#MilitaryMonday

Military thank you

In the USA, the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida has put together an exhibit to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II‬.

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All of us probably know or knew someone who served during the war, so please mention below in the comments who your member of the Greatest Generation is.

For me, it was my paternal Grandparents. Grandad flew Lancaster bombers for the RAF that assaulted Nazi Germany, while, my Grandmother served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force as a meteorologist.

My maternal Grandparents were also in the fight against the Axis powers, with Grandad serving as a US Navy pilot in the Pacific and Grandma was a WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), Their official name was the U.S. Naval Reserve (Women’s Reserve), but the nickname as the WAVES stuck.

WAVES Recruiting poster. World War II brought the need for additional personnel. The US Navy organized to recruit women into a separate women's auxiliary, labeled Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES). WAVES served in varied positions around the continental U.S. and in Hawaii.

WAVES Recruiting poster.
World War II brought the need for additional personnel. The US Navy organized to recruit women into a separate women’s auxiliary, labeled Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES). WAVES served in varied positions around the continental U.S. and in Hawaii.

Just about everyone heeded the call to play their part, do their duty and contribute in some way. Endless thanks to the Greatest Generation and for those serving today in the cause of freedom!

Info: National Naval Aviation Museum

1750 Radford Blvd, Pensacola, FL 32506

(850) 452-3604

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Crash Course: Little Known History – Albert Göring

Portrait of Albert Goering c.1940. Hero: In stark contrast to his brother, Albert Goering risked his life to save the lives of Jewish people.

Portrait of Albert Goering c.1940. Hero: In stark contrast to his brother, Albert Goering risked his life to save the lives of Jewish people.

Hermann Göring was one of the Nazi party’s most powerful figures and an adamant anti-Semite. But his younger brother Albert worked to save the lives of dozens of Jews. 

In downtown Vienna under the Nazis, two members of the SA had decided to humiliate an old woman. A crowd gathered and jeered as the stormtroopers hung a sign bearing the words “I’m a dirty Jew” around the woman’s neck. Suddenly, a tall man with a high forehead and thick mustache pushed his way angrily through the mob and freed the woman. “There was a scuffle with two stormtroopers, I hit them and was arrested immediately,” the man later said in a matter-of-fact statement.

Despite this open act of rebellion, the man was released immediately. He only had to say his name: Albert Göring, brother of Hermann Göring, the commander of the German air force and Hitler’s closest confidant.

Years later, after the fall of the Third Reich, Albert Göring was arrested once again, this time by Americans. Again he gave his name, but this time it had the opposite effect.

“The results of the interrogation of Albert Göring … constitutes as clever a piece of rationalization and ‘white wash’ as the SAIC (Seventh Army Interrogation Center) has ever seen,” American investigator Paul Kubala wrote on September 19, 1945. “Albert’s lack of subtlety is matched only by the bulk of his obese brother.”

Kubala’s interpreter, Richard Sonnenfeldt, was likewise skeptical. “Albert told a fascinating story, but one I had trouble believing,” he commented.

A Member of the Resistance?

The life of Hermann Göring’s younger brother indeed makes a fascinating story, one that has remained essentially unknown in the nearly seven decades since the end of the Nazi dictatorship. Perhaps it’s because today many have the same reaction that the American investigators had then: Can it really be possible that Hermann Göring’s brother was a member of the resistance? A caring person who saved Jews, helped dozens of persecuted individuals obtain foreign currency and fake papers, and even secured the release of concentration camp prisoners?

“It has been four months now since I was robbed of my freedom, without knowing why,” Albert Göring wrote in September 1945 in a heavy-hearted letter to his wife. He had turned himself over to the Americans voluntarily on May 9, 1945. After spending years trying to thwart his brother’s policies in various small ways, now he felt betrayed.

So he took up a pen and paper and wrote an alphabetical list of 34 names, entitling it “People whose life or existence I put myself at risk (three Gestapo arrest warrants!) to save.”

For decades, that list and the few other existing documents on Albert Göring sat in archives, gathering dust. Hermann Göring’s life was examined down to the last detail, from his morphine addiction and his role as an art thief to his actions as Reichsjägermeister, or official gamekeeper. Albert Göring, meanwhile, sank into oblivion.

In the end, it was journalists rather than noted historians who first introduced the younger brother to a wider public. In 1998, a BBC film crew shot a documentary called “The Real Albert Göring.” In far away Sydney, William Hastings Burke, then 18, stumbled across the film and developed a long-lasting fascination with the story. “The idea that this monster we learn about in history class could have had an Oskar Schindler for a brother seemed absolutely unbelievable,” Burke later wrote.

After completing a university degree in economics, Burke scraped together the money for a ticket to Germany. He found a room in a shared apartment in the university town of Freiburg, got a job in an Irish pub, and otherwise devoted the next three years to searching for Albert Göring, combing through archives and meeting with friends and family members of people Albert Göring was said to have helped. The result was “Thirty Four,” a book named after Albert Göring’s list, published in 2009. The German translation will be released in German on May 21 under the title “Hermanns Bruder: Wer war Albert Göring?” or “Hermann’s Brother: Who was Albert Göring?”

Striking Differences

Burke’s book describes a man who could not have been more different from his infamous brother. “He was always the exact opposite of me,” Hermann said in a statement after the war. “He wasn’t interested in politics or the military, and I was. He was quiet and withdrawn, I loved gatherings and being sociable. He was melancholy and pessimistic, I’m an optimist.”

In appearance as well, the brothers’ differences were so striking that even early in their lives, rumors flew that Albert was in truth the result of an affair on the part of their mother, Franziska. Hermann had blue eyes, Albert had brown. Hermann was stocky and fat, Albert tall and slim. Hermann loved authoritarian, bombastic behavior, while Albert was a bon vivant — musical, cultured and charming. He was also a ladies’ man who married four times and was said to be always up for a fling.

