Saturday Reader: Warsaw Uprising at 71

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Today marks the 71st Anniversary of the World War II Resistance to Nazi Occupation in Poland.

Led by the Polish Home Army, the rebellion was the largest military effort by any European resistance group in World War II. The Nazis ended the uprising after 63 days, killing over 200,000 civilians..

Prompted by the Soviet‬ advance on the Eastern Front, the Home Army ‬Command gave the order to liberate the Polish‬ capital on 1 August 1944 at 5pm. In four days, the insurgents managed to capture most of west-bank Warsaw‬, including a number of key buildings, failing however to capture the bridges over the Vistula‬ river. The arrival of German reinforcements on 5 August, brought a massacre of 50,000 civilians in the western quarters of the city: ‪‎Wola‬ and Ochota‬. Despite ‪‎German‬ advantage in military‬ aircraft and armoured divisions, the Home Army resisted the enemy in the rest of the city, undertaking offensive strikes.

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Despite desperate efforts of the Polish Government-in-Exile, the Uprising received little outside help, limited to ammunition airdrops by the Royal Air Force as well as Polish, South African, and US aircraft. The Allied command refused, however, the deployment of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade which was operationalised in Holland instead. The ‪‎Red Army‬ stalled its advance on the right bank of the Vistula, allowing few volunteers from the Polish First Army to cross the river at their own risk.

The Uprising ended after 63 days. Crushing it, Nazi‬ Germans and their allies destroyed 85% of the city, killed 200,000 civilians, expelled further 700,000, of whom 150,000 were sent to labour camps.

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D-Day at 74: In Their Own Words

Saturday, June 6, is the 71st anniversary of the US, British, Canadian and Australian invasion of Normandy, France.

Wednesday, June 6, is the 74th anniversary of the US, British, Canadian and Australian invasion of Normandy, France.

“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”

— Excerpt from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s message to Normandy invasion troops the night before D-Day.

By sea and by air they descended on a 50-mile stretch of German-fortified French coastline, 74 years ago today.

Wearing the uniforms of a dozen Allied nations, some 175,000 young men risked it all in one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history. That first day alone, an estimated 46,000 would never see home again. But such was the cost of freedom.

World War II veteran Dick Ramsey who was a 19-year-old gunner on the USS Nevada off the shore of Utah beach on D-Day.

World War II veteran Dick Ramsey who was a 19-year-old gunner on the USS Nevada off the shore of Utah beach on D-Day.

The Battle of Normandy would be the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe. On Aug. 25, Paris was liberated. The following spring, Germany surrendered. Eyewitness accounts of D-Day grow ever more precious, with an estimated 500-plus World War II veterans dying every day.

World War II veteran Alexander Eckmann who participated in the D-Day invasion.

World War II veteran Alexander Eckmann who participated in the D-Day invasion.

For the 70th anniversary of the invasion in 2014, writers and historians gathered the memories of 10 men who were there, from bombardiers to seamen to privates trapped on those beaches burnished in memory: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

Here are some of their stories:

‘You were scared stiff to move’ 

A child of the Bronx who joined the National Guard in the fall of 1940, when he was still 15 years old, Martin Painkin landed on Omaha Beach early on the morning of D-Day with the Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion. He received a Silver Star for gallantry for his actions June 6-9 and a Purple Heart for wounds received in action on June 7. Now 89, living in Riviera Beach, he recalled those days with writer Staci Sturrock.

“It was like a slaughter. It really was,” says Martin Painkin from his wheelchair at the VA’s Community Living Center.

‘There were literally thousands of bodies’

A state champion swimmer from Hammond, Ind., Walter Gumula was an 18-year-old Navy frogman among the first waves of troops landing on Omaha Beach on June 6. Now 88, and living in Port Salerno, he recounted his D-Day exploits.

Their mission was secret.

‘Nobody learns anything’

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Lenny Scatturo was a 21-year-old gunner’s mate third class on the USS Ancon, flagship for the forces that landed on Omaha Beach. Today, at 91, he lives in West Palm Beach.

From the deck of his landing craft control boat, Lenny Scatturo watched helplessly as 10 amphibious tanks succumbed to the six-foot swells of the English Channel, long before they neared Omaha Beach.

