The assassination of a British Prime Minister.

John Bellingham assassinating the Rt Hon Spencer Perceval in the Lobby of the House of Commons, 11 May 1812

British politics is probably the most intriguing politics in the world. With all its traditions and even the sometimes humorous debates in the house of commons are often fascinating.

However what many people don’t know that in 1812 on the 11th of May the only ever assassination of a British Prime minister took place.

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Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland, was shot and killed in the lobby of the House of Commons in London, around  17:15 pm  Hisassassint was John Bellingham, a  merchant from Liverpool who had a bone to pick  with the government. Bellingham was arrested and, four days after the murder, was put on , convicted and sentenced to death. He was hanged at Newgate Prison one week later on 18 May.

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As the Prime Minsiterl entered the lobby of the House of Commons a number of people were gathered around in conversation as was common practice. Many turned to look at him as he came through the doorway. No-one noticed as the quiet man stood up from beside the fire place, removing a pistol from his inner pocket . Nor did anyone notice as the man walked calmly towards the Prime Minister. When he was close enough, without saying a word, the man shot his gun directly at the Prime Minister’s chest. The Prime Minister staggered forward before falling to the ground, calling out as he did so words that witnesses later recalled in different ways as: “I am murdered!” or ‘Murder, Murder’ or ‘Oh God!’ or ‘Oh my God!”

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John Bellingham was a businessman in his forties, who in 1804 had been falsely imprisoned for debt in Russia. The British embassy would not help him and when he was released in 1809 he returned to England seeking compensation from the British government, which kept turning him down.

On Friday 15 May 1812  John Bellingham  got his day in court, but only to answer a charge of murder. The trial took place in a crowded court room at the Old Bailey, presided over by Sir James Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.

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Bellingham was denied to plead insanity and was found guilty of murder, executed by public hanging at Newgate .

The execution was fixed for the morning of Monday 18 May , his body was then  handed over to the anatomists to be dissected.Bellingham’s skull was preserved at Barts Pathology Museum

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Perceval, meanwhile, was brought in an impressive funeral procession from Downing Street to Charlton, to be buried in a family vault at St Luke’s.

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Pádraig Pearse’s letter to his Mother.

Patrick_PearseBorn in Dublin on Great Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street), he was educated by the Christian Brothers at Westland Row, before taking a scholarship to the Royal University (University College Dublin) to study law.

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He was one of only 30 people to know that the Rising would take place in the days building up to Easter 1916. Pearse, who had been secretly planning the insurrection for two years beforehand, even kept his plans hidden from the highest leaders in the Irish Republican Brotherhood, including Eoin MacNeill, the Chief of Staff of the IRB.

When the Easter Rising eventually began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, it was Pearse who read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic from outside the General Post Office, the headquarters of the Rising. Pearse was the person most responsible for drafting the Proclamation, and he was chosen as President of the Republic.10411373_10204883272621713_7276958758852942451_n

After six days of fighting, heavy civilian casualties and great destruction of property, Pearse issued the order to surrender.

Pearse and fourteen other leaders, including his brother Willie, were court-martialled and executed by firing squad. Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh and Pearse himself were the first of the rebels to be executed, on the morning of 3 May 1916. Pearse was 36 years old at the time of his death. Roger Casement, who had tried unsuccessfully to recruit an insurgent force among Irish-born prisoners of war from the Irish Brigade in Germany, was hanged in London the following August.

On May 1st, 2 days before his execution Pearse wrote the following letter to his Mother.

“My dear Mother, You will I know have been longing to hear from me. I do not know how much you have heard since the last note I sent you from the G.P.O.

