Willem Jacob van Stockum-Scientist and WWII Hero.

Willem Jacob van Stockum

This is one of those men that makes me proud to be Dutch, and like me he has also a connection with Ireland.

He was born in Hattem, a small town  in the east of the Netherlands. His father was an officer in the Dutch Navy.

Willem studied mathematics at Trinity College, Dublin, where he earned a gold medal.

Trinity College, Dublin

He continued his studies in Edinburgh and Toronto where he received  an M.A. from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh. His main academic achievement was to solve Einstein’s field equations for an infinite rotating cylinder. His work is regularly cited by those interested in time travel.

Van Stockum moved to the USA in hope of becoming an understudy to Albert Einstein.albert-einstein

Eventually in the spring of 1939 he gained a temporary position under Professor Oswald Veblen at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

 

The outbreak of World War II happened  while he was teaching at the University of Maryland. Eager to join the fight against Hitler and Fascism, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941, where he eventually earned his pilots wings in July 1942.

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Because of his advanced knowledge of physics, he spent much of the next year as a test pilot in Canada. After the Netherlands was invaded by the Nazis, van Stockum sought to join the war as a pilot.

He moved to Britain in the spring of 1943 and and in 1944 became the only Dutch officer posted to the no. 10 squadron at RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire.

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On 10 June 1944, van Stockum and his crew of six took off on their sixth combat mission, as part of another 400-plane raid. Near their target, the plane was hit by flak, and all seven crew members were lost, along with seven from another bomber on the same mission. The fourteen airmen are buried in Laval, near the place where the planes went down.

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Ending the blog with the last line he wrote in an article about his decision of  becoming a fighter pilot.

“For goodness’ sake let us stop this empty political theorizing according to which a man would have to have a University degree in social science before he could see what he was fighting for. It is all so simple, really, that a child can understand it.”

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Charles Jesse Uplinger- Just a random name.

URLINGER

Charles Jesse Uplinger- Just a random name.

But he wasn’t just a random man. He was a son, a husband, a brother and a friend and above all a Hero.

Born  on 9 April 1917, Sherburn, Martin County, Minnesota

I never met him but yet unbeknownst to him he had an impact on my life, for he was one of the many who sacrificed his life so I didn’t have to.

His service number 37581838 are not just a set of characters but the identification of the 27 year old man who selflessly gave his life on October 2 1944.

Dear Sir I salute you and with the deepest respect do I bow my head to you.

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Necdet Kent rescuing Jews from an train heading to Auschwitz.

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It maybe an naive notion but I believe there are only 2 types of people in this world,good and bad.

Bad people will always do bad and evil things regardless, they may on occasion maybe charitable and do something good, but at the end only to serve their own interest.

On the other hand sometimes good people can be weak when faced with danger or their own mortality, and therefore do things they usually wouldn’t do, which result in evil being permitted.

However there are those who see evil for what it is and regardless what the consequences are for them, they will do everything to stop it. They are the heroes we don’t always read or hear about.

İsmail Necdet Kent was such a man. He was a Turkish diplomat who risked his life to save Jews during World War II

After he was posted as as vice consul to Athens, Greece.He moved to Marseille in France  1941 and 1944. where he was appointed to the post of vice consul.

Marseille, Hafenviertel. Deportation von Juden

At sometime  in 1943, Kent rushed to the Saint Charles train station in Marseilles and boarded a train bound for the Auschwitz concentration camp after Nazi guards refused to let some 70 Jews with Turkish citizenship disembark. After more than an hour on the train, the guards let Kent and the Jews leave.

A Jewish assistant at the consulate had alerted Kent  that  about 80 Turkish Jews resident in Marseilles had been loaded into cattle cars for immediate transport to certain death in Auschwitz  The Jews were crammed one on top of the other in the wagon, which was meant to transport cattle.Overcome with sorrow and anger at the sight, Kent approached the Gestapo commander at the station, and demanded that the Jews, whom he said were Turkish citizens, be released.

Jews being deported from France

The official refused to comply, saying that the people were nothing but Jews.

Not willing to give up , and with a surge of courage and human benevolence, Kent turned to the Jewish aide from the consulate and said, “Come on, we’re getting on this train, too.” Pushing aside the soldier who tried to stop him, he jumped into the wagon. The German officer demanded Kent to get off the train , but he refused.

