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Resistance During the Holocaust
Destroyed Crematorium, Auschwitz-Birkenau
During the war, 1939-1945, millions of people, victimized and captured by the Germans, passed through an extensive network of thousands of camps established in greater Germany and the German-occupied countries of Europe. In addition to concentration camps (today, often mistakenly used as a generic term for all types of camps), there were extermination camps, work camps, forced-labor camps, transit camps, prisoner-of-war camps, and internment camps.
At least three million Jewish men, women, and children perished in the camps, most of them gassed soon after their arrival at one of six Nazi extermination camps, all located in German-occupied Poland or Polish territories incorporated into the Reich -- at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor, Chelmno, and Majdanek-Lublin. Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek-Lublin also served as concentration camps, and there, as in other camps, a minority of Jews -- physically fit teenagers, men, and women without children -- were given a temporary reprieve from death as forced laborers.
Forced labor included performing totally meaningless tasks such as hauling heavy rocks from one place to another and back again. But increasingly, in 1942, after it became clear that the Germans were not going to win the war quickly, hundreds of satellite camps began to spring up in factories outside concentration camps, where Jews chosen for labor and other camp inmates produced war materials. Many of these prisoners died from exhaustion, exposure to the elements, starvation, and disease spread through overcrowding and unhygienic conditions.
Gypsies (Sinti and Roma) were also deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in family groups, and 23,000 are known to have been murdered in that camp by gassing. Many others, including Soviet prisoners of war, Poles, political and religious dissidents, homosexuals, forced laborers, and resistance fighters from across Europe, were also imprisoned in concentration camps and their satellites, and many -- exploited as forced laborers -- died from maltreatment. Unlike Jews and Gypsies, they were not systematically gassed.
The atmosphere of total terror and isolation in the camps, as well as the chronic starvation of most prisoners, severely inhibited the will of the prisoners and the possibilities of resistance. Barbed and high-voltage electrical wires and guard towers left little hope of escape. The daily routine in the larger camps was brutally regimented. It included an elaborate system of harsh punishments for the slightest infractions, close surveillance, and endless roll calls for counting prisoners. Those who attempted to resist or escape were killed when caught.
Still, despite these enormous obstacles, there were acts of resistance by members of the diverse camp populations. In many camps, underground groups formed, sometimes -- across the divergent political, ethnic, and language barriers -- members exchanged information and coordinated efforts to alleviate suffering of the inmates. While the conditions of imprisonment made armed resistance extremely difficult, it was not impossible.
The most dramatic examples of armed resistance were revolts planned and carried out by organized groups of Jewish inmates at Treblinka, Sobibor, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. As was the case with the ghetto revolts, the uprisings in these killing centers occurred with little hope of success against the superior German force. But like the ghetto revolts, the Jewish prisoners realized their days were numbered anyway.
Majdanek Camp Ovens
Unarmed Resistance in the Camps
Clandestine Political Organizations and Meetings:
Clandestine resistance groups formed in many concentration camps with political prisoners and captured members of national resistance groups often providing the leadership. For example, in 1940 many Communists and captured French resistance fighters united to form a resistance organization at Ravensbrück, a camp for women prisoners situated north of Berlin. Three women of different nationalities and political affiliations led the group. To raise the spirits of prisoners and give hope for eventual escape or liberation, the resisters traded newspapers, battle maps, and war information. They also held secret political meetings to share news and information about the camp. All these activities were extremely dangerous.
Attempts to Alleviate Suffering of Camp Inmates:
Many resistance activities in concentration camps centered on attempts organized by the underground to alleviate the day-to-day suffering of the camp inmates. These included gathering food, money, and medical supplies for those in need.
Before Auschwitz was fitted with gas chambers for the systematic murder of Jews in late 1941, it served as a concentration camp primarily for Polish prisoners, including army officers who served as leaders of the first resistance groups. Poles who had gained positions in the infirmary and administrative offices were well placed for resistance activities. They were also in the best position to make contact with free Poles who lived nearby and worked in the camp, as well as with Polish resistance groups.
In November 1942, members of the Polish resistance movement in Auschwitz secretly contacted the Polish underground in nearby Cracow about the lack of medical supplies in the camp. The amount of medicine dispensed in the camp infirmary only covered the needs of a small fraction of the prisoners. The Auschwitz underground sought to steal medical supplies from warehouses that also held victims' belongings. A group of Poles who worked for the underground in the Rajsko clinic, near the main camp at Auschwitz, organized an operation to smuggle medicine into the concentration camp. Despite their help, however, medical supplies remained woefully inadequate in the camp.
Attempts to Inform the Outside World about the Camps:
Other forms of resistance in concentration camps consisted of efforts organized by the underground to inform the world about Nazi brutality, the cruel physical conditions, and the Nazis' systematic annihilation of Jews in the extermination camps.
On April 7, 1944, two Slovakian Jews, Alfred Wetzler and Walter Rosenberg (who later took the name Rudolf Vrba), escaped from Birkenau. The motive for their escape was to warn the Hungarian Jews of the Germans' plans for their destruction. They hid in bunkers outside the camp fence near places where prisoners worked for three days, the length of the state of alert the SS imposed after any escape. After a journey of several days on foot, Wetzler and Vrba reached Slovakia, where they presented to Jewish leaders a long report illustrated with sketches describing installations at Auschwitz-Birkenau, including details about the gas chambers.
These reports and news of the first gassings of Hungarians at Auschwitz were confirmed in late May by two Polish Jewish escapees, Arnost Rosin and Czelaw Mordowicz. That summer, the reports reached the Allies, who had earlier (in late 1942) confirmed the news of the mass murder of Jews.
The Allies, however, rejected the request by certain Jewish activists in Europe that Auschwitz or the railway lines leading to the camp be bombed. The allies continued to make winning the war their highest priority. Some 437,000 Jewish men, women, and children were deported from Hungary on 148 trains between May 15 and July 8, 1944. Most -- as many as 10,000 each day -- were gassed soon after their arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Warsaw Stone, Treblinka
Killing Center Revolts:
Even in the death camps, in the shadow of the gas chambers and crematoria, Jews resisted against their oppressors. Three bold and daring uprisings occurred in the killing centers at Treblinka, Sobibor, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. As was the case with ghetto rebellions, those organized killing center revolts arose out of a sense of desperation and hopelessness, when it became clear that all Jews in these extermination camps were to be killed.
Almost all Jews -- children, the elderly, and physically fit teenagers and adults -- deported to the Treblinka and Sobibor extermination camps were gassed upon arrival. Few barracks existed for resident inmates. Camp guards temporarily spared small numbers of prisoners for use in special units called the Sonderkommando,which operated the crematoria and other camp facilities. But those Sonderkommando members realized that it was only a matter of time before they, too, would be gassed.
At Treblinka, an underground organization plotted an armed rebellion and mass escape. Learning about the Warsaw ghetto revolt from the last transports of Jews brought to Treblinka from Warsaw, the organizers decided the moment for revolt had arrived. On August 2, 1943, the underground fighters put their plan into action: to steal arms from the warehouse; eliminate the German and Ukrainian guards on duty; set the camp on fire; destroy the extermination area; and, then help the remaining prisoners escape to the forest. Many were killed during the rebellion, including all the resistance leaders, as the flames and reports of the revolt brought German reinforcements from all directions. But as many as 200 prisoners escaped to the neighboring forest, and perhaps twenty of those men survived German efforts to recapture them.
A few months after the revolt, Germans closed the camp, leveled it, and planted pine trees to hide all traces of the mass murders. At least 750,000 Jews perished at the camp between July 1942 and November 1943.
At Sobibor, Leon Feldhendler, the son of a rabbi from the nearby town of Zolkiewka, formed an underground organization in July 1943. By then transports to the death camp were slowing down and veteran Jewish prisoners sensed the end was quickly approaching. In September 1943, a new deportation of Soviet Jewish prisoners from Minsk brought a trained Soviet army officer, Lieutenant Alexandr "Sasha" Aronovich Pechersky to Sobibor. The Jewish underground recruited Pechersky and placed him in command.
Feldhendler devised a daring plan. Resisters would lure SS officers into storehouses on the pretext that they were to receive new coats and boots. Once inside, prisoners would attack them with axes and knives. The prisoners would then seize Nazi weapons and ammunition and set the camp ablaze during roll call. The insurgents would then break open the gate, and all prisoners would have a chance to run across the German mine fields toward the forest.
The revolt occurred in the late afternoon of October 14, 1943. Insurgents killed eleven of the Nazis in the camp, including the camp commander, and several Ukrainian guards. By dusk, about 300 prisoners had escaped. Nearly 200 of them managed to avoid recapture. Only a small number, however, survived to the war's end. Rumors that the escapees carried gold and silver made them easy prey for the local population, and few hiding in the forest survived the harsh Polish winter. Pechersky joined a partisan unit in the forest and survived the war; he later wrote a memoir about the revolt.
After the uprising, the Germans destroyed all traces of Sobibor. By the end of 1943, workers had plowed the death camp under and planted crops to cover the place where, between March 1942 and October 1943, the Nazis had murdered more than 250,000 Jews.
At Auschwitz-Birkenau, an elaborate underground network of Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners planned a revolt. By summer 1944, Soviet forces were advancing swiftly from the east, and the Allies from the west. Transports had slowed to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the Nazis had murdered more than one million Jews and tens of thousands of others.
Most of the non-Jewish underground backed out of the planned revolt after the failure of the Warsaw uprising by the Polish resistance in August 1944 and after the Polish underground outside of Auschwitz became aware that the Germans had learned about the plan. Underground leaders issued orders to give up the revolt.
But members of the Jewish Sonderkommando, sensing that the end was near and their usefulness to the Germans over, went ahead with the plan with help from some Soviet prisoners of war. On October 7, 1944, in a daring act of desperation, a group of prisoners blew up one of Birkenau's four crematoria using dynamite the underground had smuggled from a nearby munitions factory to the Sonderkommando. Six hundred prisoners escaped after the explosion, but all were either captured or killed as they fled.
On January 6, 1945, less than three weeks before the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, four young women accused of supplying the dynamite -- Roza Robota, Ella Gaertner, Esther Wajcblum, and Regina Safirsztain -- were hanged in the presence of the remaining inmates. As the trap door opened, Robota shouted defiantly, "Be strong; have courage!" Before her execution, guards had tortured her brutally, but she had refused to divulge the names of any members of the resistance.
Spontaneous Resistance by Gypsies at Auschwitz-Birkenau:
In Auschwitz-Birkenau, camp officials set aside specific barracks in early 1943 to house Sinti and Roma family groups deported from Germany and other countries occupied by Germany. By the end of 1943, the Nazis had interned 18,736 Sinti and Roma in the Gypsy camp, and thousands of those men, women and children died in the gas chambers. Others, more fit adult men and women chosen for forced labor, were deported from Auschwitz to other camps.
On May 15, 1944, prisoners in the Birkenau Gypsy family camp learned that the camp administration intended to gas the 6,000 remaining Gypsy prisoners the next day. When SS guards armed with machine guns surrounded the camp and attempted to begin the transport to the gas chambers, they met armed resistance.
After stealing scraps of sheet metal, prisoners had sharpened the metal into crudely fashioned knives. With those improvised weapons, and with iron pipes, clubs, and stones, the Gypsies defended themselves. Guards shot some resisters. The final liquidation of the camp occurred in early August when guards moved 2,897 men, women, and children to the gas chambers in the dead of night.
Ruth Minsky Sender
On November 24, 1997, Ruth Minsky Sender, Holocaust
survivor, was interviewed by students at Cold Spring
Harbor High School in New York. Ruth, who is loved by
all who meet her, travels all over to talk with young
people about her experiences in the Holocaust. She has
many roles in life -- author, teacher, wife, mother,
and grandmother. (Thank you to student Shasta White,
who transcribed our interview notes.)
Ruth Minsky Sender Meets with Students
"As long as there is life,
there is hope."
RUTH MINSKY SENDER
My fourth book is called Remember Your Name, and it's the story of me finding a cousin that I didn't know existed because he was ten years old when they put us in the Lodz Ghetto, and I was thirteen years old. He's a distant cousin; we didn't know each other. I didn't even know he existed, and while I had three brothers with me in the ghetto, he had no one, and he was on his own since he was ten years old, looking for family. He didn't even remember what his mother's maiden name was, so he couldn't even find us because I am from his mother's side, "Minsky."
There is a Holocaust memorial in Miami. The walls are just like Washington where they have the Vietnam Memorial with the names of the people who were killed. At the Holocaust memorial, there were names of people who had perished. He was there with his wife. Before that, he found a Polish woman. He said that he would like to go back to Lodz. He always thought he was born in Germany because he spoke German; he didn't know why he spoke German. In the camps, the other prisoners gave him a birthday because they looked at him and said, "Oh, you look about thirteen years old." So they gave him 1932. Actually, he was born in 1929. They told him he was born on January 1 because it's easy to remember. They gave him a name and identity and told him he was born in Germany.
Then he had the woman's son in Poland go to Lodz simply because he knew he had been in the Lodz Ghetto. He said, "Maybe there are some documents, some pictures of my family," and that's the reason he wanted them to look, because he didn't know that he was born in Lodz. And the Polish gentleman went into the town hall and he had to bribe them in order for them to look up the documents, and he came back with my cousin's birth certificate. He was born in 1929 on May 27, not January 1, 1932.
He found out his mother's maiden name was "Minsky." He didn't remember his mother's name; he didn't remember anything. He must have wanted to block everything out, because he remembers very little as a child, and so, when they came to the Holocaust memorial in Miami, and they looked at the names, they saw "Minsky" and they started searching. Maybe, maybe, and sure enough, some of the first names were the same names as his family members. It took him three weeks until somebody, because they didn't want to give out private information, finally gave him the information, and it turned out we were related. Our grandfathers were brothers.
He said he found his past. He knew a name, and he thought he didn't have any relatives, and all of a sudden, he had relatives, so that's the story in Remember Your Name, because those were the words his mother had said before he jumped off the truck.
His mother perished, but he survived by hiding under the truck. She had told him, "Remember your name, and jump!" It's amazing how a child could survive, and not only did he survive, in spite of all that he was surrounded with, with all that hate, he is a wonderful human being. The environment didn't destroy him. I just saw him two days ago.
The book is at the publisher now, and I hope that they publish it. It's up to them now, and if they don't publish it, I'll find somebody else. The first book was a little bit tougher, but now I learned. The Cage is in paperback; it's very hard to find now in hardcover.
This is the new jacket [Ruth holds up the new cover of The Cage], and I think the jacket is wonderful because it looks like it would be a picture of me, but it's not a picture. The artist made it look like a picture.
The Cage -- I know you read it -- is about me, my little brothers, my family, and most of them are not here. If you go into the library and find a book called The Lodz Ghetto, look at the jacket of the book. The back jacket of the book is this [Ruth holds up the jacket with a photograph on the cover].
This picture was of a demonstration in the Lodz Ghetto. In fact, I wrote about it in The Cage. There was a demonstration; it wasn't planned. It just happened. People started marching. They wanted more food and jobs and schools.
According to The Chronicles of the Lodz Ghetto, edited by a cousin of mine, Lucjan Dobroszycki, there were 700 people there. I remembered there were thousands. Maybe there were 700 the way they put it there, and my mother and my little brother and I went to the demonstration.
Then when I got the book, which is years later, I looked at the jacket and there's a picture. There was a photographer in the Lodz Ghetto; there were several of them that were officially taking pictures for the Chronicles, and this was an official picture. Some pictures were later found in milk cans. When I saw the picture, I said, "Well this little girl here looks like me, but I don't remember what I looked like. I don't have any pictures to compare it to, and I looked at the two little boys and said, "They could have been my brothers, but no. It's impossible. How could we, from all those people -- 180,000 people -- happen to end up on the jacket of the book?"
And then I said, "Well, the girl is wearing a winter coat. I had a coat like that," and I kept struggling with the thought; why was I wearing a winter coat? The demonstrations were in the fall. Then I started researching something in the book, The Chronicles of the Lodz Ghetto; in fact, my cousin, the editor, had given it to me when he came from Poland in 1968. I started researching in that book, and, all of a sudden, I came across an entry. There was another demonstration in February, and that's why I had a winter coat on. Then I said, "Well, I'm not crazy; it is me!"
Then my daughter Nancy said, "Why don't you take the jacket and go to the photographer and have him make a negative and take a picture?"
I went and, once I saw the picture, I started crying, because it was clear it was me. [Ruth shows us the picture.] This is Motele, and this is Laibele, the brother who died in the ghetto. I wrote Dobroszycki's widow and asked her if she had any pictures, because I knew she had private archives that her husband had left behind with pictures.
She said there was a documentary called The Lodz Ghetto on TV and on videotape that people can buy. When they had the grand opening, there was a reception in the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. They sent out invitations, and this is the invitation [Ruth holds up the picture]. The invitation picture was the jacket of the book; she sent it to me.
I remember my mother making that coat for me. This is Laibele here. There is a picture that we have of Laibele that we found. We found it in the garbage with books. Remember, we had a secret library in our house, and the books were in the garbage, and people that came back and looked for the books found the books. When the people came to salvage the books in the secret library, they found pictures of an uncle of mine. He was a prominent educator; they wanted to save his pictures, and stuck like glue to the back of his picture, was this picture of Laibele, a school picture from 1939. The picture is the jacket of The Holocaust Lady. So that's why I have a picture of him, and that's a picture of my mother which was the picture I took with me to Auschwitz. A family that we have in Argentina sent us this picture. And this one, in the ghetto, was taken in 1941 and is on the jacket of The Lodz Ghetto.
You can see Motele wearing a yellow star. I had a star over here, and it's covered with the lapel of the coat. I don't know who these people are [Ruth, looking at the photo of the people in the Lodz Ghetto demonstration]. I have no idea if they survived. I might be the only one who survived.
Ruth with her brothers, Laibele
and Motele, in the Lodz Ghetto
My second book, To Life, deals with life and survivors going back to Germany, because we couldn't live in Poland because of antisemitism. Hatred never stopped in Poland. We had to smuggle our way out from Poland back to Germany to a former concentration camp, a displaced persons' camp, and we lived there for five years, going from camp to camp. I had two children in those camps.
I found my two sisters, and my brother, who escaped to Russia in 1939. They were finally allowed to leave Russia and come back to Poland, and they expected that they'd come back to family in Poland. They didn't know what happened in Poland. They were going to tell all the harsh stories that happened to them, but there was no one to listen, and their harsh stories were nothing compared to what they found in Poland. We lived for five years in a former concentration camp, waiting for the world to open its doors.
My third book, The Holocaust Lady, tells the importance of the teaching of the Holocaust and the effect it has on the children and grandchildren, because it definitely affected the grandchildren. One is going to be sixteen years old in two days. When he was five years old, he asked my husband, "Who put the number on your arm?" and my husband didn't know what to say, and he said, "Bad people put it on my arm." Now this was when my grandson was five years old. Now he talks about it. He makes sure that his teachers have my books. Even his younger sister, who is eleven, told me she took the book in to the teacher and the teacher read it.
My children were always afraid it might bring up hurtful memories, so they asked very little questions, but the grandchildren do. It did affect them all, and that is what my book, The Holocaust Lady, is all about. Now if you ask me some questions, I will answer some.
Question: You were talking about your relationship with your children. I did an interview with a woman survivor who had a similar problem with her children. She never brought it up with them. She never sat down and frankly discussed what happened in the Holocaust. What do you think of this?
Ruth: You can't do it. It's not something you're going to sit down at the dinner table and say, "Okay, now we're going to talk about it." It only comes out in bits and pieces. When you're asked a question, you get upset, and they don't want to upset you, so you don't talk about it. My kids learned about the Holocaust from my articles and my books. My daughter attended a lot of my courses. She heard me speak, so she knew more and she wasn't as much afraid to ask a question as my sons. So many survivors would not talk about it at all, and some of them talk too much. They talk to the point that their children feel they're in Auschwitz, that they're responsible, that they're guilty because their parents were in Auschwitz, and that's going to an extreme. I think family members should leave their memories on tape. It's pretty hard to talk in front of other people, especially with your children.
Last week I was speaking at Barnes and Noble Bookstore, and I knew that my daughter was there. Maybe I'll start crying, but because she was there, I was avoiding that. We're protecting one another, but it's important that survivors should let their children read Holocaust literature.
Once I spoke to a group of senior citizens, and there was a lady there, and I could see that she was crying, and she was nodding at the right places. I had a feeling that she knew what I was talking about. Then she came over and said she had been in the Lodz Ghetto, but her children didn't know. She didn't tell them anything. I found out later that she did buy books and give them to her children to read. Sometimes you kind of break the barrier. I understand it's pretty hard to talk and tell your children. There are lots of things we don't talk about and we don't tell our children, because it's too painful.
Question: At what age should children in school first learn about the Holocaust?
Ruth: I think eighth grade is alright, but I've been to schools where the teacher has read The Cage to younger kids; they were a little too young, but the questions from those kids were just as intense as the college kids' questions are. There are books for young children, picture books such as The Number on My Grandfather's Arm.
Question: What languages are your books translated into?
Ruth: There are several languages -- Dutch, Danish, Foroya. I keep getting phone calls almost every day saying, "Thank you; it's a touching book." I get lots of letters, and I answer them. One girl about fourteen years old said that when she used to ask about the Holocaust, adults would say it was terrible and not talk about it. And she wrote that I took her hand, "and I went with you and I cried with you and I laughed with you, and I applauded when you took a bath." Remember, in The Cage when I finally got to take a bath?
I had another interesting experience. The lady who is the director of the Holocaust Center in Buffalo called me and said that she teaches with TV about the Holocaust and she uses The Cage in her classes. She wanted to know if her students could speak to me. Could we have a phone conference, and I said sure. Then she called and asked if we could arrange a video conference, so I went to a place in Hauppauge, a computer place. I sat at a table; there was a screen and microphone. There were four sections on the screen. I was in one of the sections, and there were three different schools in three different places. It was wonderful, because the kids were asking questions. The next day I got roses and beautiful letters. Some students said that I was their role model.
Lots of kids ask me about suicide. Did we ever think of suicide? I know it's a very touchy issue because those things did happen. Yes, we did think of suicide. But the amazing thing was that very few people committed suicide. The idea was "if I hold onto life, I'm defying the Nazis, so why give in?"
In the ghetto it was different. If you were lucky, you still had some of the members of your family. We could still live together; we could still share whatever there was. But in the camps, you were all alone. Most of us were all alone. It was very seldom that someone had a sister or a mother. One of the girls in the camp Mittelsteine [Germany], tried to commit suicide. She didn't succeed. You would think they would have compassion and feel sorry for her, but they were angry and asked, "Why did you do it? Why did you show them you were weak?"
In the TV interview, one of the kids asked me if I still hold onto "as long as there is life, there is hope." I said, "Absolutely, because as long as you are alive, tomorrow could be better."
At the beginning of the year, I had some serious health problems, and I was going to go speak to a school in Northport, Long Island. The doctor called and told me I was going to need surgery. She wasn't sure if it was cancer, so when I went to speak at that school, my mind was thinking about the surgery and maybe cancer.
I had 300 books that day to autograph for the kids, and I autographed the books and I wrote, "As long as there is life, there is hope" 300 times. By the time I was finished, I felt strong.
Obviously it's true. I'm here, and I'm well, so I still hold onto Mama's legacy: "As long as there is life, there is hope."
László Ocskay, Captain of the Royal Hungarian Army
The forgotten hero, Captain László Ocskay, was responsible for one of history's most daring and unique rescue operations. In a remarkable humanitarian effort, he saved the lives of some 2,500 Jewish men, women and children
from 1944 to 1945, the most dangerous period of the Second World War in Budapest. As director of the Clothing Collection Labour Service Company, Ocskay was able to protect members and their families from the German Nazis and the Hungarian Arrow Cross in the buildings of the Abonyi Street Jewish School (known today as the Miklós Radnóti Secondary School).
Unbelievably, Ocskay was able to secure protection from the constant threat posed by the vicious Arrow Cross (Hungary's Nazi party) by using his contacts to arrange for armed SS officers to permanently stand guard outside the building. The people Ocskay delivered from the Holocaust included Kossuth Prize-winning author Gábor Goda, musician Pál Kadosa, composer Ede Kabos, fencing world champion Dezs? Kellér and actor Imre Ráday. Ocskay worked closely with legendary Jewish community leader Miksa Domonkos and Raoul Wallenberg, even offering him shelter in his own house.
Prisoners at Dachau
The Irish have recently become involved in Holocaust lore. There was a Holocaust exhibit in Dublin, which ended on December 17th.
This exhibition, originally presented at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2010, features the blueprints with which the SS architects planned the Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau camps, and the photos that the SS made to record the progress of the construction of the barracks, auxiliary buildings, and the crematoria.
Auschwitz and its satellite Auschwitz-Birkenau, built by the SS in occupied Poland, formed the largest and most important concentration and extermination camp complex. During its operation between June 1940 and January 1945, the German Nazis murdered 1.1 million people there, 90% of whom were Jews. Most of the victims were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau in gas chambers and crematoria designed by professional architects and engineers. The deadliest of the German death camps, and the most sophisticated in its killing technology, Auschwitz-Birkenau became a symbol of the Holocaust.
The exhibition shows material from the collection of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The six architectural plans are a representative sample of a collection of 28 construction drawings for Auschwitz discovered in Berlin in 2008, purchased and published by the German newspaper “Bild”? and donated to Yad Vashem in 2009.
The exhibition is a production of the Museums Division, Yad Vashem, and will be held at the Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin 2; 19th November-17th December 2010; Tues-Fri 10am-5pm.
The illustration shows an early blueprint of crematorium II, dated November 1941, showing two elevations and the basement. Designed to be built in Auschwitz, this incineration installation with 15 ovens and a daily capacity of 1,440 corpses was to accommodate the “normal”? mortality of the Auschwitz complex.
When in July 1942 Himmler took the decision to transform the Auschwitz complex into an extermination camp, the SS decided to build in Birkenau two of these crematoria (numbered II and III), and to transform the spaces that were intended as morgues or corpse cellars (indicated in the basement plan as L[eichen]-Keller), into an undressing room and a gas chamber. In addition, the SS built also two smaller crematoria equipped with gas chambers (number IV and V).Here is a quote from the article:
It is known that 10 were arrested, tried and later sent to prison, a labour camp or a concentration camp. Four Irish women were caught and ended up in Ravensbrück. They were Mary Cummins (Belgian Resistance), Catherine Crean, Sr Katherine Anne McCarthy and Sr Agnes Flanagan. Crean died shortly after the camp was liberated in 1945.
Six men were arrested and sent to various camps. Of these, two simply disappeared from the record while another two (Robert Armstrong and Robert Vernon) are known to have been executed by the Germans in 1944 and 1945 respectively.
The Natzweiler camp in Alsace was one of the camps where French Resistance fighters were sent; they were transferred to Dachau in September 1944. Among them was Patrick O’Leary. There could have been a real Irishman in the group that was transferred from Natzweiler.
In the quote from the news article, it is mentioned that “two simply disappeared from the record.” There were a lot of prisoners sent to the concentration camps who “simply disappeared from the record.” They were called “Nacht und Nebel” prisoners because they were made to disappear into the “Night and Fog” which was a term used by Goethe. This was a practice used by the Germans to discourage people from joining the Resistance because Resistance fighters could simply disappear and their families would never hear of them again.
In World War II, it was legal, under the Geneva Convention of 1929, to execute illegal combatants, aka resistance fighters, but instead of doing this, in most cases, the French Resistance fighters were designated as NN prisoners and sent to concentration camps. General Wilhelm Keitel was one of the ten German war criminals who were executed after being convicted at the Nuremberg IMT.
One of his crimes was that he had signed the “Nacht und Nebel” decree. According to the Allies, it was a war crime to make people disappear instead of legally executing them. In any case, there is a good chance that the Irish prisoner at Dachau was originally sent to Natzweiler as an NN prisoner and later transferred to Dachau, where his name may not have been recorded because he was an NN prisoner.
After World War II, the Allies made up ex post facto laws (laws after the fact) under which the German war criminals were charged. One of these new laws, that was used by the American Military Tribunals, was the charge of putting Resistance fighters into a concentration camp instead of a Prisoner of War camp where they would have received better treatment. So it was a crime to put Resistance fighters into a concentration camp and keep them alive, in lieu of executing them legally.
During the proceedings of the American Military Tribunals, which were held at the Dachau camp, the defense lawyers were not allowed to mention that the Allies had committed similar acts. If there was any mention of war crimes by the Allies, it was promptly stricken from the record.
In America, 8 captured German saboteurs were sentenced to death and 6 of them were executed in the electric chair. The other two death sentences were reduced to prison sentences after the Germans turned against their country and cooperated with the Americans. Although the 8 Germans had been caught before they had the opportunity to commit any acts of sabotage, 6 of them were executed because they had violated the Laws of War by going behind enemy lines to commit hostile acts without being in uniform. This was the same thing that the French Resistance fighters had done, but the Germans allowed most of them to live.
During World War II, the British executed 15 German spies. The last person to be executed at the famous Tower of London was Josef Jacobs who was captured after he broke his leg during a parachute jump. He was shot on August 15, 1941. Again, he had not been able to commit any acts of sabotage, but he was executed anyway.
The French resistance fighters blew up bridges, derailed trains, directed the British in the bombing of German troop trains, kidnapped and killed German army officers, and ambushed German troops. They took no prisoners, but rather killed any German soldiers who surrendered to them, sometimes mutilating their bodies for good measure. The Nazis referred to them as “terrorists.”
Here are a couple of stories about French Resistance fighters, who lived to brag about their exploits:
Henri Rosencher was a medical student and a Communist member of the Maquis, one of the French Resistance groups. After the war, he wrote a book entitled Le Sel, la cendre, la flamme (Salt, Ash, Fire) in which he described his work as an explosives expert. He was captured and sent to Natzweiler, then transferred to Dachau where he was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945.
The following is a quote from Rosencher’s book, which describes a typical Maquis resistance action which resulted in the death by suffocation of 500 German Wehrmacht soldiers:
On the morning of the 17th of June, I arrived in the area of Lus-la-Croix-Haute, the “maquis” [zone of resistance] under the command of Commander Terrasson. They were waiting for me and took me off by car. The job at hand was mining a tunnel through which the Germans were expected to pass by train. The Rail resistance network had provided all the details. My only role was as advisor on explosives. TNT (Trinitrotoluene – a very powerful explosive) and plastic charges were going to collapse the mountain, sealing off the tunnel at both ends and its air shaft. When I got there, all the ground work was done. I only had to specify how much of the explosive was necessary, and where to put it. I checked the bickfords, primers, detonators, and crayons de mise à feu. We stationed our three teams and made sure that they could communicate with each other. I settled into the bushes with the team for the tunnel’s entrance. And we waited. Toward three p.m., we could hear the train coming. At the front came a platform car, with nothing on it, to be sacrificed to any mines that might be on the tracks, then a car with tools for repairs, and then an armored fortress car. Then came the cars over-stuffed with men in verdi-gris uniforms, and another armored car. The train entered the tunnel and after it had fully disappeared into it, we waited another minute before setting off the charge. Boulders collapsed and cascaded in a thunderous burst; a huge mass completely covered the entrance. Right after that, we heard one, then two huge explosions. The train has been taken prisoner. The 500 “feldgraus” inside weren’t about to leave, and the railway was blocked for a long, long time.
Feldgrau means field gray in English. This was a nickname for German Wehrmacht soldiers who fought honorably on the battlefield. In spite of the fact that this resistance fighter had helped to kill 500 soldiers, he was allowed to live and write a book about his illegal activity in war time. Rosencher was not Irish; he was Jewish.
Another Jewish hero of the French resistance is Andre Scheinmann, who emigrated to the United States in 1953. Together with Diana Mara Henry, he has written a book entitled “I Am Andre: World War II Memoirs of a Spy in France.”
Andre’s family had escaped to France in 1938 after the Nazi pogrom known as Kristallnacht. His parents were sent to Auschwitz during the German occupation of France. Andre had been a soldier in the French Army and was a Prisoner of War when France surrendered; he escaped and joined the French Resistance.
There were 40,000 French men and women who collaborated with the Germans, and Andre pretended to be one of them; he became an interpreter for the Germans for the French national railroad. The Nazis never suspected that he was in the French Resistance and that he was Jewish; he was given the job of overseeing the rail system in the Brittany region of France.
As a member of the French underground, second in command of a network of 300 spies, Scheinmann’s job was in intelligence, but he also engaged in sabotage. His resistance network gathered information on German troop movements and reported weekly to the British. The information that they supplied was invaluable to the British Air Force in bombing German troop trains. Scheinmann and his compatriots also blew up trains, killing contingents of German soldiers.
Scheinmann was eventually arrested by the German Gestapo; he spent eleven months in a Paris Gestapo prison before he was sent in July 1943 to Natzweiler as a “Nacht und Nebel” prisoner. He disappeared into the Night and Fog of the Nazi concentration camp system, where he was not allowed to communicate with anyone on the outside. At Natzweiler, he was given a cushy job working in the weaving workshop, and because of his ability to speak German, he was made a Kapo with the authority to supervise other prisoners.
Along with many other well-known French resistance fighters, he was evacuated from Natzweiler to Dachau and released by the American liberators. He joined the FFI and remained a soldier in the French military even after the war ended. As a hero of the resistance, he was awarded the Legion of Honor, the Medal of Resistance and the Medal of the Camps by the French government.
These two examples of French Resistance fighters might be similar to the story of the Irish hero who was a prisoner at Dachau.
Soviet women in World War II
Soviet women bore their share of the burden in World War II (locally known as the Great Patriotic War). While most toiled in industry, transport, agriculture and other civilian roles, working double shifts to free up enlisted men to fight and increase military production, a sizable number of women took up arms.
800,000 women served in the Soviet Armed Forces during the war. Nearly 200,000 were decorated and 89 eventually received the Soviet Union’s highest award, the Hero of the Soviet Union. They served as pilots, snipers, machine gunners, tank crew members and partisans, as well as in auxiliary roles.
At first, when Germany attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, thousands of women who volunteered were turned away. Two factors changed attitudes and ensured a greater role for women who wanted to fight: the losses to the Germans after their initial success in 1941 and the efforts of determined women. In the early stages of the war, the fastest route to advancement in the military for women was service in medical and auxiliary units.
For Soviet women aviators, instrumental to this change was Marina Raskova, a famous Russian aviator, often referred to as the ‘Russian Amelia Earhart’. Raskova became a famous aviator as both a pilot and a navigator in the 1930s. She was the first woman to become a navigator in theSoviet Air Force in 1933. A year later she started teaching at the Zhukovskii Air Academy, also a first for a woman. When World War II broke out, there were numerous women who had training as pilots and many immediately volunteered. While there were no formal restrictions on women serving in combat roles, their applications tended to be blocked, run through red tape, etc for as long as possible in order to discourage them from seeing combat.
Raskova is credited with using her personal connections with Joseph Stalin to convince the military to form three combat regiments for women. Not only would the women be pilots, but the support staff and engineers for these regiments were women. The Soviet Union was the first nation to allow women pilots to fly combat missions. These regiments flew a combined total of more than 30,000 combat sorties, produced at least thirty Heroes of the Soviet Union, and included at least two fighter aces. This military unit was initially called Aviation Group 122 while the three regiments received training. After their training, the three regiments received their formal designations as follows:
The 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment:
This unit was the first to take part in combat (April 16, 1942) of the three female regiments and participated in 4,419 combat missions (125 air battles and 38 kills). Lydia Litvyak and Katya Budanova were assigned to the unit before joining the 437th IAP in the fighting over Stalingrad and became the world's only two female fighter aces (with 12 and 11 victories respectively), both flying the Yak-1 fighter.
This was the best known of the regiments and was commanded by Yevdokia Bershanskaya. It originally began service as the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, but was redesignated in February 1943 as recognition for service which would tally 24,000+ combat missions by the end of the war. Their aircraft was the Polikarpov Po-2, a very outdated biplane. TheGermans were the ones however who gave them the name that they are most well known as, The Night Witches.
The 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment: Marina Raskova commanded this unit until her death in combat, and then the unit was assigned to Valentin Markov. It started service as the 587th Bomber Aviation Regiment until it was given the Guards designation in September 1943.Land forces
The Soviet Union deployed women snipers extensively, and to great effect, including Nina Alexeyevna Lobkovskaya and Ukrainian Lyudmila Pavlichenko (who killed over 300 German soldiers). The Soviets found that sniper duties fit women well, since good snipers are patient, deliberate, have a high level of aerobic conditioning, and normally avoid hand-to-hand combat.
Women served as machine gunners, tank drivers, medics, communication personnel and political officers. Manshuk Mametova was a machine gunner from Kazakhstan and was the first Soviet Asian woman to receive the Hero of the Soviet Union for acts of bravery.
Women crewed the majority of the anti-aircraft batteries employed in Stalingrad. Some batteries, including the 1077th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, also engaged in ground combat.
In response to the high casualties suffered by male soldiers, Stalin allowed planning which would replace men with women in second lines of defense, such as anti-aircraft guns and medical aid. These provided gateways through which women could gradually become involved in combat, and demonstrate their capabilities. For example, women comprised 43% of physicians, who were often required to carry rifles as they retrieved men from firing zones. Through small opportunities like this, women gradually gained credibility on the battlefield, eventually numbering 500,000 at any given time toward the end of the war.Partisans WWII Soviet female snipers, members of Sydir Kovpak's partisan formation in theUkrainian SSR
Women consistituted significant numbers of the Soviet partisans. One of the most famous was Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya. In October 1941, still an 18 year-old high school student in Moscow, she volunteered for a partisan unit. At the village of Obukhovo near Naro-Fominsk, Kosmodemyanskaya and other partisans crossed the front line and entered territory occupied by the Germans.
She was arrested by the Nazis on a combat assignment near the village of Petrischevo (Moscow Oblast) in late November 1941. Kosmodemyanskaya was savagely tortured and humiliated, but did not give away the names of her comrades or her real name (claiming that it was Tanya). She was hanged on November 29, 1941. It was claimed that before her death Kosmodemyanskaya had made a speech with the closing words, “There are two hundred million of us; you can’t hang us all!” Kosmodemyanskaya was the first woman to become Hero of the Soviet Union during the war (February 16, 1942).
The youngest woman to become a Hero of the Soviet Union was also a resistance fighter, Zinaida Portnova. She was visiting an aunt when the Germans invaded and was trapped behind German lines. In 1942, aged 15, after seeing the brutality of the occupying troops, Portnova joined the partisan movement in the Byelorussian SSR. She hid weapons for partisans, distributed leaflets and conducted sabotage. In January 1944 she was captured. She shot one of her captors whilst trying to escape but was caught and killed, just short of her 18th birthday. In 1958 Portnova was posthumously made a Hero of the Soviet Union, there is a monument to her in the city of Minsk and some youth pioneer movement detachments were named after her.
20 February 1926 – 15 January 1944
Zinaida Martynovna Portnova, commonly known as Zina Portnova (Russian: ??????? ?????????? ????????, ???? ????????)
(20 February 1926 – 15 January 1944)
Zina Portnova was born in Leningrad on 20 February 1926. She was the daughter of a working classBelarusian family. Her father worked at the Kirov Plant. She was a seventh grade student at the 385th school in Leningrad in 1941, when she left for her grandmother's house in the Vitebsk region. Not long afterwards, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. An incident with the invading Nazi troops, who hit her grandmother while they were confiscating the cattle, led her to hate the Germans.
In 1942 Portnova joined the Belarusian resistance movement, becoming a member of the local underground Komsomol organization in Obol,Vitebsk Voblast, named Young Avengers. She began by distributing Soviet propaganda leaflets in the German-occupied Belarus, collecting and hiding weapons for Soviet soldiers, and reporting on German Movements. After learning how to use weapons and explosives from the older members of the group, Portnova participated in sabotage actions at a pump, local power plant, and brick factory. These acts are estimated to have killed upwards of 100 German soldiers.
In 1943, Portnova became employed as a kitchen aid in Obol. In August, she poisoned the food meant for the Nazi garrison stationed there. Immediately falling suspect, she said she was innocent and ate some of the food in front of the Nazis to prove it was not poisoned; after she did not fall ill immediately, they released her. Portnova became sick afterwards, vomiting heavily but eventually recovering from the poison after drinking much whey. After she did not return to work, the Germans realized she had been the culprit and started searching for her. To avoid the Germans, she became a scout of the partisan unit named after Kliment Voroshilov. In a letter sent to her parents that month, she wrote that "together, [they] would beat the Nazis". In October 1943, Portnova joined the VLKSM.
In December 1943 or January 1944 Portnova was sent back to Obol to to infiltrate the garrison, discover the reason for the recent Young Avengers failures, then locate and contact the remaining members. She was quickly captured. Reports of her escape vary. One is that, during Gestapo interrogation in the village of Goriany, she took the investigator's pistol off the table, then shot and killed him. When two German soldiers entered after hearing the gunshots, she shot them as well. She then attempted to escape the compound and ran into the woods, where she was caught by the banks of a river.
Another version is that the Gestapo interrogator, in a fit of rage, threw his pistol to the table after threatening to shoot her. Taking the pistol, Postnova shot him. Escaping through the door, she shot a guard in the corridor, then another in the courtyard. After the pistol misfired when Portnova attempted to shoot a guard blocking her access to the street, she was captured.
After being recaptured, Portnova was tortured, possibly for information. She was later driven into the forest and executed or killed during torture on 15 January 1944.
On 1 July 1958, Portnova was posthumously declared a Hero of the Soviet Union by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. She also received the Order of Lenin. In 1969, the village of Zuya dedicated a commemorative plaque in her honour. She also had numerous Young Pioneer groups named in her honour.
Portnova has had many school teams and groups named after her, as well the museum to the Komsomol, situated on the highway betweenPolotsk and Vitebsk, and a school in St Petersburgh. There are two monuments to her, a bust in Minsk and an obelisk in the village of Obol.
August 18, 1921~August 1, 1943
Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak (????? ???????????? ??????, (Moscow,
August 18, 1921 – Krasnyi Luch August 1, 1943), also known as Lydia Litviak or Lilya Litviak, was a fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Force during World War II. With 12 solo victories (but some authors say 11 or even 13 ) and either two, or four, shared gained in 66 combat missions, she is one of the world's only two female fighter aces, along with Katya Budanova.
Born in Moscow, Litvyak became interested in aviation at an early age. At 14 she enrolled in a flying club. She performed her first solo flight at 15, and later graduated at Kherson military flying school. She became a flight instructor at Kalinin Airclub,and by the time the German-Soviet war broke out, had already trained forty-five pilots.World War II Women's regiment
After the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Litvyak tried to join a military aviation unit, but was turned down for lack of experience. After deliberately exaggerating her pre-war flight time by 100 hours, she joined the all-female 586th Fighter Regiment of the Air Defense Force (586 IAP/PVO, istrebitel'naia aviatsia protivovozdushnoi oborony), which was formed by Marina Raskova. She trained there on the Yakovlev Yak-1 aircraft.A wrecked Junkers Ju 88: the first "victim" of Litvyak was an aircraft of this type Men's regiment
Litvyak flew her first combat flights in the summer of 1942 over Saratov. In September, she was assigned to the 437 IAP, a men's regiment fighting over Stalingrad. On 10 September she moved along with Katya Budanova, Maria M. Kuznetsova and Raisa Beliaeva, the commander of the group, and accompanying female ground crew, to the regiment airfield, at Verkhnaia Akhtuba, on the east bank of the Volga river. But when they arrived the base was empty and under attack, so they soon moved to Srednaia Akhtuba. Here, flying a Yak-1 carrying the number "32" on the fuselage, she would achieve considerable success. "Liliia Litvyak was a very aggressive person", but an exceptional pilot, recalled Boris Eremin (later lieutenant general of aviation), who was a regimental commander in the division to which she and Budanova were assigned, "a born fighter pilot".Restored Messerschmitt Bf 109G: The first fighter shot down by Litvyak was an aircraft of this type, flown by a Luftwaffe "ace".
In the 437th Fighter Regiment, Litvyak scored her very first two kills on 13 September, three days after her arrival and on her third mission to cover Stalingrad, becoming the very first woman fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy aircraft. That day, four Yak-1s—with Major S. Danilov in the lead—attacked a formation of Junkers Ju 88s escorted by Messerschmitt Bf 109s. Her first kill was a Ju 88 which fell in flames from the sky after several bursts. Then she shot a Bf 109 G-2 "Gustav" off the tail of her squadron commander, Raisa Beliaeva. The Bf 109 was piloted by a decorated pilot from the 4th Air Fleet commanded by General Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen (a distant relative of the Red Baron) the 11-victory ace, three-time recipient[clarification needed] of the Iron Cross, Staff Sergeant Erwin Maier of the 2nd Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 53. Maier parachuted from his aircraft, was captured by Soviet troops, and asked to see the Russian ace who had outflown him. When he was taken to stand in front of Litvyak, he thought he was being made the butt of a Soviet joke. It was not until Litvyak described each move of the dogfight to him in perfect detail that he knew he had been beaten by a woman pilot. But according to other authors the first air victory of a female pilot was achieved by 586° IAP's LeutenantValeriya Khomiakova when she shot down the Ju 88 flown by Oblt. Gerhard Maak of 7./KG76 on the night of 24 September 1942.On 14 September, according to some authors, Litvyak shot down another Bf 109. But on that day, Luftwaffe, on Stalingrad, did not lose any Bf 109. On 27 September Litvyak scored an air victory against a Ju 88, the gunner having shot up the regiment commander, Major M.S. Khovostnikov. For some historians that was her first kill.Free hunter
Litvyak, Beliaeva, Budanova and Kuznetsova stayed in the 437 IAP for a short time only, mainly because it was equipped with LaGG 3srather than Yak-1s, that the women flew, and was lacking the facilities to service the latter. So the four women were moved to the 9th GuardsFighter Regiment (9 GvIAP, gvardeiskii istrebitel’ nyi aviatsionnyi polk). From October 1942 till January 1943, Litvyak and Budanova served, still in the Stalingrad area, with this famous unit, commanded by Lev Shestakov, Hero of Soviet Union.