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On Friday evening the Post Office was set on fire and we had to abandon it. We dashed into Moore Street and remained in the houses in Moore St. on Saturday evening? We then found that we were surrounded by troops and that we had practically no food.
We decided in order to prevent further slaughter of the civilian population and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers, to ask the General Commanding the British Forces to discuss terms. He replied that he would receive me only if I surrendered unconditionally and this I did. I was taken to the Headquarters of the British Command in Ireland and there I wrote and signed an order to our men to lay down their arms.surrender

All this I did in accordance with the decision of our Provisional Government who were with us in Moore St. My own opinion was in favour of one more desperate sally before opening negotiations, but I yielded to the majority, and I think now the majority was right, as the sally would have resulted only in losing the lives of perhaps 50 or 100 of our men, and we should have had to surrender in the long run as we were without food.
I was brought in here on Saturday evening and later all the men with us in Moore St. were brought here. Those in the other parts of the City have, I understand, been taken to other barracks and prisons. All here are safe and well. Willie and all the St. Enda’s boys are here. I have not seen them since Saturday, but I believe they are all well and that they are not now in any danger. Our hope and belief is that the Government will spare the lives of all our followers, but we do not expect that they will spare the lives of the leaders. We are ready to die and we shall die cheerfully and proudly. Personally I do not hope or even desire to live, but I do hope and desire and believe that the lives of all our followers will be saved including the lives dear to you and me (my own excepted) and this will be a great consolation to me when dying.
You must not grieve for all this. We have preserved Ireland’s honour and our own. Our deeds of last week are the most splendid in Ireland’s history. People will say hard things of us now, but we shall be remembered by posterity and blessed by unborn generations. You too will be blessed because you were my mother.
If you feel you would like to see me, I think you will be allowed to visit me by applying to the Headquarters, Irish Command, near the Park. I shall I hope have another opportunity of writing to you.
Love to W.W., MB., Miss Byrne, . . . and your own dear self. P.
P.S. I understand that the German expedition which I was counting on actually set sail but was defeated by the British.”expedition

The letter to his Mother weren’t his last written words. On the day of his execution he wrote a poem called the Wayfarer.

It reads:

The beauty of the world hath made me sad, 
This beauty that will pass; 
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy 
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree 
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk, 
Or little rabbits in a field at evening, 
Lit by a slanting sun, 
Or some green hill where shadows drifted by 
Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown 
And soon would reap; near to the gate of Heaven; 
Or children with bare feet upon the sands 
Of some ebbed sea, or playing on the streets 
Of little towns in Connacht, 
Things young and happy. 
And then my heart hath told me: 
These will pass, 
Will pass and change, will die and be no more, 
Things bright and green, things young and happy; 
And I have gone upon my way 
Sorrowful.

The executioner claimed that Pearse whistled as he came out of the cell.

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The hanging of Amy Spain

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On this date in 1865, just weeks before the final collapse of the Confederacy, a slave named Amy Span was hanged on a sycamore tree before the courthouse of Darlingon, S.C., for anticipating her liberty a little too exuberantly.

Amy Spain’s slave master was  Major Albertus C. Spain, a Mexican-American War veteran who owned a large property in Darlington, South Carolina, and had been a member of the South Carolina Secession Convention. Amy was about 17 years old at the time of her death, and was referred to as “mulatto”, with sources noting her light skin. In early 1865, a detachment of the Union Army arrived in Darlington as part of the Carolinas Campaign.Spain reputedly exclaimed “bless the Lord, the Yankees have come!”.Many white residents (including almost all adult men) had deserted the town by that point, and the Union commander allowed slaves to take whatever belongings had been left behind.

But the Union men were not long for the town. It was just a scout party; constrained by strategic objectives, and hindered by swollen early-spring rivers, the main body of Union forces passed Darlington by.

Anticipating an occupation that was not about to occur, Amy recklessly declared herself free and took some of the Spain household’s possessions — the fruit of her own involuntary labor.

A short time later Confederate troops under command of  General Joseph Wheeler, re-occupied the town.

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Those who had stayed behind during the Union occupation reported that Amy Spain had been the “ringleader” of the looting, and accused her specifically of guiding Union troops to places where valuables had been hidden.Amy Spain was captured and charged with “treason and conduct unbecoming a slave” by a Confederate military tribunal;[5] Major Spain reputedly acted as her defense counsel. She was sentenced to death, and hanged from a sycamore tree in the Darlington town square on March 10, 1865.