The train took off, but at the next station, German officers boarded and apologized to Kent for not failing to let  him off at Marseilles, they had  a car was waiting for him  to take him back to his office. But Kent explained that the mistake was not that he was on the train – but that 80 Turkish citizens had been loaded on the train.

“As a representative of a government that rejected such treatment for religious beliefs, I could not consider leaving them there,” he said. Dumbfounded by his  defiance an uncompromising stance, the Germans caved in  let everyone off the train.

Although Turkey was a neutral country at that time, Kent could have easily been killed fro his act of defiance.

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Source

Yad Vashem

Jewish Virtual Library

“It is not you who are in charge. God will judge you” the bravery of Fr.Józef Cebula.

jozef cebula

The word ‘Hero’ is branded way too easily nowadays, Recently I heard someone on a current affairs program saying he saw the Kardashians as his role models and heroes, that actually scared me. If people whose only contribution to society is self indulgence and self promotion are seen as heroes, then real heroes like Father Józef Cebula will soon be forgotten.

Father Józef Cebula was born into a modest family of Polish origin on March 23, 1902, at Malnia in southern Poland. He suffered tuberculosis as a child,and was in fact declared incurable . After an unexpected recovery, he visited an Oblate shrine where he shared his story with an Oblate priest. The priest advised Józef to study with the Oblates at the newly-established Oblate minor seminary.

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Jozef entered the Oblate Junior Seminary in 1920, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 25, 1927.While still in a seminary. Father Cebula became a superior at the Oblate seminaries in 1931, and became novice master at Markowice in 1937.

When the Germans invaded and occupied Poland in September 1939, they declared loyalty to the Church illegal. In October 1939 the 100 member community at Markowice was placed under house arrest, and set to work as farm laborers.

Later on that month, the Community was evicted and the novitiate was turned into a centre for the Hitler Youth.

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Fr. Jozef was called before the authorities on several occasions for refusing to stop saying Mass and hearing confessions. Eventually he was arrested and sent to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria.

Known for his humility, Fr. Cebula was a man of quiet prayer with a deep spiritual life. He radiated peace in the very middle of the death camp, even when tormented by the Nazis.

Mauthausen

In Mauthausen he was harassed and forced to work hard, to break rocks in the quarry, simply because he was a Roman Catholic priest. Father Cebula was forced to carry 60-pound rocks from the quarry to a camp two miles away. He had to climb a 144-step staircase called the Death Stairs, while being beaten and insulted by his tormentors. The guards humiliated and mocked him by ordering him to sing the texts of the Mass while he worked.

quarry

On May 9th 1941 , Fr. Cebula summoned up his strength and courage  and said, “It is not you who are in charge. God will judge you.” The Nazis ordered him to run, with a rock on his back, towards the camp’s barbed wire fence, where a guard shot him with a sub-machine gun and declared that Fr. Cebula “was shot while trying to escape”. He died  in this volley of bullets. His body was taken to a crematorium and burned.

It takes a Hero to stand up against evil knowing it will cost you your life. Lets never forget the real heroes.

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Sources

OMI World

USHMM

The death of FDR

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On April 12, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage in his cottage in Warm Springs, Georgia at 3:35 pm. The President was 63 and serving his fourth term. Vice President Harry Truman took the Presidential Oath of Office at 7:09 pm in the Cabinet Room in the White House.

Harry-S-Truman-Oath

On March 29, 1945, Roosevelt went to the Little White House at Warm Springs, to rest before his anticipated appearance at the founding conference of the United Nations. On the afternoon of April 12, Roosevelt said, “I have a terrific headache.” He then slumped forward in his chair, unconscious, and was carried into his bedroom.300px-FDR-April-11-1945.jpg

The president’s attending cardiologist, Dr. Howard Bruenn, diagnosed the medical emergency as a massive cerebral hemorrhage.At 3:35 p.m. that day, Roosevelt died at the age of 63. An editorial by The New York Times declared, “Men will thank God on their knees a hundred years from now that Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House.”

On the morning of April 13, Roosevelt’s body was placed in a flag-draped coffin and loaded onto the presidential train for the trip back to Washington.

(Chief Petty Officer ,US Navy. Graham W. Jackson playing “Goin’ Home” on his accordion as FDR’s flag-draped casket passes by}

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Along the route, thousands flocked to the tracks to pay their respects. After a White House funeral on April 14, Roosevelt was transported by train from Washington, D.C., to his place of birth at Hyde Park. As was his wish, Roosevelt was buried on April 15 in the Rose Garden of his Springwood estate.

