Making life difficult for Jews.

Fietsen

Approximately 105,000 OF THE 140,000 Jews in the Netherlands were murdered during the Holocaust. The attempt to erase the Jews from the country did not happen overnight ,it was a gradual process.

Every few weeks new measures were introduced to make the life for the Dutch Jews as hard as possible. Some of these measures appeared to be quite subtle and non malicious , like the handing in of bicycles.

In June 1942 the Jews in Utrecht were required to hand in their bikes, the language used in this announcement(picture above) was important because for a bystander it looks quite harmless, they could assume that the Jews were not forced to give up their bikes, but were requested in a friendly manner to comply to the announcement. The line in the middle of the poster(in bold letters) states “The opportunity to handing in bicycles exists at the cleansing post Groeneweg”

This was a clear indication that the bikes were going to be cleaned first before they were sold on or just confiscated by the Nazi regime, and I say Nazi regime and not Germans because it was the Dutch civil servants in charge of this.

Boycotting or banning Jews was also something that gradually sneaked into general society.

No Jews allowed in the local butcher shop

geen

No Jews allowed in the park.

verboden

Restrictions of movement for Jews in Slenaken

beperking

Thankfully there were some organisations who actively rallied  for boycotting businesses and leisure centres  who banned Jewish fellow citizens from their premises or shops.

They urged workers to stop working for each new outburst of  anti Jewish bestiality.Capture

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Source

NIOD

 

When enough was enough-The February strike.

2020-02-25 (1)

On February 25, 1941 the Dutch decided that enough was enough. No longer would they stand idly by to see their Jewish neighbours being treated they way they were.

The first 8 months of the Nazi occupation did not see that much change to the Dutch, The changes were all gradual.However there were increased tensions. The WA(Weerbaarheidsafdeling-defense section), the para  military arm of the Dutch Nazi party NSB,were actively involved  provocative and intimidating actions  in Jewish areas in Amsterdam. This resulted in one of the members of the WA, Hendtik Koot being killed by a local resistance group in Amsterdam on 11 February 1941.

koot

The day after on February 12,1941, German soldiers assisted by Dutch police besieged the old Jewish quarter  and blocked it off from the rest of the city by putting up barbed wire fences , opening draw bridges and erecting police checkpoints. The neighbourhood was now forbidden for non-Jews.

a'dam

A week later on the 19th of February the German Grüne Polizei stormed into the Koco ice-cream salon, which was owned by Ernst Cahn and Alfred Kohn, both were Jewish refugees who had fled Germany. . A fight ensued and some ammonia gas escaped in the incident and several police officers were injured.

The head of the SS in the Netherlands,Hanns Albin Rauter. reported the incident to Heinrich Himmler on February the 20th, and indicated that the 2 men Cahn and Kohn had willfully attacked the police officers.

The death of Hendrik Koot and the incident at the ice cream salon were used as an excuse to initiate the first raids on Jews in the Netherlands on February 22 and 23,1941.

427 Jewish men, age 20-35 were arrested and sent to Kamp Schoorl.

raid

raid 1

Most of then were deported eventually sent to  Mauthausen concentration camp, the majority of  them died within the year, only 2 survived.

Ernst Cahn was executed on March 3,1941 and Alfred Kohn died in Auschwitz.

Following this raid, the Communist Party of the Netherlands called  for action on 24 February, during an open-air meeting they did this at their own peril because the party had been made illegal by the Nazi occupiers. Nonetheless they organised a strike to be held on February 25 and 26, 1941 in Amsterdam as a protest against the pogrom and also the forced labour in Germany.

The Dutch population listened to the call for strike and about 300,000 workers did go on strike.

On Tuesday, February 25, tram drivers and sanitation workers started it. Followed quickly by dockworkers . Workers on bicycles rang the doorbells at homes and halted traffic in the streets, imploring drivers to join them.

Rauter ordered harsh actions against the strikers and orders SS troops to shoot, 9 people were killed. The strike initially started in Amsterdam, but the following day workers in Hilversum,Zaandam,Haarlem and Utrecht.

Additionally to the 9 people killed during the strike, another 24 were injured and on March 13,1941 , 3 of the organizers were executed. Ironically those 3 actually saved 3 minors who had members of a group of 18  of the resistance group “De Geuzen” . Because of their young age their death sentence were changed to life imprisonment.

