Otto Weidt’s workshop for the blind.

Sometime you come across stories and you are amazed that they are not widely known. We all have heard about Oskar Schindler because of Steven Spielberg’s £Schindler’s List” , but the story of Otto Weidt is probably just as amazing.

It is a story which is close to me due to the fact that I am half blind, and more then likely at some stage in the future I will become completely blind, I hope it will a long time into the future. At one stage I was actually blind for about 6 months, so I have an idea on how it is not being able to see.

Otto Weidt’s decreasing eyesight forced him to give up his job in wallpapering. He adapted and learned the business of brush making and broom binding.

Otto Weidt and Else Nast met in Berlin in 1931 and married five years later, on September 22, 1936. This was Otto Weidt’s third marriage; he had two sons from his first marriage.

In 1936 Otto Weidt opened a Workshop for the Blind in Kreuzberg in Berlin; Else Weidt worked there with him. Otto Weidt took great risks in trying to help his Jewish workers persecuted by the Nazis; his wife gave him constant support. After Otto Weidt died on December 22, 1947, Else Weidt took over the management of the Workshop for the Blind. She died aged 72 on June 8, 1974.

In 1936 he established a company with the name “Otto Weidt’s Workshop for the Blind” in the basement of Großbeerenstraße 92 in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg. From 1940 on the workshop was based at Rosenthaler Straße 39 in the Mitte district, occupying the entire first floor of the side wing of the building. As one of his customers was the Wehrmacht, Weidt managed to have his business classified as vital to the war effort.

Up to 30 blind and deaf Jews were employed at his shop between the years of 1941 and 1943.When the Gestapo began to arrest and deport his Jewish employees, he fought to secure their safety by falsifying documents, bribing officers and hiding them in the back of his shop. But in February and March 1943 many were arrested and deported to concentration camps during the police raids known as “Operation Factory”.

Aside from the blind, Weidt also employed healthy Jewish workers in his office. This was strictly forbidden, as all Jewish workers had to be mediated through the labor employment office, which would ordinarily post them to forced-labor assignments. However, Weidt, managed to hire them by bribery.

The Jewish Inge Deutschkron was among the eight healthy Jews employed at the workshop. Inge and her mother were living in hiding to live , Weidt arranged an Aryan work permit for Deutschkron which he had acquired from a prostitute, who had no use for it.

Unfortunately, the permit had to be discarded three months later when the police arrested the prostitute.

One of Weidt’s most spectacular exploits involved the rescue of a Jewish girl who had been deported to the camps in Poland. In February 1943 Otto Weidt hid the Licht family in a storage room in the workshop for the blind at Neanderstraße 12 in Berlin-Mitte. The Gestapo arrested the family in October 1943 and deported them to the Theresienstadt ghetto on November 15, 1943.

There Weidt could support them with food parcels. All of 150 parcels arrived. After 6 months Alice and her parents were deported to KZ Birkenau. Alice managed to send a postcard to Weidt who promptly traveled to Auschwitz in attempt to help her.

eidt found out that as Auschwitz was emptied, Alice was moved to the labor camp/ammunition plant Christianstadt. He hid clothes and money for her, in a nearby pension to aid her return. Through one of the civilian workers he contacted Alice and made her runaway and return to Berlin possible.

Alice eventually managed to return to Berlin in January 1945, and lived in hiding with the Weidt’s until the end of the war.

Alice’s parents both were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau

In the period from March 1943 until the end of the war there were only a few employees left in Weidt’s workshop. Apart from three non-Jewish workers, there were Jews married to non-Jews or people who had one Jewish parent, as well as several people in hiding like Inge Deutschkron, Alice Licht, Erich Frey, and Chaim and Max Horn.

Of the 33 only 7 survived.

After the war Otto Weidt supported the establishment of the Jewish Home for Children and the Aged at Moltkestraße 8-11 in the Berlin district of Niederschönhausen. After Liberation it was the first secure place for children and elderly people who escaped Nazi persecution.