The September 30, 1865, edition of Harper’s Weekly gave a somewhat embellished account of Spain’s execution, proclaiming that “her name is now hallowed among the Africans”.[3] The story and its accompanying illustration were reprinted by many Northern newspapers. Harper’s Weekly attributed the greater share of responsibility to Darlington’s residents rather than the Confederate troops, stating that her execution “was acquiesced in and witnessed by most of the citizens of the town”.

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Executed Today

Harpers Bazaar

Don’t lose your head on Valentine’s day

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Ah yes, it is that time of year again when men frantically rush into the shops to buy those last minutes cards and presents for their beloved. Sweaty palms, nervous twitches etc. I say men because lets face it, you hardly see any women in shops buying valentine’s gifts(they are clever, they would have bought  stuff a week earlier).

It is the feast day of love and romance but the origin of St Valentine’s day is a brutal one.

Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns.

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The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.

To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine.

A Roman priest named Valentine believing that the decree was unfair, went against the cruel emperor’s decree and continued to secretly wed young lovers. When his actions were discovered, Claudius had the defiant Roman priest arrested and put to death. Part of the legend is the priest’s farewell note for his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended. He signed it, “From Your Valentine.”

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Valentine was taken to the Prefect of Rome, who sentenced him to be beaten to death and beheaded. Valentine’s execution took place on February 14, around the year 270. He was declared a saint for his service, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Although not much is actually known about this St. Valentine (as there are actually several early Christian martyrs named Valentine), and whether he actually performed his heroic deed for lovers, the world has come to regard him as a true herald of love, and has been celebrating February 14 by exchanging love letters and special gifts.

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Life and death of Mata Hari

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Despite her exotic name Mata Hari was a Dutch woman. Her real name was Margaretha (Gretha)Zelle and was born in Leeuwarden, in the province of Friesland in the North West of  the Netherlands..

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Today marks the centenary of her execution.

At 18, Zelle answered an advertisement in a Dutch newspaper placed by Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod (1 March 1856 – 9 January 1928), who was living in what was then the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and was looking for a wife. Zelle married MacLeod in Amsterdam on 11 July 1895.2164

 

He was the son of Captain John Brienen MacLeod (a descendant of the Gesto branch of the MacLeods of Skye, hence his Scottish name) and Dina Louisa, Baroness Sweerts de Landas. The marriage enabled her to move into the Dutch upper class, and her finances were placed on a sound footing. They moved to Malang on the east side of the island of Java, traveling out on SS Prinses Amalia in May 1897, and had two children, Norman-John MacLeod (30 January 1897 – 27 June 1899) and Louise Jeanne MacLeod (2 May 1898 – 10 August 1919).

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From the start, her marriage was troubled. After the birth of their son, Norman, in 1897, they sailed for the Dutch East Indies, where Gretha would spend four years living in military garrisons. After the birth of their daughter, Non, in 1898, tragedy struck. For reasons that remain a mystery, a nanny poisoned Norman and Non; he died, she barely survived. Although John was able to retire on a military pension in 1900, the couple were unhappy and returned to Holland.

Gretha and John separated in 1902 and she was granted custody. But when he refused to pay the legally agreed allowance, she wrote to his cousin, Edward, who acted as an intermediary. The correspondence reveals her desperation to keep her daughter but, without family connections and with most professions barred to women, she had few choices. She reluctantly returned Non to her father and left for Paris.

Where she reinvented herself as a performer of exotic Asian-inspired dances. She soon began touring all over Europe, telling the story of how she was born in a sacred Indian temple and taught ancient dances by a priestess who gave her the name Mata Hari, meaning “eye of the day” in Malay.

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She acquired her superficial knowledge of Indian and Javanese dances when she lived for several years in Malaysia with her former husband, who was a Scot in the Dutch colonial army. Regardless of her authenticity, she packed dance halls and opera houses from Russia to France, mostly because her show consisted of her slowly stripping nude.