In January 1943, the 9th was re-equipped with the Bell P-39 Airacobras and Litvyak and Budanova were moved to the 296 IAP (later the 73 GvIAP, Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment) of Nikolai Baranov, of the 8th Air Army, so that they could still fly the Yaks. On February 23, she was awarded the Order of the Red Star, made a junior lieutenant and selected to take part in the elite air tactic called okhotniki, or "free hunter", where pairs of experienced pilots searched for targets on their own initiative. Twice, she was forced to land due to battle damage. On 22 March she was wounded for the first time. That day she was flying as part of a group of six Yak fighters when they attacked a dozen Ju 88s.
Litvyak shot down one of the bombers, but was in turn attacked and wounded by the escorting Bf 109s. She managed to shoot down a Messerschmitt and to return to her airfield and land her plane, but was in severe pain and losing blood. While in 73 GvIAP, she often flew as wingman of Alexei Frolovich Solomatin. Kapitan Solomatin was a flying ace. He had claimed a total of 39 victories (22 shared), when he flew into the ground, in Pavlonka, and was killed in front of the entire regiment on May 21, while training a new flyer. Lydia was devastated by the crash and wrote a letter to her mother describing how she realized only after Solomatin's death that she had loved him.
Senior Sergeant Inna Pasportnikova, Litvyak's mechanic during the time she flew with the men's regiment, reported in 1990 that after Solomatin's death, Litvyak wanted nothing but to fly combat missions, and she fought desperately.
Litvyak scored against a difficult target on May 31, 1943: an artillery observation balloon manned by a German officer. German artillery was aided in targeting by reports from the observation post on the balloon. The elimination of the balloon had been attempted by other Soviet airmen but all had been driven away by a dense protective belt of anti-aircraft fire defending the balloon. Litvyak volunteered to take out the balloon but was turned down. She insisted, and described for her commander her plan: she would attack it from the rear after flying in a wide circle around the perimeter of the battleground and over German-held territory. The tactic worked—the hydrogen-filled balloon caught fire under her stream of tracer bullets and was destroyed.
On June 13, 1943, Litvyak was appointed flight commander of the 3rd Aviation Squadron within 73rd GvIAP.
Lydia made an additional kill on July 16, 1943. That day, six Yaks encountered 30 German bombers with six escorts. The woman ace downed a bomber and shared a victory with a comrade, but her fighter was hit and she had to make a belly landing. She was wounded again but refused to take medical leave. She shot down two more Bf 109s on 19 and 21 July 1943.Last Mission Krasnyi Luch wall of Honor to the Heroes of War and Labor. Litvyak took off for her last mission from an airfield close to this city, where a museum dedicated to her is located.
On August 1, 1943, Lydia did not come back to her base of Krasnyy Luch, in the Donbass, from an escort to a flight of Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmoviks. It was her fourth sortie of the day. As the Soviets were returning to base near Orel, a pair of Bf 109 fighters dived on Lydia while she was attacking a large group of German bombers. Soviet pilot Ivan Borisenko recalled: “Lily just didn’t see the Messerschmitt 109s flying cover for the German bombers. A pair of them dived on her and when she did see them she turned to meet them. Then they all disappeared behind a cloud.” Borisenko, involved in the dogfight, saw her a last time, through a gap in the clouds, her Yak-1 pouring smoke and pursued by as many as eight Bf 109s.
Borisenko descended to see if he could find her. No parachute was seen, and no explosion, yet she never returned from the mission. Litvyak was 21 years old. Soviet authorities suspected that she might have been captured, a possibility that prevented them from awarding her the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.Recognition and controversy
In an attempt to prove that Litvyak had not been taken captive, Pasportnikova embarked on a 36 year search for the Yakovlev Yak-1 crash site assisted by the public and the media. For three years she was joined by relatives who together combed the most likely areas with a metal detector. In 1979, after uncovering more than 90 other crash sites, 30 aircraft and many lost pilots killed in action, "the searchers discovered that an unidentified woman pilot had been buried in the village of Dmitrievka... in Shakhterski district." It was then assumed that it was Litvyak and that she had been killed in action after sustaining a mortal head wound. Pasportnikova said that a specialist commission was formed to inspect the exhumed body and it concluded the remains were those of Litvyak.
On May 6, 1990, USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev posthumously awarded Litvyak Hero of the Soviet Union. Her final rank was senior lieutenant.Death controversy
Arguments have been published that dispute the official version of Litvyak's death. Although Yekaterina Valentina Vaschenko, the curator of the Litvyak museum in Krasnyi Luch has stated that the body was disinterred and examined by forensic specialists who determined that it was indeed Litvyak, Kazimiera Janina "Jean" Cottam claims, on the basis of evidence provided by Ekaterina Polunina, chief mechanic and archivist of the 586th Fighter Regiment in which Litvyak initially served, that the body was never exhumed and that verification was limited to comparison of a number of reports. Cottam, an author and researcher focusing on Soviet women in the military, concludes that Litvyak made a belly-landing in her stricken aircraft, was captured and taken to a prisoner of war camp. In her book published in 2004, Polunina lists evidence that led her to conclude that Litvyak was pulled from the downed aircraft by German troops and held prisoner for some time.
In 2000, Nina Raspopova, a veteran of the 46th (Taman) Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment (also known as the "Night Witches") informed Polunina that she had seen a woman greatly resembling Litvyak, alive and being interviewed on a Swiss television program. Raspopova claimed that the woman concerned was Russian, appeared to be aged in her late 70s, and was introduced as a mother of three and former Soviet combat pilot. The woman supposedly claimed to have been wounded twice during World War II. However, Litvak did not serve in the "Night Witches" and it is not clear whether Raspopova knew her personally.Number of kills
There are conflicting claims about Litvyak's victory score in different publications; none are official records. Most often, 11 individual kills and 3 team kills are quoted, but also 8 individual and 4 team, 12 individual and 2 team, or other combinations. Pasportnikova stated in 1990 that the tally was 12 solo kills including the balloon, and three shared. Polunina has written that the kills of top-scoring Soviet pilots, including those of Litvyak and Budanova, were often inflated; and that Litvyak should be credited with five solo aircraft kills and two group kills, including the observation balloon.
The novel Vernis iz Poleta () (Return from Flight) by Natalya Kravtsova fictionalizes the death of Solomatin, stating that he was killed when he ran out of ammunition while battling with a German Bf 109 fighter plane over his own airfield. Litvyak and others at the airfield watched the fight and witnessed his death.
French Resistance Fighter, Writer
1908~ April 19, 2008
April 28, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Germaine Tillion, 100, a celebrated anthropologist and French Resistance fighter during World War II, who wrote about her experiences in a Nazi camp, died April 19 at her home near Paris.
Tillion -- who was sent in 1943 to the Nazi camp for women and children in Ravensbruck, Germany, for her work with France's underground network -- was the recipient of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, one of France's highest distinctions.
Virginia d'Albert-Lake is notable for her work as a member of the anti-Nazi French Resistance during World War II. The Nazis captured d'Albert-Lake in accordance with their Nacht und Nebel (Night and Fog) program while she was leading an Allied airman to safety.
Newspaper report (unidentified) of Wednesday 24th September 1997, with additions from other sources.
As you probably realised this is a homage to Virginia d'Albert Lake who died at the the age of 87. She was arrested in Châteaudun in 1944 while transporting Allied airmen.
The text is a short resumé of this time of her life and can be summarised as follows:
Virginia D'Albert Lake, a well known member of the resistance movement from America died at home last Saturday.
She was involved with the resistance in 1943 with her husband in the heart of the network "Comete". She sheltered around 60 allied airmen and organised their transport to areas under Allied control (first via Spain then from April 1944 to the forest of Bellande near Cloyes where they were hidden).
She was born in Dayton, Ohio and was eductated at St Petersburg High School and Rollins College. She came to France in 1936. A year later she married the Frenchman Philippe d'Albert Lake. She was arrested in 1944 at a place called Le Plesis in the area of Marboue by German policemen while transporting Allied soldiers (see witness report). She was interrogated by the Gestapo in Châteaudun, Chartres and then Paris, imprisoned in Fresnes and finally deported to Ravensbrück towards the middle of July. When she left this nightmare of a camp in 1945 she weighed only 34 kg.
She is remembered by many for her heroism without which the whole network of the resistance in the area would have fallen apart. When she was arrested she had in her possession a list of all the contact people in the region. This exceptional woman succeeded in destroying this list by tearing it up and swallowing it and was sent to the German prison camp without revealing any of her secrets.
On her marriage she not only took on French nationality* but also took up the ideals of the French resistance. She chose to live in Brittany with her husband later but returned to the Dunois many times where she had numerous friends. In 1994 she returned to the forest of Bellande for the 50th anniversary of the monument [sic] erected in memory of all those who helped Allied airmen to escape the Germans and to return to fight for freedom, often at the cost of their lives.
The funeral of Virginia d'Albert Lake took place yesterday in the Anglican church in Dinard. She was laid to rest in the American part of the local cemetery. Many of the inhabitants of the region of Dunois remember this grand lady with affection.
She was awarded Legion of Honor, the Croix de Guerre, the Liberation Medal of Freedom and the Maltese Cross (from the Veterans of Foreign Wars post, France).
One resistance member who wishes to remain anonymous remembers the day on which he was transporting Allied airmen to the forest of Bellande with Virginia d'Albert Lake.
"Virginia arrived the evening before with an American airman and we spent the night at the farm of the Merets after dining with another member of the resistance. The group consisted of about a dozen English and American airmen who were to be transported the following day.
The next day we collected another group of 7 or 8 airmen near Fontenay-sur-Conie so we could transport them all together to Fréteval. I was accompanied by Jean Meret who was driving a covered cart in which the airmen were sitting except for an American who walked in front with Virginia. Everything would have been fine if 3 German policemen hadn't asked the way. It didn't take them long to realise that Virginia and the airman were foreigners and that something funny was going on.
While the Germans were arresting Virginia and the American the other airmen slipped out of the cart and disappeared. Virginia and the American were taken to the German Kommandatur in Châteaudun then transferred to Chartres and finally Paris. Virginia was then sent to the German concentration camp at Ravensbrück and the unfortunate American to a prison camp.
The worst was that I had to break the news to her husband who was waiting at the forest of Bellande."
In his book Mission Marathon Colonel Rémy recalls this episode in the history of the network "Comète" especially the moment when Virginia swallowed the list of contact people in the Dunois in order to avoid the collapse of the whole network."
Virginia D'Albert-Lake 1909-1992: an appreciation by her friend Pamela Bolter (wife of Terry Bolter, evader)
Virginia D'Albert-Lake was born on 28th May 1909 in St Petersburg, Florida. A teacher by profession, she went to France in the Summer of 1936 where she met and married Philippe D'Albert-Lake. Both she and her husband were active in the French Resistance and Virginia was personally responsible for saving the lives of 65 Allied airmen shot down over Belgium & France.
Virginia received many decorations from several governments was awarded the French Légion d'Honneur by the President of France. After the war she and Philippe opened an antiques business at Cancaval, Brittany. She died on September 20th 1997 and is survived by their son Jean Patrick and grandchildren. Philippe D'Albert-Lake, also born May 28th 1909, died on 10th February 2000.
Christmas 1946/7 Virginia
and her son Jean Patrick
Left: Virginia wearing her Légion d'Honneur,
taken at the Allied Cemetery at St James Normands
in June 1994
Right: Virginia and Philippe in the garden
of their home in 1994
source all photos: Mrs P Bolter
Tom Yankus (Radio Operator: B-17G 42-31565: cr 4 Mar 1944 Saint-Symphorien, Belgium) wrote 15 July 2004 - "When I arrived with Jonathan Pearson, our navigator, at Philippe and Virginia d'Albert Lake's apartment in Paris on June 3, 1944, seated in easy chairs were Bill Brayley (Canadian), Denny Peppall (from Yorkshire) and Peter Berry (from Piccadilly). On June 5, 1944 we were taken to the railroad station in Paris and then on to Chateaudun, escorted by teenage boys for about 7 miles to the barn at the Rideau's house. The next morning we were taken to the [Fréteval] Forest, which was June 6, 1944."
8 April 1897~ 26 July 1974
(8 April 1897, Warsaw - 26 July 1974, Warsaw) was a Polish zoologist and zootechnician, recognized by the State of Israel to be one of the Righteous Among the Nations.He was director of the Warsaw Zoo before the outbreak of World War II and additionally superintendent of the city's public parks during the Nazi occupation. He his wife Antonina and their son Ryszard used their personal villa and the zoo itself to shelter hundreds of displaced Jews. Additionally he fought during the Warsaw Uprising, was subsequently injured and became a prisoner of war.
Polish underground activities
Zabinski was a Polish agricultural engineer and zoologist who saved many Jews in Warsaw. On the eve of the German occupation, Zabinski was director of the Warsaw Zoo. The Germans appointed him superintendent of the city's public parks as well. Availing himself of the opportunity to visit the Warsaw ghetto, ostensibly to inspect the state of the flora within the ghetto walls, Zabinski maintained contact with prewar Jewish colleagues and friends and helped them escape and find shelter on the "Aryan" side of the city.
Many cages in the zoo had been emptied of animals during the September 1939 air assault on Warsaw, and Zabinski decided to utilize them as hiding places for fleeing Jews. Over the course of three years, hundreds of Jews found temporary shelter in these abandoned animal cells, located on the eastern bank of the Vistula River, until they were able to relocate to permanent places of refuge elsewhere.
In addition, close to a dozen Jews were sheltered in Zabinski's two-story private home on the zoo's grounds. In this dangerous undertaking he was helped by his wife, Antonina, a recognized author, and their young son, Ryszard, who nourished and looked after the needs of the many distraught Jews in their care. At first, Zabinski paid from his own funds to subsidize the maintenance costs; then money was received through ?egota: Council to Aid Jews.
Antonina and Jan Zabinski were in charge of the Warsaw Zoo. Here they're shown feeding an injured bird.
An active member of the Polish underground Armia Krajowa (Home Army), Zabinski participated in the Warsaw Polish Uprising in August and September 1944. Upon its suppression, he was taken as a prisoner to Germany. His wife continued his work, looking after the needs of some of the Jews left behind in the ruins of the city.
In 2007, the U.S. writer Diane Ackerman published The Zookeeper's Wife, a book about the Zabinski family's courageous wartime activities, mostly based on the diary of Zabinski's wife. The Polish film director Maciej Dejczer has announced plans for a film about Zabinski's wartime activities.
Andrée de Jongh
November 30, 1916~October 13, 2007
Countess Andrée de Jongh
(November 30, 1916, Schaerbeek — October 13, 2007)
Andrée Eugénie Adrienne de Jongh (nicknamed "Dédée") was born in Schaerbeek in Belgium, then under German occupation during the First World War. She was the younger daughter of Frédéric de Jongh, a headmaster and Alice Decarpentrie. Edith Cavell, a British nurse shot in the Tir National in Schaerbeek in 1915 for assisting troops to escape from occupied Belgium to the neutral Netherlands, was a heroine in her youth. She trained as a nurse, and became a commercial artist in Malmédy.Second World War
After German troops invaded Belgium in May 1940, de Jongh moved to Brussels, where she became a Red Cross volunteer, ministering to captured Allied troops. In Brussels at that time, hiding in safe houses, were many British soldiers, those left behind at Dunkirk and escapers from those captured at St. Valery-en-Caux. Visiting the sick and wounded soldiers enabled her to make links with this network of safe-house keepers who were trying to work out ways to get the soldiers back to Britain.
In the summer of 1941, with the help of her father, she set up an escape network for captured Allied soldiers, which became later known as the Comet Line. Working with Arnold Deppé and Elvire De Greef-Berlemont ("Tante Go") in the south of France, they established links with the safe houses in Brussels, then a route was found, using trains, through occupied and Vichy France to the border with Spain. The first escape attempt was unsuccessful, and all of the escapees were captured by the Spanish, with only two out of eleven reaching England, so de Jongh decided to lead the second attempt, a group of three men, personally.
In August 1941, she appeared in the British consulate in Bilbao with a British soldier, James Cromar from Aberdeen, and two Belgian volunteers, Merchiers and Sterckmans, having travelled by train through Paris to Bayonne, and then on foot over the Pyrenees. She requested support for her escape network, which was granted by MI9. She helped around 400 Allied soldiers to escape from Belgium, through occupied France to the British consulate in Madrid and on to Gibraltar. Andrée accompanied 118 of them herself. Airey Neave described her as "one of our greatest agents".
The Gestapo, using a traitor, captured her father, Frédéric de Jongh, in Paris in June 1943 and later executed him. De Jongh herself was betrayed and captured at a farmhouse in Urrugne, in the French Basque country, in January 1943 - the last stop on the escape line before the passage over the Pyrenees - during her 33rd journey to Spain. She was interrogated by the Gestapo and tortured, and admitted that she was the organiser of the escape network. Unwilling to believe her, the Gestapo let her live.
She was sent first to Fresnes prison in Paris and eventually to Ravensbrück concentration camp and Mauthausen. She was released by the advancing Allied troops in April 1945. Many other members of the Comet Line were also captured. 23 were executed and hundreds of helpers were sent to concentration camps, where an unknown number died. Meanwhile, the line continued in their absence: in all, it returned around 800 Allied soldiers and airmen, continuing until Belgium was liberated in 1944.
Countess Andrée de Jongh with a clock presented to her by the RAF
For her wartime efforts, she was awarded the United States Medal of Freedom, the British George Medal, and became a Chevalier of the French Légion d'honneur. She also became a Chevalier of the Order of Leopold, received the Belgian Croix de Guerre/Oorlogskruis with palm, and was granted the honorary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Belgian Army. In 1985, she was made a countess.Later life
After the war, she moved first to the pre-independence Belgian Congo, then to Cameroon, next to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, working in leperhospitals and finally to Senegal. In failing health, she eventually retired to Brussels.Death
The Countess De Jongh died on Saturday, 13 October 2007, aged 90, at the University Clinic Woluwe-Saint-Lambert/Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe, Brussels. Her funeral service was held at the Abbaye de la Cambre/Abdij Ter Kameren, Ixelles/Elsene Brussels, six days later. She was interred in the crypt of her parents at the Schaarbeek Cemetery at Evere the same day.
4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915
Edith Louisa Cavell
4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915)
Was a British nurse and spy. She is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from all sides without distinction and in helping some 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during World War I, for which she was arrested. She was then court-martialled and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and shot by firing squad, and subsequently received worldwide sympathetic press coverage.
She is well-known for her statement that "patriotism is not enough." Her strong Anglican beliefs propelled her to help all those who needed it, both German and Allied soldiers. She was quoted as saying, "I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved". Cavell was also an influential pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium.
The Execution of a British Nurse
left : portrait of Miss Cavell
middle : official German poster of October 13th, 1915 in which the execution of Miss Cavell (no 3) and others was announced in Brussels
right : article from a French newspaper 'Excelsior'
left: a popular illustration right: page from a French children's magazine (le Bon Point)
January 1897 – 23 April 1945
(January 1897 – 23 April 1945)
was a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II and worked as a courier for the French Section.
Ten days after the declaration of war in 1939, Yvonne's seventeen-year-old daughter joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, and later married a sergeant. Yvonne tried several times to join her daughter in the ATS, but was turned down because of her age. In 1942, at the age of forty-five, Yvonne was finally accepted and selected to train for the SOE, though no woman had ever been chosen as a leader, though many had proven themselves.
Rudelatt joined the SOE in 1942 and following her training, she left England for Gibraltar on 17 July 1942 under the codename Jacquelineand, after months of training, became the first woman SOE to be sent abroad. In terrible weather, she landed by small boat on the Riveria coast of France and travelled to Tours, close to the border of the Occupied Zone and Vichy France to act as a courier to the Prosper circuit. She and her partner, Pierre Culioli, controlled the group together, and carried out many successful operations against German-operated train lines and factories. Between August 1942 and June 1943, Rudelatt worked with the circuit as a courier and also specialised in sabotage and parachute drops. She was part of the team who sabotaged Chaigny power station and personally blew up two locomotives at Le Mans in March 1943.
With suspicions mounting, the two were openly pursued by German forces. On 21 June 1943 she was arrested by the Gestapo whilst waiting for a parachute drop and was wounded during an attempt to escape; Pierre and Yvonne were trying to escape arrest in a car when a bullet hit her in the back of her head, knocking her unconscious. Pierre saw the amount of blood coming from the wound, and since Yvonne was unresponsive, he decided to kill himself rather than be taken and tortured. He slammed the vehicle into a ditch and then the side of a cottage, but the two woke up in a hospital at Blois hours later. Yvonne was told that her injury wasn't life threatening, and that the bullet hadn't pierced her brain, but that it would be unsafe to remove it. She was taken to Ravensbrück, on the same transport as another female resistance heroine, Odette Sansom.
During World War II, over 8,000 Frenchwomen were sent to prison camps in Germany, and only 800 returned to France. In February 1945, 2,500 elderly and ill women were sent from Ravensbrück to what they thought would be a 'convalescent camp,' but which was actually Belsen. Yvonne, who had not given the German authorities her real name, possibly suffering from amnesia, was recorded as "Jacqueline Gautier". She died there after contracting typhus on or around 23 April 1945, shortly after the camp was liberated. As she had successfully maintained her alias of Madame Gautier, and she was extremely ill when the Allied troops arrived, she was not identified as a British SOE agent and was buried in a mass grave.Honours & Decorations
Today, she is commemorated by an obelisk at Romorantin in the Loire Valley, and by a plaque at the Valençay SOE Memorial, where her name is included in the Valençay Memorial Roll of Honor, along with 91 men and 12 other women who died for their country.
Eileen Mary "Didi" Nearne
15 March 1921 – 2 September 2010
Eileen Mary "Didi" Nearne MBE,
(15 March 1921 – 2 September 2010)
Born in 1921 in London to an English father and French mother, she was the youngest of four children. Her older sister, Jacqueline Nearne, and one of her two brothers, Francis, would also become SOE operatives. In 1923, the family moved to France. When France fell, she made her way to England with her sister, viaPortugal and Gibraltar. On her arrival in England she was offered service in the WAAF working on barrage balloons, but turned this down and was recruited by the SOE.
She was flown by a Lysander aircraft to a field near Les Lagnys, a town in Indre, France in the late hours of 2 March and the early hours of 3 March 1944 to work as a wireless operator for the Wizard network with Jean Savy as part of Operation Mitchel. Her cover story was that she was Madamoiselle du Tort (also using the aliases Jacqueline Duterte and Alice Wood). In July 1944 her transmitter was detected and she was arrested. Nearne "survived, in silence, the full revolting treatment of the baignoire" in the torture chamber of the Paris headquarters of theGestapo on the Rue des Saussaies.
She reportedly managed to convince her captors, under torture, that she had been sending messages for a businessman, unaware that he was British. On 15 August 1944, she was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp where she refused to do prison work. Her head was shaved and she was told she would be shot if she continued to refuse.
She was then transferred to a forced labour camp in Silesia. While in one of these prisons she was reportedly tortured. On 13 April 1945 she escaped with two French girls from a work gang by hiding in the forest, later travelling through Markkleeberg, where they were arrested by the S.S. but released after fooling their captors and reportedly hidden by a priest in Leipzig until the arrival of United States troops.
SHE died alone and penniless in her tiny flat — seemingly forgotten and unmourned like The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby.
But yesterday wartime spy Eileen Nearne, known by her codename Agent Rose, got a heroine's send-off.
Farewell ... message on floral tribute SWNS.COM Hundreds turned out to pay their respects to the 89-year-old, including VIPs from the Armed Forces and high-ranking French officials.
Heroine ... Eileen Nearne SWNS.COM
Twenty-two standard-bearers formed a guard of honour as her coffin was solemnly draped with a Union Flag. And two bagpipers played a lament as she was carried into church followed by niece Odile Nearne, her only surviving relative.
Eileen was parachuted into Occupied France in 1944 to link up with the Resistance.She was captured and tortured by the Gestapo before escaping from a concentration camp.After the war she was awarded an MBE. She never married and lived alone in her flat in Torquay, Devon. When she died of a heart attack she faced a pauper's burial — until her incredible story emerged.
At her requiem mass yesterday, Father Jonathan Shaddock called her "a humble lady Odile, who flew in from her Italian home, said: "She never wanted to speak about what she did during the war "She was very modest. I am proud to be her niece."
The Royal British Legion organised the service. Devon chairman John Pentreath said: "We had calls from the US, Canada and all over saying, 'Make sure she gets a proper send-off.' We are proud to give her the farewell she deserves." Among the wreaths was one from The Sun, saying: "Thank you for your sacrifice."
Dec. 7 1993
Pierre Holmes, whose voice on the BBC in World War II passed coded messages to the Resistance and served as a beacon of hope for the French under Nazi occupation, died on Dec. 7 in the village of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. He was 81.
He lived in the village, which is 25 miles east of the southern city of Avignon.
From 1942 to 1944, Mr. Holmes was the announcer for a nightly 15-minute program from London called "The French Speak to the French." Working for the Free French Forces under Gen. Charles de Gaulle, Mr. Holmes broadcast coded messages to Resistance fighters on arms drops, attacks and other missions.
D-day, the Allied invasion at Normandy on June 6, 1944, was signaled by a line of verse from the poet Paul Verlaine: "Long violin sobs rock my heart in monotonous languish." Jamming by Germans
The announcement directed Resistance fighters to carry out sabotage attacks and diversionary operations ahead of the Allied forces. Although most Frenchmen could not understand the code, they gathered in their basements and attics to listen to Mr. Holmes's voice fade in and out as German forces tried to jam the signal.
"It was like a symbolic reunion every night -- it boosted our morale," said Colette Gerard Burns, who was a teen-ager in Paris during the German occupation. "It was our link with the free world."
Mr. Holmes, who was born in Britain, became a naturalized French citizen in 1934. His father was English and his mother French. Before the war, Mr. Holmes worked as a hotelier on cruise ships and afterward worked in shipping and radio before retiring in the 1970's.
He was buried in La Digne-d'Aval, near Limoux in the eastern Pyrenees
26 October 1916 – 8 January 1996
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand
(26 October 1916 – 8 January 1996)
Was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officioCo-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President under the Fifth Republic. As president, Mitterrand presided over the passage of a wide range of liberal social reforms while maintaining the “basic characteristic of a strong welfare base underpinned by a strong state,” as demonstrated by a United Nations Human Development report that found that, from 1979 to 1989, France was the only country in the OECD (apart from Portugal) in which income inequalities did not get worse.
Reflecting family influences, Mitterrand started political life on the nationalist right. He served under the Vichy Regime in its earlier years. Subsequently, however, he joined the Resistance, moved to the left, and held ministerial office repeatedly under the Fourth Republic. He opposedde Gaulle's establishment of the Fifth Republic. Although at times a politically isolated figure, Mitterrand outmanoeuvred rivals to become the left's standard bearer in every presidential election from 1965 to 1988, except 1969. Elected President in the May 1981 presidential election, he was re-elected in 1988 and held office until 1995.
Mitterrand invited the Communist Party into his first government, a controversial move at the time. In the event, the Communists were boxed in as junior partners and, rather than taking advantage, saw their support erode. They left the cabinet in 1984. Early in his first term, Mitterrand followed a radical economic program, including nationalization of key firms, but after two years, with the economy in crisis, he reversed course. His foreign and defense policies built on those of his Gaullist predecessors. His partnership with German Chancellor Helmut Kohladvanced European integration via the Maastricht Treaty, but he accepted German reunificationonly reluctantly. He was twice forced by the loss of a parliamentary majority into "cohabitation governments" with conservative cabinets led, respectively, by Jacques Chirac (1986–88), and Édouard Balladur (1993–95). Less than 8 months after leaving office, Mitterrand died fromprostate cancer he had sought to conceal throughout his presidency.
Beyond making the French left electable, Mitterrand presided over the rise of the Socialist Partyto dominance of the left, and the decline of the once-mighty Communist Party (as a share of the popular vote in the first presidential round, the Communists shrank from a peak of 21.27% in 1969 to 8.66% in 1995, at the end of Mitterrand's second term, and to 1.93% in the 2007 election). During his time in office he was a strong promoter of culture and implemented his expensive "Grands Projets".
Mitterrand worked from January to April 1942 for the Légion française des combattants et des volontaires de la révolution nationale (Legion of French combatants and volunteers of the national revolution) as a civil servant on a temporary contract. He worked under Favre de Thierrenswho was a spy for the British secret service. He then moved to the Commissariat au reclassement des prisonniers de guerre (Service for the orientation of POWS). During this period, Mitterrand was aware of Thierrens's activities and may have helped in his disinformationcampaign. At the same time, he published an article detailing his time as a POW in the magazine France, revue de l'État nouveau (the magazine was published as propaganda by the Vichy Regime).
Mitterrand has been called a "Vichysto-résistant" (an expression used by the historian Jean-Pierre Azéma to describe people who supported Marshal Philippe Pétain, the head of the Vichy Regime, before 1943, but subsequently rejected the Vichy Regime).
From spring 1942, he met other escaped POWs Jean Roussel, Max Varenne, and Dr. Guy Fric, under whose influence he became involved with the resistance. In April, Mitterrand and Fric caused a major disturbance in a public meeting held by the collaborator Georges Claude. From mid-1942, he sent false papers to POWs in Germany and on 12 June and 15 August 1942, he joined meetings at the Château de Montmaur which formed the base of his future network for the resistance. From September, he made contact with France libre, but clashed with fr:Michel Cailliau,
General Charles de Gaulle's nephew (and de Gaulle's candidate to head-up all POW-related resistance organizations). On 15 October 1942, Mitterrand and Marcel Barrois (a member of the resistance deported in 1944) met Marshal Philippe Pétain along with other members of the Comité d'entraide aux prisonniers rapatriés de l'Allier (Help group for repatriated POWs in the department of Allier). By the end of 1942, Mitterrand met up with an old friend from his days with the "Cagoule" Pierre Guillain de Bénouville. Bénouville was a member of the resistance groups Combat and Noyautage des administrations publiques (NAP).
In late 1942, the non-occupied zone was invaded by the Germans. Mitterrand left the Commissariat in January 1943, when his boss Maurice Pinot, another vichysto-résistant, was replaced by the collaborator André Masson, but he remained in charge of the centres d'entraides. In the spring of 1943, along with Gabriel Jeantet, a member of Marshal Pétain's cabinet, and Simon Arbellot (both former members of "la Cagoule"), Mitterrand received the Ordre de la francisque (the honorific distinction of the Vichy Regime). Debate rages in France as to the significance of this. When Mitterrand's Vichy past was exposed in the 1950s, he initially denied having received the Francisque (some sources say he was designated for the award, but never actually received the medal because he went into hiding before the ceremony could take place)
Some say he was ordered to accept the medal as cover for his work in the resistance. Others, such as Pierre Moscovici and Jacques Attali remain sceptical of Mitterrand's true beliefs at this time, accusing him of having at best a "foot in each camp" until he was sure who the winner would be, citing Mitterrand friendship with René Bousquet and the wreaths he was to have placed on Pétain's tomb in later years (see below) as examples of his ambivalent attitude.
Mitterrand set about building up a resistance network, composed mainly of former POWs like himself. The POWs National Rally (Rassemblement national des prisonniers de guerre or RNPG) was affiliated with General Henri Giraud, a former POW who had escaped from a German prison and made his way across Germany back to the Allied forces. Giraud was then contesting the leadership of the French Resistance with General Charles de Gaulle. From the beginning of 1943, Mitterrand became involved with setting up a powerful resistance group called the Organisation de résistance de l'armée (ORA). He obtained finance for his own RNPG network, which he set up with Pinot in February. From this time on, Mitterrand was a member of the ORA. In March, Mitterrand met Henri Frenay, who encouraged the resistance in France to support Mitterrand over Michel Cailliau,. Nonetheless, 28 May 1943, when Mitterrand met with Gaullist Philippe Dechartre, is generally taken as the date Mitterrand split with Vichy.
During 1943, the RNPG gradually changed its focus from providing false papers to information-gathering for France libre. Pierre de Bénouville said, " Mitterrand created a true spy network in the POW camps which gave us information, often decisive, about what was going on behind the German borders." On 10 July Mitterrand and Piatzook (a militant communist) interrupted a public meeting at in the Salle Wagram in Paris.
The meeting was about allowing French POWs to go home if they were replaced by young French men forced to go and work in Germany" (in French this is called "la relève"). When André Masson began to talk about "la trahison des gaullistes" (the Gaulist treason), Mitterrand stood up in the audience and shouted him down, saying Masson had no right to talk on behalf of POWs and calling "la relève" a "con" (i.e., something stupid). Mitterrand avoided arrest as Piatzook covered his escape.
In November 1943 the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) raided a flat in Vichy where they hoped to arrest François Morland, a member of the resistance. "Morland" was Mitterrand's cover name. He also used Purgon, Monnier, Laroche, Captain François, Arnaud et Albre as cover names. The man they arrested was Pol Pilven, a member of the resistance who was to survive the war in a concentration camp.
Mitterrand was in Paris at the time. Warned by his friends, he escaped to London aboard a Lysander plane on 15 November 1943 (piloted by then-Squadron Leader Lewis Hodges). From there he went to Algiers, where he met de Gaulle, who was now the uncontested leader of the Free French. The two men clashed. Mitterrand refused to merge his group with other POW movements if de Gaulle's nephew Cailliau was to be the leader. Under the influence of Henri Frenay, de Gaulle finally agreed to merge his nephew's network and the RNPG with Mitterrand in charge.
He later returned to France via England by boat. In Paris, the three Resistance groups made up of POWs (communists, gaullists, RNPG) finally merged as the POWs and Deportees National Movement (Mouvement national des prisonniers de guerre et déportés or MNPGD) and Mitterrand took the lead. In his memoirs he states that he had started this organisation while he was still officially working for the Vichy Regime. From 27 November 1943 Mitterrand ran the Bureau central de renseignements et d'action.
In December 1943 Mitterrand ordered the execution of Henri Marlin (who was about to order attacks on the "maquis") by Jacques Paris and Jean Munier, who later hid out with Mitterrand's father. After a second visit to London in February 1944, Mitterrand took part in the liberation of Paris. When de Gaulle entered Paris following the Liberation, he was introduced to various men who were to be part of the provisional government. Among them was Mitterrand, as secretary general of POWs. When they came face to face, de Gaulle is said to have muttered: "You again!" Mitterrand was dismissed 2 weeks later.
In October 1944 Mitterrand and Jacques Foccart put together a plan to liberate the POW and concentration camps. This was called operationViacarage and in April 1945 Mitterrand accompanied General Lewis as the French representative at the liberation of the camps at Kauferingand Dachau on the orders of de Gaulle. By chance Mitterrand discovered his friend and member of his network Robert Antelme suffering from typhus. Antelme was ordered to remain in the camp to prevent the spread of disease so Mitterrand arranged for his "escape" and sent him back to France for treatment.
Following his death, a controversy erupted when his former physician, Dr Claude Gubler, wrote a book called Le Grand Secret ("The Great Secret") explaining that Mitterrand had had false health reports published since November 1981, hiding his cancer. Mitterrand's family then prosecuted Gubler and his publisher for violating medical secrecy.
German Unity Worries Old Resistance Fighters
PARIS — For the men and women who fought in the French Resistance during World War II, the imminent unification of Germany is a particularly emotional and troubling moment in history.
They were the handful who answered the June 18, 1940, London radio appeal of Gen. Charles de Gaulle to resist the Nazi occupiers. They were the brave minority around whom De Gaulle built--cynical historians say "invented"--modern free France. They were the historical and spiritual heirs of a France that has fought Germany in three wars since 1870.
On Wednesday, the country they helped defeat and divide will be born again as a united nation.
French leaders, including President Francois Mitterrand, himself a former resistant who escaped from a German prison camp during the war, have generally welcomed the merger as good for Germany and for what they envision as the new united Europe.
However, many other former French Resistance fighters have grave reservations about the timing of the event and the dominant role they fear Germany will play in coming years. Although few in number and aging fast, the fighters still have an important moral voice in French society.
"I wonder about this extraordinarily powerful state of united Germany," former Resistance newspaper editor Claude Bourdet, 81, said in a recent interview. "In physical numbers it is one of the most powerful states in the world, probably more powerful than the Soviet Union. Even if we did not have examples of Germany's past that cannot be dismissed lightly, it would still cause concern. Any nation that is more powerful than others is not only a danger but also a question mark."
After a special meeting of its members recently, the largest organization of former members of the Resistance issued a pessimistic statement on German unification.
"How can we not show our pain and uneasiness?" the members of the Assn. Nationale des Anciens Combattants de la Resistance asked in the statement. "How can we not be surprised by the speed at which the unification of the two German states has occurred? In a move precipitated by the Federal Republic (West Germany), which the four great victors over Nazism (Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States) have done little to temper, the unification is occurring with only a minimum of precautions."
Members of the organization explained that they do not fear a resurgence of fascism in Germany, despite the presence of neo-Nazi movements and the extreme-right Republican Party under the leadership of former Waffen SS Sgt. Franz Schoenhuber. Rather, they explained, the concern has more to do with the resurgent economic might of a united Germany.
Certainly not all of the former Resistance activists are opposed to the reunification.
A minority, including University of Paris Prof. Joseph Rovan, 72, a specialist in Germany history who fought in the Roman Catholic Resistance movement, Temoignages Chretiens, during the war, views the unification as an important, even desirable development.
"The reunification of Germany fills me with joy because it marks the end of the repugnant regime of the East Germans," said Rovan, who was captured by the Germans and imprisoned at the Dachau concentration camp before being liberated by Allied troops.
Rovan argues that is unfair to judge the Germans on the basis of the excesses of Hitler and the Nazis.
"We don't judge France any more on the basis of Robespierre," Rovan said, citing the French Revolutionary leader who ruled during the Reign of Terror.
Likewise, Resistance heroine Lucie Aubrac, who led an attack on Gestapo forces when she was pregnant with her second child in 1943, said she holds no grudges against the German people.
"I hated the Germans, I even killed Germans," she said in a telephone interview. "Today I have the same hatred of Nazism. But if I meet a German and he tells me he was not a Nazi during the war then I would happily invite him for a drink. . . . History has evolved."
Aubrac calls her view enlightened and says it is shared by most of the educated intellectuals of the Resistance.
"Down in the Cevennes," she said, referring to the mountainous south central region of France in the Massif Centrale range, "you still have old underground fighters who refuse to sell things to German tourists. It still happens in this region that German tourists find their tires slashed."
During the German occupation, editor Bourdet was one of the great romantic figures of the French Resistance. An excellent skier who also loved gardening, he was one of the fabled French intellectuals who fought against \o7 les boches\f7 , as the Germans were known.
His friends included Resistance hero Jean Moulin, philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and writer Andre Malraux.
Bourdet paid dearly for his resistance. Arrested in 1944 in Paris, he was taken to Buchenwald. When he was liberated by the Americans at the end of the war he weighed less than 90 pounds.
Interviewed recently in his elegant two-story apartment on Avenue George V, Bourdet answered questions about unification and the Germans in careful, measured language that nevertheless did not hide his concerns.
"I think the Germans have an extraordinary respect for authority, such that the German government can make them do practically anything it wants. Look at Bismarck, Kaiser Wilhelm and Hitler."
Have the people changed in the past 50 years?
"I'm hesitant to say, because I don't think there is an evil character in the German soul. I don't think the Germans are any worse than anyone else. I think the danger comes in the extraordinary power of obedience. I think that explains the Nazis and the Third Reich. You never know about tomorrow."
July 25, 1918, August 27, 2004
Rovan was active in the French Resistance during World War II and was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance for his services. In 1944, he was arrested by the Gestapo and survived 10 months in the Dachau concentration camp. It was during this time that he converted to Catholicism. In 1945, after his return to France, he wrote in the magazine Esprit the article "L'Allemagne de nos mérites," where he suggested that the creation of a democratic Germany on the ruins of the Third Reich was the responsibility of the Allies.
Jørgen Kieler~Elsebet Kieler
23 August 1919
(born 23 August 1919), a Danish physician, is remembered primarily for his participation in resistance activities under the German occupation of Denmark in the early 1940s. Together with his sister, Elsebet, he published Frit Denmark or Free Denmark, an illegal newspaper. As a member of the Holger Danske resistance group, he helped hundreds of Danish Jews to escape to Sweden and avoid extermination.
Despite capture by the Germans and time in a concentration camp, he returned to Denmark after the war and then completed his studies in the United States. In 1980, he became director of research at Kræftens Bekæmpelse (the Danish Cancer Research Institute).
Kieler has written a number of books about the German occupation and about concentration camp syndrome.
Copenhagen, Denmark… September 1943 –
Jørgen Kieler and his sister, Elsebet, were active in publishing an illegal newspaper, “Frit Denmark.” Both were members of the Holger Danske resistance group and were involved in the rescue of nearly 1,000 Danish Jews.
When Jørgen refused to leave the side of a badly wounded comrade, he was captured and shot and sustained a skull fracture. After intense interrogation by the Germans, Kieler was sent to Neuengamme and then to the Porta Westphalica concentration camp. After the war, he became the director of the Danish Cancer Research Institute and served as president of the Danish Freedom Foundation.
Elsebet Kieler had long been a committed pacifist. Her first encounter with Nazism was during the 1930s, when, as a high school student, she visited Germany and was shocked and appalled by signs that said “Jews not wanted here.” She then became absorbed in the work of helping Jews to escape to Sweden. In one weekend, Elsebet traveled the Danish countryside collecting over one million kroner from the great estates in and around Copenhagen. This enormous sum was used to pay for the escape of Danish Jews to Sweden. Elsebet, like her brother Jørgen, was imprisoned by the Germans.
Hortense Daman Clews
12 August 1926—18 December 2006
She became involved in the Belgian Resistance when she was 13 after the Nazishad invaded Belgium in 1940. She began helping her brother François after he returned home after being a prisoner of war with his work with the Resistance and helping British servicemen evade capture. She mainly worked as a Courier which involved carrying messages, explosives and weapons beneath the upper layer in her cycle pannier whilst pretending to be carrying out grocery deliveries for her mother.Betrayal and arrest
On the 14 February 1944 the Gestapo raided the family home after someone had informed on the family's resistance work, Hortense was arrested along with her father and mother and they were taken to a local prison where they suffered interrogation and vicious beatings by the Gestapo and Belgian SS. She was sentenced to death without trial and was moved to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany with her mother (her father was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp)Concentration Camp inmate
Whilst at Ravensbrück Hortense was subjected to experiments involving infecting her leg with gangrene (The German doctors deciding not to amputate her leg) and sterilisation.
Whilst at Ravensbrück her life was saved by the actions of British secret agent Violette Szabo who was also a prisoner there.
At the end of the war Hortense and her mother were taken under protection of the Swedish Red Cross and the family (including her father and brother) were reunited at wars end.
In 1946 she met and married Sydney Clews who was a Staff Sergeant in the British Army and they eventually settled in Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire, where 16 years later despite the experiments that had been carried out during her time at Ravensbrück she gave birth to a daughter Julia and then seven years later a son Christopher.
1904 - 1980
George Starr was born in 1904 and trained as a coal miner in Shropshire before becoming a mining engineer. Between the two world wars his work took him all over northern France and Belgium. After the British evacuation from Dunkirk in World War Two he joined the Army, despite his age, and his language skills soon took him to SOE.
In late 1942 he paddled ashore in a canoe to southern France, coincidentally meeting his brother John, who was being extracted from his own SOE mission. Based in Castelnau and posing as a retired Belgian mining engineer, Starr set up the highly successful 'Wheelwright' resistance network around Bordeaux, Toulouse and the Pyrenees.
One of his team was a courier called Denise Bloch, one of the young Jewish women who had volunteered to take the fight to the Nazis. Both Bloch and Starr soon had a price on their head.
Wheelwright network's principal task was to harass the Germans in the run up to D-Day. In the spring of 1944 the group swung into action, blowing up railway lines, cutting telephone wires, sabotaging fuel dumps and cutting communications.
Their main campaign came after D-Day itself, when the 2nd SS Panzer division 'Das Reich' tried to move from Montauban, near Toulouse, to reinforce the Normandy battlefield. In a spectacular series of daring attacks, Starr's resistance fighters forced the division to fight their way north, so they eventually arrived disorganised and far too late to attack the Allied invasion beaches.
By September 1944 Starr was effectively controlling the Toulouse area as the Germans fled, much to the irritation of Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the Free French. In a brisk, and highly colloquial exchange of views, Starr told the would-be leader of France not to dare to push him around, before eventually leaving for London - after arranging for a captured German jet bomber to be sent to England.
Much decorated by all the Allies, after the war George Starr helped to rebuild the German coal-mines. One of SOE's most successful resistance leaders, he eventually died - in his bed - in 1980.
George Starr was born in England. During the Second World War Starr joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Given the code name "Hilaire" Starr was sent to France in November 1942. Posing as a retired Belgian mining engineer who had become rich in the Congo. This helped to explain his unusual accent and the large sum of money he appeared to have without employment.
Based in Périgord, he was in a position to spy on the 11th Panzer Division stationed near Bordeaux. His group also managed to put telephone lines and power stations out of order for many days at a time.
In 1944 Starr established the Armagnac battalion in Toulouse in preparation for the D-Day landings. He had the task of organization, arming, and training of those willing to fight the German Army. One of his greatest achievements was to persuade communist and anti-communist members of the French Resistance to work together.
Roger LIOT, Luxembourg, Resistant Deported
At the age of 16, I am engaged by organizations of the Resistance who Luxembourg to protest against the occupation by Nazi Germany did a photo - mounting: the tricolor Luxembourg at the top of the image, the Great Duchess Charlotte to put the country through.
I had already made ??20,000 copies already distributed and sold most when theGestapo arrested me, November 4, 1941, in my native house in Luxembourg City. I had to admit the production of 5000 copies, the original picture I had hidden in an office (the German police have searched for hours and returned to our apartment from top to bottom and found nothing) then it is a stay in the Villa Pauly (headquarters of theGestapo ) and released November 18. Arrested a second time November 29, 1941: Villa Pauly and the Prison of Grund, Luxembourg. In March 1942 I received the Schutzhaftbefehl (ordred'emprisonnement preventive). I remained imprisoned until January 6, 1943 (three months isolated in a cell ( Einzelhaf t).
I am moved to January 6, 1943 KL-Hinzert alone in the back in a truck with a soldier of the Wehrmacht, who wonder, "How old are you?" I say "17 years." He handed me a double bread and butter, then I promise to inform my parents.
Depersonalization The camp began with registration, change our clothes, then he had to shave the whole body and used it with a razor, then showers with hot and cold water alternately. Then we had our sewing number, (the No. escapes me) and a red triangle on our jacket and top on the right leg of the pants.
