Maurice Bavaud and the Swiss government’s lack of courage.

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There have been many attempts to assassinate Hitler, bizarrely enough they all failed.The attempt by Maurice Bavaud is one of the lesser known ones, Partially because it was overshadowed by the events unfolding due to the ‘Kristallnacht-Night of Broken glass’

Student Maurice Bavaud, 25, who was from the western Swiss town of Neuchatel, was executed in Berlin’s notorious Ploetzensee prison after failing in his attempt to shoot Hitler at a Nazi parade in Munich on Nov. 9, 1938.

Bavaud was a Catholic theology student, attending the Saint Ilan Seminary, Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, and a member of an anti-communist student group in France called Compagnie du Mystère. The group’s leader, Marcel Gerbohay, had a lot of influence over Bavaud. Gerbohay claimed that he was a member of the Romanov Dynasty, and convinced Bavaud that when communism was destroyed, the Romanovs would once again rule Russia, in the person of Gerbohay.

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Bavaud believed what Gerbohay had told him, became obsessed with the idea that killing Hitler would help the plans to materialise, and finally decided to carry out the assassination himself.

On October 9, 1938, Bavaud travelled from Brittany to Baden-Baden, then on to Basel, where he bought a Schmeisser 6.35 mm (.25 ACP) semi-automatic pistol.

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In Berlin, a policeman, Karl Deckert, overheard Bavaud saying that he would like to meet Hitler personally. Deckert advised Bavaud that a private audience could be arranged if Bavaud could obtain a letter of introduction from a suitable foreign VIP. Deckert advised him to travel to Munich for the anniversary of the 1923 “Beer Hall Putsch”, which Hitler attended every year. Bavaud followed those instructions by buying a ticket for a seat on the reviewing stand by posing as a Swiss reporter, intending to shoot Hitler as the latter passed during the parade. Bavaud abandoned this attempt when, on November 9th, Hitler turned out to be marching in the company of other Nazi leaders whom Bavaud did not want to injure.

Bavaud next purchased expensive stationery and forged a letter of introduction in the name of the French nationalist leader Pierre Taittinger, which claimed that Bavaud had a second letter for Hitler’s eyes only. He travelled to Berchtesgaden in the belief that Hitler had returned there, only to find that Hitler was still in Munich. When Bavaud returned to Munich, he discovered that Hitler was just leaving for Berchtesgaden.

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Having exhausted his money, Bavaud stowed away on a train to Paris, where he was discovered by a conductor who turned him over to the police. He was interrogated by the Gestapo and admitted his plans to assassinate Hitler.

Bavaud was tried by the Volksgerichtshof on December 18, 1939, naming as his motives that he considered Hitler a danger to humanity in general, to Swiss independence, and to Catholicism in Germany. Swiss diplomacy made no effort to save Bavaud; Hans Fröhlicher, the Swiss ambassador to Germany even publicly condemned Bavaud’s assassination attempt. An offer from the Germans to exchange Bavaud for a German spy was turned down, and Bavaud was sentenced to death. He was executed by guillotine in the Berlin-Plötzensee prison on the morning of May 14, 1941.

On November 2 2007 the then Swiss President Pascal Couchepin admitted  that the Swiss government at the time could have done more to defend Maurice Bavaud.

“With hindsight, the then Swiss authorities did too little to intervene on behalf of the condemned person… he deserves our recognition,” Couchepin said.

“Bavaud anticipated the disaster Hitler would wreak upon the world. Switzerland failed him.”

The government announcement came in response to a motion by parliamentarian Paul Rechsteiner.800px-Paul_Rechsteiner_(2007)

“Even though it was only the end of 1938, he understood what Hitler would mean and took his statements seriously – even if politicians around the world didn’t,” Rechsteiner said.

As for the Swiss authorities’ reaction, Rechsteiner blames a “lack of courage”.

“The case resembles that of Paul Grüninger, who saved hundreds, maybe thousands, of lives but who wasn’t rehabilitated until 1995,” he said.

Grüninger was a police commander in St Gallen who was prosecuted for forging documents that allowed Jewish refugees into Switzerland.
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“Swiss history has to be looked at in a new way and we must pay tribute to those people who had the courage to do something.”

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What if Georg Elser had succeeded?

