Was the sinking of the SS Athenia the first Nazi atrocity in WW2?

World War 2 officially started on September 3,1939 .Th Nazis wasted very little time in committing their first mass murder during the war. It was only hours after the war was declared.

The S.S. Athenia, was commanded by Captain James Cook, left Glasgow for Montreal via Liverpool and Belfast. She carried 1,103 passengers, including about 500 Jewish refugees, 469 Canadians, 311 US citizens and 72 UK subjects, and 315 crew. Despite clear indications that war would break out any day, she departed Liverpool at 13:00 hrs on 2 September without recall, and on the evening of the 3rd was 60 nautical miles (110 km) south of Rockall and 200 nautical miles (370 km) northwest of Inishtrahull, Ireland, when she was sighted by the German submarine U-30 commanded by Oberleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp around 16:30.

U-30 tracked Athenia for three hours until eventually, at 19:40, when both vessels were between Rockall and Tory Island, Lemp ordered two torpedoes to be fired. One exploded on Athenia’s port side in her engine room, and she began to settle by the stern.

Chamberlain’s famous “this country is at war with Germany” broadcast was delivered shortly after 11 in the morning. The torpedo from U-30 struck the Athenia at 7:38 that evening. She was slow to go down, disappearing beneath the waves, stern first, at 11 the next morning.

At 7:38, just as the evening meal was being served, a violent explosion destroyed the engine room, plunging the dining room into darkness, sending tables and chairs skidding across the deck, and causing the ship to list to port and begin settling by the stern. The German submarine U-30 had attacked Athenia. The sinking of the S.S. Athenia, was in violation of the Hague conventions. Germany’s responsibility for the sinking was suppressed by Admiral Karl Dönitz and the Nazi propaganda.

While waiting to go to dinner, young Donald Wilcox of Dartmouth, N.S., had made his way to the very peak of the ship’s bow and was watching the waves curl away from the prow when the ship rose up several feet and then fell back down sharply. “I was almost thrown off my feet,” he remembered years later.

All the lights went out and the ship stopped dead in the water and began settling by the stern. The engine room, the galley, parts of the dining rooms and many staterooms flooded. People were separated and groped in the dark to find their way to the open decks before emergency lights came on. Crew members guided people with matches and flashlights, while James A. Goodson, 18, of Toronto, whose holiday in Europe had been cut short, swam through a flooded section of the ship to rescue struggling passengers, guiding them to what remained of the stairs.

All 26 lifeboats were launched, although there were difficulties in getting many of the women and children into them. Fortunately, distress signals were received by ships reasonably close by. Shortly after midnight, Norwegian freighter MS Knute Nelson arrived on the scene, followed by Swedish steam yacht Southern Cross, owned by the Electrolux millionaire Axel Wenner-Gren. They began taking on survivors from the lifeboats, looking after the injured and offering food and hot drinks.

As the night wore on, three Royal Navy destroyers reached the scene, HMS Electra, HMS Escort and HMS Fame. They also picked up survivors and provided food and dry clothing. In the morning, the American freighter SS City of Flint arrived and took people from Southern Cross and the destroyers before heading back across the Atlantic bound for Halifax. the navy destroyers sailed back to Scotland, sending their passengers to Glasgow. At about 11 a.m. on Monday, Athenia heeled over and sank stern first. Knute Nelson took survivors to the Irish port of Galway.

A survivor’s picture of rescued officers of the Äthenia”watching her last plunge from the Norwegian ship “Knute Nelson”

The Knute Nelson radioed to the harbour master, Captain T. Tierney, that they were making for Galway with hundreds of refugees. Captain Tierney quickly informed all the local authorities to be prepared to deal with disaster relief. A committee was formed on Monday evening, including Galway mayor Joseph F. Costello and the Catholic bishop of Galway Dr Michael Browne. The committee alerted Galway County Council, the Board of Health, the Central Hospital, local hotels and the local bus company. The mayoress, Mrs Costello, also organised a committee of 38 local women to lead the volunteers, including the Girl Guides, who would be essential in looking after the specific needs of the refugees. The Irish cabinet met in Dublin late on Monday and made £500 available to the mayor to provide food, clothing and medical care to the survivors.

Survivors ,including a baby from the Athenia being helped to safety by a soldier.

Instructions were also sent to units of the Irish Army and An Garda Síochána(Police) to cooperate with local authorities in providing care and facilities, and the local schools were to be made available to house people. Seán T. O’Kelly, acting for the minister for education, made available the Preparatory College at Taylor’s Hill, Coláiste Éinde, to be used for refugees, as well as Galway Grammar School. The Irish Red Cross also started a subscription to raise money to assist the relief effort.
Shortly before midnight on Monday a pilot boat went out to Black Head to meet the Knute Nelson and steer the ship into Galway roads to anchor. Some time in the middle of the night a tender from Galway, Cathair Na Gaillimhe, under Captain William Goggin, anchored in the roadstead to wait for the freighter. The tender carried a local priest, Fr Conway, Dr S. Ó Beirne and Dr R. Sandys, and below decks were a number of nurses. Units of the 1st Infantry (Irish-Speaking) Battalion were on board to carry the stretcher cases off the ship, and members of An Garda Síochána were standing by. While it was still dark, a launch took out to the tender several more doctors.

