Rembrandt’s tragedies

Nachtwacht

There is this funny riddle, it goes like “What’s Rembrandt’s first name?” Rembrandt of course is his first name, his last name is van Rijn.

But unlike the riddle his life wasn’t funny. He suffered many tragedies in his life.He got married on June 22 1634 to Saskia van Uylenburgh.

Rembrandt en Saskia.JPG

Saskia was the cousin of a friend of Rembrandt,Hendrick van Uylenburgh, Hendrick was also an art dealer. and when Rembrandt first moved to Amsterdam he stayed with  van Uylenburgh.

Rembrandt and Saskia got married in the local church of St. Annaparochie without the any of Rembrandt’s family being present.

Their first born, a son by the name Rumbartus died in 1635, only 2 months after birth.Their first daughter Cornelia died in 1638, she was only 3 weeks old. Their second daughter also called Cornelia died in 1640 who barely lived for a month.

In 1941 their 4th child, a son called Titis was born.Saskia died in 1642 most likely from tuberculosis. Titus survived into adulthood and became a monk for a while.

Monk Titus

Rembrandt never remarried but he did have a long term relationship with Hendrickje Stoffels, who had initially been his maid. They had a daughter together in 1654, and to no surprise she was called Cornelia, who died in 1684 in Batavia, Java, Indonesia.

His son Titus did marry Magdalena van Loo, the daughter of a Silversmith.

Rembrandt outlived both Hendrickje, who died in 1663, and Titus, who died in 1668, leaving a baby daughter,Titia. He died within a year of his son, on 4 October 1669 in Amsterdam. His son’s wife and mother-in-law also died in 1669.

selfie

 

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Evil recorded.

wEHRMACHT

Secret recordings made by British intelligence during World War II War have laid bare  the horrific atrocities carried out by everyday German soldiers.Not members of the SS, ‘regular’Wehrmacht soldiers.

Following is the transcript of one of those recordings, The only name related to the recording is Reimbold, his position I don’t know but that is really not relevant for the event he describes is truly shocking.

I have to warn you .some of the language is awful so I have made some alterations.

Reimbold: “In the first officers’ prison camp where I was being kept here, there was a really stupid guy from Frankfurt , a young lieutenant, a young upstart. There were eight of us sitting around a table and talking about Russia . And he said: ‘Oh, we caught this female spy who had been running around in the neighborhood. First we hit her in the tits with a stick and then we beat her rear end with a bare bayonet. Then we f*cked her, and then we threw her outside and shot at her. When she was lying there on her back, we threw grenades at her. Every time one of them landed near her body, she screamed.’ And just think, there were eight German officers sitting at that table with me, and they all broke out laughing. I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I got up and said: Gentlemen, this is too much.”

gRENADES

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Source

Der Spiegel

 

Law Abiding citizens

Law

It is not always a good thing to be a Law abiding citizen, don’t worry I am not encouraging anarchy but it is a fact that many things which we now know were evil and vile, were once laws. Like slavery once was legal and written into law.

Combine that with a nation whose culture it is to follow rules and laws, it can have devastating effects, especially when there is no critical thinking and things are just accepted. This is one of the reasons the Nazis were so successful in carrying out their atrocities.

Not only were these crimes against humanity committed within a legal framework, the laws for this legal framework were designed and implemented by a legally elected government.

Nuerneberg

The Nuremberg Laws  were antisemitic and racial laws .They were introduced on 15 September 1935 by the Reichstag at a special meeting convened at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the NSDAP.

Rally

They consisted of 3 sets of laws.

  • Law for the Protection of German Blood & German Honor
  • Law for the Protection of Hereditary Health
  • The Reich Citizenship Law

Although the German population weren’t all that comfortable with the laws, they did not really protest against them either,because the changes were not immediate,gradually the rights of mainly  Jews but also,Homosexuals,Disabled,Roma,Sinti and others were chipped away.

Initially the anti Semitic and Jewish propaganda and protests  also declined, due to the fact there was less need for them , because now there were laws in place.

Boycott

The propaganda would soon take other forms often introduced in education via school curricculums or through ‘mainstream’ media.

propganda

Below are the sections of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor.