At first, Albert simply tried to keep out of the National Socialists’ way. A mechanical engineer, he chose not to join the Nazi Party, instead moving to Vienna, Austria in 1928 to work as sales manager for a company that made heating boilers. He also took on Austrian citizenship. But the world-power politics Albert so hated, and which his ambitious brother promoted, caught up with him there with the 1938 annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany.

At some point, Albert decided he wanted to help instead of turning a blind eye. For example, he helped Oskar Pilzer, former president of Tobis-Sascha-Filmindustrie, Austria’s largest film production company. Pilzer was Jewish, which gave the Nazis the perfect excuse to ban his studios’ films in Germany — so they could subsequently take over the company when it began to falter. When the Gestapo arrested the toppled film mogul in March 1938, Albert Göring intervened.

Scrubbing the Streets in Solidarity

“Albert Göring used the power of his family name and pulled out all the stops, first to find out where my father was and then to make sure he was released immediately,” Pilzer’s son George later testified.

That was no isolated incident, and many people had similar testimony to present after 1945. Alexandra Otzop, for example, recalled, “My husband and his son from his first marriage were persecuted in the fall of 1939. Mr. Göring managed to get them deported, instead of being sent to a concentration camp.”

It’s said that Albert Göring once even got down on his hands and knees to scrub a street in Vienna, out of solidarity with women who were being bullied by stormtroopers. The women’s tormentors asked his name and were horrified by the answer.

While his brother was hard at work perfecting his air force, Albert obtained fake papers, warned friends of impending arrests and provided refugees with money. Again and again, he deftly used his name to intimidate public officials.

It was a bizarre situation. The overly ambitious Hermann knew about Albert’s activities, yet did nothing to stop him. Albert later testified that his brother had told him it was his “own business” if he wanted to protect Jews, so long as he didn’t get Hermann in “endless trouble.” Albert, meanwhile, had a nearly schizophrenic relationship with Hermann, trying to keep the private person and the politician separate. “As brothers, we were close,” he said.

But as time passed, Albert Göring abandoned the caution his brother had demanded of him. In late 1939, the younger Göring himself took an influential position, becoming export manager for the Skoda automobile factory in the Czech city of Brno. From this position, he also supported the Czech resistance, activists later testified. If their statements are accurate, Albert Göring revealed not only “the exact location of a submarine dockyard” but also the plan to break the non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union. This sensitive information, the Czech resistance fighters stated, was successfully passed on to Moscow and London.

Fleeing to Salzburg

But even that isn’t the whole story. Göring is also believed to have saved prisoners from the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1944. “He said, I’m Albert Göring from Skoda. I need workers,” Jacques Benbassat, the son of an associate of Albert’s, later related. “He filled the truck with workers, and the concentration camp director agreed to it, because he was Albert Göring. Then he drove into the woods and released them.”

A number of notes turn up in German files that prove these stories were not simply made up. The Gestapo’s Prague bureau, for example, complained that Göring’s office at the Skoda factory was “a veritable nerve center for ‘poor’ Czechs.” The general of the Prague police, SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Hermann Frank, considered Albert Göring “at the very least, a defeatist of the worst sort” and asked permission to arrest him in 1944 on “profound grounds for suspicion.”

Now the man who had helped others escape became the persecuted one. Multiple times, Hermann Göring had to intervene on Albert’s behalf, all the while warning him that he wouldn’t do so forever — with every German plane shot down, the once untouchable head of the Luftwaffe found his star was on the wane. Shortly before the end of the war, Albert fled to Salzburg, Austria.

These two very different men met just once more in an American detention center in Augsburg. “You will soon be free,” the war criminal Göring is said to have told the younger Göring who saved Jews, on May 13, 1945. “So take care of my wife and my child. Farewell.”

While Hermann Göring, sentenced in Nuremberg, escaped execution by committing suicide in October 1946, the Americans remained suspicious of Albert Göring. His name had become a burden for him. Although the last of a series of caseworkers did recommend his release, Göring was turned over to the Czech Republic and tried in Prague for possible war crimes, because Skoda had also manufactured weapons.

Only after many former Skoda employees testified on Göring’s behalf were the charges dropped, and Göring was acquitted in March 1947. He died in 1966 in a Munich suburb, an impoverished and bitter man. Despite being a highly qualified engineer, he had been unable to find work in postwar Germany. Being Hermann Göring’s brother, a fact that had saved his life in years past, ultimately became a curse.

On the Web: 

Albert Goering – Hitler’s Children

Albert Goering, A Story of Courage

The Good Brother, A True Story of Courage – A very detailed account of Albert Göring’s heroic actions during World War II.

The Holocaust, Crimes, Heroes, and Victims – A site containing detailed information about Albert Göring’s actions and the activities of many other Holocaust Heroes.

‘Thirty Four’ by William Hastings Burke – The latest biography of Albert Göring.

The Warlord and the Renegade by James Wyllie.

References & Sources:

Brandenburg, Erich (1995) [1935]. Die Nachkommen Karls des Grossen (in German). Neustadt an der Aisch; Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Degener.ISBN 3-7686-5102-9. OCLC 34581384.

Bülow, Louis (2007–2009). “The Good Brother, A True Story of Courage”. The Holocaust Project.

Burke, William Hastings (2009). Thirty Four. London: Wolfgeist Ltd. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-9563712-0-1.

Goldgar, Vida (2000-03-10). “The Goering Who Saved Jews”. Jewish Times (Atlanta) (Archive.org). Archived from the original on 2007-09-29

Mosley, Leonard (1974). The Reich Marshal: A biography of Hermann Göring. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-04961-7.

