The silent killer in WWII-An unexpected enemy.

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Of all the enemies Allied soldiers confronted during World War II, malaria proved to be among the most stubborn. The mosquito-borne disease was a constant scourge for soldiers stationed in the Pacific and Mediterranean theaters. General MacArthur’s retreat to the malarial Philippine peninsula of Bataan in early 1942 led directly to his sickly army’s surrender to the Japanese a few months later. The illness continued to cripple American forces during the ensuing campaigns in Papua New Guinea and Guadalcanal, where it was so rampant that a division commander ordered that no Marine be excused from duty without a temperature of at least 103°F.

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Troops in Southern Europe faced similar problems. During the Seventh Army’s Sicilian campaign from July to September 1943, 21,482 soldiers were admitted to the hospital for malaria; 17,535 were admitted for battle casualties. All in all, malaria accounted for almost a half-million hospital admissions and more than 300 American deaths during the war.

After some fits and starts, the military responded to the malaria outbreak with a full-out assault. The Army’s Medical Department dispatched malaria control units to war zones to clear and clean standing water and bombard malarial areas with recently developed insecticides like DDT and “bug bombs.” With access to quinine cut off by the Japanese conquest of Java, the government sped up trials of the anti-malarial medicine atabrine.

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Between 60 and 65 percent of Soldiers serving in the South Pacific reported having malaria at some point.  Reports indicate that some enlisted men would refuse to take the anti-malaria drug Atabrine because continual use turned the skin a sallow yellow color.  Atabrine was only partially effective to begin with, and Soldiers who stopped use were virtually unprotected.

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Despite side effects such as turning the skin yellow, millions of tablets of the drug were distributed to troops toward the end of the war.

Atabrine was not the only tool the Army used to fight the spread of malaria in the Pacific.  The fact that no one could ensure that all troops would take the medication consistently meant that additional measures needed to be taken to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible.  One of the most important and effective tools the Army had against malaria was the insecticide dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, more commonly known as DDT.

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Beginning in 1943, the Army began using DDT in a powdered form which was applied directly to soldiers and refugees in Italy, where a typhus epidemic was raging.  It was discovered that this treatment was highly effective against the lice that carried the disease.  The same powder was used in the Pacific as well, but the Army soon realized that DDT could also be useful against malaria.

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The military also warned soldiers about the dangers of the disease with an aggressive propaganda campaign that tried a variety of approaches, including patriotic appeals, racist caricatures, scare tactics, and goofy cartoons (including one drawn by the young Dr. Seuss). The campaign worked: Infection rates fell dramatically, and a healthier fighting force went on to claim victory in Europe and Asia.

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The Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) also did its part to help fight malaria among the servicemen in the PTO.  Stations of AFRS’s “Mosquito Network” in the South Pacific constantly reminded soldiers to take their Atabrine, and often injected humor into their broadcasts.  For instance, the station on Guadalcanal ran a program called “The Atabrine Cocktail Hour,” a show that aired each day at 1730 and featured fifteen minutes of “cocktail music” from “exotic” places like the “Fungus Festooned Fern Room” or the “Starlight Roof high atop the Hotel DeGrink in downtown Guadalcanal.”

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The only silver lining to the malaria problem was that the Japanese suffered just as much, if not more, than the Americans.  Estimates suggest that at times some Japanese units were 90% combat ineffective due to a combination of malaria and dysentery.  Fresh American troops, not yet infected, were most effective when used against Japanese forces that had been in the field for months; and the lack of medical provisioning led to even higher casualties among the Japanese.

 

Musica Italiano

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Don’t worry I haven’t suddenly turned Italian and although the music in this blog will be in Italian, the text won’t be.

The thing is every once in a while I like to deviate from my usually heavier historical subjects to a more light-hearted one.

I love Italy, I had the chance to visit the country several times especially a small town called Valli del Pasubio and a even smaller village called Sturma(you’ll ne hard pressed to find it on a map). I first visited as a young teenager

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To be honest I fell in love with the place.It is where I first learned how to eat proper food,not the potatoes and apple sauce diet I had insisted on prior to that. The food was just heavenly and 16 stone further I still have a loving relationship with food.

The blog however is about Italian music and not food.Even before I set foot in Italy I had a bit of a weak spot for Italian music,although I was a metal head, I couldn’t help falling for the soothing tones of the Italian language converted into music.

Italian music is often referred to as Italo Pop or Italo Disco but I don’t think any of these names capture the essence of the music.

Although I don’t really understand the songs, I do know that they tell a story just by the rhythm of the tunes. The song above called Gente di Mare(people of the sea),by Umberto Tozzi & Raf lost out in 1987 to Johnny Logan at the Eurovision Contest.