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Awesome Stories

Eyewitness to History

Walter C. Wetzel-Fallen Hero

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Dear Sir, you don’t know it but I owe you so much,possibly my life.

Often have I visited the cemetery where your final resting place is. I may have even stood at your grave, contemplating why you and your band of brothers that surround you,sacrificed their lives in a land that was not theirs.

Margraten

It couldn’t have been for money because your salary wasn’t enough to sustain you. No it was for something noble,Freedom, and not just an freedom but my freedom and that of my generation and the generation before me and future generations. For that I thank you.

Today I hang my head in shame. for someone who calls himself a warrior and is hailed as a hero, a multi-millionaire,this “hero” displayed all the signs of a thug,hooligan and criminal. This is not what you gave your life for.

Wetzel joined the Army from Roseville, Michiganwetzel_port in July 1941,and by April 3, 1945 was serving as a private first class in the 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division. On that day, in Birken, Germany, Wetzel smothered the blasts of German-thrown grenades with his body, sacrificing himself to protect those around him. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor ten months later, on February 26, 1946, by President Harry S. Truman.

 

CITATION:
“The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Private First Class Walter C. Wetzel, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. Private First Class Wetzel, an acting squad leader with the Anti-Tank Company of the 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, was guarding his platoon’s command post in a house at Birken, Germany, during the early morning hours of 3 April 1945, when he detected strong enemy forces moving in to attack. He ran into the house, alerted the occupants and immediately began defending the post against heavy automatic weapons fire coming from the hostile troops. Under cover of darkness the Germans forced their way close to the building where they hurled grenades, two of which landed in the room where Private First Class Wetzel and the others had taken up firing positions. Shouting a warning to his fellow soldiers, Private First Class Wetzel threw himself on the grenades and, as they exploded, absorbed their entire blast, suffering wounds from which he died. The supreme gallantry of Private First Class Wetzel saved his comrades from death or serious injury and made it possible for them to continue the defense of the command post and break the power of a dangerous local counterthrust by the enemy. His unhesitating sacrifice of his life was in keeping with the U.S. Army’s highest traditions of bravery and heroism.”

Dear Sir I salute you.

 

 

 

Sometimes the good guys live a long life-Johan van Hulst WWII Hero.

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Only the good die young all the evil seem to live forever are lyrics from an Iron Maiden song. For many years I thought this to be true for I saw so many evil men living a long life, however luckily I was wrong in that assumption. Sometimes good men do live a long life, like Johan van Hulst who died on 22 March aged 107.

He was a key player  of a  network that helped at least 600 Dutch babies and children escape the Nazis.Those children survived thanks to carefully orchestrated operations that smuggled them away right in front of the Nazis seeking to send them to concentration camps.

In 1942, two years after the German invasion of the Netherlands, Johan van Hulst – the son of a furniture upholsterer-was the director of the Reformed Teacher Training College, a Protestant religious seminary at Plantage Middenlaan 27, Amsterdam.

Across the street at Plantage Middenlaan 24 was the Hollandse Schouwburg theatre, the main clearing site for the Jews living in Amsterdam who had been issued deportation notices by the Nazi government.

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While the records of those detained there are no longer available, historians believe about 46,000 people were deported from the old theatre over about 18 months up to the end of 1943.

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Children who arrived at the Schouwburg with their families were separated and sent to the neighbouring nursery at Plantage Middenlaan 31 run by Henriëtte Pimentel. Who was  brought up in a well-to-do Portuguese-Jewish family.

Henriëtte_Henriquez_Pimentel_(1876-1943)

The nursery shared a back garden with the college that van Hulst directed.

The deportation centre’s administrator was a German-Jewish man named Walter Süskind, entrusted to run the centre by Nazis who disregarded his Jewish heritage.

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Soon after starting his work there however, he noticed that it was easy to help people escape.His close relationship with the German authorities helped him in his activities to help children escape. He especially tried to get close with the SS officer Ferdinand aus der Fünten, who was then the second man of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Amsterdam. He falsified arrival numbers, claiming for example that 60 people instead of 75 had arrived on a particular day, and then letting 15 people escape.

