RESISTANCE (Freedom) FIGHTERS`World War 11 - Stories
**Jean Moulin, who unified French Resistance, is one of the greatest heroes in France, perhaps supplanting even Joan of Arc. Yet he is completely unknown outside France. Even though I am not a Frenchman and came across his name only by chance, I find his legend a fascinating story on a number of different levels, and it is a shame that he is not better known in the United States. His story of undoubted heroism and tragic fate is an inspiration for everyone in our cynical times. But as you will find in this website, stories surrounding his life and death tell much more than that. I can only hope that this humble website will somehow serve the memory of all those who fought against tyranny of all kinds. **
The Republican Background
Moulin in 1914
Moulin called to duty in April 1918
from same period
_Moulin as sous-prefet in Châteaulin. _
_Moulin (at the center) with Pierre Cot(right), André Labarthe(left), Néna Cot (second right), and Andrée Chatain on a cycling tour in 1938. _
Moulin with Andrée Chatain and Pierre Cot in the same tour of the Gorges du Tarn.
In 1939, when Jean Moulin was the youngest prefect in France at the Department of Eure-et-Loire, he made a speech expressing his pride in being "a great grandson of a Soldier of the Revolution, grandson of one who knew the prisons of the Second Empire for having dared to proclaim his support for the Republic".
Moulin came from a family where republicanism was lived like a religion. His father ANTONIN MOULIN(1875-1938), a history teacher, was an ardently anti-clerical republican, a Freemason, and the president of local chapter of League of Rights of Men(La Ligue des Droits de l'Homme). He was actively involved in the local Radical Socialist Party at a time when the Third Repubic(1871-1940) was in the throes of a crisis called the Dreyfus affair, which divided France into two warring camps of the right-wing monarchists and left-wing republicans.
Simply put, following the French Revolution, in which the bourgeoisie overthrew the monarchy with help of the proleteriat and established a republic, French history has become a series of crises and bloody conflicts between these two opposing sides. In one of such tormoils, after the Paris Commune uprising was brutally crushed towards the end of May 1871, the Third Republic was proclaimed when Adolphe Thiers became its first President on 31 August 1871, This regime was supposed to be an interim for a monarchist government, but eventually was won over to republicanism. It was with this background that Moulin was born on June 20, 1899 in Beziers, France.
A Civil Servant
However, there was nothing in Moulin's early life to indicate his future role in the destiny of his country. In 1917, Moulin was a year too young to be drafted for the First World War and he did not volunteer for a military service probably under his father's influence. He worked at the prefecture of the Hérault and studied law at Montpellier University. When in April 1918, he was finally drafted, he was trained as a military engineer. In the army, he served as a carpenter, a navvy, and a telephone operator. That he did not see a combat must have haunted him as he was later to say, "I was everything except a soldier."
After the war, Moulin continued his way up in the civil administration. From this point on, his life was marked by a series of rapid promotions thanks to his superb administrative abilities, which were later to become an important asset to Resistance. Moulin became the youngest under-prefect (of Albertville) at 26 in October 1925, and the youngest prefect (of the Aveyron) at 37. (A prefect, who serves as a representative of the central government, is the highest official in an administrative district, called department in France - as such, an equivalent to major general in rank.) Shortly before the war, he was transfered to the department of Eure-et-Loire, where he witnessed the fall of France and where his first act of resistance was to begin. Moulin, perhaps still stung by his non-action in the First World War, enlisted as an air gunner. However, when Ministry of Interior discovered this, the Minister insisted on his immediate demobilization.
Spanish Civil War
While Moulin's 20-year career was almost entirely spent in the civil administration, he briefly became involved in national politics through his friendship with PIERRE COT, whom he met through their shared passion of skiing. This friendship with Cot and his colleagues was to become controversial in later years. In October 1933, Moulin became a chief of staff to Pierre Cot when he was appointed the minister of brand-new Ministry of Air. Cot was a leader of so-called "Young Turks", who sought a foreign policy that was pacificist and pro-Soviet in a response to the threat of Nazi Germany. Pierre Cot's political tendency is perhaps best epitomized by a following anecdote. Shortly after his appointment in 1936, Cot arrived at his new ministry, where government air factory workers were on strike. When the new minister noticed a group of strikers outside the building, he abandoned his officials, walked over to the strikers, and standing in front of them gaved the clenched-fist salute and joined them in singing the communist anthem, Internationale.
It was during this time that Moulin witnessed firsthand the precarious state of his beloved Republic brought on by one of those political crises - this time, the Stavisky scandal that implicated many politicians in a fraud involving investment bonds. In a response to this scandal, an extreme-right movement called Action Francaise held a demonstration on February 6, 1934. This turned into uprising leaving 15 people dead and 1,435 wounded. The mob of 30,000 supporters of Action Francais attempted to storm the Chamber of Deputies. Eventually, the mob had been dispersed. But Moulin, who was watching all this from the Chamber of Deputies, sobbed in despair. When his colleagues tried to comfort him, he would only say, "Now do you understand?" Until the Third Republic was finally dissolved in 1940, French goverments came and went with revolving-door cabinets, and Cot was the minister of Air on again and off again. (The political disharmony of this time is perhaps best reflected in Maurice Chevalier's chanson of unity, Ça fait d'excellents français.)
