Marcel Petiot-Evil beyond Evil

I have often wondered how many murders have been unsolved because of World War 2?

And one would also have to wonder how many serial killers were active during the war years. I reckon some may have just joined the SS. However there were several ‘civilian’ serial killers at large during WW2.

Nazi-occupied Paris was a terrible place to be during the waning days of the War. With Jews, Resistance fighters and ordinary citizens all hoping to escape. Disappearances became so common they often weren’t followed up.

One man exploited this situation for his own evil satisfaction and greed.

Marcel Petiot was a respected doctor in France until his horrific murders were uncovered during World War II. Though perceived as gentle, kind, and generous by those who thought they knew him, he in fact only posed as a liberator for Jews hoping to escape occupied France to find sanctuary in South America. Insisting that these hopefuls bring their possessions to him for safe keeping and submit to an injection that would keep them safe from foreign diseases, Petiot instead killed his victims and kept their possessions amounting in the end to thousands, if not millions, of dollars worth of furniture, clothing, furs, and jewelry.

Petiot was unusually intelligent as a child but exhibited severe behavioral problems in school and was expelled several times before completing his education. At age 17 he was arrested for mail theft but was released after a judge determined that he was mentally unfit to stand trial. In 1917, while serving in the French army during World War I, he was tried for stealing army blankets but found not guilty by reason of insanity. Despite his mental state, he was returned to the front, where he suffered a mental breakdown. He was eventually discharged for abnormal behaviour, for which some of his examiners said he should be institutionalized. Despite his history of instability, Petiot then enrolled in school and eventually obtained a medical degree in 1921.

Petiot’s first murder victim might have been Louise Delaveau, an elderly patient’s daughter with whom Petiot had an affair in 1926. Delaveau disappeared in May of that year, and neighbors later said they had seen Petiot load a trunk into his car. Police investigated but eventually dismissed her case as a runaway.

That same year, Petiot ran for mayor of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne and hired somebody to disrupt a political debate with his opponent. He won, and while in office embezzled town funds. The following year, Petiot married Georgette Lablais, the 23-year-old daughter of a wealthy landowner and butcher inSeignelay. Their son Gerhardt was born in April 1928.

The embezzlement discovered by his constituents, and they reported him to the Prefect of Yonne Département. In August 1931, he was suspended from his position as mayor.

Only a month after he was removed as mayor of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, he won a seat on the general council for the Yonne district .He was the youngest man to ever sit in that office, at the time.. During his time on the council, he was charged with the theft of electric power from Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. He was fined and lost his seat on the council, and moved to Paris.

After the 1940 German defeat of France, French citizens were drafted for forced labor in Germany. Petiot provided false medical disability certificates to people who were drafted. He also treated the illnesses of workers who had returned. In July 1942, he was convicted of over prescribing narcotics, even though two addicts who would have testified against him had disappeared. He was fined 2,400 francs.

After paying a fine, he then took on the alias of Dr. Eugène and set up a false escape network for Resistance fighters, Jews and criminals looking to escape the Gestapo. He claimed that his network, Fly-Tox, worked in conjunction with Argentinian authorities to safely transport people to South America without the knowledge of the German invaders. He had had three accomplices: Raoul Fourrier, Edmond Pintard, and René-Gustave Nézondet.

He claimed that he could arrange a passage to Argentina or elsewhere in South America through Portugal, for a price of 25,000 francs per person. His accomplices, directed victims to “Dr. Eugène”, including mainly Jews, Resistance fighters, but also ordinary criminals. Once victims were in his control, Petiot told them that Argentine officials required all entrants to the country to be inoculated against disease, and with this excuse injected them with cyanide. He then took all their valuables and disposed of the bodies.

It was the Gestapo that first became suspicious of him. However, they thought that he was a member of the Resistance and was assisting Jews to escape. They apprehended all three of his accomplices and tortured them for information.

While the Gestapo did not learn anything about the Resistance, as Fourrier, Pintard, and Nézondet had nothing to tell them, they did reveal that “Dr. Eugène” was Marcel Petiot.
On March 11, 1944, Petiot’s neighbours told the authorities that there was a foul stench in the area. They were also informed of the large amounts of smoke that often came out of the chimney of the house. The police discovered a coal stove in the basement of his house, as well as the quicklime pit. They also found human remains and properties of his victims.

At first, Petiot had dumped the bodies of his victims in the Seine, but he later destroyed the bodies by submerging them in quicklime or by incinerating them.

In the subsequent months, Petiot evaded capture by staying with his friends. He adopted a new pseudonym, “Henri Valeri”, during the liberation of Paris and enlisted in the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). He was eventually captured on 31 October 1944 at a Paris Métro station.

Petiot went on trial on 19 March 1946, facing 135 criminal charges. René Floriot acted for the defense, against a team consisting in state prosecutors and twelve civil lawyers hired by relatives of Petiot’s victims. Petiot taunted the prosecuting lawyers, and claimed that various victims had been collaborators or double agents, or that vanished people were alive and well in South America under new names.

The extensive coverage of the Petiot affair soon escalated into a full-blown media circus. Newspapers dubbed the doctor the Butcher of Paris, Scalper of the Etoile, the monster of rue Le Sueur, the Demonic Ogre, and Doctor Satan. One of the first and more popular sobriquets was the Modern Bluebeard. Later, other names would be proposed for the murder suspect, from the Underground Assassin to the Werewolf of Paris.

