Holocaust and Art

These drawings are from Ravensbrück, Fallersleben and Salzwedel concentration camps. The artists are unknown, but I don’t think that actually matters. The subtleties of the pictures say so much. The text on the above picture from Ravensbrück, says, “Herr Kommando Führer, I am report for the morning roll call.”

Drawings from Fallersleben concentration camp.

In August 1944, a women’s satellite camp of Neuengamme concentration camp was established in Fallersleben for armaments production at the Volkswagen plant. The female Jewish prisoners, most of whom were from Hungary, arrived at the camp on three transports. 500 Jewish women were taken from Auschwitz-Birkenau to Fallersleben probably in August 1944. Additional women were brought to Fallersleben on two transports in November 1944 and January 1945 from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

With the caption “Opa” as in Grandfather however, I think they mean dirty old man in this context, because the old guard is watching women while they are showering.

Drawings from Salzwedel concentration camp.

In late July or early August 1944, a women’s satellite camp of Neuengamme concentration camp was established in Salzwedel. The Polte factory in Magdeburg had a branch in Salzwedel, which had operated under the title “Draht- und Metallfabrik Salzwedel” before World War II. When the war started, the factory began producing infantry and flak ammunition. The Polte factory requested 5,600 prisoners to use as forced labourers. Most of the 1,520 Jewish women in the Salzwedel satellite camp came from Hungary, while the rest came from Poland and Greece. The women arrived at Salzwedel on three transports from Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen in late July/early August, in October and again in December 1944. They were forced to work in two 12-hour shifts and were housed in a camp of huts in the grounds of a fertiliser plant on Gardelegener Straße.

In April, women from the evacuated Porta Westfalica-Hausberge and Fallersleben satellite camps arrived at Salzwedel, bringing the number of prisoners to approximately 3,000. Salzwedel was the only satellite camp of Neuengamme concentration camp not to be evacuated. The prisoners, were liberated by the Ninth U.S. Army on April 14, 1945.

The caption says “‘Lice hunt Fransche Stube Salzwedel”

The caption says “April 14 Liberation! Salzwedel”

I think that the drawings are very powerful. They are subtle in a way and yet one can detect a darkness in them.

sources

https://www.kz-gedenkstaette-neuengamme.de/en/history/satellite-camps/satellite-camps/fallersleben-women/

https://www.kz-gedenkstaette-neuengamme.de/en/history/satellite-camps/satellite-camps/salzwedel/

Women Victims of the Holocaust

Female prisoners of Ravensbruck dig under a guard’s watchful eye

I don’t know why I decided to do a blog specifically about the women victims of the Holocaust, but I just felt compelled to do one. I am married to a beautiful wife, and we have a beautiful daughter. I have two older sisters, and of course, like everyone else I also have a mother, who sadly passed away in 1996. All of these women have played an important part in my life, if not the most important part in my life. It is because of them I am the man I am today.

I could not imagine living without them. During the Holocaust, the treatment of women was harsh, more so than men. At least some men, if they were young enough and reasonably healthy, would have a slightly better chance of surviving.

It was normalized for women to sent to the gas chambers immediately after selection on arrival at the death camps, especially when they had young children. The women not selected for immediate death, were subjected to experiments, forced sterilizations, rape, and punishments.

Following are just a few of the women victims of the Holocaust.

Only known as Gerda D

On July 14, 1933, the Nazi dictatorship enacted the Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases. Individuals who were subject to the law were those men and women who “suffered” from any of nine conditions listed in the law: hereditary feeblemindedness, schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, hereditary epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea (a rare and fatal degenerative disease), hereditary blindness, hereditary deafness, severe physical deformity, and chronic alcoholism.

Gerda D., a shop worker, was one of an estimated 400,000 Germans the forcibly sterilized. After a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia, they sterilized her. Later, Nazi authorities forbade Gerda to marry because of the sterilization.

Women laborers forced to dig trenches in Ravensbruck for no other apparent reason than to dig trenches for the sake of it.

only known as Emmi G

Emmi G., a 16-year-old housemaid, was diagnosed as schizophrenic. She was sterilized and sent to the Meseritz-Obrawalde Euthanasia Center. There she was murdered with an overdose of tranquilizers on December 7, 1942. Place and date uncertain.

13-year-old Vera Berger caught typhus and tuberculosis in Bergen-Belsen and suffered starvation, but the young Czechoslovakian survived the liberation. Ravensbruck Camp Hospital, 1945.

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/gallery/women-during-the-holocaust-photographs

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/ravensbrueck

Fritz Sauckel’s Letter-Hiding evil in words.

Ernst Friedrich Christoph “Fritz” Sauckel was a Nazi politician, Gauleiter of Gau Thuringia from 1927 and the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Deployment (Arbeitseinsatz) from March 1942 until the end of World War 2. He was one the 24 persons accused in the Nuremberg Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, sentenced to death, and executed by hanging on October 16,1946, 11 days before his 52nd birthday.

At the Nuremberg trials, Sauckel was accused of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes and crimes against humanity. He defended the Arbeitseinsatz as “nothing to do with exploitation.