All of this make Otto Weidt a hero, in my opinion. Just think of it, not only did he help Jews, he helped blind and deaf Jews. They were seen as lesser human beings in 2 categories as per the Nuremberg Laws. Otto died of heart failure in 1947, at 64 years of age.

On September 7, 1971, Yad Vashem recognized Otto Weidt as Righteous Among the Nations.

sources

https://www.museum-blindenwerkstatt.de/en/first-of-all/

https://www.yadvashem.org/righteous/stories/weidt.html

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Close encounters of a Star Wars kind.

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It’s no secret that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are good pals, but perhaps the best demonstration of their friendship is the fact that not even a $40 million bet has been able to come between them.

Star Wars has made creator George Lucas a lot of money over the year. But in 1977, he made a bet with fellow director Steven Spielberg that has wound up costing him over $40,00,000 so far, and all of it going directly into Spielberg’s pocket.

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The bet was made when Lucas was visiting Spielberg on the set of Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977, before Star Wars: A New Hope came out. Suddenly, the two of them were arguing which movie would do better — but they were arguing for each other’s films. Lucas said Close Encounterswould make more money, while Spielberg insisted on Star Wars.

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So the bet was made: Each of them would give the other 2.5% of their respective stakes in their own film, if it was the most successful. And even though Close Encounters made a whopping $303 million, Star Wars trounced it, making $775 worldwide in 1977 alone.

Since then, Spielberg has continued to get his share from theatrical re-releases, home video sales, and more.Adjusted for inflation, the film has made $1.48 billion at the box office, It is estimated that Spielberg made $40 million.

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What’s perhaps most remarkable is that Lucas supposedly actually made good on his bet with Spielberg — and the two have remained friends, teaming up for four Indiana Jones films in the years since the lopsided bet. Of course, the fact that they’re both billionaires may have made the wager a slightly less bitter pill to swallow.

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Not so much Back to the Future

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Who doesn’t remember the iconic car from Back to the Future? Or should I perhaps say the ironic car from Back to the Future,because although it couldn’t have  hoped for a better marketing tool then the movie franchise, the DeLorean DMC-12 completely failed.

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Despite it’s ultra-cool appearance  not many people actually bought a DeLorean car. They were much too expensive: Each one cost $25,000, compared with $10,000 for the average car and $18,000 for a souped-up Corvette.

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Also the wing doors weren’t that practical if you were parked between 2 cars, you couldn’t open them.

John DeLorean,the designer and the founder of the DeLorean company, grew up in Detroit and began to work for Chrysler while he was still in college. His career was a promising one.

DeLorean attended Detroit’s public grade schools, and was then accepted into Cass Technical High School, a technical high school for Detroit’s honor students, where he signed up for the electrical curriculum.

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DeLorean found the Cass experience exhilarating and he excelled at his studies. His academic record and musical talents earned him a scholarship at Lawrence Institute of Technology (now known as Lawrence Technological University), a small college in Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, that was the alma mater of some of the automobile industry’s best engineers. At Lawrence, he excelled in the study of industrial engineering.

World War II interrupted his studies. In 1943, DeLorean was drafted for military service and served three years in the U.S. Armyand received an honorable discharge. He returned to Detroit to find his mother and siblings in economic difficulty. He worked as a draftsman for the Public Lighting Commission for a year and a half to improve his family’s financial status, then returned to Lawrence to finish his degree

He worked his way up the corporate ladder at General Motors, where he is credited with designing the GTO and the Firebird, and became a vice-president in 1972, but he left the company just a year later to pursue his own business interests. In 1978, he started the DeLorean Motor Company in Northern Ireland

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The British government, along with investors like Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis, Jr., paid the bulk of his start-up costs—to build his dream car: the DMC-12, a sports car that was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Its stainless-steel body was unpainted; its doors opened up, not out; it had a 130-hp Renault engine and could go from zero to 60 mph in eight seconds.