Of the 1,418 aboard, 98 passengers and 19 crew members were killed. Many died in the engine room and aft stairwell, where the torpedo hit.The British crews were said to be famous for putting the passengers’ lives before their own, and were expertly trained to handle such “events”; nonetheless, about 50 people died when one of the lifeboats was crushed in the propeller of Knute Nelson. No. 5A lifeboat came alongside the empty tanker and tied up, against advice, astern of No 12 lifeboat.Only 15 feet (5 m) separated the life boat from the tanker’s exposed propeller. Once No. 12 lifeboat was emptied it was cast adrift and began to sink. This fact was reported to the bridge of Knute Nelson. For some reason the ship’s engine order telegraph was then set to full ahead. 5A lifeboat’s mooring line or “warp” parted under the stress, causing the lifeboat to be pulled back into the revolving propeller.

There was a second accident at about 05:00 hrs when No. 8 lifeboat capsized in a heavy sea below the stern of the yacht Southern Cross, killing ten people. Three passengers were crushed to death while trying to transfer from lifeboats to the Royal Navy destroyers. Other deaths were due to falling overboard from Athenia and her lifeboats, or to injuries and exposure. 54 dead were Canadian and 28 were US citizens, which led to German fears that the incident would bring the US into the war. Besides the 28 US citizens who were killed, there were also a great number injured. Like
Mrs. W.B. Sage, of Salt Lake City, Utah, shown here as she was carried from the S.S. Orizaba, which docked at New York, September 27 with 150 American survivors of the Athenia disaster, many of whom, like Mrs. Sage, were injured.

The fact that the first US casualties of war were those 28 civilians, only a few hours after the start of the war, makes me wonder why the Roosevelt Administration did not declare war to Nazi Germany.

A Canadian girl, 10-year-old Margaret Hayworth, was among the casualties, and was one of the first Canadians to be killed by enemy action. Newspapers widely publicised the story, proclaiming “Ten-Year-Old Victim of Torpedo” as “Canadians Rallying Point”, and set the tone for their coverage of the rest of the war. One thousand people met the train that brought her body back to Hamilton, Ontario, and there was a public funeral attended by the mayor of Hamilton, the city council, the Lieutenant-Governor, Albert Edward Matthews, Premier Mitchell Hepburn, and the entire Ontario cabinet.

Margaret Hayworth (left)and her sister

Lemp later claimed that the fact the S.S Athenia was steering a zigzag course which seemed to be well off the normal shipping routes made him believe she was either a troopship or an armed merchant cruiser; when he realized his error he took the first steps to conceal the facts by omitting to make an entry in the submarine’s log, and swearing his crew to secrecy. Adolf Hitler decided the incident should be kept secret for political reasons, and the German newspaper Völkischer Beobachter published an article which blamed the loss of the Athenia on the British, accusing Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, of sinking the ship to turn neutral opinion against Nazi Germany. No one in Britain believed the explanation given by Nazi Germany.

As for my question in the title of the blog “Was the sinking of the SS Athenia the first Nazi atrocity in WW2?” I believe it was because they attacked and murdered men, women and children. Some of them had tried to escape the Nazi tyranny.

sources

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-41503664

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/athenia-anniversary-reunion-1.5302935

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205085895

Epic Rock Ballads-Episode 3: The Sun goes Down by Thin Lizzy.

Thin Lizzy was one of Ireland’s finest band. Before U2 there was Thin Lizzy. In fact in 1976 when U2 formed, Thin Lizzy had a number one hit on Top of The Pops in the UK, with “the Boys are back in Town”

However this blog is not about that song, but about my favourite Lizzy song “The Sun Goes Down”

Co-written with new boy Darren Wharton, this would be the band’s last ever single, and is one of Lynott’s finest compositions. Released on the Vertigo label August 6, 1983 in both 7 inch and 12 inch formats, it was backed by “Baby Please Don’t Go”. Running to a full 6 minutes 19 seconds – surprisingly long for a single – it was produced by the band and Chris Tsangarides. In keeping with the spirit of the track, it features some fine, subdued guitar rather than the customary twin lead manic soloing. The single reached only 52 in the UK charts.

Lyrics

There is a demon among us whose soul belongs in hell
Sent here to redeem us, she knows it all to well
He comes and goes, he comes and goes
she knows it all too well
But when all is said and done
The sun goes down

She tries her best to leave him, but she is still captured by his spell
She knows now she must deceive him, he knows it all to well
She comes and goes, she comes and goes, he knows it all too well
But when all is said and done
The sun goes down

She comes and goes, she comes and goes
he knows it all too well
But when all is said and done
The sun goes down

There is a demon within us
The sun goes down
She tries her best to deceive him
The sun goes down

source

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/thin-lizzy/the-sun-goes-down

The 12th of July- Orangemen’s Day

The 12th of July is the day when a whole bunch of protestants in Northern Ireland go Dutch. It is an event that truly intrigues me, because it basically goes against everything the Dutch stand for.

So what is it all about?

On the 12th of July every year. The day commemorates Protestant king William of Orange’s victory over Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne: a pivotal moment for the Protestant cause. In Ulster, split 50/50 between Catholics and Protestants, the day has historically seen outbursts of sectarian violence. But today its reputation has improved, with most recent marches celebrated peacefully.

William III also widely known as William of Orange, was the sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder(Stewart) of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from the 1670s, and King of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II.He is sometimes informally known as “King Billy” in Ireland and Scotland. His victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is commemorated by Unionists, who display orange colours in his honour. He ruled Britain alongside his wife and cousin Queen Mary II, and popular histories usually refer to their reign as that of “William and Mary”.