This one of my all time favourites by Matia Bazar” Ti sento” which I believe means I feel you, the haunting husky voice just adds so much atmosphere to the song.

I am not an emotional man but the first time I heard Andrea Bocelli it literally send shivers down my spine.The combination of a classical tenor and contemporary music is just magical, like a fairy tale coming to life.

This song is proof that the language of music is without constraints and ignores physical borders. Sung in Italian,Dutch and English by an Italian Dutch man Marco Borsato and Andrea Bocelli. If this doesn’t give you Goosebumps nothing will.

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I hope you enjoy the music just as much as I did. Finishing up with my favorite Italian song, it is jazz song in it’s purest and sincerest form by Paolo Conte.

 

 

The other Mussolinis

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Cynical me would have probably given this blog the title “Hey, karma is a b*tch” but I am aware that my audience is bigger then just me and therefore I aim to remain unbiased.

Bruno Mussolini (22 April 1918 – 7 August 1941) was the son of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and Mussolini’s wife Rachele.

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On 7 August 1941, the 23-year-old Mussolini, commander of the 274a Squadriglia (274th Squadron), was flying in one of the prototypes of the “secret” Piaggio P.108B bomber, MM22003,near the San Giusto Airport in Pisa, when the aircraft flew too low and crashed into a house.

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The Piaggio P-108 Bombardiere was a promising aircraft. Its four powerful engines and substantial 7,700-pound bomb payload gave it strategic capabilities, the only bomber produced in wartime Italy that could make that claim. However, the P-108 was produced in only limited numbers due to a lengthy development program, demands placed on Italian industrial capacity, and the scarcity of resources.

The youthful officer apparently failed to gain altitude and crashed into a house. Along with two crewmen, the pilot was killed. Five other crewmen were injured.

Just after 11 that morning, Benito Mussolini was stepping into his private elevator at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome when one of his aides rushed up. ““There’s been a crash at Pisa, Duce! Your son Bruno is wounded, and his condition is critical.” The dictator steadied himself against the sliding iron door and asked quietly, “Is he dead?” When the answer confirmed his worst fear, Mussolini was wracked with grief. He was a changed man.

The oldest son, Lieutenant Vittorio Mussolini, was heard to say some time later, “There was a Mussolini before Bruno’s death, and a Mussolini after it. Prior to August 7, 1941, despair was not part of his emotional range. The tragedy turned him into a different man whose lost stare, at times, provoked pity.”

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Mussolini hurried to the Santa Chiara Hospital in Pisa and gazed for a long time at the face of his dead son. Rachele was also devastated, but she remembered the most painful aspect of the ordeal as her husband’s silence. “It was as if he had turned to stone,” she said later.

Quiet though he may have been, at times Mussolini was prone to an occasional outburst prompted by his grief. Colonel Gori Castellani commanded the 247th Squadriglia of the Regia Aeronautica, the Italian Air Force, to which Bruno and Vittorio were assigned. When the colonel came to the distraught father’s office to extend his condolences, Mussolini bellowed, “I know why you are here! I know that you and everyone are pleased that I have suffered this loss. I don’t want to hear anything from you! You can get out!”

An inquiry absolved Bruno of any fault in the fatal accident, and he was subsequently awarded the Gold Medal for Aeronautic Valor. The New York Times reported that the investigation revealed the cause of the accident to be “…the improper functioning of the gas switch, due to the great distance between the motors and the pilot’s post.”

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An elaborate funeral was held at the Fascist Party headquarters in Pisa, and Bruno’s body was interred in the family crypt in the San Cassiano cemetery in the town of Predappio. Ironically, this father who deeply mourned the loss of his own son was responsible for the similar grief suffered by so many other families.

Battle of Santiago

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No this is not a piece on World War 2 or any other war for that matter,although it is often said that football is war.

The Battle of Santiago  is the name given to a particularly infamous football match during the 1962 FIFA World Cup. It was a game played between host Chile and Italy on 2 June 1962 in Santiago.The referee was Ken Aston, who later went on to invent yellow and red cards.

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By 1962 the World Cup had recovered from the 12-year hiatus imposed upon it by World War II and had become a fixture.

The 1954 and ’58 tournaments had both been held in Europe.  The nations of North and South America threatened to boycott the tournament—as they had done in 1938—if that trend continued.  Most assumed that Argentina would be the choice, but the Chilean federation mounted an underdog candidacy and ended up running away with the vote.