It is an economic process for supplying labour”. He denied that it was slave labour or that it was common to deliberately work people to death or to mistreat them. However this is not what he said in a letter he had sent to Alfred Rosenberg, 20 April 1942, Report on Labor Mobilization Program.

When you read the letter it looks like an ordinary business operation letter, even a supply chain demand report. But if you read it carefully you will see it is all but that, Below is an English translation of the letter, and I appreciate it that you may not have the time tp read it in one go. This is one key line from the letter.

“All the men [prisoners of war and foreign civilian workers] must be fed, sheltered, and treated in such a way as to exploit them to the highest possible extent at the lowest conceivable degree of expenditure.”

It also explains that all German women should be spared hard labour, but as the picture above shows that was not the case for Non German women.

The letter:

Very esteemed and dear Party-member Rosenberg!
Enclosed please find my program for the mobilization of labor. Please excuse the fact that this copy still contains a few corrections.
Heil Hitler!
Yours
[signed] Fritz Sauckel

To The “Reichminister”
for the Occupied Territories of the East
Party-Member Rosenberg
Berlin

[From] The Deputy for the Four-Year Plan
The Plenipotentiary for Labor Mobilization

20 April 1942

The Labor Mobilization Program.

The aim of this new, gigantic labor mobilization is to use all the rich and tremendous sources, conquered and secured for us by our fighting Armed Forces under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, for the armament of the Armed Forces and also for the nutrition of the Homeland. The raw materials as well as the fertility of the conquered territories and their manpower are to be used completely and conscientiously to the profit of Germany and her allies.

In spite of the fact that most of the German people capable of doing so have already made a most commendable effort for the war economy, more considerable reserves must be found and made available under any circumstances.

The decisive measure to realize this is the uniformly regulated and directed labor mobilization of the nation at the war.

To reach the goal determined by the Fuehrer the simultaneous and quickest use of numerous different measures of unified purpose are absolutely necessary. As any one of those must not interfere with the others, but rather complement them, it is also absolutely necessary that all the offices [Dienststellen] in the Reich, its territories and communities, in party, state, and economy, participating in this decisive task act according to coordinated, synchronized directives.

Thus, the labor-mobilization of the nation contributes extraordinarily to the quickest and victorious termination of the war. It requires every effort of the German people on the Home front. It is for that German people, for their preservation, their freedom, happiness and amelioration of their nutrition and standards of living that this war is being fought.

The Task and its Solution

(No figures are mentioned because of security reasons. I can assure you, nevertheless, that we are concerned with the greatest labor-problem of all times, especially with regard to figures.)

A. The Task:

  1. The conscription of new soldiers to the gigantic extent for all branches and services of the Armed Forces has been rendered necessary by the present war situation.

This means:

a. The removal of workers from all professional enterprises, especially of a great number of trained personnel from armament producing war industries.

b. Also the removal of especially non-essential personnel from the war nutrition industry.

  1. The war situation necessitates the continuation of the tremendously increased and improved armament programs as ordered by the Fuehrer.
  2. The most essential commodities for the German people must continue to be produced for minimum requirements.
  3. The German housewife’s health, particularly the health of those on farms, must not be endangered in their quality as mothers by the war. On the contrary, they must be relieved in every possible way.

B. The Solution

All prisoners of war, from the territories of the West as well as of the East, who are already situated in Germany, must be completely incorporated into the German armament and nutrition industries. Their production must be brought to the highest possible level.

It must be emphasized, however, that an additional tremendous quantity of foreign labor has to be found for the Reich. The greatest pool for that purpose are the occupied territories of the East.

Jewish children making boxes in the Glubokoye ghetto. ——US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Karl Katz

Consequently, it is an immediate necessity to use the human resources of the conquered Soviet territory to the fullest extent. Should we not succeed in obtaining the necessary amount of labor on a voluntary basis, we must immediately institute conscription or forced labor.

Apart from the prisoners of war still in the occupied territories, we must, therefore, requisition skilled or unskilled male and female labor from the Soviet territory from the age of 15 up for the labor mobilization.

On the other hand, one quarter of the total need of foreign labor can be procured in Europe’s occupied territories West of Germany, according to existing possibilities.

The procurement of labor from friendly and also neutral countries can only cover a small part of the total need. It can be applied mostly to skilled workers and specialists.

  1. order to provide considerable relief to the German housewife, especially the mother with many children and the extremely busy farm-woman and in order to avoid any further danger to their health, the Fuehrer also charged me with the procurement of 400,000 – 500,000 selected, healthy and strong girls from the territories of the East for Germany.

6. labor mobilization of the German women is of very great importance.

Examining their very difficult problem and after getting thoroughly acquainted with the fundamental opinion of the Fuehrer as well as of the Reichsmarshal of the Greater German Reich and my own most careful inquiries and their results, I must absolutely reject the possibility of having an obligatory service decreed by the State for all German women and girls for the German War and Nutrition industry.