Paul, Wolfgang (1983). Wer war Hermann Göring: Biographie (in German). Esslingen am Neckar: Verlag Bechtle. ISBN 3-7628-0427-3.

Wyllie, James (2006). The Warlord and the Renegade; The Story of Hermann and Albert Goering. Sutton Publishing Limited. p. 7. ISBN 0-7509-4025-5.

“The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names (DB Search)”. Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority

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Crash Course: Little Known History – Operation Unthinkable

Winston Churchill. Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945.

Winston Churchill. Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945.

The big secret behind World War II.

In the closing days of WWII, Winston Churchill came up with an ambitious plan for a joint French-British-American attack on the USSR. When he told the French, they reminded him about the fate of Napoleon’s Grande Armee and the Wehrmacht, the British PM quietly backed off.

March 1945 : When Winston Churchill learned in the spring of 1945 that the Americans were going to halt their advance on Berlin from the west and leave Hitler’s capital to the mercies of the Red Army of the Soviet Union, he was furious. Russian behavior was worsening by the day as Stalin’s all-conquering men rolled up the countries in the east and made them satellites of Moscow, in defiance of agreements made by the heads of state at the Yalta conference only weeks earlier. Many in the Allied ranks even knew that the D-Day was invasion to stop the Soviet influence in continental Europe rather than to defeat Nazi Germany who were at the point on the brink of defeat.

Churchill’s top secret plan to attack the Soviet Union was scheduled for 1 July 1945. British, US, French, Polish and German (Former Wehrmacht) forces were to attempt to liberate East Germany, East Prussia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. After liberating those forces the new allied forces would drive towards Moscow. The War Cabinet listed out the total allied strength in Europe on June 1st, 1945 : 64 American divisions, 35 British and Dominion divisions, 4 Polish divisions, and 10 German divisions.

The German divisions were purely imaginary because after the mauling they received, the surviving soldiers were in no hurry to fight. At most, the allies would have mustered 103 divisions, including 23 armored ones. Against this force were arrayed 264 Soviet divisions, including 36 armored. Moscow commanded 6.5 million troops – a 2:1 advantage – on the German border alone. Overall, it had 11 million men and women in uniform. Captured General Halder warned the Americans that war against Russia was certainly not a walk in the park just like he warned Hitler in 1941.

The Allied War Cabinet said it was beyond the capabilities of the 103 divisions of Allied troops in Europe to do what Napoleon and Hitler had failed to do. As Alan Brooke noted in his diary, “The idea is of course fantastic and the chances of success quite impossible. There is no doubt from now onwards Russia is all-powerful force in the world.”

The British generals were furious when a cable arrived from US President Harry Truman, saying there was no chance the Americans would offer help – let alone lead an attempt – to drive the Russians from Eastern Europe.

The Unthinkable file was closed.

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Warrior Wednesday: Angels of the Airfield

AOTA

They are simply called “The Angels of the Airfields”. These brave nurses escorted the physically and psychologically wounded soldiers from the pits of hell to the safety of forward operating hospitals. They are the forgotten heroes of the Second World War.

In 1945, the first two U.S. Navy flight nurses land on an active battlefield (Iwo Jima): Ensign Jane Kendeigh, USNR, and Lt. j. g. Ann Purvis, USNR.

Ensign Jane Kendeigh, (NC), USNR, is administering medical attention to serious casualties awaiting evacuation on an air strip on Iwo Jima. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute, NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 95014.

Ensign Jane Kendeigh, (NC), USNR, is administering medical attention to serious casualties awaiting evacuation on an air strip on Iwo Jima. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute, NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 95014.

Navy Flight Nurse Ensign Jane “Candy” Kendeigh photographed on the wing of a Naval Air Transport Service Evacuation aircraft on Okinawa, April 1945. Plane appears to be an R5D. Ensign Kendeigh was one of the first Flight Nurses to land on both Iwo Jima and Okinawa. National Archives photograph, 80-G-K-5277 (Color).

Navy Flight Nurse Ensign Jane “Candy” Kendeigh photographed on the wing of a Naval Air Transport Service Evacuation aircraft on Okinawa, April 1945. Plane appears to be an R5D. Ensign Kendeigh was one of the first Flight Nurses to land on both Iwo Jima and Okinawa. National Archives photograph, 80-G-K-5277 (Color).

Ensign Jane Kendeigh, (NC), USNR, was one of the first Navy Flight Nurses to serve on a battlefield. She is going over her patient’s charts with Chief Pharmacist Mate Silas V. Sturtevant, USN. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute, NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 95142.

Ensign Jane Kendeigh, (NC), USNR, was one of the first Navy Flight Nurses to serve on a battlefield. She is going over her patient’s charts with Chief Pharmacist Mate Silas V. Sturtevant, USN. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute, NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 95142.

Heroes, every single one of them!

Crash

Photo Essay: The Winds of War

Politics aside, there are times when war is necessary. However, whether justified or unprovoked, war inevitably has its share of victims, the innocent, the powerless – those souls who are unwilling thrown into the mix as their world unravels as well as those who unknowingly, blindly follow a tyrant hellbent on domination and destruction.

This rather eye-opening edition of Throwback Thursday is dedicated to them…

War is about as close to Hell as a human being can be.

Some readers may find some of the images disturbing. 

Reader discretion is advised.

June 1944 : A sergeant of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps bandages the wounded ear of 'Jasper', a mine-detecting dog, Bayeux, France

June 1944 : A sergeant of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps bandages the wounded ear of ‘Jasper’, a mine-detecting dog, Bayeux, France

April 1945 : A German woman runs through the streets of burning Siegburg with what belongings she is able to carry, as the American 97th Infantry Division and German troops battle for control of the city street by street.

