ANNNNNND! It kicks off with the usual suspects!
Enough with the slicin’ & dicin’! Time for The Overnight Open Thread!
ANNNNNND! It kicks off with the usual suspects!
Enough with the slicin’ & dicin’! Time for The Overnight Open Thread!
As the guys from Powerline said “Why the left can never be trusted with power“. Britain and France would not be going to war over to protect Czechoslovakia but to protect themselves. The attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of Neville Chamberlain, one of the most pusillanimous and weak kneed prime minsters of Britain ever, is almost laughable. Hitler taking the measure of Neville Chamberlain quite accurately, actually said “I saw my enemies in Munich, and they are worms.” The attempt to rehabilitate Chamberlain’s reputation I feel is part and parcel to rehabilitating the Jimmy Carter wing of the Democratic Party of which Barack Obama is the ultimate result and to denigrate the Ronald Reagan wing of the Republican Party or the Margaret Thatcher wing of the Tories who believed in the concept of “peace thorough strength”. Churchill said about Munich – “England has been offered a choice between war and shame. She has chosen shame and will get war”. We know now that had Britain and France showed any sort of fight, a coup was planned to oust Hitler in Germany, not that the Wehrmacht generals had any sort of humanity but they themselves did not think that they were ready for war. As for Britain’s lack of preparedness you can thank the governments of Stanley Baldwin, Ramsey MacDonald and Neville Chamberlain.
hat tip – Powerline
by Nick Baumann
Seventy-five years ago, on Sept. 30, 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Pact, handing portions of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler’s Germany. Chamberlain returned to Britain to popular acclaim, declaring that he had secured “peace for our time.” Today the prime minister is generally portrayed as a foolish man who was wrong to try to “appease” Hitler—a cautionary tale for any leader silly enough to prefer negotiation to confrontation.
But among historians, that view changed in the late 1950s, when the British government began making Chamberlain-era records available to researchers. “The result of this was the discovery of all sorts of factors that narrowed the options of the British government in general and narrowed the options of Neville Chamberlain in particular,” explains David Dutton, a British historian who wrote a recent biography of the prime minister. “The evidence was so overwhelming,” he says, that many historians came to believe that Chamberlain “couldn’t do anything other than what he did” at Munich. Over time, Dutton says, “the weight of the historiography began to shift to a much more sympathetic appreciation” of Chamberlain.
First, a look at the military situation. Most historians agree that the British army was not ready for war with Germany in September 1938. If war had broken out over the Czechoslovak crisis, Britain would only have been able to send two divisions to the continent—and ill-equipped divisions, at that. Between 1919 and March 1932, Britain had based its military planning on a “10-year rule,” which assumed Britain would face no major war in the next decade. Rearmament only began in 1934—and only on a limited basis. The British army, as it existed in September 1938, was simply not intended for continental warfare. Nor was the rearmament of the Navy or the Royal Air Force complete. [............]
All of this factored into what Chamberlain was hearing from his top military advisers. In March 1938 the British military chiefs of staff produced a report that concluded that Britain could not possibly stop Germany from taking Czechoslovakia. In general, British generals believed the military and the nation were not ready for war. On Sept. 20, 1938, then-Col.Hastings Ismay, secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defense, sent a note to Thomas Inskip, the minister for the coordination of defense, and Sir Horace Wilson, a civil servant. [.........]
Historians disagree whether the British military’s position relative to Germany was objectively better in 1939 than it was in 1938. The British military systematically overestimated German strength and underestimated its own in the lead-up to the Czechoslovak crisis, then shifted to a more optimistic tone in the months between Munich and the outbreak of war. Whatever the situation on the ground, it’s clear that the British military’s confidence in its abilities was far higher in 1939 than it was during the Munich crisis, especially because of the development of radar and the deployment of new fighter planes. In 1939, the military believed it was ready. In 1938, it didn’t.
Chamberlain’s diplomatic options were narrow as well. In World War I, Britain’s declaration of war had automatically brought Canada, Australia, and New Zealand into the fight. But the constitutional status of those Commonwealth countries had changed in the interwar period. According to the British archives, it was far from clear that Chamberlain could count on the backing of these countries if war broke out with Germany over Czechoslovakia. [...........] There is also plenty of evidence in the archives that the British government had near-total disdain for the stability and fighting abilities of France, its only likely major-power ally. The average duration of a Third Republic government in the 1930s was nine months. When war did break out, Chamberlain’s doubts about France’s staying power proved prescient.
Nor was the British public ready for war in September 1938. “It’s easy to forget that this is only 20 years after the end of the last war,” Dutton notes. British politicians knew that the electorate would never again willingly make sacrifices like the ones it had made in World War I. The Somme and Passchendaele had left scars that still stung, and few, if any, British leaders were prepared to ask their people to fight those battles again. Many people saw the work of the Luftwaffe in the Spanish Civil War and feared that aerial bombardment would ensure that a second war would be more devastating that the first. [............]
If Britain were to go to war with Hitler’s Germany, most people didn’t want to do so over Czechoslovakia. “People spoke of Czechoslovakia as an artificial creation,” Dutton says. “The perception by the ’30s was there was a problem, it was soluble by negotiation, and we ought to try. It was not the sort of thing that would unite the country [as] an issue to go to war over.”