William was the only child of William II, Prince of Orange, and Mary, Princess Royal, the daughter of Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland. His father died a week before his birth, making William III the Prince of Orange from birth. In 1677, he married Mary, the eldest daughter of his maternal uncle James, Duke of York, the younger brother of Charles II of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

The Twelfth itself originated as a celebration of the Battle of Aughrim, which took place on 12 July 1691 in the ‘Old Style’ (O.S.) Julian calendar then in use. Aughrim was the decisive battle of the Williamite war, in which the predominantly Irish Catholic Jacobite army was destroyed and the remainder capitulated at Limerick, whereas the Boyne was less decisive. The Twelfth in the early 18th century was a popular commemoration of Aughrim, featuring bonfires and parades. The Battle of the Boyne (fought on 1 July 1690) was commemorated with smaller parades on 1 July. However, the two events were combined in the late 18th century. The first reason for this was the British switch to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, which repositioned the nominal date of the Battle of the Boyne to 11 July New Style (N.S.) (with the Battle of Aughrim nominally repositioned to 23 July.

The event is organized by the Orange Order of Ulster.

So how much do we know about the Orange Order?

Here are some facts you might not have known before

1 The Order was founded in 1795 by Daniel Winter, James Sloan and James Wilson after a stand-off in Co Armagh between Protestant Peep o’ Day Boys and Catholic Defenders ended with the Battle of the Diamond and the deaths of 30 Catholics. Dan Winter’s House near Loughgall, where the meeting to form the Orange Order was held after the battle as Protestants sought to protect their properties, has been restored and can be visited.

2 The order’s name comes from Protestant King William of Orange who defeated Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690. Orange refers to the region of Southeast France that was among William’s family holdings.

3 The Orange Order’s first marches took place on 12 July 1796 at Gosford, outside Markethill, Co Armagh.

4 William of Orange was asthmatic and though not a hunchback, walked with the appearance of one.

5 On February 20, 1702 William was riding Sorrel, a new horse, in the park of Hampton Court. As the horse began to gallop it stumbled on a molehill and fell, throwing William who broke his collarbone, with ultimately fatal consequences. A jolt while in a carriage a few days later caused the bone to break again. Fever set in and he died on March 8.

6 King Billy’s horse at the Battle of the Boyne wasn’t white as famously portrayed, it was brown. A white horse would have made him an easy target.

7 William was one of the first to utilise mass media. He arrived in England in 1688, at the invitation of British politicians seeking to rid the nation of Catholic King James II, armed with a printing press, producing 60,000 copies of his declaration which criticised the king and tried to convince the English he was a friend rather than an invader.

8 The name Lambeg Drum literally means ‘Little Church Drum’, quite inappropriate for one of the largest and loudest instruments in the world.

9 William’s father (William II, Prince of Orange) died two weeks before he was born and his mother (Mary, eldest daughter of King Charles I of England) when he was 10 years old.

10 Malahide Castle, near Dublin, is the ancestral home of the Talbot family. You can still visit the Great Hall where 14 members of the Talbot family sat down to breakfast on the morning of July 12, 1690. All were dead by that evening.

11 An estimated 50,000 took part in the Battle of the Boyne, Surprisingly, most survived, the casualty list estimated at around 2,000 killed. The fighting lasted about four hours.

12 William of Orange was both the son-in-law and nephew of King James II who he defeated at the battle of the Boyne.{Willie Nelson’s song “I’m my own grandpa” comes to mind) The battle was to prevent James handing over power in Ireland to Catholics. Most of William’s army were militia of Dutch and Danish nationality, and they had landed at Carrickfergus before moving south. Aligned to France, James II was warned by King Louis XIV not to face William’s army and instead burn Dublin and retreat west of the River Shannon and hold his ground there to regroup. He refused. He lost.

13 William of Orange had a narrow escape at the Boyne. He was almost killed when struck by a ricocheted piece of cannon fire on the foot and shoulder as he (according to legend) enjoyed a picnic and was surveying the battle field on July 11. He was also almost struck by musket fire during the battle by one of his own soldiers during the confusion of battle.

14 While the Battle of the Boyne was won by William of Orange, it didn’t win the war. That only came to a decisive conclusion exactly one year later at Aughrim on 12 July 1691.

15 The original Twelfth of July commemorations were to honour the Battle of Aughrim, not the Battle of the Boyne.

16 The Battle of the Boyne, going by the old Julian calendar which was used in Ireland at the time, actually took place on July 1. It wasn’t until 1752 that the Gregorian calendar was adopted in Ireland when the July 12 date became relevant. However, even after this date “The Twelfth” continued to be commemorated at Aughrim. In fact, 1690 and the Boyne only became significant in the late 18th century when the two battles were combined in a single commemoration.

17 In the 1960s the Orange Order boasted almost 100,000 members. There are less than 30,000 today.

18 The first Grand Lodge of Ireland meeting was held in Dublin. Dublin, as the administrative capital of the Island, was the natural headquarters for the Orange Institution and remained such until the Headquarters Buildings, the Fowler Memorial Hall in Rutland Square, was severely damaged in the Irish Civil War.

19 William’s wife Queen Mary had been devoted to him, and he to her. After the shock of her unexpected death in 1694, William became very withdrawn. Following her death he always carried with him a gold ring and a lock of Mary’s hair. William was buried in Westminster Abbey beside Mary on Sunday, April 12.