He admitted to killing just nineteen of the twenty-seven victims found in his house, and claimed that they were Germans and collaborators – part of a total of 63 “enemies” killed. Floriot attempted to portray Petiot as a Resistance hero, but the judges and jurors were unimpressed. Petiot was convicted of 26 counts of murder, and sentenced to death.It was estimated that he netted 200,000( I believe an equivalent of $2,000,000} francs from his ill-gotten gains. He was charged with murder for profit.

On 25 May, Petiot was beheaded, after a stay of a few days due to a problem in the release mechanism of the guillotine.

It is estimated he killed 60 people, many of them were French Jews who had been hiding and hoped to try to escape to South America. It wasn’t the Nazis who murdered him but a French Doctor pretending to be a resistance fighter.

He was known throughout Paris as a freedom fighter who would help smuggle away anyone being hunted by the Nazis.

Yet it turns out he preyed on their hopes and dreams and murdered them.

The irony is that it was the Gestapo who stopped the killing. Although the could not find anything on him, it must have been clear to Petiot that he would remain under suspicion

(initially posted on July 13,2016 under the Title ‘Marcel Petiot-“Doctor Satan” ‘)

sources

.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9004961/Chilling-new-photos-grinning-French-serial-killer-Dr-Satan-trial-murdering-60-people.html

https://www.ala.org/united/friends/bookclubchoices/death

https://allthatsinteresting.com/marcel-petiot

http://www.crimemagazine.com/dr-petiot-will-see-you-now

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Allan Muhr-Rugby, Tennis and his murder in Neuengamme Concentration camp.

We are currently in the middle of the Six Nations Rugby tournament. Thus far France is heading for a grand slam, but it isn’t quite a done deal as of yet.

I came across a story of a former French Rugby player, I am surprised that so little is known about him.

Allan Muhr, was murdered on December 29 1944, he was starved to death at Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg.

Born to a wealthy Jewish family in Philadelphia in 1882, Allan, who had recently come of age, travelled on his own to France around the turn of the century. “Allan Muhr planned to fully devote himself to sport in Europe,” explains Fréderic Humbert, an expert in rugby history and the curator of the World Rugby Museum who has researched what happened to Allan Muhr. “He could afford to do that as he lived off his family’s assets and never needed to work. Sport therefore became the central element in his life.”

He appears in the 1900 US census, but made a rapid impact on his adopted homeland.

A profile written in 1907 recorded that the newly arrived Muhr enrolled at the prestigious Lycee Janson – taking elementary French classes – purely for the purpose of playing rugby, but injured his shoulder during his first match. In spite of this setback he was rapidly a force at Racing Club, playing second row or prop and earning the nickname ‘the Sioux’ for his origins and distinctive profile.

He evidently had the time and money necessary to devote himself to a range of sporting activities. While his professions are listed as translation and sporting journalism, he does not appear to have been encumbered by the pressing need to earn a living. That 1907 profile reported that “He amazes us because he is not the slave of any bureau chief or other boss or editor, still less of the rulers of the USFSA (the French sporting authorities of the time). He does what he pleases when he pleases.”

At the same time, the profile noted, he was “a slave to his passion for rugby”, besides which his enthusiasms for motoring and tennis were mere pastimes. That passion was rewarded when he was chosen for France’s first ever Test match – against the All Blacks on New Year’s Day 1906. Muhr appears at the back of the French team picture, a skull-capped figure alongside touch judge Cyril Rutherford, the Scot who played such a huge part in the early development of French rugby.

At the same time, Allan was a successful tennis player – even participating in the French championships in 1909. In February 1913, he was an active founding member of the International Tennis Association in London. He also took part in car racing as an amateur and played in a Parisian soccer club. Allan even attempted to establish baseball in France ,but this was unsuccessful.

Playing second-row alongside the French Guyanese Georges Jerome, one of two black players in the team, Muhr did well enough in the 38-8 defeat to retain his place for France’s first ever match against England, on March 22 that year. France lost again, 35-8, but Muhr claimed France’s first try against the old enemy, crossing after brilliant work by Stade Francais centre Pierre Maclos.

During World War I, Allan led a voluntary unit of ambulance drivers who transported the wounded soldiers from the front to the American Ambulance Hospital, which had been founded by Americans in Paris when the war broke out. When the USA entered the war in 1917, this organization was integrated into the US Army, and so Allan also became an officer in the American armed forces.

From 1920, Allan ended his career as an active sportsman and dedicated himself to organizing international competitions and developing the French teams in rugby and tennis. He became the vice chairman of the first European omnisport club, Racing Club de France, and captain of the French “Davis Cup” tennis team, which he led to international success. He also managed the rugby department of the Racing Club and selected the players for the French national rugby team. When the Olympic Games were hosted in France in 1924, Allan was responsible for organizing the competition and conducting the international negotiations.