Nor is the modern view of Hitler reflective of how the Nazi dictator was seen in the late 1930s. Blitzkrieg and concentration camps were not yet part of the public imagination. The British had already been dealing with one fascist, Benito Mussolini, for years before Hitler took power, and top British diplomats and military thinkers saw Hitler the way they saw Mussolini—more bravado than substance. Moreover, many Europeans thought German complaints about the settlement of World War I were legitimate. We now see Hitler’s actions during the early and mid-1930s as part of an implacable march toward war. That was not the case at the time. German rearmament and the reoccupation of the Rhineland seemed inevitable, because keeping a big country like Germany disarmed for decades was unrealistic. Hitler’s merging of Austria and Germany seemed to be what many Austrians wanted. Even the demands for chunks of Czechoslovakia were seen, at the time, as not necessarily unreasonable—after all, many Germans lived in those areas.
To Chamberlain’s credit, his views changed as Hitler’s intentions became clearer. When Hitler took Prague and the Czech heartland in March 1939—his first invasion of an area that was obviously without deep German roots—Chamberlain said he feared it might represent an “attempt to dominate the world by force.” [.............]Then, on Sept. 3, some 11 months after Munich, he took his country to war.
Historians often find themselves moving against popular opinion. In the case of Chamberlain, though, the gap between public perception and the historical record serves a political purpose. The story we’re told about Munich is one about the futility and foolishness of searching for peace. In American political debates, the words “appeasement” and “Munich” are used to bludgeon those who argue against war. But every war is not World War II, and every dictator is not Hitler. Should we really fault Chamberlain for postponing a potentially disastrous fight that his military advisers cautioned against, his allies weren’t ready for, and his people didn’t support? [...........] Chamberlain’s story is of a man who fought for peace as long as possible, and went to war only when it was the last available option. It’s not such a bad epitaph.
Read the rest – Neville Chamberlain was right
Throughout history there have always been “court Jews” whom anti-Semites have used to “prove” that they were not really anti-Semitic. The most notorious in modern days were the vile Neturei Karta Jews who visit Iran and the have their photos taken with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and when he was alive, Yasser Arafat. Iran’s current president has brought over his very own Iranian Jew to show the world that he is not really a genocidal anti-Semite.
by Rafael Medoff
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has announced that when he attends the United Nations General Assembly this week, he will be accompanied by the only Jewish member of Iran’s parliament. Jewish arm candy can be very useful in certain sticky political situations.
Rouhani’s immediate predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was known for his claims that the Holocaust was a hoax. Hence NBC-TV’s Ann Curry recently asked the newly-elected Rouhani if he shares that view. He replied: “I’m not a historian, I’m a politician.” Rouhani is mistaken if he thinks that bringing MP Siamak Moreh Sedgh along to the UN will take the sting out of that reprehensible answer.
Adolf Hitler was perhaps the first dictator in modern times to utilize a Trophy Jew–ostensibly in pursuit of a trophy. In the months leading up to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, numerous Americans called for a boycott of the games. One of their main arguments was that the Nazi regime had broken the rules of the International Olympics Committee by refusing to let Jewish athletes compete for places on the German team.
Hitler responded by inviting a German Jewish high jumper, Margaret Lambert, to try out. American opponents of the boycott made good use of the Lambert invitation to undercut the anti-Nazi boycott campaign. Lambert’s try-out jump of 1.60 metres tied the German high-jump record, but just days before the games opened –after the Nazis had fully exploited the p.r. benefits of her presence– she was informed by the authorities that she did not make the team because of her “mediocre performance.”
The Germans did not even have three women high jumpers to field, as did other Olympic teams. And one of their two jumpers later turned out to be a man who disguised himself as a woman on orders from Nazi officials. Ironically, the Hungarian athlete who won the high-jump in the 1936 games reached the same height Lambert did in the try-outs, 1.60. [..........]
The leaders of the Soviet Union employed some Jewish arm candy of their own. In response to criticism of the persecution of Soviet Jews, the Kremlin sent Moscow’s chief rabbi, Yehuda Leib Levin, to the United States in June 1968 to announce that “all the restrictions on [Jewish] culture, work and similar matters were eliminated and the Jews have the same rights as other nationalities.” Accusations of Soviet antisemitism were all the creation of “bad tongues, evil tongues,” Rabbi Levin insisted.
Interestingly, Rabbi Levin’s visit was organized by the U.S. wing of Neturei Karta, a tiny extremist sect in Jerusalem that believes the State of Israel should not have been created. Evidently that was the only Jewish organization the Soviets could find that would sponsor Levin’s disinformation tour.
Some years later, one of Neturei Karta’s leaders, Rabbi Moshe Hirsch, filled the role of Jewish Prop for the Palestinian leadership. In 1994, Yasir Arafat appointed Hirsch as his “Minister for Jewish Affairs.” His main tasks included posing for photos holding hands with Arafat and giving interviews to Arab publications as the-Jew-who-denounces-Israel. [.........]