The Popular Front
In April 1935, the Popular Front government was formed by a coalition of left-wing parties including the French Communist Party. Moreover, the prime minister was a Jewish socialist named LÉON BLUM. Needless to say, the right-wing factions in France were outraged. Charles Maurras, the leader of Action Française, proposed that Blum should be "shot in the back." Cot was again the minister of Air, and Moulin his chief of staff and closest advisor. The same development follwed in Spain as the Popular Front was formed in February 1936. The response of the Spanish Right was much more violent. When the Spanish Civl War broke out shortly after with the royalist rebels led by General Francisco Franco, the French Popular Front government was naturally predisposed to aid their counterpart in Spain. But under the pressure from Great Britain and right-wing press, Blum had to abandon such plan and officially adopt the non-intervention policy. However, unofficially, Blum authorized "elastic noninterventon" policy, which meant that government officials could give military support to the Spanish republicans as long as it was kept secret. As the chief of staff in Air Ministry, Moulin conspired with GASTON CUSIN, ANDRÉ LABARTHE, and his future eulogist ANDRÉ MALRAUX to smuggle French warplanes into Spain. Moulin, who had been alarmed by fascist movements across Europe including France, carried it out with conviction. Under this operation, the planes that were suppsoedly sold to Finland and other countries turned up in Spain.
This was the first clandestine activity that Moulin was involved, which was to become an apprenticeship for things to come. However, since Cot favored an understanding with the communists as long as they supported the anti-Nazi line, Air Ministry got too cozy with the communists and Comintern agents in the eyes of some people. Later in Resistance, Moulin was to work closely with his former colleagues of Air Ministry, some of whom were or eventually became communists or pro-communists. This development and Moulin's dedicated support for the Popular Front were later to form a basis for revionists to claim that Moulin was in fact a crypto-communist or even a Soviet agent.
We will never know what was Moulin's attitude toward the communists at the time of Spanish Civil War. Cot once described Moulin as "the most left-wing member of my staff." However, following the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939, the Popular Front's hopes of pro-communist anti-fascist world campaign for peace came crashing down. To quote Arthur Koestler, the men of the Popular Front faced the bitter truth as Jacob did in Genesis, who awoke on the morning after his wedding night to find that after seven years of struggles he had won not the beautiful Rachel but her hideous sister, Leah. Some, like Koestler, were profoundly disillusioned by the Nazi-Soviet Pact while for others the commitment to communism survived the pact.
In Moulin's case, actions speak louder than any conjecture that revionists come up with. When France declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939 and the French Communist Party did everything it could to support its new Nazi allies and sabotage French war effort, Prefect Moulin ordered police surveillance and the repression of known communist agitators. Under Vichy regime, Moulin did his best to stall the repression of Jews and men of the Popular Front, but he showed more activity in dealing with the communists. One can only conclude that all this controversy surrounding Moulin's supposed pro-communist tendency is just another chapter in the long history of often violent political strifes that continued since the French Revolution.
Filipovi? was commander of the Partisans' Tamnavsko-Kolubarski unit in Valjevo by 1941. He was captured on 24 February 1942 by Axis forces and subsequently hanged in Valjevo, occupiedYugoslavia, on 22 May 1942. As the rope was put around his neck, Filipovi? defiantly thrust his hands out and denounced the Germans and their Axis allies as murderers, shouting "Death to fascism, freedom to the people!". He urged the Yugoslav people to resist and implored them to never cease resisting. At this moment, a subsequently-famous photograph was taken from which a statue was cast.
born 23 September 1901 in Berlin Died 17th September 1977 in Munich
German writer and journalist Biography
She was born in 1901 in Berlin as the daughter of the "Privy Council of War" Max Behrens and his wife Margaret, née Drewitz. After a state examination as a nurse and welfare booksellers teaching she married in 1924 and later factory director employers President Otto A. Friedrich.
After six years of marriage and the birth of their daughter, Karin 1925, she can divorce in 1930 and began to write articles for women's magazines, book reviews and feature pages about "Greta Garbo's debut in front of the camera," for example. Encouraged to write them, Fritz Landshoff, who like themselves the regulars at the famous _Roman cafes_counted.
