The young people who fought back.

 

I have many weaknesses ,one of them is that I have a very low tolerance or even no tolerance for people who have a warped sense of entitlement. I know I shouldn’t be intolerant and just rise above it , but I find that very hard at times.

Especially when it comes to the snowflake generation or millennials. A millennial is described  as “a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.Or people born between the years of 1981 to 1998. I have to say not all of these people do have that sense of entitlement, there are many very decent people among them. It is only a minority of millennials but is a very vocal minority, They appear to have a problem for every solution. Generally they have not experienced any hardships but yet they claim their lives are much worse then that of the generation before them.

Then I come across stories of extremely brave young people like Mordechai Anielewicz,Mira Fuchrer and Rachel (Sarenka) Zylberberg(all pictured above)zob

These 3 young people ,who were in the same age bracket as the millenials, all died this day 76 years ago in Warsaw, May 8,1943. They were all members of the  Jewish Combat Organizationor ZOB in Polish), a resistance movement in occupied Poland, which was instrumental in engineering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

 

The youth groups that were instrumental in forming the ŻOB had anticipated German intentions to annihilate Warsaw Jewry and began to shift from an educational and cultural focus to self-defense and eventual armed struggle

Their headquarters  was a bunker based on Ulica Miła 18 (or 18 Pleasant Street in English)

I am not going too much into the details of the group. I leave that up to all of you to do the homework on that, Because there is so much information on them.

Suffice to say that Mordechai Anielewicz was the leader of the ZOB and Mira Fuchrer was his girlfiend. Together with their friend Rachel  Zylberberg they played a pivotal role in the uprising at the cost of their lives.

On the 8th of May they were in the bunker with a group of about 120 fighters, when the bunker was discovered.s They were surrounded by the Nazis but the young resistance  fighters refused to surrender. Many of them committed suicide.

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These heroes should never be forgotten.

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Punks in WWII

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Before you start thinking that this will be a blog about Punk bands like the Sex Pistols singing about WWII, you’d be wrong. In fact it has nothing to do with Punk music but more about Jazz.

I am referring to Punk as a rebellion against the establishment. During WWII there were 2 groups very similar in how they rebelled against the Nazi regime, the Swingjugend in Germany and the Zazou in France. Unlike the Punk movement in the 70’s, the Zazou and the Swingjugend could actually risk their lives or be sent to a concentration camp for their rebellion.

Swingjugend

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As the Nazi Party took power in Germany in 1933, a complete crackdown on all “subversive” elements took hold. Having dealt with his political opponents in the years prior to his rise to the chancellorship, Hitler intended to finish the job by eradicating all potential opposition.

But in the schools and out on the streets, a silent flame tingled. Teenagers were rejecting the strict militarism and code of behavior bestowed by the Nazi Party through its youth organizations―the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls

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This proved to be unsuccessful, because instead of embracing the Hitler Youth pastimes, city girls and boys crowded the swing dance joints.[2] This seemed to be the case particularly in the town of Hamburg, where the swing scene was huge.

The Swingjugend rejected the Nazi state, above all because of its ideology and uniformity, its militarism, the ‘Führer principle’ and the leveling Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community). They experienced a massive restriction of their personal freedom. They rebelled against all this with jazz and swing, which stood for a love of life, self-determination, non-conformism, freedom, independence, liberalism, and internationalism.

 

Though they were not an organized political-opposition organization, the whole culture of the Swing Kids evolved into a non-violent refusal of the civil order and culture of National Socialism.

From a paper of the National Youth Leader:

The members of the Swing youth oppose today’s Germany and its police, the Party and its policy, the Hitlerjugend, work and military service, and are opposed, or at least indifferent, to the ongoing war. They see the mechanisms of National Socialism as a “mass obligation”. The greatest adventure of all times leaves them indifferent; much to the contrary, they long for everything that is not German, but English.

From 1941, the violent repression by the Gestapo and the Hitlerjugend shaped the political spirit of the swing youth. Also, by police order, people under 21 were forbidden to go to dance bars, which encouraged the movement to seek its survival by going underground.

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The Swing Kids of Hamburg at some point had contacts with another famous resistance movement, when three members of the White Rose (German: Weiße Rose) developed a sympathy for the Swing Kids. No formal cooperation arose, though these contacts were later used by the Volksgerichtshof (“People’s Court”) to accuse some Swing Kids of anarchist propaganda and sabotage of the armed forces. The consequent trial, death sentences and executions were averted by the end of the war.

