmno extermination camp.

In February 1943, Buchardt succeeded Obersturmbannführer Wilhelm Wiebens as commander of Einsatzkommando 9 of Einsatzgruppe B. He was in charge of extermination actions nearVitebsk. The death toll perpetrated by Buchardt’s commando is likely to be in the tens of thousands. Buchardt was awarded the Iron Cross First Class, the War Merit Cross First Class with Swords, a Silver Badge of Courage, and an Infantry Assault Badge in Silver. In June 1944, he was promoted to Obersturmbannführer.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1202005/The-Nazi-monster-recruited-MI6.html

Klaus Barbie

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Nikolaus “Klaus” Barbie (25 October 1913 – 23 September 1991) was an SS-Hauptsturmführer (rank equivalent to army captain) and Gestapo member. He was known as the “Butcher of Lyon” for having personally tortured French prisoners of the Gestapo while stationed in Lyon, France. After the war, United States intelligence services employed him for their anti-Marxist efforts and also helped him escape to South America. The Bundesnachrichtendienst, the West German intelligence agency, recruited him, and he may have helped the CIA capture Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara in 1967. Barbie is suspected of having had a hand in the Bolivian coup d’état orchestrated byLuis García  Meza Tejada in 1980. After the fall of the dictatorship, Barbie no longer had the protection of the Bolivian government and in 1983 was extradited to France, where he was convicted of crimes against humanity and died in prison of cancer

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Although he was eventually imprisoned he had lived a life of luxury for decades.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/dec/23/world.secondworldwar

Artur Axmann

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Artur Axmann (18 February 1913 – 24 October 1996) was the German Nazi national leader (Reichsjugendführer) of the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) from 1940 to the war’s end in 1945. He was the last living Nazi with a rank equivalent to Reichsführer.

In September 1931, Axmann joined the Nazi Party and the next year he was called to the NSDAP Reichsjugendführung[ to carry out a reorganisation of Hitler Youth factory and vocational school cells. After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, he rose to a regional leader and became Chief of the Social Office of the Reich Youth Leadership.

Axmann directed the Hitler Youth in state vocational training and succeeded in raising the status of Hitler Youth agricultural work. In November 1934, he was appointed Hitler Youth leader of Berlin and from 1936 presided at the annual Reichsberufswettkampf competitions. On 30 January 1939 he was awarded the Golden Party Badge

During Hitler’s last days in Berlin, Axmann was among those present in the Führerbunker.[1] During that time it was announced in the German Press that Axmann had been awarded the German Order, the highest decoration that the Nazi Party could bestow on an individual for his services to the Reich. He and one other recipient, Konstantin Hierl, were the only holders of the award to survive the war and its consequences. All other recipients were either awarded it posthumously, or were killed during the war or its aftermath.

On 30 April 1945, just a few hours before committing suicide, Hitler signed the order to allow a breakout. According to a report made to his Soviet captors by Obergruppenfuehrer Hans Rattenhuber, the head of Hitler’s bodyguard, Axmann took the Walther PP pistol which had been removed from the room in the Fuehrerbunker by Heinz Linge, Hitler’s valet, which Hitler had used to commit suicide, saying that he would “hide it for better

In May 1949, a Nuremberg de-Nazification court sentenced Axmann to a prison sentence of three years and three months as a ‘major offender’.[10] On 19 August 1958, a West Berlin court fined the former Hitler Youth leader 35,000 marks (approximately 63,000, or $8,300 USD), about half the value of his property in Berlin. The court found him guilty of indoctrinating German youth with National Socialism until the end of the Third Reich, but concluded he was not guilty of war crimes. During his trial, Axmann told the court he heard the shot by which Hitler committed suicide. He also stated he had attempted to escape from central Berlin along with Martin Bormann, who he said had died during the attempt.times”.

After his release from custody, Axmann worked as a businessman with varying success. From 1971 he left Germany for a number of years, living on the island of Gran Canaria.[Axmann returned to Berlin in 1976, where he died on 24 October 1996, aged 83. His cause of death and details of his surviving family members were not disclosed.

 

 

Forgotten History War Criminal Pieter Menten

This is not so much a Forgotten History but more a not often mentioned history, why I don’t know. Maybe because it is a bit awkward to talk about since it is a black page in my country’s history.

I had heard about this man when I was a kid living in the Netherlands. I remember his trials between 1977 and 1980, it did have an extensive media coverage at the time.To be honest at that time I thought there could only be German war criminals, my excuse I was  still in primary school at the time

Pieter Menten’s story spans a few decades and has connections to the Netherlands,Poland and Ireland.