The Nazis decided to execute ,Hermanus Coenradi, Joseph Eijl en Eduard Hellendoorn, who were 3 of the organizers of the February strike instead, together with the other 15 of De Geuzen.

The Nazi regime finally showed its real face to the Dutch.

The strike was the first and only direct action against the Nazis’ treatment of Jews in Europe.

This monument called “De Dokwerker” the Dockworker is dedicated to the struikers of the February strike. It is situated on Jonas Daniël Meijerplein, the square where most of the 427 Jewish men had been arrested.

dokwerker

February 25, 1941 the day when the Dutch said “Enough is enough” unfortunately despite the brave efforts and the sacrifice of those who were killed for it, it did not stop the murder of 104,000 Dutch Jews.

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Sources

 

https://web.archive.org/web/20110929140015/http://www.joodsmonument.nl/page/274192

https://historiek.net/februaristaking-1941-protest-jodenvervolging/7124/

https://www.verzetsmuseum.org/museum/nl/tweede-wereldoorlog/begrippenlijst/achtergrond,stakingen/februaristaking

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/amsterdam-general-strike-february-1941

https://www.npostart.nl/2doc/22-02-2016/KN_1678989

 

 

 

 

 

Simple acts of defiance in Geleen-Greeting the Jewish neighbours.

Ster

Every once in a while I come across a story which makes me immensely proud to be a native from Geleen.

Those of you who read my blogs on a regular base, know that I was born in the town of Geleen in the south East of the Netherlands.

Most of the Jews who lived in Geleen during World War 2 were killed during the Holocaust. I am not saying that the Dutch could not have done more to save more of their Jewish neighbours , because there is more they could have done.

However on May 10,1940 the Netherlands got a rude awakening. They were too naive to believe that the Nazis would honour the Dutch neutrality. On may 10,1940 the Germans invaded the country.

Initially there was not that much change, not even for the Jewish population. But gradually new laws were introduced and often any breach of those laws was punished by death. It eventually became clear how evil the Nazis were and they ruled by instilling fear in the population.

However there were several times where the Dutch defied the Nazi regime . The biggest act of defiance was the February strike in 1941, where over 300,000 people joined the strike in protest against the treatment of the Jews. The strike was violently stopped by the Nazis.

But there were other small acts of defiance in the Netherlands. On May 2,1942 the Jews were forced to wear a yellow star on their clothes, to be visible at all time in public.

A citizen of Geleen,Rie op den Camp wrote in his diary on May 9,1942, “Silent resistance against the Jewish star. Many people greet all Jews they meet, Even if they don’t know them. Some non Jewish citizens even wear a star too. In may places people have removed the signs saying “Forbidden for Jews” The krauts have arrested some of these ‘offenders’ on several places.

verboden

I never knew about this, it is times like this when I feel a bit more proud to be from Geleen.

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Sources

http://members.home.nl/w.brasse/vergeten_joden_van_geleen.htm#Jodenvervolging

Boycotting the Cinema-A small act of resistance.

verboden

The majority of the Jews in the Netherlands were killed during the Holocaust, The estimates vary from 100,000 to 104,000. It would be too easy to say that this was because the Dutch were willing participants in the Nazi ideology, because for the majority this wasn’t the case.

The large number and percentage of Jewish victims in the Netherlands compared to say to Belgium and France can be explained in the first place by the fact that in the Netherlands, the German police had sole authority over the organization and execution of the deportations, independently of the occupying regime and the local authorities. This doesn’t mean the German police weren’t helped by the Dutch,because the were . Some of the Dutch collaborators made a profit out of it.

On the other hand there was also the fact that the Dutch had a very efficient citizens registry, which made it easy for the Nazis to find the Jewish citizens.

What I find most disturbing is the fact that although the majority didn’t help the Nazis, many did turn a blind eye. or simply did nothing, which I think is just as bad as collaborating.

The persecution of Jews did not happen overnight, Gradually new laws were introduced undermining the Jews in daily life.