In this Group 2 clash, already heightened tensions between the two football teams were exacerbated by the description of Santiago in crude terms by two Italian journalists Antonio Ghirelli and Corrado Pizzinelli; they had written that Santiago was a backwater dump where “the phones don’t work, taxis are as rare as faithful husbands, a cable to Europe costs an arm and a leg and a letter takes five days to turn up”, and its population as prone to “malnutrition, illiteracy, alcoholism and poverty. Chile is a small, proud and poor country: it has agreed to organize this World Cup in the same way as Mussolini agreed to send our air force to bomb London (they didn’t arrive). The capital city has 700 hotel beds. Entire neighborhoods are given over to open prostitution. This country and its people are proudly miserable and backwards.”Chilean newspapers fired back, describing Italians in general as fascists, mafioso’s, oversexed, and, because some of Inter Milan’s players had recently been involved in a doping scandal, drug addicts.The journalists involved were forced to flee the country, while an Argentinian scribe mistaken for an Italian in a Santiago bar was beaten up and hospitalised.

Chile’s organization and preparation of the tournament had been severely disrupted by the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in human history.

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Articles in the Italian papers La Nazione and Corriere della Sera were saying that allowing Chile to host the World Cup was “pure madness”; this was used and magnified by local newspapers to inflame the Chilean population. The British newspaper the Daily Express wrote “The tournament shows every sign of developing into a violent bloodbath. Reports read like battlefront dispatches. Italy vs Germany was described as ‘wrestling and warfare'”

The first foul occurred within 12 seconds of the kick-off.[1] Italy’s Giorgio Ferrini was sent off in the twelfth minute after a foul on Honorino Landa, but refused to leave the pitch and had to be dragged off by policemen.

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Landa retaliated with a punch a few minutes later, but he was not sent off.

English referee Ken Aston overlooked a punch by Chilean Leonel Sánchez to Italian Mario David, which had come in retaliation for being fouled seconds earlier. When David kicked Sanchez in the head a few minutes later, he was sent off.

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In the violence that continued, Sanchez broke Humberto Maschio’s nose with a left hook, but Aston did not send him off. The two teams engaged in scuffles and spitting, and police had to intervene three more times. Chile won the match 2–0.

When highlights from the match were shown on British television a couple of days later (not the same night, because film of matches still had to be flown back), the match was famously introduced by BBC sports commentator David Coleman as: “the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.

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Secret message in a bullet

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One of the biggest mistakes Hitler made during WWII was actually partnering up with Benito Mussolini and his army.

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The Italian army was extremely effective before the war and well into 1941. The Italian army invaded Ethiopia and Albania and crushed the defending armies. However this was against countries with outdated tech, small armies and horrible leadership. So the Italian army, with more modern technology and better leadership (than the defenders at least) proved the Italian army to be a formidable opponent. Of course this was against nations that were significantly weaker than the Italian Army.

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Against militaries with equal strength, the Italian army was possibly the worst in combat. Compared to the other belligerents, the Italian army had outdated technology, most being designed or purchased around the early 1930’s, horrible leadership and insufficient support or intelligence.

In 1944, an Allied soldier somewhere in the south of Tuscany scribbled a coded message onto a scrap of paper, rolled it up, and stuffed it inside a bullet for safe keeping. It was August, and the tide of WWII was rapidly changing. The Allies were pushing into Europe and soon, the war would be over in Europe.

Recently, a team of Italian metal-detector fans were roaming around in southern Tuscany, picking up bits and pieces here and there. Then, someone found something odd.

It was a bullet that had been inverted into its own casing. It struck them as strange, since soldiers needed all the bullets they could get. When they pried the bullet out of its casing, they found something that no one had seen in decades.

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Hiding messages in bullets was actually not an uncommon practice. A bullet was opened, the powder dumped out, and a message placed inside. Bullets were small, making them easy to carry and to hide, and they could also be easily thrown away if a soldier was captured. Bullets made especially good message carriers because they could literally be left lying around anywhere; bullets are a pretty common site on a battlefield.

It’s dated 8/13/44. The order of the month and day, as well as historical evidence, mean the soldier who wrote this was probably American.

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So what does the coded message say?

“THEY THROW GRENADES. WE PULL PINS AND THROW BACK.”

And underneath:

“NOTIFY REINFORCEMENTS STAND DOWN–NOT NEEDED”

This means that during one engagement, the American soldiers, one of whom wrote this note were catching grenades thrown by the Axis soldiers, but their pins were still intact. What was the reason?

It seems that the grenades in question were an Italian variety that had two pins instead of the typical one. Both needed to be pulled in order for the grenade to detonate. But the grenades coming in on the American soldiers had only one pin pulled, which means that the soldiers throwing them were not Italian, as they would have been trained in how to use them, but German.

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Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943, so the only troops still fighting there would have been German–and they would not have known that the Italian grenades had two pins. Imagine their surprise when the same grenades came flying back, and this time, they did explode. The Americans did their research, and it helped–to the point where reinforcements were definitely not needed.

