Vienna 1913-Café Central

Wien

Vienna in 1913 was a vibrant cultural city. It was one of Europe’s power houses.Needless to say it attracted people from all over the continent and indeed the world.

Not was it only known for its musical heritage it was also known for its many fine coffee houses. today Viennese coffee is still enjoyed by many coffee drinkers, including myself, for it really is a treat.

One of Vienna’s coffee houses has made a special mark on history. Café Central.It was a place frequented by many of Vienna’s intellectuals and artists. It also had the nickname “Die Schachhochschule” or the Chess High school in English,because of the presence of many chess players who used the first floor for their games.

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For a brief period in 1913 it was regularly frequented by guests who made an enormous impact on the planet’s history. In January 1913 , Adolf Hitler,Josip Broz Tito, Sigmund Freud, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky were guests of the Coffee house. There is a very good chance that at one stage they all were there at the same time.

Leon Trotzky was the editor of the newspaper Pravda at the time, he wrote about an encounter he had in the café with a man called Stavros Papadopoulos. He wrote:

“I was sitting at the table,when the door opened with a knock and an unknown man entered.He was short… thin… his greyish-brown skin covered in pockmarks… I saw nothing in his eyes that resembled friendliness.”

Stavros Papadopoulos was not the real name of the man, he had been born as Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, but in later life was known as Josef Stalin.

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When Stalin wanted to kill John Wayne

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No this is not the title of a movie, but why this never was turned into a movie is beyond me.

Joseph Stalin wanted John Wayne gone so badly he sent two men to pose as FBI agents to take him down.It might come as a surprise that Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator, man of steel, and murderer of millions, was quite the movie buff. He had a private theater in each one of his homes,and in his last years, the cinema became not only his favourite entertainment but also a source of political inspiration.

Stalin was so angered by John Wayne’s anti-communism that he plotted to have him murdered. He ordered the KGB to assassinate John Wayne because he considered him a threat to the Soviet Union.maxresdefault

When the Russian filmmaker Sergei Gerasimov attended a peace conference in New York in 1949 he heard about John Wayne and his anti-communist beliefs. When he returned to the Soviet Union he immediately told Stalin about John Wayne.

Wayne had previously clashed with the Communists because of his opinions, even receiving a threatening anonymous letter. When one of his friends advised him to be more cautious, the Duke declared “no goddamn Commie’s gonna frighten me.”john-wayne-assassination

The situation took a decidedly more serious turn, however, when the movie star attracted the attention of the Soviet dictator himself.

The alleged assassination attempt unfolded in the early 1950’s, just as the Communist scare in the United States was starting to peak.

Sources reported that after one of his routine film viewings, Stalin suddenly decided that Wayne was a direct “threat to the cause and should be assassinated.”

American agents also took the threat seriously enough to offer Wayne protection, to which he replied: “I’m not gonna hide away for the rest of my life, this is the land of the free and that’s the way I’m gonna stay.”

According to Wayne’s stuntman and real-life cowboy Yakima Canutt, the FBI foiled at least one assassination attempt with the help of the Duke himself.yakima-canutt

After getting word that two KGB agents posing as FBI agents were going to come to the movie studio where Wayne was filming and lure him away, the FBI and the actors decided to outflank them. When the Soviets came into Wayne’s office as expected, the actual FBI agents were hidden in a room next door and were able to burst in and subdue them at gunpoint. The Soviets were so terrified of being sent back to Russia and reporting to Stalin they had failed, that they willingly agreed to provide intelligence to the Americans.

Later, in 1953, Wayne was filming “Hondo” in Mexico when yet another communist cell tried to assassinate him.

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The Soviet campaign was canceled after Stalin’s death in 1953 because his successor Nikita Khrushchev was a fan of the film star. In a biography written by Michael Munn it says Krushchev told Wayne in a private meeting in 1958: “That was a decision of Stalin during his last five mad years. When Stalin died, I rescinded that order.”

John and Joe

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All that is interesting

Nikolai Vavilov and the forgotten tragedy of the Siege of Leningrad.

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What would you to do save something your passionate about but is not necessarily essential to your own existence.Would you sacrifice your life?

9 scientists of the Leningrad seed bank did.

After the Civil War had ended, Russia experienced a terrible famine between 1921 and 1922. Devastated by drought, the country produced a wheat-harvest half of what it had been prior to the war. Lenin understood that something had to be done in order to improve Russian agriculture and to stave off another hunger crisis.

Vavilov, the then Head of the Department of Applied Botany, was elected by the new Soviet Union for a mission to travel to the United States to collect seeds of wild crops for cultivation. He intended these seeds to act as the basis for the creation of frost-hardy, drought-tolerant and disease-resistant varieties.