On 18 August 1941, in a brutal police operation, over 300 Swingjugend were arrested. The measures against them ranged from cutting their hair and sending them back to school under close monitoring, to the deportation of the leaders to concentration camps. The boys went to the Moringen concentration camp while the girls were sent to Ravensbruck.[10]

This mass arrest encouraged the youth to further their political consciousness and opposition to National Socialism. They started to distribute anti-fascist propaganda. In January 1943, Günter Discher, as one of the ringleaders of the Swing Kids, was deported to the youth concentration camp of Moringen.

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On 2 January 1942, Heinrich Himmler wrote to Reinhard Heydrich calling on him to clamp down on the ringleaders of the swing movement, recommending a few years in a concentration camp with beatings and forced labor:

The crackdown soon followed: clubs were raided, and participants were hauled off to camps.

Zazou

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In France a similar movement like Germany’s Swingjugend arose by the name Zazou.The zazous were a subculture in France during World War II. They were young people expressing their individuality by wearing big or garish clothing (similar to the zoot suit fashion in America a few years before).

On March 27 1942, France’s Vichy government issued the barbershop decree, demanding that barbers collect cut hair and donate it to the war effort to make slippers and sweaters. The rebellious Zazous refused and grew their hair long. The Zazous were directly inspired by jazz and swing music. A healthy black jazz scene had sprung up in Montmartre in the inter-war years. Their name  was inspired by a line in a song – Zah Zuh Zah – by Cab Calloway

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Vichy had started ‘Youth Worksites’ in July 1940, in what Zazous perceived as an attempt to indoctrinate French youth.  The Vichy regime was very concerned about the education, moral fibre and productivity of French youth. In 1940 a Ministry of Youth was established. They saw the Zazous as a rival and dangerous influence on youth.

In 1940, 78 anti-Zazou articles were published in the press, a further nine in 1941 and 38 in 1943.

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The Vichy papers deplored the moral turpitude and decadence that was affecting French morality. Zazous were seen as work-shy, egotistical and Judeo-Gaullist shirkers.

By 1942 the Vichy regime realised that the national revival that they hoped would be carried out by young people under their guidance was seriously affected by widespread rejection of the patriotism, work ethic, self-denial, asceticism and masculinity this called for.

Soon, round-ups began in bars and Zazous were beaten on the street. They became Enemy Number One of the fascist youth organisations, Jeunesse Populaire Française. “Scalp the Zazous!” became their slogan. Squads of young JPF fascists armed with hairclippers attacked Zazous. Many were arrested and sent to the countryside to work on the harvest.

At this point the Zazous went underground, holing up in their dance halls and basement clubs.

Though they did not suffer like their contemporaries in Germany, nevertheless, in a society of widespread complicity and acquiescence, their stand was courageous and trail-blazing.

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Sources

Queens of Vintage

Timelne

Libcom

Special thank you to Norman Stone who pointed me to the story of the Zazou.

Learning German via Radio in WWII

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At the moment there is a lot of talk how social media is used to distribute propaganda, but the widespread of propaganda is nothing new.

The ‘social media’  during WWII was the radio. About 18 months after the Germans invaded the Netherlands they started broadcasting German language course programs.

During World War II radio listening was restricted in the Netherlands In 1940 the Dutch were forbidden to listen to foreign broadcasting and Dutch broadcasting- organizations were censored by the Germans. The VARA was the first organization to openly protest against the Germans when they had to report about a march of the Dutch Nazi-organization NSB.

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Broadcasting of English and American songs was forbidden in January 1941. The grip of the Nazis on the programming was increasing, they ordered to broadcast Aryan “Auflagesendungen” (mass-produced programs) like the music programs with German titles : “Gruss aus der Heimat” (greetings from the fatherland) and “Wunschconcerte” (request concert).
The Dutch society protested against the German rule and persecution of the Jews with the “February-strike” of 1941. After this the Germans let no more room for talking. On 9 March 1941 the broadcasting organizations were dismantled, and a German propaganda-station “De Netherlands Omroep” (Dutch for: Dutch Broadcasting Organization) was founded. The personal and property of were taken over by “De Netherlands Omroep”.

On Sunday 5 October 1941 listeners readied themselves with a textbook for their first German lesson, broadcast on a Dutch radio station from the city of Hilversum. Alfred Rügner began by telling his audience a little something about German pronunciation.