‘I wonder how those guys lived through D-Day’

A Hoboken, N.J., native, Charlie Meyer was a B-17 bombardier with the 388th Bomb Group. He completed 34 missions over France and Germany in 1944, including two on D-Day. Now 95, and living in Greenacres;

The B-17 crew received strict orders before departing Knettishall, England, in the pre-dawn darkness of D-Day: “No aborts on this mission.”

‘There was a lot of sweat, a lot of cursing’

Dick Ramsey was a 19-year-old Navy seaman on the USS Nevada, which bombarded German installations at Utah beach. Today, the 89-year-old Ramsey lives in Port St. Lucie, where he shared his memories.

Dick Ramsey’s job at Utah beach was delivering hot steel retribution.

‘I was struck by the smell of dead bodies’

Solis ‘Sol’ Kaslow was a 19-year-old from Philadelphia, serving as a quartermaster aboard PT 508 on D-Day. Now 89, and living in Palm Beach Gardens, he talked about his memories.

Hours before their most important mission began, the 13 men aboard PT 508 bowed their heads and talked to God.

‘A shock to see Americans floating face up’

A Long Island native, Alexander “Al” Eckmann was a sergeant in U.S. Army counterintelligence on D-Day. He was assigned to land on Utah Beach with the VII Corps of the Army. Now 89, and living in Juno Beach.

Sgt. Al Eckmann dangles from a rope ladder on the side of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, trying to focus on the spotter’s voice through deafening blasts from the nearby USS Texas.

‘What we saw that day you will never see again’

Kal Lewis was drafted the day he graduated from high school in Passaic, N.J. At 19, he was among the waves of combat engineers who invaded Utah beach. The youngest of 14 children, he was one of five brothers who served in World War II. At 89, he lives in Wellington.:

German shells were exploding overhead as 19-year-old Kal Lewis stepped off the landing craft and into rough water up to his neck.

‘There were bodies floating everywhere’

On D-Day, John Edmunds was 19 years old, a seaman in the Royal Canadian Navy from Burlington, Ontario. His mission: A helmsman on an escort ship leading cargo ships to the Normandy shore of Juno Beach. Today, 89, a retiree in West Palm Beach.

Seaman John Edmunds of the Royal Canadian Navy finds only a cloudless day and clear sea as he stands at the helm of the armored escort ship HMCS Drumheller, his captain barking down orders from the bridge: “Port, two degrees!”

‘It was difficult firing on our country’

Parisian Rene Cerisoles served on a French light cruiser under U.S. command off Omaha Beach. Now 89, and living in Palm Beach Gardens.

As the Montcalm pulled into position off Omaha Beach that June morning in 1944, chief petty officer Rene Cerisoles found himself looking at a familiar shoreline.

Map of the air plan for the Allied landing in Normandy.

Map of the air plan for the Allied landing in Normandy.

74 years ago, more than 150,000 brave men participated in the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy. They were American, they were Canadian, they were British; and they were united under one goal — to save Europe.

Nearly 5,000 men lost their lives that day, their sacrifice helped defeat the Nazis and is seared in the hearts of millions. Now, seven decades later, people will look back at that momentous day that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

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Thanks to all the Allies, men and women, officer and enlisted, the buried and the survivors. God bless them all.

Crash

#MilitaryMonday: Iwo Jima Survivors Mark WWII Battle

Raising the US Flag on Mount Suribachi. The Pulizer Prize winning photograph of the Iwo Jima Flag Raising was shot by AP Photographer Joe Rosenthal.

Raising the US Flag on Mount Suribachi. The Pulizer Prize winning photograph of the Iwo Jima Flag Raising was shot by AP Photographer Joe Rosenthal.

“Do not expect to return home alive.”

Letters from Iwo Jima

Capt. Larry Snowden led a company of 230 Marines that landed on the beach of a small Japanese island on Feb. 19, 1945. Five weeks later, when Iwo Jima fell to U.S. forces after one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific during World War II, his unit’s losses reflected the steep cost of an historic victory.

LVTs on Iwo Jima

LVTs on Iwo Jima

American supplies being landed at Iwo Jima  a few hours after the Marines had wrested their foothold on the vital island via the US Navy and Coast Guard.

American supplies being landed at Iwo Jima a few hours after the Marines had wrested their foothold on the vital island via the US Navy and Coast Guard.

“When we walked off the island, 99 of us remained,” said Snowden, 93, the senior ranking survivor of the invasion, who retired from the Marines as a lieutenant general in 1979. “That’s a pretty high casualty rate.”