When war came again in 1939, Muhr reprised his volunteer role with the Red Cross.he was 57 at the time and was married to his Belgian wife Madeleine Braet

After the USA entered the war in 1941, he had to go underground to flee from the German occupying forces. He took his son. Philippe with him. Together with other US citizens and members of the French Resistance, they stayed in Sayat, a small village in the Auvergne, for a year before being captured there by the Nazis on November 21, 1943. they were taken to the camp at Compiegne where they were interrogated. Allan and Philippe were deported to the Neuengamme in May 1944, where Allan was starved to death on December 29,1944. His son Philippe survived the war

Allan’s services to France were not forgotten. After the war he received a posthumous award of the Legion d’Honneur – the least he merited for a life which, while it ended under unspeakably grim circumstances, was one of the most varied and eventful in rugby’s annals.

sources

https://arolsen-archives.org/en/news/a-life-for-sport/

http://en.espn.co.uk/blogs/rugby/story/251813.html

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Helmut Machemer caught between love and hate.

This is a story which must have been repeated many times in Nazi Germany, German men married to Jewish women and the anxiety and fear they must have gone through, However there is also a uniqueness to the Machemer’s family situation. And in a bizarre way this is also directly connected to me.

Helmut Machemer was a German ophthalmologist who served as “Truppenarzt” with the rank of “Unterarzt”, corresponding to the rank of sergeant with the wehrmacht in the USSR.

He worked with Professor Aurel von Szily in Münster during the 1930s and, with him, pioneered an electrical treatment for retinal detachment, to form a chorioretinal scar , that’s where my connection comes in. The retina in both my eyes became detached several years ago., one eye could not be saved.

Machemer dated Erna Schwalbe, who studied medicine at the university of Kiel.

In 1932 Erna found out her mother was Jewish. The couple were aware that this could become an issue due to the rise of the Nazi Party. Erna’s father wrote her a letter which confirmed her mother’s ancestry, which he had tried to keep hidden. Erna immediately offered to separate from Machemer, but he refused to do so on the grounds that he loved her. They married in October 1932. Erna’s mother divorced her father and moved to the Netherlands the following year, after the Nazis came to power.

The couple had 3 children. When the war broke out in 1939,Machemer decided to volunteer. He knew that due to his age he would not be drafted. He was born on May 7,1903 so he was 36 at the start of the war. Now one might think it odd that he volunteered. He could have stayed at home with his wife and children, but because of the Nuremberg laws he knew that his half Jewish wife and quarter Jewish children would not be safe.

He therefore volunteered in an attempt to make use of a little-known exception in the Nazi racial laws: that the “non-Aryan” family of an Aryan could be classified as being of “German blood”, if the man made a significant contribution to the Nazi state. Machemer became convinced that if he was awarded the Iron Cross, first class for bravery on the battlefield then he could secure the reclassification of his family.

Machemer served during the 1940 invasion of France and the 1941 invasion of Russia, in which he served as an Unterarzt (medical officer aspirant) of the reconnaissance unit of the 16th Panzer Division.

For his part in the latter operation he was awarded the second class Iron Cross. At one point he worked in a captured Soviet hospital, operating on captured Russian soldiers.

Whilst in action Machemer was shot in the neck, but after checking it was not serious, returned to duty treating soldiers who had been shot through the lungs.

He noted this in a letter home to his wife and Erna’s reply was that he “shouldn’t consciously put yourself in danger again, it seems to me like a challenge to fate”. Helmut also wrote to Erna of his concern that he might be withdrawn from the front line and placed in a field hospital where he would be unlikely to be recommended for a bravery award.

In a letter dated December 12,1941 he wrote:

“My place is at the front here, and the front line, which suits me perfectly. Therefore do not think that I am reckless and put myself in unnecessary danger”

To his 3 sons he writes:

“Daddy is not yet allowed to leave here, because not all Russians have been shot dead or captured yet. But it won’t be long now.”

He was also a enthusiastic photographer and took many pictures on the battlefield and even filmed it. Some of his film footage can be see in the BBC documentary “Lost Home Movies of Nazi Germany” especially in the 2nd part.

He describes the horrors of the battlefield.

“An unforgettable picture presents itself here. The whole height is thickly covered with dead Russians. I count around 200 corpses, and there could be more than that. The Russian came here in numerous waves throughout the night, but each new wave was mowed down like the previous one. (…) Such a harvest of death, said an experienced tank commander, he had never seen in France or Russia during the entire war. This is the picture of the Russian war with its unheard of cruelty.”

On May 14,1942 he receives his coveted Iron Cross. He hopes that this will reclassify his wife and kids as of ‘German Blood’. He tells his wife:

“Since I also receive the wounded badge in addition to the EK II and I as well as the assault badge, I now have all the medals and badges that can be bestowed to me.” He also records that he celebrated this decision with sparkling wine and, the next day had a hangover.

Four days after receiving the Iron Cross ,Machener was killed at mid-day , while on a trip to screen the battlefield for wounded soldiers. He was hit in head by shrapnel from a grenade during the Second Battle of Kharkov. He was travelling in a car at the time, his companion was heavily wounded, but survived.

Machemer, who was 39 when he died, in his final diary entry of 18 May he says that he had slept well and was awaiting orders. In March 1943 Erna and her children were granted “German-blood” status, in what is believed to be the only known case of such an exemption.

As a scientist, he wished to document his and his company’s way through wartime. His partly critical writings would have been unacceptable for promotion by the Nazi party and may have placed him at risk of arrest and he would not have been able to accomplish his mission. His collection included more than 160 letters, 2,000 photographs and five hours of film footage.Some of the records included depictions of dead German soldiers, dead civilians, burnt houses and dead horses. The majority of Machemer’s reports and private letters were sent via “Feldpost” through the postal service.