20 New Zealand’s first Orange lodge was founded in Auckland in 1842, only two years after the country became part of the British Empire, by James Carlton Hill of Co Wicklow.

21 Ghana, Nigeria and Togo are among the African countries to have embraced Orangeism. All have their own Orange lodges.

22 Stall in the ‘field’ sell all sorts of usual merchandise like Toy drums, CDs of band music, mugs and printed t-shirts. Only more recently have some entrepreneurs been more inventive. These days you can course Lego Orangemen and Terry’s Chocolate Orangemen.

23 The Orange Order’s headquarters in Northern Ireland are based in Schomberg House – taking its name from Frederick Schomberg (originally Friedrich Hermann von Schönberg) appointed William of Orange’s commander-in-chief in Ireland in 1689, now Duke of Schomberg, he was appointed commander-in-chief in Ireland. Hit by musket fire, he died in the Battle of the Boyne and is buried in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

24 The River Boyne only just scrapes into the top ten of the longest rivers in Ireland. It is tenth on the list at 112km. Longest is the Shannon (360km). The Foyle, the Bann and the Erne are all longer.

25 Famous Orangemen have included Dr Thomas Barnardo, who joined the Order in Dublin, William Massey, who was Prime Minister of New Zealand and Earl Alexander, the Second World War general.

During the Troubles (late 1960s to late 1990s), the Twelfth was often accompanied by riots and paramilitary violence.[citation needed] In 1972, three people were shot dead on the Twelfth in Portadown and two people were killed in Belfast. Of the five in total, two were killed by Republican groups and three were killed by Loyalist groups.[36] On the Twelfth in 1998, during the Drumcree conflict, three young boys were killed when loyalists firebombed their house in Ballymoney. The boys’ mother was a Catholic, and their home was in a mainly Protestant housing estate. The killings provoked widespread anger from both Catholics and Protestants.

Since the Troubles began, some bands hired to appear at Twelfth marches have openly shown support for loyalist paramilitary groups, either by carrying paramilitary flags and banners or sporting paramilitary names and emblem A number of prominent loyalist militants were Orangemen and took part in their marches. In February 1992, the loyalist UDA shot dead five Catholic civilians in a betting shop in Belfast. When Orangemen marched past the shop that 12 July, some marchers held up five fingers in mockery of the five dead. The Secretary of State, Patrick Mayhew, said that they “would have disgraced a tribe of cannibals”.

Every Twelfth between 1970 and 2005, British Army soldiers were deployed in Belfast to help police the parades. Due to improved policing, dialogue between marchers and residents, and the Northern Ireland peace process, parades have been generally more peaceful since the 2000s. The Parades Commission was set up in 1998 to deal with contentious parades.

The parades are mostly a display of bigotry and intolerance though. The opposite of what the colour Orange symbolises in the Dutch context.

sources.

https://www.sundayworld.com/news/northern-ireland-news/25-facts-about-the-orange-order-ahead-of-the-twelfth-of-july-celebrations/669477742.html

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Tuam mother and baby home-Interview with Alison O’Reilly.

Tuam is an idyllic town in Ireland. It is second-largest settlement in County Galway. Unfortunately since 2014 it has become know for all the wrong reasons.

The Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home (also known as St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home or simply The Home)that operated between 1925 and 1961 in Tuam. It was a maternity home for unmarried mothers and their children. The Home was run by the Bon Secours Sisters, a religious order of Catholic nuns, that also operated the Grove Hospital in the town. Unmarried pregnant women were sent to the Home to give birth.

In 1975, two boys, ages 10 and 12, were playing at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home. They found a hole or chamber “filled to the brim” with children’s skeletons underneath a concrete slab. One would expect this would have been investigated, but that was not the case.

Locals speculated that these were the remains of victims of the Great Famine, unbaptised babies,and/or stillborn babies from the Home. The number of bodies was then unknown, but was assumed to be small. It was re-sealed shortly afterwards, following prayers at the site by a priest. For the next 35 years the burial site was tended to by a local couple, who also built a small grotto there. The burial site was nothing more but a septic tank.

In 2012, local historian Catherine Corless published an article about the home in the annual Journal of the Old Tuam Society.

At that stage she did not have the names of all of the children who had died there. In 2013, Ann Glennon, a public servant at the Galway Health Service Executive registrar for births, deaths and marriages, at Corless’ request and expense, retrieved the names of the 796 children who had death certificates listing “The Tuam Home” or the “Tuam Children’s Home” as place of death. Most of the children were infants and had died at the Home during its years of operation (1925 – 1961).

In 2014 the story was brought to the attention of journalist Alison O’Reilly. Alison was a reporter for the Irish Mail on Sunday and was documenting the case of Bethany Mother and Child Home, when a woman, Anna Corrigan, read her articles and decided to contact Alison.

Anna Corrigan contacted Alison to tell her that her, Anna, two brothers were buried in a mass grave in Tuam in Co Galway. Two brothers she was not aware her mother had, she believed she was an only child. Her mother Bridget kept that secret for all her life. After that Alison got in contact with Catherine Corless, the story got international attention, even the New York times covered it. Alison also wrote a book about Anna Corrigan’s mother

Last week I interviewed Alison and asked her about the story of the Tuam mother and baby home and the Bafta winning documentary she was involved in about the home. I left the interview unedited, because I think it is important to get the story across with all the emotions that it brings up.