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Snowden spoke Thursday in Washington at a gathering of Iwo Jima survivors who marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the siege. Over the decades, the battle’s prominence has persisted, owing to a photograph that shows five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising an American flag on Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest point.

Yet it is the ferocity of the fighting that lingers in the memories of the men sent to Iwo Jima.

“The battle of Iwo Jima has become part of the very ethos of the Marine Corps. Your legacy transcends the capture of a faraway island in the Pacific long ago.”

– Gen. Joseph Dunford,

Commandant, US Marine Corps

Snowden’s company belonged to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment of the 4th Marine Division. His unit went ashore the first day, part of the initial push of 30,000 U.S. troops, most of whom were Marines.

The Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia

The Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia

An additional 40,000 men later joined the struggle against 22,000 Japanese soldiers, who hid among an intricate network of tunnels and caves spanning the volcanic island 750 miles from mainland Japan. U.S. forces advanced as little as 50 yards a day in the early stages as both sides suffered massive casualties.

By the time combat ended on March 26, 1945, almost 7,000 American troops had been killed and more than 19,000 wounded. Almost 19,000 Japanese soldiers were killed as they followed the orders of Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi to fight to the death.

A monument on Mount Suribachi commemorates the Feb. 23, 1945 flag raising during the battle of Iwo Jima.

A monument on Mount Suribachi commemorates the Feb. 23, 1945 flag raising during the battle of Iwo Jima.

U.S. commanders realized only after the battle that they had overrated the strategic importance of the eight-square-mile island and its three airstrips. Iwo Jima nonetheless produced an incalculable morale boost to the American war effort when the photo of the six men raising the flag appeared in newspapers across the country.

Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the moment on Feb. 23, 1945, the battle’s fourth day, and the image endures as a symbol of American resolve in wartime. Gen. Joseph Dunford, commandant of the Marine Corps, told the survivors that their triumph has reverberated across the generations.

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“The battle of Iwo Jima has become part of the very ethos of the Marine Corps,” he said. Dunford added that their example inspired Marines who fought in America’s most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Your legacy transcends the capture of a faraway island in the Pacific long ago.”

Kenichiro Sasae, the Japanese ambassador to the United States, extolled the sacrifice of U.S. and Japanese soldiers alike. Referring to Japanese troops who defended the island as they moved underground, he said, “Mount Suribachi must have felt like a tomb waiting to be closed.”

Captain Snowden (2nd from right) and his Recon Team.

Captain Snowden (2nd from right) and his Recon Team.

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz remarked in 1945 that, among U.S. troops on Iwo Jima, “uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Snowden, who led his company even after shrapnel from a mortar blast wounded him in the neck and head, described overcoming his injuries in more modest terms.

“Part of the game,” he said.

On the Web: Battle of Iwo Jima

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Saturday Reader: Secret Notes From Bletchley Park’s Code-Breaking Days Found

An Enigma deciphering machine from the German navy  Photo courtesy of Bletchley Park

An Enigma deciphering machine from the German navy
Photo courtesy of Bletchley Park

The rare code-breaking documents include sheets used to calculate settings for the machine working on “Enigma”

Sometimes, even at Bletchley Park, everyday problems like drafty buildings must have intruded on the work of Alan Turing and the other brilliant minds cracking the Germans’ “Enigma” code. At least, enough so that notes used to break the code were wadded up and stuffed into cracks to better insulate Hut 6.

During the building’s restoration in 2013, part of a huge effort to restore the historic complex, the notes and other documents were found and immediately preserved, NBC News reports. Now they’ve been restored in time for a soon-to-open exhibition. Like Turing’s notebook, soon up for auction, the documents give us a peek into that time.

Notes secretly compiled by Alan Turing during World War Two have been found.

Notes secretly compiled by Alan Turing during World War Two have been found.

“The fact that these papers were used to block drafty holes in the primitive hut walls reminds us of the rudimentary conditions under which these extraordinary people were working,” Iain Stander, chief executive of the Bletchley Park Trust, told Jessica Duncan for MKWeb. Duncan reports that several other artifacts were discovered during the restoration, including a piece of a 1940s teapot, glass bottles and a time capsule left inside Hut11A’s door.