The last days of “Il Duce” Benito Mussolini

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In September 1943, Nazi paratroopers staged a daring commando raid that rescued Mussolini from the Apennine Mountain ski resort where he was being detained. Hitler installed Mussolini as the figurehead of the Social Republic of Italy (known informally as the Republic of Salo), a Nazi puppet state in German-occupied northern Italy.

By April 25, 1945, however, the Third Reich was quickly losing its grip on northern Italy. With his stronghold of Milan teetering on the precipice, Mussolini agreed to meet with a delegation of partisans at the palace of Milan’s Cardinal Alfredo Schuster. There, a furious Mussolini learned that, unbeknownst to him, the Nazis had begun negotiations for an unconditional surrender.

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Mussolini stormed out of the palace and fled Milan with his 33-year-old mistress, Clara Petacci, in the 1939 Alfa Romeo sport car he had bought as a gift for his girlfriend.

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The following day, the pair joined a convoy of fellow fascists and German soldiers heading north toward Lake Como and the border with Switzerland. Mussolini donned a German Luftwaffe helmet and overcoat, but the disguise did little to save him when partisans stopped the convoy at the lakeside town of Dongo ,on the north western shore of Lake Como.,on April 27. For 20 years, Mussolini had built a cult of personality with his image emblazoned on posters and newspapers. Now, the familiarity of his distinctive shaved head and granite jaw, even in disguise, did him in.

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A group of local communist partisans led by Pier Luigi Bellini delle Stelle and Urbano Lazzaro attacked the convoy and forced it to halt.

 

The partisans recognised one Italian fascist leader in the convoy, but not Mussolini at this stage, and made the Germans hand over all the Italians in exchange for allowing the Germans to proceed. Eventually Mussolini was discovered slumped in one of the convoy vehicles. Lazzaro later said that

His face was like wax and his stare glassy, but somehow blind. I read utter exhaustion, but not fear … Mussolini seemed completely lacking in will, spiritually dead.

The partisans arrested Mussolini and took him to Dongo, where he spent part of the night in the local barracks.In all, over fifty fascist leaders and their families were found in the convoy and arrested by the partisans. Aside from Mussolini and Petacci, sixteen of the most prominent of them would be summarily shot in Dongo the following day and a further ten would be killed over two successive nights.

Claretta Petacci, Mussolini’s mistress, was captured  with him.

Fighting was still going on in the area around Dongo. Fearing that Mussolini and Petacci might be rescued by fascist supporters, the partisans drove them, in the middle of the night, to a nearby farm of a peasant family named de Maria; they believed this would be a safe place to hold them. Mussolini and Petacci spent the rest of the night and most of the following day there.

On the evening of Mussolini’s capture, Sandro Pertini, the Socialist partisan leader in northern Italy, announced on Radio Milano:

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“The head of this association of delinquents, Mussolini, while yellow with rancour and fear and trying to cross the Swiss frontier, has been arrested. He must be handed over to a tribunal of the people so it can judge him quickly. We want this, even though we think an execution platoon is too much of an honour for this man. He would deserve to be killed like a mangy dog.”

Mussolini and Claretta Petacci were executed the following day.

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Dr Klaus Schilling

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Klaus Karl Schilling (born 5 July 1871 in Munich, Bavaria, Germany; died 28 May 1946 in Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria, West Germany),  was a German tropical medicine specialist, particularly remembered for his infamous participation in the Nazi human experiments at the Dachau concentration camp during World War II.

Though never a member of the Nazi Party and a recognized researcher before the war, Schilling became notorious as a consequence of his enthusiastic participation in human research under both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. From 1942 to 1945, Schilling’s research of malaria and attempts at fighting it using synthetic drugs resulted in over a thousand cases of human experimentation on camp prisoners.

He was appointed the first-ever director of the tropical medicine division of the Robert Koch Institute in 1905, where he would remain for the subsequent three decades.

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Upon retirement from the Robert Koch Institute in 1936, Schilling moved to Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, where he was given the opportunity to conduct immunization experiments on inmates of the psychiatric asylums of Volterra and San Niccolò di Siena.(The Italian authorities were concerned that troops faced malarial outbreaks in the course of the Italo-Ethiopian War.) As Schilling stressed the significance of the research for German interests, the Nazi government of Germany also supported him with a financial grant for his Italian experimentation.

Schilling returned to Germany after a meeting with Leonardo Conti, the Nazis’ Health Chief, in 1941.

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By early 1942 he was provided with a special malaria research station at Dachau’s concentration camp by Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS. Despite negative assessments from colleagues, Schilling would remain in charge of the malaria station for the duration of the war.