The children are still buried in that septic tank.

sources

https://www.irishtimes.com/tags/alison-o-reilly/

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/oireachtas/excavation-at-former-tuam-mother-and-baby-home-to-be-one-of-most-complex-ever-1.4816734

https://www.galwaybeo.ie/culture/journalist-who-broke-tuam-mother-5967526

https://www.sundayworld.com/showbiz/tv/new-documentary-recounts-the-search-for-truth-behind-the-tuam-mother-and-baby-scandal/41025734.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54693159

Aktion Arbeitsscheu Reich -work-shy Reich

So many people think that the Holocaust only lasted as along as WWII. But they could not be further away from the truth. It could be argued that the foundation of the Holocaust goes back to 1879, when Wilhelm Marr becomes the first proponent of racial anti-Semitism, blaming Jews for the failure of the German revolutions of 1848–49. I started to watch a series on Netflix called ‘Knightfall’ which is set in the 13th century, it is inspired by events of the time although with fictional characters. In the show there already is a portrayal of hate against the Jews and there is a scene where they are forced to leave Paris, and the order is given to kill all of them once they have left the outskirts of Paris. In the show they are saved by the templars, but I know there have been pogroms going back as far as that.

In 1933 the first concentration camp became operational,Dachau. Between 13–18 June 1938, the first mass arrests of Jews begin through Aktion Arbeitsscheu Reich.

In the course of the “work-shy Reich” campaign carried out by the German police between June 13 and 18, 1938 against people classified as “asocial”, more than 10,000 people were arrested and deported to concentration camps. Around 6,000 prisoners were taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp alone and marked as “asocial” with a brown, later black triangle.

During the Nazi regime, the accusation of work shyness served to characterize the so-called asocial. According to an implementing regulation from 1938, anyone who “shows through behavior contrary to the community, even if it is not criminal, that he does not want to fit into the community” was considered antisocial.

According to the ordinance, anti-social persons were those who “through minor but recurring violations of the law do not want to submit to the order that is taken for granted in a National Socialist state”. Tramps, beggars, prostitutes, gypsies, drunkards and people suffering from contagious diseases, especially venereal diseases, were listed by name.

The wave of arrests was primarily intended to discipline the so-called sub-proletarian groups. During the “June Action” there were also targeted mass arrests of Jews. In Berlin, the police arrested between 1,000 and 2,000 Jews under the flimsiest of pretexts, crossing a street crossing incorrectly was enough. An anti-Semitic speech by Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels acted as the initial impetus. At a meeting in the Ministry of Propaganda on June 10, 1938, he stirred up the atmosphere. In his diary, Goebbels noted: “Spoke in front of 300 police officers in Berlin. I really got excited. Against all sentimentality. The slogan isn’t the law, it’s harassment. The Jews have to get out of Berlin. The police will help me with that.” Encouraged by the actions of the police, pogrom-like anti-Semitic riots broke out in Berlin and other large cities in the German Reich. Jewish shops were smeared and Jewish shopkeepers forced to close their shops; several synagogues were demolished.

Dr Christian Dirks, curator of the exhibition of diplomatic dispatches on the 1938 pogrom, suggests a connection with anti-Semitic attacks in Berlin, which, starting in May, escalated from June 13–16, 1938 with boycotts of Jewish shops, marking shops, raids on cafes and arrests.

In 2013 Dr Dirks also called an Irish report on Kristallnacht ,which was issued by Ambassador Charles Bewley in 1938, disgraceful.

Bewley, who described the events as “obviously organised,” began his report in the tone of a dispassionate diplomatic observer and identified with Germany’s claims that Jews dominated in areas of finance and entertainment and used their influence to promote “anti-Christian, anti-patriotic and communistic” thinking.

Charles Bewley

He went on to say their corrupting moral influence helped explain the “elimination of the Jewish element from public life.”

Bewley condemned the Irish media for following the “British press, itself in Jewish hands”, and “Anglo-Jewish telegraph agencies” by prominently displaying news of oppression against Jews but suppressing news of crimes perpetrated by Jews and anti-fascists.

He refrained from advising Dublin on how to correct what he believed was Ireland’s one-sided view of what he called the “Jewish problem”, but left no doubt that he viewed Jews themselves as the key issue.

sources

https://www.irishcentral.com/news/pro-nazi-irish-ambassador-report-on-kristallnacht-to-go-on-display-in-berlin-231342571-237786911

https://www.nd-aktuell.de/artikel/1091388.aktion-arbeitsscheu-reich-das-bezeichnete-bleibt-beiseite.html

https://www.dhm.de/lemo/kapitel/ns-regime/ausgrenzung-und-verfolgung/aktion-arbeitsscheu-reich-1938.html

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Willem Jacob van Stockum-Scientist and Dutch WWII Hero.

Willem Jacob van Stockum was born on November 20,1910 in Hattem,the Netherlands.

Willem moved to Ireland in the late 1920s, Where he studied mathematics at Trinity College, Dublin, where he earned a gold medal. He went on to earn an M.A. from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh.

The outbreak of World War II happened while he was teaching at the University of Maryland. He was eto join the fight against Hitler and Fascism,.

He joined the Canadian Air Corps in June 1941 (according to his sister, he was asked to join the Manhattan project, but chose this instead). Taught mathematics to pilots. Then became a bomber pilot himself. Moved to Britain in the spring of 1943 and joined no. 10 squadron at RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire, he was the only Dutch officer to do so.