Some of the papers are Banbury sheets, named for a code-breaking technique called Banburismus. The website I Programmer explains how they were used:

Banburismus was a cryptanalysis procedure that took advantage of operator shortcomings in the Enigma encoding that could reveal the position of the rotor by noticing overlaps of letters in two messages. Banbury sheets were used to look for overlaps. Two cipher tests were punched onto different sheets and the sheets were slid past one another.

Finding new documents from that time is rare, notes the BBC, because many were destroyed after WWII to keep the methods secret. The rest are already stored in the Park’s archives. Some of the other papers are handwritten.

“These are the actual documents used by codebreakers, and in terms of the codebreaking process they are pivotal,” Gillian Mason, Bletchley Park curator, told MKWeb. “I can just see these people beavering away. There is a lot of pencil and crayon activity.”

Crash

#ThrowbackThursday: The Books that Fought in WWII

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When the American armed forces prepared for the D-Day assault, the most in demand item was a book.

During World War II, books were one of the few items distributed to the American armed forces that were meant to make life at war bearable. American publishers, wanting to do their bit in the war, designed books that would fit the servicemen’s needs: small volumes in tempting titles that weighed next to nothing. These books were Armed Services Editions (“ASEs”), incredibly tiny paperbacks designed to fit the pocket of a standard issue military uniform. Over 120 million were printed over the course of the war with titles ranging from comics to Shakespeare and everything in between. Lonesome, homesick GIs eagerly grabbed these books and read them everywhere—while waiting in line for chow or a haircut, when pinned down in a foxhole, and while swinging in their hammocks below deck. And they were even carried into the Battle of Normandy.

Sailor reading in his bunk aboard USS CAPELIN. Credit: Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, August 1943

Sailor reading in his bunk aboard USS CAPELIN.
Credit: Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, August 1943

Under the leadership of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, plans for D-day were in the works for months before the invasion occurred in June 1944. In the final days leading to the boarding of the landing craft that would set out across the English Channel, American soldiers readied themselves. They crammed into their packs dozens of pounds of ammunition, provisions, extra weapons, and other necessities. Although the recommendation was that the men not bring more than forty-four pounds of equipment, it was estimated that some men weighed at least three hundred pounds as they waddled under the weight of their packs. As they waited for an announcement of when the invasion would begin, there was little to do but worry, pray, or read. Silence pervaded. A rosary could be seen in many a hand. According to one man, “Priests were in their heyday. I even saw Jews go and take communion. Everybody [was] scared to death.”

General Eisenhower took an especial interest in the morale of his troops. As he noted in his own memoirs, “morale, given rough equality to other things, is supreme on the battlefield.” Eisenhower was known to read western novels to relax and relieve stress, and the men who would be doing the fighting deserved no less. Anticipating the time it would take to assemble all of the men needed for the mission, and the boredom and anxiety associated with the chore of waiting, General Eisenhower’s staff earmarked over a half-million books to be distributed to the Americans as they waited for the invasion to begin. Among the ASEs that were set aside were Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Joseph Mitchell’s McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon, Charles Spalding and Otis Carney’s Love at First Flight, Booth Tarkington’s Penrod, and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Dozens of other titles joined the men on the shore of the English Channel.

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Prior to the invasion, the Army’s Special Services Division, which was responsible for serving the morale needs of soldiers, distributed some of the soldiers’ favorite items. Packs of cigarettes were shoved into pockets, candy bars were grabbed by the handful, but of all things, the most sought-after item was the ASEs. As one Special Services officer recalled, palpable tension mounted in the staging areas, and books were the only thing available that “provided sorely needed distraction to a great many men.” When the loading process finally began, many men, realizing how much weight they were carrying, stopped to unburden themselves of unnecessary items near the docking area. The ground was littered with a variety of objects, but among the heaps of discarded inessentials “very few Armed Services Editions were found by the clean-up squads that later went through the areas.” Weighing as little as a couple of ounces each, ASEs were the lightest weapon that the men could bring along.

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The Americans who landed at Utah and Omaha Beaches on June 6 had vastly different experiences. The American Fourth Division poured ashore at Utah Beach, meeting very little opposition. In fact, some men were a little let down at how anticlimactic the landing was; they described it as seeming like just another practice invasion. The early waves of troops landing at Omaha Beach, by contrast, faced near-certain death. As soon as the transports lowered their ramps, the exiting men were thrust into the line of fire. German machine-gun spray ripped across the boats, instantly killing the hapless Americans on them. For the first wave of LCIs that reached Omaha Beach, the death rate was nearly 100 percent; no one got off the beach. Later waves of troops faced grievous losses on the shore. Shell-shocked, many men simply froze, unable to move toward safety. Others who forded through the barrage of gunfire and mortar blasts and moved to the shelter of the cliffs at the top of the beach suffered injuries along the way. Unable to go farther, their shattered bodies dropped to the sand and stayed there until medics arrived. Many men who climbed the beach later that day would never forget the sight of gravely wounded soldiers propped up against the base of the cliffs, reading.