Machener did not go to war for hate, but for love. Undoubtedly he will have killed too, but as the saying goes ‘All is fair in love and war’ He was a husband and a father whose only aim was to safe his family.

sources

https://www.spiegel.de/geschichte/helmut-machemer-aus-liebe-freiwillig-an-die-weltkriegsfront-a-1195017.html

https://www.medizin.uni-muenster.de/fakultaet/news/das-eiserne-kreuz-als-letzter-ausweg-arte-doku-ueber-den-wwu-augenarzt-helmut-machemer.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000crdh

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Having Sex with the Enemy.

This blog is not to judge the women who had sex with the Nazis during World War 2. It is just to highlight the fact that it did happen, not only in brothels, but that is where I will focus on in this blog.

I could have called the blog “Sleeping with the enemy” but lets be honest, there was very little sleeping involved.

The German generals realized they would never prevent their soldiers from having sex. Instead of trying to stop sexual activities, they decided to control them. So, the German army established a vast network of military brothels throughout the occupied territories.

The Germans operated over 500 military brothels during World War II. For example, Paris had nineteen brothels in the inner city alone. Over the course of the war, between 34,000 and 50,000 young girls and women were forced into prostitution. However there were women who worked as prostitutes and some of them were happy enough to entertain the German troops and Nazis. Not all women who engaged in sexual contact with the Nazis were prostitutes either.

On June 25th, 1940, the Battle of France was over. The country had fallen to the German invader in a matter of six weeks. What ensued was a four-year-long period of occupation, a formation of a puppet state in the southern part of the country, and an army in exile, struggling to once again see the shores of its homeland.

Despite the fact that there was a foreign occupying force present, however, life in France continued – or at least tried to continue – as usual. The famous Parisian cafés and cinémas were now open to German soldiers that were taking leave from the frontline, as well as those stationed in France. The notorious nightlife of which they had heard so much about before the war, with its brothels and clubs running all night, now seemed to be within their conquering grasp.

But what interested the young German soldiers and officers the most were the beautiful and glamorous French girls. Since many of them seemed to show as much affection for the dashing Hugo-Boss-uniform-wearing invaders as any other man, a number of relationships developed all over the occupied area of the country, as well as in Vichy France, which was under de facto German control.

The Wehrmacht was able to establish a thoroughly bureaucratic system of around 100 new brothels already before 1942, based on an existing system of government-controlled ones.The soldiers were given official visitation cards issued by Oberkommando des Heeres and were prohibited from engaging in sexual contact with other French women. In September 1941, Field Marshal von Brauchitsch suggested that weekly visits for all younger soldiers be considered mandatory to prevent “sexual excesses” among them. The prostitutes had a scheduled medical check-up to slow the spread of venereal diseases.

Of course the evilness of the Nazis also came through in establishing these brothels. This one was set up in Brest, France. The Nazis converted this former synagogue into a brothel.

Another reason to set up brothels was obsessive homophobia. In the minds of the Nazis, the lack of sex with women would lead to homosexuality among men. If soldiers visited prostitutes, this would deter them from becoming homosexual.

Of course this wasn’t only the case but in most of the occupied territories, but France had the most brothels. The always had a more relaxed attitude towards sex

As I stated at the start I am judging the women. Sex is a powerful human instinct. In retrospect we can all judge, but some of these women had to look after families, and this was the only way they knew they could earn money.

Many of them paid a hefty price after the war.

sources

https://historyofyesterday.com/the-disgusting-nazi-military-brothels-of-world-war-ii-fd3ef19117e1

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Fashion and Fascism

The English Rock Band, The Kinks once sang “He is a dedicated follower of Fashion” I can assure you , I am not that. However there are so many people who work in the fashion industry, be it as designers, manufactures or models, who often don’t know the history of the brands they represent. On the other hand there are people who buy a fashion item, regardless what price tag is on it, just because of the brand name not realizing how that particular brand got where it is now. If people really knew, or cared, they would pay a lot less for these fashionable items. Often the brand was boosted on the backs and lives of others.

There have been several Fashion houses who were in bed with the Nazi regime, all over Europe, but especially in France. I will only focus on a few.

The picture on top is of Renee Puissant, daughter of Jewish parents Alfred van Cleef and Esther Arpels, made her way to the Nazi-backed Vichy regime in the south of France to operate the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique there, only to commit suicide by throwing herself out of a third-floor window when she understood the law requiring all Jews to wear a yellow star would apply to her, too. Her suicide was beneficial to the Louis Vuitton fashion house. The sad thing is that there is hardly any mention of her suicide.

During World War II, Louis Vuitton collaborated with the Nazis during the German occupation of France. The French book Louis Vuitton, A French Saga, authored by French journalist Stephanie Bonvicini and published by Paris-based Editions Fayard[15] tells how members of the Vuitton family actively aided the Vichy government led by Marshal Philippe Pétain and increased their wealth from their business affairs with the Germans. The family set up a factory dedicated to producing artefacts glorifying Pétain, including more than 2,500 busts.

From historical archives she discovered that Louis Vuitton had a store on the ground floor of a fabulous property, the Hotel du Parc, in Vichy where Pétain set up his puppet government. While the other shopkeepers, including the jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels, were shut down, Vuitton was the only one allowed to stay.