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Georg Elser was a struggling German carpenter and communist who was vehemently opposed to Nazism. He anticipated that Hitler’s regime would lead his country on the path toward war and financial ruin, and in late-1938, he resolved to do something about it. Knowing that Hitler would speak at Munich’s Bürgerbräukeller brewery the following year on the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch, Elser spent several months building a bomb with a 144-hour timer.

While he worked at night in the Bürgerbräukeller, Elser built his “infernal machine” during the day. He purchased extra parts, including sound insulation, from local hardware stores and became friends with the local master woodworker, Brög, who allowed him use of his workshop.

NSDAP-Versammlung im Bürgerbräukeller, München

On the nights of 1–2 November 1939, Elser installed the explosives in the pillar. On 4–5 November, being Saturday and Sunday dance nights, he had to buy a ticket and wait in the gallery until after 1 a.m. before he could install the twin-clock mechanism that would trigger the detonator. To celebrate the completion of his work, Elser recalled later, “I left by the back road and went to the Isartorplatz where at the kiosk I drank two cups of coffee.”

On 6 November, Elser left Munich for Stuttgart to stay overnight with his sister, Maria Hirth, and her husband. Leaving them his tool boxes and baggage, he returned to Munich the next day for a final check. Arriving at the Bürgerbräukeller at 10 p.m., he waited for an opportunity to open the bomb chamber and satisfy himself the clock mechanism was correctly set. The next morning he departed Munich by train for Friedrichshafen via Ulm. After a shave at a hairdresser, he took the 6:30 p.m. steamer to Konstanz.

The high-ranking Nazis who accompanied Adolf Hitler to the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch on 8 November 1939 were Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Rudolf Hess, Robert Ley, Alfred Rosenberg, Julius Streicher, August Frank, Hermann Esser and Heinrich Himmler. Hitler was welcomed to the platform by Christian Weber.

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Unknown to Elser, Hitler had initially cancelled his speech at the Bürgerbräukeller to devote his attention to planning the imminent war with France, but changed his mind and attended after all. As fog was forecast, possibly preventing him from flying back to Berlin the next morning, Hitler decided to return to Berlin the same night by his private train. With the departure from Munich’s main station set for 9:30 p.m., the start time of the reunion was brought forward half an hour to 8 p.m. and Hitler cut his speech from the normal two hours to one-hour duration.

Hitler ended his address to the 3000-strong audience of the party faithful at 9:07 p.m., 13 minutes before Elser’s bomb exploded at 9:20 p.m. By that time, Hitler and his entourage had left the Bürgerbräukeller. The bomb brought down part of the ceiling and roof and caused the gallery and an external wall to collapse, leaving a mountain of rubble. About 120 people were still in the hall at the time. Seven were killed. Another sixty-three were injured, sixteen seriously, with one dying later.

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Hitler did not learn of the attempt on his life until later that night on a stop in Nuremberg. When told of the bombing by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler responded, “A man has to be lucky.” A little later Hitler had a different spin, saying, “Now I am completely at peace! My leaving the Bürgerbräu earlier than usual is proof to me that Providence wants me to reach my goal.”

The next day, the Nazi Party official paper, the Voelkischer Beobachter, squarely placed the blame on British secret agents, even implicating Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain himself. This work of propaganda was an attempt to stir up hatred for the British and whip the German people into a frenzy for war. But the inner-Nazi Party members knew better—they knew the assassination attempt was most probably the work of a German anti-Nazi military conspiracy.

In Munich on 9 November, the annual guard of honour for the sixteen “blood martyrs” of the NSDAP who died in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 was held at the Feldherrnhalle as usual. Two days later, at the same location, an official ceremony for the victims of the Bürgerbräukeller bombing took place. Hitler returned from Berlin to stand before seven flag-draped coffins as Rudolf Hess addressed the SA guard, the onlookers and the listeners to Grossdeutsche Rundfunk (Greater German Radio). In his half-hour oration, Hess was not short on hyperbole:

At this time the German people take their sad leave of the victims of a gruesome crime, a crime almost unparalleled in history … The perpetrators of this crime have succeeded in teaching the German people to hate … this enormous crime, this war which was forced upon us, will turn out in favor of the Führer, in favor of Germany—in favor of Germany and the entire world.