His task became easier when, in early 1943, the Nazis took over a crèche across the road from the theatre – and next door to Van Hulst’s school – to place Jewish children before deporting them to concentration camps.

Süskind joined forces with the head of the nursery, Henriëtte Pimentel, sneaking children to safety when a tram passed in front of the nursery.creche-1976Working with Pimentel, Süskind and dozens of other volunteers, van Hulst arranged for the children to be spirited over the hedge separating the neighbouring back yards of the nursery and the teachers’ college, often assisted by the teachers-in-training or local university students.When the time came to move the rescued children and babies away from the school, they would be hidden in containers such as bags, sacks or laundry baskets.Numerous methods were used to move the hidden children from the school. In one method, the operation’s helpers would then wait for the moment a tram passed, blocking the view of Nazi guards at the facing Hollandsche Schouwberg, to cycle away with the hidden child.

The operation came to a halt on September 29, 1943 when the Nazis sent Pimental and 100 children from the nursery to Nazi concentration camps.[6] Decades later, van Hulst described the days preceding the closure to Yad Vashem: “Now try to imagine 80, 90, perhaps 70 or 100 children standing there, and you have to decide which children to take with you. … That was the most difficult day of my life. … You know for a fact that the children you leave behind are going to die. I took 12 with me. Later on I asked myself: ‘Why not 13?'”

In total, the operation had rescued about 600 Jewish babies and children.The punishment for aiding Jews was death.

Van Hulst received the Yad Vashem Distinction in 1970.[11] During a state visit to Israel in 2012, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of van Hulst “We say, those who save one life saves a universe. You saved hundreds of universes. I want to thank you in the name of the Jewish people, but also in the name of humanity.prime minister

After the war Van Hulst served as a politician at several levels. From 1956 until 1981 he was a member of the Dutch Senate. From 1961 until 1968 he was a member of the European Parliament and from 1969 until 1972 he was chairman of the CHU. From 1972 until 1981 Van Hulst was group leader in the Senate; first for the CHU and from 1977 on for the CDA(Christian Democrats).

For all the attention he later received for his success at saving lives, Dr. van Hulst said he was traumatized by memories of those he could not rescue.Some of the children Johan van Hulst helped rescue were so young that they no longer remember the daring acts that saved their lives.

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Sources

BBC

CNN

Washington Post

NPR

Yad Vashem

Special thanks to Norman Stone and Melody Ziff for reminding me of this Hero.

Gabrielle Weidner-Forgotten Hero

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The more I do these WWII stories the more I realize how littIe I  actually know.. It was by chance I came across the name Gabrielle Weidner. Today when I tried to open a page on her it came up blank, just like my brain.I never heard of her or her brother Jean nor had I heard of the resistance group he had founded “Dutch-Paris” a group of Dutch,Belgian and French resistance fighters.

But this blog is about Gabrielle Weidner although she was Dutch she was born in Brussels, Belgium on  17 August 1914.

The second child born to a family that included her older brother Jean, and younger sister Annette. Her father was a minister who taught Greek and Latin at what is now Saleve Adventist University in Collonges, France, .

As a devoutly religious girl, she was living and doing church work for the Seventh-day Adventists in Paris at the outbreak of World War II. With the ensuing German occupation of France, she fled with her brother Jean , South to Lyon, in the unoccupied part of France. Following the 22 June 1940 signing of the agreement with the Nazis to create Vichy France, she returned to Paris while her brother went to Lyon where he established the “Dutch-Paris” underground.

In Paris, she resumed her work for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, from which she secretly with the help of her brother and other volunteers coordinated escapes for Dutch-Paris. As a significant contributor to the French resistance she has been responsible for the rescue of at least 1,080 persons, including 800 Dutch Jews and more than 112 downed Allied airmen.

On February 26, 1944, the Gestapo arrested Ms. Weidner and was sent to Fresnes Prison.

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Ms. Weidner was forced to endure physical and mental torture at Fresnes prison in Paris. Shortly after she was moved to a Ravensbrück sub-camp where she passed away on February 17, 1945 due to malnutrition

 

Her arrest had come about after a female courier who against all rules carried a notebook with a great number of names of the resistance in it. After being tortured extensively the courier did succumb to pain and divulged the names.

On 24 May 1950, Gabrielle Weidner posthumously received the Dutch Cross of Resistance for her efforts in the war. On the Dutch Orry-la-Ville honorary cemetery (north of Paris), her name is recorded on a plaque dedicated to the Dutch resistors.