Although, at the beginning, I myself, and probably the majority of the leading personalities of the party and of the womanhood with me, believed that for certain reasons an obligatory service for women should be decreed, I am of the opinion that all responsible men and women in party, state and economy should accept with the greatest veneration and gratitude the judgment of our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, whose greatest concern has always been the health of the German women and girls; in other words, the present and future mothers of our nation.

I cannot enumerate all the reasons which made me come to that decision. I only ask for confidence in me as an old fanatical district chief of the National Socialist party and to believe that this could be the only possible decision.

We all agree that this decision might appear unjust towards millions of women who are engaged in defense and nutrition industries under the most strenuous conditions but we also realize that an evil cannot be remedied by spreading it to the utmost.

The only possible way to eliminate the existing injustices and hardships consists in winning the war in order to enable us to remove all women and girls engaged from jobs unsuitable for women, namely endangering their health, the birth-rate of our nation, and family and national life.

We must also consider the difference, whether a woman or girl has been used to work in the field or in a factory because of her young age, and whether already she has proved to be able to stand this kind of work.

Aside from physical harm, the German women and girls under any circumstances must be protected from moral and mental harm according to the wish of the Fuehrer.

Foreign workers from Stadelheim Prison work in a factory owned by the AGFA camera company

It is doubtful that these conditions could be fulfilled in the case of mass-conscription and employment. It is impossible to compare the German Woman with the German soldier in this case, because of the existing fundamental natural and racial differences between man and woman.

We cannot accept the responsibility for the dangers threatening the life of the nation resulting from such a measure in the field of women labor mobilization, in view of the countless men on the fighting front—our dead soldiers.

The many millions of women, however, faithfully and industriously engaged in the German economy, and especially now, in war time, rendering valuable services, deserve the best possible care and consideration. They, as well as the soldiers and work-men, deserve the greatest gratitude of our nation. [ . . . ]

The severest measures must be used against loafers, as we can not allow those parasites to shunt their duties in this decisive struggle of our people at the cost of the others.

Prisoners of War and Foreign Workers.

The complete employment of all prisoners of war as well as the use of a gigantic number of new foreign civilian workers, men and women, has become an indisputable necessity for the solution of the mobilization of labor program in this war.

All the men must be fed, sheltered and treated in such a way as to exploit them to the highest possible extent at the lowest conceivable degree of expenditure.

It has always been natural for us Germans to refrain from cruelty and mean chicaneries towards the beaten enemy, even if he had proven himself the most bestial and most implacable adversary, and to treat him correctly and humanly, even when we expect useful work of him.

As long as the German defense industry did not make it absolutely necessary, we refrained under any circumstances from the use of Soviet prisoners of war as well as of civilian workers, men or women, from the Soviet territories. This has now become impossible and the labor power of these people must now be exploited to the greatest possible extent.

Consequently, I arranged my first measures concerning the food, shelter and treatment of these foreign laborers with the highest competent Reich authorities and with the consent of the Fuehrer and the Reichsmarshal of the Greater German Reich in such a way that a top performance will be demanded and will be obtained.

It must be remembered, though, that even the effort of a machine is conditioned by the amount of fuel, skill and care given to it. How many more conditions must be considered in the case of men, even of low kind and race, than in the case of a machine!

I could not accept the responsibility towards the German people, if after having brought such a tremendous number of men to Germany these men would one day become a burden for the German people or even endanger their health, instead of doing very necessary and useful work, because of mistakes made in their nutrition, shelter and treatment.

The principles of German cleanliness, order and hygiene must therefore also be carefully applied to Russian camps.

Only in such a way will it be possible to exploit that labor to the highest benefit of arms production for the fighting front and for the war nutrition program, without any trace of false sentimentalism.

[ . . . ]

All action making the stay and work in Germany more difficult and unnecessarily unbearable for the foreign workers and exceeding the restrictions and hardships imposed by the war must be avoided. We depend to a large extent upon their good will and their production.

It is therefore only logical to make their stay and work in Germany as bearable as possible—without denying anything to ourselves.

[ . . . ] Therefore, I want to cordially yet insistently commit all German men and women whose labor during war time will be decisive to comply with all those necessities, decisions and measures, according to the old National Socialist principle:

Nothing for us, everything for the Fuehrer and his work, that is, for the future of our Nation!

[signed]: Fritz Sauckel”

Source of English translation: United States Chief Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume III: Documents 001-PS through 1406-PS. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1946, Document 016-PS, pp. 46-59.

What strikes me in this letter is the repeated references to “Foreign Workers” most of them were Jewish, and many of them were German citizens and possibly more German than some of the Nazi leadership.

sources

https://ghdi.ghi-dc.org/docpage.cfm?docpage_id=2415

http://www.camps.bbk.ac.uk/themes/slave-labour.html

https://www.ushmm.org/collections/bibliography/forced-labor

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Evil science

No matter how you twist or turn it, when you are complicit to a crime, you are just as guilty as the perpetrator, and perhaps even more guilty because you were an enabler of that crime.

Hermann Stieve was Director of the Berlin Institute of Anatomy from 1935 to 1952, which was from the early days of the Third Reich until 7 years after the war.