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But this wasn’t any ordinary German lesson: this was about teaching National Socialist German. Those following the course learned military terms, translated the Nazi slogan-of-the-week and penned Hitler’s words to paper.

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The lessons in the book were interspersed with antisemitic illustrations and drawings of soldiers and members of the NSB (Dutch Nazi Party). As the war progressed, the Germans interfered with Dutch radio programming more and more. By mid-1941, all of the Dutch stations were incorporated into one Rijksradio (State-controlled) broadcaster. From then on, the propaganda transmitted via the radio simply continued to increase.

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Many Dutch listened with their hidden radios to the Dutch broadcasts of “Radio Orange” from England. The BBC was also very popular. Being caught with a hidden radio or listening to either the BBC or Radio Orange could result in a death penalty.

Onderduikers luisteren naar radio-uitzendingen uit Engeland.
With “wire-broadcasting” the Nazis could control the programs which were passed on. Wire-broadcasting (in Dutch “Draadomroep” or “Radio-distribute”) was the only radio which was allowed. During the last months of the war the Dutch could listen to “Radio Herrijzend Netherlands” from the liberated parts of the country.

Donation

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” Sources

NIOD

KMLA

 

 

Gabrielle Weidner-Forgotten Hero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Sources

Adventistreview.org

Raoulwallenberg.net

The Dutch Jews who fought back

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In the Netherlands, the only pre-war group that immediately started resistance against the German occupation was the communist party. During the first two war years, it was by far the biggest resistance organization, much bigger than all other organizations put together. A major act of resistance was the organisation of the February strike in 1941, in protest against anti-Jewish measures.

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In this resistance, many Jews participated. About 1,000 Dutch Jews took part in resisting the Germans, and of those, 500 perished in doing so.

Among the first Jewish resisters was the German fugitive Ernst Cahn, owner of an ice cream parlor. Together with his partner, Kohn, he had an ammonia gas cylinder installed in the parlor to stave off attacks from the militant arm of the fascist NSB, the so-called “Weerafdeling”(“WA”). One day in February 1941 the German police forced their entrance into the parlor, and were gassed. Later, Cahn was caught and on March 3, 1941 he became the first civilian to be executed by a Nazi firing squad in the Netherlands.

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Benny Bluhm, a boxer, organized Jewish fighting parties consisting of members of his boxing school to resist attacks. One of these brawls led to the death of a WA-member, H. Koot, and subsequently the Germans ordered the first Dutch razzia (police raid) of Jews as a reprisal. That in turn led to the Februaristaking, the February Strike.

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Bluhm’s groupBluhm-Benny was the only Jewish group resisting the Germans in the Netherlands and the first active group of resistance fighters in the Netherlands. Bluhm survived the war, and strove for a monument for the Jewish resisters that came about two years after his death in 1986.

Numerous Jews participated in resisting the Germans. The Jewish director of the assembly center in the “Hollandsche Schouwburg”, a former theatre, Walter Süskind, was instrumental in smuggling children out of his centre. He was aided by his assistant Jacques van de Kar and the director of the nearby crèche, Mrs Pimentel.

Within the underground communist party, a militant group was formed: de Nederlandse Volksmilitie (NVM, Dutch Peoples Militia). The leader was Sally (Samuel) Dormits, who had military experience from guerrilla warfare in Brazil and participation in the Spanish Civil War.

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This organisation was formed in The Hague but became mainly located in Rotterdam. It counted about 200 mainly Jewish participants. They made several bomb attacks on German troop trains and arson attacks on cinemas, which were forbidden for Jews. Dormits was caught after stealing a handbag off a woman in order to obtain an identification card for his Jewish girlfriend, who also participated in the resistance. Dormits committed suicide in the police station by shooting himself through the head. From a cash ticket of a shop the police found the hiding place of Dormits and discovered bombs, arson material, illegal papers, reports about resistance actions and a list of participants. The Gestapo was warned immediately and that day two hundred people were arrested, followed by many more connected people in Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam.

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The Dutch police participated in torturing the Jewish communists. After a trial more than 20 were shot to death; most of the others died in concentration camps or were gassed in Auschwitz. Only a few survived.

The trail left behind by Dormits also let ti the textile factory Hollandia Kattenburg where soem of the suspects were arrested and sentenced to death. Additionally 367 Jewish labourers of the factory were deported together with their families to Westerbork transit camp, in total there were 826 persons.