He flew a Halifax Mk-III, MZ684, ZA-‘B’ bomber. Completed 6 missions before being shot down by German A.A. fire near Entrammes in France on the night of 9/10 June 1944. All seven crew were killed and are buried at the Cimetière Vaufleury at Laval, Dept. Mayenne, France.

He wrote this article on his reasons for becoming a bomber pilot

“I didn’t join the war to improve the Universe; in fact, I am sick and tired of the eternal sermons on the better world we are going to build when this war is over. I hate the disloyalty to the past twenty years. Apparently people think that life in those twenty years, which cover most of my conscious existence, was so terrible that no-one can be expected to fight for it. We must attempt to dazzle people with some brilliant schemes leading, probably, to some horrible Utopia, before we can ask them to fight.

I detest that point of view. I hate the idea of people throwing their lives away for slum-clearance projects or forty-hour weeks or security and exchange commissions. It is a grotesque and horrible thought. There are so many better ways of achieving this than diving into enemy guns. Lives are precious things and are of a different order and entail a different scale of values than social systems, political theories, or art.

“Why are we not given a cause?” some people ask. I do not understand this question. It seems so plain to me. There are millions and millions of people who are shot, persecuted and tortured daily in Europe. The assault on so many of our fellow human beings makes some of us tingle with anger and gives us an urge to do something about it. That, and that alone, makes some of us feel strongly about the war. All the rest is vapid rationalization. All this talk about philosophy, the degeneration of art and literature, the poisoning of Nazi youth, which the Nazi system entails, and which we all rightly condemn, is still not the reason why we fight and why we are willing to risk our lives.

Here, let us say, is a soldier. He asks himself, “Why should I die?” You would tell him: “To preserve our civilization.” When the soldier replies: “To Hell with your civilization; I never thought it so hot,” you take him up wrongly when you sit down and say to yourself: “Well, after all, maybe it wasn’t so hot,” and then brightly tap him on the shoulder and say: “Well, I’ve thought of a better idea. I know this civilization wasn’t so hot, but you go and die anyway and we’ll fix up a really good one after the war.” I say you take him up wrong because his remark: “To Hell with your civilization” doesn’t really mean that he is not seriously concerned about our civilization. He is simply revolted by the idea of dying for ANY civilization. Civilization simply isn’t the kind of thing you ever want to die for. It is something to enjoy and something to help build up because it’s fun, and that is that, and that is all.

When a man jumps into the fire to save his wife he doesn’t justify himself by saying that his wife was so civilized that it was worth the risk! There is only one reason why a man will throw himself into mortal combat and that is because there is nothing else to do and doing nothing is more intolerable than the fear of death. I could stand idly by and see every painting by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo thrown into a bonfire and feel no more than a deep regret, but throw one small, insignificant Polish urchin on the same bonfire and, by God, I’d pull him out or else. I fight quite simply for that and I cannot see what other reasons there are. At least, I can see there are reasons, but they are not the reasons that motivate me.

During the first two years of the war when I was an instructor at an American University in close contact with American youth and in close contact with the vital isolationist question in the States, I often felt that there was much insincerity, conscious or unconscious, on our, the Interventionist, side of the argument. We had strong views on the danger of isolationism for the United States. We thought, rightly, that for the sake of self-interest and self-preservation the United States should take every step to ensure the defeat of the Nazi criminals. But however sound our arguments, our own motives and intensity of feeling did not spring from those arguments but from an intense passion for common righteousness and decency.

Suppose it could have been proved to us at that time that the participation of the United States in the stamping out of organized murder, rape and torture in Europe could only take place at great cost to the United States, while not doing so would in no way impair her security. Would we not still have prayed that our country might do something? And would we not have been proud to see her do something?

There is an appalling timidity and false shame among intellectuals. The common man in the last war went to fight quite simply as a crusader. I am not talking about politics now, I am not either asserting or denying that England declared war from purely generous and noble considerations, but I am asserting that the common man went and fought with the rape of Belgium foremost in his mind and saw himself as an avenger of wrong.

After the war the common man went quietly back to his home. The intellectuals, however, upon coming back, ashamed of their one lapse of finding themselves in agreement with every Tom, Dick and Harry, must turn around and deride the things they were ready to give their lives for. As they were the only vocal group, the opinion became firmly established that the last war was a grave mistake and that anyone who got killed in it was a sucker.

And now, in this war, these intellectuals are hoist with their own petard. They lack the nerve and honesty to represent the American doughboy to himself for what he is. They do not give him the one picture in his mind which would stimulate his imagination and which would make him see beyond the fatigues, the mud, the boredom and the fear. The picture is there for anyone to paint who has a gift for words. It is a simple picture and a true picture and no one who has ever sat as a small child and listened with awe to a fairy story can fail to understand. The intellectuals, however, have made fun of the picture and so they won’t use It.

But some day an American doughboy in an American tank will come lurching into some small Polish, Czech or French village and it may fall to his lot to shoot the torturers and open the gates of the village jail. And then he will understand.