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Excerpted from When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning. Copyright © 2014 by Molly Guptill Manning. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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Germany: Auschwitz SS Guard Charged with Accessory to 300,000 Murders

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Oskar Groening, who was a guard at Auschwitz, has been charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder. Photo: Crash MacDuff

Prosecutors say Oskar Groening, now 93, dealt with belongings and counted money of Hungarian Jews sent to their deaths.

Prosecutors in Germany have charged a 93-year-old man with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder for serving as an SS guard at the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp.

Groening is accused of helping operate the death camp in occupied Poland between May and June 1944, when 425,000 Jews from Hungary were brought there and at least 300,000 almost immediately gassed to death.

In his job dealing with the belongings stolen from camp victims, prosecutors said among other things he was charged with helping collect and tally money that was found.

“He helped the Nazi regime benefit economically, and supported the systematic killings,” state prosecutors in the city of Hannover said in a statement.

Groening’s attorney, Hans Holtermann, declined to comment on the charges.

Groening has openly talked about his time as a guard and said while he witnessed horrific atrocities, he didn’t commit any crimes himself.

In 2005 he told Der Spiegel magazine he recalled one incident on “ramp duty” when he heard a baby crying. “I saw another SS soldier grab the baby by the legs,” he said. “He smashed the baby’s head against the iron side of a truck until it was silent.”

Groening, who lives in the Hannover area, is one of about 30 former Auschwitz guards who federal investigators last year said state prosecutors should pursue under a new precedent in German law.

Groening is the fourth case investigated by Hannover: two have been shelved because the suspects have been deemed unfit for trial and one was closed when the suspect died.

Thomas Walther, who represents 20 Auschwitz victims and their families as co-plaintiffs in the case against Groening as allowed under German law, said it was their last chance “to participate in bringing justice to one of the SS men who had a part in the murder of their closest relatives”.

“Many of the co-plaintiffs are among the last survivors of Auschwitz,” he told the Associated Press.

Photo: Crash MacDuff

Photo: Crash MacDuff

The case against Oskar Gröning highlights Germany judiciary’s Holocaust problem. With only 50 out of 6,500 SS guards at Auschwitz convicted, critics say German law has been too slow to seek justice.

He was once called “the accountant of Auschwitz,” but he is also one of the few former Nazi death camp guards to speak out against Holocaust deniers. Now, at the age of 93, he is to face trial in Germany, and his case has highlighted what some historians see as the failure of the German judiciary to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice.

From 1942 to 1944, Oskar Gröning counted money taken from the luggage of murdered Jews and sent it back to SS headquarters in Berlin. He also stood guard as the transports of human beings entered the camp.

That much has long been known, not least because he himself described his experiences to the media, but it has taken a new investigation, carried out by Germany’s central office for the investigation of Nazi crimes in Ludwigsburg, for charges to be brought against him. In February this year, the office searched the homes of several former members of the SS across Germany. Of these, Gröning is the only one to have been pronounced fit enough to stand trial.

For what state prosecutors called “legal and evidence reasons”, Gröning’s formal charges relate only to two months of his time at the camp – 16 May to 11 July 1944, the time of the so-called Hungary Operation, when “around 425,000 people from Hungary arrived at the camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau”, of whom “at least 300,000 found their deaths in the gas chambers”. Gröning has therefore been charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.

Gröning caught public attention in 2005 when he appeared in the BBC documentary Auschwitz: The Nazis and the ‘Final Solution’, in which he described how being confronted by Holocaust deniers had led to him to speak out. “I see it as my task now, at my age, to face up to these things that I experienced, and to oppose the Holocaust deniers who claim that Auschwitz never happened,” he said. “I saw the crematoria, I saw the burning pits.”

But Gröning also denied his culpability, telling Der Spiegel magazine in the same year: “Accomplice would almost be too much for me. I would describe my role as a small cog in the gears. If you can describe that as guilt, then I am guilty, but not voluntarily. Legally speaking, I am innocent.”