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Jan Campert-“The Song of the Eighteen Dead” a WW2 Hero.

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On January 12, 1942 at 13:30 Jan Campert died in the Neuengamme concentration camp of pleurisy.

Most people will never have heard of this man,  he was born on August 15 1902 in Spijkenisse a town near Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

He was a journalist, theater critic and writer who lived in Amsterdam.During the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II Campert was arrested for aiding Jews. He was held in the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he died.

Campert is best known for his poem “De achttien dooden ” (“The Eighteen Dead”), describing the execution of 18 resistance workers (15 resistance fighters and 3 communists) by the German occupier. Written in 1941 and based on an account published in Het Parool, the poem was clandestinely published in 1943 as a poetry card (“rijmprent”) by what would become publishing house De Bezige Bij to raise money to hide Jewish children.

Below is the English translation of the poem followed by the original Dutch version.

The Song of the Eighteen Dead

A cell is but six feet long
and hardly six feet wide,
yet smaller is the patch of ground,
that I now do not yet know,
but where I nameless come to lie,
my comrades all and one,
we eighteen were in number then,
none shall the evening see come.

O loveliness of light and land,
of Holland’s so free coast,
once by the enemy overrun
could I no moment more rest.
What can a man of honor and trust
do in a time like this?
He kisses his child, he kisses his wife
and fights the noble fight.

I knew the task that I began,
a task with hardships laden,
the heart that couldn’t let it be
but shied not away from danger;
it knows how once in this land
freedom was everywhere cherished,
before the cursed transgressor’s hand
had willed it otherwise.

Before the oath can brag and break
existed this wretched place
that the lands of Holland did invade
and for ransom her ground has held;
Before the appeal to honor is made
and such Germanic comfort
our people forced under their control
and looted as a thief.

The Catcher of Rats who lives in Berlin
sounds now his melody,—
as true as I shortly dead shall be
my dearest no longer see
and no longer shall the bread be broke
and share a bed with her—
reject all he offers now and ever
that sly trapper of birds.

For all who these words thinks to read
my comrades in great need
and those who stand by them through all
in their adversity tall,
just as we have thought and thought
on our own land and people—
a day does shine after every night,
as every cloud must pass.

I see how the first morning light
through the high window falls.
My God, make my dying light—
and so I have failed
just as each of us can fail,
pour me then Your grace,
that I may like a man then go
if I a squadron must face.

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Het Lied der Achttien Dooden

Een cel is maar twee meter lang
en nauw twee meter breed,
wel kleiner nog is het stuk grond,
dat ik nu nog niet weet,
maar waar ik naamloos rusten zal,
mijn makkers bovendien,
wij waren achttien in getal,
geen zal den avond zien.

O lieflijkheid van licht en land,
van Holland’s vrije kust,
eens door den vijand overmand
had ik geen uur meer rust.
Wat kan een man oprecht en trouw,
nog doen in zulk een tijd?
Hij kust zijn kind, hij kust zijn vrouw
en strijdt den ijdlen strijd.

Ik wist de taak die ik begon,
een taak van moeiten zwaar,
maar’t hart dat het niet laten kon
schuwt nimmer het gevaar;
het weet hoe eenmaal in dit land
de vrijheid werd geeerd,
voordat een vloekbre schennershand
het anders heeft begeerd.

Voordat die eeden breekt en bralt
het miss’lijk stuk bestond
en Holland’s landen binnenvalt
en brandschat zijnen grond;
voordat die aanspraak maakt op eer
en zulk Germaansch gerief
ons volk dwong onder zijn beheer
en plunderde als een dief.

De Rattenvanger van Berlijn
pijpt nu zijn melodie,—
zoo waar als ik straks dood zal zijn
de liefste niet meer zie
en niet meer breken zal het brood
en slapen mag met haar—
verwerp al wat hij biedt of bood
die sluwe vogelaar.

Gedenkt die deze woorden leest
mijn makkers in den nood
en die hen nastaan ‘t allermeest
in hunnen rampspoed groot,
gelijk ook wij hebben gedacht
aan eigen land en volk –
er daagt een dag na elken nacht,
voorbij trekt iedre wolk.

Ik zie hoe’t eerste morgenlicht
door ‘t hooge venster draalt.
Mijn God, maak mij het sterven licht-
en zoo ik heb gefaald
gelijk een elk wel falen kan,
schenk mij dan Uw gena,
opdat ik heenga als een man
als ‘k voor de loopen sta.