19 31 Ruth Andreas-Friedrich got to know the conductor Leo Borchard. The Moscow-born son of German parents in 1933 in Germany was banned from performing. . He preferred the Jewish musicians of his orchestra and was "politically unreliable" At least this incident was Andrew Frederick awakened political consciousness, and in 1938 in Germany burned the synagogues, they made ??a decision: "Day after day I would write what I heard, saw, experienced, "because it was clear to her," how hard it would be one day, out of which prove that not everyone who stayed in Germany, was a Nazi. That they understand why we stayed and did not go. "She and her friends stayed and founded the resistance group" Uncle Emil ".They committed sabotage work, tore Nazi views of the walls rescued war opponents supplied by medical certificates prior to military service, political refugees and Jewish citizens with identity cards, they harbored, procured food (Ruth Andreas-Friedrich: The Shadow Man).
After the war, Ruth Andreas-Friedrich worked as editor of two women's magazines. In the winter of 1948 she left the blockade "Berlin scene" and moves to Munich. She marries - 1945 Borchard had died - Walter Seitz, the director of the Munich University Clinic. She is known as an author of self-help books, 1957 will appear as its educational book_Where do the little children?_ .
In her suicide note before her self-chosen death, she writes: "Many die too late - some die too soon ... It seems to me now a good time came to die. "
Between June 1942 and February 1943, the group prepared and distributed six leaflets, in which they called for the active opposition of the German people to Nazi oppression and tyranny. Huber wrote the final leaflet. A draft of a seventh leaflet, designed by Christoph Probst, was found in the possession of Hans Scholl at the time of his arrest by the Gestapo. While Sophie Scholl hid incriminating evidence on her person before being taken into custody, Hans did not do the same with Probst's leaflet draft or cigarette coupons given to him by Geyer, an act that cost Probst his life and nearly undid Geyer.
The group was motivated by ethical and moral considerations. They came from various religious backgrounds. Willi and Katharina were devout Catholics. The Scholls, Lilo, and Falk were just as devoutly Lutheran. Traute adhered to the concepts of anthroposophy, while Eugen Grimminger considered himself Buddhist. Christoph Probst was baptized a Catholic shortly before his execution. His father Hermann was nominally a Catholic, but for some time he was into Eastern thought and wisdom. That is the reason why his son Christoph was not baptized as a baby.
Some had witnessed atrocities of the war on the battlefield and against the civilian population in the East. Willi Graf saw the Warsaw andLodzGhettos, and could not get the images of brutality out of his mind. By February 1943, the young friends sensed the reversal of fortune that the Wehrmacht suffered at Stalingrad would eventually lead to Germany's defeat. They rejected fascism and militarism and believed in a federated Europe that adhered to principles of tolerance and justice.
In 1941 Hans Scholl read a copy of a sermon by an outspoken critic of the Nazi regime, Bishop August von Galen, decrying the euthanasiapolicies (extended that same year to the concentration camps) which the Nazis maintained would protect the German gene pool. Horrified by the Nazi policies, Sophie obtained permission to reprint the sermon and distribute it at the University of Munich as the group's first leaflet prior to their formal organization.
Under Gestapo interrogation, Hans Scholl gave several explanations for the origin of the name "The White Rose," and suggested he may have chosen it while he was under the emotional influence of an obscure 19th century poem with the same name by German poet Clemens Brentano. Most scholars, as well as the German public, have taken this answer at face value. Earlier, before these Gestapo transcripts surfaced, Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn speculated briefly that the origin might have come from a German novel Die Weiße Rose- The White Rose, published in Berlin in 1929 and written by B. Traven, the German author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Dumbach and Newborn said there was a chance that Hans Scholl and Alex Schmorell had read this. They also wrote that the symbol of the white rose was intended to represent purity and innocence in the face of evil.
In February 2006, however, Dr. Jud Newborn authored an essay entitled, "Solving Mysteries: The Secret of 'The White Rose'," originally intended as an Afterword to his co-authored book. In this essay he argues that Hans Scholl's response to the Gestapo was intentionally misleading in order to protect Josef Soenghen, the anti-Nazi bookseller who had provided the White Rose members with a safe meeting place for the exchange of information and to receive occasional financial contributions. Soenghen kept a stash of banned books hidden in his store. Dr. Newborn also looked into the content of B. Traven's The White Rose, arguing that the novel, banned by the Nazis in 1933, provided evidence of origin of the group's name.
In the same essay, Newborn also revealed information about Hans Scholl's 1937/1938 arrest and trial for participation in a youth movement banned the end of 1936—one he had joined in 1934, when he and other Ulm Hitler Youth members considered membership in this group and the Hitler Youth to be compatible. Hans Scholl was also accused of transgressing Paragraph 175, the anti-homosexuality law, because of a same-sex teen relationship dating back to 1934-5, when Hans was only 16 years old. Newborn built this argument partially on the work of Eckard Holler, a sociologist specializing in the German Youth Movement, as well as on the Gestapo interrogation transcripts from the 1937/38 arrest, and with reference to historian George Mosse's discussion of the homoerotic aspects of the German "bündisch" Youth Movement. As Mosse indicated, idealized romantic attachments among male youths was not uncommon in Germany, especially among members of the "bündisch" associations. Newborn argued that this experience led both Hans and Sophie to identify with the victims of the Nazi state, providing an explanation for why Hans and Sophie Scholl made the transformation from avid Hitler Youth leaders to passionate opponents of National Socialism.