Bonvicini says she talked to surviving family members and found that Vuitton’s grandson, Gaston, the wartime head of the company, had instructed his eldest son, Henry, to forge links with the Pétain regime to keep the business going.

Henry, a regular at the local cafe frequented by the Gestapo, was one of the first Frenchmen to be decorated by the Nazi-backed government for his loyalty and his efforts for the regime.

But the most damaging allegation is that the family set up a factory dedicated to producing artefacts glorifying Pétain, including more than 2,500 busts, a fact not mentioned in any of its business records.

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was the top of the league when it came to haute couture ,she created the look of the modern woman. By the 1920s she had amassed a fortune and went on to create an empire. But her life from 1941 to 1954 has long been shrouded in rumor and mystery, never clarified by Chanel or her many biographers. Historian Hal Vaughan exposesd the truth of her wartime collaboration and her long affair with the playboy Baron Hans Günther von Dincklage—who ran a spy ring and reported directly to Goebbels. Vaughan pieced together how Chanel became a Nazi agent, how she escaped arrest after the war and joined her lover in exile in Switzerland, and how—despite suspicions about her past—she was able to return to Paris at age seventy and rebuild the iconic House of Chanel.

So next time when you put that bottle of Chanel No 5, back in your Louis Vuitton handbag, just think of the history of those 2 items.

sources

https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/vuittons-nazi-past

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/jun/03/france.secondworldwar

https://www.capital.fr/economie-politique/renee-rachel-puissant-1896-1942-son-audace-et-son-flair-ont-illumine-van-cleef-arpels-1099242

https://www.timesofisrael.com/the-women-in-wwii-paris-who-did-what-they-had-to-for-survival/

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Vel’ d’Hiv-July 16-17 1942-Round up of the French Jews.

It always amazes me how easy it was for some Europeans to give up their Jewish neighbours. I know it is easy for me to say that in retrospect, because I don’t know how I would have reacted if I was put in that situation. But I have a feeling I would have least spoken out about it.

In the Netherlands 75% of all Dutch Jews, or Jews residing in the Netherlands were murdered during the Holocaust. It wasn’t so much that all Dutch were complicit in this crime. A big factor was the very efficient Dutch civil administration which enabled the occupiers to carry out their plans for the final solution. As I stated before only relatively few Dutch were complicit, but there were a great number that were complacent and hid for the facts that were so plain to see.

In France however, it was the French Vichy government that were complicit and were quite happy and eager to help the Nazi occupiers.

I remember a scene in the movie “Mr. Klein” about a man profiting off the misfortune of French Jews during World War II. In the scene it was the French police knocking at the door of the Jews and not the Gestapo. Although the film is fictional, it does give a good indication of the French attitude towards their Jewish neighbours. This 1976 film directed by Joseph Losey. Alain Delon plays the immoral art dealer, Robert Klein, leads a life of luxury, until a copy of a Jewish newspaper brings him to the attention of the police, linking him with a mysterious doppelgänger.

On July 16th 1942, French police acting on orders of the Nazi occupiers began rounding up thousands of Jews living in Paris. They were assembled at the city’s indoor velodrome the victims were held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver, cycling stadium in Paris’s 15th arrondissement. From there they were being deported to Auschwitz. Many died at the velodrome itself, left in searing heat with almost no food, water or sanitation. This shameful chapter in France’s history is known as “la rafle du Vel d’Hiv'”. The French police, code named the round up Opération Vent printanier (“Operation Spring Breeze”)

The roundup was one of several aimed at eradicating the Jewish population in France, both in the occupied zone and in the free zone. According to records of the Préfecture de Police, eventually 13,152 Jews were arrested including more than 4,000 children. They were all put in rail cattle cars to be deported to Auschwitz for their mass murder.

Over 3,000 children remained interned orphaned, until they were deported to Auschwitz as well.

Many wartime French authorities and police played an active role in the deportations, but one Paris policeman, Théophile Larue, took a stand. He warned his Jewish neighbors, the Lictensztajns, of the upcoming “Vél d’Hiv” roundup. He arranged for the family to escape to southern France and obtain false papers. The Lictensztajns were saved by one man who made a choice to uphold his position to protect all citizens, but unfortunately, not all French Policemen took that position.

Théophile Larue didn’t save only the Lictensztajn.

In March 1941, the Larue and his wife Madeleine offered their hospitality to Léon Osman, who thus managed to avoid being sent to the Pithiviers camp. He remained under their care until July 1942, when he was able to escape to the south of France. Osman was on the Gestapo’s list of wanted people; giving shelter to such a person was a grave offense and carried a heavy punishment.
On July 15 1942, Larue gave advanced warning of the planned large-scale roundup of Jews that was to start the next day to eight Jewish families who lived in his building, thus allowing them a chance to flee and find refuge.
The Larue couple sheltered Chuma Brand, and her daughter Fanny in their apartment for a week, in July 1942. Then Théophile accompanied them to the train station in his uniform so as to facilitate their flight to the unoccupied zone. In November 1942, Simon Glicensztajn, also on the Gestapo’s list, found refuge in the Larues’ home for a few days. Moreover, one night, Larue broke in to the police-sealed apartment of Glicensztajn’s sister, Laja Tobjasz, to help remove a stock of merchandise that would provide the family with a livelihood.
Once, when Mrs. Tobjasz returned to Paris from southern France, she was arrested and taken to the prefecture. When Larue heard this, he donned his uniform, went to the prefecture and asked to speak to the prefect.