After returning from a successful trip to America, Vavilov continued his travels, venturing as far as the Middle East, Afghanistan, North Africa and Ethiopia, collecting valuable samples of bread-wheat and rye. By the end of 1924, his seed collection had grown to almost sixty thousand acquisitions, with a total of seven thousand coming from Afghanistan.

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The seeds collected by Vavilov were then deposited in the Leningrad Seedbank. Vavilov and his team envisioned Leningrad’s future to be that of a global seed bank, in which new strains of crops would be cultivated in an effort to end hunger worldwide.

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In September 1941, when German forces began their siege of Leningrad, choking food supply to the city’s two million residents, one group of people preferred to starve to death despite having plenty of ‘food.’

The Leningrad seedbank was diligently preserved through the 28-month Siege of Leningrad.

Capture

While the Soviets had ordered the evacuation of art from the Hermitage, they had not evacuated the 250,000 samples of seeds, roots, and fruits stored in what was then the world’s largest seedbank. A group of scientists at the Vavilov Institute boxed up a cross section of seeds, moved them to the basement, and took shifts protecting them. Those guarding the seedbank refused to eat its contents, even though by the end of the siege in the spring of 1944, nine of them had died of starvation.

Vavilov had travelled five continents to study the global food ecosystem. Calling it a “mission for all humanity’’, he conducted experiments in genetic breeding to increase farm productivity. Even as Russia was undergoing revolutions, anarchy and famines, he went about storing seeds at the Institute of Plant Industry.

Vavilov dreamed of a utopian future in which new agricultural practices and science could one day create super plants that would grow in any environment, thus ending world hunger.

There wasn’t much justice going around in Joseph Stalin’s time. Vavilov wanted to increase farm productivity to eliminate recurring Russian famines. Early on, he defended the Mendelian theory that genes are passed on unchanged from one generation to the next. He became the main opponent of Stalin’s favoured scientist, the Ukrainian Trofim Lysenko.ilysenk001p1Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics and developed a pseudo-scientific movement called Lysenkoism. His quack theories about improved crop yields earned Stalin’s support, following the famine and loss of productivity resulting from forced collectivization in several regions of the Soviet Union in the early 1930s. In fact, Lysenko’s influence on Stalin ensured that scientific dissent from his theories of environmentally acquired inheritance was formally outlawed in 1948.

Stalin’s collectivisation of private farms had led to reduced yields across the Soviet Union. The dictator now needed a scapegoat for his failure and the famine. He chose Vavilov. In Stalin’s warped view, Vavilov’s was responsible for the famines because his process of carefully selecting the best specimens of plants would take numerous years to bear fruit.

Vavilov was collecting seeds on Russia’s borders when he was picked up by secret service agents. Amidst the chaos of World War II, no one, including his son and his wife, knew where he was.

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Before his show trial, Stalin’s police, seeking a confession, had subjected Vavilov to 1,700 hours of brutal interrogation over 400 sessions, some lasting 13 hours, carried out by an officer known for his extreme methods. Before his arrest, during the long rise in influence of Lysenko, beginning in the 1920s, Vavilov, unlike Galileo, had refused to repudiate his beliefs, saying, “We shall go into the pyre, we shall burn, but we shall not retreat from our convictions”.

After over a year-and-a-half of eating frozen cabbage and mouldy flour, he died of starvation on January 26 1943.

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Happy Birthday Mr Stalin

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Don’t worry this is not a blog honouring Joseph Stalin, it is however looking at the relations between Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin on Stalin’s 60th and 61st birthsay.

On December 18 1939 Joseph Stalin received 2 telegrams from the Nazi leadership for his 60th Birthday, One from Hitler another on from Joachim von Ribbentrop, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Below the translated versions of the telegrams

Mr. JOSEPH STALIN,
Moscow.
Please accept my most sincere congratulations on your sixtieth birthday. I take this occasion to tender my best wishes. I wish you personally good health and a happy future for the peoples of the friendly Soviet Union.
ADOLF HITLER

Mr. JOSEPH STALIN,
Moscow.
Remembering the historic hours in the Kremlin which inaugurated the decisive turn in the relations between our two great peoples and thereby created the basis for a lasting friendship between us, I beg us to accept my warmest congratulations on you birthday.
JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Exactly 1 year later on Stalin’s 61st birthday ,Hitler issued Directive No. 21 on the German invasion of the Soviet Union, codenamed Operation Barbarossa.