Auschwitz-Birkenau survivors when the camp was liberated by Russian troops in 1945. Photo courtesy of Simon Wiesenthal Center. Used by permission.

Auschwitz-Birkenau survivors when the camp was liberated by Russian troops in 1945. Photo courtesy of Simon Wiesenthal Center. Used by permission.

State prosecutors disagree – but only now. Despite high-profile trials in Nuremberg just after the war, and Frankfurt in 1964, the German judiciary has been notoriously sluggish about punishing those directly involved in the Holocaust. A previous case against Gröning himself was dropped for lack of evidence by Frankfurt prosecutors in 1985. The historian Andreas Eichmüller once calculated that of the 6,500 SS members who worked at Auschwitz and survived the war, only 49 had ever been convicted.

Jörg Friedrich, a historian and author of Acquittal for Nazi Justice: The Sentencing of National Socialist Judges since 1948, challenges the view that the German judiciary dragged its heels. “There were hundreds of thousands of investigations, kilometres of investigation documents,” he told the Guardian. “I don’t know of any state that did the same … A compromise had to be drawn between assimilation and prosecution, and I think Germany was a success in both cases.” The legal difficulty is in defining individual guilt; attempts to convict other SS members have failed in the past because they could not be linked to specific murders. Ingo Müller, law professor and author of Terrible Lawyers: the Past Our Judiciary Has Not Overcome, thinks this is a historical failure. “Just participating in the Holocaust doesn’t count.”

On the Web: Official site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau (German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp) Memorial and State Museum.

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#MilitaryMonday: Allied POW Monopoly and Other Images

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“Monopoly” board games helped thousands of Allied POWs escape German camps.

Germany allowed the Red Cross to send care packages to POWs(not Russians/Polish) and among the items that could to be sent were board games. Special Monopoly boxes were created that contained items to help the prisoners escape:

– German, French, and Italian money currency was hidden within the Monopoly money.

– A metal file, hidden within the board.

– A small compass hidden in a play piece

– Silk maps of the prison and it’s location hidden inside the hotel pieces.

Military Monday Images:

Jimmy Stewart and his father Alexander Stewart in front of the family hardware store in September 1945. Jimmy was expected to continue his father's business, which had been in the family for three generations. Jimmy however had other plans.  Despite his movie career, he remained in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, retiring as a Brigadier General.

Jimmy Stewart and his father Alexander Stewart in front of the family hardware store in September 1945. Jimmy was expected to continue his father’s business, which had been in the family for three generations. Jimmy however had other plans.
Despite his movie career, he remained in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, retiring as a Brigadier General.

July 1944 : Odette Billy teaches correct French pronunciation to T/5 Mel. White Harlan, Iowa (left) and M.P. Pvt. William Barrs, Rt5, (Dublin), in Isigny, France

July 1944 : Odette Billy teaches correct French pronunciation to T/5 Mel. White Harlan, Iowa (left) and M.P. Pvt. William Barrs, Rt5, (Dublin), in Isigny, France

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July 1943 : British soldiers are warmly greeted by Italian children during the Allied Invasion of Sicily, Province of Syracuse, Italy.

Dec 1944 : American soldiers watch a B-29 Superfortress heavy bomber take off from the now Allied controlled island of Saipan in the Pacific. Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

Dec 1944 : American soldiers watch a B-29 Superfortress heavy bomber take off from the now Allied controlled island of Saipan in the Pacific. Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

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USS Long Island (ACV-1) underway with a mixed cargo of planes and stores, 25 May 1943. Planes include F4F’s, SBD’s and TBF’s. National Archives photograph, 80-G-83216.

1917 : A very young member of the Irish Guards, pictured at Waterford Barracks with the regiment's mascot, an Irish Wolfhound named Leitrim Boy.  Leitrim Boy was born on Tuesday, 12 November 1907, and was 9 years old when this photo was taken.

1917 : A very young member of the Irish Guards, pictured at Waterford Barracks with the regiment’s mascot, an Irish Wolfhound named Leitrim Boy.
Leitrim Boy was born on Tuesday, 12 November 1907, and was 9 years old when this photo was taken.