He said that Mrs. Tobjasz was Catholic and his daughter’s godmother. Although skeptical, the prefect must have had a change of heart, because he released her into Larue’s custody. Théophile Larue believed that it was his duty as a man of honor, and one who had respect for human values to help people in need, even at the risk of putting his family in harm’s way. As a member of the French Resistance, Officer Larue took part in the battle for theliberation of Paris. After the liberation, the Larues continued to be in touch with the families of those they rescued. On September 23, 2007, Yad Vashem recognized Théophile and Madeleine Larue as Righteous Among the Nations.

German authorities continued the deportations of Jews from French soil until August 1944. In all, some 77,000 Jews living on French territory were murdered in concentration camps and killing centers—the overwhelming majority of them at Auschwitz.

For his pivotal part in the deportation of Jews from France, Pierre Laval, formerly the French Prime Minister, was arrested and tried after the liberation of France. He was shot by firing squad on 15 October 1945.

The fate of two German officials most involved in the Vél d’Hiv mirrored the common fates of high-ranking SS administrators. Theodor Dannecker was arrested by American officials in Bad Tölz, Bavaria, in December 1945, and committed suicide while in custody. Helmut Knochen, sentenced by a British court to 21 years in prison for a separate offense, was sentenced to death by a French court in 1954. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and Knochen was released on orders of French President Charles de Gaulle in November 1962.

sources

https://www.france24.com/en/focus/20140716-france-vel-hiv-roundup-jews-nazi-death-camps-deportation-survivor

https://apnews.com/article/9603cd8d7461de30c1fe5c192b14c98c

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/the-velodrome-dhiver-vel-dhiv-roundup

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/photo/theophile-larue?parent=en%2F11768

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The good fortune of Joseph Meister but yet a tragic end.

I hear a lot of fear mongering in relation to vaccines. One argument given by some people for not taking a vaccine is that one of the side effect is death. Usually these arguments are given with the back up of a meme, but never with actual facts.

It is true that one of the side effects could be death, but this can be said for every medical procedure. If the adhesive used on a plaster can cause an allergic reaction in people causing death.

When it comes to vaccines it is less then 1 percent of a risk. Not taking it will give a much higher risk in death.

On July 4th,1885, a rabid dog attacked a 9-year-old boy from Alsace, France. His name was Joseph Meister. The vicious and crazed dog proceeded to throw the boy to the ground and bite him in 14 places, including the hand, legs and thighs. Some of the wounds were so deep that he could hardly walk. Twelve hours later, at 8:00 in the evening, a local doctor named Weber treated Joseph’s most serious wounds by cauterizing, or sealing them, with searing doses of carbolic acid, in and of itself a horribly painful process.

This procedure did not help on July 6,1885, the boy’s mother brought her son to Paris, she suspected the boy had contracted rabies. She had heard rumours of a scientist who could prevent rabies. This scientist turned out to be Louis Pasteur.

Pasteur was so taken by the boy’s plight that he consulted two physicians, Alfred Vulpain and Jacques Grancher at a weekly meeting of the French Academy of Sciences. They, too, were struck by the need to do something, and to do it fast. Pasteur later reported, “Since the death of the child appeared inevitable, I resolved, though not without great anxiety, to try the method which had proved consistently successful on the dogs.”

Bacteriologist Louis Pasteur, who kept kennels of mad dogs in a crowded little laboratory and was hounded by medical criticism, had never tried his rabies vaccine on a human being before.

Pasteur escaped the medical license dilemma by having his medical colleagues present when the vaccine was first administered on July 6, 1885, some 60 hours after the initial dog attack. Mrs. Meister expressed little concern over the potential dangers of the experimental vaccine because she was so fearful that her son would die and she readily gave Pasteur her consent. The first injection was made in a fold of skin covering the boy’s right upper abdomen. Over a period of three weeks, Joseph was given 13 such inoculations.

For three weeks Pasteur watched anxiously at the boy’s bedside. To his overwhelming joy, the boy recovered.

Joseph Meister did not only recover but also went to work for Louis Pateur in later life. For decades he worked as a concierge at the Institut Pasteur, Louis Pasteur’s laboratory where some of the most important discoveries elucidating infectious diseases were made.

On June 14, 1940, the Nazis invaded Paris from Germany. Fearing for their safety, Meister, then 64 years old, sent his family away and stayed behind to protect the Pasteur Institute from the German soldiers. Ten days later, on June 24, 1940, Joseph Meister was overcome with guilt because he was certain that his family had been captured by the Nazis. He committed suicide by a gas furnace. In an ironic and sad twist of fate, his family was safe. They returned to the Institute just a few hours after Meister committed suicide.

Although his life was cut short by suicide. If he hadn’t received the vaccine against rabies he would have died aged 9.

I can understand why some people are reluctant to take any of the Covid 19 vaccines today. The misinformation that goes around on social media is phenomenal. But do not base your decision on anecdotal evidence(which is often made up) but base it on medical scientific facts. Inform yourself.