There is a lot of talk among our intellectuals about our youth. Our youth is supposed to want a change, a new order, a revolution or what not. But it is my conviction that that is emphatically NOT what our youth wants. Have you ever been in a picture house on a Saturday afternoon, when it is filled with children and some old Western movie is ending in a race of time between the hero and the villain? Have you seen the rapt attention, the glowing faces, the clenched fists? What our young men really want is to be able to give that same concentrated attention and emotional participation, this time to reality, and this time as heroes and not as spectators, that they were able to give to unsubstantial shadows, before long words and cliches had killed their imaginations. Killed them so dead that they can no longer see even reality itself imaginatively.

It is up to the intellectuals to rekindle the thing they have tried to destroy. It is as simple as St. George and the Dragon. Why not have the courage to point out that St. George fought the dragon because he wanted to liberate a captive and not because he wanted to lead a better life afterwards? Some day, sometime, my picture of an American doughboy in a Polish village will become true. Wouldn’t it be better for him then to have the cross of St. George on his banner than a long rigmarole about a better world?

As long as our intellectuals and leaders do not have the courage to risk being thought sentimental and out-of-date and are not willing to stress that nations as well as individuals are entitled to their acts of heroism and chivalry, they will never be able to give our youth what it needs.

It is true that every fairy story ends with the words: “and they lived happily ever after.” How irritating a child would be, though, if it interrupted its mother at every sentence to ask: “But, Mummy, will they live happily ever afterwards?” It simply isn’t the point of the fairy story and it isn’t the point of this war.

Presumably we won’t live happily ever after this war. But just as a fairy story helps to increase a child’s awareness and wonder at the world, so this war may make us more aware of one another. Perhaps we shall learn, and perhaps some things will be better organized. I hope so. I believe so. But only if we engage in this war with our hearts as well as our minds.

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.”

Below is a translation of the last letter he wrote to his mother, and actually the last words he ever wrote.

Willem to Olga van Stockum, 7 June 1944
[Translated by Engelien de Booij; this was shortly before Willem took off on his last flight from his Yorkshire RAF station, bombing a bridge over the river next to Laval, France.]

“Dear Mother, I am curious to know whether you have noted the date of my last letter. I cannot tell you how great the satisfaction was to be one of those who dropped the first bombs during the invasion. Officially we did not know it would start on June 5th, but the instructions we got, the mysterious doings, our route and what we could expect while in flight, made us fairly sure that this was The Day. We did our job in difficult circumstances, although there was not a very big opposition. … I am free tonight and am glad of it, for the strain is great and we had not a moment’s rest in the past days. Our kind of job needs hours of preparation, the operation itself takes 6 hours and after that debriefings, etc. Then a meal, to bed, sleep, and again preparations. Of course, we did not know beforehand it would be rather easy, and the nervous strain makes your breathing faster. Soon it will be worse, when the Germans get more information. But I would not want to miss this time for anything, and I am very thankful that I resisted the temptation to go to the other station, where Bierens de Haanals10 is, for then I would be now between two squadrons and perhaps have missed all this. My crew is perfect, calm, matter of fact, and one cannot find any signs of being nervous. I sometimes have the feeling I am the only one who is…. but perhaps they think the same thing of me. I have the feeling there is an enormous energy in everybody and even the B.B. (body building programs) are better and more imaginative. The whole station comes out to see us off when we take off, with their thumbs up and this is a pleasant feeling. I know how you and Hilda enter into my feeling now, and this is an invigorating feeling. [Note from Engelien – I cannot find the rest of this letter, unless the following fragment is the continuation, but this seems not very probable.] My roommate [at the air station in the UK – Yorkshire?] is a Belgian pilot aged 40 who doesn’t speak English [or Dutch], and with whom I spend much of my time, which is very good for my French. If only you could hear all the fantastic stories people tell, more interesting than the most terrible spy thriller!! My friend came here a few months ago here after having been in the Belgian underground movement. Did I write you that I saw in London Aunt Mia [Tante Mies?] quite often? We sympathized with each other about our tastes in literature. We talked about Dostoyevsky and she told me that you had written such a wonderful article about him. How nice there are people who remember this. I would like to see it some time. I long to read it. Very, very much love from your son Willem”

sources.

http://www.cgoakley.org/efa/1910WJvS.html

http://www.cgoakley.org/efa/WJvSletters.html

https://oorlogsgravenstichting.nl/persoon/148527/willem-jacob-van-stockum

http://aircrewremembered.com/1944-06-10-loss-of-prof-willem-van-stockum.html

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D-Day-The beginning of the end.

Although the tide had already turned for the Nazis , June 6-1944 was to become the final push for the allied troops to free Europe from the Nazi regime.

the British 22nd Independent Parachute Company, 6th Airborne Division being briefed for the invasion, 4–5 June 1944

Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of former US President Theodore Roosevelt,was the only general on D-Day to land by sea with the first wave of troops. At 56, he was the oldest man in the invasion,[29] and the only one whose son also landed that day; Captain Quentin Roosevelt II was among the first wave of soldiers at Omaha Beach.

At the time of the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944, Roosevelt was a frail man, not in the best of health; needing the aid of a walking stick. His health had suffered as a result of the first World War, he had arthritis . Despite his poor health, he proved to be a fine leader and as depicted in the film the longest day, he would famously state: “We’ll start the war from right here!”. He made this famous quote after discovering that the allied landings on Utah Beach were approximately 2 km off course.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr, died as a result of a heart attack on July 1944, just over a month after D-Day.

He was awarded a Medal of Honor.

Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
Unit: 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division

‘Citation: For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt’s written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France.’

It was a young postmistress in Ireland who played an important part in D-Day.