She became a famous courtesan, and with the outbreak of World War I her catalog of lovers began to include high-ranking military officers of various nationalities. In February 1917, French authorities arrested her for espionage and imprisoned her at St. Lazare Prison in Paris. In a military trial conducted in July, she was accused of revealing details of the Allies’ new weapon, the tank, resulting in the deaths of thousands of soldiers. She was convicted and sentenced to death, and on October 15 she refused a blindfold and was shot to death by a firing squad at Vincennes.

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There is some evidence that Mata Hari acted as a German spy, and for a time as a double agent for the French, but the Germans had written her off as an ineffective agent whose pillow talk had produced little intelligence of value. Her military trial was riddled with bias and circumstantial evidence, and it is probable that French authorities trumped her up as “the greatest woman spy of the century” as a distraction for the huge losses the French army was suffering on the western front. Her only real crimes may have been an elaborate stage fallacy and a weakness for men in uniform.

Statue of Mata Hari in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands

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The hanging of Masha Bruskina

 

Masha Bruskina

Masha Bruskina was a Russian teenage female partisan. She was a 17 year old Jewish high school graduate and was the first teenage girl to be publicly hanged by the Nazis in Belorussia (Belarus), since the German invasion of Soviet Union on the 22nd of June 1941.

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Masha Bruskina was born in Minsk, in the Soviet Union, in 1924. A member of a Jewish family, she was forced to live in the Minsk ghetto with her mother, after the arrival of the German Army in July 1941.

Although only seventeen Masha, an ardent member of the Communist Party, joined the Minsk resistance movement. She volunteered as a nurse at the hospital in the Polytechnic Institute, that had been set up to care for wounded members of the Red Army. As well as caring for the soldiers she helped them escape by smuggling into the hospital civilian clothing and false identity papers.

One of the patients informed on Masha and on 14th October she was arrested by the German authorities. She was tortured for several days but refused to give the names of other members of her group. On 20th October she wrote to her mother: “I am tormented by the thought that I have caused you great worry. Don’t worry. Nothing bad has happened to me. I swear to you that you will have no further unpleasantness because of me. If you can, please send me my dress, my green blouse, and white socks. I want to be dressed decently when I leave here.”

In order to frighten the people of Minsk into submission, the commander of the 707th Infantry Division, decided to hold a public hanging. On 26th October 1941, Masha Bruskina and two other members of the resistance, 16 year-old Volodia Shcherbatsevich and First World War veteran, Kiril Trus, were taken to the gates of a local yeast factory.

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When they put her on the stool, the girl turned her face toward the fence. The executioners wanted her to stand with her face to the crowd, but she turned away and that was that. No matter how much they pushed her and tried to turn her, she remained standing with her back to the crowd. Only then did they kick away the stool from under her.

There are picture widely available of her dead body hanging on a noose,but I didn’t feel it would to justice to her memory, I am ending this blog with a picture of  herthat shows her beautiful face.In this photo of her, you will see that she has blond hair, but her natural colour was dark. She dyed her hair when she started to work for the underground.

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After hanging for three days, she and the men were taken down and only when her body was traditionally washed before her burial by local people and members of her family, did her dark hair show up.

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Berthold von Stauffenberg- The Brother of Claus.

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Most people will have heard of Claus von Stauffenberg, one of the main conspirators of the 20th of July assassination plot. Many books have been written about him and several movies were made about him, one the most recent ones ‘Valkyrie’ with Tom Cruise in the title role.

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But there was another von Stauffenberg involved in the 20th July plot,Berthold Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg.

I am not going to go to deep into his early life but will focus more on his last days and will also go in to the question of how heroic the von Stauffenberg brothers really were.

Cousine des Hitler-Attentaeters erinnert sich an einen warmherzigen Menschen

Berthold was the oldest of four brothers (the second being Berthold’s twin Alexander Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg) born into an old and distinguished aristocratic South German Catholic family. His parents were the last Oberhofmarschall of the Kingdom of Württemberg.