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Be strong and be brave- 4 Heroines

Ala Gertner, Róża Robota, Regina Szafirsztajn and Estera Wajcblum, more then likely these names mean nothing to you. But these 4 young women showed a bravery that would make the bravery of any hardened warrior pale in comparison.

These 4 women were all members of the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz-Birkenau

The Sonderkommando were Jewish prisoners who worked the death camps in return for special treatment and privileges. Every few months, the current sonderkommando was liquidated and the first task of their successors was to dispose of the bodies of the previous group. Since a sonderkommando usually comprised men from incoming transports, their second task often consisted of disposing of the bodies of their own families.

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By 1943, the four women named above were all imprisoned in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Three of the women, Ala, Regina and Estera, were assigned to work in the munitions factory adjacent to Auschwitz. Recruited by Róża Robota, who worked in Auschwitz’s clothing depot (known as “Canadakommando,” these men and women had the awful task of sorting through the clothing discarded by murdered Jews)recruited them to smuggle minute quantities of gunpowder out of the factory.

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This they did, almost daily, smuggling the powder in secret pockets sewn into their camp issued dresses, even under their nails. Róża would then collect the powder, wrap it in small rags and send it through the underground network of the camp.

On October 7th, 1944, at about 3 in the afternoon, the Poles in Crematorium 1 begin the revolt. Hungarians in Crematoria 3 and 4 join in while the sonderkommando of Crematorium 2 break through the wires of the camp. An especially sadistic Nazi guard in Crematorium 1 is disarmed and stuffed into an oven to be burned alive. Small arms fire rattles from the second floor of the crematoria until the Germans bring in heavy machine guns and riddle the wooden roof.

The guards counterattack and penetrate the buildings, indiscriminately shooting at all prisoners they encounter. The sonderkommando in Crematorium 4 drag their demolition charges into the oven rooms and detonate them in a defiant suicide. The revolt is quickly suppressed and the escaped men recaptured with the help of local citizens. Approximately 200 sonderkommando are forced to lie face down outside the crematoria where they are executed with single shots to the back of the head. Some of the men are spared for interrogation, but the bodies of the 12th Sonderkommando are soon disposed of by the 13th Sonderkommando.

The men give up names, including those of some women who were engaged in smuggling gunpowder. Despite months of beatings and rape and electric shocks to their genitals, the only names given up by the women are those of already dead sonderkommando.

On January 5, 1945, the four women are hanged in front of the assembled women’s camp. Roza Robota shouts “Be strong and be brave” as the trapdoor drops.

Crematorium 4 was damaged beyond repair and never used again. On November 7th, 1944, the Nazis destroyed the gas chambers to hide their crimes. Twelve days after the hanging of the four women, the camp personnel forced 56,000 prisoners on a Death March into what remained of the Third Reich; 7,500 prisoners left behind were liberated by advancing Soviet armies on January 27th.

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Maurice Bavaud and the Swiss government’s lack of courage.

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There have been many attempts to assassinate Hitler, bizarrely enough they all failed.The attempt by Maurice Bavaud is one of the lesser known ones, Partially because it was overshadowed by the events unfolding due to the ‘Kristallnacht-Night of Broken glass’

Student Maurice Bavaud, 25, who was from the western Swiss town of Neuchatel, was executed in Berlin’s notorious Ploetzensee prison after failing in his attempt to shoot Hitler at a Nazi parade in Munich on Nov. 9, 1938.

Bavaud was a Catholic theology student, attending the Saint Ilan Seminary, Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, and a member of an anti-communist student group in France called Compagnie du Mystère. The group’s leader, Marcel Gerbohay, had a lot of influence over Bavaud. Gerbohay claimed that he was a member of the Romanov Dynasty, and convinced Bavaud that when communism was destroyed, the Romanovs would once again rule Russia, in the person of Gerbohay.

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Bavaud believed what Gerbohay had told him, became obsessed with the idea that killing Hitler would help the plans to materialise, and finally decided to carry out the assassination himself.

On October 9, 1938, Bavaud travelled from Brittany to Baden-Baden, then on to Basel, where he bought a Schmeisser 6.35 mm (.25 ACP) semi-automatic pistol.