Although in the 1930s Schilling had stressed the point that malaria research on human subjects could be performed in an entirely harmless fashion, the Dachau subjects included experimentees who were injected with synthetic drugs at doses ranging from high to lethal. Of the more than 1,000 prisoners used in the malaria experiments at Dachau during the war, between 300 and 400 died as a result; among survivors, a substantial number remained permanently damaged afterward.

In the course of the Dachau Trials following the liberation of the camp at the close of the war, Schilling was tried by an American tribunal, with an October 1945 affidavit from Schilling being presented in the proceedings.

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After the war, Dr. Schilling was arrested by the American Army and charged with participating in a “common plan” to violate the Laws and Usages of War because he conducted experiments on Dachau prisoners, using various drugs in an effort to find a cure for malaria. Most of his subjects were young Polish priests whom Dr. Schilling infected by means of mosquitoes from the marshes of Italy and the Crimea, according to author Peter Padfield in his book entitled “Himmler.” The priests were chosen for the experiments because they were not required to work, as were the ordinary prisoners at Dachau.

One of the prosecution witnesses at the trial of the German Major War Criminals at Nuremberg was Dr. Franz Blaha, a Czech medical doctor who was a Communist political prisoner at Dachau.

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An affidavit signed by Dr. Blaha was entered into the main Nuremberg trial. It was marked Document Number 3249-PS, Exhibit USA-663. His comments in this affidavit about Dr. Schilling are quoted below from the transcript of the Nuremberg trial for January 11, 1946

“During my time at Dachau I was familiar with many kinds of medical experiments carried on there on human victims. These persons were never volunteers but were forced to submit to such acts. Malaria experiments on about 1,200 people were conducted by Dr. Klaus Schilling between 1941 and 1945. Schilling was personally ordered by Himmler to conduct these experiments. The victims were either bitten by mosquitoes or given injections of malaria sporozoites taken from mosquitoes. Different kinds of treatment were applied including quinine, pyrifer, neosalvarsan, antipyrin, pyramidon, and a drug called 2516 Behring. I performed autopsies on the bodies of people who died from these malaria experiments. Thirty to 40 died from the malaria itself. Three hundred to four hundred died later from diseases which were fatal because of the physical condition resulting from the malaria attacks. In addition there were deaths resulting from poisoning due to overdoses of neosalvarsan and pyramidon. Dr. Schilling was present at my autopsies on the bodies of his patients.”

The 74-year-old Dr. Schilling was convicted at Dachau and hanged. In his final statement to the court, Dr. Schilling pleaded to have the results of his experiments returned to him so they could be published. During his trial, he tried to justify his crime by saying that his experiments were for the good of mankind.

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The tribunal sentenced Schilling to death by hanging on 13 December 1945. His execution took place at Landsberg Prison in Landsberg am Lech on 28 May 1946.

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The Axis laws

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The Nuremberg Laws (German: Nürnberger Gesetze) were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany. They were introduced on 15 September 1935 by the Reichstag at a special meeting convened at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party (NSDAP).

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The two laws were the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, which forbade marriages and extramarital intercourse between Jews and Germans and the employment of German females under 45 in Jewish households, and the Reich Citizenship Law, which declared that only those of German or related blood were eligible to be Reich citizens; the remainder were classed as state subjects, without citizenship rights.

However the Nuremberg laws were not the only laws imposed. Most of Germany’s allies had their antisemitic laws.

Italy

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Le Leggi razziali: were a set of laws promulgated by Fascist Italy from 1938 to 1943 to enforce racial discrimination in Italy, directed mainly against the Italian Jews and the native inhabitants of the colonies.

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The first and most important of the leggi razziali was the Regio Decreto 17 Novembre 1938 Nr. 1728. It restricted civil rights of Jews, banned their books and excluded Jews from public office and higher education. Additional laws stripped Jews of their assets, restricted travel and finally provided for their internship in internal exile, as was done for political prisoners.

The promulgation of the racial laws was preceded by a long press campaign and by publication of the “Manifesto of Race” earlier in 1938, a purportedly-scientific report by fascist scientists and supporters that asserted racial principles, including the superiority of Europeans over other races. The final decision about the law was made during the meeting of the Gran Consiglio del Fascismo, which took place on the night between 6 and 7 October 1938 in Rome, Palazzo Venezia.

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Not all Fascists supported discrimination: while the pro-German, anti-Jewish Roberto Farinacci and Giovanni Preziosi strongly pushed for them, Italo Balbo strongly opposed the laws.The Italian Racial Laws were unpopular with most ordinary Italians; the Jews were a small minority in the country and had integrated deeply into Italian society and culture

After the fall of Benito Mussolini on July 25, 1943, the Badoglio government suppressed the laws. They remained in force in the territories ruled by the Italian Social Republic until the end of the war (and were made more severe).