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Sources

Adventistreview.org

Raoulwallenberg.net

Corporal Mel Brooks

Mel

“I was a Combat Engineer. Isn’t that ridiculous? The two things I hate most in the world are combat and engineering.” — Mel Brooks

By far one of the funniest people on earth,Mel Brooks, born Melvin Kaminsky in Brooklyn in 1926.

I won’t go into his life as Comedian,Director.Actor,Producer and Singer because I’d be here forever. In this blog my focus is on his role in WWII.

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Mel Brooks was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926 as Melvin Kaminsky to Jewish parents from Germany and Ukraine. Brooks lost his father when he was two years old, and in retrospect, reflects on that event as the genesis for his farcical comedy style: “I’m sure a lot of my comedy is based on anger and hostility. Growing up in Williamsburg, I learned to clothe it in comedy to spare myself problems – like a punch in the face.”

Before he could complete his degree in psychology from Brooklyn College, Brooks was drafted into the Army to fight during World War II. He served as a corporal in the 1104 Engineer Combat Battalion, 78th Infantry Division as a combat engineer.The 1104th had been activated in March 1943 and landed in Normandy on 11 June 1944. It advanced with the Allied forces through France, Belgium, and the Netherlands and entered German downloadOne of his tasks during the war was to defuse land mines, and he also fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

It has been reported that when the Germans played propaganda recordings over loudspeakers, Brooks responded by setting up his own sound system and played music by Al Jolson, a Jewish musician.

I would have loved to see the reaction of the Nazis as the music of Al Jolson was blaring away. I don’t know what songs Mel Brooks picked to play but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was “The Jazz Singer” a double whammy a Jewish singer singing the music Hitler hated most.

Even at war he had a sense of humour. Mel Brooks a Hero in the truest sense of the word. They just don’t make them like that anymore.

Mel Brooks Jeep

 

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Daniel Pearl-Killed for doing his job.

Capture

I don’t get shocked easily but the murder of Daniel Pearl shocked me and had a profound effect on me, why I don’t know, meaning he was not the first one to die by Al-Qaeda terrorists and he wasn’t the last either. But it did touch me.

Daniel Pearl (October 10, 1963 – February 1, 2002) was a journalist for The Wall Street Journal with American and Israeli citizenship. He was kidnapped by terrorists and later murdered in Pakistan.

The Pearls settled in Mumbai, India after Daniel Pearl was made Southeast Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal. They traveled to Karachi, Pakistan, which he used as a base for reporting on the United States’ War on Terrorism following the 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaeda terrorists in 2001 in the United States.

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On January 23, 2002, on his way to what he thought was an interview with Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani at the Village Restaurant in downtown Karachi, Pearl was kidnapped near the Metropole Hotel at 7:00 p.m. by a militant group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. The group claimed Pearl was a spy and—using a Hotmail e-mail address—sent the United States a range of demands, including the freeing of all Pakistani terror detainees, and the release of a halted U.S. shipment of F-16 fighter jets to the Pakistani government.

The message read:

We give you one more day if America will not meet our demands we will kill Daniel. Then this cycle will continue and no American journalist could enter Pakistan.

Photos of Pearl handcuffed with a gun at his head and holding up a newspaper were attached. The group did not respond to public pleas for release of the journalist by his editor and his wife Mariane. United States and Pakistani intelligence forces tried to track down the kidnappers.

Nine days later, the terrorists killed Pearl by beheading. On May 16, his severed head and decomposed body were found cut into ten pieces, and buried, along with an identifying jacket, in a shallow grave at Gadap, about 30 miles (48 km) north of Karachi.When the police found Pearl’s remains, Abdul Sattar Edhi, one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan, arrived on the scene. He collected all ten body parts, and took them to the morgue. He helped ensure that Pearl’s remains were returned to the U.S. Pearl was interred in the Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

A lot of video and photographic footage of his murder or the moments prior to his murder, has been released over the years, but I will put any of that in this blog.

Suffice to note he died doing his job, he died a real Hero. Nowadays the buzzword tjat is used a lot is ‘Fake News’ but journalists like Daniel Pearl risks their lives every day to uncover the truth, while politicians only criticize them when the odd time they get it wrong. We should cherish and honour those like Daniel.

Dear sir I salute you.

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