In 1939, he joined the German Navy, working in the High Command as a staff judge and advisor for international law.

Berthold’s apartment at Tristanstraße in Berlin, where his brother Claus also lived for some time, was a meeting place for the 20 July conspirators, including their cousin Peter Yorck von Wartenburg. As Claus had access to the inner circle around Hitler, he was assigned to plant a bomb at the Führers briefing hut at the military high command in Rastenburg, East Prussia, on 20 July 1944. Claus then flew to Rangsdorf airfield south of Berlin where he met with Berthold. They went together to Bendlerstraße, which the coup leaders intended to utilize as the centre of their operations in Berlin.

Hitler survived the bomb blast and the coup failed.

Hitler-Attentat, 20. Juli 1944

Berthold and his brother were arrested at Bendlerstraße the same night. Claus was executed by firing squad shortly afterwards.

After his arrest, Stauffenberg was questioned by the Gestapo about his views about the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”. Stauffenberg told the Gestapo that “he and his brother had basically approved of the racial principle of National Socialism, but considered it to be ‘exaggerated’ and ‘excessive’” Stauffenberg went on to state.

“The racial idea has been grossly betrayed in this war in that the best German blood is being irrevocably sacrificed, while simultaneously Germany is populated by millions of foreign workers, who certainly cannot be described as of high racial quality”

Berthold was tried in the Volksgerichtshof (“People’s Court”) by Roland Freisler on 10 August and was one of eight conspirators executed by strangulation, hanged in Plötzensee Prison, Berlin, later that day. Before he was killed Berthold was strangled and then revived multiple times.The entire execution and multiple resuscitations were filmed for Hitler to view at his leisure.

Berlin, Berthold Schenk Graf v. Stauffenberg

Although their acts could be seen as heroic but both of the brothers had signed to the idea of the Nazi regime, and it was clear from the outset what that regime’s policies were.

Claus von Stauffenberg and his regiment took part in the attack on Poland. He supported the occupation of Poland and its handling by the Nazi regime and the use of Poles as slave workers to achieve German prosperity as well as German colonization and exploitation of Poland. The deeply rooted belief common in the German aristocracy was that the Eastern territories, populated predominantly by Poles and partly absorbed by Prussia in partitions of Poland, but taken from the German Empire after World War I, should be colonized as the Teutonic Knights had done in the Middle Ages. Stauffenberg said, “It is essential that we begin a systemic colonization in Poland. But I have no fear that this will not occur”.

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By July 1944 it was pretty clear that the Germans were going to lose the war. And I wonder if it had been different, would the von Stauffenbergs (or any of the other conspirators)have been such willing participants in an assassination plot?

Stratford Martyrs

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The Stratford Martyrs were a group of 11 men and two women who were burned at the stake together for their Protestant beliefs, at Stratford-le-Bow or Stratford near London in England on 27 June 1556, during the Marian persecutions.

Protestants were executed under heresy laws during persecutions against Protestant religious reformers for their religious denomination during the reigns of Henry VIII (1509–1547) and Mary I of England (1553–1558}

A detailed description of the event is in John Foxe’s book, The Acts and Monuments.Foxe lists those executed.

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The 16 accused had been brought to Newgate in London from various parts of Essex and Hertfordshire. There, beginning on 6 June 1556, at an ecclesiastical tribunal under the direction of Thomas Darbyshire, the chancellor of Edmund Bonner the Bishop of London, they were charged with nine counts of heresy, to which they all either assented or remained silent. All of them were condemned to death and later published a letter detailing their beliefs in rebuttal of a sermon that had been preached against them by John Feckenham, the Dean of St Paul’s. On the 27 June 1556, the remaining 13 were brought from London to Stratford, where the party was divided into two and held “in several chambers”. Here, the sheriff unsuccessfully attempted to persuade each group to recant, by telling them falsely that the other group had already done so.