21 a

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Vasily Blokhin-Stalin’s butcher

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Born to a Russian peasant family in 1895, as a young man he quickly earned a reputation for “chernaya rabota”, or “black work”, while serving in the Tsarist army during World War I- gaining recognition from Stalin himself for his covert assassinations, torture, and executions. Blokhin quickly rose through the ranks of Russia’s secret police at the time—the NKVD—eventually becoming the head of the Kommandatura department.

Vasily Blokhin is recorded as having executed tens of thousands of prisoners by his own hand, including his killing of about 7,000 Polish prisoners of war during the Katyn massacre in spring 1940, making him the most prolific official executioner in recorded world history. He was the NKVD major in charge of executing the Polish officers from the Ostashkov camp, and he believed in personally doing the killing that his superiors had ordered him to supervise.

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Born in 1885, he was known as the NKVD’s chief executioner, having been hand-picked for this position by Joseph Stalin himself.

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Blokhin personally killed tens of thousand of men and women during Stalin’s Great Purges of the 1930s, so it was only natural that the NKVD would turn to him when it came time to dispatch the officers held in the Soviet prison camps. Along with a team of about thirty NKVD men from Moscow, mainly drivers and prison guards, Blokhin arrived at the NKVD prison in Kalinin (Tver) and set himself up in a sound-proofed cellar room that had a sloping floor for drainage.

Tver Execution room of Polish soldiers buried later at Mednoye- Photograph Katyn Museum

He then put on his special uniform, consisting of a leather cap, long leather apron, and elbow-length gloves. On a table next to him was a briefcase filled with his own personal Walther PPK pistols, for Blokhin, a true artist at his trade, would use no one else’s tools but his own.

After the prisoner’s identity was verified, he was brought handcuffed into the cellar room where Blokhin awaited in his long apron, like some horrible butcher. One guard later testified: “The men held [the prisoner’s] arms and [Blokhin] shot him in the base of the skull…that’s all”. Blokhin worked fast and efficiently, killing an average of one men every three minutes during the course of ten-hour nights – the killings were always done at night, so that the bodies could be disposed of in darkness.

Although this has never been completely proven, historians suspect that Blokhin shot 7,000 men over a period of twenty-eight days, which would make him one of the most prolific murderers of all time. However many people he killed, Blokhin was consistently promoted by his superiors for performing “special tasks”. He lost his job after Stalin died. The cause of Blokhin’s death, in 1955, was listed as suicide.

Katyn massacre
The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria’s proposal to execute all captive members of the Polish Officer Corps, dated 5 March 1940. This official document was approved and signed by the Soviet Politburo, including its leader, Joseph Stalin. The number of victims is estimated at about 22,000.

 

The death of Yakov Dzhugashvili-Stalin’s oldest son.

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Everyone knows Joseph Stalin, but most aren’t familiar with his familial life, particularly his eldest son, Yakov.

The tumultuous relationship between father and son created a story that spanned a difficult youth, the German invasion of the Soviet Union and a Nazi concentration camp.

Yakov was born to Stalin’s first wife, in 1907. He was born in what was at the time Imperial Russia, and his mother died of typhus only a few months after his birth.

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Yakov was mostly raised by his other female relatives, his aunts and grandmother. He was encouraged at a young age to go to Moscow to seek out an education.

From his youth onward, Yakov and Stalin did not get along, with Stalin being quite judgmental of his son, looking down on him in almost every way. As a young man, Yakov attempted suicide after a disagreement with his father over Yakov’s Jewish fiancee.

Stalin did not approve of the marriage and after an intense argument, Yakov retired to his bedroom and attempted to shoot himself. However, Yakov survived and was treated for his wounds, but his father was prompted to make remarks on how his son couldn’t even kill himself properly.

Yakov did end up marrying the Jewish girl, a dancer who was already married. He helped her arrange a divorce before marrying her and having two children with her. Afterward, Stalin said that he no longer wanted to have any sort of a relationship with Yakov, as they had nothing in common. He called Yakov a thug and an extortionist.

Yakov joined the Red Army at the outbreak of war in the East in June 1941, serving as a lieutenant in the artillery. On the first day of the war, his father told him to ‘Go and fight’. On 16 July, within a month of the Nazi invasion, Yakov was captured and taken prisoner.

Nazi Officers Interrogating Yakov Stalin

Stalin considered all prisoners as traitors to the motherland and those that surrendered he demonised as ‘malicious deserters’. ‘There are no prisoners of war,’ he once said, ‘only traitors to their homeland’.

Certainly Yakov, by all accounts, felt that he had failed his father. Under interrogation, he admitted that he had tried to shoot himself. His father probably would have preferred it if he had.