On January 8 1941 Jews were forbidden to enter cinemas, this led to a call to boycott cinemas. Posters with the texts “Boycott this Cinema” and “No hate for Jews in the Netherlands” were posted on the doors of cinemas. Sometimes they also had posters protesting low salaries.

boycott

In February 1941 there was also a nationwide workers strike,in defense of persecuted Dutch Jews and against the anti-Jewish measures and activities  the Nazis in general.The strike was organized after a number  of arrests and raids  by the Nazis in the Jewish area of Amsterdam. It started on 25 February 1941 ; on 26 February, 300,000 people joined the strike. The strike was violently stopped  by the German occupiers after three days

Despite the inaction of many Dutch there were many others who risked their lives helping their Jewish neighbours.

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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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Sources

NIOD

Films

 

Female beauty and War.

Betty Grable

I have done so many pieces on the horrors and the ugly side of World War 2 so I decided that today I am going to turn it around a bit. Today the focus will be on celebrating some of the beautiful women who served in WWII in a variety of ways.

The picture above is off the Actres/Pin Up girl Betty Grable.showing off her “Million Dollar Legs”.Undoubtedly that picture would have put a smile on the face of many service men.

nurse

Alas, it is not known who this Army nurse was or why she was wearing US Army threads. The only information is the postcard itself, that she was in Australia during November 1942 – and she might have been somewhere else in the Pacific. However, whoever or wherever she was,her presence here must certainly must have been appreciated.

red army

Red Army snipers assemble before heading to the front. 1943.

Sniper

19-year-old Soviet sniper Roza Shanina had 59 confirmed kills, 1945

pin up

It could put a descriptive text here filled with innuendo and double entendre, but lets keep it clean suffice to say it is a picture of a US Pin Up girl sitting on  a torpedo taken in 1944

aleksandra

Aleksandra Samusenko was the only female Soviet tank officer in the 1st Guards Tank Army, 1943.

ida

Actress Ida Lupino, as a lieutenant in the Women’s Ambulance and Defense Corps at a telephone switch board in Brentwood, California, on January 3, 1942.

Mrs Titus

Mrs. Titus, 77-year-old air raid spotter of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, carries a gun as she patrols her beat, on December 20, 1941. Mrs. Titus signed-up the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. “I can carry a gun any time they want me to,” she declared.

simone

Simone Segouin, aka Nicole Minet , was a  French Resistance fighter who served in the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans group. one of  her first acts of resistance was stealing a bicycle from a German military administrator, which she then used to help carry messages.

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The World War 2 hero who saved my sight.

Charles

Just before Christmas 2011 I lost the sight in my right eye. The retina had become detached but after 2 operations the sight could not be saved, in fact my eye shrunk, dramatically  and I have now a glass shell with  an eye painted on it in front of the remainder of my eye.

In November 2014 the retina in my left eye also became detached, so I was facing going blind. I had to undergo an emergence operation in a Hospital in Cork which is 100 km away from my home in Limerick.

In Cork the consultant surgeon advised me he would be putting a scleral buckle in place to re-attach my retina and to save my eye and sight.The operation was a success this time and my eye was saved.

buckle

The man who pioneered this technology was Dr Charles L. Schepens. Hewas born in Mouscron, Belgium, in 1912  He initially studied mathematics before graduating from medical school in 1935 at State University of Ghent in Belgium.In 1937 he served as assistant to Dr. L. Hambresin in Brussels.

In 1940, he was appointed as a Captain in the Medical Corps of the Belgian Air Force, where he served until the country was invaded by the Nazis in May 1940. He escaped to France and worked with the French and Belgian resistance,  In 1942, under the nom de guerre “Jacques Pérot,” he spearheaded a secret information and evacuation pipeline in the Pyrenees, under the cover of a country lumber mill near the village of Mendive. He was arrested several times by the Gestapo.

He was firts arrested by the Gestapo in October 1940 while he still was in Belgium  on false accusations  of using a bus to transport Allied pilots out of Belgium. Although he was released 10 days later, this experience turned the previously apolitical doctor into an activist, and he allowed his office to be used as a post office for underground agents, arranging for the transfer of maps and such information as troop movement.

In 1942, a spy in Gestapo headquarters alerted him that he was about to be arrested, and he escaped to Paris.

In an of the mill  effort to find  an escape route to Spain, he and a group of fellow resistance members came across  an abandoned sawmill near the town of Mandive in the Pyrenees on the Spanish border.

One of the key features was a 12-mile-long cable-car system extending up the mountain and ending near the border.