April 1945 : A German woman runs through the streets of burning Siegburg with what belongings she is able to carry, as the American 97th Infantry Division and German troops battle for control of the city street by street.

1932 : An uniformed small child joins a parade of forty thousand teenage Fascists(ONB) at Rome's Place du Peuple Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB) was an Italian Fascist youth organization.

1932 : An uniformed small child joins a parade of forty thousand teenage Fascists(ONB) at Rome’s Place du Peuple
Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB) was an Italian Fascist youth organization.

Oct 1945 : Homeless orphaned sisters on a street in Rome, Italy after the end of WWII.

Oct 1945 : Homeless orphaned sisters on a street in Rome, Italy after the end of WWII.

1915 : 19 year old Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia with wounded Russian soldiers.  "My sister Olga is working as a Nurse. Olga, Tatiana and mother became nurses and worked in hospitals, even assisting in surgeries. Maria and I were too young to become real nurses, but both of us, and Aleksey, observed and helped out in operations. We saw many wounded soldiers die. Maria and I had our own hospital in the Fyodorovsky Village near the Alexander Palace. We went there all the time and tried to cheer up the wounded men. It felt like we were attending funeral services all the time." - Anastasia Olga was assassinated by the Bolsheviks on July 17, 1918 aged 22 after they were refused sanctuary in England. Olga fell in love with a wounded officer she was nursing.

1915 : 19 year old Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia with wounded Russian soldiers.
“My sister Olga is working as a Nurse. Olga, Tatiana and mother became nurses and worked in hospitals, even assisting in surgeries. Maria and I were too young to become real nurses, but both of us, and Aleksey, observed and helped out in operations. We saw many wounded soldiers die. Maria and I had our own hospital in the Fyodorovsky Village near the Alexander Palace. We went there all the time and tried to cheer up the wounded men. It felt like we were attending funeral services all the time.”
– Anastasia
Olga was assassinated by the Bolsheviks on July 17, 1918 aged 22 after they were refused sanctuary in England. Olga fell in love with a wounded officer she was nursing.

March 1933 : The last picture taken of Anne, Edith, and Margot Frank in Germany, prior to emigrating to Netherlands.  Anne Frank is 3 years, 9 months old. They are standing in the Hauptwache square in the center of Frankfurt am Main.

March 1933 : The last picture taken of Anne, Edith, and Margot Frank in Germany, prior to emigrating to Netherlands.
Anne Frank is 3 years, 9 months old. They are standing in the Hauptwache square in the center of Frankfurt am Main.

Dec 1940 : A Dutch woman keeping Balls of paper - the main fuel in winter during Nazi occupation, Amsterdam.

Dec 1940 : A Dutch woman keeping Balls of paper – the main fuel in winter during Nazi occupation, Amsterdam.

1917 : A loaded cart pulled by two dogs in Belgium during WW1  Horses in World War I were used by the belligerent nations for transportation of troops, artillery, materiel, and, to a lesser extent, in mobile cavalry troops. Due to lack of Horses, most carts in France, Germany and Belgium were pulled by dogs.

1917 : A loaded cart pulled by two dogs in Belgium during WWI
Horses in World War I were used by the belligerent nations for transportation of troops, artillery, materiel, and, to a lesser extent, in mobile cavalry troops. Due to lack of Horses, most carts in France, Germany and Belgium were pulled by dogs.

Dec 1945 : Elderly citizens of Berlin rest on a bench marked 'Not for Jews', after the end of WW2 An ugly reminder of Nazi days. It took 3 years to remove of all Nazi images and symbols, however with a country as large as Germany, a few were missed and still exist even to this very day.

Dec 1945 : Elderly citizens of Berlin rest on a bench marked ‘Not for Jews’, after the end of WWII
An ugly reminder of Nazi days.
It took 3 years to remove of all Nazi images and symbols, however with a country as large as Germany, a few were missed and still exist even to this very day.

Jan 1945 : A Chinese girl who recently discovered her husband's body in their burned out home, sifting through the ashes for personal possessions, Kweilin, China  Much like the Slavs, Jews, Poles, Indians and Gypsies, the Chinese were slaughtered without mercy during WWII. Photo by Jack Wilkes, LIFE magazine.

Jan 1945 : A Chinese girl who recently discovered her husband’s body in their burned out home, sifting through the ashes for personal possessions, Kweilin, China
Much like the Slavs, Jews, Poles, Indians and Gypsies, the Chinese were slaughtered without mercy during WWII.
Photo by Jack Wilkes, LIFE magazine.

70 years ago this month - Mar 1945: Anne Frank dies at age 15 of typhus in Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.  Anne Frank's enduring legacy still resonates around the world.

70 years ago this month – Mar 1945: Anne Frank dies at age 15 of typhus in Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.
Anne Frank’s enduring legacy still resonates around the world.

1943 : Polish youngster carrying an armload of loaves of bread at Red Cross refuge camp in Tehran, Iran during WWII.

1943 : Polish youngster carrying an armload of loaves of bread at Red Cross refuge camp in Tehran, Iran during WWII.

English children who had been evacuated during WWII are finally reunited with their families.

English children who had been evacuated during WWII are finally reunited with their families.

A man looks directly at the photographer, an Einsatzgruppen soldier, the moment before he is shot; below him are his dead friends, neighbors and family. The soldier wrote on the back of this photo "the last Jew in Vinnitsa, 1941."

A man looks directly at the photographer, an Einsatzgruppen soldier, the moment before he is shot; below him are his dead friends, neighbors and family. The soldier wrote on the back of this photo “the last Jew in Vinnitsa, 1941.”