Examination and assignment of a bed should be done carefully according to their requirements. Explanation of requirements and internal blocks of the camp. Any movement in the camp and in the Kommandos had to be done on the run. On entering the dining room, we had to catch a bowl and wait for the command: "Begin!" Every day several prisoners were punished for minor reasons.
Every day there were dead . gatherings, in full on the central square, were repeated several times a day and sometimes lasted several hours.
On January 26, 1943, transfer to KL-Natzweiler: Arrival at the station Rothau, piled into a truck and transported to Struthof . The torture began with registration, power dressing, we had to change our clothes and first empty all pockets. The same procedure as KL-Hinzert began to sew the No. 2291 with red triangle. internal requirements and external.
No difference in the daily torture of the KL-Hinzert. The degradation of the SS was the worst in the camp. I am assigned as Kalfaktor (handyman). On the day of Pentecost, he had to carry feces simple wooden boxes for toilet flush into the wood around the remains of the camp commander. One day I was called to the Schutzhaftlagerfuhrer(commander of the detention camp Prevention) who asked me if I gave a cigarette to another inmate, my answer was no, I slapped from left to right, three times, (actually I gave a cigarette to another inmate) punishment for ten Sundays to work in a kommander o the career.
In June 1943, transfer to the camp schedule KL-Natzweiler in Ellwangen in the region of Stuttgart. assigned to acommando to build a shooting range. On January 17, 1944 we are transported to Rothau and crammed into cars in cattle. Directorate of Bavaria, the KL-Flossenbürg. Right away, the gathering place of the call.
After the torture continued through the registration process, shaving, award No. 2088, shower etc.. ...
A few days later, January 20, 1944, transfer to the camp schedule in KL-Flossenbürg Johanngeorgenstadt.
On April 16, 1945, escape with two other Luxembourg through the door of a moving train and hid in the forest near the camp. then hosted for a few days by two different families and even a cabin in the woods occupied by Gypsies.
The May 8, 1945 is the end of the war, returning by train to Karlsbad-Eger, then with a truck full of English to Wurzburg, and the train to Luxembourg. I arrived on May 20, Pentecost Sunday, in Luxembourg.
I was interned in the November 29, 1941 May 20, 1945: three years four months and nine days.
After the war, I went back and finished my studies. Then I got hired by the steel company ARBED as a clerk. In 1982, I left the firm as office manager for a well deserved retirement.
My vision: I had seen a French father, our group there was no sympathy for Nazi Germany. The only word for the Germans was "dirty Boches." After the war, I knew I had two nationalities, French and Luxembourg.
Although Germany has become a democratic country after the war, I never intended to return, and now with my 85 years, the question no longer arises.
My message to youth: Please fight with all your might against forgetting the atrocities during the war and it does not ever again.
Roger LIOT. Luxembourg.
Marcel "Bruno" Bigeard
14 February 1916 – 18 June 2010
Marcel "Bruno" Bigeard
(14 February 1916 – 18 June 2010)
was a French military officer who fought in World War II, Indochina and Algeria. He was one of the commanders in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and is thought by many to have been a dominating influence on French 'unconventional' warfare thinking from that time onwards. He was one of the most decorated soldiers in France, and is particularly noteworthy because he rose from enlisted as Second Class, the lowest possible rank, in 1936 and ultimately finished his career in 1976 with the rank of Lieutenant General (Général de corps d'armée).
World War II
In 1939 he was recalled to active duty and served, initially as a sergeant, with the 79e Régiment d'Infanterie de Forteresse (79th Fortress Infantry Regiment) in the fortified sector of Hoffen.
Bigeard rose quickly through the ranks and reached the position of adjutant as a warrant officer, but in June 1940, during the Battle of France he was captured and made a prisoner of war. After two unsuccessful attempts he managed to escape from a German POW camp on November 11, 1941.
Bigeard eventually made his way to Africa to join with the Free French. In 1943 he was commissioned as an officer with the rank of Second Lieutenant. In 1944, after special service training by the British, he was parachuted into occupied France as part of a team of four with the mission of leading the resistance in the Ariègedépartement close to the border with Andorra. One of these audacious ambushes against superior German forces gained him the BritishDSO. His nickname of "Bruno" has its origins in his radio call sign of this period. By the end of the war he had attained the rank of captain.
Bigeard was first sent to Indo-China in October 1945 to assist with French efforts to reassert its influence over the former French colonies. He commanded the 23rd Colonial Infantry and then volunteered to train Thai auxiliaries in their interdiction of Viet Minh incursions around the Laos border along the 'road' R.C. 41 (Route Coloniale). In 1947 he returned to France and commanded a company in the newly forming 3è BPC (Bataillon de Parachutistes Coloniaux). He returned to Vietnam in 1948 for combat duty in the Tonkin delta with the 3è RPC then the 3rd Thai Battalion and finally back to the Tonkinese highlands in command of an Indochinese battalion. In July 1952 (his third Vietnam posting) as a major commanding the newly-created 6th BPC (Colonial Parachute Battalion) with whom he established his fame and reputation.
He was a keen self-publicist, welcoming journalists among his troops, which assisted his cause to get the materials needed to help him succeed. His units were noted for their dedication to physical fitness above the normal requirements by the army. This unique style included creating the famous 'casquette Bigeard' cap from the 'excess' material of the long shorts in the standard uniform. He participated in many operations including a combat drop on Tu-Lê in November 1952.
On 20 November 1953 Bigeard and his unit took part in Operation Castor, the opening stage of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Bigeard and the 6th BPC returned to Dien Bien Phu on 16 March 1954, parachuting in to reinforce the now besieged garrison.
He acted as deputy toPierre Langlais, and was a member of the "parachute mafia" – a unity of the high-ranking paratroopers at the camp who oversaw combat operations. Historian Bernard Fall asserts that an armed Bigeard, along with Langlais, took de facto command of the camp from GeneralChristian de Castries in mid-March. The historian Jules Roy, however, makes no mention of this event, and Martin Windrow argues that the 'paratrooper putsch' is unlikely to have happened. Both Langlais and Bigeard were known to be on good relations with their commanding officer.
Bigeard helped organize local counter-attack, having been placed in command of the camps counter-attacking force, and was heavily involved in the fighting for strongpoints Eliane 1 and Eliane 2. Towards the end of the battle he was promoted (along with other commanders) to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. This was in some way seen as a reward for his valiant command of his troops before the expected massacre at the end of the battle. Bigeard entered captivity after the main garrison fell on 7 May 1954 and was repatriated three months later.Algeria
During the Algerian War, Bigeard, now a Colonel, was given command of the 3e RPC (Colonial Parachute Regiment) part of Jacques Massu's 10th Parachute Division. Bigeard revitalized the unit by weeding out laggards and the uncommitted and then put the remainder through an intense training regime. He led the 3e RPC through numerous operations, the most famous being the 1957 Battle of Algiers.
The 'battle' was a martial control of the Algiers region to stop the bombing and threatening of civilian targets by the FLN and to eliminate the organisation which was organising the bombing and starting to dominate the civilian population. During that battle the 3è RPC was responsible for theCasbah, home to many of the native Algerian population and a stronghold of the FLN organization in Algiers.
The parachutists were able to eventually identify and neutralize the FLN organization in Algiers through intelligence garnered by imposing a system of quadrillage (block warden) on the Algerian population. The use of torture by all four parachute regiments as an extension of interrogation was no secret and General Massu (the divisional commander), himself, wrote about its use and him testing it on his own body. The arrests, interrogation and detention were sanctioned by the then legal authority.
Quadrillage was used to identify suspects who were then subjected to interrogation and sometimes the systemic use of torture. Aside from breaking the FLN's local organization, the harsh methods used by the paras (and numerous instances of suspicious deaths while in the hands of the authorities) alienated some of the native Algerian population and particular groups in France.
During this time, Bigeard's name was associated with the death flights carried out by members of Massu's 10th Parachute Division in the Battle of Algiers. The victims, who were dropped from aircraft into the Mediterranean Sea, were known as "Bigeard's shrimps" (French: crevettes Bigeard) because they had weights attached to their feet sending them straight to the bottom.
After the initial apparent victory in Algiers, in April 1957 Bigeard moved the 3e RPC back into the Atlas mountains in pursuit of FLN groups in that province. In May he was in the area near Agounennda to ambush a large force of about 300 djounoud of the FLN group Wilaya 4. This group had already attacked an Algerian Battalion on 21 May causing heavy casualties. From a 'cold' start Bigeard estimated the attacking group's probable route of withdrawal and laid a wide ambush along a valley of 100 km².
The ensuing battle and followup lasted from 23 to 26 May 1957, but resulted in 8 paras killed for 96 enemy dead, 12 prisoners and 5 captives released. For this exemplary operation he was nicknamed "Seigneur de l'Atlas" ("Lord of the Atlas mountains") by his boss General Massu. After other urban, desert and mountain operations Bigeard was replaced as the commander of 3e RPC by Roger Trinquier in March 1958.
In 1958 Jacques Chaban-Delmas ordered the creation of the École Jeanne d'Arc in Philippeville (modern day Skikda) to provide field officers with a one-month training course in counter-insurgency techniques. Bigeard created the school and was placed in charge [Bigeard, (1975)].
Bigeard was later drawn into the controversy in France around the use of torture in the Algerian war. The admission by senior military people who were involved of the long accepted belief that torture was used systematically has put the spotlight on all figures involved. He justified the use of torture during the Algerian War as a "necessary evil" in Le Monde newspaper, and confirmed its use. He also claimed that he had not personally used torture.Post-war career
In 1967 Bigeard was promoted to Brigadier General and placed in command of ground forces in Dakar, Senegal. He commanded all forces in the French Indian Ocean Territory from 1970–1973. He was appointed State Secretary in Ministry of National Defence by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in 1975 and served until the following year, when he resigned from the army.
Bigeard died on 18 June 2010 at his home in Toul. He was accorded full military honours on 22 June in la cour d'honneur at Les Invalides.His last request to have his ashes scattered at Dien Bien Phu was denied by the Vietnamese Government who stated that they did not wish to create a precedent.
Cecile Pearl Witherington Cornioley
June 24th, 1914~February 23, 2011
was born and raised in France but was a British subject. She was employed at the British embassy in Paris and engaged to Henri Cornioley (1910–1999) when the Germans invaded in May 1940. She escaped occupied France with her mother and three sisters in December 1940 and eventually arrived in London where she found work with the Air Ministry. Determined to fight back against the German occupation of France, she joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE) on June 8, 1943. In training she emerged as the "best shot" the service had ever seen.
Given the code name "Marie", Witherington was dropped by parachute into occupied France on 22 September 1943, where she joined Maurice Southgate, leader of the Stationer Network. Over the next eight months, she worked as Southgate's courier.
After the Gestapo arrested Southgate in May 1944 who was subsequently deported to Buchenwald, she became leader of the new Wrestler Network, under a new code-name "Pauline", in the Valencay–Issoudun–Châteaurouxtriangle. She reorganised the network with the help of her fiancé, Henri Cornioley, and it fielded over 1,500 members of the Maquis; they played an important role fighting the German Army during the D-Day landings. They were so effective that the Nazi regime put a ƒ1,000,000 bounty on her head. The Germans even ordered 2,000 men to attack her force with artillery in a 14 hour long battle. Cornioley states:“ "We were attacked by 2,000 Germans on the 11th June  at 8 o'clock in the morning and the small maquis, comprising approximately 40 men, badly armed and untrained, put up a terrific fight, with the neighbouring communist maquis which numbered approximately 100 men." ”
She records that the battle raged for 14 hours and the Germans lost 86 men while the Maquis lost 24 "including civilians who were shot and the injured who were finished off". She fled to a cornfield until the Germans left the area. While the Germans succeeded in breaking up her group, she quickly regrouped and launched large scale guerilla assaults that wreaked havoc among German columns travelling to the battlefront through her area of operations. The force she commanded ultimately killed 1,000 German soldiers while suffering few casualties of its own and disrupted a key railway line connecting the south of France to Normandy more than 800 times. She would ultimately preside over the surrender of 18,000 German troops.Honours
After the war, Witherington was recommended for the Military Cross, but as a woman, she was ineligible and instead was offered an MBE (Civil Division). Witherington rejected the medal with an icy note pointing out that 'there was nothing remotely "civil" about what I did. I didn't sit behind a desk all day.' She accepted a military MBE and in recent years was awarded the CBE. She was also a recipient of the Légion d'honneur.
In April 2006, after a six-decade wait, Witherington was awarded her parachute wings, which she considered a greater honour than either the MBE or the CBE. She had completed three parachute jumps, with the fourth operational.
"But the chaps did four training jumps, and the fifth was operational - and you only got your wings after a total of five jumps", Witherington said. "So I was not entitled - and for 63 years I have been moaning to anybody who would listen because I thought it was an injustice."Private life
In September 1944, Witherington returned to England where she married Henri Cornioley in Kensington Register Office on 26 October 1944; they had a daughter, Claire.
With the help of journalist Hervé Larroque, Witherington's autobiography, Pauline, was published in 1997 (ISBN 978-2-9513746-0-7). Much of her wartime service is also included in the book Behind Enemy Lines with the SAS(published in 2007 by Pen and Sword Publ., England).
Pearl Cornioley, who died on February 23 aged 93, was a wartime agent in France with the Special Operations Executive (SOE).
She was born Cécile Pearl Witherington in Paris on June 24 1914, the eldest of four daughters of an expatriate English couple.
"I had no childhood" was later to be her grim assessment of her early life in Paris. She did not attend school until she was 13, and after her father succumbed to drink Pearl had to go out to work as a secretary to ensure that the family had food on the table.
By the time the Germans invaded France in 1940 she was employed as a shorthand typist to the air attaché at the British Embassy, but she decided to evacuate her family, shepherding them south through Spain to Gibraltar, from where they took ship to Liverpool, arriving in July 1941.
Pearl Witherington joined the WAAF, but became increasingly frustrated by her pen-pushing post at the Air Ministry, and presented herself at the SOE headquarters in Baker Street, London, demanding a job.
She was taken on, and embarked on seven weeks' training in armed, and unarmed, combat and sabotage - "Having been in the Girl Guides proved very helpful," she recalled. "We learned to use explosives and did a lot of firearms training. I was quite a good shot."
She was not so proficient, however, at mastering Morse and at one point feared that this weakness would result in her dismissal.
Having parachuted from an RAF Halifax on September 22 1943, Pearl Witherington landed near Chateauroux, in the southern Loire, where she was to join the Resistance group known as "Stationer".
SOE gave all its agents a trade as a codename, and Pearl Witherington was referred to as "Wrestler"; her nom de guerre in France was "Pauline"; in wireless transmissions to Britain she was called "Marie".
She was, of course, a fluent French-speaker, and her false papers declared her to be the representative of a cosmetics firm. Beyond that she had to rely on what she called "a sensitivity to atmospheres", her innate sangfroid and - her last resort - a gun.
In the event of capture - as with all the SOE agents operating in France - her instructions were to remain silent under interrogation for at least 48 hours, in order that her comrades should have the opportunity to escape.
Her specific role was to act as a courier carrying coded messages. Once she cycled 50 miles to deliver a message, only to find that a bridge she had to cross was heavily guarded. Carrying her bicycle on her shoulders, she waded across the freezing river Cher.
There were some narrow escapes, as when a German soldier on a train took an unhealthy interest in her papers, or when the Gestapo came to the house from which her team was transmitting by wireless (she was out enjoying a picnic at the time).
Pearl Witherington's work in occupied France was also a chance to rekindle her relationship with Henri Cornioley, a young Frenchman to whom she had become close before the war.
They wished to marry, but Henri's family - considerably better off financially than the Witheringtons - were opposed to the match. Now Cornioley, who had been captured while serving in the French Army but had managed to escape, was working with Pearl in the Resistance.
On May 1 1944 the leader of Pearl Witherington's network, Maurice Southgate, was captured, and she assumed control of 1,500 résistants (this number later swelled to 3,000) operating in the Sologne area of the Loire valley, which they were to hold in the Allied interest. Henri Cornioley was part of this group, which harassed the Germans in the run-up to D-Day.
The network blew up railway lines and disrupted supply routes. "It was our job to stop the Germans getting from the south to the north of France where the landings were happening," Pearl Witherington explained later.
"Our second task was to stop them trying to get back to Germany. Over 18,000 Germans gave themselves up on our territory." So effective was she that the Germans put a price of one million francs on her head.
It was during this period that she came closest to being captured or killed. On June 11 she and Cornioley were in the guard house of a chateau at Les Souches when it came under attack from the Germans. The pair fled, splitting up as they came under fire.
Pearl Witherington escaped into a wheat field, where she hid all day, "moving only when the wind blew the corn, hiding behind my very large handbag". She emerged only at nightfall.
Cornioley also survived, but the Germans had left with 32 hostages, none of whom was seen again. Shortly afterwards she and Cornioley made it to England, where they married in October 1944.
Pearl Witherington was recommended for a Military Cross but, as a woman, she was deemed ineligible. Instead she was offered a civil MBE, which she refused ("There was nothing civil about what I did, I didn't sit behind a desk all day"). She was then, in 1945, appointed a military MBE.
Much later in life there was further recognition: in 2004, at the British Embassy in Paris, the Queen presented her with a CBE, declaring: "We should have done this a long time ago."
Two years later, and six decades after she had jumped from the Halifax to begin her life as an SOE agent in France, Pearl Witherington was awarded her Parachute Wings, the insignia of the Parachute Regiment.
"I was tickled pink," she said, "because I was somewhat miffed when no one thought to give me them all those years ago. But I don't consider myself a heroine. Not at all. I am just an ordinary person who did her job during the war."
After the war Pearl and Henri Cornioley returned to Paris. He worked as a pharmaceutical chemist, but failed to prosper in civilian life; she spent the remainder of her career working as the secretary to the Paris office of the World Bank.
She was the principal driving force behind the creation of a large monument to the SOE's "F" Section, situated on a roundabout at Valençay, that was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in May 1991.
In the late 1990s the Cornioleys moved to Châteauvieux, Loir-et-Cher, where they lived at a home for elderly people who have made a significant contribution to French national life. In 1997 Pearl published, with Hervé Larroque, an autobiography, Pauline.
Henri Cornioley died in 1999, and she is survived by their daughter.
Pearl Witherington and Henri Cornioley, courtesy of Herve Larroque.
Additional information Letter from British Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent Pearl Witherington, World War II, 1944. The letter details the failure to sabotage the Michelin factory at Clermont Ferrand, France. Codenamed Marie, Pearl Witherington (1914-2008) was born in Paris to British parents. She joined the SOE in June 1943 to help the French Resistance in its fight against the Nazi occupation. In September 1944 after the Allied invasion of France, Witherington returned to England and married Henri Cornioley. The French government awarded her the Legion d'Honneur for her exploits.
The Edelweiss Pirates (Edelweißpiraten) were a loose group of youth culture in Nazi Germany. They emerged in western Germany out of the German Youth Movement of the late 1930s in response to the strict regimentation of the Hitler Youth. Similar in many ways to the Leipzig Meuten, they consisted of young people, mainly between the ages of 14 and 17, who had evaded the Hitler Youth by leaving school (which was allowed at 14.) and were also young enough to avoid military conscription, which was only compulsory from the age of 17 onwards.
The origins of the Edelweißpiraten can be traced to the period immediately prior to World War II, as the state-controlled Hitler Youth was mobilized to serve the state, at the expense of the leisure activities previously offered to young people. This tension was exacerbated once the war began and youth leaders were conscripted. In contrast, the Edelweißpiraten offered young people considerable freedom to express themselves and to mingle with members of the opposite sex, whereas Nazi youth movements were strictly segregated by gender, the Hitler-Jugend for boys and the Bund Deutscher Mädel for girls. Though predominantly male, the casual meetings of the Edelweißpiraten even offered German adolescents an opportunity for sexual experimentation with the opposite sex. The Edelweißpiraten used many symbols of the outlawed German Youth Movement, including their tent (the Kohte), their style of clothing (the Jungschaftsjacke), and their songs.
The first Edelweißpiraten appeared in the late 1930s in western Germany, comprising mostly young people between 14 and 18. Individual groups were closely associated with different regions but identifiable by a common style of dress with their own edelweiss badge and by their opposition to what they saw as the paramilitary nature of the Hitler Youth. Subgroups of the Edelweißpiraten included the Navajos, centred on Cologne, the Kittelbach Pirates of Oberhausen and Düsseldorf, and the Roving Dudes of Essen. According to one Nazi official in 1941, "Every child knows who the Kittelbach Pirates are. They are everywhere; there are more of them than there are Hitler Youth... They beat up the patrols... They never take no for an answer."
Although they rejected the Nazis' authoritarianism, the Edelweißpiraten's nonconformist behaviour tended to be restricted to petty provocations. Despite this, they represented a group of youth who rebelled against the government's regimentation of leisure and were unimpressed by the propaganda touting Volksgemeinschaft ("people's community").
During the war, many Edelweißpiraten supported the Allies and assisted deserters from the German army. Some groups also collected propaganda leaflets dropped by Allied aircraft and pushed them through letterboxes.
Apart from gatherings on street corners, the Edelweißpiraten engaged in hiking and camping trips, defying the restrictions on free movement, which kept them away from the prying eyes of the totalitarian regime. They were highly antagonistic to the Hitler Youth, ambushing their patrols and taking great pride in beating them up. One of their slogans was "Eternal War on the Hitler Youth". As one subgroup, the Navajos, sang:
Des Hitlers Zwang, der macht uns klein, Hitler's dictates make us small, noch liegen wir in Ketten. we're yet bound in chains. Doch einmal werden wir wieder frei, But one day we'll again walk tall, wir werden die Ketten schon brechen. no chain can us restrain. Denn unsere Fäuste, die sind hart, For hard are our fists, ja--und die Messer sitzen los, Yes! And knives at our wrists, für die Freiheit der Jugend, for youth to be free, kämpfen Navajos. Navajos lay siege. Nazi response
The Nazi response to the Edelweißpiraten was typically harsh. Individuals identified by the Gestapo as belonging to the various gangs were often rounded up and released with their heads shaved to shame them. In some cases, young people were sent to concentration camps or prison. On October 25, 1944, Heinrich Himmler ordered a crackdown on the group and in November of that year, a group of thirteen people, the heads of the Ehrenfelder Gruppe, were publicly hanged in Cologne. Some of these were former Edelweißpiraten. The Edelweißpiratenhanged were six teenagers, amongst them Bartholomäus Schink, called Barthel, former member of the local Navajos. Fritz Theilen survived.
Nevertheless, government repression never managed to break the spirit of most groups, which constituted a subculture that rejected the norms of Nazi society. While the Edelweißpiraten assisted army deserters and others hiding from the Third Reich, they have yet to receive recognition as a resistance movement (partly because they were viewed with contempt by many of their former Youth Movement comrades, because of their 'proletarian' background and 'criminal' activities) and the families of members killed by the Nazis have as yet received no reparations.
Interview with an Edelweiss Pirate - Walter Mayer
An account of the German anti-Nazi movement of working class youth who fought against the regime.
Hitler’s power may lay us low,
And keep us locked in chains,
But we will smash the chains one day,
We’ll be free again
We’ve got fists and we can fight,
We’ve got knives and we’ll get them out
We want freedom, don’t we boys?
We’re the fighting Navajos!
Why were the Nazis able to control Germany so easily? Why was there so little active opposition to them? Why were the old parties of the SPD and KPD unable to offer any real resistance? How could a totalitarian regime so easily contain what had been the strongest working class in Europe?
We are taught that the Nazis duped the German population and that it took the armed might of the Allies to liberate Europe from their enslavement. This article aims to show how the Nazis were able to contain the working class and to tell some of the tales of resistance that really took place.
Pictured - Barton Schink - Edelweiss Pirate. Executed aged 16 by the Nazis
Dealing with the opposition
Acting with a ruthlessness that surprised their opponents, the Nazis banned their opponents, the Social Democrats and the Communists. For the working class this was far more serious than just the destruction of two state capitalist parties. It was accompanied by the annihilation of a whole area of social life around working class communities. Many of the most confident working class militants were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
The repression was carried out legally. The SA (the Brownshirts) now acted in collaboration with the police. Their brutal activities which once had been illegal but tolerated now became part of official state activity. In some circumstances this meant simple actions like beatings. In others, SA groups moved into and took over working class pubs and centres. The effect was to isolate, intimidate and render powerless the working class.
Many workers believed that the Nazis would not remain in power forever. They believed that the next election would see them swept from power and ‘their’ parties returned. Workers only needed to bind their time. When it became clear that this was not going to happen, the myth changed. The role for oppositionists became to keep the party structures intact until such time as the Nazis were defeated. There is no doubt that even the simple act of distributing Socialist (SPD) or Communist (KPD) propaganda took an incredible degree of heroism, for the consequences of being caught were quite clear to all – beatings, torture and death. It meant that families would be left without breadwinners, subjected to police surveillance and intimidation. The result was often passivity and inaction.
As early as 1935, workers were aware of the consequences that ‘subversive’ activity would have on their families. A blacksmith in 1943 expressed the problem simply: “My wife is still alive, that’s all. It’s only for her sake that I don’t shout it right in their faces…You know these blackguards can only do all this because each of us has a wife or mother at home that he’s got to think of…people have too many things to consider. After all, you’re not alone in this world. And these SS devils exploit the fact.”
Throughout the period of Nazi rule there was industrial unrest, there were strikes and acts of disobedience and even sabotage. All these, however, attracted the attention of the Gestapo. The Gestapo had the assistance of employers and stooges in the workforce. The least a striker could expect was arrest. As a consequence, those who were politically opposed to the Nazi state kept themselves away from industrial struggle. To be arrested would have led not only to personal sacrifice, but also could have compromised the political organisations to which he or she belonged. To reinforce the message to workers, he Gestapo set up special industrial concentration camps attached to major factories.
To put the intensity of Nazi repression into context, during the period 1933-45, at least 30,000 German people were executed for opposing the state. This does not include countless others who died as a result of beatings, of their treatment in camps, or as a result of the official policy of euthanasia for those deemed mentally ill. Thousands of children were declared morally or biologically defective because they fell below the below the Aryan ‘norm’ and were murdered by doctors. This fate also befell youngsters with mental and physical disabilities as well as many who listened to the wrong kind of music.
However, Nazi domination of the working class did not rely solely on repression. Nazi industrial policy aimed to fragment the class, to replace working class solidarity with Nazi comradeship and solidarity with the state.
To start with, pay rises were forbidden. To strengthen competition, hourly rates were done away with. Piece rates became the norm. If workers wanted to earn more then they would have to produce more. Workers’ interests were to be represented by the German Workers’ Front (DAF), which they were forced to belong to and which of course represented solely the interests of the state and employers.
Unable to obtain pay rises with their employers it became common in a situation of full employment for workers to move from one factory to another in search of higher wages. On the one hand, this defeated the Nazi objectives of limiting pay; on the other hand it further weakened the bonds of solidarity between workers.
Knowing that they could not rule solely through fear, the Nazis gave ‘welfare’ concessions to the working class. Family allowances were paid for the first time; organised holidays and outings were provided at low cost. For many workers this was their first opportunity to go away on holiday. Social activities were provided through Nazi organisations.
There is little evidence that the Nazis won over the working class ideologically, nonetheless, this combination of repression and amelioration served to confuse many who would otherwise have been outright opponents.
The spectacles we have all seen of Nazi rallies, book burnings, parades and speeches are not evidence that workers were convinced of Nazi rule. It was clear to all what the consequence of not attending, of not carrying a placard or waving a flag would be. However, they must have increased the sense of isolation and powerlessness of those who would have liked to resist. As a result there was little open resistance from working class adults to the Nazis throughout their period in power.
If the Nazi policy towards adults was based on coercion, their policy towards young people was subtler. Put simply, the intention was to indoctrinate every young person, to make them a good national socialist citizen proudly upholding the ideals of the party. The means chosen to do this was the Hitler Youth (HJ).
By the end of 1933, all youth organisations outside the Hitler Youth had been banned – with the exception of those controlled by the Catholic Church that was busy cosying up to the Nazis at the time. Boys were to be organised into the Deutsches Jungvolk between the ages of 10 and 14 and the Hitler Youth proper from 14 to 18. They quickly incorporated around 40% of boys. Girls were to be enrolled into the Bund Deutsche Madel (BDM), but the Nazis were much less interested in getting them to join. The objective was to get all boys into the HJ. When this failed to take place, laws were passed gradually making it compulsory by 1939.
In the early days, being in the HJ was far from a chore. Boys got to take part in sports, go camping, hike, play competitive games – as well as being involved in drill and political indoctrination. Being in the HJ gave youngsters the chance to play one form of authority off against another. They could avoid schoolwork by claiming to be involved in HJ work. The HJ provided excuses when dealing with other authority figures – like parents and priests. On the other hand, they could also blame pressures from school in order to get out of more unpleasant Hitler Youth tasks! In some parts of the country the HJ provided the first opportunity to start a sports club, to get away from parents, to experience some independence.
As the 1930s went on, the function of the HJ and BDM changed. The objectives of the regime became more obviously military and aimed at conquest. The HJ was seen as a way recruiting and training young men into the armed forces. As war became more likely, the emphasis shifted away from leisure activities and into military training, State policy became of one of forcing all to be in the HJ. T made seemingly harmless activities, like getting together with your mates for an evening, criminal offences if they took place outside the HJ of BDM.
The HJ set up its own police squads to supervise young people. These Streifendienst patrols were made up of Hitler Youth members scarcely older than those they were meant to be policing.
By 1938, reports from Social Democrats in Germany to their leaders in exile were able to report that: “In the long run young people too are feeling increasingly irritated by the lack of freedom and the mindless drilling that is customary in the National Socialist organisations. It is therefore no wonder that symptoms of fatigue are becoming particularly apparent among their ranks…”
The outbreak of war brought the true nature of the HJ even more sharply into focus. Older HJ members were called up. More and more time was taken up with drill and political indoctrination. Bombing led to the destruction of many of the sporting facilities. The HJ became more and more obviously a means of oppression.
As the demands for fresh recruits to the armed forces became more intense, the divisions within the HJ became more acute. The German education system at the time was sharply divided along class lines. Most working class children left school at the age of 14. A few went on to secondary or grammar schools along with the children of middle class and professional families. As older HJ members were called up, the middle class school students took the place of the leaders. The rank and file was increasingly made up of young workers hardly likely to take too well to being ordered about at HJ meetings! It is not difficult to imagine the scene of a snotty doctor’s kid still in school trying to give orders to a bunch of young factory workers and having to use the threat of official punishment to get his own way. Dissatisfaction grew. Initially, the acute labour shortages of the early war years meant that the Nazis could not resort to the kind of Nazi terror tactics that they employed against other dissidents. As the war went on, many of these young people’s fathers died or were sent to the front. Many were bombed out of their own homes. The only future they could see for themselves was to wear a uniform and fight for a lost cause.
One teenager said in 1942: “Everything the HJ preaches is a fraud. I know this for certain, because everything I had to say in the HJ myself was a fraud.”
By the end of the 1930s, thousands of young people were finding ways to avoid the clutches of the Hitler Youth. They were gathering together in their own gangs and starting to enjoy themselves again. This terrified the Nazis, particularly when the teenagers started to defend their own social spaces physically. What particularly frightened the Nazis was that these young people were the products of their own education system. They had no contact with the old SPD or KPD, knew nothing of Marxism or the old labour movement. They had been educated by the Nazis in Nazi schools, their free time had been regimented by the HJ listening to Nazi propaganda and taking part in officially approved activities and sports.
These gangs went under different names. Their favoured clothes varied from town to town, as did their badges. In Essen they were called the Farhtenstenze (Travelling Dudes), in Oberhausen and Dusseldorf the Kittelbach Pirates, in Cologne they were the Navajos. But all saw themselves as Edelweiss Pirates (named after an edelweiss flower badge many wore).
Gestapo files in Cologne contain the names of over 3,000 teenagers identified as Edelweiss Pirates. Clearly, there must have been many more and their numbers must have been even greater when taken over Germany as a whole.
Initially, their activities were in themselves pretty harmless. They hung around in parks and on street corners, creating their own social space in the way teenagers do everywhere (usually to the annoyance of adults). At weekends they would take themselves off into the countryside on hikes and camping trips in a perverse way mirroring the activities initially provided by the HJ themselves. Unlike the HJ trips, however, these expeditions comprised boys and girls together, so adding a different, more exciting and more normal dimension than provided by the HJ. Whereas the HJ had taken young people away for trips to isolate and indoctrinate them, the Edelweiss Pirates expeditions got them away from the Party and gave them the time and space to be themselves.
On their trips they would meet up with Pirates from other towns and cities. Some went as far as to travel the length and breadth of Germany doing wartime, when to travel without papers was an illegal action.
Daring to enjoy themselves on their own was a criminal act. They were supposed to be under Party control. Inevitably they came across HJ Streifendienst patrols. Instead of running, the Pirates often stood and fought. Reports sent to Gestapo officers suggest that as often as not the Edelweiss Pirates won these fights. “I therefore request that the police ensure that this riff-raff is dealt with once and for all. The HJ are taking their lives into their hands when they go out on the streets.”
The activities of the Edelweiss Pirates grew bolder as the war progressed. They engaged in pranks against the allies, fights against their enemies and moved on to small acts of sabotage. They were accused of being slackers at work and social parasites. They began to help Jews, army deserters and prisoners of war. They painted anti-Nazi slogans on walls and some started to collect Allied propaganda leaflets and shove them through people’s letterboxes.
“There is a suspicion that it is these youths who have been inscribing the walls of the pedestrian subway on the Altebbergstrasse with the slogans ‘Down with Hitler’, ‘The OKW (Military High Command) is lying’, ‘Medals for Murder’, ‘Down with Nazi Brutality’ etc. However often these inscriptions are removed within a few days new ones appear on the walls again.” (1943 Dusseldorf-Grafenberg Nazi Party report to the Gestapo).
As time went on, a few grew bolder and even more heroic. They raided army camps to obtain arms and explosives, made attacks on Nazi figures other than the HJ and took part in partisan activities. The Head of the Cologne Gestapo was one victim of the Edelweiss Pirates.
The authorities reacted with their full armoury of repressive measures. These ranged from individual warnings, round-ups and temporary detention (followed by a head shaving), to weekend imprisonment, reform school, labour camp, youth concentration camp or criminal trial. Thousands were caught up in this hunt. For many, the end was death. The so-called leaders of the Cologne Edelweiss Pirates were publicly hanged in November 1944.
However, as long as the Nazis needed workers in armament factories and soldiers for their war, they could not resort to the physical extermination of thousands of young Germans. Moreover, it is fair to say that the state was confused as to what to do with these rebels. They came from German stock, the sort of people who should have been grateful for what the Nazis gave. Unwilling to execute thousands and unable to comprehend what was happening, the state was equally unable to contain them.
Wall of Silence
So why has so little been heard of the Edelweiss Pirates? When I started researching this article, I found it extremely hard to find information about them. Most seemed to revolve around the research of the German historian Detlev Peukert, whose writings remain essential reading. Searches of the internet revealed only two articles.
A number of explanations come to mind. The post-war Allied authorities wanted to reconstruct Germany into a modern, western, democratic state. To do this, they enforced strict labour laws including compulsory work. The Edelweiss Pirates had a strong anti-work ethos, so they came into conflict with the new authorities too. A report in 1949 spoke of the “widespread phenomenon of unwillingness to work that was becoming a habit of many young people.” The prosecution of so-called ‘young idlers’ was sometimes no less rigid under Allied occupation than it was under the Nazis. A court in 1947 sent one young woman to prison for five months for ‘refusal to work’. The young became enemies of the new order too.
The political opponents of the Nazis had been either forced into exile, murdered or hid their politics. Clandestine activity had centred on keeping party structures intact. They could not afford to acknowledge that physical resistance had been alive and well and based on young people’s street gangs! To the politicians of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) and SPD, the Edelweiss Pirates were just as much riff-raff as they were to the Nazis. The myth of the just war used by the allies relied heavily on the idea that all Germans had been at least silent during the Nazi period if not actively supporting the regime. To maintain this fiction the actions of ‘street hooligans’ in fighting the Nazis had to be forgotten.
Decades on, interest in the Edelweiss Pirates is beginning to resurface. More is being published on them and a film is being planned. We need to make sure that they are never forgotten again. As the producers of the film say: “the Edelweiss Pirates were no absolute heroes, but rather ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” It is precisely this that gives us hope for the future.
Submitted by libcom on Jan 12 2006 16:01
Transcript of a short interview with Walter Mayer, a member of the German youth anti-Nazi organisation, the Edelweiss Pirates.
Walter Mayer, Edelweiss Pirate born the Rhineland, Germany, 1927
As a youth, Walter questioned the German superiority and anti-Semitism he was taught. His father, an anti-Nazi, refused to allow Walter to enter one of the Adolf Hitler Schools, but did permit him to join the Hitler Youth. However, Walter's rebellious streak led him to hide a Jewish friend in his basement. He also formed a gang that played pranks on young Nazis and helped French prisoners of war.
They called themselves Edelweiss Pirates (as did other groups of opposition youth in Germany). In 1943 Walter was caught taking shoes from a bombed-out store, arrested, and imprisoned. He was eventually deported to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp, where he was forced to work in the stone quarry. In 1945, Walter contracted tuberculosis and decided to escape before he was killed. Under cover of heavy fog, he reached a farmhouse. The farmer gave him his son's army uniform and helped him board a train home to Duesseldorf. Walter recovered after hospitalisation, and later moved to the United States.
Transcript of accounts in verbal interview
'We had, uh, meetings generally, at least, well, generally at a cafe on Kings Avenue, which is - in Germany there are a number of streets which are well known like Fifth Avenue. Well Kings Avenue in Duesseldorf is one of the best known avenues in the world. It's gorgeous, wide, and has a river in the middle and all chestnut trees and so on.
Well there was a cafe and in the back of the cafe was a pool room. Uh, we used to play pool, and we had our little meetings there and one would say, "We have a new member," and, uh, we would ask him questions, test him, and "Why do you like to join us?" and, you know, wanted to have some assurance. And, and, uh, then we, we pro..."What are we going to do next?" and maybe one would say, "You know, the Hitler Youths, they all, uh, store their, uh, equipment at such-and-such a place.
Let's make it disappear." "Okay, when are we going to meet?" Such-and-such a time. And that's what we did. It became, uh, it came to the point where we became enemies and people began to look for us because we went a little too drastic, we, you know we started maybe by deflating the tires, then we made the whole bicycle disappear, so it came to the point where too many complaints.
'On April the 12th, April the 12th, 1943, I was taken to court. By trial, the state attorney--I think they call it here, district attorney - state attorney, asked for the death penalty. My father - this was first time I saw my father and my mother - uh, my mother couldn't, couldn't control herself, so she was crying. My, my father didn't quite know what to do. They had two attorneys. When he recommended the death penalty, I know they kind of jumped over and held my arm and said, "That's not the last word."
Then kind of the judge and the state attorney and somebody else, some functionary, they kind of argued about whether it was looting, or whether it was theft. The idea was that the two, uh, had different consequences. And, uh, so they retired then and when he came back, the judge decided, or had decided that it was--well, before that they had an argument and the state attorney said, uh,"I would call it theft, but this man, having had intimate contact with our enemy, and being the leader of, uh, the Edelweisspiraten [Edelweiss Pirates], having destroyed, uh, state goods, state property, does not deserve any kind of consideration." Well, when the judge came back and said, on the grounds of his outstanding, uh, involvement in, in athletism, and considering, uh, the age and the circumstances, I condemn you to one to four years in prison.'
From the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Schmitz, Hans, 1914-2007
A short biography of German anarcho-syndicalist, militant anti-fascist and conscript to the Wehrmacht, Hans Schmitz.
Hans Schmitz was born in Wuppertal, Germany in 1914.
His father,* a leading activist in the anarcho-syndicalist union the FAUD, was a devout Catholic and a convinced pacifist from both a religious and ideological standpoint (!). Despite this, as Hans Schmitz reports, he carried a weapon as a member of the “Red Ruhr Army” during the right-wing Kapp putsch.
His father was also active in the Liga fur Mutterscutz und Soziale Famililienhygiene (League for the Protection of Mothers and Social Family Hygiene). The League secretly obtained abortions for women.
Hans’ mother, active in the anarcho-syndicalist women’s movement, was one of those who carried out abortions in their small apartment. His father never spoke of it at the time, but much later it came up in conversation.
After being beaten up on the way to a youth meeting by a group of Freikorps thug, Hans rejected pacifism and replaced the broken rifle on the black flag with the red hammer and sickle. Much to the irritation of the adult anarcho-syndicalists, Hans Schmitz argued against his father thus:
“We’ve had enough of ‘Turn the other cheek’; it hurts!” and at the same time mentioned the rifle that his father had carried.
Hans himself became a member of the SAJD (Anarcho-syndicalist Youth) and the FAUD.
In the last years of the Weimar Republic the situation escalated, and the young anarcho-syndicalists founded the Schwarzen Scharen - “black crowds” - who set themselves against the Nazis’ gangs of thugs. Because of the uniforms, there was further protest from the ranks of the FAUD. Nevertheless, the Wuppertal Schwarzen Scharen, to which Hans Schmitz belonged, was appointed as protectors at demonstrations and rallies.
At this period wearing a black shirt could get you hanged. Hans Schmitz tells how when wearing a black shirt he was arrested for possessing an offensive weapon, a penknife. A few metres further on Hitler Youth were marching with dagger-like knives, but the police didn’t have a problem with these, as they were sheath-knives, in leather scabbards.
With the seizure of power by the Nazis in 1933, the anarcho-syndicalist groups disbanded, including the Wuppertal branch, of which Hans Schmitz was treasurer. Resistance however did not cease.
With a smile on his face he tells how the torchlight procession of the Nazis literally [a pun here that doesn’t translate] fell in the water – chased into the river Wupper by communists, anarchists and unionists.
Thereafter the torchlight processions were held during daylight. Hans Schmitz and a dozen other anarchist and communist youths several times stampeded the Nazi-saluting celebrating crowds into the torchlight processions, and the SS thugs thus provoked attacked the revellers with their torches. This little game was repeated a few times, until the SS discovered the real cause of the tumult, and the youngsters decided the best thing to do was vanish.
In the following months and years there were many examples of anti-fascist activity: posters were stuck up, (an activity that the anti-fascist youth very quickly discontinued when they saw how the SS made their arrested friends tear the posters off walls with bare blood-encrusted hands), antifascist slogans were stamped onto the streets using the bottoms of suitcases! The most important function of the underground groups was transporting wanted political refugees over the border. Hans Schmitz functioned as a bicycle courier, passing himself off as a sports cyclist.
In 1935 Hans Schmitz met his future wife , who was a member of the “Düssel Pirates”. This group was being attacked on the street by the Hitler Youth and Hans and his friends intervened to rescue them. Young people who refused to join the Hitler Youth, became Edelweiss Pirates, and wore check shirts and red neckerchiefs. Often local groups named themselves after local rivers. Soon there were also Wupper Pirates.
On 1 April 1937 during a wave of arrests Hans Schmitz was visited by the Gestapo at his workplace. He had been tipped off, so the Gestapo could find no evidence of anti-fascist activity. So he only got two years in prison and had more luck than many of his anarcho-syndicalist colleagues, who were sentenced to death in the subsequent mass trials. After his release he was classed as unfit for military service, which suited him fine. He again became active in the resistance.
To his disappointment his unfitness for military service did not last for ever. When he got married in 1942 his wife’s employer saw to it that he recovered from his unfitness for military duty, so that his wife could continue working in her war-relevant employment, instead of accompanying her husband back to Wuppertal.
Hans Schmitz accordingly joined the Wehrmacht. Resistance from within the Wehrmacht was certainly a difficult enterprise, yet possible to a certain extent: to stay as far as possible from the front, listen in to enemy transmissions… a clique of former resistance people grouped together and organised these various efforts. Towards the end of the war Hans was in an anti-aircraft battery and he sabotaged things so that not a single shot was fired.
The end of the war saw Hans Schmitz in Holland. He reports that the relationship between the Dutch population and the ordinary soldiers was an exceptionally good one. When the Dutch informed on former collaborators who were hoarding food, the former Wehrmacht soldiers confiscated this and shared it with their informants.
After the war Hans joined the FFS (Federation of Libertarian Socialists) set up by Otto Reimers and others. He was disheartened by the fact that many comrades were now broken physically and mentally and wanted nothing more to do with the movement. Nevertheless he maintained his commitment to anarchism.
At the end of the war he also organised a wildcat strike. This was during the “hunger winters” when many died. The strike gained demands like breaks and heating in the workshops. His boss had threatened him with the sack before the strike but he continued to work there until he drew his pension. He made contact with the movement again in the 1990s and worked with the FAU and the anti-fascist movement up until his death on 22 March 2007.
Hans Schmitz gives more details about his experiences in the essay “Resistance – A Personal Account”. The essay is to be found in the book “Se krije us nit kaputt” [a dialect expression that means “they won’t beat us”] published by the Cultural Group of the Wuppertal Resistance. Faces of the Wuppertal Resistance. Essen 1995)
* Hans Schmitz Senior was born in 1891 in Polch in the Eifel district. A building worker, he was one of the leading FAUD activists in the Ruhr. He died on 28th January 1931, as the results of complications a year after he received serious head injuries after a quarrel with a Nazi.
Krüschedt, Fritz (1910-1978)
14th June 1910-1978
Fritz Kruschedt was born on 14th June 1910 in the Wuppertal region of the Rhineland in Germany. After the early death of his father, his mother had to raise Fritz and his brother Gustav ( born 31st March 1912) and their sister.
His mother was a Catholic but mixed in radical workers’ circles, sending her children to a secular free school. Fritz learnt a trade and worked in the building industry. Fritz and Gustav began to take part in the activities of the Gemeinschaft proletarischer Freidenker (GPF) -Association of Proletarian Freethinkers in which the anarcho-syndicalist FAUD had some influence. Fritz and Gustav subsequently joined the SAJD( Anarcho-Syndicalist Youth) the youth organisation of the FAUD.