Isn’t it true that every honest German is ashamed of his government these days? Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes—crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure—reach the light of day?
From the first leaflet of the White Rose
Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way … The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals … Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty! ”
— From the second leaflet of the White Rose
Quoting extensively from the Bible, Aristotle and Novalis, as well as Goethe and Schiller, they appealed to what they considered the Germanintelligentsia, believing that they would be intrinsically opposed to Nazism. At first, the leaflets were sent out in mailings from cities in Bavaria and Austria, since the members believed that southern Germany would be more receptive to their anti-militarist message.
“ Isn’t it true that every honest German is ashamed of his government these days? Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes—crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure—reach the light of day? ”
— From the first leaflet of the White Rose
Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way … The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals … Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty! ”
— From the second leaflet of the White Rose.
Alexander Schmorell, who penned the words the White Rose, has become most famous for having spoken. Most of the more practical material —calls to arms and statistics of murder— came from Alex's pen. Hans Scholl wrote in a characteristically high style, exhorting the German people to action on the grounds of philosophy and reason.
At the end of July 1942, some of the male students in the group were deployed to theEastern Front for military service (acting as medics) during the academic break. In late autumn, the men returned, and the White Rose resumed its resistance activities. In January 1943, using a hand-operated duplicating machine, the group is thought to have produced between 6,000 and 9,000 copies of their fifth leaflet, "Appeal to all Germans!", which was distributed via courier runs to many cities (where they were mailed). Copies appeared inStuttgart, Cologne, Vienna, Freiburg, Chemnitz, Hamburg, Innsbruck, and Berlin. The fifth leaflet was composed by Hans Scholl with improvements by Huber. These leaflets warned that Hitler was leading Germany into the abyss; with the gathering might of the Allies, defeat was now certain. The reader was urged to "Support the resistance movement!" in the struggle for "Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and protection of the individual citizen from the arbitrary action of criminal dictator-states". These were the principles that would form "the foundations of the new Europe".
The leaflets caused a sensation, and the Gestapo began an intensive search for the publishers.
On the nights of the 3rd, 8th, and 15 February 1943, the slogans "Freedom" and "Down with Hitler" appeared on the walls of the University and other buildings in Munich. Alexander Schmorell, Hans Scholl and Willi Graf had painted them with tar-based paint (similar graffiti that appeared in the surrounding area at this time was painted by imitators).
The shattering German defeat at Stalingrad at the beginning of February provided the occasion for the group's sixth leaflet, written by Huber. Headed "Fellow students!", it announced that the "day of reckoning" had come for "the most contemptible tyrant our people has ever endured"."The dead of Stalingrad adjure us!"
Leaflet No. 6 was copied by the Allies and dropped from aircraft.
Capture and trial Atrium of the University
On 18 February 1943, coincidentally the same day that Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels called on the German people to embrace total war in his Sportpalast speech, the Scholls brought a suitcase full of leaflets to the university. They hurriedly dropped stacks of copies in the empty corridors for students to find when they flooded out of lecture rooms. Leaving before the class break, the Scholls noticed that some copies remained in the suitcase and decided it would be a pity not to distribute them. They returned to the atrium and climbed the staircase to the top floor, and Sophie flung the last remaining leaflets into the air. This spontaneous action was observed by the custodian Jakob Schmid. The police were called and Hans and Sophie Scholl were taken into Gestapo custody. Sophie and Hans were interrogated by Gestapo interrogatorRobert Mohr, who initially thought Sophie was innocent. However, after Hans confessed, Sophie assumed full responsibility in an attempt to protect other members of the White Rose. Despite this, the other active members were soon arrested, and the group and everyone associated with them were brought in for interrogation.
The Scholls and Probst were the first to stand trial before the Volksgerichtshof—the People's Court that tried political offenses against the Nazi German state—on 22 February 1943. They were found guilty of treason and Roland Freisler, head judge of the court, sentenced them todeath. The three were executed the same day by guillotine. All three were noted for the courage with which they faced their deaths, particularly Sophie, who remained firm despite intense interrogation (however, reports that she arrived at the trial with a broken leg from torture are false). She said to Freisler during the trial, "You know as well as we do that the war is lost. Why are you so cowardly that you won't admit it?" When Hans was executed, he said "Let freedom live" as the blade fell.
The second White Rose trial took place on 19 April 1943. Only eleven had been indicted before this trial. At the last minute, the prosecutor added Traute Lafrenz (who was considered so dangerous that she was to have had a trial all to herself), Gisela Schertling, and Katharina Schueddekopf. None had an attorney. One was assigned after the women appeared in court with their friends.