Hirsch was a bizarre figure who voluntarily chose to give aid and comfort to those who had devoted their lives to trying to destroy Israel. No doubt psychiatrists could have a field day deciphering his motives.
The other Trophy Jews, by contrast, were essentially prisoners. Margaret Lambert had to reckon with the likelihood that the Nazis would retaliate against her family if she refused to compete for the German Olympic team. [..........]Rabbi Levin, of course, went much further than Ms. Lambert, by becoming a public apologist for the Soviet regime, but most American Jews likely recognized that he was a captive mouthpiece for Soviet propaganda.
The Jewish MP whom Iranian president Rouhani is bringing to New York, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, seems to be cut from the same cloth as the late Moscow rabbi. In interviews with the international news media, Moreh Sedgh has accused Israel of “anti-human behavior” and denied that there is, or ever has been, antisemitism in Iran. He has not explained why it is that 90% of Iran’s Jews have chosen to flee the country since 1979.
If President Rouhani wants to persuade Americans that his recent election represents a genuine change of attitude in Tehran, he should respect our intelligence and stop trying to “prove” Iran is tolerant by trotting out a captive Jewish apologist for his regime. The American public will not be so easily fooled.
Read the rest – Rouhani’s Jewish arm candy
You’ve probably seen/heard the story by now. There’s a JC Penney billboard advertisement on the 405 freeway near Culver City California that’s created some controversy. Apparently some southbound commuters in bumper-to-bumper traffic are getting way too many fumes in their noggins, and decided that an image of a teapot looks EXACTLY like Adolf Hitler.
I happened to be in the Culver City area last week, saw the billboard in question. I thought little of it, but after all the hoopla I shot this pic today:
Doesn’t look much like Hitler to me (maybe a bit like Charles Johnson circa 2004) but apparently the good folks at Breitbart.com bought into it as well.
Hitler, Chaplin, Johnson – I dunno, Babs, but I do know this.
It’s time for a Friday Edition of The Overnight Open Thread.
An attack on an American Ambassador ought to be considered an attack on an American president and treated as an act of war.
by Shmuley Boteach
I just finished one of the best books I’ve read in a long time: In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. The book tells the story of William Dodd, President Roosevelt’s first ambassador to Hitler, and chronicles the slow descent of Germany into Nazi tyranny. One of the most striking features of the narrative is the fear that slowly descends on the German populace as they become terrified of expressing an opinion about Hitler and his police state, even in the company of close family and friends.
Yet Dodd and his family were utterly immune to such fear. Though they lived in a home that was owned by a Jewish banker; regularly hosted journalists who wrote critically of Hitler; drove by the home of Franz von Papen – the deputy chancellor – to show their support even after he had been placed under house arrest by Hitler for his Marburg speech of June, 1934; though Dodd openly snubbed Hitler every year by refusing to attend the Nazi Nuremberg rally where Hitler was celebrated as a god, Dodd never had anything to fear.
He did not have to worry that the SA would ransack his Berlin home in the middle of the night. He did not have to fear that his daughter Martha, who even had an affair with Gestapo head Rudolf Diels, would be summarily shot for her increasing disillusionment with Hitler’s regime. [.......] And he did not have fear that roaming bands of Nazi thugs would attack him for his protests to the German foreign minister against unprovoked attacks that threatened the lives of Americans.
And why didn’t he fear? Because even a monster as evil as Hitler, arguably the most dangerous man that ever lived, wasn’t going to mess with the American ambassador.
In fact, one of the stories told in the book is of the day Dodd took a walk with French ambassador André François-Poncet in the Tiergarten, when the latter told him he would not be surprised if he were shot in the street by the SS. Dodd was astonished. It had never occurred to him to worry; he was the American ambassador.
Indeed, Hitler and the Nazis never harassed Western ambassadors.
It therefore matters that just 80 years later a bunch of terrorist thugs think they can murder an American ambassador, in full sight of the world, without consequence.
American diplomatic staff were once the safest people in the world, representatives of a superpower that would rain hell from the skies should you touch one. [......]
The revelations coming out of the Congressional hearings on Benghazi, Libya – such as that the Obama State Department watered down public statements on the attack, cleansing them of any mention of al-Qaida and terrorism – are a travesty and demonstrate a lack of moral will to call evil by its proper name.
ABC News and Fox News reported this past Friday that the department’s talking points were revised fully 12 times to purge them of any mention of terrorism. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland asked the CIA to remove mention of their own security warnings about Benghazi. According to ABC News the original paragraph read, “The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qaida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. [......]
We cannot rule out [that] individuals [have] previously surveilled… US facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
But Nuland was concerned that the line “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that, either?” I have earlier written about how ambassador Susan Rice was an utterly inappropriate choice as secretary of state based on her efforts to disassociate the word “genocide” from the Rwandan mass slaughters of 1994 so as not to commit the Clinton administration to intervention. In a 2001 article published in The Atlantic, Samantha Power, author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning A Problem of Hell and arguably the world’s foremost voice against genocide, who currently serves on the National Security Council as an aide to President Obama, referred to Ambassador Susan Rice and her colleagues in the Clinton administration as “Bystanders to Genocide.”
