I am Fanny Cogan.

fanny

I am Fanny Cogan.

I was born on Saturday November 27,1937. Born in the city by the Seine, Paris, the city of love. And I was loved by those who knew me and saw me.

I was born on the same day as the revue Pins and Needles premiered at the Labor Stage Theatre on Broadway.

I am Fanny Cogan.

I was killed on December 9,1943 in Auschwitz. I was killed in a Gas chamber by people who hated me for no reason whatsoever. I was 6 , what did I do to them? I never met them before in my life. Killed, why?

I was killed on December 9,1943 the same day Edgar Allan Woolf, screenwriter who co-wrote the script for The Wizard of Oz died.

I am Fanny Cogan.

Despite the hate that killed me it is in love I will be remembered forever.

 

Source

Pinterest

Forevermissed.com

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The weird case of Violette Morris

viole

Of all stories relating to spies and collaborators during WWII this most be one of the most intriguing ones.

When I first read about Violette Morris and saw the date she died,26 April 1944, I assumed she was killed for being a member of the French resistance. Why I thought that I don’t know.

Born in France on 18 April 1893. She was a French athlete who won two gold and one silver medals at the Women’s World Games in 1922 and the Women’s Olympiad in 1924.

violette

She excelled in those sports that require strength and power such as shot put and javelin.However those weren’t the only sports she was involved in.

She partook in football,water polo ,road bicycle racing, motorcycle racing, airplane racing, horseback riding, tennis, archery, diving, swimming,weightlifting, and Greco-Roman wrestling,boxing and car racing.

She loved car racing so much that she had her breasts removed to fit better in the car.

car

She married Cyprien Edouard Joseph Gouraud on 22 August 1914 in Paris. They divorced in May 1923. She had served in World War I as a military nurse during the Battle of the Somme and a courier during the Battle of Verdun.

Although she had been married, she was attracted to women.

Her motto was “Anything A Man Can Do, Violette Can Do, Too”

Her lifestyle was of no shame to her. She lived as a man and made no secret of the fact that her lovers were women. This was considered really scandalous behaviour in 1920’s France.

In 1928, she was refused license renewal by the Fédération française sportive féminine and as a result was not allowed to compete in the 1928 Olympic Games.

Despite her being openly gay she had a big fan in Adolf Hitler. This one of the anomalies in the Nazi policies,according to the Nazi doctrine women could not be gay.

In 1935 she was approached an recruited by by the Sicherheitsdienst. On the personal behest she was invited to attend the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

1936

She provided the Nazi regime in Germany  with partial plans of the Maginot Line, detailed plans of strategic points within the city of Paris, and schematics of the French army’s main tank, the Somua S35. Her information was vital to the German invasion of Paris in 1940.

tank.JPG

After the Nazi invasion, Morris remained close to the Germans and started working for the French Gestapo, the Carlingue. She had the nickname, ‘The Hyena of the Gestapo,’ because apparently she got a lot of sadistic pleasure by torturing people and extracting information.

On 26 April 1944, when she went for a  drive in her Citroën Traction Avant car with two friends and their two children for a spin on a country road.

citoen

Her engine sputtered and the car came to a halt. Earlier tha day, the engine had been tampered with by  the French Resistance Maquis Surcouf group. Members of the group  then emerged from a hiding spot and opened fired on the car. Although Morris was the target, all five people in the car were killed. Morris’ body, riddled with bullets.

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The darker and also heroic side of Dior.

dior

I think mostly everyone has heard of the name Dior. The fashion house Dior is one of the most successful fashion houses in the world.

However there is a darker history behind the name and on the other hand also a tale of heroism is connected to the name. Especially the family’s history during WWII is a complicated one.

In 1937 Christian Dior was working for the designer Robert Piguet, but in September 1939 he was called up for military service because if the declaration of war.

Luckily enough  for him, his unit was not in the path of the German advance in May and June 1940 and he and his unit were demobilized quite soon after the French-German armistice on June 22nd, 1940. He stayed in the unoccupied of France for a while and did not return to Paris until 1941.

paris

In 1942 he joined the fashion house Lucien Lelong, where he worked closely together with legendary designer Pierre Balmain.

Dior designed dresses for the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators. Looking at that now it is easy to be judgmental about his fraternizing with the enemy,but other designers like Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin, and Nina Ricci did the same, people did what they felt they had to do to survive. They also wanted to ensure that the couture would remain in Paris

On the other hand there was Christian’s younger sister, Catherine Dior. In 1941 she joined “Massif Central’, a Resistance network which was set up in the summer of 1940. by Polish military intelligence officers in exile in France. and were  focused on gathering and transmitting intelligence about German troop movements and weapon production.Catherine had joined them as a courier. which was extremely dangerous.