The SAJD numbered about 15 members in 1930. Among its members were the seamstress Hedwig Felsch and her older brother Willi. Hedwig and Gustav later lived in free union. Fritz lost his job in the wave of unemployment at this time. He was then able to invest a lot of time in the SAJD . The SAJD branch built a clubhouse in the garden of a comrade. They read much anarchist literature, including Kropotkin and Rocker. In 1931 they put on a play about Sacco and Vanzetti by Erich Muehsam in the Wuppertal town hall. In this year the Kirschey brothers, Hans and Helmut, and Hans Saure, who had left the Communist youth organisation, joined the SAJD branch.
As in other cities the SAJD were behind moves to set up a Schwarze Schare ( Black Band) intended to act as a defence unit against Nazi attacks on political meetings. As a result the Kruschedts came to the attention of the local SA. The brothers were forced to move home, their abandoned house looted of 500 marks and the black flag that flew outside by the Nazis.
The Wuppertal anarchists then engaged in underground activity which is described in the libcom biographies of Fritz Benner, of Helmut Kirschey, and of Hans Schmitz.
In the crackdown on the anarchist movement Fritz was arrested on 7th April 1937. Gustav had already been arrested on 6th March. The investigations of the Dusseldorf Gestapo went on for over a year and in this period Fritz was tortured and severely beaten. One of the methods used to extract information was to make him stand for hours in the cold waters of the Wupper river. However Fritz refused to divulge any information. In June 1938 , with the mass trials of 88 anarchists, Fritz received a prison sentence of 2 years and 3 months.
After his release on 1st July 1939 he was immediately re-arrested and put in Dusseldorf prison. He was then transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp on 10th August. There he was horrifically mistreated. Again he was made to stand for hours in cold water up to his knees with other prisoners and was suspended with his arms tied behind his back from a stake.(Gustav was under Gestapo supervision after his release and then forcibly conscripted into the 999 battalion, first being located in southern France and then in Albania where he was captured in 1944. He had kept evidence of his condemnation and was able to show this to the Albanian resistance, which probably saved his life).
In autumn 1944 Fritz was forcibly conscripted with 770 other prisoners into the 999 punishment battalion of ill-repute. He managed to desert to the Russians with 500 others at the first instance. His treatment by the Russians was not what he had expected and he was immediately put under suspicion. He was fortunately released quite quickly in September 1945.
Despite this he joined the Communist Party (KPD) for a short period, apparently for tactical reasons, and then the Federation of Libertarian Socialists- Föderation Freiheitlicher Sozialisten (FFS) which united a few hundred anarchist survivors of the Nazi regime. The FFS was unable to develop and fell away and only decades later was there a revival in the anarchist movement.
Both Fritz and Gustav tried to promote libertarian ideas via literary and cultural circles, in cooperatives, and with union work but their efforts were stillborn.
After the war Fritz worked as a repairer, roofer and as a council worker.In 1949, he married Erna Rutki and their daughter Marianne was born on 11th July 1950. After a motorcycle accident in 1959, he had a leg amputated and he then worked as a groundsman on a sports ground.
Steinacker, Hermann ( 1870-1944)
1870- 14th April 1944
"Fixed and unwavering our comrade always believed in the collapse of the Nazi regime. Quiet, even humorous, he endured his imprisonment in the Munster penitentiary." August Benner writing about Hermann Steinacker.
Johann Baptist Steinacker was born on 20th November 1870 in Odenheim in the Karlsruhe district of Germany. He learnt the trade of a tailor. He joined the Social Democratic Party but soon moved towards anarchism. In 1910 his name appeared on the records of the political police. He was placed on the Anarchist Directory, complete with photo, compiled by the Centre for the Monitoring of German and International Anarchism, based at Berlin police HQ. He appears to have preferred to use the first name Hermann probably because his real first name had too many religious connotations.
Commitment to anarchism under the Kaiser’s Germany required great determination and commitment . Not only were anarchists under constant surveillance from the State, but they were marginal to a workers’ movement dominated by the Social Democrats with their mass party and their control of the unions. The Social Democrats saw anarchists not as political opponents but as enemies. Rosa Luxemburg, one of the leaders of German Social Democracy, was to denounce anarchism as the “counter-revolutionary ideology of the lumpenproletariat” (rather inaccurate as anarchists in Germany were often skilled workers).
Locally in Elberfeld in the Wupper valley (Wuppertal) where Steinacker was active, this led on one instance of sellers of anarchist papers being physically expelled from a union hall. (1)
The Elberfeld anarchist group had only ten members and concentrated its activities on internal meetings and paper sales (selling 100-150 of each issue). They held a successful meeting in 1914 on birth control which attracted 150 people but this appears to have been their only such public meeting. German anarchists were deeply committed to anti-militarism and internationalism - in contrast to the bulk of Social Democracy, which on the outbreak of the First World War took the side of the regime.
One day before the outbreak of war the Social Democrats had been preaching internationalism, but by 10th August Wuppertal Social Democrats were fulminating about the atrocities of the “Belgian and French nationalists”. Because of their anti-war stand Steinacker and eight other local anarchists were placed in “protective custody” for ten days. In March 1916 Steinacker was conscripted.
The committed stance of the anarchists eventually paid off. With the revolutionary wave that swept through Germany beginning in 1918, 1200 workers had joined the newly founded anarcho-syndicalist FAUD in Wuppertal by 1920. Subsequent repression and the collapse of the movement as well as wide-scale unemployment meant that the FAUD began to shrink by 1923. By 1933 there were only one hundred members of the FAUD left in Wuppertal. Alongside the FAUD was the very active branch of the national youth organisation SAJD - Syndikalistisch-Anarchistischen Jugend Deutschlands, founded in the 1920s.
Hermann Steinacker had a very important role within the local FAUD. His political longevity, his knowledge of anarchism and his general high level of culture, meant that his tailor shop on the high street became a focus of the libertarian movement. He was respected by the anarchist youth for his attitude towards them. As one of these young people, Paula Benner, was to state: "He was one of the few adults of whom one received answers to their questions". His pioneer work as a free thinker and his ongoing campaigns for anti-authoritarian education influenced two generations of young people. He acted as a teacher in the best sense of the word to the anarchist youth and children’s groups.
Steinacker had urged the local Social Democrat and Communist leaders in the parties and unions to call a general strike on the coming to power of the Nazis, but in vain. With the Nazi takeover Steinacker advised the Wuppertal FAUD and SAJD to disband, which saved them from the first wave of Nazi terror. In the meantime an underground network was set up. However by May 1933 local anarchist Helmut Kirschey (see libcom biography) had been arrested followed by those of the brothers Fritz and Willi Benner (see libcom biography) in August.
Steinacker was instrumental in organising collections for the families of those arrested. His tailor shop was a good cover for underground work. In addition he held the contact list for the underground anarchist network set up throughout the Rhineland with contacts with a centre in Holland from where illegal publications were smuggled in. Following a denunciation, Steinacker was arrested by the Gestapo in October 1934.
He received a prison sentence of one year and nine months which he served in Luettringhausen prison. Following his release on 6th July 1936 he immediately became involved in collecting money for the movement in Spain. In December the Gestapo struck and Steinacker was the first of eleven to be arrested and imprisoned in Dusseldorf. There he witnessed the beating and torture for eight days of Anton Rosinke, leading member of the Dusseldorf FAUD. Rosinke was to be murdered in this prison on 14th February 1937.
There followed the trial of 88 Rhineland anarchists in January 1938. Steinacker received ten years imprisonment. He was sent to Munster prison. August Benner, brother of Fritz and Willi, and imprisoned with him there from 1941 gave an account of Steinacker’s detention there. Whilst remaining morally and spiritually unbroken, the seventy three year old Steinacker’s health had been ruined by torture and detention.
He could no longer climb the stairs to the prison workroom. His comrades carried him there every morning. One day he fell asleep in the workroom. He was thus deemed no longer fit to live and the prison warden contacted the Dusseldorf Gestapo. In January 1944 he was sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp. His bloodstained glasses were handed over to his daughter after he was murdered there on 14th April 1944.
Remember this fallen comrade!
Doster, Gustav aka Gustl 1904-1977
Gustav Doster was a leading light in the anarchist movement in the Rhineland. He organised underground anarchist networks under Nazism and experienced the Spanish Revolution.
Gustav Doster’s father was a boiler maker, and a union militant and member of the Social Democratic Party. From 1919 until 1923 he worked as a lathe operator and then worked as an instructor of metal workers until 1933.
In 1920 Gustav joined the International Antimilitarist Association, and the following year the FAUD. He was secretary of the Darmstadt branch of the FAUD and edited the paper of the local FAUD unemployed association Der Stempfelbreder. He distributed a leaflet outside the Darmstadt Labour Exchange in September 1929 calling for direct action by the unemployed and for a general strike and the mass expropriation of stores and warehouses. He was unsuccessfully prosecuted for this.
He was also active in the SAJD (German Anarchosyndicalist Youth). A group of the Schwarze Scharen was formed at Darmstadt and Gustav was probably the driving force behind it. In March 1933 he was arrested and imprisoned but managed to eascape in November of the same year from the Osthofen concentration camp using the underground FAUD networks to flee to Amsterdam. Without any passport he had to apply for provisional papers in October 1935 and to report to the police every two months.
With Fritz Schroeder and in conjunction with the Dutch syndicalist organisation NSV he established the FAUD group in exile the DAS (Deutsche Anarcho-Syndikalisten). He was editor of the magazine International Review. In February 1936 he was told he could no longer stay in Holland and on 6th April he was told that he had to leave the country and was to be deported to Belgium. He refused to sign a document that he would leave Holland voluntarily and he demanded political asylum. He was arrested on the 26th June at Amsterdam and then started a hunger strike. He was threatened with extradition to Germany. He escaped through Belgium and France to Spain. Here he worked on the German language broadcasting of Radio CNT-FAI.
He fought in the units organised by the DAS, the Erich Mühsam and Sacco-Vanzetti Centuries. After the May events in 1937, he and all other members of the DAS were arrested and accused of “spying”and he was detained at the Segorbe prison, with among others, Helmut Kirschey until April 1938.
Although not tortured the DAS comrades had to suffer long hours of questioning by German and Russian Communists on both their activity in Spain and their underground work in Germany. The prison conditions were appalling with little food.In 1939 he fled to Sweden where he worked as a lathe operator in Stockholm until 1951 when be came a farmer. He was active within the Swedish syndicalist union the Sveriges Arbetarens Central (SAC). He died in Hallstavik in 1977.
Based on entries on Doster at Dictionnaire international des militants anarchistes militants-anarchistes.info/spip.php?article1314 and FAU Dusseldorf website at fau-duesseldorf.org/Members/faud1/bilder/faud-alt-neu/abb17.jpg/view?searchterm=doster
Berner, Rudolf, 1907-1977
14 July 1907-1977
Submitted by Battlescarred on Jan 6 2008 13:44
A short biography of Swedish anarchist Rudolf Berner, active in Spain and in underground work in Nazi Germany.
Berner, Rudolf (Rube) AKA Frank Tireur
Born on 14 July 1907 in Skövde (West Sweden), Rudolf Berner grew up in a small farmer and working-class family of many children. He attended school and learned painting and crafts.
In 1931 he went to Udevalla, where he served as ship's painter. He met a seller of the anarchist and syndicalist newspapers Brand and Arbetaren. The reading of Brand acted as a revelation. "Something in me said that was exactly what I always thought, but could never articulate," he recalled later. His first articles subsequently appeared in Brand and Arbetaren. In October 1931 he moved to Stockholm, where he worked on the editorial board of Brand.
As a delegate of the Socialistiska Ungdomsfoerbundet (SUF) - Young Socialist League- Berner attended a congress of the Federation of Anarchist Communists of Germany (FKAD) in Berlin in late 1931. There, he met Helmut Rüdiger, Berthold Cahn, Rudolf Oestreich, heard a lecture by Erich Mühsam and met Franz Pfemfert.
Above all, however, he felt at home in the Berlin-Adlershof group led by Willi Boretti. In 1932, he returned to Sweden. But as 1936 he went on the tramp, travelling through Denmark, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria. In Klosterneuburg near Vienna, he met with Pierre Ramus, a leading Austrian anarchist. Here he heard of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
His first attempt to go to Spain was thwarted at the Swiss border. Immediately Berner travelled over Germany back to Sweden. But in October 1936, he travelled as a delegate of the Swedish syndicalist organisation, Sveriges Arbetares Central (SAC) to Spain. He worked in the international department of the CNT-FAI and edited its weekly information service in the Swedish language.
In Barcelona he maintained close contact with the German anarchists in the DAS group (German Anarchosyndicalists Abroad). At this time the DAS had no direct contact with the underground anarchist movement back in Germany.
The German anarchist Helmut Kirschey recalled how the DAS asked Berner to undertake a mission there, because he spoke fluent German, had personal contacts with FKAD members and was known as a courageous man.
The necessary travel money from Sweden was collected from Mollie Steimer, the contact in Paris. Officially Berner travelled as a delegate of the ILO.
Contrary to his fears, he could easily enter Germany. The border guards had not noticed the entry stamp of Republican Spain in his passport. His first stop was Wuppertal. Here he met Änne Niessen, Helmut Kirschey’s older sister. He then went to Düsseldorf.
His arrival on the 20 February 1937 coincided with the burial of Anton Rosinke, a leading FAUD militant who had been murdered by the Gestapo. Before the Nazi seizure of power there existed in Düsseldorf three anarchist groups in different neighbourhoods. Some of these had already been arrested and some were arrested shortly after.
From Düsseldorf Berner went to Leipzig and met anarchists there. He then met up with Boretti in Berlin who put him in contact with Rudolf Oestreich, the leading FKAD militant, and he also met up with other FAUD activists.
Berner then returned to Sweden and made his way to Poland. In Warsaw, Berner contacted the Polish syndicalist union Centrany Wydzial Zawodowy (ZZZ), whose conspiratorial anarchosyndicalist wing was headed by one of the leading officials of FAUD, Alfons Pilarski. The Polish anarchosyndicalists had collected money for Spanish children in distress, and Berner smuggled the solidarity funds to Barcelona.
After completion of his mission in Poland Berner returned to Berlin to visit Boretti. The next day he travelled back to the Rhineland just as the next wave of arrests occurred. However, his luck held out and he was able to escape across the border to Holland. After delivering his report Berner returned to Barcelona.
In November 1937 Berner returned to Stockholm. This was caused by his differences with Augustin Souchy, the German head of the international department of CNT-FAI, in Barcelona. He had a tense relationship with the leading officials of the SAC, who took Souchy’s side, and felt he was not taken seriously politically and had been defamed as a "bohemian". He fell into a depression.
Because he was too cowardly to commit suicide, he wrote to Rüdiger, he was almost always drunk. He was unable to write a planned book on Erich Mühsam because of his situation - he had no fixed abode and only occasional work. But the following spring he was able to return to Spain.
In Barcelona and Madrid Berner worked as a journalist for the CNT-FAI, producing a Swedish pamphlet on the Spanish situation. In December 1938 he went back to Stockholm, where he prepared for the planned visit of a CNT delegation. He was now unable to return to Spain as Catalonia had fallen to the Francoists.
Instead, Berner travelled to Paris, where he had no chance of work and was "doomed to starvation". In July 1939, he was finally expelled by the French police and returned to Sweden.
At the beginning of the 40s Berner married a German woman who had emigrated to Sweden. About his activities during the war there is hardly any information.
He worked for Arbetaren and in April 1946 was a correspondent in France providing aricles on the CNT in exile. He also worked as a reporter in Switzerland and Spain, which he entered illegally and wrote a daily report over a two week period which appeared in Arbetaren.
A split had developed between the CNT in exile and the underground CNT in Spain after the war. The exile leadership led by Federica Montseny clashed with the peninsular CNT which called for a broad front of anti-Francoist organisations. Berner sided with the CNT in Spain. In Sweden solidarity funds collected by SAC were sent to Montseny. Berner split with the SAC. His comrades took it very badly when they learnt of his departure from an article Berner had written in a social democratic paper. A few years later Rüdiger revised his judgment on Berner seeing him as a "a reliable friend of the CNT ", "even if he had chosen a path", which he could not follow.
For the period after 1946 information about his activities is sparse. In January 1954, Berner worked for the International Workers' Film Institute in Brussels and organized an international workers Film Festival in Hamburg in 1954. In July 1955 he returned to Sweden and worked as a journalist in Lund.
At the beginning of 1962, he worked as a freelance journalist and wrote for a cultural magazine in Lund. He translated texts by Erich Mühsam into Swedish. He again travelled to Barcelona disguised as a tourist to write a report in 1958. On 11 March 1977 he died in Lund.
His Swedish memoirs of the tour of Germany, The Invisible Front, were translated into German a few years ago by Helmut Kirschey.
Teenage Rebels Who Fought Nazis are Honoured at Last
Newspaper article on the Edelweiss Pirates
Vilified 'Edelweiss Pirates' are hailed as resistance heroes. Hannah Cleaver reports
A group of rebellious teenagers who formed a resistance network against the Nazis are being honoured after almost 60 years of neglect by the German authorities, who considered them no better than common criminals.
The Edelweiss Pirates, as they were known, were working class teenagers from western Germany who fought the Hitler Youth and helped resistance groups, risking imprisonment and death. The Gestapo declared the group criminals in the 1940s, a tag which was allowed to remain for 60 years. Six of their number were executed by the Gestapo and some have been honoured by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial, for hiding Jews from Nazi persecution.
Tomorrow a small group of surviving Edelweiss Pirates will perform some of their songs on stage in Cologne, alongside local musicians at a festival which coincides with last week's official recognition of the group as resistance fighters.
"We were from the working classes, that is the main reason why we have only now been recognised," said Gertrud Koch, 81, who still goes by her Edelweiss codename of Mucki. "After the war there were no judges in Germany so the old Nazi judges were used and they upheld the criminalisation of what we did and who we were."
As a teenager Mrs Koch wanted to train as a Montessori teacher, but the kindergarten was closed by the Nazis. She spent nine months in a Gestapo jail, was repeatedly beaten and was once thrown down stairs, breaking her arm.
The efforts of the White Roses, a similar, but much smaller group based at Munich University who were executed for distributing resistance leaflets, have been celebrated since shortly after the war. But it has taken until now for the Edelweiss Pirates, who are thought to have numbered more than 5,000, to be recognised. They not only produced and distributed leaflets, and wrote anti-war graffiti, they also took on groups of Hitler Youth in street battles and stole food, supplies and even some explosives to supply small local adult resistance groups.
Groups from different areas would meet in the countryside, to swap information gained from illegally listening to the BBC world service, or to plan leaflet drops in each other's towns so the local police would not recognise them - but also to sing songs and indulge in relationships, an aspect of teenage life frowned upon by the strictly segregated Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls.
To British ears the name edelweiss inevitably recalls The Sound of Music, but the pirates were often children of communist families or from rough backgrounds, far from the lifestyle of the aristocratic Von Trapps in the film. Many had seen their parents arrested and even murdered for their communist views.
Mrs Koch remembers her family hiding a Jewish musician in their allotment garden from 1938 to 1939. "We hid Julio Gossler, the music director of the Cologne conservatoire. We took him food there for about a year and a half," she said.
She was also involved with distributing leaflets urging German soldiers to put down their weapons and come home to the families that needed them.
She and Jean Juelich, 76, another former Edelweiss Pirate, have spearheaded the fight to have the group recognised as resistance fighters.
Mr Juelich, who will be also be performing at tomorrow's festival along with rap and reggae bands which have created new versions of Edelweiss Pirate songs, said he was still angry that it took Germany so long to honour his group.
"This should have happened 40 years ago," he said. "The families of those who were murdered have been denied any kind of justice until now. They were killed as criminals.''
Juergen Roters, whose office equates to chief administrator of Cologne, awarded the Edelweiss Pirates official recognition as resistance fighters last week, a move much appreciated but one which almost came too late.
"There are only five of us left in Cologne," said Mucki. "Four of the boys and me.
Gertrud Koch aka Mucki
1 June 1924~
Born: 1 June 1924 Gertrud Koch (born coolers) grew up in a family where the father was a Communist, on. Her father died in concentration camps Esterwege. After the takeover of the Nazi Party, refused to enter into Gertrud Koch League of German Girls.
Gertrud Koch FREUND
Prior to the DC circuit, she was a member of the Young Pioneers. After the ban started, the young chef, an informal group of friends and girlfriends, the group is similar to the Edelweiss Pirates. The members of this group simply wanted to be free. Themselves determine what they do and what not. Just the right onw experiences have to collect. Koch reported later in an interview. Plans against Hitler had not given firstonce.
During this time, other groups formed by the Edelweiss Pirates in Cologne. While the elders from the southern city of Cologne Hitler Youth patrols attacked and fought with the militant group Ehrenfeld actions against the Nazi regime, was developed by the group led by Gertrud Koch created and distributed pamphlets.Furthermore, they state Schrieder Hostile slogans on the walls of houses and Eisenbahnwagongs.
Among other things, they wrote to their leaflet campaign beginning in summer 1942 on the list: ". Night concluded with the brown horde We come to this misery, this world is not our world." A flight Platt rain from the dome of the Cologne railway station was probably one of the spectacular actions.
Result in desen were friends and acquaintances of Koch was arrested and taken to the EL-DE Haus. There was the headquarters of the Gestapo. Even Gertrude Koch was arrested and taken to some other use for the hamlet in prison. Other members of the Edelweiss Pirates kamenin penal companies to the front.Gertrud Koch, however, was tortured and beaten by members of the Gestapo. For two months she was in solitary confinement and was released only because of one mistake.
She was a witness in the Ehrenfeld Ehrenfeld sechsd youth group were publicly hanged. The youngest, Bartholomew Schink was just sixteen years old. Together with her ??mother managed to escape from cooking. Lived until the war ended, the two on a farm in southern Germany. Thus, the events of the Second World War are not forgotten to engage the Edelweiss Pirates Gertrud Koch, Jean Jülich and Peter Shepherd with publications, lectures and actions against forgetting.
April 18 1929 ~ October 19 2011
Was a German resistance fighter. It was during the Second World War, a member of the honor group fields . This was part of theEdelweiss Pirates , a youth protest movement, which provided, inter alia, in Cologne against the Nazi resistance. It was in 1984 by the memorial Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nationshonor. Julich was from 2003 to 2008 Board Member of the same year founded the "Committee for a Democratic UN"
Julich had one son KPD functionary. In 1942 he joined with thirteen years at the boys and girls of the Edelweiss Pirates, which every evening in Sülz Manderscheider met on the court. Actions to let the group included among others, propaganda posters on paint over and ammunition trains derail. Julich was together with Heinz Wunderlich and Willi Colling by his school friend and fellow prisoner of the Gestapo laterFerdinand Steingass introduced into the group. The hard core of resisters held in Cologne-Ehrenfeld hidden in the bombed-out houses.
Even outside the Edelweiss Pirates differed greatly from the members of the Hitler Youth . They wore long hair, plaid shirts and neckerchiefs. In a time when very little resistance was offered, they sang: "Yes, where the airspeed indicator flash and dash of the Hitler Youth and the Edelweiss Pirates rear boot / what life can give us as before, we want to be free of Hitler. "Nevertheless - for example, reported Julich - it was not her thing to do profound political discussions. On weekends they went to the Seven Mountains on the Blue Lake, where they met with up to 250 young people from Düsseldorf, Wuppertal, Solingen and Cologne.
In Ehrenfeld formed at this time other groups of Edelweiss Pirates. Some of them went in 1944 with Hans Steinbrück , a former inmate of the concentration-camp Cologne Fair , who had been assigned to a bomb squad and it was able to flee into hiding. This structure was for deserters, forced laborers, and Jews of lifesaving importance. As they got into their situation and fleeing persecution no food stamps and could not rent apartments, life had to be organized jointly illegally. In the Ehrenfeld Edelweiss Pirates were soon blamed for everything, if something got lost somewhere. Together with deserters and Edelweiss Pirates were forced to Hans Steinbrück and his pregnant girlfriend Cecily Servé a resistance group.
By the contact of Barthel Schink came to Jülich, who was then living with his grandparents in Sülz. Jülich's father was in prison , as a Communist in 1932 he had gone into hiding. His mother had to make a living working hard and could not take care of him. At the same time they radicalized their resistance against the Nazis. Said Roland Lorent shot on 28 September 1944 Nazi Soentgen man, who because of hisdenunciations , which had cost the lives of many people, was particularly hated. As the possibility existed to get hold of explosives, they planned to blow up the Cologne headquarters of the Gestapo in the air. Jülich organized the necessary fuses, did not go with the Cologne-Ehrenfeld underground, but had several times to respond to subpoenas, and allegations regarding Edelweiss Pirates, and invent stories to withstand interrogations.Gestapo prison
In 1944, Jülich by the Gestapo and imprisoned in the Cologne Gestapo headquarters, the " EL-DE Haus , "for which he had planned demolition detonators concerned, interrogated and tortured for weeks. His identity was as edelweiss pirate it to the hoped-for freedom's sake deny what succeeded. Because of these protocols torture him was denied by his opponents of being edelweiss pirate. Officially he was considered as a criminal until 2003, when he had called the Gestapo. With survival, he linked the idea of being able to flee to the "anonymity of a concentration camp" before torture, without him at the time the reality of a concentration camp was known about how he discovered later.
His comrades, including Hans Steinbrück, Jülichs friend Barthel Schink and eleven others were later by the Nazis in a month, on 10November 1944 publicly hanged at the train station Ehrenfeld. Jülich and his friends learned of the execution by a group of members of the communist resistance group NKFD . By the end of the war, the then 15-year-old remained in the Gestapo prison in the Abbey Brauweiler , in penitentiaries of Siegburg , Butzbach and finally in the youth prison Rockenberg without trial in detention and had to fight against abuse, disease and malnutrition fight for his survival.
As the end of March 1945 finally the American tanks stood before Jülichs prison, many prisoners had died in torture or disease.Another work
Even after the end of the war engaged Jülich continues for the needs of the needy. Organized and chaired it for many years the charity carnival meeting the löstige one that started very small in a restaurant, at the end of the Mülheim Stadthalle filled. Jülich was long-time host of the legendary Cologne Musikkneipe Blomekörvge , where among others the Bläck Fööss and BAP occurred. For his commitment as a tenant of Severinstorburg and citizens of the district, he received the 2006 Severin Severin-Citizenship Award and was later elected as a jury member of the board of the same association.Late homage
Against the forgetting of events in the Nazi period, he was involved particularly, why he was in 1991 awarded the Federal Cross of Merit.Together with the Edelweiss Pirates Gertrud Koch and Peter Schaefer he came forward with various publications, speeches and actions. For the Rhineland Regional Council recorded in May 2007, all three with the Rhineland dollars out.
In 2008 he received along with former members of the Edelweiss Pirates Gertrud Koch, Wolfgang Schwarz and Fritz parts in Dusseldorf, the Heine-bust. The Friends of Düsseldorf Heinrich Heine prize, awarded in recognition of his extraordinary activities in line with the critical spirit.
At the ceremony of the Federal Cross of Merit by Juergen Roters in April 2011 to the other five surviving members of resistance groups in Cologne was the guest of honor Jülich.
In the 1940s, the Communist Party of Germany, with support from the Soviet Union, tried to work underground to build an "operative leadership". It was particularly active in 1943 and 1944 and was one of the largest groups in the German resistance against the National Socialist state. Its hub was in Berlin. Many of its members were arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and later killed.
Organization and its goals Anton Saefkow, 1964 stamp from theGDR
In 1939, after Communist Party official Anton Saefkow was released after having been arrested, he resumed his illegal work. After the arrest of members of the Robert Uhrig Group in February 1942 and of the group around Wilhelm Guddorf and John Sieg in autumn 1942, Saefkow and Franz Jacob, who had fled Hamburg to Berlin after a wave of arrests, began building a new resistance network of illegal cells in the factories of Berlin.
An air raid on Plötzensee Prison in Berlin made it possible for Bernhard Bästlein to escape in January 1944. He ran into Jacob by chance, after which he joined them in forming the Saefkow-Jacob-Bästlein Organization It was one of the larger resistance groups in Germany. They focused on disseminating information that they were able to glean from foreign newspapers and from radio broadcasts from Moscow.Franz Jacob, 1964 stamp from the GDR
They also organized the Bewegung Freies Deutschland(Free Germany Movement) to work with people in factories, military units, opposition parties and others, growing to several hundred people. In his publication, Am Beginn der letzten Phase des Krieges("At the beginning of the last phase of the war"), Jacob wrote that to end the war and overthrow the fascist dictator, Communists should concentrate all their strength "on developing a broad, national front composed of all groups that stand opposed to fascism.Bernhard Bästlein, 1964 stamp from theGDR
The goal was to give the splintered resistance a central leadership. Together with Bästlein and Jacob, Saefkow formed the head of the organization, later also known as the "Operative Leadership of the Communist Party in Germany". There were strong links to other resistance groups in many of the bigger German cities, such as Magdeburg, Leipzig, Dresden andHamburg. The plan was to build a united front, with anti-fascist circles of the Social Democratsand the middle class, that would topple Adolf Hitler through sabotage and other acts. The 500 members of the Saefkow-Jacob-Bästlein group, one of the biggest resistance groups in Germany, included not just workers, but doctors, teachers, engineers and artists. About one-quarter of the members were women. The largest factory group of the organization was at Teves, a machine and tool manufacturer, with about 40 members (a very small percentage of their roughly 2,400 employees). A plaque there now honors their memory. (See photo, below.)
Following a betrayal in 1944, over 280 members of the organization were arrested. Of that number, 104 either perished in concentration camps or were executed by the Nazis.Betrayal and arrest
In April 1944, Social Democrats Adolf Reichwein and Julius Leber, who were members of the Kreisau Circle, got in touch with Saefkow and Jacob to talk about bringing their Communist organization into the conspiracy of the 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This was done with the knowledge and agreement of Claus von Stauffenberg.
There was a meeting with Reichwein and Leber on June 22, 1944 in the apartment of Dr. Rudolf Schmid. Jacob and Leber, who had been together at Sachsenhausen concentration camp and had formed a good trust with one another, then met again, separately. According to historian Peter Steinbach, they knew that this military resistance was an effort without a broad foundation of support and they, as leaders of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the KPD, as well as trade unions, had the contacts to make this act of resistance without broad support into an act of resistance with support.
An additional meeting was planned for July 4, 1944 to discuss concrete measures. They were denounced by an informer, however, and when Jacob, Saefkow and Reichwein arrived at the appointed place, the Gestapo arrested them all. Leber was arrested a few days later. Bästlein had already been arrested again on May 30, 1944. Saefkow, Jacob and Bästlein were all sentenced to death by the Volksgerichthof on September 5, 1944 and were executed on September 18, 1944, at Brandenburg-Görden Prison.Fatherless families
Saefkow left behind a wife and two daughters. Shortly before his death, he wrote to his wife Änne: "Through this letter I want to thank you, my comrade, for the greatness and beauty that you have given me in our life together... Not till today, writing these lines, thinking about you all, have my eyes moistened since the sentencing. For the pain, which might tear me apart, restrains reason. You know, I am militant and shall die bravely. I only ever wanted good..."
Saefkow's daughter, Dr. Bärbel Schindler-Saefkow is one of the curators of a traveling exhibition about the Saefkow-Jacob-Bästlein Organization called "Berlin Workers' Resistance 1942-1945" which is expected to travel to the United States in 2010.
Jacob left behind a wife, Katharina Jacob and two children, a step-daughter, Ursel Hochmuth (b. 1931), and daughter Ilse (b. 1942). Jacob saw Ilse just once, when Katharina took a trip with her children and stopped in Berlin, secretly staying with her husband one night. Dr. Ursel Hochmuth, now a historian and author, has researched the German Resistance for decades and written several books on the subject.Aerial photo of Hamburg after the 1943 bombing campaign
Bästlein left behind a wife, Johanna Bästlein and a son, Bernt Henry Jürgen (b. 1932). His wife was also a Communist and suffered hardships as a result. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, they had to vacate their home of two years. Her husband under arrest, she put their belongings in storage, but never received those items again.
She and son moved to Hamburg, where she lived from social welfare, which was cut off in 1938. Thereafter, she earned a living as a seamstress. In 1943, Hamburg was the target of severe bombing and they lost their home in July, after which they lived in a primitive arbor. She was arrested twice, but was released due to lack of evidence. She didn't find out about her husband's execution until September 30, 1944.Memorials Memorial plaque for the Saefkow-Jacob-Bästlein Organization in Berlin
The German Democratic Republic (GDR) issued stamps in 1964, on the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Saefkow, Jacob and Bästlein.
A memorial plaque honoring the work of Saefkow and those who worked with him is located at Hermsdorfer Straße 14 in Berlin. The plaque says, "In memorial to the resistance group Anton Saefkow, at the Alfred Teves Company. From 1933 to 1944, German men and women fought in word and deed against the National Socialist regime. In September 1944, more than 50 members were executed at Brandenburg Prison."
Berlin has streets named for both Bernhard Bästlein and Franz Jacob and a square named after Anton Saefkow. There is also a street named for Saefkow in Prenzlauer Berg.
Both Jacob and Bästlein have stolpersteine in Hamburg.
(22 July 1903~18 September 1944
Anton Emil Hermann Saefkow
In 1927 he became secretary of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in Berlin, then in Dresden. In 1929-1932, he led the Revolutionary Trade Union Opposition (Revolutionäre Gewerkschafts-Opposition; RGO) in the KPD's Ruhr district and became in 1932 political leader of the KPD's Wasserkante district in Hamburg. In 1932, Saefkow got married to Theodora Brey, who was also active in the Resistance.Imprisonment
From April 1933 until April 1934, the Nazis imprisoned Saefkow in a concentration camp, followed by two and a half years in a Zuchthaus at hard labour, and then at Dachau concentration camp. There, he organized an illegal remembrance service for Edgar André and was then sentenced to another two years' imprisonment.Resistance
Released from detention in July 1939, Saefkow went back to the illegal political work. In Berlin, after the attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, he built up the biggest KPD resistance group, called the "Operative Leadership of the KPD". In 1944, he, Bernhard Bästlein and Franz Jacob (Resistance fighter) led the Saefkow-Jacob-Bästlein Organization, which agitated against the war in Berlin munitions plants, and called on people to commit sabotage.
In April 1944, the Social Democrat Adolf Reichwein established contact with Saefkow to include the KPD group in the July 20 Plot, which sought to assassinate or otherwise overthrow Adolf Hitler. It eventually took the form of a briefcase bomb attack on the Führer at the Wolf's Lair in East Prussia, but it failed, the consequences were dire for the plotters.Arrest and Execution
Saefkow left behind a wife and two daughters. Shortly before his death, he wrote to his wife Änne: "Through this letter I want to thank you, my comrade, for the greatness and beauty that you have given me in our life together... Not till today, writing these lines, thinking about you all, have my eyes moistened since the sentencing. For the pain, which might tear me apart, restrains reason. You know, I am militant and shall die bravely. I only ever wanted good..."Memorials
On 2 February 1975, a square in Berlin was given Anton Saefkow's name. Franz Jacob and Bernhard Bästlein were also honoured with streets in the same neighbourhood named after them. In Prenzlauer Berg, a greenspace called Anton-Saefkow-Park is not only named for Saefkow, but also features a bust of him. In Brandenburg an der Havel, the street running before the very prison where Saefkow and many other members of the antifascist resistance were put to death by the Nazis has been named Anton-Saefkow-Allee.
March 8, 1903 – August 21, 1944
(March 8, 1903 – August 21, 1944)
Born in Leipzig, the son of a metalworker, Uhrig grew up to become a journeyman toolmaker. He joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in 1920 and took several courses at the Marxist Workers' School. From 1929 on, he worked at Osram in Berlin-Moabit and joined the KPD workplace cell. By the end of 1932, The KPD was the third largest party in Germany, with 3,600,000 members and had received some six million votes in the previous election. He took leadership of the cell in 1933.
The Reichstag Fire Decree pushed by Adolf Hitler in response to the Reichstag Fire on February 27, 1933 and signed into law by President Paul von Hindenburg withdrew civil liberties and enabled the Nazis, then in key positions in government, to arrest anyone they deemed to be an enemy. This became first and foremost a confrontation with the KPD, but in effect, outlawed all political parties in Germany, other than the Nazi Party. The Enabling Act of March 27, 1933 consolidated their power and authority. In the first weeks of March 1933, there were 11,000 Communists arrested and by June 1933, more than half of the KPD district leaders were in detention.
Arrest and further resistance
Uhrig was arrested by the Gestapo in 1934 and sentenced to hard labor at the Zuchthaus in Luckau. After his release in summer 1936, he went underground, working in the leadership of the Berlin KPD. Starting in 1938, he led a network of resistance groups in over 20 factories in Berlin, which became part of one of the largest anti-fascist resistance organizations in Berlin. Through his relationships with Wilhelm Guddorf,John Sieg and others, he was in regular contact with the Red Orchestra and with groups in Hamburg, Mannheim, Leipzig, Munich and elsewhere. Starting in 1940-1941, he also worked extensively with Beppo Römer. Around this period, he was regarded as the leader of KPD resistance in Berlin.
In 1941, Charlotte Bischoff came to Germany by freight ship, entering illegally and bringing instructions from the International Relations department of the Communist International. She worked with the group around Uhrig and with others, such as the Saefkow-Jacob-Bästlein Organization and Kurt and Elisabeth Schumacher. Acting as a courier, she gave "micro materials" to contact people within these groups.
Uhrig and Römer published an underground paper, called Informationdienst ("Information Service"), one of the most important Resistance newspapers. Issued regularly, it endeavored to report on the economic and military situation. It also called for acts of sabotage. The goal of the group was to establish a socialist state after the fall of Adolph Hitler's dictatorship. Werner Seelenbinder worked part-time with the Uhrig Group. Other members of the group were Ernst Knaack, Paul Schultz-Liebisch and Charlotte Eisenblätter.
Arrest and sentence
In 1941, the Gestapo infiltrated the Uhrig Group with informers and in February 1942, Uhrig and 200 other members of the Uhrig Group were arrested. Uhrig was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He was sentenced to death by the Volksgerichtshof on June 7, 1944. The sentence was carried out by guillotine August 21, 1944 at the Brandenburg-Görden Prison.
Uhrig was married to Charlotte Kirst Uhrig (February 26, 1907 - October 17, 1992). She was also active in the anti-Nazi resistance and was arrested on September 3, 1943. She was "released" by the Voksgerichthof on April 17, 1944, but was nonetheless sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp, which she survived. After liberation, she and Ellen Kuntz founded the Womens' Committee at the Schöneberg district office in Berlin, which mobilized women for the recovery effort in the aftermath of the war. She lived in East Germany.
Franz Jacob (Resistance Fighter)
August 9, 1906 to September 18, 1944
(August 9, 1906 to September 18, 1944)
Jacob was born in Hamburg in a working class family. His mother, Marie Pgetz, was a maid and his father, August Moser, was a house servant, who died young. His family lived with his grandfather, an active member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) until his mother remarried in 1917. Her new husband, Gustav Jacob, adopted Franz.
Jacob only attended one year of Oberrealschule. He then learned the trade of machine fitting on Hamburg wharfs and joined the metalworkers' union, where he was elected representative of the apprentices. The First World War and the economic situation in Germany prompted Jacob to join the youth branch of the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1920, at the age of 15. A year later, he joined the SPD. In 1925, he left the SPD for the youth group of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), over the objections of family.
He also joined the Rote Hilfe and the Rote Frontkämpferbund (RFB). His activity in the Communist Youth group, led to him being elected the organization leader of the waterfront district. In 1928, he joined the KPD itself and was allowed to be a delegate to the 5th International Congress of Communist Youth and the 6th World Congress of the Communist International, both in Moscow. As a result, Jacob lost his job at the Hamburg Telegraph Office. His next job was atReiherstieg-Werft, but he was fired without notice after calling for a short strike.
In 1929, Jacob began working as a correspondent for the KPD publications for Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, the Hamburger Volkszeitung (Hamburg Peoples' Press) and the Norddeutsche Echo (North German Echo). For a short time, he went to Kiel to help build a new anti-fascist organization to replace the RFB, which had been made illegal. In 1931, he became Secretary for agitation and propaganda for the KPD's Hamburg waterfront district, working then primarily for the KPD. His flyers made his name well known and in April 1932, he became a member of the Hamburg Parliament, at the age of 26.The Nazi era The Hamburg years
The March 1933 elections saw great gains by the National Socialists to seats of power, both on the state and national level. On February 27, 1933, six days before the election, the Reichstag was burned, an event that was blamed on the Communists. With Nazis in key positions in government, Adolf Hitler was able to push through the Reichstag Fire Decree, which was then signed into law by President Paul von Hindenburg.
The decree withdrew civil liberties and enabled the Nazis to arrest anyone they deemed to be an enemy. This became first and foremost a confrontation with the KPD, but in effect, outlawed all political parties in Germany, other than the Nazi Party. The Enabling Act of March 27, 1933 consolidated their power and authority. By the end of April 1933, the Nazis had arrested 18,000 Communists, 12,000 SPD members and others, filling concentration camps. By June 1933, more than half of the KPD's district leaders were in detention and hundreds of Nazi opponents had been killed. Many people went underground, including Jacob.
A year later, in mid-August 1933, he was arrested in Berlin by the Nazis and sent to prison, where Jacob subjected to torture in the Gestapo prisons Columbia Haus in Berlin and KolaFu in Hamburg. In 1934, he was sentenced to three years at hard labor in a Zuchthaus for "preparation to commit high treason. After he had served his sentence, he was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp for three years ofpreventive detention, where he stayed till 1940
Upon his release, he immediately went to Hamburg, where he found work at a shipyard and got back in touch with friends Bernhard Bästleinand Robert Abshagen, with whom he formed the Bästlein-Jacob-Abshagen Group, a Communist resistance group. He again was responsible for agitation and propaganda, producing flyers and other publications. He also began creating an archive for the group, which he conspired with a friend, Otto Gröllmann, who was a set designer at the Thalia Theater (Hamburg) to conceal there. The archive has since been lost.The Berlin years
After a wave of arrests began in Hamburg in October 1942, which included Bästlein and Abshagen, Jacob fled and went to Berlin, where he was again underground. In 1943, he formed another resistance group, this time with Anton Saefkow. Bästlein was able to escape prison during a bombing raid in 1944 and ran into Jacob by chance, after which he joined them in forming the Saefkow-Jacob-Bästlein Organization, also called the "Operative Leadership of the Communist Party in Germany". It was one of the largest resistance groups in Germany. They focused on disseminating information that they were able to glean from foreign newspapers and from radio broadcasts from Moscow.
They also organized the Bewegung Freies Deutschland (Free Germany Movement) to work with people in factories, military units, opposition parties and others, growing to several hundred people. In his publication, Am Beginn der letzten Phase des Krieges ("At the beginning of the last phase of the war"), Jacob wrote that to end the war and overthrow the fascist dictator, Communists should concentrate all their strength "on developing a broad, national front composed of all groups that stand opposed to fascism.
Jacob lived underground in Berlin almost two years, moving frequently, some 30 times in 18 months, and having to remain very quiet during the daytime, so as not to be overheard. Being illegal, meant he also had to sit out bomb raids and dared not seek cover in a bomb shelter.
In April 1944, Social Democrats Adolf Reichwein and Julius Leber, who were members of the Kreisau Circle, got in touch with Saefkow and Jacob to talk about bringing their Communist organization into the conspiracy of the 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This was done with the knowledge and agreement of Claus von Stauffenberg. There was a meeting with Reichwein and Leber on June 22, 1944 in the apartment of Dr. Rudolf Schmid. Then Jacob and Leber, who had been together at Sachsenhausen and had formed a good trust with one another, met again, separately. According to historian Peter Steinbach, they knew this military resistance was an effort without a broad foundation of support and that the leaders of the SPD and KPD, as well as trade unions, had the contacts to turn it into an act of resistance with support.
An additional meeting was planned for July 4, 1944 to discuss concrete measures. They were denounced by an informer, however, and when Jacob, Saefkow and Reichwein arrived at the appointed place, the Gestapo snared them all. Leber was arrested a few days later. Jacob was sentenced to death by the Volksgerichthof on September 5, 1944 and was executed on September 18, 1944, at Brandenburg-Görden Prison, along with Saefkow and Bästlein.Family
Jacob married Katharina Hochmuth (née Emmermann), whom he had known from the Young Communist League. He moved in with her and her daughter, Ursel. Katharina was also politically active and had already been in concentration camps more than once and had served a year in prison. She helped Jacob gather information for his flyers, which were smuggled to Berlin by courier Charlotte Groß.
After Jacob was forced to flee to Berlin in October 1942, it was Charlotte Groß who brought him news of the birth of his daughter, Ilse, who was born on November 9, 1942. Jacob saw his daughter just once, when Katharina and her children were on a trip and on the way home, secretly spent one night in Berlin.
December 3, 1894~September 18, 1944
Was a German Communist andresistance fighter against the Nazi régime. He was imprisoned very shortly after the Nazis seized power in 1933 and was imprisoned almost without interruption until his execution in 1944, by the Nazis. Nonetheless, he was one of the most important leaders of German Resistance.
Early years Bernhard Bästlein, 1964 stamp from theGDR
Bernhard Karl Bästlein was born the fourth of five children to Bernhard Bästlein, Sr. of Thuringiaand Cornelia Bästlein, née Kock, of East Friesland. His father came from a family of toymakers and gunsmiths and worked as a gunsmith and safe builder. He was a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and an avid trade union member. After grammar school, Bästlein was trained as a precision mechanic. At the same time, he took evening classes at a worker's education school and the Volkshochschule.
In 1911, Bästlein finished his training as a mechanic and joined the Socialist Workers Youth Party (Sozialistischen Arbeiterjugend), where he met his future wife, the seamstress Johanna Elisabeth Hermine Berta Zenk, daughter of Wilhelmine (née Schröder) and Albert Zenk, a working class family and Social Democrats.
The following year, Bästlein joined the metal workers' union and the SPD and from 1913 till 1915, he went to work at different armaments factories, at which point he became a soldier and went to fight in France on the western front in 1916.