Families of PoWs, or deserters, faced the harshest consequences for the failings of their sons or husbands – arrested and exiled. Yakov may have been Stalin’s son but his family were not to be spared. He was married to a Jewish girl, Julia. Stalin had managed to overcome his innate anti-Semitism and grew to be quite fond of his daughter-in-law. Nonetheless, following Yakov’s capture, Julia was arrested, separated from her three-year-old daughter and sent to the gulag. After two years, Stalin sanctioned her release but she remained forever traumatised by the experience.

The Germans made propaganda capital of Yakov’s capture, dropping leaflets in the Soviet Union saying “Do not shed your blood for Stalin! His own son has surrendered! If Stalin’s son has saved himself then you are not obliged to sacrifice yourself either!”

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In 1943, Stalin was offered the chance to have his son back. The Germans had been defeated at Stalingrad and their Field Marshal, Friedrich Paulus, was taken prisoner by the Soviets, their highest-ranking capture of the war. The Germans offered a swap – von Paulus for Yakov. Stalin refused, saying, ‘I will not trade a Marshal for a Lieutenant’. As harsh it may seem, Stalin’s reasoning did contain a logic – why should his son be freed when the sons of other Soviet families suffered – ‘what would other fathers say?’

On 14 April 1943, the 36-year-old Yakov died. The Germans maintained they shot him while he was trying to escape. But it is more likely that after two years of incarceration and deprivation, the news of the Katyn massacre was the final straw. Stalin had ordered the murder of 15,000 Polish officers in the woods of Katyn in May 1940.  The discovery of the mass grave in March 1943 was heavily publicised by the Germans. Yakov, who had befriended Polish inmates, was distraught by the news. ‘Look what you bastards did to these men. What kind of people are you?’ said a German officer to him. He died by throwing himself onto an electric fence.

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Freaky Coincidences

Lincoln and JFK.

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– Lincoln’s name has 7 letters
– Kennedy’s name has 7 letters

– Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846
– Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946

– Lincoln was elected president in 1860
– Kennedy was elected president in 1960

– Lincoln was succeeded, after assassination, by vice-president Johnson
– Kennedy was succeeded, after assassination, by vice-president Johnson

– Andrew Johnson was born in 1808
– Lyndon Johnson was born in 1908

– Lincoln’s assassin had a three-word name, John Wilkes Booth
– Kennedy’s assassin had a three-word name, Lee Harvey Oswald

Both Presidents  had baptist teachers  they would consult  for spiritual advice, both called William Graham

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Twin Lives

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Twin boys were separated at birth. Their adopting families named them both James, they both both grew up with enforcement training and then married a woman named Linda. They both had boys, one of whom was named James Alan and one who was named James Allan. They divorced their wives Linda and remarried women named Betty. They both had a dog named Troy. The men reunited after 40 years in 1979 and were able to share their amazing coincidentally identical life stories.

Halley’s Comet

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Mark Twain predicted the day that he would die. He was born in 1835 when Halley’s Comet made its appearance. Mark Twain stated: “I came in with Hailey’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect go out with it.” Mark Twain died in 1910 one  day after the next appearance of Halley’s Comet.

Musical neighbors

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If not for the 200-year difference, Jimi Hendrix and George Handel would have been neighbors. They lived at 23 and 25 Brook Street, respectively, in London.

Brother of Abraham Lincoln’s Assassin Saved Lincoln’s Son’s Life.

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Edwin Booth saved Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son, from being killed by a train. Lincoln fell off a train platform in New Jersey, and Booth pulled him to safety. Shortly after this incident, Booth’s brother, John Wilkes Booth, killed Abraham Lincoln.

What Are the Chances of a Baby Falling on You From the Sky Twice?

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In 1937, in Detroit, a street sweeper named Joseph Figlock was in an alley when a baby fell out of a fourth-story window directly on top of him. Both the baby and Figlock were injured but survived. A year later, a 2-year-old by the name of David Thomas fell from a fourth-story window and landed on Figlock.

The coincidence is recounted in a 1938 article by Time Magazine.

It wasn’t the same baby, it wasn’t the same window, and to be fair, Figlock spent a lot of time on the streets due to his profession—but, two babies both falling from the fourth floor directly on top of the same man is still rather unlikely.

Stalin Draws Warlord’s Curse

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Soviet communist dictator Joseph Stalin wanted to see the face of the 14th century Turko-Mongol warlord Tamerlane (also known as Timur) entombed in Samarkand. Legend held that “the War God’s sleep must not be disturbed,” as recounted in Edvard Radzinsky’s biography of Stalin. If Tamerlane’s corpse were disturbed, went the legend, Tamerlane would return on the third day, bringing war.

Stalin scoffed at the legend and on June 19, 1941, he opened the coffin. On June 21, Stalin found out Germany was set to invade the Soviet Union at dawn the next day.

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