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July 1944 : Royal Air Force, 2nd Tactical Air Force Wing Commander J E Johnson, leader of No. 144 (Canadian) Wing RAF, rests on the the wing of his Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX with his Labrador retriever Sally, between sorties at B2/Bazenville, Normandy

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July 1944: A French woman prays for lost loved ones in a church following the Battle of Cherbourg, Lower Normandy, France. The Battle of Cherbourg was part of the larger Battle of Normandy and was fought immediately after the successful Allied landings.

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Oct 1944 : An American Dive Bomber Curtiss Helldiver from 7-th bombardment Squadron after a crash landing on the USS Hancock

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French partisans celebrate taking of Marseille with ‘V’ for Victory Sign.” Note the American soldiers are celebrating with the US flag hanging from the bridge. U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

An armed French partisan emotionally embraces 2nd Lt Jack Willis of Kingston, Iowa, whom he found uninjured after he shot at the officer mistaking an advance Yank armored spearhead for retreating Germans.  U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

An armed French partisan emotionally embraces 2nd Lt Jack Willis of Kingston, Iowa, whom he found uninjured after he shot at the officer mistaking an advance Yank armored spearhead for retreating Germans.
U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

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August 1945 : A young Filipino Resistance fighter poses with a flag of the United States Army Forces in the Far East following the routing of Japanese occupying forces from her province, Central Luzon, Philippines. Tarlac was recaptured piece by piece by combined Filipino and American troops together with the recognized Filipino guerrilla fighters against the Japanese Imperial forces.

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1973 : Operation Homecoming; the return of 591 prisoners of war held by North Vietnam back to American soil.

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Aug 8, 1944, France. Grave of American pilot, w/rounds from a 50cal machine gun of his P-47 Thunderbolt

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Lyudmila Mikhailivna Pavlichenko was the most successful & feared woman sniper of World War Two.

After moving to Kiev with her family at the age of 14, she became a metal grinder at the Kiev Arsenal factory. When Nazi Germany invaded Russia during Operation Barbarossa in 1941 the 24 year old Pavlichenko was studying history at the Kiev University, she was one of the first volunteers at the recruiting office and she requested service in the infantry.

The recruitment officer looked bewilderingly at her, Lyudmila Pavlichenko was quite a beautiful young woman with stylish clothes and a trendy hairstyle, she told the recruiter that she wished to join an active infantry unit and to carry a rifle. The recruiter apparently gave her a warm hearted look and smiled saying that perhaps she should join the field nurse unit instead. Pavlichenko became one of 2,000 female snipers in the Red Army, as Russia utilized women in warfare with almost the same manner as they did men, this is something that never happened in the west and is unfamiliar to westerners.

Pavlichenko officially confirmed German kills amounted to a total of 309, this amazing figure also included 36 German snipers…one of whom had himself notched over 500 Soviet kills after she retrieved his detailed log book after killing him. She also killed many high ranking German Officers, everyone who she shot and killed knew nothing about it, as their deaths were so fast.

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June 1945: German SS guards, exhausted from their forced labour clearing the bodies of the dead, are allowed a brief rest by British soldiers but are forced to take it by lying face down in one of the empty mass graves. Bergen-Belsen, Nnorthern Germany

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Dick Winters and Easy Company (Band of Brothers) at the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s residence.

14

April 1945 Members of the Royal Australian Air Force squadron of Beaufighters, Scotland.

18

October 1941 : A fond farewell for this little boy from a guardsman who is returning to duty after leave, London station. The little boy seems to have forgotten his trousers in the excitement of the moment.

12

1944 : A British nurse assisting a wounded Allied Soldier and a Stug III Tank laying on the side after heavy bombing, France.

16

1941 : Filipino women of the first Women Guerrilla corps practicing at a rifle range in Manila, Philippines.

1943 : Róża Maria Goździewska (nickname the "little nurse") - outside the field hospital of the Koszta Company, wearing a Polish emblem and red cross armband during Warsaw Uprising, Poland Roza was 8 years old at the time of the uprising and lived to tell the tale. She died in France in 1989, at the age of 53.

1943 : Róża Maria Goździewska (nickname the “little nurse”) – outside the field hospital of the Koszta Company, wearing a Polish emblem and red cross armband during Warsaw Uprising, Poland
Roza was 8 years old at the time of the uprising and lived to tell the tale. She died in France in 1989, at the age of 53.

17

Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk fighters of the American Volunteer Group during World War II.

22

Result of the American bombardment of Naha, Okinawa, Japan, on June 13, 1945.

Crash