If I was to believe some of these antivaxers , this blog would not have been possible because I should be dead, given the fact I had a double does of the Moderna vaccine. Several members of my family received different vaccines and I am glad to report they are all alive and well.

sources

https://artsandculture.google.com/entity/joseph-meister/m051w1w?hl=en

https://time.com/3925192/rabies-vaccine-history/

https://historydaily.org/the-life-and-death-of-joseph-meister

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/louis-pasteurs-risky-move-to-save-a-boy-from-almost-certain-death

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Happy Birthday Bikini

There are very few items of fashion that please both women and men. The Bikini would be one of them, women like to wear them and men like to look at them, although nowadays some men wear them too, why? I do not know.

The bikini was born at a Paris poolside photo shoot on July 5, 1946, a week before Bastille Day and in the midst a global textile shortage. The designer, former automobile engineer Louis Réard, hired the only model willing to expose so much model, a 19-year-old nude dancer from the Casino de Paris named Micheline Bernardini. She put on the four small patches he had strung together and showed the fashion world the female belly button.

Benardini agreed to model, on 5 July 1946, Louis Réard’s two-piece swimsuit, which he called the bikini, named four days after the first test of an American nuclear weapon at the Bikini Atoll.

However Réard’s bikini was not the first 2 piece bathing outfit . For that we have to go back to about 5800 bc.

In the Chalcolithic era, the mother-goddess of Çatalhöyük, a large ancient settlement in southern Anatolia, was depicted astride two leopards while wearing a bikini-like costumes Two-piece garments worn by women for athletic purposes are depicted on Greek urns and paintings dating back to 1400 BC.[ Active women of ancient Greece wore a breastband called a mastodeton or an apodesmos, which continued to be used as an undergarment in the Middle Ages. While men in ancient Greece abandoned the perizoma, partly high-cut briefs and partly loincloth, women performers and acrobats continued to wear it.

In Coronation of the Winner, a mosaic in the floor of a Roman villa in Sicily that dates from the Diocletian period (286–305 AD), young women participate in weightlifting, discus throwing, and running ball games dressed in bikini-like garments.

Even in the modern era that there had been two piece swimsuits. Actresses like Jayne Mansfield had been wearing two-piece bathing suits, But never with the navel showing. That was deemed to be scandalous .

Bernardini modeled the bikini on July 5 at the Piscine Molitor. The bikini was a hit, especially among men, and Bernardini received some 50,000 fan letters.

Before long, bold young women in bikinis were causing a sensation along the Mediterranean coast. Spain and Italy passed measures prohibiting bikinis on public beaches but later capitulated to the changing times when the swimsuit grew into a mainstay of European beaches in the 1950s. Réard’s business soared, and in advertisements he kept the bikini mystique alive by declaring that a two-piece suit wasn’t a genuine bikini “unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring.”

The bikini has spawned many stylistic variations. For example the Monokini.

A monokini, more commonly referred to as a topless swimsuit and sometimes referred to as a unikini, is a women’s one-piece swimsuit equivalent to the lower half of a bikini.

In 1964, Rudi Gernreich, an Austrian fashion designer, designed the original monokini in the US. Gernreich also invented its name, and the word monokini is first recorded in English that year.

Despite the bikini’s initial success in France, worldwide women still stuck to traditional one-piece swimsuits. Below a picture of an Italian police officer issuing a woman a ticket for wearing a bikini on an Italian beach, 1957.

The bikini was banned from beaches and public places on the French Atlantic coastline, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Australia, and was prohibited or discouraged in a number of US states.

The Vatican declared it sinful. The United States Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code, enforced from 1934, allowed two-piece gowns but prohibited the display of navels in Hollywood films.

Increasingly common glamour shots of popular actresses and models on either side of the Atlantic played a large part in bringing the bikini into the mainstream. During the 1950s, Hollywood stars such as Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Tina Louise, Marilyn Monroe, Esther Williams, and Betty Grable took advantage of the risqué publicity associated with the bikini by posing for photographs wearing them—pin-ups of Hayworth and Williams in costume were especially widely distributed in the United States.

By the end of the 20th century, the bikini had become the most popular beachwear around the globe.

Now that bikinis have become a normal part of summer wardrobes, we have to tackle the next discussion of who is “allowed” to wear them. An international conversation has been taking place over the internet and within the fashion industry surrounding inclusivity and representation of all bodies, not just some. In my humble opinion women should be allowed what they want to wear whatever it is. However I still have issues with man wearing bikini type of fashion garments. the so called ‘mankini’ made popular by Borat.

Who would have ever imagined though, that something so destructive as an atom bomb would become the inspiration of something so beautiful as the bikini.

sources

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/bikini-introduced

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/07/05/a-scandalous-two-piece-history-of-the-bikini/

https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/history-of-the-bikini

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bikini

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monokini

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Dagobert Stibbe- Not just a name or statistic, but a Human Being.

Dagobert Stibbe was born in Amsterdam, 13 October 1918. He was murdered in Auschwitz, 23 June 1943.

He was a student at the Technische Hogeschool(Technical University)Delft. He tried to escape to Switzerland, but this failed. He was caught on 2 June 1943 just 15 meters away from French-Swiss border. He was sent to the transit camp Drancy in France From there he was deported to the ‘Aussenkommando Jawischowitz’, that was part of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

There he had to work in a coal mine. His last letter was sent on June 18,1943.

But he was not just a victim of the Holocaust. He was also a student, a son, a friend. A Human Being who contributed to society. A young man who still had a life to live.