Worse, the attempt to whitewash the Benghazi attacks and describe them merely as “a protest that turned violent” trivializes the death of ambassador Chris Stevens and the three Americans murdered with him, and threatens to cheapen the life of every American diplomat currently serving in a dangerous post.
We need to accept that the fear the United States once instilled in those with evil intent against our diplomatic staff has worn thin and the only way to reintroduce that fear is to understand fully what happened in Benghazi, and to rain fire on the culprits so that this never happens again
Read he rest - American ambassadors: from untouchable to dead
As the author states, the Nazis turned Poland into one vast cemetery. Hitler’s hatred of the Slavs was only surpassed by his hatred of the Jews and for 6 years Poland endured one nightmare after another. No other nation (outside of modern day Israel) has been stuck in such a terrible and dangerous neighborhood as Poland was – caught between Adolf Hitler on the West and Northeast (East Prussia) and Joseph Stalin in the East. Nevertheless Poland’s soldiers fought heroically in 1939 (it was a myth that Polish cavalry attacked German tanks with lances) and throughout World War II in the Battle of France, during the Battle of Britain (as pilots), in the Middle East and North Africa, at Monte Cassino in Italy (the Poles and French finally took the monastery and to this day the entire back of Monte Cassino is one vast Polish war cemetery), in Normandy and at Arnhem. Add in the heroic but doomed Warsaw Uprising of August 1944 and Poland’s 20th century history is one of betrayal and heroism. As a side note, let us not forget the Polish defeat of the Red Army in 1920 at the Battle of Warsaw which probably saved Central Europe from Communism.
In Prague, big red posters were put up on which one could read that seven Czechs had been shot today. I said to myself, ‘If I had to put up a poster for every seven Poles shot, the forests of Poland would not be sufficient to manufacture the paper.’
Hans Frank, 1940
Governor-General of occupied Poland’s ‘General Government‘ territory.
by Michael Sontheimer
Adolf Hitler left no doubt about his goal before he ordered the invasion of Poland. Addressing generals and commanders at a reception he gave at his Berchtesgaden retreat on August 22, 1939, Hitler said he was not interested “in reaching a specific line or a new border.” He wanted “the destruction of the enemy.”
On September 1, 1939, German soldiers marched across the border into neighboring Poland. The vastly superior Wehrmacht forces advanced so quickly that the Polish government was forced to flee to Romania just 16 days later. On September 27, the defenders of the Polish capital, Warsaw, gave up. Nine days later, the last remaining Polish troops laid down their weapons.
Thus begun a nightmarish occupation that would last more than five years. In Poland, the Nazis had more time than in any other occupied country to implement their policies against people they classified as “racially inferior.”
The task of implementing Hitler’s plan fell to Hans Frank, a 39-year-old lawyer, Nazi Party member and brutal champion of the Nazis’ vision of racial purity. Frank was named “Governor-General” of a large chunk of Poland, an area of about 95,000 square kilometers (36,680sq mi), with approximately 10 million inhabitants. This was the western part of Poland that had been annexed by the German Reich, while the eastern half of the country was occupied by the Red Army in accordance with the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, the 1939 non-aggression treaty between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
War Crimes Committed from the Outset
Frank was unashamedly proud of his ruthless regime, which contrasted with the comparatively lenient system of rule in the “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia,” as the Nazis called the majority ethnic-Czech region they had occupied. In 1940, Frank told a reporter for the Völkische Beobachter newspaper: “In Prague, for example, large red posters were hung up announcing that seven Czechs had been executed that day.” That had made him think: “If I had to hang up a poster every time we shot seven Poles, we’d have to cut down all the Polish forests, and we still wouldn’t be able to produce enough paper for all the posters I’d need.”
German soldiers committed war crimes in Poland from the very outset. One soldier in the 41st infantry division noted, “Polish civilians and soldiers are dragged out everywhere. When we finish our operation, the entire village is on fire. Nobody is left alive, also all the dogs were shot.”
Wehrmacht soldiers without battle experience thought they saw snipers everywhere, and ended up firing at anything that moved — often their own comrades. And if Polish soldiers merely shot at them, the Germans took revenge by setting entire villages ablaze or taking hostages and executing them.
Although Jews weren’t persecuted systematically during the “Polish campaign,” the anti-Semitism of the German troops surfaced time and again. The war diary of one machine gun battalion noted, “All the male inhabitants are standing under guard in a large square. The only exceptions are the Jews, who are not standing, but have been made to kneel and pray constantly.”
On the very day the last Polish soldiers gave themselves up, Hitler gave a speech to the German parliament, the Reichstag, promising to “reorganize the ethnographic conditions” in Europe. Hitler appointed SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler to carry out this project, whereupon Himmler was named Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Nationhood.
Plan for German Colonization up to the Urals
Himmler had his staff draw up an Eastern General Plan, a blueprint for the German colonization of all areas up to the Urals. After all, as Joseph Goebbels claimed, eastern Europe had always been Germany’s “destiny.” The propaganda minister predicted, “Tough peasant races will stand guard in the East.” SS leader Reinhard Heydrich said German settlers would act as a bulwark against the “raging tides of Asia.”