Section 1
1. Marriages between Jews and citizens of German or kindred blood are forbidden. Marriages concluded in defiance of this law are void, even if, for the purpose of evading this law, they were concluded abroad.

2. Proceedings for annulment may be initiated only by the Public Prosecutor.

Section 2
Sexual relations outside marriage between Jews and nationals of German or kindred blood are forbidden.

Section 3
Jews will not be permitted to employ female citizens of German or kindred blood as domestic servants.

Section 4
1. Jews are forbidden to display the Reich and national flag or the national colors.

2. On the other hand they are permitted to display the Jewish colors. The exercise of this right is protected by the State.

Section 5
1. A person who acts contrary to the prohibition of Section 1 will be punished with hard labour.

2. A person who acts contrary to the prohibition of Section 2 will be punished with imprisonment or with hard labour.

3. A person who acts contrary to the provisions of Sections 3 or

4 will be punished with imprisonment up to a year and with a fine, or with one of these penalties.

Section 6
The Reich Minister of the Interior in agreement with the Deputy Fuhrer and the Reich Minister of Justice will issue the legal and administrative regulations required for the enforcement and supplementing of this law.

Section 7
The law will become effective on the day after its promulgation; Section 3, however, not until 1 January 1936.

RGBL_I_1935_S_1145 (1)

An excuse often used especially by perpetrators was that they were only following the law and orders.

Although I do take in consideration that culturally the Germans followed the rules and the laws of the land, it did not excuse them of the crimes committed by their government. On the other hand though especially later on during the Nazi regime, any one who was critical about the regime could face death themselves.

And although it is easy for us to judge. we should ask ourselves one question: How often do we question our Government’s rules and decisions?

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Sources

Jewish Virtual Library

Yad Vashem

 

 

Ernest Erbstein-Holocaust survivor who died a tragic death.

Ern

Now that the World Cup Football is well on its way in Russia, it is a good opportunity at one of the sport’s legends.

Ernest Erbstein, aka Ernest Egri-Erbstein was a Jewish-Hungarian football player and  He was involved in  football as a player and coach in several countries,  but he was most noted for his association with Italian football.

coach

Erbstein moved to Torino in 1938 to  play for the team , but because of World War II and the fact that he was Jewish he returned to Hungary.

He, his wife Jolan and their two daughters all survived the holocaust.

In 1944 he was imprisoned  in a slave labour camp near Budapest along together with another great Jewish footballer Béla Guttmann,who also survived the Holocaust . They found out  that their labour brigade  of Jewish men was about to be deported to a most likely death.

Rather than awaiting the same  fate of their  600,000  fellow Hungarian  Jews, they escaped by jumping from a window.

After the war Erbstein rejoined Torino,  but this time as  a trainer; it would become  one of the most noted spells in Italian football as the Torino side became known as Grande Torino.

Garnde Torino

Erbstein  along with Englishman Leslie Lievesley were co-managers during the 1948–49 season.  On 4 May 1949 while on the way back from Lisbon, the plane carrying Erbstein and the majority of the Torino team and staff crashed  into the retaining wall at the back of the Basilica of Superga, which stands on a hill on the outskirts of Turin.

crash

Erbstein’s luggage was undamaged. He had borrowed the suitcase from his daughter and had promised to return it to her when he came back from Lisbon.

luggage

 

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Sources

CNN

Haaretz

The killing of Athletes

empty trucks.JPG

It is often said that the death of a million is a statistic but the death of one is a tragedy, and unfortunately this is true. People just become desensitized when they see the pictures of a great number of corpses. It is just human nature, a defense mechanism because the brain just can’t fathom the horror.

However people do get emotionally touched when the stories are personalized and especially when they are able to identify or associate themselves to that story. I was going to do a blog on the Palmiry massacre.

The Palmiry massacre was a series of mass executions carried out by Nazis , during the occupation of Poland , near the village of Palmiry in the Kampinos Forest, located northwest of Warsaw. The best documented of these massacres took place on 20–21 June 1940, wherein 358 members of the Polish political, cultural and social elite were murdered in a single operation.

Loading up on trucks

However I decided to focus on just 2 victims, athletes, and not just any athletes but Olympic medal winning athletes.