His fellow students from the Lyceum in Amsterdam, where he as a student in 1935, were very fond of him. He was described as a spontaneous, lively young man. He played the accordion, and his awkwardness endeared him to the people around him. His honesty and his bravery to stand up for his convictions made him stand out. He was overall a fun guy to be around.

His fellow students were so fond of him that they couldn’t bother finding out the actual date he died. In a memorial piece about him they said that he died after July in the coal mine. The memorial was posted in 1947, 2 years after the war. However in their defense the date of June 23, appears to be an estimate. On his death certificate the date is given between June 23,1943 and May 1, 1945.

I often see these types of memorials of victims of the Holocaust, written or compiled by friends or colleagues. But to me they really are quite hollow. I don’t want to be judgmental, but what did they do to help the victims?

I know it is easy for me to say because I was never put in that situation, but I would hope I would at least have some level of bravery, even if it was to speak out.

Sources

https://www.oorlogslevens.nl/tijdlijn/Dagobert-Stibbe/02/148282

https://www.wiewaswie.nl/nl/detail/85029256

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/149814/dagobert-stibbe

https://www.geni.com/people/Dagobert-Stibbe/6000000000351944519

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Happy Birthday Charles Aznavour-Not just a singer.

Charles Aznavour born Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian, on 22 May 1924, he was a French-Armenian singer, lyricist, actor and diplomat. Aznavour was known for his distinctive tenor voice:, clear and ringing in its upper reaches, with gravelly and profound low notes. In a career as a composer, singer and songwriter, spanning over 70 years, he recorded more than 1,200 songs interpreted in 9 languages. Moreover, he wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 songs for himself and others. If that wasn’t enough there is a lot more to the man.

Aznavour was born at the clinic Tarnier at 89, rue d’Assas in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, 6th arrondissement of Paris, into a family of artists living on rue Monsieur-le-Prince. His parents were Armenian immigrants Michael (Misha) Aznavourian was born in present-day Akhaltsikhe, Georgia,and his mother Knar Baghdasarian, was an Armenian Genocide survivor from Adapazarı (in present-day Sakarya, Turkey).His grandfather was a cook of Tsar Nicholas II. Charles’s father sang in restaurants in France before establishing a restaurant specialising in food from the Caucasus called Le Caucase. Charles’s parents introduced him to performing at an early age, and he dropped out of school at an early age , and took the stage name “Aznavour”.

His parents fled to France to escape the massacres that more than 20 countries have recognized as a genocide, a charge strongly denied by Turkey.

During the German occupation of France during World War II, Aznavour and his family hid a number of people who were persecuted by the Nazis, while Charles and his sister Aida were involved in rescue activities.

When the Resistance gained momentum in Nazi occupied Paris, the Germans got even more enraged and ruthless. Gestapo tightened its grip on searches and tortures day by day. It was under these conditions that Misha Aznavour, Charles Aznavour’s father, volunteered with the Armenian resistance with great risk to his own life and that of his family.

During an interview Charles once said : “Armenian peddlers, including my father, looked after the stalls of the Jews after they were arrested in the mass deportation of Parisian Jews [“the roundup”] in July 1942. So taking in and hiding Jews in our home during the war was a very natural thing for us to do: they were our neighbors and friends,” he adds. “We had a life together. We were there for them and they were there for us. We had to try to help them, just as it was natural for us to try and help the Armenians who were drafted into the German army and deserted.”

The two Aznavour children, Charles and Aida , who were 16 and 17 at the start of the German occupation in 1940, pitched in to help, not knowing then that they would go on offering shelter to strangers. But then a woman came to the family, asking them to hide her Jewish husband, whose name was Simon. He had escaped from the Drancy internment camp, where the Jews of Paris were sent before being sent to the concentration camps outside of France. For a while, the family also sheltered another Jew, and later on their apartment also served as a hideout for Armenians who’d deserted after being forcibly drafted into the Germany army. Charles and his sister Aida recall that at one stage there were 11 refugees who were all hiding in the family’s apartment simultaneously. They hid in different corners of the house, and at night had to sleep on the floor.

The family prepared false papers for them, and one of the tasks assigned to the two children was to burn the deserters’ German uniforms and dispose of them far from the house.

On October 26,2017 Charles and Aida were given the Raoul Wallenberg Medal , for their family’s efforts to protect Jews and others persecuted by the Nazis during World War II. They received the honor from President Reuven Rivlin, who spoke of his love of Aznavour’s music, saying “La Boheme” was his favorite song.

In 2011 Aznavour released a song with the title “J’ai connu”

“I knew the chains/I knew the wound/I knew the hate/I knew the hurt/ the thirst and hunger/I knew the fear/from one day to the next.”

The song is told from a perspective of a Jewish victim in the concentration camps.

Charles Aznavour died on 1 October 2018, aged 94. I think it is safe to say that he lived a full life.

While doing the research for this blog I was struggling to find a song to finish up with. I was torn between “She” and “Dance in the old fashioned way” I chose the latter.

sources

https://www.aish.com/ci/s/Charles-Aznavour-and-His-Family-Saved-Jews-during-the-Holocaust.html

https://en.aznavourfoundation.org/details-aznavours+in+wwii-222.html

https://www.timesofisrael.com/legendary-singer-aznavour-given-award-for-family-efforts-to-save-jews-in-wwii/

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/culture/.premium-aznavour-sings-praises-of-his-family-who-saved-jews-during-war-1.5381024

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Aznavour#Death_and_funeral

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