Dec 1918 : A young Serbian refugee in the town of Grdjelitza after the end of WWI, as photographed by Lewis W. Hine. Hine was hired by the Red Cross to document its European relief efforts. In the waning months of World War I and after the armistice, Hine traveled through France, Belgium, Germany and the Balkans shooting the shattered continent devastated by World War One.  Hine wrote as he took the picture of this young Serbian girl: "With not even a roof over their heads, these families were finding their way back home on foot from northern Serbia where the Austrians and Germans had sent them to produce food for the enemy … When these people reach home, it will not be home, but simply ruins."

Dec 1918 : A young Serbian refugee in the town of Grdjelitza after the end of WWI, as photographed by Lewis W. Hine.
Hine was hired by the Red Cross to document its European relief efforts. In the waning months of World War I and after the armistice, Hine traveled through France, Belgium, Germany and the Balkans shooting the shattered continent devastated by World War One.
Hine wrote as he took the picture of this young Serbian girl: “With not even a roof over their heads, these families were finding their way back home on foot from northern Serbia where the Austrians and Germans had sent them to produce food for the enemy … When these people reach home, it will not be home, but simply ruins.”

Allied servicemen stop to hand out sweets to Dutch children during the Allied liberation of the Netherlands, summer 1944.

Allied servicemen stop to hand out sweets to Dutch children during the Allied liberation of the Netherlands, summer 1944.

A German dog hospital, treating wounded dispatch dogs coming from the front, 1918

A German dog hospital, treating wounded dispatch dogs coming from the front, 1918

Colourized WWII photo : Pfc. Harvey White of Minneapolis gives blood plasma to a Pvt. Roy W. Humphrey from Toledo, Ohio of the 7th Inf. Regt., US 3rd Division at the aid station, Sant'Agata, Sicily, after he was wounded by shrapnel on the 9th August 1943  (Pvt. Humphrey was wounded near San Fratello and was later taken to the 93rd. Evacuation Hospital, where he recovered)

Colourized WWII photo :
Pfc. Harvey White of Minneapolis gives blood plasma to a Pvt. Roy W. Humphrey from Toledo, Ohio of the 7th Inf. Regt., US 3rd Division at the aid station, Sant’Agata, Sicily, after he was wounded by shrapnel on the 9th August 1943
(Pvt. Humphrey was wounded near San Fratello and was later taken to the 93rd. Evacuation Hospital, where he recovered)

1943 : An on-leave serviceman and his date take a break from a dance at Fullerton Beach, Chicago.

1943 : An on-leave serviceman and his date take a break from a dance at Fullerton Beach, Chicago.

Anna Zakrzewska served with the Polish underground army as a courier and a medical orderly.  Zakrzewska's underground code name was Hanka Biała (White Hannah). She received training at the end of June and in July 1944 in the Wyszkowa forest. She was killed in the course of desperate combat during the Warsaw Uprising, aged 18.

Anna Zakrzewska served with the Polish underground army as a courier and a medical orderly.
Zakrzewska’s underground code name was Hanka Biała (White Hannah). She received training at the end of June and in July 1944 in the Wyszkowa forest. She was killed in the course of desperate combat during the Warsaw Uprising, aged 18.

Concentration camp survivor - This little girl was asked to draw a picture of her home, while living in a residence for disturbed children in Poland 1948. As you can see, she no longer has any concept of what 'home' is (or was) The look in her eyes is truly haunting...

Concentration camp survivor – This little girl was asked to draw a picture of her home, while living in a residence for disturbed children in Poland 1948.
As you can see, she no longer has any concept of what ‘home’ is (or was) The look in her eyes is truly haunting…

May 1945 : Inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria pull down the swastika emblem over the main gate after Liberation This camp had many prisoners of war(Pow's); mostly Soviet & French officers. Nearly 210,000 inmates perished at Mauthausen.

May 1945 : Inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria pull down the swastika emblem over the main gate after Liberation
This camp had many prisoners of war(Pow’s); mostly Soviet & French officers. Nearly 210,000 inmates perished at Mauthausen.

1942 : Three Soviet citizens are hanged from a tree near Minsk in Belorussia by SS forces with a placard reading “We are partisans and have shot at Germans” in both German and Russian.

1942 : Three Soviet citizens are hanged from a tree near Minsk in Belorussia by SS forces with a placard reading “We are partisans and have shot at Germans” in both German and Russian.

1948 : A little girl with her battered doll, waiting for milk distribution along with her little brother at an Orphanage run by Unesco at Naples, Italy  The World War II casualties and even larger numbers of POWs meant that many Italian children were left with only their mother to support them. And in a collapsing economy this was very difficult. When the fighting reached Italy itself, villages and cities were devastated all the way up the peninsula. Many children were killed or wounded and in many cases lost both parents. Large numbers of children were displaced as well as many orphaned.

1948 : A little girl with her battered doll, waiting for milk distribution along with her little brother at an Orphanage run by Unesco at Naples, Italy
The World War II casualties and even larger numbers of POWs meant that many Italian children were left with only their mother to support them. And in a collapsing economy this was very difficult. When the fighting reached Italy itself, villages and cities were devastated all the way up the peninsula. Many children were killed or wounded and in many cases lost both parents. Large numbers of children were displaced as well as many orphaned.

March 1946 : A young orphan eating bread provided by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association in post war Rome, Italy. From mid 1945 to 1949, most of mainland Europe was in absolute poverty caused by the devastation of WWII.

March 1946 : A young orphan eating bread provided by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association in post war Rome, Italy.
From mid 1945 to 1949, most of mainland Europe was in absolute poverty caused by the devastation of WWII.

Guide Dogs for the Blind was founded in 1942 to aid blinded servicemen returning from World War II.  The first veteran to graduate from the program was Sgt. Leonard Foulk, who was paired with a Guide Dog named Blondie.

Guide Dogs for the Blind was founded in 1942 to aid blinded servicemen returning from World War II.
The first veteran to graduate from the program was Sgt. Leonard Foulk, who was paired with a Guide Dog named Blondie.