In 1917, he began to write articles about therevolutionary developments then taking place in Russia. Writing under the pen name, "Berne Bums", he took a position of peace through revolution. On returning to civilian life, he was elected to a council of workers and soldiers in November 1918 and he began writing as the "worker correspondent" for the Hamburg Peoples' Press, a volunteer position. He also switched his party affiliation to the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) because of the SPD's stance on war bonds to help pay for World War I.Switch to the Communist Party
As the left wing of the USPD merged with the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), Bästlein and his wife joined the KPD. In March 1921, Bästlein was elected to the Hamburgische Bürgerschaft, the legislature of Hamburg. At that time, decisions urged by the Communist International, caused the KPD to incite unrest in Saxony and the Ruhr region. A general strike was called in Hamburg on March 21, 1921 and Bästlein went to the demonstration on the wharfs against Blohm + Voss. There were fights with the police and after the demonstration, Bästlein found himself wanted by the police on charges of "conspiracy to commit high treason.
Bästlein fled to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and worked as an editor, lecturer and teacher at the KPD school in Moscow, where his wife joined him. The two were able to take part in the IV World Congress of the Communist International in December 1922. An amnesty in Germany led to the couple's return in January 1923. Their first child was born in 1924, but died shortly after birth.
From 1923 to 1930, Bästlein worked as an editor at several KPD newspapers in Dortmund, Hagen, Wuppertal, Remscheid and Solingen. He was forced to appear in court several times for "press offenses" and once on a charge of high treason, but having learned in the interim about law regarding political offenses, he chose to defend himself, which he did successfully. In 1929, he was editor-in-chief of the Bergische Arbeiterstimme in Solingen and he became the KPD deputy district leader in Düsseldorf. In 1930, he became the district leader in Cologne.
In 1930, Bästlein received only a small stipend, so small that he and his wife had to sublet from members of the party. The following year, in February 1931, Bästlein became the Political Secretary of the middle Rhine district of the KPD and for the first time received enough salary to live on. In 1932, Bästlein became a member of the Prussian Federal State Parliament and his second child was born, a son.After 1933
Bernhard Bästlein was elected to the Reichstag on March 5, 1933, but this was the election that brought the Nazis to greater power in the government and he was never able to fulfill his duties.
After Hitler had consolidated power, the Nazis began to round up their opponents. Bästlein was arrested in May and charged with "conspiracy to commit high treason". He was sentenced at the Volksgerichtshof to 20 months at hard labor in a Zuchthaus and was sent toSiegburg Prison. Upon release on February 12, 1935, he returned to his family in Hamburg.
On March 8, 1935, he was placed in preventive detention, indicted as the "intellectual author" of a murder in Bonn. Despite the fact that the case was closed, Bästlein was sent to the concentration camp in Esterwegen and in 1936, to Sachsenhausen, where he met Robert Abshagen, Franz Jacob, Julius Leber, Harry Naujoks, Wilhelm Guddorf and Martin Weise. While at Sachsenhausen, Bästlein helped write the "Sachsenhausen Song", which was at the demand of the SS guards, who would use music to torment and mock the prisoners, making them sing while involved in hard labor or when they were exhausted.
The prisoners, however, used the singing as an opportunity to uplift their spirits and encourage prisoner unity and an anti-fascist spirit. In April 1939, he was sent to the Cologne prison, Klingelpütz, where he stayed in police custody till April 6, 1940. Returning to his family, then living at Goldbekufer 19 in Hamburg, he worked as a car washer and driver, then later in Altona, at Riepe-Werken, making ball point pens.[Hamburg activity and another arrest
Bästlein began getting together with friends from Sachsenhausen, such as Abshagen, Jacob and Oskar Reincke, who all wanted to get back to work in the German Resistance. In 1941, they built the Bästlein-Jacob-Abshagen Group, with the objective of educating workers and organizing acts of sabotage.
They were active in the Hamburg shipyards, developing over 30 factory cells and supporting prisoners of war andforced laborers. In time, they built a network of contacts in northern Germany, in Flensburg, Kiel, Lübeck, Rostock and Bremen and even with groups outside of Germany. These connections were each overseen by a single leader to lessen the chances of the whole network being exposed to the Nazi authorities.
In the middle of 1942, there was a major leaflet campaign directed at construction workers, primarily in Hamburg, who were forced to work with the Organisation Todt in Norway and the Soviet Union. The leaflets linked the general socio-political demands for wages and severance pay with the call to commit acts of sabotage. It closed with the slogan, "Hitler's defeat is not our defeat, but our victory!"
In mid-May 1942, four people entered Germany illegally by parachute, jumping from Soviet planes over East Prussia. Two of them, Erna Eiflerand Wilhelm Fellendorf, made their way to Hamburg to Fellendorf's mother. In the beginning of July, they contacted the Bastlein-Jacob-Abshagen Group, looking for a safe house. Unfortunately, the Gestapo was on their trail. On October 15, 1942, the Gestapo began a wave of arrests and two days later, they arrested Bästlein at work. He was shot in the leg, trying to escape. He was taken to the KolaFu in Hamburg and tortured severely, after which, he tried to commit suicide by throwing himself down a stairwell, but survived.
On November 30, 1942, he gave the Gestapo a written statement explaining why he had been and would remain a Resistance fighter.
The first factor was my seven-year confinement from 1933 to 1940 — four years of which were in concentration camps — during which I experienced, saw and heard abominable things. This period removed any shadow of a doubt regarding my political views and made rock solid my conviction, that a society, in which such things as I had experienced are possible, must be eliminated. The second factor was the 1939 beginning of the Second World War. —Bernhard Bästlein (November 30, 1942 in a written statement to the Gestapo, while under their interrogation)
The war that began in 1939 had "awoken all memories of the 1914-1918 war and strengthened his conviction that as long as the capitalistsocial order existed, there would again and again be wars which would destroy all feeling in human society and likewise result in tremendous loss of material wealth."Escape, Berlin activity and final arrest
In August 1943, Bästlein was moved to Plötzensee Prison in Berlin to serve as a witness in the trial of Martin Weise, but in January 1944, the prison was bombed during an air raid and Bästlein was able to escape. He was hidden by Communists in Berlin and was also able to send a letter to his wife, informing her of his escape. By chance, he ran into Jacob in the S-Bahn and immediately began working with Jacob and Saefkow to form the leadership team of three of the Saefkow-Jacob-Bästlein Organization.
He helped create an illegal network of the Free Germany Movement (Bewegung Freies Deutschland) in Berlin-Brandenburg. But on May 30, 1944, he was once again arrested. He was brought to the Reichssicherheitshauptamt on Prinz-Albrecht-Straße and tortured for days. In July, he was sent back to Sachsenhausen.
He was sentenced to death on September 5, 1944 for the crimes of conspiracy to commit high treason, aiding the enemy and undermining military strength. The sentencing document states, "You are unteachable and unreformable." Bästlein was executed on September 18, 1944 at Brandenburg-Görden Prison.Family
Bästlein's wife also suffered hardships. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, she and their son had to vacate their home of two years. She put their belongings in storage and never saw those items again. She and son moved to Hamburg, where she lived from social welfare, but it was cut off in 1938. Thereafter, she earned a living as a seamstress. In 1943, Hamburg was the target of severe bombing and they lost their home in July. After that, they lived in a primitive arbor. She was arrested twice, but was released due to lack of evidence. She remained ignorant of her husband's execution until September 30, 1944.
Wilhelm Guddorf aka Paul Braun
20 February 1902–13 May 1943
Wilhelm Guddorf (alias Paul Braun; 20 February 1902–13 May 1943) was a journalist and resistance fighter against the Third Reich. He was reputedly a member of the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) resistance group.Life
Born in Melle, Belgium, Guddorf completed studies in philology. In 1922, he joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and from 1923 worked for several of the party's newspapers. After the Nazi party seized power in 1933, he began distributing articles against the régime under his alias. He was arrested in April 1934 and later sentenced to hard labour at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was held until 1939.
After he was released from Sachsenhausen, Guddorf developed contacts with the Red Orchestra and introduced Eva-Maria Buch to the group. He was arrested once again in 1942 and in February 1943 was sentenced to death. He was executed at Plötzensee Prison in Berlinon 13 May.
In 1972, a street in Lichtenberg, a Berlin borough, was named after Guddorf
2 May 1906 – 15 September 1985
(2 May 1906 – 15 September 1985)
Was a socialist German jurist and political scientist. He was born in Elberfeld, now a part of Wuppertal in North Rhine-Westphalia. Abendroth was an important contributor to the constitutional foundation of postwar West Germany. He briefly held aprofessorship in law in East Germany. As he was opposed to Stalinism, he left for West Germany, where he was appointed professor in political science at Marburg in 1950. Abendroth also served as a senior judge in the state court of Hesse.
In the late 1950s, at the University of Marburg, Abendroth oversaw the habilitation in political science of major German philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist Jürgen Habermas. Habermas dedicated hishabilitation work, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, to Abendroth, in particular because Habermas valued Abendroth's role in re-founding postwar West Germany as a liberal constitutional state and in engaging in vigorous public debate in the spirit of the ideal Habermas laid out in his first major study.
January 12, 1911 — July 10, 1944
(January 12, 1911 — July 10, 1944)
Abshagen first worked in insurance, then as a sailor and finally, as a construction worker. He joined the Communist Party of Germany in 1931.
Beginning in 1933, he took part in the illegal German Resistance in Hamburg against Nazism. In 1934, he was sentenced in Hamburg state supreme court of "Vorbereitung zum Hochverrat" (intent to commit treason) to two and a half years at hard labor in a Zuchthaus, which he spent in Bremen-Oslebshausen Prison in Gröpelingen.
After serving his sentence, he was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. While at Sachenhausen, Absagen and other prisoners, including Bernhard Bästlein, held cultural and literary gatherings. As the Nazis began to deport more Jews after Kristallnacht, they plundered their books and brought them to the concentration camps. In 1936-1937, the Sachsenhausen library had 500 books and two years later, 800 books.
Beginning in 1936, Bästlein and Volker Paddry recited poetry and prose they had learned by heart and Abshagen held programs on proletarian and progressive writings. These programs strengthened the spirit of those who attended, who then lifted the spirit of those who hadn't and thus, the prisoners remained unbroken by their circumstances.
Abshagen was released in April 1939 and returned to Hamburg, where he again got involved in the Communist Party Resistance movement in Hamburg, in the waterfront district. In 1940, he got in touch with Bernhard Bästlein and Franz Jacob, who were also recently released from prison. Their group later became known as the Bästlein-Jacob-Abshagen Group.
Abshagen took charge of various workplace cells and maintained contact with the Resistance in other parts of Germany. In this capacity, Abshagen traveled to Berlin, Saxony and Thuringia and made contact with anti-fascists in the Ruhr area.
The special Rote Kapelle commission led to a wave of arrests by the Gestapo in autumn of 1942. The commission's findings related to the activities of Erna Eifler and Wilhelm Fellendorf swept up Abshagen on October 19, 1942.
He was sentenced to death by the Volksgerichthof(People's Court) on May 2, 1944 and was beheaded in Hamburg on July 10, 1944. His urn was buried in 1946 at the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg, at the memorial for the executed Resistance fighters from Hamburg. There is a stolperstein for Abshagen at Wachtelstraße 4 in the Barmbek-Nord suburb of Hamburg
(1902, Kraków - 1982, East Berlin) was a German journalist, writer and politician. Abusch joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in 1918. He would serve as editor of some KPD publications. In 1937, he became part of the exiled KPD leadership in Paris, later in Toulouse. In 1941 he shifted to Mexico, were he became member of the Free Germany Movement. Between 1948 to 1950 he was part of the party leadership of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. Between 1958 and 1961 he served as Minister of Culture of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany)
Judith Auer (née Vallentin)
19 September 1905 – 27 October 1944)
Judith Auer (née Vallentin)
Auer was born in Zurich. Her father was the communist writer, Erich Vallentin. After her parents' untimely death in 1917, Judith was brought up by a well-to-do Jewish family. She completed her Abitur and began studies in music in the hopes of becoming a pianist.
In 1924, as a student, she joined the Young Communist League of Germany, and the next year, moved to Berlin. There, she met and married Erich Auer, a functionary in the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), in 1926. In 1927, she joined the KPD. In 1928, Auer went toMoscow with her husband and worked at the Comintern's offices.
After Hitler seized power in Germany in 1933 and the KPD was banned by the new régime, Auer eventually found herself working for AEG at the Kabelwerk Oberspree ("cable works"), first as a shorthand typist, and later as a buying agent. It was here that Auer first came into contact with the resistance group around Fritz Plön, a welder, who himself had contacts with the resistance group around Anton Saefkow,Franz Jacob, Bernhard Bästlein and Karl Klodt, the Saefkow-Jacob-Bästlein Organization. Auer also had had a long friendship with Änne Weiß, who became Saefkow's wife.
Auer managed her resistance group's finances and used business trips to do courier work, especially with a view to establishing links with resistance fighters in Thuringia, such as Theodor Neubauer. She also hid Franz Jacob in her flat for several months after he fled fromHamburg.Arrest and Execution
Auer was arrested at her workplace on July 7, 1944 and was later tortured. Along with Bruno Hämmerling and Franz Schmidt, she was sentenced to death at the Volksgerichtshof. Auer was hanged at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin on October 27, 1944
25 December 1905~ 4 May 1973
Anton Ackermann (real name: Eugen Hanisch,
From 1920 to 1928 he worked as functionary of the Communist Youth Movement of Germany. In 1926 he joined the Communist Party of Germany. He studied at the Lenin School in Moscow. Back in Germany, the Communist Party was expelled after the Nazis seized power in 1933. Ackermann continued working for the illegal Communist Party.
Anton Ackermann in Leipzig, May 1, 1950
From 1935 to 1937 he lived in Prague. During the Spanish Civil War, Ackermann was the leader of the Political School of the International Brigades. After staying a shortwhile, he went to Moscowand became editor of the German language newspaper "The Free Word".
In 1943 he became an active member of the Moscow based National Committee for a Free Germany (NKFD).
After World War II he went back to Germany and joined the East German Communist party, the Socialist Unity Party (SED). He was elected into the Central Committee and became a candidate member of the Politburo in 1949. From 1950 to 1954 he was a member of the People's Chamber.
From 1949 to 1953 he was the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. After the arrest of the minister, Georg Dertinger, Ackermann served briefly as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In 1953/1954 he was expelled from the Politburo and fired as minister because of "party-hostile activity." In 1956 he was rehabiltated and worked for the State Planning Bureau. In 1970 he was rewarded with the Patriotic Service Medal. In 1973 he committed suicide.
4 April 1916 – 23 November 1970
(4 April 1916 – 23 November 1970)
Was a highly decorated Hauptmann der Reserves in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was also a recipient of theKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership
February 10, 1912 – June 11, 1942
(February 10, 1912 – June 11, 1942)
Baum was born in Mosina, Province of Posen; his family moved to Berlin when he was young. After he graduated secondary school there, he took on an apprenticeship as an electrician, which he carried on with as a profession.
After the seizure of power by the National Socialists he began, together with his wife Marianne Baum (February 9, 1912 - August 18, 1942) and friends, Martin and Sala Kochmann, to organize meetings in the Kochmann drawing-room and other members' apartments about dealing with the threat of Nazism. The circle of friends, most of whom were Jewish, designated Herbert Baum as chairman. Up to 100 youths attended meetings at various times, and topics included political debates and cultural discussion. The group openly distributed leaflets arguing against National Socialism.
During 1940, Baum was rounded up and was forced into slave labour in the electro motors works of the Siemens-Schuckertwerke (today Siemens AG). From 1941, he headed a group of Jewish slave labourers at the plant, who, to escape deportation concentration camps, went to the Berlin underground
On 18 May 1942, the group organised an arson, attacking an anticommunist and anti-Semiticpropaganda display prepared by Joseph Goebbels at the Berliner Lustgarten. The attack was only partially successful and, within days, a large number of the groups' members were arrested and 20 were sentenced to death. Baum and his wife Marianne were arrested on May 22. Herbert Baum was tortured to death in Moabit Prison on June 11, 1942. His wife, Marianne, was executed in Plötzensee Prison on August 18, 1942.
Charlotte Bischoff, née Charlotte Wielepp
(October 5, 1901~November 4, 1994
Charlotte Bischoff, née Charlotte Wielepp,
(October 5, 1901, Berlin – November 4, 1994)
Charlotte Wielepp attended a commercial school and then worked as a clerk and steno-typist in Halle, Hamburg and Berlin from 1915-1930. She joined the Freie Sozialistische Jugend (Free Socialist Youth) and the Young Communist League of Germany. In 1923, she joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and the same year, married Fritz Bischoff, a founding member of the KPD, then working as a clerk with the Soviet trade mission. After 1930, Charlotte Bischoff was a steno-typist and publicist in the Prussian Landtag faction and in the Central Committee of the KPD.
The Nazi era
The Reichstag Fire Decree pushed by Adolf Hitler in response to the Reichstag Fire on February 27, 1933 and signed into law by President Paul von Hindenburg withdrew civil liberties and enabled the Nazis, then in key positions in government, to arrest anyone they deemed to be an enemy. This became first and foremost a confrontation with the KPD, but in effect, outlawed all political parties in Germany, other than the Nazi Party. The Enabling Act of March 27, 1933 consolidated their power and authority. In the first weeks of March 1933, there were 11,000 Communists arrested and by June 1933, more than half of the KPD district leaders were in detention.
In this environment, Bischoff went to work for the propaganda department of the KPD. In 1934, her husband was arrested by the Nazis and sentenced to eight years at hard labor in a Zuchthaus, then afterward held in "protective custody" at Sachsenhausen concentration camp and finally, at Neuengamme concentration camp. He was shot on May 3, 1945 by the SS, as he tried to save himself on the Cap Arcona.
Charlotte Bischoff went to Moscow in 1934, where till 1937, she worked for the International Relations department of the Communist International. This involved travel abroad to Denmark and the Netherlands. In 1938, she requested to be allowed to carry out illegal work in Germany. She was sent to Stockholm, where important leaders of the KPD were then in exile. She was arrested there in 1939 as an illegal and was threatened with deportation to Germany, but was soon released. The Third Reich then withdrew her German citizenship. Bischoff then worked for the International Red Aid taking care of emigrated German Communists, collecting money and having discussions with unionized construction workers on construction sites in Sweden.
In 1941, on behalf of the exiled leadership of the KPD, then under Herbert Wehner, Bischoff was successful in entering Germany illegally on board a freight ship. The trip took a month, from June 29 to the end of July. Bischoff then worked in Berlin with various resistance groups, especially with Red Orchestra-connected groups, such as with people involved with Kurt and Elisabeth Schumacher, with the group aroundWilhelm Knöchel and around Robert Uhrig. She also worked on the magazine, Die Innere Front ("The Internal Front") with the Saefkow-Jacob-Bästlein Organization. Acting as a courier, she gave "micro materials" to contact people in these groups.
Bischoff was one of the few members of the German Resistance who was able to evade arrest and she remained in Berlin, unknown, till the war's end. Die Innere Front was able to continue publication and distribution, even after numerous resistance fighters had been arrested, because of the work of Bischoff, Otto Grabowski and Ernst Siebert
Nach dem Krieg übte Bischoff verschiedene Tätigkeiten im Freien Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbund der DDR aus und wurde Mitglied derSocialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). Nach Auseinandersetzungen innerhalb des FDGB arbeitete sie in den folgenden Jahren für die „Sozialhilfe Groß-Berlin“, eine in ganz Berlin tätige, der SED nahestehende Wohlfahrtsorganisation. Ab 1957 war sie ehrenamtliche freie Mitarbeiterin am Institut für Marxismus-Leninismus beim ZK der SED. Dort war sie an der Erarbeitung einer DDR-offiziellen „Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung“ beteiligt; ihr Name taucht in diesem Band wiederholt als „Beauftragte des ZK“ auf. Bischoffs für diese Arbeit erstellte Aufzeichnungen und gesammelte Dokumente sind zu DDR-Zeiten unveröffentlicht geblieben – wie Eva-Maria Siegel vermutet, weil sie „diverse Richtigstellungen zur offiziösen Geschichtsideologie“ enthalten, insbesondere was die Rolle von Karl Mewis angeht.
Bischoff was in the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) for 90 years.
November 13, 1904 — February 22, 1943
(November 13, 1904 — February 22, 1943)
Dagobert Biermann was born in Hamburg to John and Louise Biermann, née Löwenthal. Biermann was Jewish. He and his wife, Emma, were members of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Before the Nazis seized power, a time when the KPD held the Social Democrats(SPD) in disdain, Biermann believed there should be unity between the KPD and the SPD.Resistance activity
After Adolf Hitler seized power, Biermann went underground and published the Hamburger Volkszeitung ("Hamburg Peoples' Newspaper"). He and his group were discovered and Biermann was sentenced to two years at hard labor at Zuchthaus Lübeck, where he met the lawyer,Herbert Michaelis and the lathe operator, Bruno Rieboldt. Biermann was released in May 1935 and found employment as a metalworker atHowaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft on the waterfront, along with Rieboldt, who was also released. Biermann re-joined the KPD and resumed working with the German Resistance.
Biermann and Riebodt began working with Michaelis, with Rieboldt reporting to him about the armaments work and especially about the production of airplane motors and warships. In 1937, the Resistance group disclosed a secret weapons shipment from Adolf Hitler to Spain's Francisco Franco. Biermann learned of the shipment from his brother-in-law, Karl Dietrich, a ship captain. Biermann and other shipyard workers decided to collect whatever evidence they could of the shipment bound for Spain. Michaelis had contacts living abroad, in exile, who could help spread the word.
One example of evidence was discovered in March 1937, when Dietrich slipped two unusual rifle cartridges to Biermann. Unlike normal munitions, these cartridges were unmarked, having no indication of manufacturer, date or type of bullet. Michaelis passed such information, along with reports of ship movements towards Spain and other materials to the head of the KPD in Basel, where it was then made public.
At the same time, leaflets and graffiti calling for solidarity with the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War began to appear at the harbor. A Gestapo spy managed to infiltrate the Resistance group and Biermann and others were arrested. Bierman was charged with sabotaging Nazi ships. Michaelis was sentenced to death by the Volksgerichthof in 1939, even before the beginning of the Second World War. Biermann and others were sentenced to prison, Biermann receiving six years. In 1942, the Nazis decided to "eliminate" their Jewish political prisoners and Biermann was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was killed on August 2, 1943.
Biermann is included in the Ernst Thälmann Memorial and in the book, Streiflichter aus dem Hamburger Widerstand 1933-1945.
May 4, 1870 – July 17, 1943
(May 4, 1870 – July 17, 1943)
Since Böse was a convinced communist he was arrested in 1943 by the Gestapo. He died two days after he was released from the KZ Mißler. Till this day Böse is known as one of the most passionate resistance fighters of the KPD. The Hermann-Böse-Straße and the Hermann-Böse-Gymnasium (since 2005) in Bremen are named after him.
January 22, 1900 ~June 8, 1980
Busch first rose to prominence as an interpreter of political songs, particularly those of Kurt Tucholsky, in the Berlin Kabarett scene of the 1920s. He starred in the original 1928 production of Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera, as well as the subsequent 1931 film by Georg Wilhelm Pabst. He also appeared in the movie Kuhle Wampe.
A lifelong Communist, Busch fled Nazi Germany in 1933 with the Gestapo on his heels, eventually settling in the Soviet Union. In 1937 he joined the International Brigades to fight against Fascism in Spain. His wartime songs were then recorded and broadcast by Radio Barcelona and Radio Madrid. After the Spanish Republic fell to General Franco,
Busch migrated to Belgium where he was interned during the German occupation and later imprisoned in Camp Gurs, France and Berlin. Freed by the Soviet Army in 1945, he settled in East Berlin where he worked with Bertolt Brecht and Erwin Piscator at the "Berliner Ensemble". A beloved figure in the German Democratic Republic, he is best remembered for his performance in the title role of Brecht's Life of Galileo and his stirring recordings of workers songs, including many written byHanns Eisler.
He also made a memorable and haunting recording of Peat Bog Soldiers. Many of Busch's original recordings from the 1930s are available in digitized form online and on CD; also available are re-recordings created during the late 1940s and early 1950s, which are equally stirring but perhaps less subtle in approach.
July 10, 1914~April 9, 2001
Emil Carlebach was descended from a family of rabbis who had practiced in Germany for generations. However, at the time he was born, his father was the only non-religious member of the Carlebach family in Frankfurt. While still young, Emil turned away from the conservative secular attitude of his parents and in 1932 he joined the Young Communist League of Germany (Kommunistischen Jugendverband Deutschlands) KJVD. In early 1934, he was sentenced to three years in prison for spreading anti-fascist union publications. When the sentence was completed in 1937, he was sent to Dachau concentration camp and then imprisoned at Buchenwald in 1938. At Buchenwald, he was active in the illegal resistance organization. Following plans he designed, he launched "with the call to mutiny on April 4, 1945."
He was to have been shot by the SS on April 6, 1945, for his efforts in the camp revolt, but was hidden by other prisoners and survived till liberation. After the liberation of the concentration camp, the prisoners from Buchenwald chose him as their spokesman; later he became the vice-president of the International Buchenwald Committee.
After 1954, he became first a Frankfurt city council member, then a member of the Hessian parliament, where he worked on the Hesse constitution.
Carlebach was one of seven original licensees of the Frankfurter Rundschau, a licensed daily newspaper based in Frankfurt and the first licensed newspaper in the American Zone of Occupation in Germany. In 1947, without explanation, the U.S. Military Government in Germany revoked Carlebach's publisher's license. He was also a co-founder of the Union of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime (Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes) or VVN.
In the early 1950s a fierce dispute began between Carlebach and Margarete Buber-Neumann over the torture of German communists byJoseph Stalin in the Soviet Union. Carlebach contested Stalin’s responsibility; he maintained this position his entire life. In connection with this dispute and later publications, Carlebach’s conduct towards those Buchenwald prisoners who he did not consider loyal communists was also criticized. Because of this, his former fellow prisoner, Benedikt Kautsky, accused him of being partially responsible for the death of least two Polish prisoners.
After the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) was banned in 1956, he fled to the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR, East Germany). There he was a staff member for the Deutscher Freiheitssender 904 (German Freedom Radio 904). After his return to the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD, West Germany) he was active in the VVN, the German Communist Party (DKP) and the Deutsche Journalistinnen- und Journalisten-Union (dju, Union of German Journalists) until his death.
15 September 1907~ 2 February 1945
Alfred Delp was born in Mannheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, to a Catholic mother and a Protestant father. Although he was baptised as a Catholic, he attended a Protestant elementary school and was confirmed in the Lutheran church in 1921. Following a bitter argument with the Lutheran pastor, he requested and received the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation in the Catholic Church. His Catholic pastor recognized the boy's intelligence and love for learning and arranged for him to study at the Goetheschule in Dieburg. Possibly because of the dual upbringing, he became later an ardent proponent of radically better relations between the Churches.
Thereafter, Delp's youth was moulded mainly by the Bund Neudeutschland Catholic youth movement. Right after passing his Abitur – in which he came out on top of his class – he joined the Society of Jesus in 1926.
Following philosophy studies at Pullach, he worked for 3 years as a prefect and sports teacher at Stella Matutina Kolleg in Feldkirch, Austria, where in 1933, he first experienced the Nazi regime, which forced an exodus of virtually all German students from Austria and thus the Stella Matutina with a controversial 1000 Mark law, to be paid by everybody before entering into Austria.
With his Director, Rev. Otto Faller and Professor Alois Grimm, he was among the first to arrive in the Black Forest, where the Jesuits opened Kolleg St. Blasien for some 300 students forced out of Austria. After St. Blasien, he completed his theology studies in Valkenburg, Holland (1934–1936), and in Frankfurt (1936–1937).Ministry
In 1935, Delp published his Tragic Existence, propagating a God-based humanism and reviewing the existentialism of Martin Heidegger. In 1937, Delp was ordained a Catholic priest in Munich. Delp had wanted to study for a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Munich, but he was refused admission to the university for political reasons. From 1939 on, he worked on the editorial staff of the Jesuit publication Stimmen der Zeit("Voices of the Times"), until the Nazis suppressed it in April 1941. He was then assigned as rector of St. Georg Church, part of Heilig-Blut Parish in the Munich neighbourhood Bogenhausen. He preached both at Heilig-Blut and St. Georg, and also secretly helped Jews who were escaping to Switzerland through the underground.Resistance
Outspoken opposition to the Nazis by individual Jesuits resulted in harsh response from government officials, including imprisonment of priests in concentration camps. The government takeover of church property, "Klostersturm", resulted in the loss of valuable properties such as that of 'Stimmen der Zeit', and limited the work of the Jesuits in Germany. The Jesuit provincial, Augustin Rösch, Father Delp's superior in Munich, became active in the underground resistance to Hitler.
It was Augustin Rösch who introduced Delp to the Kreisau Circle. As of 1942, Delp met regularly with the clandestine group around Helmuth James Graf von Moltke to develop a model for a new social order after the Third Reich came to an end. Delp's role was to explain Catholic social teaching to the group, and to arrange contacts between Moltke and Catholic leaders, including Archbishop (later Cardinal) Preysing of Berlin.Arrest and trial
After the July 20 plot to assassinate Hitler failed, a special Gestapo commission arrested and interrogated all known members of the Resistance. Delp was arrested in Munich on 28 July 1944 (eight days after Claus von Stauffenberg's attempt on Hitler's life), although he was not directly involved in the plot. He was transferred to Tegel Prison in Berlin.
While in prison, he secretly began to say Mass and wrote letters, reflections on Advent, on Christmas, and other spiritual subjects, which were smuggled out of the prison before his trial. On December 8, 1944, Delp received a visitor, Franz von Tattenbach SJ, sent by Rösch, to make his final vows to the Jesuit Order. This was supposedly forbidden, but the attending policemen did not understand what was going on. Delp wrote on the same day, It was too much, what a fulfillment, I prayed for it so much, I gave my life away. My chains are now without any meaning, because God found me worthy of the "Vincula amoris" (chains of love).
He was tried, together with Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, Franz Sperr, and Eugen Gerstenmaier, before the People's Court (Volksgerichtshof) on 9–11 January 1945, with Roland Freisler presiding. Alfred Delp, Helmuth von Moltke, and Franz Sperr were sentenced to death by hanging for high treason and treason. The court had dropped the charge against Delp of cognizance of the July 20 plot, but his dedication to the Kreisau Circle, his work as a Jesuit priest, and his Christian-social worldview were enough to seal his fate as a victim of the Nazi "system of justice".Execution
While he was in prison, the Gestapo offered Delp his freedom in return for his leaving the Jesuits, but he rejected it. Delp, like all prisoners connected with July 20, was required to wear handcuffs day and night. Prisoners being taken to execution were handcuffed with their hands behind their backs.
The sentence was carried out on 2 February 1945 at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin. The very next day, Roland Freisler was killed in an air-raid. A special order by Heinrich Himmler required that the remains of all prisoners executed in connection with the July 20 Plot be cremated, and their ashes scattered over the sewage fields. Accordingly, the body of Alfred Delp was cremated and his ashes disposed of somewhere near Berlin; nobody knows where
Hans von Dohnanyi
1 January 1902 – 8 or 9 April 1945
Hans von Dohnanyi
(1 January 1902 – 8 or 9 April 1945)
Hans von Dohnanyi was born to the Hungarian composer Ern? Dohnányi and his wife, the pianistElisabeth Kunwald. After his parents divorced, he grew up in Berlin. He went to the GrunewaldGymnasium there, becoming friends with Dietrich and Klaus Bonhoeffer. From 1920 to 1924, he studied law in Berlin. In 1925, he received a doctorate in law with a dissertation on "TheInternational Lease Treaty and Czechoslovakia's Claim on the Lease Area in Hamburg Harbour".
After taking the first state exam in 1924, he married Christine Bonhoeffer, sister of his school friends, in 1925. About this time, he began putting the stress on the "a" in his last name (which is of Hungarian origin, stressed on the first syllable). He and his wife had three children:Klaus von Dohnanyi, (mayor of Hamburg from 1981 to 1988), Christoph von Dohnányi, (a musicalconductor) and Barbara von Dohnanyi.Career
Dohnanyi worked at the Hamburg Senate for a short time and in 1929, began a career at theReich Ministry of Justice, working as a personal consultant with the title of prosecutor to several justice ministers. In 1934, the title was changed to Regierungsrat ("government adviser"). Meanwhile, in 1932, he was adjutant to Erwin Bumke, Imperial Court President (Reichsgerichtspräsident; at this time, Germany was still officially the German Empire, Deutsches Reich.) In this capacity, he put togetherPrussia's lawsuit against the Empire, which Prussia had brought after the Preußenschlag, Franz von Papen's dissolution of the Prussian social-democratic government through an emergency decree in 1932.
As an adviser to Franz Gürtner from 1934 to 1938, von Dohnanyi got to know Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Göring. He also had access to the justice ministry's most secret documents.Resistance
Spurred by the murders of alleged plotters of the 1934 Night of the Long Knives, "legitimised" murders carried out on government orders,without trial or sentence, Dohnanyi began to seek out contacts with German resistance circles. He made records for himself of the régime's crimes, so that in the event of a collapse of the Third Reich, he would have evidence of their crimes. In 1938, once his critical view of Nazi racial politics became known, Martin Borman had him transferred to the Reichsgericht in Leipzig as an adviser.
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Hans Oster called Dohnanyi into the Abwehr of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht. Led byWilhelm Canaris, it quite quickly became a hub of resistance activity against Hitler.
In 1942, Dohnanyi made it possible for two Jewish lawyers from Berlin, Friedrich Arnold and Julius Fliess, to flee with their loved ones toSwitzerland, disguised as Abwehr agents. Altogether, 13 people were able to leave Germany without hindrance, thanks to Dohnanyi's forgeries and operation known as U-7. Dohnanyi secretly went to Switzerland to make certain the refugees would be admitted.
In late February 1943, Dohnanyi was busying himself with Henning von Tresckow's assassination attempt against Hitler and the attendantcoup d'état. The bomb that was smuggled aboard Hitler's plane in Smolensk, however, failed to go off.
On 5 April 1943, Dohnanyi was arrested at his office by the Gestapo on charges of alleged breach of foreign currency violations. He had transferred funds to a Swiss bank on behalf of the Jews he had saved. Among the transactions in question were ones with Jauch & Hübener. His trial was deliberately delayed by army judge Karl Sack. In 1944, Dohnanyi was delivered to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. In addition, his involvement in the July 20 Plot came to light after the plan failed. On Hitler's orders, on April 6, 1945, Dohnanyi was condemned to death by an SS drumhead court and executed two or three days later (depending on the source), hanged with piano cords.Proceedings after the war
After the fall of the Nazi régime, the chairman of the drumhead court, Otto Thorbeck, and the prosecutor, Walter Huppenkothen, were accused in West Germany of being accessories to murder. After the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) had at first quashed a lower court's two acquittals, it changed its mind in 1956 during the third revision of the case, quashed Thorbeck's and Huppenkothen's sentences, and acquitted them of the charges of being accessories to murder by their participation in the drumhead trial on grounds that the court had been duly constituted and the sentence had been imposed according to the law then in force, without either of the accused having perverted justice.
It was particularly incomprehensible that the ruling approved the accused's involvement in carrying out the drumhead court's sentence, since they had failed to secure the approval of the highest legal official (that is, Hitler) of the sentence before they executed Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Wilhelm Canaris and Karl Sack. Huppenkothen was acquitted of carrying out the sentence of execution against von Dohnanyi, as there was a reasonable doubt as to whether Hitler did not approve the sentence.
On the occasion of Hans von Dohnanyi's hundredth birthday in 2002, Günter Hirsch, president of the BGH, called those who had sentenced Dohnanyi to death "criminals calling themselves judges". Hirsch said the 1956 ruling was shameful because as a result, not a single one of the Nazi-era judges who sentenced 50,000 Nazi opponents to their deaths were themselves found guilty after the war.
On October 23, 2003, Israel honoured Hans von Dohnanyi by recognizing him as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for saving the Arnold and Fliess families, at risk to his own life. His name has been inscribed in the walls at the Holocaust remembrance centre Yad Vashem in Jerusalem
(September 15, 1879 – May 30, 1960
(September 15, 1879 – May 30, 1960)
was a German-Jewish educator. At the age of 20, she went to finish her education in the United States, where she encountered Quakers and was greatly influenced by their attitudes, adopting them for her own. In 1919, she returned to Germany on a Quaker war relief mission and was asked by her sister, who had founded a children's home, to help establish a school with it.
She and her family founded a boarding school, the Landschulheim Herrlingen in 1926, with Anna Essinger as headmistress. In 1933, with the Nazi threat looming and the permission of all the parents, she moved the school and its 66 children, mostly Jewish, to safety in England, re-establishing it as the Bunce Court School.
During the war, Essinger established a reception camp for 10,000 German children sent to England on the Kindertransports, taking some of them into the school. After the war, her school took many child survivors of Nazi concentration camps. By the time Essinger closed Bunce Court in 1948, she had taught and cared for over 900 children, most of whom called her "Tante" (Aunt) Anna, or TA, for short. She remained in close contact with her former pupils for the rest of her life.
Adolf Hitler's rise to power and the growing Nazi threat were viewed ominously by Essinger, who immediately went about quietly boycotting the Third Reich. All public buildings were ordered to fly the Nazi flag with its swastika on Hitler's birthday in 1933, so Essinger planned a day of hiking for the pupils, leaving the flag to fly over an empty building. Essinger said, "Atop an empty building, the flag can neither convey nor harm as much." She was denounced within the Nazi Party and the Nazi authorities' attitude toward the school became increasingly negative. It was recommended that an inspector be installed at the school. Essinger, realizing that her school had no future in Germany, and encouraged by her father to leave the country, began to look abroad for a new home for the school. After looking in Switzerland and the Netherlands, she found a property in southern England. The children's parents were informed and gave their approval for Essinger and her teachers to take 66 children out of Germany. Essinger arranged a well-disguised trip for the group and on September 5, 1933, they arrived in southern England. Astutely, Essinger did not formally close the school, but turned it over to Hugo Rosenthal. It became a home for Jewish children and a center for Jewish life in southern Germany, with an enrollment of more than 100 children.
An old manor house dating from the time of Henry VIII was found in the village of Otterden near Faversham, in the County of Kent. The house was large, with extensive grounds, making it ideal for a boarding school. Funds were meager, so work on the property was done by the staff and pupils, causing British education inspectors to view the new school unfavorably at the outset. In 1933, England was still secure and war had not yet broken out and people were not aware of what was going on in Germany and why Essinger and the school had left.
Within a year or two, however, enough improvements had been made that local officials realized the school was quite special; Essinger won the respect of the local authorities and had advocates from all areas of public life. She sought English host families for children to visit on weekends; and at the school, held concerts, theatrical programs, sports contests and an annual "Open Day", involving the children in English life and the community with the school.
After Kristallnacht, on November 9–10, 1938, Essinger was asked to set up a reception camp in Dovercourt for 10,000 German children who would be arriving on the Kindertransports. Essinger, then nearly 60 years old, worked with three teachers, her cook and six of the older pupils to establish the camp, taking some of them into her school. With this, she also sought out families and homes to care for refugee children.
Local British committees sought out placements for the children and tried to match children with families where they would fit in. However, the manner in which it was done appalled Essinger, who likened it to a "cattle market", where attractive children were chosen, but less attractive ones were not, lowering morale. The experience of running the reception camp and placing the children was so difficult, that afterward, Essinger refused to talk about it.
In 1940, the school again had to evacuate when southern England became a defence area. Essinger and about 100 children and teachers relocated the school to "Trench Hall" in Shropshire. They were not able to return to Bunce Court until 1946. Having finished her life's work, Essinger closed the school in 1948 and retired
19 February 1894 – 12 April 1968
(19 February 1894 – 12 April 1968)
WWas a highly decoratedGeneralleutnant in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Hermann Fischer was captured by Soviet troops on 8 May 1945 in the Courland Pocket and was held until 1955.
1884 - 1953
(1884 - 1953)
Was a journalist and left wing political activist who was a founding member of the Communist Party of Germanyand founder of the party's paper, Die Rote Fahne. A Communist Party deputy in the Reichstag on two occasions, Frölich was expelled from the Party in 1928, after which he joined the organized German Communist Opposition movement. Frölich is best remembered as a biographer of Rosa Luxemburg.
Paul Frölich was born 7 August 1884 in Leipzig into a German working class family. He was the second child of eleven. As a young man he studied history and social science at the Leipzig Workers' School.
Frölich joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1902.
Frölich's common-law wife from the 1920s was the communist Rosi Wolfstein (1888-1987). The pair were formally married in 1948.Political career
Frölich worked as a journalist during the first decade of the 20th Century, writing for the Hamburger Echo from 1910 to 1914 and for theBremer Bürgerzeitung from 1914 to 1916.
In 1918, Frölich founded the newspaper Die Rote Fahne (The Red Flag) in Hamburg. This was later to become the official organ of theCommunist Party of Germany (KPD), which Frölich helped to establish at the end of December 1918. During this period, Frölich sometimes wrote under the pseudonym "Paul Werner."
The founding congress of the KPD elected Frölich to its governing Central Committee. He was re-elected to this position by the 1920 Congress of the KPD, but at the end of the year he was squeezed off the body as a result of a merger of that organization with theIndependent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD).
Following the 1921 departure of a faction led by Paul Levi, Frölich rejoined the Central Committee of the KPD.
Frölich was a delegate of the KPD to the 3rd World Congress of the Comintern, held in Moscow in the summer of 1921. Frölich was selected by the congress as the representative of the KPD to the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI).
Frölich was elected as a Communist Party deputy to the Reichstag, serving in that capacity from 1921 to 1924 and again in 1928.
Frölich was expelled from the KPD in December 1928, ostensibly as a supporter of so-called "Right-wing" conciliation. Thereafter, he joined the Communist Party Opposition (KPD-O), and in 1932 helped to establish the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAP).Imprisonment and emigration
Frölich returned to West Germany in 1950, where he spent the last years of his life.Death and legacy
Paul Frölich died on 16 March 1953 in Frankfurt. He was 78 years old at the time of his death.
Frölich is best remembered as a pioneer biographer of the assassinated Communist Rosa Luxemburg, with his book on her translated into a number of languages, including Spanish, English, French, Italian, Slovenian, Korean, Greek, Hebrew, and Japanese. A new edition of this work appeared in English in 2010, published by the radical Chicago publisher Haymarket Books.
20 October 1917~ 13 March 1951
Ants Rock Beach , or " terrible Ants "
World War II before working servant of the Pärnu County Soontagana rural farms. It was the Defense and was a member of metsavennana 1941 . In Pärnu County and the western battles with Soviet troops on. German occupation during the loading Omakaitsesse .
Between one thousand nine hundred and forty-two - 1,944 participated in the voluntary rindesõdurina the German side in the battles of the Soviet Union against. Fell in 1944 . In autumn the island of Ireland captured by Soviet troops, but escaped in December of that year, and enlist the support of one of the dreaded forest brothers deny. 24th June 1949 fell through the treachery of the Soviet occupation forces captured. Executed on the basis of military tribunals, with their peers and the Picture John Billing Metsäärega 13th March, 1951
6 May 1921~ 30 March 1943
Jan Roman Bytnar (codenames: Rudy, Czarny, Janek, Krokodyl, Jan Rudy;
Was aPolish Scoutmaster (harcmistrz), Polish Scouting resistance activist and Second Lieutenant of the Armia Krajowa during the Second World War. The son of Stanis?aw Bytnar and Zdzis?awa Rechulówna, Jan Bytnar is a leading character of bothAleksander Kami?ski's Kamienie na szaniec and Barbara Wachowicz's Rudy, Alek, Zo?ka.Arrest, death, and reprisal
He was arrested by the German Nazis on 23 March 1943 and rescued by the Grupy Szturmowe of the Szare Szeregi three days later during the so-called Arsenal actionon 26 March. He died on 30 March from injuries sustained by the Gestapo, aged 21.
The extremely brutal interrogation of Bytnar was conducted by SS RottenführerEwald Lange and SS Obersturmführer Herbert Schultz. Both were assassinated by Grupy Szturmowe of Szare Szeregi. Schultz was shot dead on 6 May 1943 byS?awomir Maciej Bittner (aka "Maciek") and Eugeniusz Kecher (aka "Kolczan"). Lange was shot dead on 22 May 1943 by Jerzy Zapadko (aka "Dzik").
King Christian X
1943- The year of change in Denmark Never in the history of mankind have so many chapters of heroism been written than during the period of World War II. One shining passage in this infamous story is that of the Danish Freedom Fighters. Denmark was attacked by the Nazis without warning on April 9, 1940. The shocked populace were notified that resistance would mean horrible consequences for Denmark's people and country. Beneath the surface of official complacency, people in Denmark soon went about the task of forming a resistance movement, and the Danish Freedom Fighters were born. At first, the movement was poorly organized and poorly equipped. In time, the Freedom Fighters, working secretively with the Allies, were able to gain the support needed to make an impact on the occupying forces. The turning point in the resistance movement occurred 50 years ago. During 1943 the Freedom Fighters actions and the peoples resistance escalated, including a general peoples strike across the country, leading to the resignation of the Government and the second attack by the enemy on August 29th, wherein the Danish police and remaining military units were overpowered and imprisoned. This was followed by the rescue by the Freedom Fighters of the Jewish Community. Almost 8,000 people were taken into hiding and safely ferried to Sweden. Thanks to the miraculous rescue, only 464 Jews were captured and transported to Theresienstadt, and most of them survived the camp. This unprecedented event of 1943 gave hope to the people of Denmark that they could beat back the oppressor. The success sparked an increase in resistance and the Freedom Fighters pushed on. For the remainder of the war, the Danish Freedom Fighters participated in a tightly organized network. Acting as saboteurs, operating an illegal press and working in intelligence, courier and escape services, the Freedom Fighters performed magnificently, despite the constant danger. While their efforts thwarted the occupiers, the cost was tragically high. More than 6,000 Freedom Fighters were arrested, tortured and sent to various prisons and concentration camps. Many of these gallant men and women died trying to keep Denmark free. The Danish American Society and The Danish American Chamber of Commerce consider it an honor to pay tribute to some of the bravest people Denmark has ever known: the Danish Freedom Fighters. Tonight we are pleased to present the Danish Freedom Fighters with the 1993 Man of the Year Award. The Man of the Year Trophy will be placed permanently at the Freedom Fighters Museum in Copenhagen.
King Christian X
Strong-willed, intrepid and eminently royal, King Christian X was a symbol and rallying point for the Danish people during the occupation. Nearly 70 years old when the Nazis invaded Denmark, King Christian X remained a beacon of hope throughout the five-year occupation.