After “Der gute Kamerad” was played, Hitler placed a wreath of chrysanthemums on each coffin, then stepped back to lift his arm in the Nazi salute. The very slow playing of “Deutschland über alles” ended the solemn ceremony.

München, Adolf Hitler vor Feldherrenhalle

But Himmler wanted more than talk—he wanted the British agents themselves. So on November 9, SS soldiers in Holland kidnapped, with Schellenberg’s help, two British agents, Payne Best and R.H. Stevens, stuffing them into a Buick and driving them across the border into Germany. Himmler now proudly announced to the German public that he had captured the British conspirators. The man who actually planted the bomb at their behest was declared to be Georg Elser, a German communist who made his living as a carpenter.

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Elser never faced a trial for the bombing of the Bürgerbräukeller. After his year of torment at Berlin Gestapo Headquarters, he was kept in special custody in Sachsenhausen concentration camp between early 1941 and early 1945. At Sachsenhausen, Elser was held in isolation in a T-shaped building reserved for protected prisoners. Accommodated in three cells joined together, each 9.35 m2, there was space for his two full-time guards and a work space to make furniture and other things, including several zithers.

Elser’s apparent preferential treatment, which included extra rations and daily visits to the camp barber for a shave, aroused interest amongst other prisoners, including British SIS officer Payne Best. He wrote later that Elser was also allowed regular visits to the camp brothel.Martin Niemöller was also a special inmate in the Sachsenhausen “bunker” and believed the rumours that Elser was an SS man and an agent of Hitler and Himmler.In early 1945, Elser was transferred to the bunker at Dachau concentration camp.

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On 9 April 1945, four weeks before the end of the war in Europe, Georg Elser was shot dead and his fully dressed body immediately burned in the crematorium of Dachau Concentration Camp. He was 42 years old

If he had succeeded he would have wiped out not only Hitler but the whole Nazi leadership. So many lives would have been saved.

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Operation Foxley-The killing of Hitler

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Operation Foxley was a 1944 plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler, conceived by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). Although detailed preparations were made, no attempt was made to carry out the plan. Historians believe the most likely date for an attempt would have been 13–14 July 1944, during one of Hitler’s visits to the Berghof.

Obersalzberg, Berghof von Adolf Hitler

One of the first actual British plans to assassinate Hitler was to bomb the special train “Amerika” (in 1943 renamed “Brandenburg”) he travelled in; SOE had extensive experience of derailing trains using explosives. The plan was dropped because Hitler’s schedule was too irregular and unpredictable: stations were informed of his arrival only a few minutes beforehand.

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Another plan was to put some tasteless but lethal poison in the drinking water supply on Hitler’s train. However, this plan was considered too complicated because of the need for an inside man.

Although detailed planning was done to facilitate the attempt, it was never put into action.  SOE had several plans on taking out Germany’s Führer, including blowing up his train or by using poison. Neither of those had much of a chance of success. The SOE then planned on using a sniper to kill Hitler when he visited the Berghof, Hitler’s home in the Obersalzberg of the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden, Bavaria.

SOE became aware of a facet of Hitler’s routine that made the attempt possible. One of his former security guards was captured in the fighting in Normandy during the early summer of 1944. This prisoner revealed that while at the Berghof, Hitler always took a 20-minute morning walk just after 10 a.m.and have breakfast at a teahouse on the premises. They learned that Hitler wanted liked to be left alone during this walk, leaving him unprotected along the edge of a wooded area, where he was out of sight of sentry posts. The Berghof was part of a large complex on the Obersaltzberg.   Many high-ranking Nazi’s had houses there so that they could relax in comfort when Hitler was there. Whenever Hitler was at the Berghof a Nazi flag was hoisted from the main house and could be seen from a café below in the town of Berchtesgaden.

The plan was for a sniper, armed with a Mauser Kar-98K and fitted with a scope to kill Hitler as he took his morning walk.

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However, it wasn’t going to be easy. Although he felt secure within his compound and preferred to walk alone on most mornings, there were various sentries posted around the area anywhere between 100-500 meters from the path to the teahouse. The shot would be from a few hundred meters or failing that, he could be attacked while being driven back to the main house from the teahouse.