His research on the female reproductive system is controversial, as some of his scientific insights derived from histological investigations on the genital organs of executed women. These investigations were made possible by the sharp increase in executions during the “Third Reich.” Stieve’s research was methodologically accurate and contributed significantly to contemporary scientific debates. Nevertheless, his use of the organs of execution victims, some of them resistance fighters, benefited from the Nazi justice system. He thus indirectly supported this system of injustice.

Charlotte Pommer , a young physician, who had been an assistant to Dr Stieve, reported after the war.

“On 22nd of December 1942 eleven men were hanged and five women decapitated. Fifteen minutes later they were laid out on the dissection tables in the anatomical institute. [She] lay on the first table, […] on the third table the big lifeless body of her husband […] I felt paralyzed and could hardly assist Professor Stieve, who – as always- carried out his scientific exploration with great care and uncommon diligence […] After the impressions of that night I resigned from my position”

Stieve wanted to study human organs. He was able to get some donated uteruses and ovaries from the bodies of accident victims, or from surgeons who had removed them. One of the best historical sources of organs for research, the bodies of executed criminals, had not been available during the early years of his research as the Weimar government made very minimal use of the death penalty, and did not execute any women. In a 1931 letter Stieve complained that it was difficult to get a set of ovaries from a healthy woman.

After the National Socialist regime came to power in January 1933, one of its first goals was the reorganization of the universities. Leadership of the universities was taken away from the individual German states and centralized within the Ministry of Education in Berlin, which was also responsible for the anatomical institutes. This included research funding, recruitment of faculty, and the professional society, the Anatomische Gesellschaft. In terms of the body procurement, the Ministry of Education shared this responsibility with the Ministry of Justice, when bodies from prisons and executions were concerned. All science was to be aligned with NS doctrine and to be utilized for war purposes.

Stieve, who had accepted a professorship at what is now Humboldt University of Berlin as well as the directorship of its anatomical institute, reached an agreement with administrators at Plötzensee Prison outside the city to accept all bodies of those shot, hanged or beheaded, many of them political prisoners. Others were “Polish and Russian slave laborers executed for such acts as socializing with German women,” according to Seidelman. Over the entire Nazi era that came to around 3,000 victims, many more bodies than Stieve needed for research purposes. It is alleged that during his research he claimed the corpses of 182 victims of the Nazi regime, 174 of whom were women at the age rank from 18 to 68, two thirds of victims were of German origin.

I just want to focus n 2 of his subjects.

Liane Berkowitz, a German resistance fighter and was most notable for being was a member of the Berlin-based pro-soviet resistance group that coalesced around Harro Schulze-Boysen, that was later called the Red Orchestra by the Abwehr. Arrested and sentenced to death, she was executed shortly after she gave birth to a daughter in custody.

The young mother was executed in Plötzensee Prison at 7.45 p.m on 5 August 1943, two days before her 19th birthday.

Liane’s daughter Irina was born on 12 April 1943 in the women’s prison on Barnimstraße.[The grandmother took care of the child from July 1943. As the Reichskriegsgericht pronounced the sentence recommendation when checking with Adolf Hitler to dismiss the pregnant Liane Berkowitz from prison, he expressly rejected any reprieve. The death sentence was confirmed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel and countersigned. Her body was delivered to Hermann Stieve to be dissected for research. Her final resting place is unknown. Her daughter Irina died on 16 October 1943 in hospital in Eberswalde under unclear circumstances.

Mildred “Mili” Elizabeth Fish-Harnack was an American literary historian, author, translator, and resistance fighter, born in Wisconsin. After marrying Arvid Harnack, she moved with him to Germany, where she began her career as an academic. Fish-Harnack spent a year at the University of Jena and the University of Giessen working on her doctoral thesis. At Giessen, she witnessed the beginnings of Nazism. In 1930, the couple moved to Berlin and Fish-Harnack became an assistant lecturer in English and American literature at the University of Berlin. In the early 1930s, the couple became increasingly interested in the Soviet communist system. Harnack established a writers’ group that studied the Soviet planned economy, and the couple were able to arrange a visit to the Soviet Union during August 1932 and by 1933 they were fully committed to Soviet ideology. Through contacts at the American embassy, Fish-Harnack became friends with Martha Dodd, who became a part of her salon where they discussed current affairs. In 1936, Fish-Harnack’s translation of Irving Stone’s biography of Vincent van Gogh, Lust for Life, was published.

In 1938, the couple began to resist Nazism. They became friends with Louise and Donald Heath, who was First Secretary at the embassy, and to whom Harnack passed economic intelligence from his position at the Reich Trade Ministry. By 1940, the couple came into contact with other anti-fascist resistance groups and cooperated with them. The most important of these was run by German air force officer Harro Schulze-Boysen. Like numerous groups in other parts of the world, the undercover political factions led by Harnack and Schulze-Boysen later developed into an espionage network that collaborated with Soviet intelligence. Fish-Harnack became a resistance fighter as a member of a Berlin anti-fascist espionage group, later called the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) by the Abwehr. The couple were arrested in September 1942 and executed shortly after.