Just two days after the invasion, King Christian X mounted his horse "Jubilee" and rode through the streets of Copenhagen to be with his beloved people. Ramrod straight and a vision of pride, he rode nearly every day, rain or shine.
Eventually, King Christian X was placed under house arrest in his palace, from where he continued his role in supporting the Freedom Fighters. Since King Christian X was such an important symbol for the Danish people, many anecdotes circulated about him.
Here's one such story:
When the Germans demanded that the Danish flag be taken down from the palace the King assured them, T'11 have a Danish soldier raise it daily." And when the Germans said they would shoot the soldier, the King replied, "The soldier will be me." It is a testament to the bravery of the Danish Freedom Fighters that throughout the war, the flag continued to wave proudly.King Christian X, who passed away in 1949, lived to see Denmark liberated in May, 1945.
Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
1939 - 1990
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer The Nazis take control of Holland
All the things we needed in our workshop were smuggled in from Belgium. There was nothing in the Dutch stores, as the Germans took that all away. The Salesian Fathers would see to it whatever we needed in our workshop would be smuggled in. the Salesian Fathers had very close connections with the Dutch underground freedom fighters and the know-how to cross secretly into Belgium.
You never knew who a freedom fighter was. It could be any man walking on the street. It was a very secret organization. Most of them were ordinary people who loved their Queen Wilhelmina and their country. Most of them worked during the day and at night risked their lives against the German army. All of those freedom fighters were aware that if they were caught by the Germans it would be most likely the end of their lives. They were either shot or sent to the concentration camps. Either way, most people who were caught were never seen again.
The freedom fighters had special border routes worked out to cross into Belgium and escape the German army patrol. It was a dangerous job as most of the time you had to travel at night. There were many minefields all along the border. The Boy Scout uniforms and all the other things we needed in our workshop came from England and were smuggled into Belgium, then into Holland. Many of those Salesian Fathers risked their lives for us. Some of those priests were caught and died in concentration camps. The Salesian Fathers hated the Nazis.
Antoon Adriaan Mussert
giving a Nazi salute
Before World War II in Europe had ever started, there was always talk that Holland would be left alone as a neutral country like Spain and Switzerland, but that never happened. Holland could have survived a seven-year German war in Europe without importing any food. The Dutch warehouses were loaded with food supplies. The first thing the Germans did when they occupied Holland was rationing all of the food supplies in the stores.
Whenever you went grocery shopping there was only a certain amount of food you could get with rationing stamps. When the German army moved into Holland, they also brought along a lot of German citizens who worked for the German government and lived among the Dutch people. Besides that, we had a lot of Dutch people who were sympathetic to the Germans. They were the Dutch turncoats. Most of those people came from very low income families and joined the German system for a better living.
Some of the well educated ones who joined believed in the German socialistic system. Some of the Dutch people joined an organization which was called the N.S.B. (Netherlands Socialistic Union). The leader of the Dutch N.S.B. was Antoon Mussert. He started his party in the year of 1933. During the German occupation of Holland there were about 80,000 Dutch N.S.B. members. That was about 1% of the total Dutch population. When the Germans invaded Holland there were about 8,700,000 people in the country.
The N.S.B. were the Dutch spies for the Germans. Most of them didn't like our Queen Wilhelmina and everything that was involved with royalty in the Dutch palace. When the war started, Queen Wilhelmina had one daughter, Princess Juliana, who was married to Prince Bernard. They had two small Princesses named Beatrice and Irene. All of them were able to escape the German invasion on a boat to England. From there they went to Canada and lived in Ottawa during the wartime.
The N.S.B. was fiercely hated by the Dutch people. They lived among us and we had to be very careful about what we said or did against the Germans. The N.S.B. members were treated as first class citizens. When the N.S.B. people went to the grocery store, they could buy and get everything they wanted. As for the local Dutch people, they had to stand in line for hours for just a few things.
In May 1942, Hitler sent his Gestapo chief, Heinrich Himmler, to the Netherlands. The "friendly" Germans executed ninety-six Dutchmen, re-arrested all former Dutch officers and cadets, and seized 460 prominent Netherlanders as hostages. Indications were that a puppet Nazi administration would be established in Holland, headed by Antoon Mussert, chief of the Netherlands Nazi Party and would-be "Little Fuehrer".
Mussert, the fifty-year-old son of a village schoolmaster, and himself an engineer, had gained notoriety by marrying an aunt eighteen years his senior. The Dutch patriots, who considered Mussert as their country's arch-Quisling, learned that as a reward for his aid to the invaders he had been appointed by Chancellor Hitler as the "leader of the Dutch people". Mussert set up a "Secretariat of State" and soon thereafter appointed his "personal Cabinet".
A well-organized underground known as "The Black Hand" had pledged to wipe out the entire Mussert "government". Lieutenant General Hendrik Alexander Seyffardt, a lone traitor among the Dutch generals, who had just been appointed by Mussert to raise a Dutch army for service on the Russian front, was shot. Dr. H. Raydon, Nazi sponsored Propaganda Minister, and his wife were killed. Mussert's Secretary for Social Affairs, C. van Ravenzwaai, was assassinated. The name of the fourth victim was not known, but it was reported that he had been nominated for Attorney General.
In the face of so much opposition, Mussert himself was forced to declare that "between the N.S.B. (his own Nazi party) and the Dutch people lies a deep chasm which drives me to despair". This earned him the nickname "Lord Despair". In many N.S.B. families, the husbands and sons joined the German army and fought along on the frontlines. On their German uniforms, embroidered, was the name of the Netherlands.
All the German warfare expanded to so many different countries it was very noticeable that many items on the market became very short in supply. There were certain items you just couldn't get anymore.
We lived five minutes from the German border and little by little we could see the German army take all kinds of material out of Holland. Most of the transporting was done during the night. During the night the trucks were not as easy to spot by the allied planes, and made it much safer for the German convoys to travel. All of the German troop movements were always done at night. The Dutch wouldn't cooperate with the Germans and they punished the Dutch by stealing all their food and slowly starving them to death.
All the underground coal miners in Limburg did everything to sabotage the coal production. The Germans needed the coal badly for their war production, but the coal production from the Dutch coal mines wasn't as much as they had planned. Many miners would unnecessarily call in sick for work. Others would cause self-inflicted accidents as they were working underground on a coal strip, for instance, they would use a hydraulic pick hammer which the miner was using for loosening the coal, and would stick it in his foot. This way he could stay home for several weeks with pay for a self-inflicted accident which the Germans didn't know about.
The job in the coal mines was very unhealthy and dangerous. There were two floors where the miners worked. An elevator took some miners to the 15000 feet underground floor and the others to 24000 feet. My father hated the coal mines and always found a way to stay home. He was always able to get a lot of sick leave. All the food supplies in the stores dwindled to empty shelves because the Germans were taking all the food for themselves, as they needed everything to feed their own people.
Because of the food shortage, many of the coal miners didn't go to work. It was like a small strike organized among the coal miners. The N.S.B. tipped off the Germans that many coal miners stayed home for no reason. One night, the Nazi S.S. raided our town. The S.S. in the German army was called Schutzstaffel, a unit of Nazis created to serve as bodyguards to Hitler and later expanded to take charge of intelligence, central security, policing action, and extermination of undesirables.
Several coal miners who were the organizers of that little strike were executed. In the beginning of the war we didn't know what kind of soldiers the S.S. were. They had different uniforms than the rest of the German army. Whenever the Germans were short of laborers they would raid villages of towns in occupied countries and take any available man to Germany to work in their war factories. Most of the German men had to join the army.
The night when they raided our town they knocked on every door and went inside the houses looking for available men. The men were put on trucks and sent to Germany. My father was taken to the southern part of France.
Liberation Front of the Slovene People
On 26 April 1941 in Ljubljana the Anti-Imperialist Front was established. It was to promote "an international massive movement" to "liberate the Slovenian nation" whose "hope and example was the Soviet Union". Its founding groups were the Communist Party of Slovenia, some Christian Socialists, and a dissident group of Slovene Sokols (also known as "National Democrats"), and a group of intellectuals around the journals Sodobnost and Ljubljanski zvon, including Josip Vidmar and Ferdo Kozak.
After the attack of Germany on the Soviet Union the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Slovenia changed the Anti-Imperialist Front to the Liberation Front of Slovenia.
In February 1943, the founding groups signed the so-called Dolomite statement: all other groups recognized the Communist Party as the leading force, and renounced independent political action. The Communist Party, which had been the major force in the Anti-Imperialist Front/Liberation Front since its formation, was thus officially recognized as the leading faction, as well as the only group within the Front that kept the right to have a distinct and independent organizational structure.
After the war, the Liberation Front was transformed into the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Slovenia.
BOPA (Borgelige Partisaner, Bourgeois Partisans) was a group of the Danish resistance movement operating at the time of the occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
In 1942, the illegal Communist Party of Denmark had begun organizing small sabotage cells across the country, mainly formed by veterans who had been part of the volunteer anti-Franco brigades of the Spanish Civil War. However, as arms were scarce, the weapon of choice was often petrol and matches, and only small scale operations were carried out.
On January 25, 1943 a group of students — who had previously been refused membership of the communist resistance group due to the mistrust held by its members toward any elitism — set fire to a stock of German listening devices at Dansk Industrisyndikat in Hellerup using a bottle of spirit.
The students were hereafter accepted into the group, and this caused a change of name from the original KOPA (Kommunistiske Partisaner, Communist Partisans) to BOPA. The new name was at first used jokingly by old members, but it soon became the most widely used name.
Operations grew in magnitude as individuals with inside knowledge of possible targets joined the group. Especially young apprentices from large factories proved useful in identifying targets which were supplying the German military, and this resulted in attacks on factories such as Burmeister & Wain and Riffelsyndikatet in 1943, Riffelsyndikatet (again) and Global in 1944 and Always in 1945.
Holger Danske (Resistance group)
The group was formed in Copenhagen in 1942 by five men who had all fought on the Finnish side during the Winter War. By this time of the occupation resistance work carried a great deal of risk because the general public was still largely opposed to sabotage and the government was following its "co-operation" policy with the Nazis to avoid as much German intervention in Danish affairs as possible.
Holger Danske, as well as the rest of the Danish resistance, was very opposed to this collaboration and continued to believe that the Danish should have resisted the invasion much more fiercely. Gunnar Dyrberg recalls in his book how he had seen Danes engage in friendly conversation with the Germans immediately after the invasion and cites this as one of the reasons he later decided to enter Holger Danske.
The group was infiltrated by the Gestapo twice but because of its loose structure (unlike BOPA the organization was very loose) they were unable to identify all the members. A total of 64 members were excecuted by the Gestapo during the occupation.
Among their largest sabotage actions were the blowing up of the Forum Arena in 1943 and the attack on Burmeister & Wain in 1944.
Christer Lyst Hansen
Poul Brandt Rehberg
In 1942-43, resistance operations gradually shifted to more violent action, most notably acts of sabotage. Various groups succeeded in making contacts with the SOE which began making airdrops of supplies. The number of drops were slow until August 1944, but increased in the last part of the war.
As the war dragged on, the Danish population became increasingly hostile to the Germans. Soldiers stationed in Denmark had found most of the population cold and distant from the beginning of the occupation, but their willingness to cooperate had made the relationship workable.
The government had attempted to discourage sabotage and violent resistance to the occupation, but by the autumn of 1942 the numbers of violent acts of resistance were increasing steadily to the point that Germany declared Denmark "enemy territory" for the first time. After the battles of Stalingrad and El-Alamein the incidents of resistance, violent and symbolic, increased rapidly.
On August 29, 1943, SS-General Werner Best declared martial law and demanded the introduction of capital punishment. The Danish government, after cooperating for three years, defiantly stopped functioning but refused to resign formally to prevent Germans from taking over, without violating the Danish constitution. The Danish administration however continued to function.
In a move to save face, Best decided to crack down and launched plans to arrest Jews. On September 8, he sent a telegram to Berlin: "The time has come to turn our attention to the solution of the Jewish question." When final orders for the raid arrived from Berlin on September 28, Best informed his confidant, Georg Duckwitz, that Jews would be rounded up within two days, on the night between October 1 and 2.
German maritime attaché Georg F. Duckwitz leaked the information to Danish politicians and the news spread like wildfire through friends, business acquaintances, and strangers wanting to help. Ordinary citizens all over the country offered refuge in churches, attics, and country homes, and residences. Complete strangers walked up to Jews on the street to offer keys to their apartment. Medical staff hid more than 1, 000 Jews in Copenhagen hospitals.
On the night of the raid, Germans only found 284 Jews out of almost 8,000 in the population.
The Jews were smuggled out of Denmark by transporting them by sea over the Øresund from Zealand to Sweden, a passage of approximately 10 miles. Some were transported in large fishing boats of up to 20 tons, but others were carried to freedom in rowboats or kayaks.
Some refugees were smuggled inside freight cars on the regular ferries between Denmark and Sweden, this route being suited for the very young or old who were too weak to endure a rough sea passage. The underground had broken into empty freight cars sealed by the Germans after inspection, helped refugees onto the cars, and then resealed the cars with forged or stolen German seals to forestall further inspection.
Some of the fishermen assisting in the rescue charged money to transport Jews to Sweden, while others took payments only from those who could afford passage. Some profiteers took advantage of the confusion and fear during the early days of the escape, but as time passed, the Danish underground movement ousted them and took an active role in organizing the rescue and providing financing, mostly from wealthy Danes who donated large sums of money for the rescue.
During the first days of the rescue action, Jews swarmed into the many fishing harbors on the Danish coast for rescue, but the Gestapo became suspicious of activity around harbors (and on the night of October 1-2, eighty Jews were caught hiding in the loft of the church at Gilleleje, their hiding place betrayed by a Danish girl in love with a German soldier). Subsequent rescues had to take place from isolated points along the coast. While waiting their turn, the Jews took refuge in the woods and in cottages away from the coast, out of sight of the Gestapo.
In September 1943, the 'Danish Freedom Council' was created. This attempted to unify the many different groups that made up the Danish resistance movement. The council was made up of seven resistance representatives and one member of SOE. The resistance movement grew to over 20,000 and in the lead-up to D-Day acts of sabotage markedly increased. Though the D-Day landings were to be in Normandy, SOE believed that the more German soldiers tied up elsewhere in Europe, the less that could be present in northern France. Therefore, the more acts of sabotage in Denmark, the more German troops would be tied down there.
In 1944, the 'Danish Freedom Council' stepped up its efforts and more than 11 million copies of underground newspapers are published. That June, following a declared state of emergency, the entire city of Copenhagen goes on strike. Infuriated, Germany floods the city with troops, cuts off water and electricity, and establishes a blockade. By July 2, 23 Danes have been killed and more than 203 are wounded. But the dauntless Danes persevere. Exasperated, the Germans abandon these punitive measures by July.
Later that fall, when the Germans try to deport Danish police officials whom they believe are turning a blind eye to sabotage and disorder, Copenhagen goes on strike again, joined this time by 58 other cities and towns. Unafraid of Gestapo arrests, civilians flock to the resistance movement; enrollment exceeds 45,000 at its highest point. In May 1945, war-ravaged Berlin succumbs to advancing Allied forces, prompting Germany to abandon Denmark altogether.
After the war, 40,000 people were arrested on suspicion of collaboration. Of these, 13,500 were punished in some way. 78 received death sentences, although only 46 were carried out. Most received prison sentences of under four years.
Many people criticized the process for victimizing "small" people disproportionately, while many politicians and businesses were left untouched. Another difficult issues was what to do with collaborators who were essentially "following orders" that their own government had given them, such as business executives who had been encouraged to work with the Germans.
9 June 1906 - 16 July 1990
Mogens Ludolf Fog
9 June 1906 - 16 July 1990
During the Second World War and the German occupation of Denmark, he played a strategic role in the Danish resistance movement. In 1942, he helped to set up the Frit Danmark, the illegal non-partisan resistance newspaper, and became an active member of the Danish Freedom Council (Frihedsrådet) in 1943. He was arrested by the Gestapo in October 1944 but escaped in March 1945 after their headquarters in the Shell building were bombed by the Royal Air Force.
21 November 1907~ 23 September 1982
In 1942, he was recruited in England by the Special Operations Executive and sent to Denmark in March 1943 as their chief agent. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his contribution to the resistance movement and assistance with Denmark's liberation by the Allies.
After the war, Muus was arrested in June 1946 and sentenced by a Copenhagen court to two years imprisonment for embezzlement. The sentence was set aside on appeal, provided into voluntary exile from Denmark for five years. From 1946 to 1949, he and his wife travelled to England, South Africa and Italy before returning to Denmark. Muus himself admitted that large sums of money passed through his hands, but denied all embezzlement charges.
He was married to Varnika Wichfeld Muus who also contributed to the resistance movement.
Marius Pedersen Fiil
Fiil was the owner of the Hvidsten Inn in the north of Jutland. He and his wife Gudrun created Hvidstengruppen (the Hvidsten Group), a resistance cell which helped the British Special Operations Executive to parachute weapons and supplies into Denmark. These were then distributed to resistance fighters.
Jørgen Haagen Schmith aka Citron
December 18, 1910 - October 15, 1944
Jørgen Haagen Schmith
(December 18, 1910 - October 15, 1944),
Just before the war, Schmith found work as a concierge and stage manager at Zigeunerhallen music hall in Copenhagen. Following the German invasion, Schmith performed spectacular operations together with fellow resistance fighter Bent Faurschou-Hviid (Flame) as members of the resistance group Holger Danske.
In July 1943, Schmith sabotaged a Citroën garage. Six German cars and a tank were destroyed. It was there that he acquired his nickname.
On September 19, 1944, Faurschou-Hviid and Schmith disguised themselves as policemen. However, on that same day the Germans arrested the entire Danish police force. Both were captured but, despite the fact that they were highly sought by the Gestapo, were not recognized. Schmith jumped a fence to escape, but was shot while doing so. Miraculously, he was rescued by an ambulance. Faurschou-Hviid slipped away during the confusion.
Schmith then moved to a safe house in Jægersborg Allé. Despite the fact that Faurschou-Hviid relocated to Jutland following their escape, he left all of his weapons under Schmith's bed. A month after their escape, German soldiers arrived at the house to arrest or kill Schmith. He fought for hours against an overwhelming force of enemy troops killing 11 and wounded scores of other before the house was set on fire and he was shot attempting to escape the flames.
Schmith has a memorial stone in Mindelunden in Ryvangen with the inscription:
FOR ALLE GODE TANKER
DE KAN SLET IKKE DØ
FØR ENDNU BEDRE TANKER
ER SPIRED AF DERES FRØ
This roughly translates to:
FOR ALL GOOD THOUGHTS
THEY CANNOT DIE
BEFORE EVEN BETTER THOUGHTS
ARE SPROUTED OF THEIR SEEDS
23 August 1919
(born 23 August 1919),
a Danish physician, is remembered primarily for his participation in resistance activities under the German occupation of Denmark in the early 1940s. Together with his sister, Elsebet, he published Frit Denmark or Free Denmark, an illegal newspaper. As a member of the Holger Danske resistance group, he helped hundreds of Danish Jews to escape to Sweden and avoid extermination.
Despite capture by the Germans and time in a concentration camp, he returned to Denmark after the war and then completed his studies in the United States. In 1980, he became director of research at Kræftens Bekæmpelse (the Danish Cancer Research Institute).
Kieler has written a number of books about the German occupation and about concentration camp syndrome.
Bent Faurschou-Hviid aka "Flammen"
January 7, 1921 – October 18, 1944
(January 7, 1921 – October 18, 1944)
Faurschou-Hviid was one of the most active liquidators for the Danish resistance movement during World War II, and according to several of his colleagues in Holger Danske, no other resistance member was as hated or sought by the Germans as was Faurschou-Hviid. According to Gunnar Dyrberg in the 2003 Danish documentary film With a Right to Kill (Med ret til at dræbe), no one knows exactly how many liquidations The Flame performed but rumours have it that the number is 22.
Faurschou-Hviid was born in Asserbo, Denmark on the island of Zealand to Wilhelm Faurschou-Hviid, the owner of Asserbo's Birkegården Hotel, and Marie Louise Larsen. He also had a sister, Marie-Louise Swanstrøm.
"Flammen" regularly partnered with "Citronen" whose real name was Jørgen Haagen Schmith. "Citronen" means "the lemon". Schmith got this nickname because he worked for French car manufacturer Citroën. Together, "Flammen" and "Citronen" formed the most famous resistance duo in Denmark during World War II.
On October 18, 1944, Faurschou-Hviid was having dinner with his landlady and some guests when suddenly there was a knock on the door and a German officer demanded entry. Faurschou-Hviid, who was unarmed that evening, quickly went upstairs looking for an escape across the roof, but he soon realised that the house was completely surrounded. With no escape possible, he chewed on a cyanide capsule and was dead a few seconds later. The witnesses later told of how they could hear the German soldiers upstairs cheering at the sight of the corpse and how the soldiers then dragged Faurschou-Hviid downstairs by his feet, bumping his head into the stairs repeatedly.Legacy
In 2008, Faurschou-Hviid and Schmith became famous when the most expensive Danish film to date (as of October 2009) premiered. The title was Flame & Citron, and the film was hugely successful in terms of box office receipts. Faurschou-Hviid is played by Thure Lindhardt.
John Christmas Møller
3 April 1894 - 13 April 1948
Guido Leo John Christmas Møller, usually known as Christmas Møller
(3 April 1894 - 13 April 1948)
Was a Danish politician representing the Conservative People's Party.
Møller was elected as a Conservative member of the Folketing and in 1928 became leader of his party, a role he still held at the beginning of the Second World War. After the German occupation of Denmark, he joined a coalition cabinet, but in October 1940, following German pressure, he was forced to resign from the government, as the German authorities felt he was too negative towards them. Three months later, in 1941, he was forced to abandon his seat in parliament altogether for the same reason. He was then instrumental in founding the underground newspaper Frit Danmark.
In 1942, Møller fled with his family to England, where he hoped to become part of a Danish government in exile. However, his most important role in London proved to be as a broadcaster for BBC Radio's Danish language service aimed at occupied Denmark.
He spoke out against the Danish government's collaborative stance towards the Germans and encouraged sabotage and other resistance activities. He became enormously popular and almost certainly played a part in the collapse of the Danish government's "cooperation policy" in the summer of 1943.
On 2 October 1943, an article by Christmas Møller appeared in Frit Danmark which urged all Danes to do what they could to help their Jewish fellow citizens who had gone into hiding from the Nazis' planned roundup.
After the war Møller briefly became foreign minister in the provisional government of May to November 1945. After the election of 1945 he resumed his old role as leader of the Conservative Party. He lost the election in 1947 and then resigned as party leader, partly because of the Southern Schleswig issue. He died the following year, a week after resigning his membership of the Conservative Party.
Christer Lyst Hansen- Prominent Resistance Leader
Yesterday morning, events here in Denmark turned for the worst when the German army invaded. They crept in so quickly and unexpectedly, the government did not have time to react. Our small, ill-equipped troops stood no chance against the mighty Nazis although they did pose some resistance. Not only are they invading on land that is not theirs, they are breaking the German-Danish treaty of non-aggression.
I think the country as a whole needs to work together to fight off the Germans and show them that they don’t belong here. I fear if we don’t do this soon, our way of life here in Denmark will be forever changed and scared with the mark left from the Nazis. We must get them out of our country to ensure the prosperous lives of our children and their children. I must leave now, but I will not leave the Nazis alone.
It has been a few years since I have last reported. Resistance groups against the Germans have become more popular as us Danes have become hostile towards them. At first there were mainly newspapers, informing other citizens on why it was necessary to resist the Germans. However, it quickly became apparent that we needed stronger and more active groups.
The BPOA and Holger Danske, which I am now a member of, are the most prominent parties. We have already blown up the Forum Arena to show the Nazis that we mean business. Much of my family is against what I am doing. They know, as do I, that I will be killed if I am caught. However, my country and its people need me to fight for them. My wife worries for me; she knows our family wouldn’t be able to survive if I was killed, but she supports my opinion and admires my bravery. I have a meeting to attend now, but I will be back.
Since the Germans began occupying Denmark, everyone has been worried about the Jews; what will happen to them? It is a horrible thought, which many decided to just avoid and pretend that they don’t realize what will happen. Our resistance groups are taking action. To save the lives of the Jews means more to me than anything and there is no way I will allow the Nazis to cruelly take their lives without reason. We have created an escape plan for the Jews on the night the Nazis plan to round them up. I’m hopeful that it will work as planned, and not one Danish Jew will be killed.
Our escape plan worked as planned. Only 284 Jews were found out of 8,000. Although it hurts to see that not everyone could make it out, it brings joy to me that we were able to save the amount of lives that we did. The help that we received from all of the citizens throughout the country was key to our success. They offered up their hospitals, homes, boats, and more to help Jews escape. The feeling of keeping thousands of people alive and many families together is like no other. I would do it all over again if I could. Many people now recognize my name for my prominent actions in their escape, but that doesn’t matter to me, only that the Jews are still alive.
Christer Lyst Hansen
Christen Pleasure Hansen ,
Policeman. Born in Humble, died in Copenhagen (Blegdamshosp.) columbarium at Bispebjerg KGD. LH was after school a short time employed in agriculture, but came in 1913 as an apprentice blacksmith and machinist, after which he served his apprenticeship working at the subject in six years. 1923 he was employed as a policeman in Copenhagen's police service at station 3 where he spent the following years mainly performed the traffic and patrol service.
After promotion to Sergeant 1940, he made ??a couple of years' service at the station until he was 6 1945 as a police officer of 2 level returned to station 3 where the following year he became the first policeman degree. Apart from a single year by emergency service he worked at this station in a dozen years as officer in charge of uniformed police until he was due to age resigned at the end of 1965. - During the war came LH early in illegal work in the resistance group The free Danish.
Already in autumn 1942, he was one of the first policemen in six weeks arrested by the Germans and placed in the Western Prison.However, he continued work in the Resistance and was including in the summer of 1944 helping to establish cooperation between the military and police opposition groups for which there was prepared a warning level that made ??it possible to summon the strength of nearly 1200 men in two hours.
LH - who during the German action against the police who had escaped internment of duty - was again arrested 26.10. and inserted into the Western Prison. Alarm plan fell hereby Gestapo hands, but when he had blurred it as an accounting for a homeowners', discovered the Germans never correlation.
Together with five other fighters he was transferred to Shell House where the attic thus came into use as a prison, because the Germans thought to be protect against air attack. In the morning 21.3.1945, he was led into the yard to be moved through the camp, but the journey was postponed, and it was a coincidence that he still sat in his solitary confinement as British bombers began their long prepared for air attack on Shell House.
While the house swayed and gennemrystedes of explosions from the first bombs and lime dust made ??it almost impossible to see anything, he grabbed in desperation cell solid stool, and with it as a battering ram, he succeeded fairly easy to beat such a big hole in the door surprisingly flimsy materials that he could climb out. At a time was an older German SS guard completely paralyzed with terror. LH demanded the keys of the other cells, but despite that he shook the German, sensed this nothing, why LH even took the keys from his pockets. He then walked coolly from cell to cell and locked the deportees out.
Only he had to give up to reach the last five cells as a bombehul the floor prevented access to it. He kept quiet deportees into the yard and into freedom along the staircase as he knew from earlier in the day. The staircase was immediately blown away. By this courageous effort he managed to rescue more than a dozen fellow prisoners, including two members of the Freedom Council, Mogens Fog and Aage Schoch. After encouragement from liberty council LH spent the latter part of the war in Sweden.
Ouderland, Bir Pratik
Life sketch of W.A.S. Ouderland, Bir Pratik
W A S Ouderland was born in December 1917 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
He started work with the Bata Shoe Company. He was called up to serve as a sergeant in the Dutch Royal Signals Corps on the eve of Nazi invasion in 1940.
He was taken prisoner by the Nazis, but he soon escaped from the POW camp and joined the Dutch resistance. He spoke fluent German, which helped him keep the resistance as well as the Allied forces abreast of German movements.
Following the end of the World War II, he returned to work for Bata. He was posted as the CEO of Bata operation in the then East Pakistan on the eve of our War of Liberation. Brutal repression and occupation of unarmed Bangladeshis by the Pakistani occupation army reminded him of the similar brutalities perpetrated by the Nazis in occupied Europe. He fully appreciated the legitimacy of Bangladeshi resistance against the brute forces of occupation.
He felt the acute need to make the world aware of the extent of genocide. As he was able to move freely as a foreigner, he took photographs of the atrocities committed by Pakistanis and their agents. He then passed these photographs to the world press.
As CEO of a major multinational, he enjoyed close access to higher echelon of the occupation forces. Indeed, he had close personal relationship with Gens Tikka Khan and Niazi. He maintained the appearance of friendship to the Pakistani top brass in order to avail sensitive information. He then passed these vital information on to the Mukti Bahini.
As the War progressed, he secretly began to train and assist local youths around the Tongi area in the art of guerilla resistance. He sent his family away from occupied Bangladesh so that he could turn his residence into a safe haven for our freedom fighters and their weapons.
He was awarded gallantry award Bir Pratik for his contribution to our War of Liberation.
Mr Ouderland remained in Bangladesh till 1978 and was transferred to Australia thereafter. He later settled in Australia and died after prolonged ailment at the age of 84 in a hospital at the Western Australian city of Perth on 18 May 2001. His love and concern for Bangladesh was undiminished until his last days.
Bielski Family Camp
Group of Jews in the Bielski family camp, among them partisan Yehuda Bielski.
Naliboki Forest, Byelorussia, May 1944
From right to left:
First: Yehuda Bielski
“Committee for the Defense of Jews”
Maurice Heiber, head of the “Committee for the Defense of Jews” (CDJ), an underground organization for the rescue of Jewish children during the war, with two other resistance workers and some of the children they saved.
From right to left:
Fourth: Ida Sterno
Sixth: Andree Guelen -Herscovici
Seventh: Maurice Heiber
Jewish partisans who took part in the Slovak National Uprising, among them Egon Novak and Oskar Wertheimer.
From right to left:
Second: Oskar Wertheimer
Fourth: Eugen Novak
Young Jews, members of the religious Zionist youth movement “Bnei Akiva", who were active in the underground Jewish rescue effort.
From right to left:
First: Sanyi Spigel (Sándor Spiegel)
Second: Tzvi Asael (Herman Auslaender - Nagy Oszi)
Third: Yitzhak Rosenfeld
First: Menachem Tzvi Kadari (Ern? Schwarcz)
Second: David Asael
(Dezs? Auslaender - Kis Oszi)
First:Uziel Menachem Yacovi (Jakobovic)
Second: Tzvi Seidel (Seidenfeld)
Jewish women partisans from Monastir (Bitola) in the ranks of the Liberation Movement.
Macedonia, Yugoslavia, 1943
From right to left:
Third: Zhamila Kolonomos ("Cveta")
First: Esterja Ovadia ("Mara")
Third: Adela Faraji ("Kata")
Fourth:Esterja Levi ("Lena")
Members of the Zionist youth movement “Dror Habonim” during the digging of bunkers in the Máramaros district.
Hungary, February-March 1944
From right to left:
Various Fighting Units
July 20, 1944
A group of partisans from various fighting units, who guarded the airfield in the Naliboki forest, among them partisans from the Bielski brothers’ group. Some of the men in the photo are escapees from the Mir ghetto
July 20, 1944
From right to left
Second - Josef Kozlowski
Third - Gershon Seigel
Ninth in the row - Izak Pozniak
Thirteen in the row - Zeev Schriber
Fourth - Josef Kessler
Far left - Berkowitz
First - Solomon Golanski
Second - Sholem Sniadowicz (Saul Schnadow)
July 14, 1948
Fighters in the “Yiftah Brigade” on a break during “Operation Danny”, the battle for Lod
Top row, fourth from the right:
Second row, third from the right:
Left, leaning against the tree:
Ziva Arbel (Halevi)
Bottom row, Fifth from the right:
Dr. Milan J. Vajs “Bigula
Dr. Milan J. Vajs “Bigula”, a Jewish doctor who joined the partisans. Northern Dalmatia, Yugoslavia, 1944.
Third from right
Dr. Milan J. Vajs “Bigula”
Leopold & Magdalena Socha~ Poland
Leopold Socha lived in a poor neighborhood of Lwow and worked as a laborer for the municipal sanitation department in maintaining the sewage system. When the Germans occupied Lwow, Socha, horrified by the Germans’ atrocities against the Jewish population, befriended Jews who had been interned in the ghetto.
After he decided to rescue at least twenty of them, he co-opted Stefan Wroblewski, a Pole who worked with him in cleaning out sewage canals, into his plans. One night, as he worked in the canals during the Aktion in which the ghetto was liquidated, Socha noticed several Jews wading through the effluent.
Socha allayed their fears, stopped them from heading toward the mouth of the river—which was swarming with large numbers of police and Gestapo agents—and proposed that they stay where they were so he could assist them. The sewage canals became the Jewish refugees’ hideout, and Socha, his wife, and the Wroblewskis met their needs from that day on. At the beginning, the hiding Jews paid their benefactors, but eventually the money ran out, and Socha and his wife continued to care for the fugitives and, together with the Wroblewskis paid for the food out of their own pockets.
Hiding in the sewers was very difficult and both the hiding Jews and their benefactors faced enormous challenges. Among the Jews was a woman named Weinberg, who was in the last month of her pregnancy. When conditions in the hideout caused her baby and her elderly grandmother to die, the rescuers went out of their way to bury them.
Several Jews, unable to endure the harsh living conditions in the canals, perished after seeking alternative refuge. It was Socha and Wroblewski who found their bodies and had them buried. Mrs. Socha and Mrs. Wroblewski provided the fugitives with clothing and, in a complicated operation, did their shopping. Socha brought the people in hiding newspapers. He also helped them keep their Jewish traditions: he brought them a prayer book that he had found in the ghetto area, and for Passover, he provided them with a sack of potatoes.
The Chirowski family went into the sewers with their two children, aged 4 and 7. Keeping the children busy was not easy, and in her testimony to Yad Vashem, Paulina Chirowski told them stories and tried to teach her daughter as much as conditions permitted. They would spend time under the sewer grills, listening to the noises from the streets. Paulina Chirowski remembered how her little girl was saddened when she listened from below to the conversation between a girl and her mother, on their way to church one Sunday morning, as they were buying flowers. All Paulina Chirowski could do was promise her daughter that one day they too would be free, and that she would then buy her flowers.
On the day of the German defeat in Stalingrad and on July 27, 1944, when Lwow was liberated, the rescuers and the survivors celebrated together at the Sochas’ home.
After spending thirteen months hiding in the sewage canals, ten of the twenty-one Jewish refugees in the group survived, including Halina Zipora Wind, the Chirowski (Chigier) family, and the Margulies family.
After the war Halina Wind, the sole survivor of her family, went back to her hometown Turka to pull out some mementos from the house she grew up in. She eventually emigrated to the United States where she married George Preston, who had survived Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald. She stayed in close touch with her rescuers until her death.
Jerzy and Paulina Chirowski settled first in Cracow, but in 1957 left Poland and emigrated to Israel. In 1978 Pawel Chirowski, who had been 4 years old when he hid with his family in the Lwow sewers, was killed during his military reserve duty.
On May 23, 1978, Yad Vashem recognized Leopold and Magdalena Socha as Righteous Among the Nations. In 1981 Stefan Wroblewski, the other sewer maintenance worker, and his wife were also recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
Vartan Mkrtchyan and his mother Arkal Shakhbazian, Knarik
When the Germans occupied Warsaw in 1939, 15-year-old Josef Taraszinsky escaped from the city with his family. They eventually reached Kharkov in Ukraine and settled there in April 1941. Two months later the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, and the Taraszinskys were again under Nazi rule.
On December 14, 1941, nearly two months after Kharkov was occupied by the Germans, the local Jews were ordered to leave their homes and move to the grounds of an agricultural equipment factory on the outskirts of the city. Three weeks later they were taken from there to be shot. While the Jews were lead to their death, a German officer instructed Taraszinsky to guard a suitcase filled with valuables.
After several hours the officer returned, took the suitcase and ordered Taraszinsky to follow the direction in which all the Jews had been taken. The young boy did not obey, but jumped into a nearby truck that was being loaded with the clothing of the murdered Jews.
When the truck reached Kharkov, he jumped out under the cover of darkness and found a place to rest in the attic of his former house. The next morning he went to the marketplace, where he met and befriended an Armenian boy, Vartan Mkrtchyan. Taraszinsky told him what had happened to him, and Vartan invited him to his home.
Vartan’s large Armenian family received Taraszinsky warmly, but only Vartan’s mother, Arkal, and cousin Knarik Shakhbazian were told about his real identity. Some time later, Vartan arranged false papers for his ward. Taraszinsky remained under the roof of the Armenian family until February 1943, when the city was first liberated by the Red Army. The two youngsters, Taraszinsky and Vartan joined the Red Army, and Vartan fell in combat. When Taraszinsky completed his military service in 1948, he returned to Kharkov, and married Knarik Shakhbazian.
On November 21, 1999, Yad Vashem recognized Vartan Mkrtchyan, his mother, Arkal and Knarik Shakhbazian as Righteous Among the Nations.
Gertruda Babilinska was born in 1902 in Starograd, near Gdansk. Her father worked at the post office and she was the eldest of eight children. When she was 19 years old, she went to Warsaw to seek work. She found a position with a Jewish family, taking care of their two children. When the family decided to leave for Palestine, they offered to take the nanny along, but Babilinska wanted to stay in Poland.
She was then engaged as nanny by the Stolowickis, a prosperous Jewish family in Warsaw. Gertruda lived in the family's mansion and took care of their baby daughter. After the little girl died at a young age, Babilinka stayed along to help care of Lidia Stolowicki who was a sickly woman and suffered greatly from the loss of her child. In 1936 the couple had a son, Michael, and Babilinska became his nanny.
In 1939, when the Germans attacked Poland, Mr. Stolowicki was in Paris, and was never to rejoin his family. The comfortable life at the Stolowicki household ended abruptly. While many of their employees and servants turned their back on the family, Gertruda not only remained loyal, but assumed responsibility for their survival.
Lidia Stolowicka decided to take her three-year-old son and flee from Warsaw. Gertruda went with them for the dangerous journey. They wanted to go to Vilna, because it was rumored that it was possible to go abroad from there. After their car broke down, they continued by horse-drawn cart. The roads were being bombed, and Lidia Stolowicki was completely terrorized. It was Babilinska who took charge.
The three managed to reach Vilna, but were stranded there among many other Jewish refuges with no financial means, except the little money Gertruda was able to make. Lidia Stolowicki was unable to cope with the harsh conditions. She fell ill, suffered a stroke, and in April 1941 she died and was buried in the Jewish cemetery. Before her death, realizing that her days were numbered, she had asked Babilinska to take care for her child and to take him to the Land of Israel after the war.
Two months after the death of Michael’s mother, the Germans attacked the Soviet Union and occupied Vilna. “I was left alone, with a circumcised five-year-old child”, Babilinska said in her testimony to Yad Vashem. Soon the killing of the Jews began, and in September the ghetto was established. Babilinska decided to stay in their apartment. Demonstrating enormous resourcefulness she managed to obtain false papers and a baptismal certificate for the boy, and to have him registered as her nephew.
Their situation was very difficult, and they had to move into a smaller room. Babilinska used her knowledge of German to make a living by writing petitions to the authorities on behalf of local people. In return she received eggs, dairy products and poultry. Hardly making ends meet they lived in great danger – the Germans were in the habit of conducting impromptu raids on the apartments of the refugees from Warsaw.
From where they lived they could see the ghetto and became witness to the roundups of the Jews. Babilinska sometimes went into the ghetto to help some of her acquaintances; on another occasion when Michael fell ill and she was afraid to go to a non-Jewish doctor, she went into the ghetto to find a Jewish doctor for the child. “There were many difficult moments”, she said in her testimony. “ but I knew that my mother was praying for me….”
When the war ended Babilinska decided to fulfill her promise to Michael's mother and take him to the Land of Israel. Before embarking on the journey she went with the child to her parents' home near Gdansk to take leave of her family. Although they tried to persuade her to stay, she stood by her promise and joined the Jewish refugees who were leaving the countries where their homes and communities had once stood and which had become sites of death and destruction.
Since immigration to British controlled Palestine was restricted, Babilinska and Michael stayed in a DP camp (displaced persons camp) in Germany until passage was arranged for them on one of the boats that tried to illegally reach the Land of Israel. Despite assurances by members of the Hagana[the pre-state Jewish defense forces] that they would look after the boy and make sure he reached Israel safely, Babilinska insisted on coming with him, declaring her willingness to throw in her lot with that of the other clandestine immigrants.
In 1947 they sailed from France on the "Exodus". The boat was intercepted by British war ships and the passengers – Holocaust survivors who wanted to leave Europe and rebuild their lives in Israel - were forcibly put on British ships that took them back to Europe. The passengers refused to disembark in the French harbor, and the boat was returned to Hamburg, in the British zone of occupied Germany.
There they were again put in DP camps. The hardship did not deter Babilinska, undaunted she made the journey again, finally arriving at the shores of Israel in 1948. She settled in Israel, where she raised Michael as her son. She lived in a small room and made a living cleaning houses. Although she remained a devout Catholic until her last day, she fulfilled her promise to his mother to raise him as a Jew.
On June 4, 1963, Yad Vashem recognized Gertruda Babilinska as Righteous Among the Nations.
Jan and Johana Lipke
Jan Lipke had been witness to one of the actions against the Jews in the streets of Riga, the Latvian capital. He then decided to help the Jews to the best of his ability. Lipke, a port worker, decided to go through retraining to become a contractor for the German airforce. He used his position to smuggle Jewish workers out of the Riga area camps.
Using a variety of ploys, he was able to smuggle approximately forty people and hide them in various places until the arrival of the Red Army in October 1944. The forty survivors who were rescued by Lipke and his wife, Johana, constituted one fifth of an estimated total of 200 Jews that survived on Latvian soil. When Lipke passed away in 1987, the Jews of Riga held an impressive funeral for him.
In 1966 Yad Vashem recognized Jan Lipke and his wife, Johana, as Righteous Among the Nations.
Ida Lenti sent her photo to Sandro and his sisters in Israel and wrote on the back - when you miss a motherly heart, look at the picutre so as to lessen the pain
Ida Lenti with the three children and soldiers from the Land of Israel, Venice, 1945
Ida Lenti, 1998
Yuzzi Galambos, a beautiful Jewish dancer, was 17 years old when she fell in love with the 35-year-old Hungarian non-Jewish singer, Kalman Toth. In 1930 she joined him on a tour in Italy. They lived the life of wandering artists, going from place to place, from performance to performance. By 1935 the couple had four children.
In 1940, the Italian authorities forced Kalman to leave the country, and he returned to Hungary, where he enlisted in the Hungarian army. Due to health problems he was hospitalized, and in 1942, the correspondence with him ceased. He probably died, but nothing is known about his fate.
With her husband gone, Yuzzi was left all alone. Her mother, Luise Galambos, was in Vienna, from where she was deported in February 1941 to Oppole, Lublin District, in Poland. She was able to correspond with her daughter until the letters stopped coming. It is unknown when and where she was murdered.
Struggling to earn a living, Yuzzi worked as a translator and gave private lessons in German. She lived with her three children in Castiglion Fiorentino (Arezzo) in Tuscany where they had rented a flat in an isolated farm-house, with no running water. The young girl she had hired as baby sitter stayed with her and watched the children.
Ida Brunelli (later Lenti) was fifteen years old when she was employed to take care of housekeeping and the three children: Alessandro-Sandro (later Zvi Yanai, former director general of the Ministry of Science and Technology in Israel), his sister, Fiorenza (later Judit Adler) and Lisetta. Yuzzi hid her Jewish origin even from the baby-sitter and had the children baptized.
In 1943, the year the Germans occupied Italy, Yuzzi became gravely ill with a heart condition and died of angina pectoris in January 1944. On her deathbed, the mother pleaded with Ida to take care of the orphans, aged 9, 12 and 13. She also revealed to her that they were actually Jewish and gave her the family documents. Young Ida was faced with terrible challenges, but did not abandon the children and became like a mother to them.
The young girl had to shoulder the responsibility of raising three children with no economic means whatsoever, all the time keeping the secret about their being Jewish, and facing the terrible danger of discovery by the Germans or the Italian militia. In desperation, she decided to take them to her mother, Maddalena, who lived in the village of Monselice in Padua province, northern Italy.
They were introduced as Hungarian refugees, and no one knew they were Jewish. Ida was unable to provide for the children all by herself, so she turned for help to the mayor. To him she disclosed the children’s real identity, and he was prepared to extend his help. The three children were put in various Christian institutions near Padua. Ida acted as the children’s sole guardian; she visited them regularly, and they spent every Sunday with her.
Throughout the war period, Ida Brunelli, an inexperienced young girl entrusted with three children, acted with unique maturity. She worked hard on their behalf, keeping in mind their dying mother’s last words. After the war, through the mayor, Ida contacted the Jewish Brigade soldiers who were looking for hidden Jewish orphans throughout Italy. One of the soldiers, Shlomo (Sever) Rovitz, still remembers that day in June 1945, when 18-year-old Ida appeared with three children in the military camp in Santa Colomba, near Siena.
She told him that the children were Jewish and described what they had gone through. Rovitz spent some time with the children, verifying Ida’s story. He was extremely impressed with Ida’s courage and dedication. Ida was reluctant to leave the children in the camp with the Jewish soldiers.
She wanted to make sure they were safely on board the ship leaving from Naples and for a whole month she wandered with the children from camp to camp until she was certain they were in good hands. In 1950, Ida wrote a letter to the chief rabbi in Rome, telling him her story. The Italian Jewish weekly Israel published an article entitled “A Case of Conscience.” Ida lived very modestly, married late, and did not have any children of her own. She died in 2008.
On February 24, 1993, Yad Vashem recognized Ida Lenti as Righteous Among the Nations. In 1998, Ida Lenti came to Isarel as part of a delegation of 50 Righteous Among the Nations from various countries, who were invited to the celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the State of Israel.