Tomasz Stankiewicz

Tomasz_Stankiewicz_(cyclist,_-1924) (1)

 

I would nearly say this is a double tragedy because so little is known or written about Tomasz. He was a Polish track cyclist who represented his country in the 1924 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

As a as member of the Polish team he won a silver medal in the  team pursuit event.

tHOMAS

As so many other he became involved in underground activities at the beginning of the German occupation of Poland

One day he  accidentally ,  fell into a trap prepared by the Germans. Unfortunately, he was carrying illegally printed underground newspapers. He was arrested and was sent to Pawiak prison in Warsaw

prison

From there, he was deported to Palmiry on 20 or 21 June 1940 and executed.

Janusz Kusociński.

Janusz

Born in Warsaw into the family of a railroad worker, Janusz Kusociński, or Kusy as he was nicknamed. As a schoolboy he was more interested in playing football, and he played  for several clubs in Warsaw. He turned to  athletics in 1928 after joining the sport club “Sarmata”. His coach at the club was the famous Estonian, decathlete Aleksander Klumberg.

In his first competition at the Polish National Championships, Kusociński surprisingly won the 5000 m and cross country titles.

During the Los Angeles Summer Olympics in 1932 he won the Gold medal in the 10 000 m with a time of 30:11.4.

race

He volunteered for the Polish army when Poland was invaded by the Germans and was wounded twice.  He worked as a waiter during the German occupation, but was also a member of the Polish resistance. Janusz was arrested by the Gestapo on 26 March 1940 and  imprisoned in  the Mokotów prison. He was also executed during the June 20/21 executions.

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Japanese attack on Fort Stevens-Oregon.

i 25

After the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7 1941, there was a fear that Japan had plans to invade the US. This never happened, although there had been a few attacks on American soil by Japan, these did very little damage.

The only military base ever to be attacked by Japan was Forts Stevens on the Oregon side of the mouth of the Columbia River.

The attack  occurred on June 21, 1942. After trailing American fishing vessels to bypass minefields, the Japanese submarine I-25 made its way to the mouth of the Columbia River. It surfaced near Fort Stevens.

Fort

The Japanese submarine I-25, commanded by Tagami Meiji, had been assigned to sink enemy shipping and attack the enemy on land with their 14 cm deck gun. Transporting a Yokosuka E14Y seaplane, it had a crew of 97.

i 25 plane

Just before midnight, the submarine used its 140-millimeter deck gun and fired 17 shells at the fort. Thinking that the return fires of the fort’s guns would only serve to more clearly reveal their position, the commander of Fort Stevens ordered his men not to return fire.  Instead a compete black out was ordered. The plan worked, and the bombardment was almost totally unsuccessful—a nearby baseball field bore the brunt of the damage.

Damage

The only significant damage was caused when one shell severed several large telephone cables.

American Army Air Corps planes on a training mission had seen the  the I-25 and called in her location,requesting  an A-29 Hudson bomber to attack. The bomber spotted the I-25, but she successfully escaped the falling bombs and submerged undamaged and got away.

Bomber

Although there were no injuries and very little damage, the Japanese attack on Fort Stevens did increase the fear of a Japanese invasion.

The Fort Stevens shelling was the only time that a continental United States military installation was attacked by the Axis Powers during World War II.

News Papaer

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Sources

Discerning History

The special effects in Laurel & Hardy movies.

Brats L & H

Ever since I was a kid I loved watching Laurel & Hardy movies and I believe I have them all in my collection.

The humour in their films has remained fresh till today and they never dated. But it is only since recently I started to appreciate that some of their movies had very advanced special effects for their time, and those effect have also stood the test of time for more then 80 years.

Below are just a few examples.

Brats

In the movie Brat Stan and Ollie play themselves but also their sons and in several scenes the four are seen together.

Brats 2

Babes in Toyland aka March of the Wooden Soldiers

That whole movie is filled with special effects. Recently it has become a bit controversial because some people had called some scenes and especially the march of the wooden soldiers anti-Semitic, I have watched this movie hundreds of times and I could not see it, if at all it is more of a warning of things to come.

march

The Flying Deuces

Nowadays having it seem like an animal is talking is not anyone gets excited about, it is even used in TV ads. However in 1939 having a horse mimicking Ollie and telling Stan “That’s another fine pickle you got me in” was a technical masterpiece.