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The obvious issue for the British was the actually getting the team into and out of Germany. The two men picked for the mission were a German speaking Pole and a British sniper. The British lucked out when a German POW named Dieser told SOE that he had an uncle named Heidentaler, who lived as a shopkeeper in Salzburg, about 12 miles away who was a die-hard anti-Nazi. Heidentaler also did frequent target practice less than 10 miles from the estate and knew the area well.

The British sniper practiced with a Kar-98K and became proficient with it practicing in similar conditions with a moving target. He was also given a Luger 9mm pistol with a suppressor attached so that any unfortunate souls that stumbled upon them at the estate would be eliminated.

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The plan was to have the two men parachute into Germany, make their way to Salzburg where Heidentaler would hide the men and then transport them to Berchtesgaden disguised as German Mountain troops.

Everything was ready to go and the plan was submitted in November 1944. But SOE’s Deputy Head of their German Directorate, Lt. Colonel Ronald Thornley thought the assassination was a bad idea. Hitler, Thornley argued, may be turned into a martyr and the Germans’ loss of the war could be blamed on his loss and not a flawed overall strategy. Moreover, he said, it may cause a repeat of the WWI-WWII scenario where Germany may try to rise again.

Ultimately it was decided to scrap the plan, in no small part because Churchill’s advisors believed that Hitler, with absolute power, was a terrible strategist. With his increasing paranoia and poor decisions that were becoming more frequent, it was thought that his being in charge of the German war machine was a better alternative than removing him via an assassin’s rifle and having a more apt leader continuing the war.

Hitler is was deemed, was more valuable to the Allies alive than dead. The plan was scrapped. Just a few months later, with Germany in ruins, he committed suicide in Berlin.

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The 1st murder attempt on Martin Luther King Jr.

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The 4th of April marked the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. This was however not the first attempt made on his life.

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On 20 September 1958, Izola Ware Curry, a forty-two year old mentally disturbed woman, stabbed Martin Luther King, Jr. while he signed copies of his book Stride Toward Freedom at Blumstein’s Department Store in Harlem, New York.

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Curry approached King with a seven-inch steel letter opener and drove the blade into the upper left side of his chest. King was rushed to Harlem Hospital where he underwent two-and-a-quarter hours of surgery to repair the wound. Doctors operating on the twenty-nine year old leader said, “Had Dr. King sneezed or coughed the weapon would have penetrated the aorta. . . . He was just a sneeze away from death.

Born in Adrian, Georgia, Curry moved to New York at the age of 20 to begin work as a cook and housekeeper. Shortly after her relocation, Curry developed paranoid delusions about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders. After stabbing King, Curry was arrested at the scene and found carrying a loaded gun.

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When questioned by police at New York’s 28th precinct, she accused civil rights leaders of “boycotting” and “torturing” her as well as causing her to lose jobs and forcing her to change her religion (Curry, Statement to Howard Jones, 21 September 1958). Curry also suggested that dangerous connections were being forged between the civil rights movement and the Communist Party. After authorities informed her that she was being charged with felonious assault and possession of firearms, she reportedly replied, “I’m charging him [King] as well as he’s charging me…I’m charging him with being mixed up with the Communists” (“Dr. King’s Knifer,” 22 September 1962).

When King received word of his attacker’s mental state, he expressed his sympathy and issued a statement upon returning home to Montgomery, Alabama: “I am deeply sorry that a deranged woman should have injured herself in seeking to injure me. I can say, in all sincerity, that I bear no bitterness toward her and I have felt no resentment from the sad moment that the experience occurred. I know that we want her to receive the necessary treatment so that she may become a constructive citizen in an integrated society where a disorganized personality need not become a menace to any man” (

Following the stabbing, Curry was placed in Bellevue Hospital for observation and was found not competent to stand trial.

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On 20 October she was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and committed to Matteawan State Hospital for the criminally insane.

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She died on March 7,2015 in Queens. She was 98.

Ms. Curry died in a nursing home, the last stop in the series of institutions that had been her home for more than half a century. Her death, confirmed by the office of the chief medical examiner of New York City,

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The Assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan

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The Assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan happened on Monday, March 30, 1981. 69 days after becoming President, Ronald Reagan was leaving after a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C..Shots were fired by John Hinckley, Jr. as he left to enter the presidential limo. The assassination attempt started concern about gun control.