On 7 September 1942, the Harnacks were arrested by the Gestapo at the seaside village of Preila on the Curonian Spit.

Harnack was sentenced to death on 19 December after a four-day trial before the Reichskriegsgericht (“Reich Military Tribunal”), and was executed three days later at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin. Fish-Harnack was initially given six years in prison, but Adolf Hitler refused to endorse the sentence and ordered a new trial, which resulted in a death sentence on 16 January 1943.She was beheaded by guillotine on 16 February 1943. While she was imprisoned, She was the only American woman executed on the direct orders of Adolf Hitler.

After her execution, her body was released to Hermann Stieve to be dissected for his research into the effects of stress, such as awaiting execution, on the menstrual cycle. After he was finished, he gave what was left to a friend of hers, who had the remains buried in Berlin’s Zehlendorf Cemetery.

Unlike the research of Nazi scientists who became obsessed with racial typing and Aryan superiority, Stieve’s work didn’t end up in the dustbin of history. The tainted origins of this research, along with other studies and education that capitalized on the Nazi supply of human body parts—continue to haunt German and Austrian science, which is only now fully grappling with the implications. Some of the facts, amazingly, are still coming to light. And some German, Austrian, and Polish universities have yet to face up to the likely presence of the remains of Hitler’s victims, their cell and bone and tissue, in university collections that still exist today.

sources

https://web.archive.org/web/20150715183928/http://www.gedenkstaette-ploetzensee.de/zoom/09_6_dt.html

https://slate.com/human-interest/2013/11/mildred-harnack-was-executed-by-hitler-for-resisting-the-nazis-now-we-know-what-happened-to-her-remains.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48215894

https://www.timesofisrael.com/microscopic-remains-of-nazi-victims-studied-by-german-doctor-buried-in-berlin/

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/history/2013/11/nazi_anatomy_history_the_origins_of_conservatives_anti_abortion_claims_that.html?via=gdpr-consent

https://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/jbc/article/view/10848/10058

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19173259/

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Afghanistan

Afghanistan is in the news again for all the wrong reasons. But I am not going to address that here, there are plenty of news outlets where you can read all about that.

I want to go more into the history, or at least the recent history, of Afghanistan.

The name Afghanistan (Afghānistān, land of the Afghans/Pashtuns, afāghina, sing. afghān) can be traced to the early eighth/fourteenth century, when it designated the easternmost part of the Kartid realm. This name was later used for certain regions in the Ṣafavid and Mughal empires that were inhabited by Afghans. While based on a state-supporting elite of Abdālī/Durrānī Afghans, the Sadūzāʾī Durrānī polity that came into being in 1160/1747 was not called Afghanistan in its own day. The name became a state designation only during the colonial intervention of the nineteenth century.

After the end of the Third Anglo-Afghan War and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi on 19 August 1919, King Amanullah Khan declared Afghanistan a sovereign and fully independent state. He moved to end his country’s traditional isolation by establishing diplomatic relations with the international community, particularly with the Soviet Union and the Weimar Republic of Germany.[75][76] Following a 1927–28 tour of Europe and Turkey, he introduced several reforms intended to modernize his nation. A key force behind these reforms was Mahmud Tarzi, an ardent supporter of the education of women. He fought for Article 68 of Afghanistan’s 1923 constitution, which made elementary education compulsory. The institution of slavery was abolished in 1923. Khan’s wife Queen Soraya Tarzi was an important figure during this period in the fight for woman’s education and against their oppression.

Some of the reforms that were put in place, such as the abolition of the traditional burqa for women and the opening of several co-educational schools, quickly alienated many tribal and religious leaders, and this led to the Afghan Civil War (1928–1929). Faced with the overwhelming armed opposition, Amanullah Khan abdicated in January 1929, and soon after Kabul fell to Saqqawist forces led by Habibullah Kalakani. Prince Mohammed Nadir Shah, Amanullah’s cousin, in turn defeated and killed Kalakani in October 1929, and was declared King Nadir Shah. He abandoned the reforms of Amanullah Khan in favor of a more gradual approach to modernization but was assassinated in 1933 by Abdul Khaliq, a fifteen-year-old Hazara student who was an Amanullah loyalist.

Until 1946, Zahir Shah ruled with the assistance of his uncle, who held the post of Prime Minister and continued the policies of Nadir Shah. Another of Zahir Shah’s uncles, Shah Mahmud Khan, became Prime Minister in 1946 and began an experiment allowing greater political freedom, but reversed the policy when it went further than he expected. He was replaced in 1953 by Mohammed Daoud Khan, the king’s cousin and brother-in-law, and a Pashtun nationalist who sought the creation of a Pashtunistan, leading to highly tense relations with Pakistan.During his ten years at the post until 1963, Daoud Khan pressed for social modernization reforms and sought a closer relationship with the Soviet Union. Afterward, the 1964 constitution was formed, and the first non-royal Prime Minister was sworn in.