He wanted the annexed parts of western Poland to be “depolonized” and “germanized” as quickly as possible. To this end, some eight million Jews and Poles were to be moved into the General Government, the area of Poland under Nazi military control. Their places were to be taken by ethnic Germans “repatriated” from around the Baltic and from Volhynia and Galicia in western Ukraine.
The people deported to the General Government were only permitted to carry one suitcase each, as well as “one blanket per Pole.” Beds had to be left behind. Securities and valuables could not be taken — “wedding rings excepted.”
Himmler ordered all those living in the annexed eastern zones to be classified by race. The list of alleged “Germanic peoples” divided ethnic Germans into four groups. These ranged from those who identified themselves as German and were thus naturalized immediately, to Poles considered “capable of germanization,” who were deported for so-called “training” in the Altreich (Old Empire), as the Nazis called the area under German control before 1939. Such Poles were thus given German citizenship on a probationary basis.
A Nation of Slaves
The Nazis’ aim was to transform the Poles into a nation of slaves. In May 1940 Himmler wrote that “the non-German peoples of the East may not receive any education beyond four-year elementary school.” Their educational goal was to be as follows: “The ability to do simple sums no higher than 500, write their name, and understand that it is their divine duty to obey Germans, be honest, diligent and well-behaved.” The SS Reichsführer did not consider reading an essential element of the Polish curriculum.
In October 1940 Hitler ordered “all members of the Polish intelligentsia” to be killed. SS leader Heydrich therefore instructed the heads of the security police task forces to ensure that the remaining members of the Polish “political leadership” be “rendered harmless and placed in a concentration camp.” He also saw to it that lists of “teachers, clergymen, noblemen, legionaries, returning officers, etc.” were drawn up immediately.
In the fall of 1939, occupied Poland became a nightmare of often spontaneous and wanton terror. For instance, the head of Radom district threatened the death penalty for anyone caught felling trees in the forest for use as firewood. Throughout the country, the SS and the police slaughtered all those they considered to be Polish nationalists. The race-based expulsions and resettlement carried out by Himmler’s henchmen sowed fear, unrest and chaos.
Creation of Jewish Ghettos
But the Jews would soon be the main focus of the Nazis’ attention. Poland’s Jews were forced to wear white armbands with a blue Star of David almost two years before Jews in the Altreich were made to sew yellow stars on their clothes. As early as September 21, 1939, Heydrich decreed that “the Jewry” in the areas under his control were to be “concentrated in ghettos for easier control and subsequent expulsion.”
The occupiers set up the first major ghetto in Lodz, which they renamed Litzmannstadt, in the “Reich District of Wartheland” (also known as the Warthegau), where 3.7 million Poles and 400,000 Jews were resettled for “germanization.” In late April 1940, regional governor Friedrich Uebelhoer had 144,000 Jews corralled into an area of just 4 square kilometers (1 sq mi). As a result, the people in Lodz ghetto had to live six to a room on average.
In mid-November 1940, the Nazis set up the Warsaw ghetto, into which they packed at least half a million people. Very soon, more that 5,000 people a month were dying of hunger, typhoid and other infectious diseases in this “Jewish reservation.”
The creation of Lviv ghetto in late 1941 more-or-less completed the imprisonment of Poland’s Jews, who could now be given “special treatment,” as their systematic annihilation was officially termed.
“The Jewish problem must be solved during the war because this is the only way it can be completed without a general global hullabaloo,” wrote Franz Rademacher, the diplomat who headed the “Jewish department” of the German foreign ministry. Although no written order has ever been found in which Hitler ordered the “final solution of the Jewish problem,” there is much evidence to suggest that the Fuhrer decided to wipe out the European Jewry in the fall of 1941.
‘We Have to Destroy the Jews Wherever We Find Them’
In mid-December of that year, Governor-General Frank told his cabinet in Krakow that he had asked Berlin what was going to be done with the Jews. The reply had allegedly been: “Liquidate them yourself.” Frank therefore announced, “Gentlemen, I would ask you to steel yourself against any thoughts of compassion. We have to destroy the Jews wherever we find them.”
Measures were quickly put into place to carry out this genocide. The SS had the first extermination camp built in Chelmno near Lodz in November 1941. To this they had added the slaughterhouses of Auschwitz, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka and Majdanek by the summer of 1942. The lack of technology for large-scale killing initially proved the biggest problem. At first the SS locked Jews in sealed trucks and poisoned them with exhaust fumes, but that wasn’t considered quick enough.
SS researchers eventually hit upon a more satisfactory procedure whereby Soviet prisoners-of-war and Poles in Auschwitz were poisoned using the pesticide Zyklon B, which contains cyanide. In this way, the SS murdered more than a million people at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp alone. Rings, coins and tooth fillings from the victims were melted down, enabling Himmler’s men to send a phenomenal 33 metric tons of gold to the Reichsbank in Berlin.
Nevertheless, sympathy and solidarity with the Jews were more widespread in Poland than anti-Semitism. Tens of thousands of Jews in the General Government survived the occupation, most of them hidden by fellow Poles, even though the Nazis typically shot all the members of any family found to be harboring Jews.
Even minor offenses led to Poles being sent to Germany as forced laborers. In this way, more than two million people were enslaved.