Born into a wealthy Rotterdam family, Menten became interested in Poland through his father’s business connections. He soon developed an extensive export trade in Dutch products to Poland. Menten moved to East Galicia in 1923 (then in Poland and later part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic), where he became a wealthy landowner and businessman. Described as mild-mannered and quiet, he developed a deep grudge against a prominent neighboring Jewish family over a business dispute. Menten travelled back to the Netherlands in 1939, when Russia invaded eastern Poland, and returned in 1941 after the Nazi counter-occupation—this time as a member of the SS. Menten was involved in the massacre of Polish professors in Lviv and robbery of their property. According to witnesses, he helped shoot as many members of the offending family in Galicia as he could find, then turned on other Jews in the area.

While travelling in his personal train with his prized art collection, he was recognized by Dutch Resistance fighters. He was brought to trial. His chief defense lawyer was Rad Kortenhorst, President of the Dutch House of Representatives. The controversial trial concluded in 1949, with the prosecution unable to prove most allegations, and Menten was sentenced to an eight-month term for having worked in uniform as a Nazi interpreter. In 1951 the Dutch government refused a Polish request for Menten’s extradition.

Menten would go on to become a successful art collector and businessman. His 20 room mansion was filled with valuable art work (Nicolaes Maes, Francisco Goya, Jan Sluyters, etc.) and he held vast areas of real estate.

Jewish laborers display a confiscated work of art

Menten was quoted as saying that his fortune had first been acquired in pre-war Poland, he had been ruined by the Nazi occupation, but he had restored his finances, and his art collection.

What Menten failed to mention was his service in the Abwehr before the war, and his wartime service as an SS Sonderfuhrer, and that he was personally responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of Jews and communists in the villages of the Stryj valley.

He also failed to mention that his coveted art collection was the proceeds of theft from the residences of the Murdered Professors of Lvov and elsewhere in the Galician District.

In 1976, the case was reopened.On the 14th of November he day before he was going to be arrested he escaped to Switzerland.He eventually was captured on the 6th of December.

It was a Dutch Journalist, Hans Knoop who was tipped of by an Israeli colleague, she had seen an article in De Telegraaf newspaper about the pending art auction of some of Menten’s collection and she made Knoop aware of Menten’s dealings in Poland.Hans Knoop

Knoop interviewed Menten about his collection, at first Menten presumed it was going to be for an article on art, but Knoop advised Menten that he was investigating the accusations made about Menten. Initially Menten dismissed as being rubbish accusations but he stayed amicable , after a short while he became agitated ,Knoop said.

Knoop travelled to the Galicia region to investigate.

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He came back with enough evidence to present to the prosecutors to warrant a trial.

On 9 May 1977 the trial began with Menten claiming it was a KGB stunt, a show trial. Chaviv Kanaan and four women who had witnessed the executions in Podhorodze, testified at this trial. Menten was found guilty and sentenced to fifteen years in prison, but this sentence was annulled on a technicality and a further trial was held in The Hague.

At the end of 1978 the Menten trial re-opened in the Hague, Menten was given a last word, a “word” that lasted for two hours, full of allegations against Police Commissioner Peters, against Hans Knoop and against all the others who had contributed to his conviction.

He stated that the late Justice Minister Donker had given him the promise in 1952 that he would not be prosecuted, as he claimed he had a secret dossier containing revelations about high ranking Dutch officials who had collaborated with the Germans during the war.

On 4 December 1978 the court announced its verdict Menten was released, which triggered public demonstrations against the release of a convicted war criminal. The Supreme Court reconvened during May 1979 and the verdict reached was that Menten’s appeal should be rejected and that he should stand trial again before a special court in Rotterdam.

During the trial, Menten’s mansion was set ablaze after a survivor of Dachau concentration camp threw a petrol bomb onto its thatched roof. The building suffered extensive damage and some of the art collection was destroyed

.In 1980 Menten was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was fined 100,000 guilders for war crimes, including being accessory to the murder of 20 Jewish villagers in 1941 Poland. Upon his release he believed he would settle in his County Waterford mansion in Ireland.

In 1985, then Minister for Justice Michael Noonan issued a barring order preventing his return to the State. Following Menten’s death in 1987 at the age of 89, his widow decided to sell the estate in Waterford.

 

Pieter Menten died on 14 November 1987, a demented old man age 88