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In Berlin, a policeman, Karl Deckert, overheard Bavaud saying that he would like to meet Hitler personally. Deckert advised Bavaud that a private audience could be arranged if Bavaud could obtain a letter of introduction from a suitable foreign VIP. Deckert advised him to travel to Munich for the anniversary of the 1923 “Beer Hall Putsch”, which Hitler attended every year. Bavaud followed those instructions by buying a ticket for a seat on the reviewing stand by posing as a Swiss reporter, intending to shoot Hitler as the latter passed during the parade. Bavaud abandoned this attempt when, on November 9th, Hitler turned out to be marching in the company of other Nazi leaders whom Bavaud did not want to injure.

Bavaud next purchased expensive stationery and forged a letter of introduction in the name of the French nationalist leader Pierre Taittinger, which claimed that Bavaud had a second letter for Hitler’s eyes only. He travelled to Berchtesgaden in the belief that Hitler had returned there, only to find that Hitler was still in Munich. When Bavaud returned to Munich, he discovered that Hitler was just leaving for Berchtesgaden.

Obersalzberg, Berghof von Adolf Hitler

Having exhausted his money, Bavaud stowed away on a train to Paris, where he was discovered by a conductor who turned him over to the police. He was interrogated by the Gestapo and admitted his plans to assassinate Hitler.

Bavaud was tried by the Volksgerichtshof on December 18, 1939, naming as his motives that he considered Hitler a danger to humanity in general, to Swiss independence, and to Catholicism in Germany. Swiss diplomacy made no effort to save Bavaud; Hans Fröhlicher, the Swiss ambassador to Germany even publicly condemned Bavaud’s assassination attempt. An offer from the Germans to exchange Bavaud for a German spy was turned down, and Bavaud was sentenced to death. He was executed by guillotine in the Berlin-Plötzensee prison on the morning of May 14, 1941.

On November 2 2007 the then Swiss President Pascal Couchepin admitted  that the Swiss government at the time could have done more to defend Maurice Bavaud.

“With hindsight, the then Swiss authorities did too little to intervene on behalf of the condemned person… he deserves our recognition,” Couchepin said.

“Bavaud anticipated the disaster Hitler would wreak upon the world. Switzerland failed him.”

The government announcement came in response to a motion by parliamentarian Paul Rechsteiner.800px-Paul_Rechsteiner_(2007)

“Even though it was only the end of 1938, he understood what Hitler would mean and took his statements seriously – even if politicians around the world didn’t,” Rechsteiner said.

As for the Swiss authorities’ reaction, Rechsteiner blames a “lack of courage”.

“The case resembles that of Paul Grüninger, who saved hundreds, maybe thousands, of lives but who wasn’t rehabilitated until 1995,” he said.

Grüninger was a police commander in St Gallen who was prosecuted for forging documents that allowed Jewish refugees into Switzerland.
https://dirkdeklein.net/2017/10/27/paul-gruningerpunished-for-being-a-decent-human-being/
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“Swiss history has to be looked at in a new way and we must pay tribute to those people who had the courage to do something.”

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The mouse that roared-When Luxembourg said no to the Nazis

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Following the German invasion of Luxembourg on May 10, 1940, Luxembourg was briefly placed under military occupation. On August 2, 1940, the military government was dissolved and replaced by a civilian government under the leadership of the German civilian administrator of the adjoining German district.

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The Luxembourg population was declared to be German and was to use German as its only language; the German authorities, under the orders of the Gauleiter Gustav Simon, developed a robust policy of germanization.

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In August 1942, German authorities announced the formal annexation of Luxembourg by the Third Reich into Nazi Germany. Following the announcement was a program of ‘Germanization,’ or the forceful imposition of the German language. At all levels of the administration, important positions went to German nationals and very rapidly the Nazi Party machinery assumed far-reaching control of all aspects of social and family life.

Luxemburg, Himmler mit Offizier der Waffen-SS

On August 30, Gustav Simon announced that all Luxembourger males of military age were to be conscripted into the Wehrmacht to fight against Allies. It was this decision that motivated the people of Luxembourg from anger to action, sticking to their national motto, “Mir woelle bleiwe waat mir sinn” (We want to remain what we are).

The Luxembourg population responded quickly against the forced conscription. Within hours citizens began organizing a general strike. On August 31, the strike officially began in the town of Wiltz. Local town officials, Michel Worré and Nicolas Müller, gathered other officials and refused to go to work. Slowly they were joined by other workers as the movement spread. Leaflets were printed and distributed secretly throughout the country.