King Zahir Shah, like his father Nadir Shah, had a policy of maintaining national independence while pursuing gradual modernization, creating nationalist feeling, and improving relations with the United Kingdom. However, Afghanistan remained neutral and was neither a participant in World War II nor aligned with either power bloc in the Cold War thereafter. However, it was a beneficiary of the latter rivalry as both the Soviet Union and the United States vied for influence by building Afghanistan’s main highways, airports, and other vital infrastructure in the post-war period. On a per capita basis, Afghanistan received more Soviet development aid than any other country. Afghanistan had, therefore, good relations with both Cold War enemies. In 1973, while the King was in Italy, Daoud Khan launched a bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan, abolishing the monarchy.

The picture at the start of the blog is of the King of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah rides in his limousine on Kabul’s central road Idga Wat in this 1968 photo. Zahir Shah, the last of King of Afghanistan lived in exile in Rome since a 1973 coup, returning to Afghanistan in 2002, after the removal of the Taliban. He passed away in Kabul in 2007, at the age of 92.

Following the election of Mohammed Daoud Khan as Prime Minister in 1953, social reforms giving women a more public presence were encouraged. One of his aims was to break free from the ultra-conservative, Islamist tradition of treating women as second-class citizens. During his time, he made significant advances towards modernization.

The Prime Minister prepared women’s emancipation carefully and gradually. He began by introducing women workers at the Radio Kabul in 1957, by sending women delegates to the Asian Women’s Conference in Kairo, and by employing forty girls to the government pottery factory in 1958. When this was met with no riots, the government decided it was time for the very controversial step of unveiling.On August 1959, on the second day of the festival of Jeshyn, Queen Humaira Begum and Princess Bilqis appeared in the royal box at the military parade unveiled, alongside the Prime Minister’s wife, Zamina Begum.A group of Islamic clerics sent a letter of protest to the Prime minister to protest and demand that the words of sharia be respected.The Prime minister answered by inviting them to the capital and present proof to him that the holy scripture indeed demanded the chadri.When the clerics could not find such a passage, the Prime Minister declared that the female members of the Royal Family would no longer wear veils because the Islamic law did not demand it. While the chadri was never banned, the example of the Queen and the Prime Minister’s wife was followed by the wives and daughters of government officials as well as by other urban women of the upper class and middle class, with Kubra Noorzai and Masuma Esmati-Wardak known as the first commoner pioneers.

I just wanted a side of Afghanistan not so many people are aware of. The country we’re so often shown today is comparable to a broken medieval society, but not so long ago, the barren landscape was dotted with stylish buildings, women wore pencil skirts and teenagers shopped at record stores.

I know at the moment the situation in Afghanistan appears to be dire, and it looks like the Taliban has thrown the country back a few centuries.

But perhaps this glimpse of Afghanistan’s past, can one day become the future again.

sources

Donation

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International Women’s Day-Celebrating women.

Although I do not really agree with the concept of having a day dedicated to Women or Men, or juts being that Women or Men. I would rather see days allocated to Women and Men who despite great adversities achieved many things.

The idea of an International Women’s Day or International Men’s Day(which by the way get a lot less media coverage) is too broad for me because it celebrates every woman and man even those who committed horrendous crimes.

However since this is a site focusing on history, and I also want to use this opportunity to celebrate the beauty of women before the woke generation put s a stop to that, or even puts a stop to addressing every woman as a woman.

The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day in the International Women’s Year, 1975. But the earliest Women’s Day observance, called “National Woman’s Day”,[9] was held on February 28, 1909, in New York City, organized by the Socialist Party of America.

In 1914, International Women’s Day was held on March 8 in Germany, possibly because that day was a Sunday, and now it is always held on March 8 in all countries. The 1914 observance of the Day in Germany was dedicated to women’s right to vote, which German women did not win until 1918.

(Women’s demonstration for bread and peace – March 8, 1917, Petrograd, Russia)

Celebrating women and their beauty.

Women in Auschwitz

women

On March 26, 1942, close to 1000  women were taken from the Ravensbrück concentration camp to Auschwitz, most of them were deemed “criminals” and “a-socials”. Only a few hours later,  yet another transport arrived. Again, it was made up of almost 1000 Jewish women from Slovakia. It would be first transport of women to  Auschwitz.

Rather then going into the details of this event I will focus on 4 eye witness accounts of women who survived the Holocaust.

Laura Varon on the experience when she first arrived in Auschwitz

“They opened the doors, the squeaking doors… and a little bit of air came… When we arrived in Auschwitz, we were already numb: the bones, the legs were not moving anymore. Two men in striped uniforms, because they heard us speaking Ladino, they told us in Ladino, ‘We are Greeks from Saloniki. Give the children to the old people,’ they told us. Again, we didn’t [understand] what this meant. How can you understand, ‘Give the children to the old people?’ And then they were afraid to talk to us and that’s all, ‘Give the children to the old people.'”