Bulgaria

Law for Protection of the Nation

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The Law for protection of the nation was a Bulgarian law, effective from 23 January 1941 to 27 November 1944, which directed measures against Jews and others. This law was passed along the example of the Nuremberg Laws.

The law ordered measures for:

  • Changes in the names of Jews
  • Rules about their place of residence
  • Confiscation of their possessions
  • Their exclusion from the public service
  • Prohibition of economic and professional activity

Citizens of Jewish origin were also banned from certain public areas, restricted economically, and marriages between Jews and Bulgarians were prohibited. Jews were forced to pay a one-time tax of 20 percent of their net worth The legislation also established quotas that limited the number of Jews in Bulgarian universities.Jewish leaders protested against the law, and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, some professional organizations, and twenty-one writers also opposed it.

This law suppressed all Freemasonry lodges and all other secret organizations.

The Law for protection of the nation, was passed under direct influence from Nazi Germany, but did not lead to the deportation of the Bulgarian Jews to Nazi extermination camps, except for the Jewish people from former Greek and Yugoslavian territories occupied by Bulgaria.

France

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Anti-Jewish laws were enacted by the Vichy France government in 1940 and 1941 affecting metropolitan France and its overseas territories during World War II. These laws were, in fact, decrees of head of state Marshal Philippe Pétain, since Parliament was no longer in office as of 11 July 1940.

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The motivation for the legislation was spontaneous and was not mandated by Germany. These laws were declared null and void on 9 August 1944 after liberation and on the restoration of republican legality.

The statutes were aimed at depriving Jews of the right to hold public office, designating them as a lower class, and depriving them of citizenship. Jews were subsequently rounded up at Drancy internment camp before being deported for extermination in Nazi concentration camps.

The denaturalization law was enacted on 16 July 1940, barely a month after the announcement of the Vichy regime of Petain. On 22 July 1940, the Deputy Secretary of State Raphaël Alibert created a committee to review 500,000 naturalisations given since 1927.

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This resulted in 15,000 people having their French nationality revoked, of whom 40% were Jews. Alibert was the signatory of the Statutes on Jews.

Romania

In August 1940, the Romanian government passed legislation that Jews who converted to Christianity would be regarded as Jews for legal purposes, and barred from marriage with ethnic Christians; by defining Jews not based on religion this was the first step, and a large one at that, to further racial legislation.

Nuncio to Bucharest Andrea Cassulo’s “early efforts on behalf of Jews concerned almost exclusively those who had been baptized Catholic”

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He passed on to the Vatican in 1939, but did not pursue, a project to emigrate the 150,000 converted Jews of Romania to Spain.From 1940 to 1941, his primary diplomatic responsibility was to protest various pieces of legislation insofar as they infringed on the rights of baptized Jews, particularly with respect to intermarriage and attendance of baptized Jews to Catholic schools, which were protected by the Romanian concordat.

Cassulo made three protests to Ion Antonescu: on November 20, 1940, December 2, 1940, and February 14, 1941.

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Five days after the last protest, Antonescu informed the nuncio of his signing a decree allowing students of any ethnic origin to attend their own religious schools.

However, “much more worrisome to the Vatican” was a March 18, 1941, decree forbidding the conversion of Jews to Christianity, with severe penalties for Jews attempting to convert and cooperating priests. Again, Cassulo protested that this violated the concordat, but the Romanian government replied that the decree did not because it would only affect the “civil status” of baptized Jews.Bypassing the “blatant racism” of this reply, Maglione’s “sole interest” was that the rights of the concordat be extended to baptized Jews. The Vatican considered the matter settled after a July 21, 1941, note from the minister of foreign affairs granted the enumerated demands of Maglione: “free profession of the Catholic faith, admission to Catholic schools, religious instruction, and spiritual assistance in various areas of society.

Most of the other Axis countries adopted laws based on the Nuremberg laws.

nuremberg_laws

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Reinhard Kopps & Erich Priebke-No honor among murderers.

 

Reinhard Kopps (29 September 1914 Hamburg – 11 September 2001 Bariloche, Argentina) was an SS Officer for the Nazi Party during World War II. Following the defeat of Germany in World War II, he helped Nazis escape to Argentina, finally fleeing there himself. Under the assumed name of Juan Maler, Kopps was hiding in the small town of Bariloche in the Andes Mountains. Bariloche was the home of many Germans after World War II.