1945 : The Cologne Cathedral stands tall in the midst the ruins of the city after Allied bombings, Germany. During the 1939 to 1945 period the Royal Air Force dropped 34,711 tons of bombs on the Cologne.

1945 : The Cologne Cathedral stands tall in the midst the ruins of the city after Allied bombings, Germany.
During the period from 1939 to 1945, the Royal Air Force dropped 34,711 tons of bombs on Cologne.

Crash

#RedFriday: WWII Veterans Receive French Legion of Honor Medals

French Legion of Honor medals. The medal is the highest French distinction.

French Legion of Honor medals. The medal is the highest French distinction.

Six World War II veterans were honored with French Legion of Honor medals. The medal is the highest French distinction.

The medals were bestowed upon the veterans by French Consul General Gregor Trumel. A ceremony was held on Thursday at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

The Legion of Honor Medal was created by Napoleon in 1802 to acknowledge services rendered to France by persons of exceptional merit and accomplishments. French representatives expressed their gratitude and appreciation for their contribution to the liberation of France during World War II.

Medals were bestowed upon:

  • Mr. Ralph J. Bertheaud (Posthumous),
  • Mr. Louis Bradley(Plaquemines Parish, LA),
  • Mr. Aubrey H. Covington (Metairie, LA),
  • Mr. Leonard J. Kuckelman (Atchison County, KS),
  • Mr. Ubert J. Labat Jr (Slidell, LA),
  • and Mr. Lampton C. Terrel (Bush, LA),

The six were named Chevaliers de la Légion d’honneur, Knights in the order of the Legion of Honor.

Last month: Charles Bruns recipient of French Legion of Honor

Charles ‘Chick’ Bruns

Charles ‘Chick’ Bruns

WWII Veteran Charles ‘Chick’ Bruns of Champaign IL was selected and appointed to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction. Through this award, the French government pays tribute to the soldiers who did so much for France 70 years ago.

Charles Bruns served with the 3rd Division, 10th Engineer Battalion throughout WWII and was active during the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Southern France. He ended military service in August, 1945 at the rank of Technical Sargent. During his service, Chick kept a diary, took photographs and collected postcards. This along with the letters he wrote home to his parents is being shared in the most complete daily account of a solider during WWII on the Website: 70yearsago.com

Presented by Vincent Floreani, Consul General de France a Chicago, “you gave your youth to France and the French people. Many of your fellow soldiers did not return but they remain in our hearts”. The French National Order of the Legion of Honor is an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. American recipients include Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Michael Mullen. Today there are approximately 93,000 Legion of Honor recipients.

American veterans like Chick who risked their lives during World War II and who fought on French territory qualify to be decorated as Knights of the Legion of Honor. Veterans must have fought in one of the four main campaigns of the Liberation of France: Normandy, Provence, Ardennes, or Northern France.

Veteran Charles F. wrote a diary during the second world war which is now being published by his son. He served in North Africa and Europe until the war ended.  John Bruns, his son, has re-purposed the diary into a website called http://www.70yearsago.com . The website is updated daily.

He argues that it is his father who is blogging from the past.

Chick Bruns, 94 used to sell clothes at Joseph Kuhn & Co in downtown Champaign before he volunteered to join U.S. Army.

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#WarriorWednesday: USS Kidd (DDG-661)

 

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The USS Kidd has been a fixture in Baton Rouge, Louisiana since 1982. Over that time, it has seen her ups and downs. Just like the brave men and women this memorial represents, it has always risen to meet challenges and surpass expectations.

It sits quietly. Almost stoic. Like it’s still on duty guarding the Baton Rouge shore of the Mississippi River.

I’ve overheard some people refer to the USS Kidd as “that boat on the river”.

George Seal, a volunteer at the USS Kidd, said, “It’s not just the boat on the river, this is a historical monument. Some of the questions we get, is this a real navy ship? Was this ship sank in world war eleven”?

Tim NesSmith, superintendent of the USS Kidd, said, “The Kidd is a fletcher class destroyer built in 1943 during the midst of World War II. She was one of 175 of her design and she’s only 1 of four left. Out of those four she is the only one that is still in her World War II configuration and she’s the closest ship of a destroyer design that you will find anywhere in the world”.

And it’s sitting right in our back yard. Over a year ago, we came close to losing it.

With increasing budget problems, the USS Kidd Veteran’s Museum almost had to close the doors. With the introduction of a new executive director and a specific plan and focus, the museum looks like smooth sailing.

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Alejandra “Alex” Juan, the Executive Director of the USS Kidd Veteran’s Museum, said, “This last year we really sort of hunkered down and reduced spending incredibly. We’ve gotten really creative with our programing and introduced 24 new programs. Despite all of that we managed to end the year in the black”.

She credits the success of the museum to the volunteers who run it.

She said, “It’s a one team one fight and we’re all in it together. We all did this to get to this point. They’ve been invaluable to everything that we’ve done”.

The most important people aren’t the current staff. NesSmith said, “If you think about the ship it’s just a cold piece of metal. Even as much effort as we put to make her just like she was in 1945, it’s just a static display. When you get the guys, especially the guys that served on here, they are telling you what this did and what that did. The ship becomes alive”.

When you talk to these veterans, you can easily see it’s more than a ship to them.William Barnhouse served on the USS Kidd in World War II.

He said, “We were just boys then. When we were aboard that ship, we were able to defeat the strongest enemy the world has ever known. She took care of us and got us home. We feel a real debt of gratitude to her a feel like she is just kind of a mother to us”.

Some people make coming to the Kidd as a pilgrimage to feel closer to those they’ve lost. Nancy Miller Grinage visited the USS Kidd all the way from Indiana. Her Father served on the USS Kidd in World War II.