The executions were said to have been attended by a crowd of 20,000. The exact place of the execution is unknown; the most likely site is thought to have been Fair Field in Bow (then known as Stratford-le-Bow), north of the present day Bow Church DLR station.An alternative suggested location is Stratford Green, much of which is now occupied by the University of East London Stratford Campus; however, this theory seems to date only from the erection of a monument to the martyrs in the nearby churchyard of the Parish Church of St John the Evangelist in 1879.

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According to Foxe, “eleven men were tied to three stakes, and the two women loose in the midst without any stake; and so they were all burnt in one fire”

In 1879 a large monument was erected in St John’s churchyard in Stratford Broadway, to commemorate the 13 and others who were executed or tortured in Stratford during the persecutions. The memorial is Grade II listed on the National Heritage List for England.

 

The execution of Ferenc Szalasi

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Ferenc Szálasi was the leader and all-powerful head of the fascist Arrow Cross movement, the regime that came to power in Hungary with the armed assistance of the Nazi Germany on October 15-16, 1944. After that date, the fate of hundreds of thousands of Jews was in his hands. During his brief rule, Szálasi’s men murdered 10,000–15,000 Jews.

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Szálasi’s Government of National Unity turned the Kingdom of Hungary into a client state of Nazi Germany formed on 16 October 1944 after RegentMiklós Horthy was removed from power during Operation Panzerfaust (Unternehmen Eisenfaust).

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The Hungarian parliament approved the formation of a Council of Regency of three. On 4 November, Szálasi was sworn as Leader of the Nation He formed a government of sixteen ministers, half of which were members of the Arrow Cross Party. While the Horthy regency had come to an end, the Hungarian monarchy was not abolished by the Szálasi regime, as government newspapers kept referring to the country as the Kingdom of Hungary (Magyar Királyság, also abbreviated as m.kir.), although Magyarország (Hungary) was frequently used as an alternative.

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Szálasi’s hatred of the Jews was a pillar of his Weltanschauung. He seriously believed in the theory of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. In June 1943, he declared that the Jews, de facto and de jure, ruled the word: “Plutocracy, freemasonry, the liberal democracy, parliamentarism, and the Marxism are all but instruments in the hands of Jews so that they can hang onto their power and control over the world”. Firmly believing himself to be a good Christian and a Catholic, Szálasi argued that anti-Semitism was taught in the Bible itself. Unlike Hitler or Alfred Reosenberg, Szalasi was merely an anti-Semite. He knew no inferior and superior races; he merely hated the Jews.

On 19 November 1944, Szálasi was in the Hungarian capital when Soviet and Romanian forces began encircling Budapest. By the time the city was encircled he was gone. The “Leader of the Nation” (Nemzetvezető) fled to Szombathely on 9 December. By March 1945, Szálasi was in Vienna. Later, he fled to Munich.

The Arrow Cross Party’s cabinet, which had fled Hungary, was dissolved on 7 May 1945, a day before Germany’s surrender. Szálasi was captured by American troops in Mattsee on 6 May and returned to Hungary on 3 October. He was tried by the People’s Tribunal in Budapest in open sessions began in February 1946, and sentenced to death for war crimes and high treason. Szálasi was hanged on 12 March 1946 in Budapest, along with two of his former ministers, Gábor Vajna, Károly Beregfy and the party ideologist József Gera. Some photographs of the execution are on display in the Holocaust Room of the Budapest Jewish Museum.

On 13 March 1946, the day after Szálasi’s death, The National Council of People’s Tribunals discussed the convicted politicians’ plea for mercy and recommended its refusal to Justice Minister István Ries, when Szálasi and his ministers were already executed. Ries forwarded the decision to President Zoltán Tildy, who subsequently approved the death sentence and execution on 15 March 1946.

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The execution of Hermann Fegelein-Eva Braun’s Brother in law.