Flying Deuces

Ending with one of my favourite scenes from ‘Way out West’

 

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The other casualties of the V2 weapon.

V2

So many people say that World War 2 should be left in the past, it’s been more then 7 decades now and we should move on.

And to an extend they are right. However what these people forget is that the effects of WWII are still current in ways that they didn’t even consider, many of them look up at the sky at night and try to see the International Space Station, not knowing that the ISS is there as a direct result of WWII. But it came at an awful high price, a price too high.

The V2(technical name Aggregat 4 or A4) was the world’s first long-range guided ballistic missile.

v2 specs.jpg

On 29 August 1944  Adolf Hitler signed declaration to begin V-2 attacks as soon as possible, the offensive began on 8 September 1944 with an initial single launch at Paris.

The following  months about 3,172 V-2 rockets were fired at the following targets:Belgium, 1664: Antwerp (1610), Liège (27), Hasselt (13), Tournai (9), Mons (3), Diest (2)United Kingdom, 1402: London (1358), Norwich (43),[14]:289 Ipswich (1)
France, 76: Lille (25), Paris (22), Tourcoing (19), Arras (6), Cambrai (4)
Netherlands, 19: Maastricht (19) Germany, 11: Remagen (11)

An estimated 2,754 civilians were killed in London and a further 1,736 dead in the greater Antwerp area.

800px-V-2victimAntwerp1944But so many more died in forced labor whilst working on the V2 program.On 18 August 1943, a bombing raid by the Royal Air Force on Peenemünde causing so much  damage to  the facilities that they had to end the construction of the V2 there.

On 19 October 1943, the German limited company Mittelwerk GmbH was issued War Contract No. 0011-5565/43 by General Emil Leeb, head of the Army Weapons Office,for 12,000 A-4 missiles at 40,000 Reichsmarks each.

Adolf Hitler ordered Heinrich Himmler to use concentration camp workers in future A4/V-2 production.One of the sites selected was at the mountain known as Kohnstein, near Nordhausen in Thuringia.

Albert Speer, was put in charge to oversee the creation and operation of the new construction facility. This fact alone contradicts Albert Speer’s claims that he wasn’t aware of the mass killings.330px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_146II-277,_Albert_Speer

 

On 28 August 1943, the first 107 Concentration camps prisoners from Buchenwald arrived with their SS guards at the Kohnstein facility. In 1943, prisoners of Buchenwald  began construction of large underground factories and development facilities for the V-2 missile program and other experimental weapons.

 

A new subcamp with the name ‘Dora’ or ‘Mittelbau Dora’  was created-In October 1944, the SS made Dora-Mittelbau an independent concentration camp with more than 30 subcamps of its own.-

By Christmas 1943 the amount of slave labourers from Buchenwald had risen to 10,500. Because there were no living quarters, prisoners were forced to sleep in the tunnels.

Tunnel

Prisoners  who were too weak or too ill to work were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau or Mauthausen to be killed.

Prisoner came from almost all occupied European countries, many of them were so called ‘political’ prisoners. After May 1944, Jews were also transported to Mittelbau. With the closing of the so-called Zigeuner-Familienlager  at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the SS transported many Roma and Sinti to Mittelbau between April and August 1944.

On 10 December 1943, Albert Speer and his staff had paid a visit to  the tunnels, where they saw  the terrible conditions and had observed how the tunnels  littered with corpses. Some members of Speer’s staff were so supset that they had to take an extra period of leave. A week later, Speer wrote to Kammler, an appointed board member, congratulating him on his success “in transforming the underground installation from its raw condition two months ago into a factory.

In 1944, a compound to house forced laborers was built above ground level south of the main factory area.

1024px-Germany,_Thüringen,_Nordhausen,_KZ_Dora-Mittelbau_(1)

Some prisoners organized resistance operation in the camps but every prisoner suspected of carrying out sabotage was executed by hanging.

It is estimated that about 60,000 prisoners had worked as forced labourers in  the Mittelbau camps between August 1943 and March 1945. The exact number of people killed is nearly impossible  to establish. According to some SS Data an estimated 12,000 died. In addition, an unknown number of unregistered prisoners died or were murdered in the camps. Additionally 5,000 sick and dying were sent in early 1944 and in March 1945 to Lublin and Bergen-Belsen.