 

Nazi archives opened in 1994 caused ABC News to research Nazi war criminals. After research revealed many Nazis living in Argentina, Sam Donaldson confronted Maler on camera,getting him to admit that he was Reinhard Kopps, a former Nazi, and that he assisted Nazis to leave Germany and settle in Argentina. The Simon Wiesenthal Center accused him of having organized ethnic crimes in Albania where thousends of jewish were deported and killed. He was also reported for alleged activities as an ideologist of neo nazi groups in all over the world.

 

In order to deflect attention away from himself, he told Donaldson that an even worse war criminal, Erich Priebke (under the assumed name Erico Priebke)was also living there.Donaldson and his team waited for Priebke outside the school he was working and interviewed him at his car.

 

After initial hesitation, Priebke admitted who he was and spoke openly about his role in the massacre. He justified his actions by saying that he only followed orders from the Gestapo chief of Rome, Obersturmbannführer Herbert Kappler and that, in his view, the victim were terrorists.

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Erich Priebke (29 July 1913 – 11 October 2013) was a German mid-level SS commander in the SS police force (SiPo) of Nazi Germany.

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In 1996 he was convicted of war crimes in Italy, for participating in the Ardeatine massacre in Rome on 24 March 1944. 335 Italian civilians (among them 75 Italians of Jewish ancestry) were killed in retaliation for a partisan attack that killed 33 men of the German SS Police Regiment Bozen.

 

The massacre was perpetrated without prior public notice in a little-frequented rural suburb of the city, inside the tunnels of the disused quarries of pozzolana, near the Via Ardeatina.

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By mistake, a total of 335 Italian prisoners were taken, five in excess of the 330 called for. On 24 March, led by SS officers Erich Priebke and Karl Hass.

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They were transported to the Ardeatine caves in truckloads and then, in groups of five, put to death inside the caves. Because the killing squad mostly consisted of officers who had never killed before, Kappler had ordered several cases of cognac delivered to the caves to calm the officers’ nerves.

The nerves of Erich Priebke didn’t need to be calmed. To set an example for the other men he personally shot the 2 first victims himself.

The officers were ordered to lead the doomed prisoners into the caves with their hands tied behind their backs and then have them kneel down so that the soldiers could place a bullet directly into the cerebellum, ensuring that no more than one bullet would be needed per prisoner. Many were forced to kneel down over the bodies of those who had been killed before them because the cave had become filled with dead bodies. During the killings, the existence of the five extra prisoners was discovered, and it was decided to kill them anyway, in order to prevent news of the location of the place of execution from becoming known.

 

Priebke was one of the men held responsible for this mass execution. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, he received help from a bishop stationed in Rome and fled to Argentina on a Vatican passport, where he lived for over 50 years.

In 1991, Priebke’s participation in the Rome massacre was denounced in Esteban Buch’s book.In 1994, 50 years after the massacre, Priebke felt he could now talk about the incident and was interviewed by American ABC news reporter Sam Donaldson.This caused outrage among people who had not forgotten the incident, and led to his extradition to Italy and a trial which lasted more than four years.

Donaldson’s news report showed how openly Priebke could live in Argentina, and how little remorse he felt for his actions. Argentine authorities arrested Priebke. Because of his old age and poor health, he was at first not imprisoned, but rather held under house arrest at his home in Bariloche, where he had lived since 1949.

The extradition of Priebke had several delays – his lawyers used tactics like demanding all Italian documents be translated into Spanish, a process which could have taken two years. The Argentine court eventually denied the process, but appeals and other delays caused the extradition case to take more than a year. His lawyers argued that the case could no longer be criminally prosecuted because the crime of murder was subject to a statute of limitations of 15 years under Argentine law.

In March 1995, after nine months of delays, the president of the Jewish organization B’nai B’rith was promised by, among others, the Argentine president Carlos Menem, that the case would soon be closed, and that Priebke was to be transferred to Italy by the end of the month. In spite of these promises, the Supreme Court of Argentina decided that the case was to be transferred to the local court in Bariloche where the case was originally brought up. This opened the possibility for years of delays from future appeals, while Priebke could live at his home.

In May 1995, an Argentine federal judge accepted the Italian demand for extradition on the grounds that cases of crimes against humanity could not expire. But there were more appeals and rumors that the court might change the ruling.

In August of the same year, it was judged that Priebke was not to be extradited because the case had expired. To put pressure on the Argentine government, Germany demanded extradition the same day. The Italian military prosecutor, Antonio Intelisano, argued that FN agreements to which Argentina was signatory expressly state that cases of war criminals and crimes against humanity do not expire.