In June 1944 she was caught and arrested by the Carlingue, the French members of the Gestapo sometimes referred to as Gestapistes. After Catherine was tortured by the Carlibgie she was put on one of the last trains out of Paris, which departed on August 15, just days before the liberation of the city, her destination was Ravensbruck concentration camp.

ravensbruck

Between the time of her arrest and the time of her deportation, Christian tried  to seek  release for his sister,  via the Nazi contacts he made at his job and also via the Swedish diplomat Raoul Nordling, who mediated in the release of prisoners in the past. Unfortunately the efforts bore no fruits.

But fate was in Catherine’s favor ,she had been put to work in a munitions factory in the camp and survived the war. She was liberated in April, 1945 and returned to Paris the following month.

After the was she received the Croix de Guerre, the Combatant Volunteer Cross of the Resistance, the Combatant’s Cross, the King’s Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom (from Britain), and being named a chevalière of the Légion d’Honneur.

Catherine also publicly distanced herself from the daughter of her other brother Raymond. Françoise Dior after the niece married Colin Jordan, a British Neo-Nazi leader.

niece

In November, 1952, Catherine was called to testify against 14 former members of the Carlingue before a military tribunal in Paris.Catherine helped to preserve her brother Christian’s legacy after his death in 1957, she was involved with the opening of the Dior Museum in Granville. Catherine died in 2008.

dior 2

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Sources

Fashionunfiltered.com

Jezebel.com

 

Mona Lisa smiles, but was she happy?

Mona Lisa

One of the most famous paintings, if not the most famous painting is the Mona Lisa,painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

In 1503 or 1504 Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint Lisa del Giocondo (nee Gherardini), the painting became known as the Mona Lisa. Aged 15, real-life Lisa Gherardini married Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo. a modestly successful cloth and silk merchant, becoming his third wife. Lisa’s dowry( the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to her husband or his family in marriage)was 170 florins and the San Silvestro farm near her family’s country home.

Francesco del Giocondo,regularly bought girls from North Africa and converted them to Christianity with many working as maids at the del Giocondo household. However there would have been too many to work in the household, it is therefor very likely he sold some of the girls as slaves.

husband

Lisa’s sister Camilla,  who was a nun, caused a scandal when she and some other nuns were accused of allowing four men to touch them indecently.

I wonder how much reasons did Lisa have to smile.

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Sources

Martin Kemp and Giuseppe Pallanti: Mona Lisa: The People and The Painting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Suitcase

suitcase

A suitcase has a significant meaning , it indicates a change, often temporary and sometimes for an extended time, but no one ever expects the symbol of the end of a life.

Many songs have the word suitcase in their lyrics and it is often in a sad context like in the Beatles son Lady Madonna the line says “Friday night arrives without a suitcase” indicating yet another weekend has come still trying to make ends meet, without getting a break.

But a suitcase can also bring excitement for there is an imminent journey, heading to perhaps exotic places. A break from the daily grind, time to refresh yourself.Or it can signify a new start beginning.

suitcase 2

The Nazi’s had one plan for the Jews and one plan only they referred to it as ‘die Endlösung” or “Final Solution”, the eradication of all Jews.But just killing them wasn’t good enough they also had to be humiliated. They were also given false hope. They were told they were going to be resettled to the east, where they would have a ‘new beginning’.

All they could take though was one suitcase, they were instructed to mark their suitcases for later identification..

I have thought about this , what would I take if I was told I could take only 1 suitcase?. I would pack some clothes but above everything else I would pack things which were dear to me, photographs, keepsakes of family members,heirlooms and in my case also music.

I am sure that most people would pack similar things.Many Jews also believed they would return to their homes after the nightmare which was World War 2 was over, they didn’t know they would end up in an even worse nightmare . the holocaust, and they would never see their belongings or loved ones again for they were murdered often in the most brutal way possible. And even for those who survived their belongings would have been spread all over the world, the Nazis made sure of that.

They had special units who were tasked and specialized in stealing all belongings of the Jews and emptying the homes of Jews. Units like the Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce.

seal 2

The stolen art would end up in places like Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris, which was used by the likes of Hermann Göring as an art Supermarket where he could go in and take whatever he fancied, without paying anything for it. He didn’t even mind taking the so called Degenerate art.