Malgorzata Wolska and her children Mieczyslaw, Halina (Michalecka-Wolska), Wanda (Szandurska- Wolska) and nephew Janusz Wysocki
The Failed Attempt to Rescue Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum
The Wolski family lived at 81 Grojecka Street, Warsaw, in a property that they owned. It consisted of a two-story building with a garden and a greenhouse that was maintained by Mieczyslaw Wolski, who was a gardener by trade. Mieczyslaw lived with his mother Malgorzata, his sisters, Halina and Wanda, and his nephew, Janusz Wysocki.
During the war, the family gave shelter to over 30 Jews, including Dr. Emanuel Ringleblum, a well-known historian and social activist, who had founded the underground Warsaw Ghetto Archive “Oneg Shabbath”, his wife Yehudit, and their son Uri.
In 1942, Halina, in agreement with her mother, brought home a Jewish woman named Wiska. Wiska quickly grew accustomed to the Wolskis and they in turn treated her like a member of the family. After about one month, Wiska moved to the ghetto, but then returned after staying there for only a few days. A week later, she went to the ghetto again, this time accompanied by Mieczyslaw. They returned two days later with a plan of how and where to make a hideout and how to smuggle Jews out of the ghetto.
Mieczyslaw immediately set about building the hideout, which was named Krysia. He received help from his sisters, Halina and Wanda, as well as from his nephew Janusz. The hideout was built under the greenhouse. It consisted of one large room, about five by seven meters. It contained bunk beds and in the center stood tables and benches. There was also a kitchen connected to the chimney of the neighboring building, owned by the Piwer firm. The entrance to the toilet was through the kitchen. There was light and water and the entrance to the hideout was camouflaged.
Mieczyslaw and Janusz brought in the first group of Jews. They were initially set up in an empty store with a big cellar and they stayed there until the hideout was completed. From that moment on, Mieczyslaw’s mother Malgorzata, as well as Halina, Wanda, and Janusz had their hands full: They were charged with making food and taking it to the hideout, and taking the trash out.
Shortly after the hideout was completed, a second group of Jews was led to it, this time around 30 people altogether. When all of them came to know the place and the conditions, a committee was set up to distribute the work to be done, such as cleaning, guarding the entrance, and so on. The members of the Wolski family also got organized. Mieczyslaw supervised everything - Janusz and Wanda were in charge of supplying items and removing waste and Halina would take care of miscellaneous things, like correspondence and shopping to buy meat and food products.
Life in the hideout carried on late into the night. Talks were carried out, language lessons were given, newspapers read. The women would cook in the kitchen or do other chores. “Every night we went with Janusz to Krysia and lived their lives, we were very eager to stay and talk. Not once did we stay there the whole night. Krysia was our whole life,” wrote Wanda in her testimony to Yad Vashem.
Dr. Ringelblum continued his work in Krysia. His well-known dissertation on Polish-Jewish relations during the occupation was written during that time. Thanks to the Wolskis, he was able to maintain contact with the Jewish National Committee that was active on the Aryan side of town.
On March 4, 1944, just before noon, Germans and blue police entered the kitchen where Malgorzata, Mieczyslaw, Wanda, and a sick Halina were sitting. They took Mieczyslaw and led him directly to the greenhouse. Wanda wrote: “Through the window I saw the Germans next to Krysia and Jews coming out of it with their hands up. I then cried to my mother and Halina: ‘Hide yourselves where you can!’...
A German entered our apartment... nobody was in the apartment... The Germans loaded the Jews up on a truck, as well as my brother Mieczyslaw, my sister Maria, and my nephew Janusz and drove away. A few guards stayed. In the afternoon, they brought Mieczyslaw back to the garden... I saw my brother through the window in the staircase; he wore only a shirt and was horribly beaten up. He didn’t look like himself.
He stood leaning against a wall; in a certain moment he raised his head and looked at the house, this was his last farewell... Krysia was plundered, and then burned. Blue police guards stayed behind for three more days... After the Krysia affair faded away, we returned to the house with mother. The apartment was completely ransacked, and we were treated like criminals, all our acquaintances kept their distance from us... only fear and fright did not desert us.”
All the Jews who were hiding with the Wolskis – thirty-four people in all - were murdered, including Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum and his family. Though its founder was killed, most of the archive that he had created was discovered after the war. The rescuers too paid a dear price. Mieczyslaw and Janusz were murdered, and only Malgorzata, Halina, and Wanda survived.
On June 4, 1989, Yad Vashem recognized Mieczyslaw Wolski, his mother Malgorzata Wolska, his sisters, Halina Michalecka-Wolska and Wanda Szandurska-Wolska, and his nephew, Janusz Wysocki, as Righteous Among the Nations.
The Westerweel Network Johan Gerard & Wilhelmina Dora Westerweel
Johan (Joop) Westerweel was one of the most daring and successful of the Dutch resistance leaders until his execution by the Nazis in April 1944. His background in education and his unconventional parents, who belonged to a non-consensual sect of Protestantism - the Derbists – may have prepared him for the unique rescue operation that he set into motion.
Joop’s motto was one of non-violent resistance. As a convinced pacifist, he had been expelled from the Dutch East Indies for refusing to be drafted into the army. Joop never abandoned his idealistic principles. His strict Christian background instilled in him a sense of justice for all and a belief in the basic goodness of man. He began teaching in a school at the Werkplaats in Bilthoven, where the progressive and innovative educational methods of its founder, Kees Boeke, were applied.
In 1940, Joop and his wife, Wilhelmina (Wil), moved to Rotterdam, where Joop was offered a position as principal of one of the Montessori schools. In Bilthoven, the Westerweels had already come into contact with Jewish refugee children, who had been arriving in Holland in the 1930s, mainly from Germany.
By 1942, the couple had four children. Nevertheless they dedicated their lives to helping others, and had been taking Jewish refugees into their home. Joop’s colleague and friend from the Werkplaats, Mirjam Waterman (later Pinkhof), introduced him to a group of young Zionist pioneers (halutzim) in Loosdrecht, near Amsterdam. Joop recognized a sense of idealism and strong principles in this group and felt a great affinity to them.
The community consisted mainly of youngsters, aged between 15 and 19, originating from Central and Eastern Europe. They had come to Holland for agricultural training in preparation for immigration to Eretz Yisrael. Joop admired the group’s cohesiveness, their inner discipline, and their optimism. Most of all, Joop admired Shushu (Joachim) Simon, a young intellectual from Berlin in whom he discovered a soul mate, a fellow thinker-idealist, with whom he formed a close friendship.
When the Loosdrecht group received a tip-off from the Jewish Council on August 15, 1943, that they were about to be deported, Joop and his friends, who became known as the Westerweel group, were on hand to provide a hiding place for each of the 50 members. By August 17, 1943, all the young pioneers had found shelter, and 33 out of this group of 50 survived the war, the rest were deported after betrayal.
Joop and his colleagues realized that hiding was far from being a perfect solution. They had heard of the possibility of crossing the border into Belgium and from there traveling to France and neutral Spain, where it would be possible to reach Eretz Yisrael by boat. The Westerweel group, in collaboration with the Hehalutz movement, decided to concentrate on helping the members escape Dutch territory altogether.
In September 1942, an attempt was made to help eight Jewish pioneers escape to neutral Switzerland. The group was caught crossing the Dutch-Belgian border and all were arrested and deported to Auschwitz. A second group reached Switzerland. In December 1943, Joop succeeded in leading a group of halutzimfrom Holland through Belgium to France. From there they could cross the border to Spain and ultimately reach Eretz Yisrael.
At the foot of the Pyrenees, in a dramatic address to the young halutzim with whom he was about to part, Joop urged them to remember the suffering in the world at large. He implored them to accord freedom and dignity to all inhabitants of a future Jewish State. “No more war,” were his final words as they parted company.
Later that month, Wil was arrested during an attempt to free Lettie Rudelsheim (later Ben Heled), one of the most active halutz members, from the Scheveningen prison. Wil was taken to the Vught concentration camp, where she remained for about a year, and during which time she witnessed the execution of her husband. She was later transferred to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she was subjected to forced labor and contracted a heart disease. She was eventually allowed to go to Sweden as part of a prisoner exchange and returned to Holland after the war.
Following his wife’s arrest, Joop put his four children went into hiding with friends of the family. He quit his post at the Montessori school and went underground. On March 11, 1944, Joop and his co-worker Bouke Koning were caught at the Belgian border with two Jewish women from Youth Aliyah whom they were escorting.
Joop was imprisoned in Vught and tortured. He soon became a spiritual leader for many of the prisoners since his unfailing high spirits in the face of cruel interrogation and the prospect of execution gave those around him hope and strength. His last communication with the outside world was a poem, entitled “Avond in de Cel” ( Evening in the Cell), written in July 1944, and full of optimism, speaking of the beauty of nature and a life of fulfillment and inner conviction. On August 11, 1944, Joop Westerweel was executed in the Vught concentration camp.
One of the Westerweel children, Marta, settled in Israel, where she met many of her father’s survivors. “I was three-and-a-half years old when my father was arrested and five years old when he was executed. I never really knew him. In the Netherlands I was a fatherless child; here in Israel I became my father’s daughter”, she says. It was from the survivors that she heard stories about her father. “I know the survivors endured terrible tragedies”, she says, “but in a way I envy them, because they had known my father”.
On June 16, 1964, Yad Vashem recognized Johan Gerard Westerweel and his wife, Wilhelmina Dora Westerweel-Bosdriesz, as Righteous Among the Nations.
Vasiuta Wegrzynowska and her Children Jan, Mikhal and Docia
Murdered by Their Neighbors, Ukraine
Vasiuta Wegrzynowska was a poor widow who lived with her three children, Jan, Mikhal, and Docia in the village of Zahajpol in the county of Ko?omyja, district of Stanis?awów (later Ivano-Frankivsk). In the 1930s, Vasiuta had worked as a hired hand on the farm of the Jewish Helper family. Maks and Henya Helper treated their workers very well, and therefore, when in 1943 the Jewish family was in desperate need for shelter, Vasiuta helped them and hid them in her home and yard.
The Helpers and their daughter Janina were hidden in a bunker under the floor of the cowshed. The hiding place had been especially built for this purpose. It was dark, damp and very narrow. They could only sit or lie, without any room for movement.
Their little three year old daughter Janina had to be kept quiet, so as not to arouse the suspicion of passers-by. For 18 months Vasiuta and her children cared for them and brought them food - sometimes even shared their last pieces of bread with them. Fear was their permanent companion. The family was always under the threat of denunciation by the neighbors. In fact, the Ukrainian police searched the Wegrzynowskis’ home on several occasions, but fortunately the well-camouflaged bunker was never discovered.
After the liberation in late March 1944, the three hidden Jews left their hideout for the first time. Vasiuta accompanied them through the streets of the village, on their way to Ko?omyja, where they were reunited with the small number of the community’s remaining Jews. Vasiuta was proud that her family managed to rescue three Jews despite all odds. Unfortunately her courageous deed was not appreciated by some of her neighbors, and in late 1944, Vasiuta and her children were murdered, not far from their home, by a nationalist gang seeking revenge against people that saved Jews during the war.
An investigation was held and the Helpers were called in and were asked to identify the bodies. The terrible shock of learning of their benefactors’ cruel death contributed to their resolve to leave the Ukraine. The family eventually immigrated to Israel.
On March 25, 1981, Yad Vashem recognized Vasiuta Wegrzynowska and her children, Jan Wegrzynowski, Mikhal Wegrzynowski, and Docia Wegrzynowska as Righteous Among the Nations.
Johannes & Anna Syrier
The Murder of the Fisherman and his Wife, Netherlands
In 1936 Jerry Goldschmidt and his parents fled from Germany and arrived in Holland as refugees. Four years later the Germans occupied the Netherlands and they were caught again by Nazi Germany. In summer 1942, the deportation of Jews to the extermination camps in the east began, and the family decided to go into hiding.
Jerry's parents found a place for him in Utrecht, where they had been living; they themselves went into hiding with Johannes and Anna Syrier in Amsterdam. However it turned out that conditions at Jerry’s hiding place became impossible – his benefactors’ house was small with very thin walls, and the three Jews in hiding had to maintain complete silence so that the neighbours wouldn’t become suspicious. By Christmas 1942 he was brought to his parents’ hiding place. Thee Syriers’ daughter came to fetch him and brought him to her parents’ home, where he was re-united with his parents.
Johannes Syrier was a fisherman. He and his wife Anna were over fifty years old, but not with standing the difficulties, they welcomed the Goldschmidt family in their home and eventually took in another three Jews: Anna Pollack, Dr. Barend and Augusta Luza.
In addition to the great danger to themselves, the rescuers were challenged with feeding another six mouths at wartime, when food was in short supply and rationed. Jerry told Yad Vashem that at the beginning his parents still had some money and could contribute to their upkeep. However eventually all their money was gone. Nevertheless the Syrier family assured them that they would manage without it. All six Jews remained hidden in the Syrier home for two years. Jerry remembers them spending the evenings with their rescuers, talking or playing games.
In summer 1944, they were betrayed. The police came and arrested the Jews and their benefactors. The Syriers were sent to concentration camps, and the Jews were taken first to prison in Amsterdam, and then to Westerbork camp – the transit camp from which Jews from Holland were deported to the east. In the beginning of September 1944 the Goldschmidt family was deported to Theresienstadt, and the other three Jews that had been hiding with the Syriers were taken to Bergen-Belsen. Fortunately, they all survived the war.
The fate of their rescuers, however, was much more bitter, and they did not survive the war. Johannes Syrier died in the Stutthof camp, and his wife Anna in Ravensbrueck concentration camp for women.
On 3 May 2009 Yad Vashem recognized Johannes and Anna Syrier as Righteous Among the Nations.
Manko & Maryna Swierszczak Michal & Genowefa Dukiewicz
Hiding in Graves in a Cemetery, Poland
As youngsters before the war, Yechiel Rozen and his brothers, Shmuel and Henry, used to play football in a playing field adjoining a Polish cemetery, in the town of Buczacz, in the Tarnopol district. In the course of time, a friendship developed between the Rozen boys and Manko Swierszczak, a gravedigger and custodian of the cemetery, whose friendly nature soon endeared him to the boys. In June 1943, when the last of the Jews were deported from Buczacz, the Rozen brothers and their mother fled and made their way to the cemetery, where they knocked on Swierszczak’s door.
Manko Swierszczak, with his wife Maryna’s approval, led the four Rozens to the cemetery where, together, they dug a bunker in which they hid. Later, they were joined by four other Jews whom Swierszczak had saved, but the newcomers left shortly after and were never heard of again. After neighbors informed the Gestapo that the Swierszczaks were buying excessive quantities of food, their house was searched.
Although they Germans found no trace of the refugees, Swierszczak was arrested. Despite being tortured for several days, he did not betray his charges. In the winter, when it was too cold to stay in the bunker, the Swierszczaks dug a hiding place for the Rozens under the floorboards of the funeral parlor in the cemetery. Their willingness to endanger their lives for Jewish refugees was inspired by humanitarian motives, which overrode considerations of personal safety or economic hardship. On the contrary, they considered it an honor to save the lives of the Jewish refugees who came their way. One day, German soldiers retreating from the Red Army entered the funeral parlor. The floor collapsed under their weight and the soldiers fell through the floorboards on to the Jewish refugees. The boys’ mother was shot on the spot, but the three brothers managed to escape.
After their narrow escape, the three brothers stayed with Michal and Genowefa Dukiewicz, a peasant couple they knew, who lived in a nearby village, until the area was liberated by the Red Army in March 1944. After the war, the survivors immigrated to Israel while their rescuers moved to an area within the new Polish borders.
On July 7, 1983, Yad Vashem recognized Maryna and Manko Swierszczak and Genowefa and Michal Dukiewicz as Righteous Among the Nations.
Jozef & Augusta De Winne
The Bond between Rescuers and the Children they Saved, Belgium
Augusta de Winne with Nelly in her arms
When Jozef & Augusta de Winne’s grandchild, Jan, informed his family that his would-be bride, Luisa, was of Jewish origin, his aunts told him that their parents his grandparents - had saved Jews during World War II. Luisa’s family urged the young couple to turn to Yad Vashem in order to recognize the rescuers. In the course of the examination of the case, the following story was revealed:
Leib Krautstengel had immigrated to Belgium from Poland in 1921. In 1941 he married Amalia Lifshitz, who had escaped from Germany two years earlier. When the deportations began, the family – by that time they had one baby, Maxime, and were expecting another child - went into hiding. With the danger of deportation intensifying, they wanted to find a safer place for their child in the country. A neighbor put them in touch with her sister, Augusta de Winne, who was living in Erondegem, and welcomed Maxime into her home. When Amelia Krautstengel gave birth to a daughter, this baby too was brought to the de Winne home.
The children were very well taken care of by the de Winnes, but the separation from his parents was most traumatic for Maxime, and in the first months of his stay with them he was crying a lot. Only the doctor and priest knew the children’s true identity.
Although they lived in a small village, there were collaborators among the neighbors and therefore a cover story had to be invented. They told everybody that Maxime and Nelly were the children of their daughter, Lucienne, who was then 22 years old. When Jozef de Winne died in 1943, his wife continued to care for the children, facing the danger and the difficulty of providing food for the children who had no food ration cards.
When the war ended, Maxime and Nelly’s parents, who had survived in hiding, came to take their children back. This constituted another painful separation for the two children, who by now had completely adjusted to their benefactors’ family and who saw their real parents as total strangers. In order to facilitate the return home, Augusta and Jozef de Winne sent their son, Cyriel, to join the children in their new home with the hope that a familiar face would perhaps ease the transition. Cyriel’s sister would often come and help Amalia Krautstengel with the children.
The traumatizing effect of the war years left a strong mark on Amalia Krautstengel, and she suffered from deep depression and was often hospitalized. The children were therefore put in a children’s home, first in Brussels and then in Antwerpen. The parents never mentioned the war years, and Nelly never dared to ask them how they had survived. Her father died in 1967, and in 1987 her brother, Maxime, committed suicide. It was only when she met Hubertine and Lucienne, the daughters of Augusta de Winne, that she was able to learn more about her past.
On 16 July 2007 Jozef & Augusta de Winne were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Ivan (Ivica) Vranetic
A Love that Knew No Bounds, Croatia
In September 1943, after the German occupation of Italy and the territories under its control, the Yugoslav partisans arrived at the Island of Rab in the Adriatic Sea. They released the Jews interned on the island’s camp, and helped them reach the area in southern Yugoslavia that was under their control.
Some of the Jews joined the ranks of the partisans, while the women, children and infirm among them stayed in the villages, principally in the village of Topusko in southern Croatia. Many of the village’s residents were connected to the Ustaša, the Croatian ruling party responsible for the murder of most of the Jews in Croatia. These residents ignored the distress of the Jews, and those that did help them only did so for fear of the partisans.
Seventeen-year-old Ivan (Ivica) Vranetic aided the Jews from the moment they reached Topusko. Vranetic befriended a number of Jewish refugees and found them places to live. He carried children and elderly people on his back over and over to their places ofrefuge. Among the refugees was Arna Montilio, whose husband had been killed in the Jasenovac camp, as well as her small daughter and elderly mother. Vranetic found them a hiding place.
At the end of 1943, a German army unit came to the region, and battles between them and the Yugoslav partisans began. The Jewish refugees were forced to flee the areas in which the battles were taking place, and to make their way from one place of refuge to the next. Vranetic used to warn the Jews of upcoming battles, find them new places to hide and even escort them to these places and take care of all their needs there. In one case, when a rumor broke out that the Germans were approaching, a number of Jews fled in error towards the Ustaša forces. Vranetic worried about them and after two hours found them and directed them towards safety.
In hiding the Jews and his actions taken on their behalf, Vranetic risked his life over and over again. After the war, he kept in contact with many of the Jews he saved, among them Arna Montilio, whose husband had been killed in the camp of Jasenovac, and who had a young child. "I could have never survived with an old mother and a little girl without his help", she told Yad Vashem.
Many years later, Ivan said that he had fallen in love with Arna, but their mothers were opposed to the marriage. Montilio immigrated to Israel, where she re-married and had another two children. She kept in constant written contact with Ivan. Some 20 years later, Vranetic came to Israel. By that time Arna had separated from her second husband. The renewed encounter with Ivan rekindled their love and the two were married.
In 1970 Yad Vashem honored Ivan (Ivica) Vranetic as Righteous Among the Nations. He was awarded honorary citizenship of the State of Israel, and in 1986 was elected chairman of the Organization of Righteous Among the Nations in Israel. In 2009, during PopeBenedict XVI’s visit to Israel, Vranetic greeted the Pope during his visit to Yad Vashem.
The Actress’ Finest Role, Austria
Dorothea Neff receiving the Certificate of Honor
Dorothea Neff was an actress. She was born in Munich, Germany, in 1903. In the 1930s, she acted in a theatre in Cologne, where she met a young Jewish costume designer, Lilli Wolff. The two women became friends. When Neff was offered a position with the famous Volkstheater in Vienna and moved there, the two women’s paths diverged.
In 1940, however, as the situation of the Jews in her hometown deteriorated, Lilli decided to go to Vienna, erroneously believing that Jews were better treated there. Desperate and lonely in a city where she knew no one, Lilli went to her former friend’s apartment and asked her for help. Neff found her a room with another Jewish family, assisted her financially, and supplied her with necessary medication and other needs. Moreover, at a time when almost all Germans and Austrians had totally cut off contact with Jews, Dorothea often came to visit her friend. Although the Jews’ freedom of movement was severely restricted by that time, Dorothea invited Lilli over to her apartment.
When the deportations of the Jews to the East began, Dorothea tried in vain to find a hiding-place for her friend, and even went to Berlin for that purpose. It seems that she reached the conclusion that she had exhausted all possibilities of helping her friend. Thus, in October of 1941, when Lilli received notification that she was to be deported,
Dorothea came to help her pack her belongings and to see her off. After the war, the two women related that they had been sitting in the kitchen, trying to decide what Lilli should pack to take to her unknown destination. It was a sudden spontaneous impulse that made Dorothea close the suitcase and exclaim: “You’re not going anywhere! I’ll hide you!”
This was clearly not something she had planned in advance. Until that moment she had thought there was nothing more to be done, and only while they were packing did she realize that she had to take one more step. Years later, she explained: “As I looked into Lilli’s pale face, I was so overcome by compassion for this poor abandoned human being that I knew I couldn’t let her go off to face the unknown.”
For over three years, until the end of the war, Lilli lived in a back room in Dorothea’s apartment. The two women’s lives were reigned by constant fear of discovery. For Lilli it was the terror of being caught and deported. But the rescuer’s life changed radically as well. She would rush home every day after her performance, worrying that something might have happened during her absence.
At a time of war, when food was rationed, she had to obtain extra food for her friend. During air raids, she had to find excuses to explain the stranger who would join her down at the shelter. She had to be careful about whom she invited to her home. Another crisis came when Lilli became sick. Like many other rescuers who were hiding Jews, Dorothea now had to find a way to take Lilli to get treatment without arousing suspicion.
After the war, Lilli Wolff immigrated to the United States and settled in Dallas, Texas.
In 1979, Dorothea Neff was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
In her speech she said: “The greater the darkness of a period, the brighter is the light of a single candle.”
Shmuel Eliraz’ Lost Childhood, Poland
Shmuel Eliraz today is a prosperous farmer who lives with his family in Israel. Like many survivors, he immersed himself in his work and family, investing all his energies in building a new life in Israel. Facing the dreadful memories of the past was too painful, and only in recent years did he tell his story to his son, Navot who wrote it down under the title “My Father’s Lost Childhood”.
Shmuel Eliraz was born in Warsaw in 1935. His maternal grandfather, Dr. Shmuel Poznanski, was a well-known rabbi and intellectual, and his parents, Jozef and Stefa Rosenzweig, were affluent and belonged to the educated and cultured class of interwar Warsaw. Polish culture and poetry predominated in their home; Jozef Rosenzweig was a successful lawyer; and Stefa was a rebellious, beautiful young woman.
The good life ended when the Germans occupied Poland. When the ghetto was established in Warsaw, the Rosenzweig family and their son had to move into the crowded and tormented ghetto. Once Stefa and Jozef became aware of the hopelessness of their situation, they arranged for their little son to be taken to safety, and entrusted him to Stefa's former nanny, Maria Walewska. Walewska was unmarried, had no children of her own, and after a long service to Stefa’s family had moved to a remote village in the district of Skierniewice.
Shmuel, who at home had been called by his Polish name, Ludwik, now became Wiesiu, Maria's nephew. The child had blond hair and blue eyes, spoke fluent Polish, and soon became accustomed to village life and adopted the local accent. The memories of his parents and his past life began to fade.
Many years later, Shmuel’s son, Navot described Maria's role: "Maria was the heroine in the story of my father’s rescue during the Holocaust. Without her inventiveness, devotion and readiness to endanger herself, the rescue could not have taken place. Moreover, against the background of the village’s pastoral peacefulness and under her protection, my father was almost totally isolated from what was taking place in the outside world with only some rumors reaching them by way of the peasants in the vicinity.
The world around was practically non-existent for him and he had no information about his parents' fate. Maria did not speak of them, and he did not ask. He thus fitted in with the villagers among whom he lived".
Shmuel-Ludwik-Wiesiu remained in the village under Maria Walewska’s care for the rest of the war years.
His father was murdered in the Holocaust, but his mother survived and after liberation arrived in the Land of Israel, where she joined her brother and sister who had immigrated to Palestine before the war. They helped their sister to search for her son, and arranged for an envoy, who was going to Poland on behalf of the Zionist movement, to go to Walewska's home and get the boy.
The envoy, Moshe Ishai, took Shmuel and another little girl that he had brought from the family that had hidden her, and travelled with the two children across Europe to Marseille, where he put them on a boat to Palestine. Shmuel arrived in the Land of Israel in the spring of 1946. Unfortunately his mother, who was deeply traumatized by the Holocaust, was unable to pick up the pieces and make a home for him. He was therefore put in a kibbutz.
Wiesiu had become Shmuel again. It was the fourth time in his short life that he had been torn out of his accustomed life: first he had to move with his parents from their comfortable home to the ghetto; then he was separated from his mother and father and taken to Maria Walewska; after the war a stranger, Moshe Ishai took him away from the woman who had cared for him and brought him to a strange land; after a short reunion with his mother, he was yet again placed in an unknown environment and had to learn a new language.
Nevertheless, Shmuel fitted in well with kibbutz life, rapidly learned Hebrew and after a short while began writing Hebrew letters to his mother. Like many children who had been in hiding he focused on adopting his new identity, tried to put the past behind him and become an Israeli.
This, however, was not the end of the tragedies in his life. Shmuel’s mother, Stefa Rosenzweig never managed to overcome the experience of the Holocaust. She tried to rebuild her life and even formed a new relationship with a childhood friend from Warsaw, another survivor of the Holocaust. She promised Shmuel that she would eventually bring him home to her. All these hopes were shattered when her partner fell in the War of Independence in May 1948 in a battle near Jerusalem.
Stefa was unable to deal with yet another loss and committed suicide. This was the fifth time in Shmuel’s short life that he had to experience separation and abandonment. He remained in the kibbutz, which became his home. When he grew up he settled in a village in the south of Israel, where he established a big and thriving dairy farm.
In 2004 Shmuel travelled to Poland with his wife. They visited Warsaw and Auschwitz. He remembered the name of his rescuer, but was unable to recall the name of her village. Thus he was unable to go back to the place where he had spent the years of the Holocaust. All he had were a few old photos showing him with Walewska in the garden of her home.
When the Department of the Righteous began investigating this case, there was only the name of the rescuer, but no further information about her. A first lead was found in the memoirs of Moshe Ishai, the man who had brought Shmuel to Israel, and in his personal papers that he had deposited in the Yad Vashem archive. Ishai described that in early spring 1945, he left Lodz and drove for two hours to the vicinity of the town of Skierniewice, until he reached the village where the grandson of Rabbi Poznanski had been hidden.
Ishai went on to describe that the house was at the outskirts of the village; that the woman told him that when she first brought the boy home, her neighbours were distrustful and suspected that she was hiding a Jewish child, but that eventually they left them in peace. The name of the village was not mentioned in the account, but Ishai’s report provided an indication of the region. With the help of the office of the President of Poland all registries in that area were consulted until Maria Walewska's trace was found.
A woman by that name had been living in the village of Nowy Kaweczyn, and the house where she had lived was on the main road at the end of the village. She had lived there until 1962, and then moved to Zyrardow, where she died in 1966. Once the details about the rescuer had been established, the file could be submitted to the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous.
On 5 May 2009 Yad Vashem recognized Maria Walewska as Righteous Among the Nations.
Jacob and Wijntje de Vries
Remembering Little Loesje, Netherlands
Jacob and Wijntje de Vries lived with their two young children in the village of Nieuwe Niedrop in northern Holland. Jacob was a carpenter; Wijntje was a homemaker and took care of the children at home.
One day in the summer of 1942, after the onset of the deportations of the Jews from Holland to “the East”, a student, who was a courier for the ASG student underground group in Amsterdam, approached the de Vries family, asking them to hide a Jewish child. The de Vrieses, who had two children of their own, decided to accept the offer despite the risk that was involved in hiding Jews, and soon four year-old Louise Pinto was brought to their home.
The little girl, whose nickname was Loesje, soon became an integral part of the expanded family; they treated her as if she were their own, and she became friends with the de Vries children. Attentive to the difficulty Luise's parents must have felt when they had to part from their child, Jacob and Wijntje de Vries, traveled to Amsterdam, soon after the girl’s arrival, to meet her parents in person, and to assure them that their daughter had found a good home.
It is difficult to imagine the extent of fear and despair that must have lead parents to part from their children and to hand them over to total strangers. This human gesture on the part of Jacob and Wijntje de Vries probably was enormously comforting to Louise's parents, and we may assume that when Izek and Rozalia Pinto were arrested and deported to the Sobibor extermination camp in July 1943, they must have held on to the thought that at least their daughter was safe and with a loving family.
Loesje with Elisabeth de Vries
The de Vries family tried to give Louise a normal life as much as possible. She was allowed to play outside and was taken on family visits. She also played with another Jewish girl, Louise Sachs (later Joseph), who was in hiding with the Lodders, a family of friends who lived close-by. In 1943, however, the family's quiet life was disturbed.
Loesje with the de Vries grandfather and children
They were betrayed, and Jacob was arrested. When Wijntje went to visit her arrested husband, she asked the grandparents to guard the three children. During her absence the Dutch police raided the de Vries home. The grandparents were beaten, and Louise was discovered and taken away. The little five-year-old girl was deported and murdered in Auschwitz.
Jacob de Vries was taken to the Vught concentration camp, where he endured severe beatings. On April 20, 1944, he was among the few who were released on the occasion of Hitler’s birthday. Both Jacob and Wijntje de Vries never recuperated from the loss of Louise, the little girl they had so much wanted to save. Although she had only been with them for a year, they never forgot the little girl that had been gassed in Auschwitz, and who like her parents and millions of other victims of the Holocaust, had no grave. Remembering little Louise until their last day, Jacob and Wijntje de Vries instructed that her name would be added to the tombstone of the family grave.
On May 26, 2002, Yad Vashem recognized Jacob de Vries and Wijntje de Vries-Frielink as Righteous Among the Nations.
Count Joachim von Zedtwitz, Germany
June 11, 1910~
Count Joachim von Zedtwitz, Germany
Joachim von Zedtwitz was born on June 11, 1910 in Vienna. In 1939 he was a German medical student in Prague. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Zedtwitz was instrumental in helping politically active anti-Nazis – for the most part, Jews – escape abroad.
The rescue activity was organized from the house of Milena Jesenská. Zedtwitz would arrive at Jesenska’s home in Prague and drive the escapees to the area of Moravska-Ostrava. This was in the vicinity of the border, and from there, they could cross over to Poland with the help of local guides. However, with the occupation of Poland this option was no longer feasible.
In March 1940, Zedtwitz was arrested and questioned by the Gestapo concerning his relations with Jesenská. His interrogators knew nothing about his rescue activity, and 15 months later he was released after simulating insanity.
After spending some time as a patient in psychiatric clinics he was released, and worked until the end of the war as an internist in clinics in various towns. When he was in Berlin, he cooperated with a resistance group. Zedtwitz had given up his German citizenship in the wake of the German invasion of Czechoslovakia and never reclaimed it out of shame at the crimes the Nazis had committed. In the 1980s, he became a Swiss citizen.On December 14, 1994, Yad Vashem recognized Joachim von Zedtwitz as Righteous Among the Nations.
Julien Henri Marius & Pauriol Heniette Augustine
Nouf-Nouf’s Rescue, France
Before the Second World War, Henry and Henriette Julien were teachers in La Treille in the Marseille area in the south of France. They established an innovative school that was well known for its unique educational qualities. The couple’s political orientation was of the left. They volunteered to help the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, established special homes for children of the Spanish refugees and adopted a Spanish orphan.
When France was occupied by Nazi Germany, they soon became active in resistance work and in the rescue of Jews. They used their experience and helped rescue organizations establish homes for children.
In 1942 they created a special home in Mausanne for Jewish children and for children of political prisoners and resistance members. Groups of Jewish children would be brought to their home and Julien and his wife would take care of them and help smuggle them over the border into Switzerland.
Conditions in the children’s home were difficult. There was no electricity or heating, and life was dominated by fear from denunciation and raids.
Jacques Margulies, whose nickname was Nouf-Nouf, was one of the children they hid. He was the son of Jewish refugees from Austria. His parents, Dr. Moritz and Dr. Ida Margulies were both communists who had fled with their son to France in 1940 and were active in the resistance movement. The father was caught and deported, but managed to escape from the transport and return to his resistance activity.
The mother used forged papers to penetrate the German Headquarters in Paris and spied on behalf of the resistance movement. After her identity was uncovered, she was tortured and executed. Before embarking on their clandestine activity, the Margulieses brought their three-year-old son to Henri and Henriette Julien, where he stayed until the end of the war.
At the beginning of 1943 the Juliens were asked to take over another children’s home – Le Mas Blanc - situated between Saint Remy de Provence and Taracson. Denise Flore Elert was six years old when she was brought to the Juliens’ care. It was after most of her family had been caught and deported in the great roundup in Marseille in January 1943. With the help of the communist underground, the child’s aunt, Mathilde Arama managed to escape with her niece and her own two children, Maurice and Denise-Gisele, and find refuge at the Julien home.
In 1944, when the raids and searches by the Germans and the French Militia increased, the home was moved to Rovon near Vercors.
The number of children under Julien’s care sometime was as high as 150. Despite the difficulties and ever-present dangers, the two rescuers tried to maintain as normal a life as possible for their wards and continued their education.
After liberation they couple returned to Provence and continued their educational activity.
The story of the home and the children was depicted in a series of comic books.
On 22 June 2008 Yad Vashem recognized Henri and Henriette Julien as Righteous Among the Nations.
Stanislaw & Tasilia Pozniak and daughter Janina
In Search of Esther, Belarus
The remnants of the Iwje Community, 1945. Esther with white hat in the center
Esther and Janina, Iwje
Survivor with her family and rescuer Janina with her family
Survivor Esther Ramiel and her daughter at the memorial to the Jews of Iwje
The meeting between Janina and Esther in Iwje
In 1994 a group of former Jewish residents of Iwje, in the district of Nowogrodek, formerly in Poland, today Belarus, applied to Yad Vashem with the request to honor a rescuer family. A couple of years earlier they had erected a monument on the site of the mass graves of the Iwje Jews, and every year on the anniversary of the community's liquidation, they were travelling back to Iwje to commemorate their murdered families and friends.
They told Yad Vashem that an elderly local woman, Janina Pozniak, had been coming to their annual memorial services and was asking if anyone knew Esther, the little Jewish girl her family had sheltered during the German occupation. The Association of the Jews of Iwje asked their members if anyone knew a survivor from their community by that name who was a little girl during the Holocaust.
There were very little possibilities; only few of the community that had numbered around 2,000 before the war, survived the Holocaust. Finally someone remembered that there was indeed an Esther who had immigrated to the USA. Following the request from the Iwje Association, Yad Vashem wrote to the woman, but she was too young and could not remember how she survived. In the absence of any testimony or documentation about the Rescue of a girl named Esther by Janina’s family, the file was closed.
Thirteen years later a new application reached Yad Vashem. Esther Ramiel, originally from Traby, and now living in a kibbutz in the north of Israel wrote to Yad Vashem with information about her rescue. After many years she had been finally able, so she wrote, to find her rescuers – the Pozniak Family from Iwje. It now also became clear why the Iwje association never found Esther. They were searching for someone from their community, not from Traby, another town in the same district.
Esther Ramiel née Lewin's date of birth is not known, since no one of her near family had survived. It is presumed that she was probably born in 1938 or 1939. Her father had died in 1940, and when the Germans began murdering the Jews in Traby, her mother managed to smuggle her from the ghetto to her brother-in-law in Iwje, which seemed at that moment to be less dangerous.
The brother-in-law gave his niece into the care of a friend, Stanislaw Pozniak, who lived in a small village near Iwje. The family were Polish Catholics and had nine children. The oldest child was Janina, born in 1927 and the youngest was a baby, born in 1942. Esther remained with Pozniak until liberation in July 1944.
She looked different from the rest of the family – obviously not their child. This greatly endangered the family, and indeed the neighbors informed the Germans who conducted several searches, but never found the child. Janina had been put in charge of Esther and accompanied her everywhere. If strangers approached the house, Janina would take Esther to a nearby wood, or hide her in a shed.
After liberation, the few remnants of what had once been the Jewish community of Iwhe returned to town to look for survivors. When Pozniak learned of their return, he brought Esther to them. An old and torn photo shows the survivors gathering around the mass grave with Esther in the middle. One family, the Shmuklers, who had known Esther and her family before the war, took the little girl with them on their journey westwards.
Once they reached Germany they stayed with many other refugees in a DP Camp, where they were waiting for emigration to the USA. For some reason they did not take Esther with them when their time to emigrate came. Instead, she was put with a group of Jewish youth, and in 1946 left with them for the Land of Israel. Having no family, she spent her early years in boarding schools, then studied to be a teacher, married and joined a kibbutz.
Esther immersed herself in the challenges of building a new life and a family, and like many survivors, tried not to look back, but to concentrate on the present and future. She had dim memories of the family who had hidden her during the Holocaust and of the girl who looked after her. The name she mistakenly remembered was Kuliak, not Pozniak.
After having taught school for many years, Esther specialized in teaching Hebrew to new immigrants, among them youngsters from the Former Soviet Union. Within this professional work she was once sent to Ukraine to participate in educational programs preparing people for their immigration to Israel. While she was there, she decided to cross the border into Belarus and try to visit the sites of her childhood. But all she found were mass graves. She never crossed Janina's path.
It was an accidental meeting with a woman of the Iwje organization that made the connection. Hearing Esther's story she took the photo that had been taken in 1945 at the mass grave when the group went again to Iwje for their annual visit. As usual, Janina showed up. When she was shown the photo, she immediately pointed at Esther. The following July Esther Ramiel travelled to Iwje with her family. Although over 60 years had passed, Janina immediately identified Esther among the group that disembarked from the bus.
With no common language, the two women had to use an interpreter. But notwithstanding the language barrier, the bond was immediate. Esther had vague memories of the Pozniak home and her life there, which Janina, who was older, was now able to complement. Thus Esther was able to reconstruct the missing years of her childhood.
On her return, she submitted the request to honor her rescuers. The old file from 1994 was reopened and in 2008 Stanislaw & Tasilia Pozniak and their daughter Janina were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
The Rescue of a Childhood Friend, Poland
Stanislawa and Jakub Rotman on visit to their hometown Plock, 1973
Stanislawa Rotman with daughter Bozenna, 1949
Bozenna Rotman - left - with Righteous Magdalene Grodzka-Guzkowska at the name unveiling ceremony at the wall which also bears the name of her mother
Stanislawa Kaczmarczyk and Jakub Rotman were childhood friends from Plock. Before the war, Kaczmarczyk moved to Warsaw and after the occupation, met Rotman. Since Plock was annexed to the Reich and therefore subject to strict anti-Jewish laws, Kaczmarczyk invited Rotman to come and stay with her in Warsaw until he found an apartment.
Rotman took up the offer, and when the Warsaw ghetto was established, Kaczmarczyk obtained forged documents for him in her brother’s name, enabling him to pose as her husband. On several occasion, Kaczmarczyk saved Rotman when the Polish “blue” police were after him. Kaczmarczyk also helped other Jews who fled to the Aryan side of the city. One day, an acquaintance brought Fela Szulc and her seven-year-old daughter to Kaczmarczyk’s home, asking her to shelter them temporarily.
Despite the fact that they were complete strangers, Kaczmarczyk gave them a warm welcome. She retrieved her late sister’s birth certificate from the Church registry, enabling Szulc to obtain official Christian documents, and arranged for Szulc and her daughter to stay with one of her acquaintances.
After the war, Stanislawa Kaczmarczyk married Jakub Rotman. They settled in Warsaw and had a daughter. In 1987 Stanislawa Rotman left Poland for Israel to join her daughter, who had immigrated to the country two years earlier.
On July 17, 1989, Yad Vashem recognized Stanislawa Rotman-Kaczmarczyk as Righteous Among the Nations.
In 1995, the couple’s daughter, Bozenna, began working at Yad Vashem, in the Department of the Righteous, where she was put in charge of the Polish desk – researching and preparing files of Polish rescuers, like her mother.
Elisabeth & Karel Eckhart and mother Gertrude Eckhart
Unknown Children, Netherlands
On 13 September 1944, the last transport of Jews from the Netherlands left Westerbork to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. France had already been liberated and German troops were on the retreat on all fronts. But until the very end, Nazi Germany garnered its last remaining resources in order to complete the most important task of murdering the Jews.
Driven by an uncompromising antisemitic ideology, they continued to hunt down every last Jew, every Jewish child they could put their hands on. The searches for the Jews went on until the very last minute; the caught Jews were brought to the transit camp and when a sufficient number had been gathered, they would be transported to the east.
Fifty-nine young infants were put on the train that was to be the last transport from Westerbork. They had been denounced or were caught at their benefactors’ homes, and were dragged from their shelter to the camp and then put on the train. Because of their young age, they could not even provide information about their identity, and thus were registered on the deportation list as Unbekannte Kinder – "unknown children".
Three of the “unknown children” on that transport had been sheltered by Elisabeth and Karel Eckhart and Karel's mother Gertrude. Gertrude had established an Anthroposophical school in The Hague in the 1930's. The Germans closed the institution in summer 1942, and Gertrude, her son and his wife continued to live in the building. There, Elisabeth and Karel Eckhart’s baby daughter was born in September 1942.
On the very same day that their daughter came to the world, a Jewish infant, 14-months-old Lisette van Vlijmen, was brought to the couple's home in The Hague. Shortly afterwards the couple took in another two Jewish children – Harry and Beatrice Rothe, aged 3 and 5. We know that another child was also sheltered by the couple, but his identity remains unknown. The Eckhart family took care of the children and raised them together with their daughter.
In August 1943 the entire population living close to the seashore was evacuated. The Eckharts moved with the children in their charge to another area in The Hague, and finally settled in Gouda. They continued to care for the Jewish children who had been placed with them.
However all their efforts came to vain when the family was denounced. On 31 July 1944 the police raided the Eckhart residence. Karel was not at home, the children were taken away and Karel’s mother, Gertrude, was arrested and sent to prison in Arnhem. In order to serve the purpose of killing every single Jew, the three infants in the Eckhart’s home were seized by the police and brought to Westerbork to await deportation. Karel and his wife had to go into hiding until liberation.
The transport of 13 September 1944 from Westerbork went to Bergen Belsen and from there the children were taken to Theresienstadt. Fortunately, all three captured children survived and were returned to their rescuers' home after the war. The Eckharts took care of them while waiting to see if any family of their wards had survived. The mother of Harry and Beatrice Rothe came back and took her children.
When it became known that Lisette van Vlijmen's parents and grandparents had perished, the rescuers wanted to adopt her. However an uncle survived and took her to live with him. The contact between the little girl and the rescuers was lost and only many years later, with the help of a TV program, the connection was re-established. Harry and Beatrice Rothe joined her in asking Yad Vashem to honor the rescuers.
In 2004 Karel and Beatrice Eckhart and Karel's mother, Gertrude, were awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
Monsignor Giuseppe Placido Nicolini Father Aldo Brunacci Father Rufino Niccaci Luigi Brizi and his son Trento
The Assisi Network, Italy
Monsignor Giuseppe Nicolini
Assisi is the home of Francesco di Bernardone – St. Francis of Assisi – the founder of the Roman Catholics' Franciscan and St. Clare (Poor Clares) Orders. As such it is a most meaningful place for Roman Catholics. No Jewish community was ever known to exist in Assisi. Paradoxically however, the only time in history when there is record of Jews living in Assisi is during the Holocaust, when the town and its churches, monasteries and convents became a safe haven for several hundred Jews.
Shortly after the Germans occupation, when the man-hunt for Jews began, the Bishop of Asssisi, Monsignor Giuseppe Placido Nicolini, ordered Father Aldo Brunacci to head the rescue operation of Jews and to arrange sheltering places in some 26 monasteries and convents. The Bishop went as far as to authorize the hiding of Jews in such places that were regularly closed to outsiders by the monastic regulations of the "clausura". The Committee of Assistance Monsignor Niclolini had put in place and that he presided transformed Assisi into a shelter for many Jews; others who were passing through the town were provided with false papers enabling them to survive in other places.
After the war Father Brunacci described the Bishop's resolution in face of danger:
"I will never forget how insistent those threats were, yet how determined the Bishop remained. He would not let anyone intimidate him from performing what he, as a pastor, was required to do. I recall very well the strength Monsignor Nicolini showed in the face of repeated alarms of the 'big shots' who felt it was their duty to suggest prudence and moderation. There are times in everyone's life in which it is easy to confuse prudence with a calm life; there are times when heroism is required. Monsignor Nicolini took the path of heroism."
Father Aldo Brunacci, the canon of the Cathedral of San Rufino, served as the head of the Assisi network. One of the survivors, Mira Baruch was often invited to Brunacci's library, where he also taught her Latin. On 17 May 1944, one month before Assisi was liberated, the police came to arrest Father Brunacci. He asked the policemen to wait outside while he got his breviary. When he opened the door he found the Jewish family of Viterbi waiting for him – they no longer felt safe in the place where they were staying and came for help. Brunacci was able to warn them before he joined the policemen outside. He was tried by the court and was released by intervention of the Vatican.