Professor Huber had counted on the good services of his friend, Attorney Justizrat Roder, a high-ranking Nazi. Roder had not bothered to visit Huber before the trial and had not read Huber's leaflet. Another attorney had carried out all the pre-trial paperwork. When Roder realized how damning the evidence was against Huber, he resigned. The junior attorney took over.
Grimminger initially was to receive the death sentence for funding their operations. His attorney successfully used the female wiles of Tilly Hahn to convince Freisler that Grimminger had not known what the money was really being used for. Grimminger therefore escaped with a sentence of ten years in a penitentiary.
The third White Rose trial was to have taken place on 20 April 1943 (Hitler's birthday), because Freisler anticipated death sentences for Wilhelm Geyer, Harald Dohrn, Josef Soehngen, and Manfred Eickemeyer. He did not want too many death sentences at a single trial, and had scheduled those four for the next day. However, the evidence against them was lost, and the trial was postponed until 13 July 1943.
At that trial, Gisela Schertling —who had betrayed most of the friends, even fringe members like Gerhard Feuerle— redeemed herself by recanting her testimony against all of them. Since Freisler did not preside over the third trial, the judge acquitted all but Soehngen (who got only six months in prison) for lack of evidence.
Alexander Schmorell and Kurt Huber were beheaded on 13 July 1943, and Willi Graf on 12 October 1943. Friends and colleagues of the White Rose, who had helped in the preparation and distribution of leaflets and in collecting money for the widow and young children of Probst, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to ten years.
Prior to their deaths, several members of the White Rose believed that their execution would stir university students and other anti-warcitizens into activism against Hitler and the war.
After her release for the sentence handed down on April 19, Traute Lafrenz was rearrested. She spent the last year of the war in prison. Trials kept being postponed and moved to different locations because of Allied air raids. Her trial was finally set for April 1945, after which she probably would have been executed. Three days before the trial, however, the Allies liberated the town where she was held prisoner, thereby saving her life.
The White Rose had the last word. Their last leaflet was smuggled to the Allies, who edited it, and air-dropped millions of copies over Germany. The members of the White Rose, especially Sophie, became icons of the new post-war Germany.
In 1933 he joined the Hitler Youth, but quickly became disillusioned when he realised the true meaning behind the group. He was raised as a Lutheran, although he did at one point consider converting to Catholicism. After this, Hans Scholl studied in the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Medizin (medicine).
In the early summer of 1942, Scholl, his sister Sophie, Willi Graf, Kurt Huber, Christoph Probst, and Alexander Schmorell co-authored six anti-Nazi Third Reich political resistance leaflets. Calling themselves the White Rose, they instructed Germans to passively resist the Nazis. The group had been horrified by the behavior of some German soldiers on the Eastern Front, where they had witnessed cruelty towards Jews in Poland and Russia.
On 18 February 1943, Hans and Sophie were spotted by a custodian while throwing leaflets from the atrium at Ludwig Maximilians University. They were arrested by the Gestapo and, with Probst, tried for treason by Judge Roland Freisler, found guilty, and condemned to death on 22 February.
Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christopher Probst were beheaded by Johann Reichhart in Munich's Stadelheim Prison, only a few hours later. The execution was supervised by Dr. Walter Roemer, the enforcement chief of the Munich district court. Scholl's last words were "Es lebe die Freiheit!" ("Long live freedom!").
Shortly thereafter, most of the other students involved were arrested and executed as well.
Following the deaths, a copy of the sixth leaflet was smuggled out of Germany through Scandinavia to England by German jurist Helmuth von Moltke, where it was exploited by the Allied forces. In mid-1943, they dropped millions of propaganda copies over Germany of the tract, now retitled The Manifesto of the Students of Munich.
Legacy Hans and Sophie Scholl on an East German postage stamp in 1961
The White Rose's legacy has, for many commentators, an intangible quality. Playwright Lillian Garrett-Groag stated in Newsday on 1993 February 22 that "It is possibly the most spectacular moment of resistance that I can think of in the 20th century... The fact that five little kids, in the mouth of the wolf, where it really counted, had the tremendous courage to do what they did, is spectacular to me. I know that the world is better for them having been there, but I do not know why."
was a student of medicine at the University of Munich during Adolf Hitler's reign in Germany. During his studies, he became acquainted with Hans Scholl, founder of the White Rose(Weiße Rose) resistance group. Probst and Scholl shared a dislike for fascism, for Hitler, and for the state sanctioned treatment the Jews were receiving at the time.
Christoph Probst, although not raised under any specific religion, had an inclination towards spiritual discourse and was influenced by his friend's devoutness toCatholicism. When his time to die neared, he requested baptism in the Catholic faith. He was the father of three children, the last of whom he did not live to see. TheWhite Rose consisted of Hans and his sister, Sophie Scholl, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graff, and Professor Kurt Huber. Probst became a member of the _White Rose_group, but because of his young family he kept a lower profile.