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Hinckley was armed with a .22 revolver with exploding bullets and was only ten feet away from Reagan when he began shooting. Fortunately, he was a poor shot and most of the bullets did not explode as they were supposed to. Hinckley’s first shot hit press secretary James Brady and other shots wounded a police officer and a Secret Service agent. The final shot hit Reagan’s limo and then ricocheted into the President’s chest.

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Hinckley’s path toward the assassination attempt began in 1976 when he saw the movie Taxi Driver. Robert DeNiro’s Travis Bickle stalks a Presidential candidate in the hopes that he will somehow impress and rescue a young prostitute played by Jodie Foster.

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Hinckley, who spent seven years in college without earning a degree or making a friend, added Foster to his list of obsessions, which also included Nazis, the Beatles and assassins.

In May 1980, Hinckley wrote to Foster while she attended Yale University, traveled there and talked to her on the phone at least once.

Jodie Foster on the set of Taxi Driver (4)

Soon after, he began following President Jimmy Carter. In October, he was arrested at airport near a Carter campaign stop for carrying guns. However, the Secret Service was not notified. Hinckley simply went to a pawnshop in Dallas and bought more guns.

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For the next several months, Hinckley’s plans changed daily. He pondered kidnapping Foster, considered killing Senator Edward Kennedy and began stalking newly elected President Reagan. Finally, he wrote a letter to Foster explaining that his attempt on Reagan’s life was for her. He kept abreast of the president’s schedule by reading the newspaper.

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After Reagan was shot and nearly killed, there was a great deal of confusion at the upper levels of government. In the most notable incident, Secretary of State Alexander Haig told the press that “I am in control here in the White House, pending return of the vice-president,” under the mistaken belief that the chain of command placed him in charge.

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Bush was out of Washington and he thought that as Secretary of State he was to succeed, but in reality, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill was to succeed Reagan and Bush to be in charge.

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Haig was angry about his mistake as was O’Neill. This feud left Haig to resign after about a year.

Nobody was killed in the attack. Press Secretary James Brady was left paralyzed and permanently disabled. Brady died in August 2014. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He is in a psychiatric facility.

Reagan was the first serving U.S. President to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. The members of his staff were anxious for the president to appear to be recovering quickly, and the morning after his operation he saw visitors and signed a piece of legislation.

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Reagan left the hospital on the 13th day. He was able to travel outside of Washington 49 days later.

Hinckley was confined at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C.After Hinckley was admitted, tests found that he was an “unpredictably dangerous” man who might harm himself or any third party.

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In 1999, Hinckley was permitted to leave the hospital for supervised visits with his parents; he was granted longer unsupervised releases in 2000.These privileges were revoked when he was found to have smuggled materials about Foster into the hospital. Hinckley was allowed supervised visits with his parents again during 2004 and 2005. Court hearings were held in September 2005 on whether he could have expanded privileges to leave the hospital.

On December 30, 2005, a federal judge ruled that Hinckley would be allowed visits, supervised by his parents, to their home in Williamsburg, Virginia. The judge ruled that Hinckley could have up to three visits of three nights and then four visits of four nights, each depending on the successful completion of the last.

On July 27, 2016, a federal judge ruled that Hinckley would be allowed to be released from St. Elizabeth’s on August 5,as he was no longer considered a threat to himself or others. The conditions of his release are that he has no contact with the Reagan family, the Brady family, or Jodie Foster. He will live with his 90-year-old mother and be restricted to a 50-mile zone around her home in Williamsburg, Virginia. Hinckley was released from institutional psychiatric care on September 10, 2016, and will live full-time at his mother’s home.As part of his release, he is excluded from speaking to the press, has to work three days a week, can drive no more than 30 miles from his mother’s home or 50 miles if attended, and must see a psychiatrist twice a month.

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He now volunteers at a church, works as a bookseller on Amazon under an anonymous handle, and even those in his mother’s neighborhood where residents previously voiced concerns about him being set free say they never see him in public.

There are still many who object to his release however, believing he should spend the rest of his life removed from the public after shooting President Ronald Reagan and three others on March 30, 1981 outside the Hilton in Washington DC

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