When Maureen Flavin took on a job as postmistress at the Blacksod light house in Co. Mayo in Ireland she had not anticipated the other job which was bestowed on her.The job was taking barometer and thermometer readings(basically weather forecasting) at the remote Blacksod weather station on Ireland’s west coast. But she did do her job and it made a global impact.

On her 21st birthday, June 3 1944, she took the barometer readings and noticed a sudden drop, indicating bad weather was coming. Maureen gave the report to Ted Sweeney who was the lighthouse keeper and they sent it in and, Maureen , quickly received a call from a British woman asking them to check and confirm the report.

The report was send again and an hour later, she received a call from the same British woman, asking her to check and confirm again, which she did.

Unbeknownst to Maureen the Allied leaders who were in London were relying on her weather reports to judge whether they should proceed with the D-Day launch as planned. The chief meteorologist, a Scottish man named James Scagg, was giving General Eisenhower regular weather updates.

He advised Eisenhower that based on Maureen’s report Operation Overlord, which was planned for June 5,1944, should be postponed.

sources

https://www.army.mil/d-day/history.html

RTE Doc on One

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt_Jr.#D-Day

https://www.cmohs.org/recipients/theodore-roosevelt-jr

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Stolpersteine-Holocaust history on your doorstep.

A Stolpersteinplural Stolpersteine; literally means “stumbling stone”, metaphorically a “stumbling stone” is a sett-size, ten-centimetre (3.9 in) concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution..

Created by the artist Gunter Demnig in 1992, Stolpersteine are brass-topped cobblestones embedded in the pavement outside a home or building of significance pertaining to a Holocaust victim.

There are already over 91,000 stolpersteine in over 700 locations. Many cities and villages across Europe, not only in Germany, have expressed an interest in the project. Stones have already been laid in many places in Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, in the Czech Republic, in Poland (seven in Wrocław, one in Słubice), in Ukraine (Pereiaslav), in Italy (Rome) and Norway (Oslo). Today the first stolpersteine will be placed in Dublin, Ireland.

The first Irish stumbling stones were embedded at St Catherine’s National School in south Dublin by their creator, German artist Gunter Demnig.

Founding trustee of the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland, Lynn Jackson, explained that in the early 20th century Ireland had a Jewish population of around 5,000 people and the area around the South Circular Road and Portobello in Dublin was once known as “Little Jerusalem” as there was a vibrant Jewish community there.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said the stones will commemorate six Irish victims of the Holocaust: Ettie Steinberg Gluck, her husband Wojteck Gluck, and their baby son Leon, along with Isaac Shishi, Ephraim Saks and his sister, Jeanne (Lena) Saks.

I just want to highlight the youngest of the group.

Leon was born on the 28 March 1939,in Paris. Unfortunately, the threat of violence spread throughout France in 1940 and this put them in danger. From 1940 to 1942 the small family was in hiding, moving from place to place, rarely staying still for more than two nights at a time.

Back in Dublin, the Steinbergs, Leon’s grandparents, worked desperately to save their daughter Ettie by getting her and her family back to Ireland. Pleas were sent to the Vatican and the Red Cross for information, but to no avail. They eventually managed to secure three visas from the British Home Office in Belfast and sent them to Toulouse, where the family was in hiding. However, they arrived one day too late for Ettie, Vogtjeck and little Leon. The Glucks had been caught in a round-up of Jews on the 2 September 1942 and were put on a train to Auschwitz.

sources

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/146364294/leon-gluck

https://www.rte.ie/news/regional/2022/0601/1302393-stumbling-stones/

Where the wild roses grow

In February 1995, Nick Cave released the album “Murder Ballads”. On the album is one of my all time favourite songs “Where the wild roses grow”

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Kylie Minogue first performed the song publicly on 4 August 1995 in Cork, Republic of Ireland. I have often wondered why they picked Cork, maybe it was because the song was based on an Irish legend, The legend of Elisa Day.

It is tale from Medieval Ireland about a woman named Elisa Day whose beauty was like a wild rose. A young man came to town a fell in love with her. On the third day, he took her down to the river—where he killed her.

Legend has it that her beauty was like that of the wild roses that grew down the river, all bloody and red. One day, the young came to the small town where Elisa lived. He instantly fell in love with her.
On the first day, he visited her where she lived. The next day he gifted her with a single red rose. After this, he asked Elisa to meet him where the wild roses grow. Their short lived relationship only lasted for 3 days.
On the 3rd and the last day, he took her down by the river where he killed her. He waited until her back was turned, before striking her with a large rock in the back of the head. He then whispered, “All beauty must die” — and with one swift blow, he killed her instantly.
After she died, the young evil man placed a single red rose between her teeth and pushed her body into the river below.

“On the third day he took me to the river
He showed me the roses and we kissed
And the last thing I heard was a muttered word
As he stood smiling above me with a rock in his fist.

On the last day I took her where the wild roses grow
And she lay on the bank, the wind light as a thief
As I kissed her goodbye, I said, ‘All beauty must die’
And lent down and planted a rose between her teeth.”

Elisa’s body was never recovered, not was the exact location ever revealed. Yet there are still people now who claim to have seen the ghost of Elisa Day floating over the rivers.

sources

https://www.redriverradio.org/commentary/2017-11-23/shadow-files-the-tale-of-elisa-day

https://www.song-bar.com/song-of-the-day/nick-cave-kylie-minogue-where-the-wild-roses-grow