Christoph Probst was born to Hermann and Katharina Probst. His father, Hermann Probst, was his greatest influence. Hermann Probst was an independent scholar of Asian culture and Eastern religions, who specialized in the study of Sanscrit. Christoph prospered in the intellectual climate of his father's home. Christoph's parents divorced when he was very young and his father remarried only to later commit suicide when Christoph was a teenager.
As a young man, Christoph attended liberal boarding schools at Marquartstein and Schondorf. One of his classmates was Alexander Schmorell. Schmorell was born in the Ural Mountains of Russia and came to Germany with his father after his mother died. Both Christl and Alex shared experiences of losing their mothers, being half-hearted members of Hitler's Youth and both were forced to submit to the National Labor Service immediately after graduating high school.
Christoph Probst was regarded by the other members of the White Rose as being very mature for his age. In The White Rose by Inge Scholl, she states, "Christl admired and greatly respected his late father, a self-taught scholar. It may be that his father's early death accounted in large measure for Christl's exceptional maturity. He alone of the group of students was married; he had two sons, aged two and three. For this reason he was carefully excluded from political acts which might bring him into danger."
At the age of 21, Christoph married Herta Dohrn and they had a son, Micha. Alex Schmorell became godfather to their second son, Vincent, and a third child, Katharina, would be born just before her father was executed.
White Rose Memorial plaque at former bookshop in Hamburg, Germany where members of theWhite Rose met. Monument to the Scholl-siblings and the "Weiße Rose" White Rose resistance movement to the Nazi Regime, in front of the Ludwig-Maximilian-University, Munich, Bavaria.
The White Rose consisted of Hans, Sophie, Christoph, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, and Professor Kurt Huber. They produced six leaflets denouncing the Nazi regime. They began by anonymously mailing the leaflets to doctors, scholars, pub owners and other names that they took from the phone book. Their actions took on a level of more danger, however, when they personally began leaving them on two different campuses, Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, where they studied, and the University in Hamburg. They plead with the German citizens to actively resist the current tactics that were being used to govern their country.
Christoph joined the White Rose resistance after it had already begun making leaflets. He was careful not to write any of the five leaflets printed because he wanted to protect his family. The members wrote, printed and distributed all six leaflets. On February 18, 1943, the Scholls were distributing the sixth leaflet at the university when they were discovered by the caretaker, who delivered them to the Gestapo.
The only thing Christoph wrote for the White Rose was the design for the sixth leaflet that Hans Scholl had in his pocket at the time of his arrest. They were searched and the police found a handwritten draft. They took the letter from Hans, went to the Scholl apartment until they found the matching handwriting, and issued an arrest for Christoph Probst. Both Hans and Sophie Scholl tried to deny involvement by Christoph. They begged for his freedom. They asked for clemency during interrogation and the trial for the sake of Christoph's wife and his two little boys, and his newly born daughter. Herta Probst was sick with childbed fever at the time Christoph was arrested.
Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst, members of the »White Rose« student resistance group. The three were executed in Munich's Stadelheim prison in February 1943.
After intense interrogation, Hans, Sophie, and Christoph were brought before the People's Court on February 21, 1943. Judge Roland Freisler presided over the hearing. The outcome of the trial was that all three were guilty of treason and condemned to death. Lawfully, there was a ninety day waiting period before the death sentence could be carried out, enough time to appeal the decision, but the rules were not followed. The three students were executed by guillotine in Munich's Stadelheim Prison a few hours after the trial.
Shortly before Christoph was executed, he was allowed a visit from a Catholic Priest. Christoph requested baptism into the Catholic faith; he was probably influenced by the devoutness of his friend, Willi Graf. Shortly after Christoph embraced the Catholic faith, he was executed by guillotine on February 22, 1943.
He is buried at Perlach Cemetery, Stadelheimer Strasse, Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
A trafficway in Innsbruck was named for Christoph Probst. Two signs in the square in front of the university indicate Christoph-Probst-Platz.
In a Newsday article in February 1993, Holocausthistorian Jud Newborn stated that "You can't really measure the effect of this kind of resistance in whether or not X number of bridges were blown up or a regime fell... The White Rose really has a more symbolic value, but that's a very important value."
Chris Zimmerman in his article The White Rose: Its Legacy and Challenge for New Profile in 2005 wrote, "The White Rose is a radiant page in the annals of the twentieth century. The courage to swim against the stream of public opinion, even when doing so was equated with treason, and the conviction that death is not too great a price to pay for following the whisperings of the conscience."
**The graves of Christoph Probst and his mother, Katharina Kleeblatt. **
Scholl was brought up a Lutheran. She entered junior/grade school at the age of seven, learned easily and had a carefree childhood. In 1930, the family moved to Ludwigsburg and then two years later to Ulm where her father had a business consulting office.