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Soon after the striking in Wiltz, workers from the southwestern industrial towns of Schifflange and Differdange were alerted and also refused to go to work. In Schifflange, Hans Adam, a worker of German origins sounded an alarm across the valley to alert all workers. In Differdange, news of the strike spread by word of mouth and increased in intensity. On September 2, over 150 Differdange mill workers refused to take their shifts, inciting death threats from the German director of the mill. Approximately 50 workers still refused and declared that they were on strike.

The strike spread also to Esch-sur-Alzette, the capital of the Luxembourg mining area. Here, all aspects of the economic life were paralyzed, including administration, agriculture, industry, and education structures. The central post office in Luxembourg received formal confirmation of the strike soon after. Few mailbags were even opened as a mere semblance of work continued. At the approach of any German employee, the postal workers dispersed back to their work-places and pretended to work. Only letters and packages clearly addressed to Luxembourgers who had been deported to Germany for forced labor, were handled with care.

Throughout the country, schoolchildren were kept away from school, teachers refused to teach, laborers refused to work, there was little or no production of steel, milk, and other products. News outlets in Allied countries began covering the protest as the first general strike to be held in a German-occupied territory. For the rest of the world, it exposed German propaganda, which claimed that the people of Luxembourg were voluntarily joining German forces.

German authorities, alert to any sign of resistance and fearing further escalation of protests, mobilized immediately. An order declaring a state of emergency and introducing martial law was signed by the Chief of Civil Administration, Gustav Simon, threatening that strikers were to be immediately shot.

Beginning September 1, German officials began arresting strike leaders. Within days, 21 leaders, many of whom were teachers, were arrested for interrogation and then executed. This group included six leaders from the Differdange mill and Michel Worré and Nicolas Müller, from Wiltz. Most were tried by a military tribunal, sentenced to death, and deported to the Hinzert concentration camp were they were shot.

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According to a German officer who witnessed the executions of Worré and Müller, their lasts words were, “Vive Lëtzebuerg” (Long live Luxembourg!). Hans Adam, who had sounded the alarm in Schifflange and had German origins, was considered to be a traitor and was decapitated. Many of the leaders’ families were sent to prison and work camps in Germany.

At least 200 other Luxembourgers were arrested. Over 80 were further tried by the special tribunal and transferred to the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police. Hundreds of high school children were arrested and send to re-education camps in Germany along with several dozen industrial worker trainees and several young postmen.

There is little information available about any further organized striking after German suppression. The strike was effectively halted. A series of posters were later posted throughout Luxembourg announcing the death of the strikers as a consequence of the strike, bearing the names, occupation, and residency of each victim. Although the exact number of strikers is unknown, the movement did mark Luxembourg’s resistance to the German occupation, gaining attention worldwide.

Of the Luxembourger men drafted for service in the German Wehrmacht, about forty percent refused and went into hiding, half of them within the country’s borders. Some escaped to Britain and joined the Allied forces to fight against Germany and the Axis powers.

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After the 1942 general strike, German occupation continued to repress the Luxembourger people. Thousands were arrested and tortured and hundreds died in concentration camps. Whole families were deported to East Germany and replaced by German families.

(The names of the victims of the strike who were executed at Hinzert are among those inscribed on a catafalque at the site of the concentration camp)

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The forged identity cards that saved lives.

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Most of the Holocaust related stories are bitter tragedies,however every once in a while a positive tale of survival during the world’s darkest era pops up.

On 8 October 1941, the Jewish cattle dealer Salli Schwarz narrowly escaped a roundup on Molenstraat in the town of Winterswijk,the Nerherlands.. Sneaking through backyard after backyard, he embarked on a journey that would last the rest of the war. Salli, followed by his wife Betty and daughter Ria, went from one hiding place to another.

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Sadly Ria could not stay with them, she had to be hidden elsewhere. Salli and Bettie left their daughter behind with the Resistance. Members of the Resistance provided them with ration coupons and fake I.D. cards, which were needed whenever they changed hiding places.

The members of the resistance would put their lives at risk for doing this. Being caught with false papers was punishable by death,leave alone creating them.

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Aalten

Salli was given a false identification with the name Pieter de Graaf. Salli and Bettie survived the war and found Ria safe and sound in the care of a childless minister and his wife, with whom they kept in contact for many years.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a 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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Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a 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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