However John DeLorean got into difficulties.On October 19, 1982, he wass arrested and charged with conspiracy to obtain and distribute 55 pounds of cocaine. DeLorean was acquitted of the drug charges in August 1984, but his legal woes were only beginning.

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He soon went on trial for fraud and over the next two decades was forced to pay millions of dollars to creditors and lawyers. Nevertheless, DeLorean occupies an important place in automotive history: Thanks to its starring role in the 1985 film “Back to the Future,” his gull-wing sports car is one of the most famous cars in the world.

DeLorean was already mired in legal problems by the time  Steven Spielberg chose a DMC–12 to serve as Marty McFly’s time machine in “Back to the Future.”

Back_to_the_FutureSpielberg had originally planned to use an old refrigerator instead of a car, but had changed his mind at the last minute. (The director liked the DeLorean’s futuristic look, but more than that he was worried that young fans of the movie might accidentally get stuck in refrigerators and freezers while playing make-believe.) While the DeLorean’s instant celebrity did not do much to revive its creator’s fortunes, it granted him a permanent footnote in pop-culture history.

DeLorean died at Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey from a stroke, on March 19, 2005 at age 80. He was a resident of Bedminster, New Jersey. His ashes are interred at the White Chapel Cemetery, in Troy, Michigan. His tombstone shows a depiction of his DMC-12 with the gull-wing doors open.At the request of his family, and in keeping with military tradition, he was interred with military honors for his service in World War II.

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Twilight Zone fatal accident

 

 

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On this day in 1982, Vic Morrow and two child actors, Renee Shinn Chen and Myca Dinh Le, are killed in an accident involving a helicopter during filming on the California set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. Morrow, age 53, and the children, ages six and seven, were shooting a Vietnam War battle scene in which they were supposed to be running from a pursuing helicopter.

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The film featured four sequences, one of which was based on a 1961 Twilight Zone episode, “A Quality of Mercy.” In the script, character Bill Connor (Morrow) is a bigot who travels back in time to suffer through various eras of persecution, such as Nazi-occupied Europe and the racial segregation of the American South during the mid-20th century. He then finds himself in the midst of the Vietnam War, where he decides to protect some Vietnamese children from American troops.

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Special-effects explosions on the set caused the pilot of the low-flying craft to lose control and crash into the three victims.

 

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The accident took place on the film’s last scheduled day of shooting.

Twilight Zone co-director John Landis (Blues Brothers, Trading Places, National Lampoon’s Animal House) and four other men working on the film, including the special-effects coordinator and the helicopter pilot, were charged with involuntary manslaughter. According to a 1987 New York Times report, it was the first time a film director faced criminal charges for events that occurred while making a movie. During the subsequent trial, the defense maintained the crash was an accident that could not have been predicted while the prosecution claimed Landis and his crew had been reckless and violated laws regarding child actors, including regulations about their working conditions and hours. Following the emotional 10-month trial, a jury acquitted all five defendants in 1987. The familes of the three victims filed lawsuits against Landis, Warner Brothers and Twilight Zone co-director and producer Steven Spielberg that were settled for undisclosed amounts.

 

Landis’s career was not significantly affected by the incident, although he said in 1996: “There was absolutely no good aspect about this whole story. The tragedy, which I think about every day, had an enormous impact on my career, from which it may possibly never recover.”

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Film director Steven Spielberg, who co-produced the film with Landis, broke off their friendship following the accident.Spielberg said that the crash had “made me grow up a little more” and had left everyone who worked on the movie “sick to the center of our souls.” With regard to how the crash had influenced people’s attitudes towards safety, he said: “No movie is worth dying for. I think people are standing up much more now than ever before to producers and directors who ask too much. If something isn’t safe, it’s the right and responsibility of every actor or crew member to yell, ‘Cut!’

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Twilight Zone: The Movie opened on June 24, 1983 and received mixed reviews.

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