Jeu

His henchman ,the art dealer Bruno Lohse, would ensure to get a good price for the stolen goods making himself and Göring wealthy men. Unlike Göring who committed suicide before he could be sentenced, Lohse would live a long and comfortable life, he died in 2007 aged 95. A few weeks after his death in May 2007, the seizure of a secret Zurich bank vault registered to Schönart Anstalt ( which had been under Lohse’s control since 1978) turned up a valuable Camille Pissarro painting stolen by the Gestapo from the Fischer family in 1938 when they fled the Nazis and left Vienna, as well as paintings of uncertain provenance by Monet and Renoir.

pisarro

Still to this day stolen jewelry,art and furniture is showing up and sold on antique markets all over Germany and other European countries.

Even the possibility to pass family belongings to future generations was denied to those who were murdered in the concentration camps and the death camps, often all that remains to remind us that they even existed is a suitcase with a name written on it.

Leon

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Django’s lucky escape

Django

The title of this blog is not referring to a Western film, it is actually referring to an extraordinary event during WWII.

Django Reinhard is one of my favourite guitarists it is actually because of him (and Jim Croce) I picked up a guitar myself. Although I am an admirer of his music and even more his style of playing I didn’t know too much about Django during WWII. I had always assumed he had escaped Europe on time.

It was only after watching a documentary on BBC 4 called Tunes for Tyrants, presented by Suzy Klein, I discovered that Django not only survived the war he also thrived.

You may think “What is so extraordinary about that?” Django was a Belgian born Roma French jazz guitarist. Three words in the last line is what makes it extraordinary, Roma Jazz Guitarist.

Roma’s were persecuted in Nazi occupied Europe, about 1 million Roma-Gypsies perished in extermination camps or as a result of forced labour.

Jazz was considered degenerate music in the Third Reich.

degenerate

However Jazz was allowed in Paris, because Hitler did not care about the ‘spiritual well being’ of the French. Django had lived in the UK before the war but had returned to Paris when the war broke out in 1939,leaving his wife behind and eventually divorcing her.

In 1943, Reinhardt married Sophie Ziegler in Salbris. The could had a son, Babik Reinhardt.

Because Django and his family were Roma, he tried to escape Nazi occupied France, His first attempt failed he and his family were caught ,but lady luck smiled on them for a Luftwaffe officer Dietrich Schulz-Köhn,who was an ardent Jazz fan and knew Django and his music, allowed Django and his family return to Paris. If Köhn would not have done that the Reinhard family would have surely ended up in a concentration camp.

Django remained nervous though for he knew there was always a chance that he’d still be arrested some day and be sent away. Although he did attempt to flee France again, he was send back at the Swiss border.

He remained in Paris and his music was enjoyed by the Parisians but also by the Nazis. Django actually managed to make quite a bit of money during those years. One of his songs, “Nuages,” did  become an unofficial anthem in Paris to signify hope for liberation.

He did change his musical direction somewhat though, because Jazz although allowed in Paris was still considered degenerate music, and the laisse faire attitude the Nazis in Paris had towards it  could change any minute. He attempted to  He tried to write a Mass for the Gypsies and a symphony.

Django guitar

I would really recommend watching the 3 part documentary series ‘Tunes for Tyrants’ on BBC 4. It gives a great overview of the musical history during the world war 2 era and the years before it.

Ending this blog withe the aforementioned “Nuages”

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How Curious George nearly didn’t make it.

george

I don’t think there is anyone on the planet who hasn’t heard of Curious George, you may not have read the books or watched the cartoons or movies, but you will recognize the iconic Chimpanzee when you see him.

Although it is an iconic children’s book character and has a strong brand recognition, it could have easily been a different story, His origin tells a story of luck but indirectly also a tale of a false sense of security.

Curious George was written by H.A Rey and his wife Margret.

Rey

Hans Augusto Reyersbach was born in September 1898 in Hamburg , Germany,near the world-famous Hagenbeck Zoo, which gave him a lifelong love for animals and drawing.  His wife Margret was born on May  16 1906 also in Hamburg, her father Felix Waldstein had been a member of the Reichstag. the German parliament from 1871 to 1918. Hans and Margret both Jewish. The two first met in Hamburg at the 16th birthday party of Margret’s sister. They met again in Brazil, where Hans had a job as a bathtubs salesman Margret had moved to Brazil to escape the rise of Nazism in Germany. On August 16, 1935 they got married and went to Paris on their honeymoon, they fell in love with the place and decided to stay there.