Feige Serl-Lax  on her arrival in Auschwitz

“…And then we were in Auschwitz and then they opened the door, the Polish Jewish boys come… They were there… a long time. And he sees my sister, [she] was a beauty. He said, ‘You have children?’ She said, ‘Yes. Two children.’ And in that manner he said, ‘Let the children go left and you two go right.’ I take out the child and my sister takes out [the other child] and we don’t let him. We come in the line to Mengele. That Polish man that I didn’t want to release the child to, then he comes and takes the child from me and pushes me to the right… and he wants to take from my sister, also the little boy… Mengele was angry and told my sister to go left. I never saw]her again. That was the last time.”

Yehudit Rubinstein on her experiences

“…They sent us… to the bathhouse. So there the first order we got: Everything off. We just couldn’t believe what we heard: to take off everything, take off clothes, everything, pins from your hair, everything out. We were uncomfortable, the first time in my life I was in public, undressing in front of men, coming in and out, then we understood that nothing will help us, so we had to undress, and they called ‘Who is a hairdresser?’ …So one woman whom I knew as a young girl from my town, she was a hairdresser, so step by step with the scissors and with their machine started to cut the hair, other parts, everywhere, private parts, before we turned around under the shower, opened the water before we had a chance to wet ourselves: ‘Raus’ , they gave us this gray uniform, and just our shoes – the lot of us were holding on to their shoes, put on their shoes, bare naked and nothing on them and out in the garden, out in front of the bathhouse.

shaven

Lea Kahana-Grunwald recalled her memories of a pregnant woman.

“A girl came in. She came in with her mother. She was pregnant and he overlooked it, Mengele. He didn’t notice. It was a young girl, a young person. The first child. She wasn’t so big. She had the child on the bunk, without any help. The mother was with her and I suppose the staff helped her through it… I don’t know what they did with the child, whether they burned it or what. She gave birth and she had to stand next morning at roll call. She survived. The child was killed. How they killed it I don’t know the details, but I knew the girl. She was from my town and she got married a few months earlier. That was her first pregnancy, her first child.”

Source

Yad Vashem

Sex during the Holocaust

Brothel

I know this is an awkward subject and some people may have difficulties even reading past the first sentence. However just because it is awkward and  controversial doesn’t mean it is not important.

Sex is one of the most primal human instincts and urges it is how we manage to reproduce, but is more then that it is something that makes us feel good. The orgasm is  the peak of sexual excitement. It is a powerful feeling of physical pleasure and sensation. And sex  is something we even need  for our general physical and mental  health.

Capture

I have often wondered how it must have been during the Holocaust and especially in the camps, was it even possible?

The aim of the Nazi regime was to eradicate the Jews and to a lesser degree Gypsies and other ethnic groups. Aside from the mass murder they also deprived those who worked in the camps from having sex, therefor ensuring they would not reproduce. Often they also would be subjected to sterilization

In all documentations  I have read about the Holocaust, I have not discovered any indication that the deprivation of sex  was ever considered as a crime, in the post war trials.Which I find strange because  It was of course a heinous crime to deprive anyone from one of the most human of human rights.

If anyone was caught having sex there would be severe punishments. Sexual contact between prisoners was extremely rare. Men and women were mostly separated in the camps but in some work groups they would sometimes work together.

Rudolf Vrba’s  recounts some exceptions, in his book “I Escaped From Auschwitz “. On  one occasion a  male kapo of a male inmate work group had a longing  for sex with the female kapo of a female work group working in the same operation, sorting the belongings of the victims who had been murdered in the gas chambers. The female kapo was an attractive, young Hungarian girl who agreed to have sex  if she was given some specified gifts. Vrba was instructed  in  one casewas to transport the gifts to the female kapo before the sexual encounter. Unfortunately for Vrba, he was caught ,the gifts, taken from the belongings of the murdered individuals, were considered property of the Reich He was beaten severely because he hadn’t reported the 2 Kapos.

Kanada

In Joan Ringlehiem’s book “Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust.” one survivor recalled “I had two enemies: Nazis and men.” in the same book another survivor gave her account describes that  besides the Nazis, men acted like “animals” too. She stated  that one day, the SS officers decided to let the men go to the side where the women were. At this point in time, all they wanted to do was have sex.

Germans were not allowed to have sex with any one deemed by the Nazis as ‘sub human’,anyone caught having sex with a Jew or any other ethnic minority not considered Aryan, could result in severe penalties, even the death penalty.

Young attractive women were often forced into working in brothels  to work as sex slaves.Two of the largest were in Auschwitz, in Nazi-occupied Poland, with the main brothel nicknamed ‘Puff’ situated just behind the Arbeit Macht Frei entrance in Block 24.

24

An estimated  21 women prisoners worked in the Auschwitz brothels which were known as Sonderbauten (special buildings). The final brothel was opened in 1945.Emaciated prisoners chosen for the brothels were given a humiliating medical check and had disinfectant cream smeared over their genitals.

But there were brothels in other camps too, the picture at the top of the blog is a picture of a brothel in Buchenwald.

The brothels were created as an incentive for prisoners to collaborate, although these was  mostly by Kapos,   criminals who would use the brothels.

The Auschwitz brothel was fitted with peep holes used by SS guards  to ensure the inmates only used the missionary position.