In 1932, Scholl started attending a secondary school for girls. At the age of twelve, she chose to join the Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls), like most of her classmates, but her initial enthusiasm gradually gave way to criticism. She was aware of the dissenting political views of her father, of friends, and also of some teachers. Political attitude had become an essential criterion in her choice of friends. The arrest of her brothers and friends in 1937 for participating in the German Youth Movement left a strong impression on her.
She had a talent for drawing and painting and for the first time came into contact with a few so-called 'degenerate' artists. An avid reader, she developed a growing interest in philosophy and theology. Her firm Christian belief in God and in every human being's essential dignity formed her basis for resisting Nazi ideology. This belief was foundational to her view of the world around her that fundamentally differed from the one expound by National Socialism which was, by the time of her death, the only approved or allowed one within the Nazi State.
In spring 1940, she graduated from secondary school. The subject of her essay was 'The Hand that Moved the Cradle, Moved the World.' Being fond of children, she became a kindergarten teacher at the Fröbel Institute in Ulm-Söflingen. She had also chosen this kindergarten job hoping that it would be recognized as an alternate service to Reichsarbeitsdienst (National Labor Service), a prerequisite to be admitted to the University. This was not the case, though, and in spring 1941 she began a six month stint in the auxiliary war service as a nursery teacher inBlumberg. The military-like regimen of the Labor Service caused her to think very hard about the political situation as well as to begin practicing passive resistance.
After her six months in the National Labor Service, in May 1942, she enrolled at the University of Munich as a student of biology and philosophy. Her brother Hans, who was studying medicine there, introduced her to his friends. Although this group of friends was eventually known for theirpolitical views, they were initially drawn together by a shared love of art, music, literature, philosophy and theology. Hiking in the mountains, skiing and swimming were also of importance. They often attended concerts, plays and lectures together.
In Munich, Scholl met a number of artists, writers and philosophers, particularly Carl Muth andTheodor Haecker, who were important contacts for her. The question they pondered the most was how the individual must act under a dictatorship. During the summer vacation in 1942, Scholl had to do war service in a metallurgical plant in Ulm. At the same time, her father was serving time in prison for a critical remark to an employee about Hitler.
Willi Graf's family moved to Saarbrücken in 1922, where his father ran a wine wholesaler's, and was the manager of the Johannishof, the second largest banquet hall in Saarbrücken. He went to school at the Ludwigsgymnasium. It was not long before he joined, at the age of eleven, the Bund Neudeutschland, a Catholic youth movement for young men in schools of higher learning, which was banned after Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933. In 1934, Graf joined the Grauer Orden ("Grey Order"), another Catholic movement which became known for its anti-Nazi rhetoric. It, too, was banned and for this reason, it formed many splinter youth groups.
Graf showed conviction in his beliefs at a young age. Although compulsory at the time, he refused to associate with the Hitler Youth. While other future members of the White Rose initially embraced the Hitler Youth, Graf never did so. Moreover, in his address book he crossed out the names of friends who had joined the Hitler Youth. In 1935, at the age of 17, Graf and a few friends marched in an annual May Day parade. The parade was a dominated by swastikas, brown-shirted Hitler Youth troops marching in formation, and "Sieg Heils." However, Graf and his friends were not wearing brown, marching in step, carrying swastikas, or shouting "Sieg Heil." Instead, they marched under their tattered school flag, making great effort to stand out from the Nazi masses.
After his Abitur, the German equivalent of Baccalauréat, in 1937, Willi Graf did his six-month Reichsarbeitsdienst and afterwards began his medical studies. In 1938, he was arrested along with other members of the Grauer Orden and charged by a court in Mannheim with illegal youth league activities–the Bünde having been banned–in relation with his unlawful field trips, camping excursions and other meetings with the_Grauer Orden_. The charges were later dismissed as part of a general amnesty declared to celebrate the Anschluss. The detention had lasted three weeks. His time in jail did not weaken his resolve to participate in anti-Nazi activities or organizations.
In early 1940 Graf was conscripted into the German army as student-soldier. From 1940 to 1942, Graf participated in various war deployments in Europe as a medical orderly. During these deployments he experienced the depths of war which included seeing the Warsaw ghetto in Poland, harsh treatment of Russian civilians, and being forced to consume horse meat due to ration shortages on the Russian front. He was horrified by the suffering he witnessed. In his army medic files it was noted that his care of the ill was "exemplary." It was also noted by Dr. Webel, the Chief Medical Officer, that Graf "showed himself to be an intrepid medic who never thought about his own safety." Graf was granted the service medal, 2nd class with swords, for his actions. In 1942, as a member of the Second Students' Company in Munich, he came into contact with the Nazi resistance organization, the White Rose. He became an active member of this resistance group that centered around Hans and Sophie Scholl. Graf's main role in the White Rose was to function as a recruiter in other cities around Germany. He also participated in anti-Nazi and anti-Hitler graffiti campaigns.