Dr. Schepens, bought the mill in July 1942 with backing from a wealthy French patriot and had it in full operation by the end of the year. The site became a functioning lumber enterprise, taking orders, delivering wood and meeting a payroll. Not to cause any suspicion Dr. Schepens(aka Jacques Perot)  developed relationships with the occupying Germans, leading his Basque neighbors to think that he was a Nazi collaborator.

Men,mainly men he helped to escape, who did manual labor around the mill could secretly ride the cable-car system to the top of the mountain and slip into Spain, often with the assistance of a shepherd named Jean Sarochar.

MILL

More than 100 Allied pilots, prisoners of war, Belgian government officials and others made their way out of France over the cable railway. The system also was used to move documents, currency, propaganda and other materials into and out of France.

Everything went according to plan until 1943: That year, a captured resistance agent exposed him. The Gestapo came for him a second time. He escaped before they could arrest him.He had told the Gestapo “it is now 10 o’clock. I have 150 workers idle, because they have not been given their orders this morning. Give me 10 minutes with them. I’ll give the orders and come back.”. He then just walked out.

He spent 16 days in the forest before reaching Spain and, eventually, England, where he resumed his medical career.

In the mean time the Nazis held Dr. Schepens wife and children as bait to lure him out of hiding. However eventually his wife and children  made their own daring escape, hiking through the mountains to reach Spain, and were reunited with Dr. Schepens nine months later in England.

After the war, Schepens resumed his medical career at Moorfields.[3] In 1947, he immigrated to the United States and became a fellow at the Harvard Medical School.

harvard

He became famous in the ophthalmic community for his work in creating the first binocular, stereoscopic indirect ophthalmoscope (1946) and in treating retinal detachment with an encircling scleral buckle (1953).

If the Gestapo had arrested him the second time, he more then likely would have been executed. Amazing to think of what could have happened to my eye in that case.

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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Sources

https://eye.hms.harvard.edu/news/charles-schepens-featured-in-eyeworld

https://eye.hms.harvard.edu/charlesschepens

Washington Post

https://www.eyeworld.org/article-ophthalmologist-who-created-vitreoretinal-subspecialty-lived-double-life-as-wwii-resistance-fighter-and

https://www.aao.org/biographies-detail/charles-schepens-md

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filippo Illuminato-13 year old resistance Hero.

Fillipo

I don’t want to make this a current political blog, and I won’t.,but I need to get this off my chest. Much too often do I hear that the current generations, often referred to as Generation Y(Millennials) and Generation Z(iGen) have it so much harder then any generation before them. It really gets my blood boiling because it is an insult to those who gave their lives so that they now can complain about everything.

When I read about Filippo Illuminato and how he died I noticed he was only 13. Initially I thought that the dates were wrong, because how could a young boy who had just entered his teenage tears be such a Hero. But the dates were correct.

He was born 21 August 1930 in Naples,Italy. After finishing primary school, he took a job as an apprentice mechanic in a vehicle repair shop.

On 3 September 1943, the Allies and Italy signed the Armistice of Cassibile. Nazi Germany reacted by attacking Italy, their former Axis ally.

On 13 September, the Nazi military governor of Naples ordered disarmament, and a curfew, he warned there would be  savage retaliations for any attack on his men. On 26 September, In response to this, , an unarmed crowd poured into the roads against the Nazi roundups, freeing young people from deportation. The rioters were joined by some former Italian soldiers who had kept themselves hidden so far.The insurrection lasetd for 4 days, referred to as “the 4 days of Naples”

When the Allies entered Naples on 1 October, the Nazis had gone.

allies

However during the Four Days of Naples  the young 13 year old Filippo Illuminato had bravely opposed a German armored car. The young boy received a posthumous Gold Medal of Military Valour for his act of Heroism.

Below is the English translation of the citation on the medal:

A thirteen-year-old fighter in the insurrection of Naples against the German invasion, alone and with sublime boldness, while the men sought shelter, he attacked an armoured car that was about to enter Via Roma from Piazza Trieste and Trento. After throwing one hand grenade, he advanced under enemy fire, and threw a second grenade before falling riddled with bullets. Such supreme, noble recklessness elevates this thirteen-year-old boy to a place among the heroes of the Fatherland, and he is to be acknowledged with pride in the memory of Naples and of all Italy. – Naples, Piazza Trieste e Trento , 28 September 1943.