Resistance Groups in the Forests
From the very beginning, the Nazis’ policy toward occupied Poland was beset by an intractable contradiction: You can’t destroy what you want to exploit. This dilemma became all too clear after Himmler ordered the city of Lublin and Zamosc district in southeastern Poland to be made a German “settlement area” within the General Government.
In November 1942, police officers began brutally evacuating more than 100,000 Polish farmers to make way for 20,000 ethnic Germans. Those fit for work were sent to Germany as slave laborers, old people and children were resettled in so-called “retirement villages,” while anyone deemed “inferior” or “unreliable” was deported to Auschwitz.
The defeat of the Wehrmacht forces besieging the Russian city of Stalingrad in January 1943 lifted the hopes of resistance fighters across Poland. On April 20, 1943, Governor-General Frank complained to the German head of chancellery: “The murder of Germans is increasing to an alarming degree. Trains are being attacked, and transport routes are being made unsafe.”
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
The day before, posters had appeared on the walls of the Warsaw ghetto: “Brothers, the time has come to fight and take revenge on our occupiers. If you can bear arms, come and join our fighters! The elderly and women can provide support. Arm yourselves!” Unfortunately, weapons were in short supply. Only about a tenth of the approximately 1,200 insurgents had a gun, yet they soon found themselves up against almost 2,000 heavily-armed police officers and SS men.
The Germans even used flame-throwers on the Jewish resistance fighters. For a month, insurgents waged a desperate guerrilla war on their occupiers. Several thousand Jews were executed immediately. About 50,000 more died in the Treblinka gas chambers. On May 16, 1943, Jürgen Stroop, the SS officer in charge of Warsaw district, reported: “The former Jewish residential district of Warsaw no longer exists.”
The Nazis answered stiffer resistance with yet more brutality. Between October 1943 and July 1944, a total of 2,705 Poles were publicly executed in Warsaw. Another 4,000 were killed in secret.
Nevertheless, Governor-General Frank realized that the Germans were at a numeric disadvantage and could not keep the Poles under their thumb indefinitely. He conceded that “this negative, disapproving, destructive approach is now almost impossible to maintain.” [.......]
In a letter to Hitler, Frank raise doubts about the closing of schools as well as the mass arrests and executions by the German police. Referring to the Soviet massacre of more than 20,000 Polish officers and other professionals and academics in Katyn in 1940, Frank proposed the Poles be “actively involved in the defense against Bolshevism.” However Hitler refused to entertain any such notion, preferring ruthless brute force instead. In January 1944 loyal, obedient Frank therefore issued an order that a hundred Poles were to be executed for every German killed.
Another occupation-era tragedy occurred on August 1 that summer, when the Armia Krajowa — the home guard of the Polish government-in-exile — staged an armed uprising in an attempt to recapture Warsaw ahead of the arrival of the Red Army. Emboldened by the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler on July 20 and the successful “D-Day” landing of Allied forces in Normandy on June 6, Polish patriots believed they could force the Germans to withdraw from Warsaw.
The insurgents managed to liberate the half of Warsaw west of the River Vistula, but the occupiers struck back with brutal might. Although the Soviets had already reached the eastern banks of the Vistula, they wanted to secure their positions before pressing on.
‘A Nation of Such Courage is Immortal’
Himmler, whom Hitler had tasked with quelling the rebellion, had the SS shoot civilians at random until ammunition began running low. The Germans then launched an offensive in which nearly 40,000 men were sent after the rebels holed up in the old town. Bitter house-to-house fighting ensued, but the insurgents lacked experience, weapons and ammunition.
More than 150,000 people died in the battle for the city. Before they eventually capitulated after 63 days, the Polish home guard sent out one last radio message from Warsaw: “A nation of such courage is immortal.”
[.......] Of the 35 million people who had lived in Poland at the start of the War, six million had perished — almost 18 percent of the population.
Red Army soldiers entered Krakow, the capital of the General Government, on January 17, 1945.
Frank’s official diary contains the following entry for that day: “The Governor-General left Krakow castle in a motorcade in splendid winter weather and brilliant sunshine.” On the journey back to his native Bavaria, Frank and three of his staff burnt most of the official files they had taken with them.
After the War, Frank was brought before the Nuremberg Trials, accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In a moment of enlightenment he admitted, “In a thousand years, people will still be blaming Germany.”
But in his closing remarks, Frank complained about the “most horrific mass crimes” allegedly committed against Germans in the East, acts which he said “easily match any guilt on our part.”
Frank was found guilty, and sent to the gallows.
Read the rest – ‘When we finish, nobody is left alive’
Vienna 100 years ago on the eve of the outbreak of The Great War. Vienna’s cafe society, cosmopolitan atmosphere and intellectual life was attractive to an eclectic bunch of people (and some of the greatest future tyrants ever to be seen).
by Andy Walker
In January 1913, a man whose passport bore the name Stavros Papadopoulos disembarked from the Krakow train at Vienna’s North Terminal station.
Of dark complexion, he sported a large peasant’s moustache and carried a very basic wooden suitcase.