Heinrich Himmler  had initially intended the brothels to be used to ‘convert’ gay  prisoners by teaching them  “the joys of the opposite sex”,

Homosexuals of course were another group persecuted by the Nazi regime. That would mainly apply yo gay man and not so much to lesbians, there were only a few lesbians persecuted and this was not even the primary reason it usually was  because they were Jewish rather then lesbian. Female homosexuality was basically not acknowledged of something that existed.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know 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. Thank you. 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

USHMM

The Guardian

Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust.”

Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust.”

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.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know 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. Thank you. 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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NS-Frauen-Warte- Nazi propaganda in a glossy women’s magazine.

magazine

The NS-Frauen-Warte was a fortnightly  Nazi magazine for women. At a first glance the magazine looked harmless. It would often have recipes or sewing patterns etc. But most of the articles in the magazine were pure propaganda, aimed to brainwash women and especially young mothers.

Below is an article from the January 1940 edition. The cover of the magazine shows a child making a snowball, the main article is called “Life must win”

“What the man sacrifices in fighting for his people, the woman sacrifices in fighting to maintain this people. The man shows heroism on the battlefield, the woman shows it in eternal patient devotion, in ever patient sorrow and endurance.

Each child that she brings into the world is a battle that she fights for the existence or nonexistence of her people

— Der Führer

In happy times, holidays like Christmas Eve with the family or New Year’s Eve are high lights. In graver times when the fate of an entire people hangs in the balance, they are an occasion contemplating of times past and times to come . Only weak people will fall into lame sentimentality or be tempted by hopeless self-pity. Others find occasion to catch their breath, to find clear, solid knowledge that they can use to give them new courage to go on with their labours. But we should not forget that these holidays even during war bring joy and strength. A war Christmas is not a new thing to the older ones among us . We have experienced it before, those grave but unforgettable Christmases that united the homeland and the front together in unbreakable community. Christmas, that is the feast of family community. During war, it is the festival of community for all who are of the same nature, the same blood. It is the community of Germans; particularly now as we all stand before unprecedented change, a time of renewal, of youth, of the eternity of our people.

A correct comprehension of our time must make us proud and strong, and from such knowledge we may turn our view from outside to the lives of German women. Their high mission as guardians of life is very different from that of the man, and one cannot do enough to emphasize that again and again. The man’s life is filled with struggles and battles, with tools or working the soil. But today more than ever, the outcome depends on the quiet heroism of women. The willingness of the man to die stands against the will of the woman for life. The more we learn about the world and our people, the higher is the role of the woman, and the more we must see the question of life as the most significant. War and victory stand in the service of life, in the service of maintaining and extending the life of our people. That is their meaning.

Our enemies have often stated  openly that they look for victory not in fair fighting on the battlefield, but rather in a war of annihilation against the core of our national being, against our women and children. They may have hunger written on their battle flags, but these methods they used against us before hold no terror for us, for we are ready. What is behind those threats is more serious. The implacability of our enemies in England and above all in France is best understood when one realizes that their populations are declining. They face a Germany whose population is so strong they dare not attack it with arms. They hope that by prolonging the war, by blockades and starvation, they can exert pressure on the German life will. These shrinking peoples use poisoned weapons to fight the new, healthy German growth, a Germany they believed they had dealt with in the Treaty of Versailles by senselessly taking its territory in the hopes of cutting off Germany’s life.

The success or failure of the enemy’s devilish plans depends on German women and mothers, on their will to sacrifice and on their love for their children. It may often be difficult  to be a mother, to continue  the eternal struggle for the life of the German people. That is especially the truth  for women whose husbands are in the military, but each brave deed is its own reward. And let us not forget that life keeps going, and breaks through the barriers that stand in its way. Is not the continuing expansion of German territory new proof for the eternal law that life finds its way?

No one may remove the desire of German women to bear children. Some may try to spread the idea that children born during the war will face hunger and a future wounded in body and soul, as happened during the World War. But today’s government sees in children its greatest wealth, and its highest responsibility  in caring for them. It will ensure that children born during the war will be protected, and can look forward to a happy Germany. They will harvest what today is being sown in these great days. And we may not forget that today the whole people stand behind our children; once again it takes pleasure in children and loves them, seeing its future in its children.

Life is the world of the woman. The fate of her people is determined by her attitude toward life, in her will to happiness and her desire for children. Our soldiers protect Germany and all that we have achieved. But it is our women who are the foundation of the future of  Germany, who build it stone by stone through fine German children. Here are the values , here the right to life of our people. Our children are the river that carries German feeling, German thinking, German accomplishments, and the German will throughout the centuries.

Will the courage of German women to carry on life be less than the willingness of our soldiers to die? That is the question that faces us. The only answer is this:

A military or political victory over our enemies would be only half the battle, and could not guarantee Germany’s future or the Führer’s work. The decisive factor is the victory of life. And that is in the hands of our women and mothers.”

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know 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. Thank you. 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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Source

Heidelberg University

German Wikipedia

German History Docs