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Who was responsible for the Holocaust?

EVIDENCE

I know this blog will probably stir some controversy and I will more then likely be criticized for it, but I hope you all will read this with an open mind, if you do you will realize the question of “Who was responsible for the Holocaust?” is a valid one.

Believe it or not but that question came into my mind when I was watching something which could not be further removed from WWII and the Holocaust.I was watching “My 600lb life”I am totally hooked to the show because I am amazed to how people get to that weight, and the answer is in each episode. Each one of these people have others who enable them. family members and/or friends to not help them lose weight or look for the causes but rather they give them the food they want, often to keep the peace.

The thought then came to me “Enablers who want to keep the peace” which could be shortened to the word appeasement.

No one in their right mind will deny that the Nazis are responsible for the Holocaust.

But they did get help from others by ignoring their actions.In 1925 Hitler already detailed his plans for the Jews in Mein Kampf, he made no secrets of it. In 1925 of course he had not become the leader of Germany as of yet, however 10 years later,on September 1935 he introduced the Nuremberg Laws. At that stage it was clear to see where Germany was going. At that stage the Nazis still could have been stopped, as they should have been because they violated Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Saint-Germain.

On 7 March 1936 Germany re-occupied and re-militarized the Rhineland, the world did nothing

In 1937 German troops were actively involved in the Spanish civil war, the world did nothing.

In 1938 the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia and Austria(although the Austrians were happy enough about this) the world did nothing. In fact British PM Neville Chamberlain gave Hitler his blessing.

Neville

But it is unfair to single out only Neville Chamberlain, the whole League of Nations stood by ,looked on and did nothing. Even when crimes against Jews were increasing rapidly , the world did nothing.

Between 6–15 July 1938 the Évian Conference was held, at Évian-les-Bains, France, to discuss the Jewish refugee problem and the plight of the increasing numbers of Jewish refugees fleeing persecution by Nazi Germany. A great number of nations had sent delegates

Hitler said this about the conference:

“I can only hope and expect that the other world, which has such deep sympathy for these criminals [Jews], will at least be generous enough to convert this sympathy into practical aid. We, on our part, are ready to put all these criminals at the disposal of these countries, for all I care, even on luxury ships.”

The conference failed. It is said that If each nation at the Evian conference had agreed on that day to take in 17,000 Jews at once, every Jew in the Reich could have been saved.

I know that some people will say that no one could have imagined the scale of the Holocaust.But in fact they could have imagined it. there was plenty of evidence. The picture at the start of the blog was taken on August 25,1944 of the Auschwitz Birkenau camp.

On September 19, 1940, Witoldi Pilecki  deliberately went out during a Warsaw street roundup, and was caught by the Germans along with some 2,000  civilians. After two days’ detention in the Light Horse Guards Barracks, where prisoners suffered beatings with rubber batons, Pilecki was sent to Auschwitz and was assigned inmate number 4859.

witoldi

While in the camp, he organized a resistance movement and informed the Western Allies of Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz atrocities as early as 1941.

In 1941 a series of comprehensive reports by the exiled Polish government were published under the name “The Polish White Book”

book

“The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland” was a publication  published by the Polish government-in-exile on 10 December 1942 and sent to the foreign ministers of the united nations,it was the first official document informing the Western public about the Holocaust in German-occupied Poland.

report.JPG

From April 1942 to February 1943, British Intelligence intercepted and decoded radio messages sent by the “German Order Police”, which included daily prisoner returns and death tolls for ten concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

There were many other reports which were published throughout the 1930 and WWII. Even the 1936 Olympics should have been a clear sign, but it was ignored.

It is true that the Nazi regime was responsible for the deaths of millions, responsible and accountable.

However since 1925 the world was warned time and time again what was going to happen, but rather then taking actions, all they did was to tell the German leadership how bad they were, but they did not put one obstacle in the way to stop them.

The Nazi were the perpetrators but the allies government were the enablers by their inaction.

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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Sources

CIA

USHMM

WikiPedia

NY Times

 

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.

bunker

These heroes should never be forgotten.

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Punks in WWII

zazou

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

tumblr_o5dasrTdxK1qz5q5lo1_500

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

1_IxsoadMkucn4a_a_2v8kFA

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.