“I was sitting at the table,” wrote the man he had come to meet, years later, “when the door opened with a knock and an unknown man entered.
The writer of these lines was a dissident Russian intellectual, the editor of a radical newspaper called Pravda (Truth). His name was Leon Trotsky.
The man he described was not, in fact, Papadopoulos.
He had been born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, was known to his friends as Koba and is now remembered as Joseph Stalin.
Trotsky and Stalin were just two of a number of men who lived in central Vienna in 1913 and whose lives were destined to mould, indeed to shatter, much of the 20th century.
It was a disparate group. The two revolutionaries, Stalin and Trotsky, were on the run. Sigmund Freud was already well established.
The psychoanalyst, exalted by followers as the man who opened up the secrets of the mind, lived and practised on the city’s Berggasse.
The young Josip Broz, later to find fame as Yugoslavia’s leader Marshal Tito, worked at the Daimler automobile factory in Wiener Neustadt, a town south of Vienna, and sought employment, money and good times.
Then there was the 24-year-old from the north-west of Austria whose dreams of studying painting at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts had been twice dashed and who now lodged in a doss-house in Meldermannstrasse near the Danube, one Adolf Hitler.
In his majestic evocation of the city at the time, Thunder at Twilight, Frederic Morton imagines Hitler haranguing his fellow lodgers “on morality, racial purity, the German mission and Slav treachery, on Jews, Jesuits, and Freemasons”.
“His forelock would toss, his [paint]-stained hands shred the air, his voice rise to an operatic pitch. Then, just as suddenly as he had started, he would stop. He would gather his things together with an imperious clatter, [and] stalk off to his cubicle.”
Presiding over all, in the city’s rambling Hofburg Palace was the aged Emperor Franz Joseph, who had reigned since the great year of revolutions, 1848.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, his designated successor, resided at the nearby Belvedere Palace, eagerly awaiting the throne. His assassination the following year would spark World War I.
“While not exactly a melting pot, Vienna was its own kind of cultural soup, attracting the ambitious from across the empire,” says Dardis McNamee, editor-in-chief of the Vienna Review, Austria’s only English-language monthly, who has lived in the city for 17 years.
“Less than half of the city’s two million residents were native born and about a quarter came from Bohemia (now the western Czech Republic) and Moravia (now the eastern Czech Republic), so that Czech was spoken alongside German in many settings.”
The empire’s subjects spoke a dozen languages, she explains.
“Officers in the Austro-Hungarian Army had to be able to give commands in 11 languages besides German, each of which had an official translation of the National Hymn.”
And this unique melange created its own cultural phenomenon, the Viennese coffee-house. Legend has its genesis in sacks of coffee left by the Ottoman army following the failed Turkish siege of 1683.
“Cafe culture and the notion of debate and discussion in cafes is very much part of Viennese life now and was then,” explains Charles Emmerson, author of 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War and a senior research fellow at the foreign policy think-tank Chatham House.
“The Viennese intellectual community was actually quite small and everyone knew each other and… that provided for exchanges across cultural frontiers.”
“You didn’t have a tremendously powerful central state. It was perhaps a little bit sloppy. If you wanted to find a place to hide out in Europe where you could meet lots of other interesting people then Vienna would be a good place to do it.”
Freud’s favourite haunt, the Cafe Landtmann, still stands on the Ring, the renowned boulevard which surrounds the city’s historic Innere Stadt.
Trotsky and Hitler frequented Cafe Central, just a few minutes’ stroll away, where cakes, newspapers, chess and, above all, talk, were the patrons’ passions.
“Part of what made the cafes so important was that ‘everyone’ went,” says MacNamee. “So there was a cross-fertilisation across disciplines and interests, in fact boundaries that later became so rigid in western thought were very fluid.”
Beyond that, she adds, “was the surge of energy from the Jewish intelligentsia, and new industrialist class, made possible following their being granted full citizenship rights by Franz Joseph in 1867, and full access to schools and universities.”
Alma Mahler, whose composer husband had died in 1911, was also a composer and became the muse and lover of the artist Oskar Kokoschka and the architect Walter Gropius.
Though the city was, and remains, synonymous with music, lavish balls and the waltz, its dark side was especially bleak. Vast numbers of its citizens lived in slums and 1913 saw nearly 1,500 Viennese take their own lives.
No-one knows if Hitler bumped into Trotsky, or Tito met Stalin. But works like Dr Freud Will See You Now, Mr Hitler – a 2007 radio play by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran – are lively imaginings of such encounters.
The conflagration which erupted the following year destroyed much of Vienna’s intellectual life.
The empire imploded in 1918, while propelling Hitler, Stalin, Trotsky and Tito into careers that would mark world history forever.
Read the rest – 1913: When Hitler, Trotsky, Tito, Freud and Stalin all lived in the same place
Today marks the 80th anniversary of Adolf Hitler being appointed Chancellor of Germany. Contrary to may beliefs, Adolf Hitler never seized power, in fact he was handed power right after the Nazi Party lost 3 million votes in the 1932 elections. Hitler obtained total control over Germany in 1934 when after the death of President Paul von Hindenburg, he combined the office of President and Chancellor into the title of Fuhrer. There are eerie parallels in today’s world between the attempts to pass off Islamofascists such as Mohammad Morsi, Ahmadinejad, Hamas, and Sheik Nasrallah (Hezboallah) leaders as “moderates”, with the way the press whitewashed Hitler.
by Rafael Medoff
“There is at least one official voice in Europe that expresses understanding of the methods and motives of President Roosevelt—the voice of Germany, as represented by Chancellor Adolf Hitler.”