Father Rufino Niccaci, the Father Guardian of the St. Damiano Monastery, played an important role in the network. He arranged false papers and found hiding places in the monasteries and convents, disguising the Jews as monks and nuns.
The network not only secured the Jews' life, but also made great efforts to supply the Jews with some of their religious needs. As religious people they had great respect for the religion of others. After the war Brunacci described how Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement and the highest holiday in the Jewish calendar – was celebrated in Assisi in 1943, and how in one of the convents the nuns prepared the meal for the end of the fast.
Not only people of the church participated in this collective effort. Luigi Brizi owned a small souvenir shop in Assisi that operated a small printing press. Brizi and his son became members of the Assisi rescue network and risked their lives by printing false papers for the persecuted Jews. Luigi's son, Trento, went on bicycle to Foligno, 20 kilometers from Assisi, to a friend who was an expert in etching and who was able to produce seals in order to stamp the false documents.
The Viterbi Family were one of the families that were able to live openly because false papers that were prepared for them by Brizi. In the forged papers they were registered as residents of the town of Lecce. The forger had chosen that town because it had already been liberated by the Americans, thus preventing any possibility of checking the validity of the documents.
Despite the fact that the family had arrived in a place where they were assisted and protected, and despite the false papers they had, the fear of being hunted down and caught never left them. Grazia Viterbi – or Graziella Vitelli as she was called in her false papers – wanted to make sure that they would pass interrogation if caught. She went to the Assisi library and took notes about Lecce in order to familiarize herself with the place, so that on the off chance of accidentally meeting someone from that town, she would be able to talk about the place.
Looking back on that period after the war, Brunacci remarked:
"In all about 200 Jews had been entrusted to us by Divine Providence with God's help and through the intercession of St. Francis. Not one of them fell into the hands of their persecutors…. Jews and Christians venerate the same book, the Bible, whose opening chapter reminds us that we were created in God's image and likeness. God is our father and we are all brothers and sisters."
Father Rufino Nicacci was recognized as Righteous Among the nations in 1976.
Monsignor Giuseppe Placido Nicolinie and Father Aldo Brunacci were recognized as Righteous among the Nations in 1977.
Luigi Brizi and his son Trento were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1997.
Shelter for a Little Girl, Czech Republic
Eva Novotna was born in December 1938 in Prague. When she was three months old, the Germans occupied Bohemia and Moravia. Since her father was Jewish, the little baby was also registered as Jewish.
Eva's parents, Vlasta and Kurt Beer, were stanch communists, and after the occupation became active in the underground. In March 1941 both parents were arrested. The father committed suicide, and the mother was released, but only for a short while.
In the summer of 1942 she was arrested again and sent to Auschwitz. Four-year-old Eva, who was now without parents, was moved from one place to another until Milena Herbenova proposed to take care of her. Eva stayed with Milena until liberation, when her mother returned from the camp.
Under occupation the whereabouts of every Jew, including small children, had to be registered. Sheltering a Jewish child without notifying the authorities was extremely dangerous. Milena’s husband too had been arrested and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Being the wife of a political enemy put Milena and her son, Milan, in a hazardous situation and enhanced the danger for their being caught with a Jewish child in their care. In addition, due to Eva's illegal status, no ration cards were issued for her. Despite the hardship and risks to her and to her son Milan, Milena Herbenova took loving care of her little protégé. Since Eva could not go to school, Herbenova engaged private tutors to teach the child at home.
When Eva's mother returned, she found a healthy and happy child. The close connection with the rescuer was maintained until Herbenova emigrated to the USA in 1948.
On 7 December 2003 Milena Herbenova was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Jules & Jeanne Roger & Mother Louise Roger Esther & Roger Perret
A Tale of Two French Butchers, France
Dr. Ehud Loeb was born in 1934 as Herbert Odenheimer in Buehl, Germany. During the Holocaust his family was deported to France; from there his parents were sent to Auschwitz where they perished. Dr. Loeb survived as a child in hiding. Ehud Loeb today lives in Jerusalem and is a member of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations. He feels that as someone who was saved, it is his duty to contribute in some way to rewarding those who helped the Jews.
All Commission members are volunteers; most of them are Holocaust survivors who devote great efforts to honor rescuers and to search within the nations that were involved in the terrible tragedy that befell them and their families for the few who stood by the Jewish people. It is natural that exploring the cases and the circumstances of the rescue acts often brings back painful memories from the time of the Holocaust.
One of the most emotional moments for Ehud Loeb was in July 2006, when the Commission discussed the file of Esther and Roger Perret. Seemingly it was a file like many others – a survivor requesting Yad Vashem to recognize Esther and Roger Perret, his rescuers, as Righteous Among the Nations.
But it was the name of the town where the rescue took place that caught Dr. Loeb's eye. It was Buzancais, where he himself had been in hiding. Dr. Loeb’s rescuers, Jeanne and Jules Roger had been recognized as Righteous in 1989. Here now was another case of rescue that took place in the same town. Surprisingly, Roger Perret too – like Loeb’s own rescuer – was a butcher.
After the Commission decided to bestow the title of Righteous on Esther and Roger Perret, Dr. Loeb decided to travel to France and to attend the ceremony where Claude Marx’ rescuers were posthumously honored. His meeting with Claude Marx was very emotional, and they have since formed a strong friendship. As it turned out, both of them were of the same age and although they didn’t know each other, they shared a similar past.
From the rescuers’ families they learned that their rescuers had known each other. This was no surprise, considering that the two were butchers in a small town of a couple of thousand inhabitants. It is very possible that the two butchers met each other from time to time during the war years. At these meetings they probably talked about the hardship of wartime, the prices of meat, and told each other about their families. But there seems to be one topic that they never shared with each other – neither one ever mentioned to the other that he was hiding a young Jewish boy at his home.
But the story didn’t end there. There was another person to whom Dr. Loeb owed his life, and it was only years later that he had gathered all the information and submitted her case to the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous, requesting that the title be also bestowed on Jules Roger’s mother, Louise Roger. The ceremony honoring her took place on 27 October 2009. Her son and grandson came to Yad Vashem to receive the award honoring Louise Roger and to see the names of Jules and Jeanne Roger on the wall of honor in the Garden of the Righteous.Jules & Jeanne Roger & Jules’ mother, Louise Roger
Ehud Loeb once described his childhood as a film. He remembers flashes - some most traumatic, others highly emotional. It is the story of a child who was torn first from his home in Germany, who was then incarcerated in a terrible camp where he was victimized, witnessed great suffering and saw his beloved grandmother die; he was consequently separated from his family, put in institutions and with strangers, moved again and again from one place to another. It is the story of a child who at a very young age realized that he was the target of a systematic manhunt, who for several years lived in constant fear of being caught, who learned to switch names, identities and languages.
Born as Herbert Odenheimer in Buehl, Baden, Germany, in 1934, Ehud was the last Jewish child born in the community that ceased to exist six years later. He remembers being plagued by the neighbors’ children. When he was four years old, during Kristallnacht, the synagogue was set on fire and the mob attacked the family home.
Two years later, in October 1940, when he was six years old, the remaining 26 Jews of Buehl and all the Jews of Baden were deported to the South of France and put in the Gurs detention camp, close to the Spanish border. Conditions in the overcrowded camp were terrible. There was a constant shortage of water, food and clothing; the barracks where the inmates were housed were primitive and lacked basic facilities; sanitary conditions were deficient and the camp was plagued by epidemics.
Hundreds of inmates died of typhoid fever and dysentery, among them Ehud's grandmother. In February 1941, the Jewish aid organization for children, OSE, managed to take Ehud and other children out of the camp. Agreeing to part from their only son and to trust strangers to take care of him was probably the hardest decisions parents could take. They never heard or saw their child again. A year and a half later, in the summer of 1942, Hugo and Julchen Odenheimer were deported to Auschwitz where they perished.
Herbert’s name was changed to a French name – Hubert Odet – and he had to shed his former identity, to learn French and become a French child. His new name was Hubert. He spent the first months in a children’s home in Chabannes, suffering immensely from the separation from his parents. The OSE moved him from one institution to another, always under the fear of being caught.
In late 1942 after the roundups of Jews were intensified, it was decided it would be safer to place the children with families. The first family treated him very badly. Herbert - now Hubert - did not complain and tried to be obedient, but when the OSE social workers came to see him they decided to move him immediately to another family - to the home of Jules and Jeanne Roger in Buzancais.
Jules Roger was a butcher and an active member of the resistance. Although they had a ten-year-old son, the couple opened their home to fugitive underground members and Jews. The underground used Rogers’ home to hide weapons and documents, and, frequently, to shelter operatives.
Hiding a Jewish child therefore put them in even greater danger. Food was rationed and the family shared what they had with their wards. In order to buy extra provisions Madame Roger took on ironing. The Rogers displayed exemplary devotion to their wards. They spared no effort to alleviate the children’s distress of being separated from their parents.
With the Roger family Ehud had finally found a warm and welcoming home, but this was not to last. When the situation became dangerous, he would be moved to different places for several weeks, before being returned to the Roger's house. In late 1943, when informers threatened to denounce Jules Roger, Ehud was taken to Roger’s mother, Louise Roger, in Argy, a small adjacent village.
There he lived on the grandmother’s farm, tended the goats, enrolled at school, and -- to hide his Jewish identity -- Ehud-Hubert became an altar boy. He wanted to be Catholic like all his friends, but the Rogers explained that he must not deny his origins, but rather be proud of them. After the war he was returned to the Roger family, where he stayed until he was put in charge of the Jewish welfare organizations.
Ehud was put in a children's home. The war was over and the children were waiting for their parents or relatives to come and get them. Every day children left accompanied by family, but no one came for Ehud. Later he learned that his mother had been deported on 4 September 1942 to Auschwitz, and his father was put on a transport three days later. Both perished. In 1946 Ehud was sent to distant relatives in Switzerland. He had to re-learn his mother tongue – German, and his family name was changed - again - to Loeb. When he emigrated to Israel he adopted a Hebrew name: Ehud Loeb.
Yad Vashem knows of another child that was hid by the Rogers. Léopold Lazare was four years old when he found shelter with the Rogers after his family had been sent to Buchenwald and the OSE had removed him from the Rivesaltes camp. Lazare lived with the Rogers until the end of the occupation. He regarded the Rogers as his parents, and was reluctant to part with them when his parents reclaimed him after the war.
On May 7, 1989, Yad Vashem recognized Jules and Jeanne Roger as Righteous Among the Nations.
On December 7, 2008, Yad Vashem recognized Louise Roger as Righteous Among the Nations.
The Marx family were Jewish refugees from Nancy, who came to Buzancais in 1940. Justin Marx was a butcher and found employment at the town's slaughter-house. The family befriended their neighbors – Esther and Roger Perret. In 1943 the French policemen warned the Jews in Buzancais that a roundup was planned. The Marx family escaped to the villages in the town's vicinity, but their young son, Claude, who was nine years old at the time, stayed with the Perret family. The family arranged a hidden space for him in the attic. From his shelter he heard the police arriving at night in the next house, which used to be his family's home, and their knocking on the door. Claude stayed with the Perret family until liberation.
On 10 July 2006 Esther & Roger Perret were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Tadeusz and Wladyslawa Korsak Jan and Maria Michalowski
"Eli Levin's Search into the Past", Poland
Jan and Maria Michalowski
Celina with Andjei Michalowski, the rescuers son
The Korsak house in Balcer
The families of the survivors and rescuers at the ceremony awarding the title of Righteous
Celina speaks at the ceremony awarding the title of Righteous to the Korsak and Michalowski couples, June 2007
The unveiling of the names of the rescuers on the wall in the Garden of the Righteous
When the war broke out the Perewoski family – Shmuel, Dora and their two small children, Eli (Leszek) and Celina – lived in Vilna, where the family owned a lumber business. After the initial killings, Shmuel Perewoski realized the hopelessness of the situation and decided to smuggle his family out of the ghetto. Tadeusz Korsak, a pre-war business acquaintance, offered to help.
The family escaped in early 1942. The first one to be taken out of the ghetto was the son, Eli. His father who was employed in forced labor outside the ghetto, took him along in the morning, concealing him among the files of workers marching to their work place. The children’s former nanny, a non-Jew, was waiting at a pre-appointed place in the street, and took Eli to a temporary hiding place. Soon his mother and sister joined him.
Then the nanny took them in a horse-drawn cart and brought them to Korsak’s home in Balcer, a village that with post-war border changes is today in Belarus. Sometime later the Shmuel Perewoski escaped from the ghetto and arrived in Balcer. The reunited family lived in the basement of the Korsak home under the guise of a Polish family. Young Eli (nicknamed Leszek) even served in the church as altar boy.
The risk for both families – the Jews and their benefactors – was grave. In addition to the danger of being detected by the Germans, they were threatened by the enmity between ethnic groups in the region and political struggles between the Polish national underground and the Soviet oriented partisans.
Shmuel Perewoski was to become the victim of these clashes. One day in the summer of 1943 he was taken by the Soviet partisans, and the following day his shot body was found in the fields. 8-year-old Eli, his mother and Tadeusz Korsak identified the body and secretly buried it. Many years later Eli tried to relocate the burial place, but in vain.
The neighbors had become suspicious of the family that was living in the Korsak home, and the situation was too precarious. Eli and his mother escaped to the forests and joined the partisans. Little Celina, who was three years old, stayed with Wladyslawa Korsak who promised to take good care of her until the war was over. However the Korsak family too became victim of the turbulent times.
A few months after the murder of Perewoski, in October 1943, Tadeusz Korsak and his two daughters were murdered by the Soviet partisans. Wladyslawa, who had lost her entire family, took Celina and fled to her relatives, Jan and Maria Michalowski, who lived in a small village called Jerozolimka. Although the Michalowskis had five children of their own, they took in Celina and cared for her until liberation, when her mother and brother came to take her.
After the war Dora Perewoski and her two children immigrated to Israel. She remarried, and her husband adopted her son and daughter, who adopted his last name – Levin. Eli (Perewoski) Levin told Yad Vashem that his mother never talked about the Holocaust years and put all her energies into building a new life. Her children followed her example and for many years the family didn’t look back into the past.
It was only after his mother's death and with advancing age, that Eli began the long journey of tracing his roots. He spent three years researching the past and attempting to put the pieces together. His attempt to find the people who had saved his life took him to Lithuania and Belarus. When he reached Balcer he recognized the Korsak house, that was still standing there, and found the grandson living in the place. The grandson then took him to Jerozolimka to the surviving relatives of Michalowski. They gave him a photo showing his sister Celina with their Michalowski son Andrzej. More than 50 years after the end of the war Eli had closed the circle.
In December 2006 Yad Vashem awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations to Tadeusz & Wladyslawa Korsak and to Jan & Maria Michalowski. In June 2007 Andrezej Michalowski, Michalowski's son who was on the photo with Celina, and the grandson of the Korsak family came to Israel for the ceremony at Yad Vashem. They received the certificates of honor and medals and unveiled the names of their family members on the wall in the Garden of the Righteous. The ceremony was attended by the Eli and Celina and their families.
Prokofiy and Lidiya Ivanov Yelizaveta Kondratyeva
The Unusual Fate of Two Sisters, Russia
The Ivanov Family
Prokofiy Ivanov, born 1888, lived with his wife Lidiya and their grown-up daughters Lyuba and Lyusya, in the village of Kosachevka, not far from Petrovichi, some 50 km south of Smolensk, in Russia. The couple worked as school teachers in the village school. At the outbreak of the German-Soviet war in summer 1941 their daughter, Lyuba, was enlisted by the Red Army and later fell in combat.
The area of Kosachevka was occupied by the Germans in the end of July 1941. The Ivanovs continued working as teachers, but at the same time helped the Soviet partisans who soon began to be active in the area, and supplied them with food, information and ammunition. Lyusya Ivanova, the family's other daughter, served as a courier between her parents and the partisans.
One year after occupation, in late July 1942 the partisans brought a Jewish teenager, Lev Gurevich, who had been wounded in his leg, to the Ivanov home. Lev and his older brother Haim were the only survivors of their family. Their parents and young brother had been murdered in the massacre of the Jewish community of their native town of Petrovichi on 22 July 1942. The two brothers managed to flee to the forest with a few other survivors of Petrovichi, and were accepted to the partisan group. Soon after his joining the partisans, Lev was wounded, and the Ivanovs were asked to hide him until his wound healed.
Although the Germans often came to the house of the village teachers and despite the fact that their next door neighbor was openly collaborating with the Germans, the Ivanovs took in the 16-year-old boy, treated his wound and gave him shelter. He was first kept in the attic, later in a shed and finally in a hole they had dug under the floor of the house. The family took good care of him and provided all his needs. His brother Haim stayed with the partisans in the forest where he was later killed in battle. Lev was now the only survivor of his family.
Photo of Lev Gurevich with dedication to his rescuer
In February 1943, someone denounced Ivanov’s wife and daughter to the Germans. The two women were arrested. Lidiya was executed immediately and Lyusya was tortured to death. Although he had lost his wife and two daughters, Prokofy Ivanov continued to care for Lev. Both of them were now the sole survivors of their families.
During this difficult time, Yelizaveta Kondratyeva, born 1917, Ivanov’s neighbor, helped him run the household and look after the the boy in hiding. The local police commander, who was Ivanov's former student, informed him in advance of every planned search or ambush. Kondratyeva would then accompany Lev to a hiding place in the forest, where he remained until the situation had calmed down. Eventually Prokofiy married Yelizaveta Kondratyeva.
After the liberation of the Smolensk district in September 1943, Lev left the village of Kosachevka. He continued to corresponded with his rescuers for many years. He emigrated to Israel in 1991, and soon after asked Yad Vashem to recognize his rescuers. "I will remember the Ivanov family's heroism all my life and never forget them. Such people deserve to be ‘citizens of the world’ and be included in the list of the Righteous Among the Nations".
On 13 December 1995 Yad Vashem recognized Prokofiy Ivanov and Lidiya Ivanova as Righteous Among the Nations. Four years later, in 1999, Yelizaveta Kondratyeva was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
But the story didn’t end there.
After the Ivanovs were recognized as Righteous, more information about Lidiya Ivanova's family was uncovered. One day an Israeli by the name of Ilan Guy (Ageyev) came to the Department of the Righteous at Yad Vashem and asked for information about the Ivanovs. As it turned out, Lidiya's sister, Ekaterina, married Rodion Trofimovich Ageyev, a farmer from Kosachevka.
After being wounded in World War I, and while convalescing, Ageyev began reading the Holy Scriptures. As a result he decided to convert to Judaism, took his wife and children, and emigrated to the Holy Land. The family settled in Tel Aviv in 1923. Thirty-three years later, in 1956, Rodion went on a visit to Kosachevka, where he may have heard the story of his sister-in-law's heroic rescue of Lev Gurevich.
After Rodion’s death, a photo was found among his belongings. The dedication on the back of the photo read: "Look and remember the dark and terrible years which we lived through, during the Fascist occupation. Dedicated to Prokofiy Vasileyevich, from the one he saved from a terrible death. Lyova, March 1, 1945".
It was a picture that Lev had sent his to his rescuer and Ivanov must have given it to his late wife’s brother-in-law during his visit in 1956. It was the photo that prompted Ageyev to embark on a search. With the help of Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Holocaust Victims’ Names he found Pages of Testimony that Lev Gurevich had filled out. Subsequently, he learned his great aunt's wartime story.
Thus the unusual stories of the two sisters came full circle and the two narratives merged in Israel. It is the story of two sisters from a small village in Russia – one converted to Judaism and went to live in the land of Israel, where her grandchildren and great-grandchildren live; the other stayed behind, but played a major role in the rescue of a Jew who later went to Israel, had her honored, and her name is today engraved on the Walls of the Garden of the Righteous in Jerusalem.
"The Hand of a Child Around a Mother's Neck", Poland
Shifra’s parents, Golda and Gershon Jonisz
Leokadia Jaromirska lived in the Warsaw suburb of Bialoleka. One morning in October 1942, while on her way to work with another woman, they heard the cries of children and saw a little girl and an eight-month-old baby abandoned near the fence of a convent. Years later she described how they picked the children up. Leokadia convinced the other woman to take the girls home with her. After work she hurried back to the other woman's home, where she found out that the woman had panicked and brought the older girl to the police station. Leokadia took the baby home with her.
As the situation of the Jews worsened, some parents, knowing that soon all the Jews would be killed, took the terribly hard decision to separate from their children in the hope that someone would adopt them. In a desperate attempt to save their child, Golda and Gershon Jonisz left their daughter near the convent wall and returned to the Warsaw ghetto.
Leokadia was childless. Her husband, Bolek, had been arrested in 1940 and taken to Auschwitz as a political prisoner. Although she was barely able to make ends meet working in a German factory, she decided to adopt the baby, whom she named Bogumila (God's beloved), nicknamed Bogusa. Out of her meager income, Jaromirska paid for a girl to look after little Bogusia while she was at work. She somehow managed to support herself and the child as well as to find some money to send packages to her husband.
As the Russians approached Leokadia was forced to evacuate. She took the child along and the two wandered from one place to another, constantly searching for food and for a place to sleep. Although conditions were terrible, Bogusia remembered only the warmth and love that Jaromirska enveloped her with. By force of her enormous love, Jarmoirska managed to protect the child from the dangers and the cold, and nursed her when she fell ill.
When the war ended, Jaromirska's husband Bolek returned from Auschwitz weak and exhausted. The couple returned to Bialoleka where they lived in a destroyed house and tried to return to normal life.
In October 1945 – three years after he had left her near the convent fence, Bogusia's father, Geniuk (Gershon) Jonisz managed to trace her and arrived at Jaromirsk's home. He had survived the ghetto and camps, but his wife had been murdered in Majdanek.
Convinced that his baby daughter hadn't survived and that he had lost everything, he decided to leave Europe. He began to make his way to Italy. He later recounted that it was an Italian fortuneteller who told him that "a small soul was waiting for him", that made him retract in the last minute and return to look for his child.
Somehow he found Jaromirska, and was able to identify the child through her birthmark. He demanded to take the little girl with him. The idea to part from Bogusia broke Leokadia's heart, and she pleaded with Jonisz to leave the child with her. Eventually she had to give in and was stricken with grief when the child left with her father.
Shifra with her father, after the war
Bogusa, whose real name was Shifra Jonisz (later Kocer), immigrated to Israel with her father. When she grew up she became a member of Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha-Golan in the north of Israel. Eleven years after they parted, Shifra began writing letters to Leokadia. Since she had never learned to read and write Polish, she used the help of a Polish speaking Kibbutz member.
Shifra, aged 14 kibbutz Shaar HaGolan, where she lived all her adult life
However it was Shifra’s husband who enhanced the connection to her rescuer. Shifra and her husband Yoram Kocer had three children. It was the husband who began corresponding with Leokadia and asked her to fill in the gaps in his wife's early childhood. It was through this intermediary, that Leokadia told the story of their life together.
"Dear Yoram", Leokadia ended her long letters, "I have finished telling my story. It is not my fault that there is not much joy in it. I tried as best as I could because I am unable to touch these matters and open old wounds. But you had asked me to, and I tried to fulfill your request. I know that my story may perturb your tranquility for a long time, and I, too, will suffer the consequences.
Now you will not reproach me for being upset that Bogusia is working in the [kibbutz] kitchen. I felt your anger from the first letter. In my eyes she deserves to have a royal crown. But love is the most important thing. You love each other and have your own treasures, and this is worth much more. Because the hand of a child around a mother's neck is the most beautiful necklace, and nothing can replace it.
I apologize if something I have said is not to your liking.
I kiss you,
In November 1968 Jaromirska was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Again it was Yoram who had invited her to visit them in Israel. But the meeting was never to take place. By the time Jaromirska came to Israel in 1969, Yoram had been killed during his reserve military service. Leokadia came and spent six weeks with Shifra and her family, and the two of them planted a tree in Leokadia's honor in the Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem.
Henriette (Hetty) Voute Gisela Wieberdink-Soehnlein
Infants in Milk Cans, The Netherlands
When the deportations from Amsterdam began, a collection point for Jewish children was established in the so-called the Crèche – what had been a day care center for the children of mostly Jewish working mothers. Once caught, children were separated from their parents. The parents were brought to the Jewish Theatre – Amsterdam’s main assembly point for Jews – and all the captured children were put across the street, in the Crèche.
From there they were taken to the transit camp of Westerbork, where they would await deportation to the death camps. Henriette Voute, Gisela Wieberdink-Soehnlein and other underground activists managed to spirit some of the children out of the Crèche in potato sacks, milk cans, laundry bags and using ingenious and inconceivable methods. Once they had freed the children, they would then bring them to families to be sheltered.
The stories of these two courageous women reflect the realities of rescue networks. In view of the danger, rescue attempts were naturally conducted in secret. While most rescuers acted alone, obliged to hide the deeds from their surroundings and with only their closest family members being privy to the secret, we know of groups who joined forces in order to save Jews. Henriette Voute and Gisela Wiberdink-Soehnlein belonged to such networks. Here are their stories:
When Holland was occupied, Hetty Voute studied biology at the University in Utrecht. Coming from a deeply anti-Nazi family - her two brothers founded the first Dutch resistance newspaper – she soon became involved in underground work. With a fellow student she got involved in finding families to hide Jewish children that were sent through Joop Westerweel's group – a resistance network of Jews and non-Jews that found shelter for hundreds of children.
In August 1942, Hetty and her friend joined the Utrecht Children’s Committee. She performed different tasks that put her in grave danger: she would escort children and place them with Dutch families, and when no hiding place was available, give some of them temporary shelter at her parents home; since food was rationed, she combed the country in search of ration cards to feed the hidden children; from November 1942 she took charge of the organization's administration and the lists where all the children's names and hiding places were registered in code.
Although she narrowly escaped arrest in February 1943 and had to go into hiding, Hetty Voute resumed her resistance work. But several months later she and her friend, Gisela Soehnlein, were caught, interned in prison and ended up in Ravensbrueck concentration camp for women. Even in the camp the two activists demonstrated great courage, and helped fellow prisoners to keep up their spirit. Both women survived and after the war published the songs they had written during their incarceration in the camp.
Henriette Voute (left) and Gisela Wiberdink Soehnlein, 1942
In 1988 Yad Vashem recognized Henriette Voute as Righteous Among the Nations.
Following the death of her father, Gisela Wieberdink-Soehnlein and her mother emigrated from their native country Chile and settled in Utrecht in the Netherlands. When the country was occupied by Germany in 1940, Gisela was a law student at the university of Amsterdam. She became deeply involved in rescue activity and served as liaison between two underground organizations that concentrated mainly on rescue of children: the Utrecht Children’s Committee and the Amsterdam Student Group.
Gisela would travel between the two cities, passing messages and information as well as accompanying children to safe houses. Anita Mayer, one of the children she had accompanied, testified how Gisela took her on the train to Eindhoven, where she was put with a family that sheltered her until the end of the war.
Gisela Wieberdink-Soehnlein was arrested in June 1943 with Henriette Voute. They were interned first in Vught in the Netherlands and then sent to Ravensbrueck concentration camp for women. Even at the camp, the two activists demonstrated great courage, and helped fellow prisoners to keep up their spirit. Both women survived and after the war published the songs they had written during their incarceration in the camp.
In 1988 Yad Vashem recognized Gisela Wieberdink-Soehnlein as Righteous Among the Nations.
Monastir (Bitola) in the ranks of the Liberation Movement
From right to left:
Third: Zhamila Kolonomos ("Cveta")
First: Esterja Ovadia ("Mara")
Third: Adela Faraji ("Kata")
Fourth:Esterja Levi ("Lena")
Obituary of Paul Brusson
April in 1921~October 2011
On the 27th of October 2011 Paul Brusson died at the age of 90.
Paul Brusson, who was born on the 29th of April in 1921 in Ougrée, grew up in a working-class family and worked as a shoemaker in Liège. After the Second World War he was awarded several degrees honoris causa because of his commitment and was president of the Amicale de Mauthausen.
Since 1940 Brusson was an active member of the resistance movement against the German occupation. On the 28th of April 1942 at the age of 21 he was arrested in Ougrée und was brought to Forts Huy and Breendonk. As a „night and fog“- prisoner Paul Brusson was deported to Mauthausen and did forced labour at the SS-shoemaker ´s and in the quarry.
In June 1944 he was brought to the concentration camp Struthof. After a few months Brusson was brought to Dachau and further to the sub-camp München-Alach. There he was a member of the illegal prisoners organisation and was liberated on the 30th of April in 1945.
Paul Brusson im Mai 2011
repeatedly of his experiences to young people and urged them to embrace the values of those who fought Nazism.
After his return, he spoke
We mourn for Paul Brusson.
Lithuanian Anti Soviet Resistance Fighters
Fighters of the Lithuanian anti soviet resistance: Klemensas Širvys alias "Sakalas", Juozas Lukša alias "Skirmantas" ir Benediktas Trumpys alias "Rytis".
Lithuanian Resistance Fighters ("Forest Brothers")
The Forest Brothers often used cellars, tunnels or more complex underground bunkers such as the one depicted here (found in Lithuania).
The "forest brothers" who were partly formed and manned by the German Abwehr, fought the Soviet butchers as long as they could. They fought a forgotten guerilla war supported by England, USA and Sweden!
It was the same in Estonia and Lithuania. It was the forests and swamps which hid them up until 1956! The major blow to them was the Soviet collectivization of the agriculture in 1949 which made it harder to get support, recruits and part-time warriors from the farms.
The Latvians had 2,307 Soviet confirmed kills in the time up until 1953. Some 10,000 were fulltime guerillas and at least the double were part-time guerillas. They found the last one in a bunker close to a farm in 1994!
The Forest Brothers often used cellars, tunnels or more complex underground bunkers such as the one depicted here (found in Lithuania).
Polish Resistance Fighters
11 Aug 1944
Polish resistance fighters Wlodzimierz Denkowski (with Thompson submachine gun), Lech Zubrzycki, Jan Baginski, and Zygmunt Siennicki (with MP35 submachine gun), Warsaw, Poland, circa 11 Aug 1944
An SS officer questions two Jewish resistance fighters during the suppression of the Warsaw ghetto uprising as SS Major General Juergen Stroop (rear, center) and his security detail look on. The original German caption reads: “Jewish traitors.”
Female ?etniks Fighters
Female ?etniks fighters with their male leader, Yugoslavia, May 1944.
Partisan warfare refers to organized military activities of groups not incorporated in regular armies; it is also called irregular warfare. The term is derived from the word party or party follower, and is used predominantly in central and eastern Europe. In southern Europe and overseas the term guerrilla is preferably applied, derived from ‘‘small war’’ in the Spanish language. Some historians distinguish between partisans as a more organized form of armed resistance with clear political goals, and guerrillas as predominantly individual fighters in small groups.
Partisan warfare was not a new phenomenon of the twentieth century. It came rather as a byproduct of the establishment of standing armies during the eighteenth century.
Maria Svobod, (d. 1944)
Hungarian resistance fighter during World War II. Maria Svobod, despite her diminutive size, became a larger-than-life legend among her fellow Hungarians. Svobod’s weapon of choice was a .303 British Enfield rifle, which was nearly as long as she was tall. It was a weapon she effectively used for killing the enemy.
Svobod belonged to the Hungarian resistance fighter band that was led by her husband, Janos Halasi. She was, in Hungarian fashion, sometimes called Janos Halasi (her husband’s name) in the way that a woman in English-speaking countries could be called Mrs. John Smith when she is married to Mr. John Smith.
Svobod’s unit operated in the northern mountains of Hungary. Her husband had acquired a wide reputation for wearing disguises. There were special operations in which he found it necessary to masquerade as a Roman Catholic or Orthodox priest when in areas with Serbian or Romanian populations. In August 1944 her husband was killed in action.
After the death of her husband, Maria Svobod took command of his unit. She led it on a number of operations against the Nazis. She was killed in battle in late 1944. She died a respected soldier and successful leader.
Partisans Liberated Belgrade
Partisans liberated Belgrade from the Germans. Seen here is a column of Partisans entering the liberated capital.
Tito had come a long way in a year. At the Teheran conference it was agreed to give the Partizans all possible military support, including commando operations, and the ideological character of the Partizan movement was now no longer a matter for prevarication by Stalin, who only six months earlier had dissolved the Communist International, so as not to give offence which might delay the opening of a second front. On 23 February 1944, a Soviet military mission was parachuted in to the Partizan HQ located in the Bosanski Petrovac area, and in May the Allies forced the resignation of the Yugoslav government in London. It was a political triumph for the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, but the military situation remained perilous.
A group of young Jewish resistance fighters are being held under arrest by German SS soldiers in April/May 1943, during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German troops after an uprising in the Jewish quarter.
Ryszard Kuklinski, the Polish Viking
June 13, 1930 – February 11, 2004
(June 13, 1930 – February 11, 2004)
was a Polish colonel and Cold War spy. Between 1971 and 1981 he
passed top secret Warsaw Pact documents to the CIA. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former United States National Security Advisor described Kuklinski as "the first Polish officer in NATO."
Kuklinski was born in Warsaw and grew up in a working class family with socialist traditions. His father was a member of the Polish resistance movement during World War II, was captured by the Gestapo and died in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
After the war Kuklinski began a successful career in the Polish People's Army. He took part in the Warsaw Pact's invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. However, he was profoundly disturbed by the realities of the invasion, as well as the brutal repression during the subsequent Polish protests of 1970. It was signed P.V. (Polish Viking)
In 1972 Kuklinski sent a letter sent to the US embassy in Bonn describing himself as "an foregen MAF from Communistische Kantry" (sic) requesting that a secret meeting be arranged.
In 1994 Kuklinski commented about his decision to communicate with the United States. His growing awareness of the "unambiguously offensive" nature of Soviet military plans compelled him to act, adding that "Our front could only be a sacrifice of Polish blood at the altar of the Red Empire". Kuklinski was gravely concerned that Poland would become ground zero in a nuclear showdown between the
Warsaw Pact and NATO.
Between 1971 and 1981 he passed 35,000 pages of secret documents to the CIA, most of them from Soviet sources. These documents described details of Moscow's strategic plans regarding the use of nuclear weapons, technical specifications of the T-72 tank and Strela-1 missiles, the location of Soviet anti-aircraft bases in Poland and East Germany, the techniques used by the Soviets to evade detection of their military cache by spy satellites and plans for the imposition of martial law in Poland, among many other objectives.
Shortly before the imposition of martial law in Poland in December 1981, the CIA aided Kuklinski, his wife and two sons, the means to escape Poland and evade discovery. On May 23, 1984 a secret miltary court in Warsaw sentenced Kukli?ski to death, in absentia. After the fall of communism, the sentence was changed to 25 years. Finally in 1995 the court repealed the sentence and issued a statement saying that Kuklinski was acting under special circumstances that warranted a higher need.
Kuklinski visited Poland again in April 1998. He told reporters that "my 25 year journey to a free Poland is over". He visited Krakow where he received honorary citizenship and in a speech on live national radio, summed up his extraordinary career in this words, "I consider myself to be an ordinary soldier of the Republic, who did not do anything beyond the sacred duty of serving one's homeland in its hour of need." He considered himself a Polish patriot, rather than a spy who "recruited" the United States in the fight against the Soviet Union, and its puppets in the Polish communist regime in Poland. Finally, now, his countrymen agree.
He died from a stroke in a Tampa, Florida hospital. He was 73. He was buried in the Row of Honour in the Powazki military cemetery in Warsaw beside his son Waldemar.
"I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski, a true hero of the Cold War to whom we all owe an everlasting debt of gratitude. This passionate and courageous man helped keep the Cold War from becoming hot, providing the CIA with precious information upon which so many critical national security decisions rested. And he did so for the noblest of reasons – to advance the sacred causes of liberty and peace in his homeland and throughout the world. It is in great measure due to the bravery and sacrifice of Colonel Kuklinski that his own native Poland, and the other once-captive nations of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, are now free."
George J. Tenet, Director of CIA, February 11, 2004.
It is believed that Waldemar's death was deliberately planned. Several months previously, and under mysterious circumstances that could never be resolved, Waldemar was struck by a car in a hit and run accident. The car was later found and had been completely burned out by the driver - in order to ensure the elimination of any clues.
In 1994 his younger son, Bogdan and a friend, both of whom were experienced sailors, vanished from their sailing boat 70 miles off the coast of Florida. Weather conditions were good, there was no SOS transmission issued from the boat. The diving suits had not been worn and were dry. Their bodies were never found and their whereabouts are a mystery to this day. It is widely believed that the deaths of both Kuklinskis sons was the result of a KGB vendetta.
In June 1986, Jerzy Urban, a spokesman for the Jaruzelski regime revealed Kuklinski's existence to the world in order to make the case that the Reagan administration knew about Kuklinski and secret documents concerning the application of martial law, but had betrayed the Solidarity movement by failing to pass that information on to its "friends" in Solidarity.
When the journal Kultura interviewed Kuklinski, he explained that the plan for martial law had already begun in late 1980 and that it was the objective of the Jaruzelski regime to destroy Solidarity irregardless of the outcome of negotiations with the trade union and Polish church. He strongly rejected the regime's claim that declaring martial law was an internal decision, and went on to describe how the Soviets exerted pressure on Polish authorities to impose martial law. When asked whether Jaruzelski was a hero or a traitor, Kuklinski replied:
My view has been consistently that in Poland there existed a real chance to avoid both Soviet intervention and martial law. Had he, together with Stanislaw Kania, proved capable of greater dignity and strength, had they honestly adhered to the existing social agreements, instead of knuckling under to Moscow, present-day Poland would undoubtedly look completely different.As chief of military strategic command planning division of the Polish Army, Kuklinski was the liaison between the Polish army and the command of the Soviet military. He was intimately familiar with the layout of the Polish forces within the Warsaw Pact. Though details of the general plans for the Warsaw Pact forces were known only in Moscow, Kuklinski could infer a great deal of information from his contacts at the Moscow high command headquarters.
According to President Carter's NSA, Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Kuklinski’s information permitted us to make counterplans to disrupt command-and-control facilities rather than only relying on a massive counterattack on forward positions, which would have hit Poland."
Opinion in Poland
Despite western praises, Kuklinski was branded a pariah in his own country. Solidarity leader, Lech Walesa, during his term as Poland's first freely elected president, refused to pardon Kuklinski. In a poll taken in 1998, 34% of Poles considered Kuklinski a traitor while 20% considered him a hero, the remainder undecided. The administration of US President Clinton nonetheless took the position that it would oppose Polish membership in NATO unless Kuklinski were exonerated.
The Trybuna, the largest newspaper during the communist regime in Poland, had scathing comments about Kuklinski. After all charges had been dropped against Kuklinski in 1997, the Trybuna wrote that "Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski — a spy, deserter, and traitor — has been turned into a model of virtue and a national hero of the rightists."
Nowadays many people agree that by revealing military plans to the Americans Kuklinski managed to foil a planned Soviet invasion of Poland in 1981 although it resulted in martial law in its stead. It may have helped to prevent the start of World War III and subsequent nuclear destruction of Poland (or perhaps by revealing secret plans made Poland a target for NATO nuclear counterstrike.) The causes of the 1981 martial law are still hotly debated.
Kuklinski is buried in the Row of Honour in the Powazki Military Cemetery in Warsaw, and has been given honorary citizenship of several Polish cities, most notably from Kraków and Gda?sk.
Plaque Dedication to Ryszard Kuklinski
Richard Kuklinski: traitor or hero?
For some, a traitor, who broke his oath for the money. For others, altruist and a hero who has devoted his career and family safety to save the country from nuclear holocaust. As you can now evaluate the activities of Richard Kuklinski?When in 1998 Richard Kuklinski returned from exile sixteen Polish society did not have a clear opinion about it. Over 50% of Poles were unable to comment on this event, the rest was divided - some considered him a great hero for others was a vile traitor. It is hardly surprising, however, people - the whole thing is controversial to this day.
Plan World War III Ryszard Kuklinski was born in a working class family in 1930. His father - murdered during the Second World War by the Germans - sympathized with the socialist movement. A few years after the war, Kuklinski joined the school officers. He is known as a man there, a very capable and beyond quickly promoted to the rank of colonel. In the sixties he was already in the General Staff, where he participated in planning the invasion of Czechoslovakia.
He wished that it remained in hiding at the time of the outbreak of World War III sabotowa?o of the Warsaw Pact. CIA, however, had other plans.Kukli?kiemu persuaded conspiracy and suggested conducting espionage activities. The colonel agreed to this solution. Throughout the 70th provided the other side of 35 thousand. pages of secret documents.In the years 1967-1968 he worked at the International Commission of Control and Supervision of the Geneva Agreements on Vietnam. It was there that first made contact with the CIA. Colonel proposed the creation of a secret conspiracy Americans among the Polish officers.
What was it about? In contrast to the "importing" to the country's technology master Zacharski , Kuklinski stole primarily operational plans and maps. Particularly valuable informant has become since 1976, when he was head of Strategic Planning Division and a close associate of General W. Jaruzelski. Thanks Kukli?skiemu got into the hands of American plans for a certain amount of Soviet weapons, including T-72 tank and antiaircraft missiles Strela hand.
But his defection has led primarily to reveal important secrets of the Eastern Bloc, including strategic ways of masking objects by the military, the location of the three largest military complexes (located in Bulgaria, Poland and the USSR), plans for defense of the Warsaw Pact invasion plans and finally to the west in the case of World War III. In particular, much of the data concerned, of course, the Polish Army and Polish defense system.
For nearly a decade Kuklinski performed his secret task, without raising any suspicions of his colleagues.Moreover, as a man capable, conscientious and well-organized sympathy earned him the highest Polish commanders. Despite this daily betrayed their friends, superiors and subordinates.
In 1980, Kuklinski gave one of the most important messages in your career. Washington announced plans to introduce martial law in Poland. Espionage activity ended abruptly. 2 November 1981 he was informed about the leak.
"In such a situation, he recalled, the next day I prepared a message to Americans that I'm in a hopeless position, I could be arrested at any moment and I am ready to accept their help, but only on condition that the My family will be evacuated from the Polish. " A few days later, Colonel, his wife and two sons how to dissolve in the mist."Nobody in the world in the past 40 years have not undermined Communism as the Pole" - he said Reagan in the early 80s Director of the CIA. And here is come to the motives and the biggest controversy Kuklinski.
The invasion, which was not
Tanks with white and red szachownicami way through the corridors of the atomic and currents to the west.Their dark green armor ominous glow illuminates. Crews are taking no active pills przeciwpromienne and wonder what happens to the loved ones left behind in the country. The soldiers did not know that at a time when they are bleeding to death in northern Germany and Denmark, NATO created the atomic shaft line of the Vistula. Stops on the second kick before wtoczeniem Soviet troops to Europe and by the way causes death and illness of millions of Polish citizens. Polish Army extinct or extinct in the next few weeks, a similar fate awaits the remains of their once great nation ...
Prior to such a fate, as he claimed, had saved the fatherland Colonel Kuklinski. As an officer with access to key documents, he had access to the horrific plans to attack Western Europe, and was convinced of its inevitability. The plans of the Warsaw Pact provided for the use of Polish troops as cannon fodder, often pioneering the way mate Red Army. Revealed only two years ago, actually depicted a gloomy picture.
Supreme Soviet and the Polish officers were aware of the problem, which will shift troops from the Soviet Union by Poland. They also knew about the planned NATO's response, demolished the major transportation hubs, and thus - the cities. Kuklinski saw salvation only country in America, providing all possible operational plans. He decided that his treachery to stop the offensive against the Eastern Bloc. Indeed: there was no offensive, communism collapsed in an almost bloodless and not in Poland or a bomb dropped. But for sure it was a merit Kuklinski?
Suppose that the colonel was indeed a patriot and an altruist who risked everything for the good of the country.
Such an argument is unlikely for several reasons, including from the fact that risked much in the safety of themselves and family, career and social position. But the United States was in the seventies a friend of Poland and Polish people? In 1945 he sold us without batting an eye, and later in Poland wycelowa?y rocket.Would not it be better to donate the materials even though the London Government - rozpolitykowanemu, often ?a?osnemu, ignorowanemu in the world, but still Polish?
What was the guarantee that the U.S. doinformowane by itself is not tempted to perform a first strike? Shaft atomic also arise on the Vistula River and in this case.What more items Polish air defense units and would be well known and NATO commanders would not have even a chance for an effective defense. There remains the question of credibility. When in the early 90s in Krakow began construction of the complex radio RMF, the Americans reportedly demanded explanations on this subject. The images sent by the satellites showed that we are building something like a nuclear silo.
Do you suspect this type shall be referred to merit the battle against communism allies, or to rozchwianego state at the end of the world, after which everything can be expected? Who today will ensure our allies, that someone does not issue operational plans such as Russia and NATO in ten years do it for a hero? The duty of the army and the soldier is first and foremost allegiance, while the army itself is conceived to serve as a tool not a practitioner of his own party politics.
Ryszard Kuklinski lived in the United States under the constant protection of the CIA. Three years after his escape in Poland gathered in the court martial as a traitor who sentenced him in absentia to degradation, death and deprivation of property. The case came to light in 1986. The then-communist government spokesman, Jerzy Urban, tried to use it as a propaganda weapon against the Polish-American sympathies.Urban accused the United States, it became a matter of Kuklinski, knew about martial law szykowanym and did nothing to prevent it.
The storm, which broke out after this statement, however, subsided fairly quickly allowed the colonel out of the shadows. Soon after, he gave an interview in exile journal "Culture", among others, betraying that PRL-makers planned to introduce a state of emergency since 1980.After a year of 89th authorities of the Third Republic are reluctant colonel looked at rehabilitation. Contributed to the multitude despised the military and troublesome ambiguity of the situation. The only thing which could initially count exile to replace the death penalty to 25 years in prison under a general amnesty.
Spring of 1995 the sentence was quashed by the Supreme Court and the full rehabilitation of two years later. Kuklinski mysteriously lost his two sons. It is believed that both were victims of revenge, the KGB, or SB. Only in 1998 could come into Polish. Newcomer accompanied enhanced protection of the Government Protection Bureau, comparable to the protection of Pope John Paul II during his pilgrimages to the country.
Arrived were greeted in various ways. Many simply ignored the visit, some welcomed him as a hero. Gave him honorary citizenship of such Kraków and Gda?sk.Despite this, Kuklinski remained a man of sad and withdrawn. Probably only strive to fully clear their name. Poland visited two more times, preparing to return to his homeland permanently.