She said, “Part of his life and history were on this boat. When I walked on board I knew I was there somewhere in his footsteps. It’s an incredible feeling. I know he’s proud that I’m here”.

It’s been called a number of different things: A monument, a historical artifact, a time capsule, a place of heroes, dad’s ship, mother.

The one thing that the USS Kidd is diffidently not, is just a boat on the river.

It has something to do with the history behind the structure, the history of the name, but more importantly it has much to do with the brave souls who served on her.

Defending Freedom wherever she sailed.

On the Web:

The USS KIDD (DD-661) Veterans Museum

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#WarriorWednesday: Battle of the Bulge at 70 in Photos

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A patrol, growing when Lt. Thomas of a Cavalry reconnaissance squadron started across the snow with rifle grenades, attacks German snipers discovered on the outskirts of the newly captured town of Beffe, Belgium. Lt. Thomas was followed by volunteers consisting of members of his squadron, an infantry headquarters company and an infantry company. The attack was launched with with rifle fire, fragmentation rifle grenades, hand grenades, rifles, BARs, and bazooka company armed with machine guns and light mortars. Twelve Nazis were killed in the engagement. Here, can be seen part of the patrol advancing cautiously through the snow. (A Co., 1st Bn., 290th inf., 75th Div., B troop.) 1/7/45. 7th Corps, 4th Cav. Reconn. Sq.

A patrol, growing when Lt. Thomas of a Cavalry reconnaissance squadron started across the snow with rifle grenades, attacks German snipers discovered on the outskirts of the newly captured town of Beffe, Belgium. Lt. Thomas was followed by volunteers consisting of members of his squadron, an infantry headquarters company and an infantry company. The attack was launched with with rifle fire, fragmentation rifle grenades, hand grenades, rifles, BARs, and bazooka company armed with machine guns and light mortars. Twelve Nazis were killed in the engagement. Here, can be seen part of the patrol advancing cautiously through the snow. (A Co., 1st Bn., 290th inf., 75th Div., B troop.) 1/7/45. 7th Corps, 4th Cav. Reconn. Sq.

Tanks of the 4th Armd. Div., ready for action in the front lines. 8 January 1945. Bastogne, Belgium. Just 2 weeks earlier, on December 26, 1944, elements of the 4th Armored Division had broken through German lines to relieve the 101st Airborne and 10th Armored Divisions, surrounded and under siege in Bastogne.

Tanks of the 4th Armd. Div., ready for action in the front lines. 8 January 1945. Bastogne, Belgium.
Just 2 weeks earlier, on December 26, 1944, elements of the 4th Armored Division had broken through German lines to relieve the 101st Airborne and 10th Armored Divisions, surrounded and under siege in Bastogne.

The following 4 photos of an anti-aircraft emplacement outside Bastogne, Belgium are part of a collection compiled by staff at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Radiation Laboratory, known familiarly as the MIT Rad Lab. The word “radiation” was used in the Rad Lab’s name rather than “radar” to disguise the type of research being done.

Looking through quick sight before viewing through scope to determine marks on questionable aircraft flying near AA battery at Bastogne. The scope was captured from the Germans. National Archives Identifier: 6116625

Looking through quick sight before viewing through scope to determine marks on questionable aircraft flying near AA battery at Bastogne. The scope was captured from the Germans. National Archives Identifier: 6116625

Straw prevents remote control cables from freezing to ground on site of AA installation near Bastogne. National Archives Identifier: 6116627

Straw prevents remote control cables from freezing to ground on site of AA installation near Bastogne. National Archives Identifier: 6116627

Anti aircraft locator device, the M-7, is shown in operation outside Bastogne. Crew checks the readings. Device is safely emplaced behind sandbags. National Archives Identifier: 6116621

Anti aircraft locator device, the M-7, is shown in operation outside Bastogne. Crew checks the readings. Device is safely emplaced behind sandbags. National Archives Identifier: 6116621

Gun crew of the ‘Black Widow’, 90 mm anti aircraft gun dug in outside Bastogne, Belgium, about to fire at enemy plane sighted in area. Battery B 217th Bn (Radar) Bastogne. 1/11/1945.  National Archives Identifier: 6116622

Gun crew of the ‘Black Widow’, 90 mm anti aircraft gun dug in outside Bastogne, Belgium, about to fire at enemy plane sighted in area. Battery B 217th Bn (Radar) Bastogne. 1/11/1945. National Archives Identifier: 6116622

Chow is served to American Infantrymen on their way to La Roche, Belgium. 347th Infantry Regiment, 01/13/1945

Chow is served to American Infantrymen on their way to La Roche, Belgium. 347th Infantry Regiment, 01/13/1945

After holding a woodland position all night near Wiltz, Luxembourg, against German counter attack, three men of B Company, 101st Engineers, emerge for a rest., 01/14/1945

After holding a woodland position all night near Wiltz, Luxembourg, against German counter attack, three men of B Company, 101st Engineers, emerge for a rest., 01/14/1945

A German prisoner captured by the 16th Infantry Regiment, near Weywertz. Belgium., 1/15/1945

A German prisoner captured by the 16th Infantry Regiment, near Weywertz. Belgium., 1/15/1945

This burning home near Lmore, Belgium, drew a heavy barrage of enemy shellfire which wounded a Signal Corps photographer. 1/16/45.

This burning home near Lmore, Belgium, drew a heavy barrage of enemy shellfire which wounded a Signal Corps photographer. 1/16/45.

Tanks of the 42nd Armd. Bn., move into attack. 16 January 1945. Mabompre, Belgium.

Tanks of the 42nd Armd. Bn., move into attack. 16 January 1945. Mabompre, Belgium.