Although Hitler had come to power in Germany it is apparent that the Rey’s felt safe in their new home, as most of the Parisians and the rest of France felt. Although the French were anxious of the developments in Germany, they did not envisage any danger to come from their eastern neighbour.

While in Paris, Hans’s animal drawings were noticed by a French publisher, who commissioned Hans  to write a children’s book. The book was to be” Rafi. and the Nine Monkeys” or “Rafi et les neuf singes” in French. It was published in 1939.

9 monkes.JPG

One of the characters in the book was George, although he was called Fifi in the French version. Hans Rey thought that George deserved a book of his own.

But alas, war broke out.

On June 10, 1940, German troops were a few days away from Paris. People were trying to flee by  every way possible, cars,bicycles or whatever they could find. The Rey’s had left it a bit late but they managed to get 2 bikes.In fact Ray built the bikes himself, he had bought enough spare parts for 2 bicycles.

They left Paris only a few hours before it fell. Among the few possessions they were able to bring was the illustrated manuscript of Curious George.

Their journey  took them to Bayonne, France.On June 20, 1940.They crossed the Spanish border, where they purchased train tickets to Lisbon. Because they still had Brazilian passport  they returned to Brazil, they journeyed on from Brazil to New York.

The couple soon went to Houghton Mifflin publishers , they bought the manuscript for $1,000 and an additional three stories. The only demand  was that they change the name of Fifi to George.

The rest is history.

So next time you read a Curious George story yourself or to your children or other youngsters, remember that George nearly didn’t make it.

george fifi

 

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I Color the sky

himmel fab

I Color the sky, that is what my name says Himmelfarb,Sky Color

But I can’t really color anything

I am only 2 I am from Paris

Paris, the city of love, But not for me. I was taken from there.

I am only 2 and I don’t know how any one could hate me.

In my prettiest dress and a beautiful flower I look like an Angel.

That doesn’t matter though because to some I am a nobody.

I am only 2, a whole life still to pursue

Not me though, 2 is what I’ll always be.

I am only 2,my name Camille Himmelfarb Sarnacka, murdered in Auschwitz in 1942.

 

 

The Eiffel Tower

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On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower was dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower’s designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and 200 construction workers.

The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building, and the tallest structure in Paris. Its base is square, measuring 125 metres (410 ft) on each side. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished in 1930.

chrysler-building-and-new-york-city-cityscape-136126153-58eb9a7c5f9b58ef7e288f61

To give another indication of its height the highest summit in the Netherlands is Vaalserberg which is 2 meters lower then the Eiffel tower.

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Both buildings have been surpassed throughout the years by many other buildings. The Eiffel tower however has remained its iconic status.

Below are some pictures if the Eiffel tower throughout the ages.

20 March 1888: Completion of the first level.Construction_tour_eiffel3

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, left, explores the completed tower with a friend.eiffel_tower_under_construction_8

The Eiffel Tower during the Nazi occupation, 1940The Eiffel Tower during the Nazi occupation, 1940

Adolf Hitler visits Paris with architect Albert Speer (left) and artist Arno Breker (right), June 23, 1940.adolf_hitler_in_paris_1940

American soldiers watch the French flag flying on the Eiffel Tower, c. 25 August 1944American_soldiers_watch_as_the_Tricolor_flies_from_the_Eiffel_Tower_again

A. Citroen DS 19 in front of the Eiffel Tower, 1960sans-titre-1.6607

Zazie in the metro poses in front of the Eiffel Tower – 196017bcc7ab99fa7b3e45349c48ec273bfd

Paris to protect Eiffel Tower from terror attacks with 8ft bullet-proof glass wallnintchdbpict000253386959

 

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There are no monsters under my bed

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There are no monsters under my bed who want to hurt me or do me harm

There are no monsters under my bed, but I wish there were for I know they aren’t real.

There are no monsters under my bed, but there are monsters everywhere else.

The monsters can be a stranger, a teacher, a neighbor or a friend.

The monsters don’t look scary or ugly. They are well dressed and are well to do.

The monsters even wear uniforms designed by well known designers.

The monsters don’t really know me and yet they want me dead.

The monsters, are they afraid of me? Am I a monster to them?

The monsters they now know who I am, they now know my name. It’s Rachel Narcyz age 11 from Paris.

The monsters put me on a train to a camp called Auschwitz.

But here is the thing, they are not monsters. They are human beings, they need oxygen just like I do. They need food and sleep. They speak the same language and read the same books, Some of them even pretend to care.

They are not monsters, they are human just like me. But I am dead.

There are no monsters under my bed.

 

Picture source

Yad Vashem