After seventeen months of delays, the Argentine supreme court decided that Priebke was to be extradited to Italy. He was put on a direct flight from Bariloche to Ciampino, a military airport close to the Ardeatine caves, where the executions had been carried out many years earlier.erich-priebke-1995-argentina

In court, Priebke declared himself not guilty. He did not deny what he had done, but he denied any moral responsibility. He blamed the massacre on those whom he branded as “the Italian terrorists” who were behind the attack in which 33 German SS men were killed. The order came directly from Hitler, and he thought it was a legitimate punishment. During the trial it became clear that Priebke had personally shot two Italians. This was also in his testimony from 1946 before he managed to escape.

 

Around noon on 24 March 1944, 335 men went to the Ardeatine Caves, Rome. All were tied with their hands behind their backs and their names were read out loud. In groups of five they went into the caves. Priebke went inside together with the second or third group and shot a man with an Italian machine pistol. Towards the end he shot another man with the same machine pistol. The executions ended when it got dark that night. After the shootings, explosives were used to shut the caves. Priebke was found not guilty, for the reason of acting under orders.

On 1 August 1996, orders were given for the immediate release of Priebke. The Italian minister of justice later said that Priebke might be re-arrested, depending on whether or not he would be extradited to Germany to be charged with murder. The courts were blocked by demonstrators for over seven hours after Priebke’s trial.

The judges voted two against, one for, convicting the 83-year-old Priebke for taking part of the massacres, which he had admitted, but he was acquitted, again, purportedly because he had been following orders. There were strong reactions from family members of the victims, who claimed the judges put no value on human lives. Shimon Samuels, the leader of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that with this ruling, Italy was permitting crimes against humanity.

The case was appealed by the prosecutors. The day after, Germany asked Italy to keep Priebke imprisoned until their demand to have him extradited was processed, as they wanted him put on trial for the murders of two people that he had personally shot. Outside the courthouse there were demonstrations, but when it became known that Priebke had been rearrested, these calmed down. Many people later went to visit the Ardeatine Caves to honour the victims.

The Italian supreme court decided that the court that had freed Priebke was incompetent and the appeal went through. Among other things it was questioned why the Nuremberg trials were not taken up earlier, since it had been concluded that an individual has personal responsibility for his actions. The reason that Priebke had been released was that he followed orders. Priebke claimed that if he had not obeyed, he would have been executed himself, but the appeals would not accept this, as they felt it was a baseless excuse.

The Court of Cassation voided the decision, ordering a new trial for Priebke. He was sentenced to 15 years. These were reduced to 10 years because of his age and alleged ill health. In March 1998, the Court of Appeal condemned him to life imprisonment, together with Karl Hass, another former SS member. The decision was upheld in November of the same year by the Court of Cassation. Because of his age, Priebke was put under house arrest. In March 1997 it was decided that Priebke could not be extradited to Germany. The reason for this was that he was now going through a trial which was for the same things that Germany wanted him tried. He could not be tried for the same crime twice.

Priebke died in Rome on 11 October 2013 at the age of 100, from natural causes. His last request to have his remains returned to Argentina to be buried alongside his wife was denied by the Argentinian government. The Vatican issued an “unprecedented ban” on holding the funeral in any Catholic church in Rome. His hometown in Germany also refused to take the body, over fears that the place of burial could become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.

Reinhard Kopps was never prosecuted and died in Bariloche in 2001.

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The SS John Harvey disaster

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SS John Harvey was a U.S. World War II Liberty ship. This ship is most well known for carrying a secret cargo of mustard gas and whose sinking by German aircraft in December 1943 at the port of Bari in south Italy caused an unintentional release of chemical weapons.

The John Harvey was built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington, North Carolina, and launched on 9 January 1943.

In August 1943, Roosevelt approved the shipment of chemical munitions containing mustard agent to the Mediterranean theater. On 18 November 1943 the John Harvey, commanded by Captain Elwin F. Knowles, sailed from Oran, Algeria, to Italy, carrying 2,000 M47A1 mustard gas bombs, each of which held 60–70 lb of sulfur mustard.

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After stopping for an inspection by an officer of the 7th Chemical Ordnance Company at Augusta, Sicily on 26 November, the John Harvey sailed through the Strait of Otranto to arrive at Bari.

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Bari was packed with ships waiting to be unloaded, and the John Harvey had to wait for several days. Captain Knowles wanted to tell the British port commander about his deadly cargo and request it be unloaded as soon as possible, but secrecy prevented him doing so.

On 2 December 1943 German aircraft attacked Bari, killing over 1,000 people, and sinking 17 ships,including the John Harvey, which was destroyed in a huge explosion, causing liquid sulfur mustard to spill into the water and a cloud of sulfur mustard vapor to blow over the city.

A total of 628 military victims were hospitalized with mustard gas symptoms, and by the end of the month, 83 of them had died. The number of civilian casualties, thought to have been even greater, could not be accurately gauged since most had left the city to seek shelter with relatives.

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