That incredible statement was the opening line of a flattering feature story about the Nazi leader that appeared on the front page of the New York Times in 1933, and was typical of some early press coverage of Hitler, who rose to power 80 years ago on Jan. 30.
Hitler’s ascent caught much of the world by surprise. As late as May 1928, the Nazis had won less than 3 percent of the vote in elections to the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament, and the Nazi party’s candidate for president received barely 1 percent of the votes in March 1929. But as Germany’s economic and social crises worsened, the Nazis garnered 18.3 percent of the vote in the parliamentary election of July 1930. They doubled that total two years later, becoming the largest party in the Reichstag.
Negotiations between the Nazis and other parties then produced a coalition government, with Hitler as chancellor. [.......]
A ‘moderate’ Hitler?
Relatively little was known in America about Hitler, and many leading newspapers predicted that the Nazis would not turn out to be as bad as some feared.
An editorial in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin on Jan. 30 claimed that “there have been indications of moderation” on Hitler’s part. The editors of the Cleveland Press, on Jan. 31, asserted that the “appointment of Hitler as German chancellor may not be such a threat to world peace as it appears at first blush.”
Officials of the Roosevelt administration were quoted in the press as saying they “had faith that Hitler would act with moderation compared to the extremist agitation [i]n his recent election campaigning… [........].”
A wave of terror
In the weeks following, however, events on the ground contradicted those optimistic forecasts. Outbursts of anti-Jewish violence were tolerated, and often encouraged and assisted, by the Nazi regime.
In early March, for example, the Chicago Tribune published an eyewitness account of “bands of Nazis throughout Germany carr[ying] out wholesale raids to intimidate the opposition, particularly the Jews.” Victims were “hit over the heads with blackjacks, dragged out of their homes in night clothes and otherwise molested,” with many Jews “taken off to jail and put to work in a concentration camp.”
The following month, the New York Evening Post reported that the Nazis had launched “a violent campaign of murderous agitation” against Germany’s Jews: “An indeterminate number of Jews… have been killed. [.......] All of Germany’s 600,000 Jews are in terror.”
The Hitler regime was determined to eliminate the Jewish community from German society. During the Nazis’ first weeks in power, violence and intimidation were used to force Jewish judges, attorneys, journalists, university professors, and orchestra conductors and musicians out of their jobs.
A law passed on April 7 required the dismissal of Jews from all government jobs. [.......] The government even sponsored a one-day nationwide boycott of Jewish businesses, with Nazi storm troopers stationed outside Jewish-owned stores to prevent customers from entering.
Hitler’s ‘sensitive hand’
Nevertheless, in July 1933, nearly six months after Hitler’s rise to power, the New York Times ran a front-page feature about the Fuhrer that presented him in a flattering light. For Hitler, it was a golden opportunity to soften his image by praising President Roosevelt as well as a platform to deliver lengthy justifications of his totalitarian policies and attacks on Jews.
The article, titled “Hitler Seeks Jobs for All Germans,” began with Hitler’s remark that FDR was looking out “for the best interests and welfare of the people of the United States.” He added, “I have sympathy with President Roosevelt because he marches straight toward his objective over Congress, over lobbies, over stubborn bureaucracies.”
The story was based on an interview with the Nazi leader by Times correspondent Anne O’Hare McCormick. She gave Hitler paragraph after paragraph to explain his policies as necessary to address Germany’s unemployment, improve its roads, and promote national unity. The Times correspondent lobbed the Nazi chief softball questions such as “What character in history do you admire most, Caesar, Napoleon, or Frederick the Great?”
McCormick also described Hitler’s appearance and mannerisms in a strongly positive tone: Hitler is “a rather shy and simple man, younger than one expects, more robust, taller… [.........]… Herr Hitler has the sensitive hand of the artist.”
Whatever her intentions, articles like McCormick’s helped dull the American public’s awareness of the dangers of Nazism. The image of a pro-American moderate undermined the chances for mobilizing serious international opposition to Hitler during the early months of his regime.
Read the rest - How the press soft-pedaled Hitler
Yes, this classic was done well before YouTube came into play, which makes it all the more amusing!
This film short is called “Lambeth Walk – Nazi Style” and was made by Charles A. Ridley in 1941. He re-edited existing footage of Hitler and Nazi soldiers (taken from the propaganda film “Triumph of the Will”) to make it appear they were marching and dancing to “The Lambeth Walk”. He used the music because members of the Nazi party had called the tune “Jewish mischief and animalistic hopping”. The re-edit was distributed uncredited to newsreel companies in the US and UK. Made 60+ years before YouTube, it is regarded as one of the first political remix videos.
Hmmmm…I wonder who might do the same thing with footage from The SCOAMF’s rallies…
HAT TIP: Vilmar
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