One of the architects and designers of the V2 program was Wernher von Braun,and he must have been well aware of the way his weapons were build and how many lives it had cost,aside from that, his weapon had not only caused the deaths of thousands of civilians in the UK and Belgium it had also caused psychological terror. Despite this he escaped prosecution by the allies.

Peenemünde, Dornberger, Olbricht, Leeb, v. Braun

On June 20 1945 the United States Secretary of State, Edward Reilly Stettinius Jr. approved the transfer of Wernher von Braun and his team of Nazi rocket scientists to the U.S. under Operation Paperclip.

Wernher_von_Braun_-_ABMA_Badge

During the late 1960s, von Braun was instrumental in the development of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, he was also director of Marshall Space Flight Center from 1960 to 1970. He spearheaded development of NASA’s Mercury and Apollo space programs.

The development of the V2 played a pivotal part in the development and progress of the US space program.

Bumper8_launch-GPN-2000-000613

In fact the very first photo from space was taken from a V-2 launched by US scientists on 24 October 1946.

First_photo_from_space

Don’t get me wrong I am not against space exploration in the contrary, it intrigues me but I  do question the manner how it initially was conducted, so many were tortured and killed for it.

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Sources

USHMM

NASA

 

My heart is broken

3

Dear Simone Frajermauer you were 3 when you were murdered in Auschwitz. It was August 3 1944.

It was 24 years before I was born. I never met you but yet you broke my heart.

Now on this day June 18,2018 your eyes stared into mine and they have a question for me?

They ask me”Have I been forgotten?”

No my sweet dear angel you have not been forgotten, I won’t let it.

My heart is broken, but it is a small price to pay for innocence to be remembered.

People ask me why do I write about children like you?

I don’t know why, I just have to.

My heart is broken, but it will mend again and there is a special place reserved for you.

The Red Cross and the Holocaust

Deutsche_Rote_Kreuz_wwii

One of the reasons why so many died during the holocaust is because ‘good’ people, decided to look the other way.

The Red Cross knew what was happening and decided to do very little. I know some people will say”It was war time, what could they do?” And I understand that question and appreciate the reasoning behind it.

However in 1933, 6 years before the war began a Jewish refugee had already alerted the International Committee  of the Red Cross  to mistreatment of prisoners in Dachau, this was ignored.

dACHAU

The German Red Cross or DRK was a member of the Red Cross movement. On 11 June 1933 Nazi Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick Frick was invited to speak at the Red Cross Day. He stated:

“The Red Cross is something like the conscience of the nation. … Together with the nation, the Red Cross is ready to commit all its strength for the high goals of our leader, Adolf Hitler”

Max Huber who was the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross from 1928 to 1944. Expressed the attitude  of the ICRC towards the DRK’s exclusion of the Jews. Max_HuberIn a 1939 letter  he expressed the view ‘the primary obligation of neutral treatment as foreseen in the Geneva Convention was to the victims of war, and not to the helpers. He argued that as it was impossible to prescribe rules which were in conflict with the laws of a country, it was better to take a flexible approach than to risk the break-up of the universal Red Cross movement’.

Dr. Karl Franz Gebhardt was  the director of the German Red Cross, during WWII and personal physician to Heinrich Himmler.  He oversaw human medical experimentation of concentration camp inmates. He was the main coordinator of a series of surgical experiments performed on inmates of the concentration camps at Ravensbrück and Auschwitz.

Gebbhardt in his capacity as the leader of the German Red Cross had offered in April 1945 to take Goebbels’s children out of the city with him, but he was dismissed by Goebbels.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1978-086-03,_Joseph_Goebbels_mit_Familie

In June 1944 the ICRC were allowed to visit Theresienstadt .If they would have done a proper inspection they would have seen the horrors. But the visit was superficial and they were fooled by the Nazi in an elaborate hoax. The ghetto  was “beautified.” Gardens were planted, houses painted, and barracks renovated. The Nazis staged social and cultural events for the visiting .

73346b

The ICRC were made to believe it was more of a holiday resort then a place where atrocities took place. This is just my view on it but do me it seems like the it was all a ‘ticking the box, exercise for the ICRC, nothing else.

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