Members of the 30th Infantry Division crawl prone while crossing open terrain near Pont, Belgium. (Co. E, 2nd Bn.) 1/17/45

Members of the 30th Infantry Division crawl prone while crossing open terrain near Pont, Belgium. (Co. E, 2nd Bn.) 1/17/45

A view of the damage done in Houffalize, Belgium, by shelling. The town was retaken from the Germans by the 2nd Armored Division. FUSA, 1/18/45. National Archives Identifier: 12010159

A view of the damage done in Houffalize, Belgium, by shelling. The town was retaken from the Germans by the 2nd Armored Division. FUSA, 1/18/45. National Archives Identifier: 12010159

An American jeep enters the shell-torn town of Houffalize, Belgium, by the main road. The town was retaken from the Germans by the 2nd Armored Division. 1/18/45. National Archives Identifier: 12010160

An American jeep enters the shell-torn town of Houffalize, Belgium, by the main road. The town was retaken from the Germans by the 2nd Armored Division. 1/18/45. National Archives Identifier: 12010160

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American soldiers of the 289th Infantry Regiment march along the snow-covered road on their way to cut off the Saint Vith-Houffalize road in Belgium., 1/24/1945

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American infantrymen of an armored division march up a road southeast of Born, Belgium. Note the height of the snow bank on either side of the road. 1/22/45. Co. C, 23rd Armd. Inf, bn., 7th Armd.

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American Infantrymen trudge through the snow as they march along the edge of a woods near Iveldingen, Belgium, in the drive to recapture St. Vith. (Hq. Co., 2nd Bn., FUSA) 1/20/45. 517th A/B Reg’t., 7th Arm’d. Div.

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American soldiers of the 289th Infantry Regiment march along the snow-covered road on their way to cut off the Saint Vith-Houffalize road in Belgium., 1/24/1945

On the Web:

#MilitaryMonday: Battle of the Bulge at 70 – Newly Digitized Color Photos 

 

The Bloodiest Battle: The Battle of the Bulge Loomed Large 70 Winters Ago (PDF)

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#MilitaryMonday: Battle of the Bulge at 70 – Newly Digitized Color Photos

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St. Vith, Belgium was the scene of bitter fighting during the opening days of the Battle of the Bulge.  

Although the German assault was delayed by fierce resistance, American defenders were eventually forced to withdraw from the town on December 21, 1944.  A month later, as the Allied counter-attack rolled back German gains, St. Vith was re-liberated on January 23, 1945.

Recently digitized by the National Archives Still Pictures Branch, these color photographs from the U.S. Army Signal Corps show St. Vith and its surroundings in the days following its liberation.

This dug-in mortar emplacement near St. Vith, Belgium is manned by, left to right, Pvt. R.W. Fierde, Wyahoga Falls, Ohio; S/Sgt. Adam J. Celinca, Windsor, Conn., and T/Sgt. W.O. Thomas, Chicago.  24 Jan. 1945.  NARA ID 16730734

This dug-in mortar emplacement near St. Vith, Belgium is manned by, left to right, Pvt. R.W. Fierde, Wyahoga Falls, Ohio; S/Sgt. Adam J. Celinca, Windsor, Conn., and T/Sgt. W.O. Thomas, Chicago. 24 Jan. 1945.
NARA ID 16730734

American soldiers trudge through snow from Hunnange, Belgium to St. Vith. Soldiers are with Co. C., 23rd Armored Bn., of the 7th Armored Division. NARA ID 16730736

American soldiers trudge through snow from Hunnange, Belgium to St. Vith. Soldiers are with Co. C., 23rd Armored Bn., of the 7th Armored Division.
NARA ID 16730736

Snowsuited soldiers walk through the snow-covered streets of St. Vith, Belgium. These men are with Co. C, 48th Bn., 7th Armored Div. 24 Jan. 1945 NARA ID 16730733

Snowsuited soldiers walk through the snow-covered streets of St. Vith, Belgium. These men are with Co. C, 48th Bn., 7th Armored Div. 24 Jan. 1945
NARA ID 16730733

Lined up in a snow-covered field, near St. Vith, Belgium are these M-4 Sherman tanks of the 40th Tank Bn. NARA ID 16730735

Lined up in a snow-covered field, near St. Vith, Belgium are these M-4 Sherman tanks of the 40th Tank Bn.
NARA ID 16730735

A portion of the wreckage in St. Vith, Belgium, after units of the 7th Armored Division, took the town. NARA ID 16730732

A portion of the wreckage in St. Vith, Belgium, after units of the 7th Armored Division, took the town.
NARA ID 16730732

On the Web: The Bloodiest Battle: The Battle of the Bulge Loomed Large 70 Winters Ago (PDF)

Next: for Warrior Wednesday, more photos (black and white) of the Battle of the Bulge at 70

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Sunday Reader: American Soldier’s Undeveloped World War II Film Discovered

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Thirty-one rolls of film belonging to an unknown American WWII soldier were just recently developed – 70 years later.

About 70 years ago, an unknown soldier in WWII shot 31 rolls of film documenting his experiences during his service. Now, Levi Bettweiser, a collector and restorer of old and historical film, has discovered these photos and rescued them from being lost forever.

Bettweiser, who works with the Rescued Film Project, discovered the undeveloped film at an auction in Ohio. Some had been damaged by water and rust, so he wasn’t sure what to expect; “There is a large possibility that I might not recover a single image from any of these rolls of film;” he said. But the processing work, which he did in his own kitchen, paid off: “When I pulled the film that I had just developed out of my film development tank and look at them, I’m the very first person that has ever seen that picture.

Some of the images developed from the film rolls:

3 2 4 7 9 1 10 5 6 11 8

To see what this unknown soldier captured many years ago, watch the story behind this amazing find and the effort to preserve history.

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