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Hans Otto Georg Hermann Fegelein (30 October 1906 – 28 April 1945) was a high-ranking commander in the Waffen-SS in Nazi Germany. He was a member of Adolf Hitler’s entourage and brother-in-law to Eva Braun through his marriage to her sister, Gretl.

Fegelein joined a cavalry regiment of the Reichswehr in 1925 and transferred to the SS on 10 April 1933. He became a leader of an SS equestrian group, and was in charge of preparation for the equestrian events of the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936. He tried out for the Olympic equestrian team himself, but was eliminated in the qualifying rounds.

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In September 1939, after the Invasion of Poland, Fegelein commanded the SS Totenkopf Reiterstandarte (Death’s-Head Horse Regiment). They were garrisoned in Warsaw until December. In May and June 1940, he participated in the Battle of Belgium and France as a member of the SS-Verfügungstruppe (later renamed the Waffen-SS). Units under his command on the Eastern Front in 1941 were responsible for the deaths of over 17,000 civilians during the Pripyat swamps punitive operation in the Byelorussian SSR. As commander of the 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer in 1943, he was involved in operations against partisans as well as defensive operations against the Red Army.

Sowjetunion, SS-Reiter bei Mosyr im Einsatz gegen Partisanen

Fegelein was seriously wounded in September 1943, and was reassigned by Heinrich Himmler to Hitler’s headquarters staff as his liaison officer and representative of the SS. Fegelein was present at the failed attempt on Hitler’s life on 20 July 1944. He was on duty at Hitler’s Führerbunker in Berlin in the closing months of the war.

By early 1945, Germany’s military situation was on the verge of total collapse. Hitler, presiding over a rapidly disintegrating Third Reich, retreated to his Führerbunker in Berlin on 16 January 1945. To the Nazi leadership, it was clear that the battle for Berlin would be the final battle of the war.Berlin was bombarded by Soviet artillery for the first time on 20 April 1945 (Hitler’s birthday). By the evening of 21 April, Red Army tanks reached the outskirts of the city.By 27 April, Berlin was cut off from the rest of Germany.

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On 27 April 1945, Reichssicherheitsdienst (RSD) deputy commander SS-Obersturmbannführer Peter Högl was sent out from the Reich Chancellery

PeterHöglpicture

to find Fegelein who had abandoned his post at the Führerbunker after deciding he did not want to “join a suicide pact”.Fegelein was caught by the RSD squad in his Berlin apartment, wearing civilian clothes and preparing to flee to Sweden or Switzerland. He was carrying cash—German and foreign—and jewellery, some of which belonged to Braun. Högl also uncovered a briefcase containing documents with evidence of Himmler’s attempted peace negotiations with the Western Allies.According to most accounts, he was intoxicated when arrested and brought back to the Führerbunker.He was kept in a makeshift cell until the evening of 28 April. That night, Hitler was informed of the BBC broadcast of a Reuters news report about Himmler’s attempted negotiations with the western Allies via Count Bernadotte.

Folke-Bernadotte

Hitler flew into a rage about this apparent betrayal and ordered Himmler’s arrest.Sensing a connection between Fegelein’s disappearance and Himmler’s betrayal, Hitler ordered SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller to interrogate Fegelein as to what he knew of Himmler’s plans.Thereafter, according to Otto Günsche (Hitler’s personal adjutant), Hitler ordered that Fegelein be stripped of all rank and to be transferred to Kampfgruppe “Mohnke” to prove his loyalty in combat. Günsche and Bormann expressed their concern to Hitler that Fegelein would only desert again. Hitler then ordered Fegelein court-martialed.

Wilhelm Bittrich und Hermann Fegelein

Fegelein’s wife was then in the late stages of pregnancy (the baby was born in early May). Hitler considered releasing him without punishment or assigning him to Mohnke’s troops. Junge—an eye-witness to bunker events—stated that Braun pleaded with Hitler to spare her brother-in-law and tried to justify Fegelein’s actions. He was taken to the garden of the Reich Chancellery on 28 April, and was “shot like a dog”

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