On 18 February 1943, Willi Graf, along with his sister Anneliese, was seized in Munich. On 19 April 1943, he was sentenced to death at the_Volksgerichtshof_ for high treason, Wehrkraftzersetzung (undermining the troops' spirit), and furthering the enemy's cause. Willi Graf was beheaded on 12 October 1943 at Stadelheim Prison in Munich, after 6-months of solitary confinement. During this 6-month period theGestapo tried to extract information from Graf about other White Rose members and other anti-Nazi movements. While under interrogation Graf yielded no names, and took on blame for White Rose activities in order to protect others who had not yet been arrested. His grave is in the St. Johann Cemetery in Saarbrücken. Seven schools in Germany have been named after him, among them the Willi-Graf-Gymnasium in Munich and Saarbrücken-St. Johann; a student residence in Munich also honours Graf by bearing his name.
In 2003, Willi Graf was posthumously awarded the status of honorary citizen of Saarbrücken.
"The White Rose:" Student Resistance in Germany During WWII
by John Ginder September 2001
On Friday, August 17, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation was honored with the presence and words of Dr. George Wittenstein, a "core" member of a group of very close friends that later became known as "The White Rose" resistance group. In the past decade there has been a revival in the attention given to "The White Rose," which promoted the resistance to Nazi ideology during Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. According to Dr. Wittenstein, much of the published accounts regarding "The White Rose" contain inaccuracies, in some cases being entirely incorrect. It is for this reason that Dr. Wittenstein has made it a goal for the remainder of his life to contribute whatever he can to aid in setting the record straight.
An exhibit on resistance in Germany at UCLA sponsored by the German government at which Dr. Wittenstein was invited to speak was an example of insufficient historical research. Before the exhibit was opened to the public, he was given a chance to see it for himself. To his dismay, pictures of his friends in "The White Rose" had been mislabeled and the only successful military putsch (revolt) against Hitler was not even mentioned (another fact that often goes unmentioned is that "The White Rose" was the only group which addressed the treatment and extermination of Jews). At the last minute, Dr Wittenstein changed his original speech to address these inaccuracies. A reporter approached him that day after his revised speech from the LA Times who remarked, "once a rebel, always a rebel."
Dr. Wittenstein stressed the fact that in most democratic societies today it is impossible for people to even begin to comprehend the oppressive nature of Hitler's total dictatorship, which makes it difficult to explain. The Nazi party was extremely efficient in establishing itself as the new government and within days of Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, the Nazis had taken control over every aspect of public life. Every city block had an informer who reported any "suspicious" activity to the Gestapo (secret police). Communication was monitored to such an extent that in one case, Dr Wittenstein recalled, while sitting in a theater watching the news, a man was arrested by the Gestapo. No doubt he must have made a negative comment about the regime.
Under these conditions, any form of resistance was extremely dangerous and finding allies was impossible for all practical purposes. Without open communication resistance groups had no way of knowing if other groups even existed. It was not until after the war that Dr. Wittenstein discovered that approximately three hundred other groups had been operating in Germany at the time. In the early years of Hitler's regime, there were youth groups (similar to the US Boy Scouts) called "Buendische Jugend" throughout Germany and Europe until the mid-1930s when Hitler banned them and forced their members into the ranks of his new "Hitler Youth." To add to the difficulty of mobilizing an opposition against a total dictatorship, the majority of the German people had been indoctrinated with Nazi propaganda. This "education" began as early as age four, and was intensified for the older children in the "Hitler Youth" program, in which membership became mandatory in the late 1930s. What must be noted though, is that it was not until near the war's end that the truth of the atrocities being committed by the Nazis was known. Instead, the German public was presented with lies and false hope in the form of propaganda glorifying Hitler.
The friends of "The White Rose" were middle-class students with parents who shared their anti-Nazi sentiment. They had access to the "truth," as Dr. Wittenstein explained, in the form of radio broadcasts and literature from Switzerland (which was politically neutral) and the BBC. Once the war had started, listening to foreign radio stations was punishable by death. Since all communication in Germany was monitored, as well as any literary or artistic works deemed by Hitler as "degenerate" being forbidden, resistance groups relied on "underground" sources of information.
In 1938, the year he considers the true beginning of "The White Rose," Dr. Wittenstein met Alexander Schmorell while serving his two-year mandatory military training. In their barracks the two 19-year-olds discussed resistance as well as common academic interests and became close friends. One of the few accounts that Dr. Wittenstein acknowledged as correctly stated throughout all books written about "The White Rose," was this quote by Alexander Schmorell: "Maybe ten years from now there will be a plaque on this door [of the barracks] which will read: 'This is where the revolution began'."
After their service ended in 1939, the two men attended the University of Munich where they met Hans Scholl and Hellmut Hartert. Christoph Probst, a student and father of two (very uncommon for students at the time) joined later and became Dr. Wittenstein's closest friend. This "tightly knit" group of friends was for the most part apolitical medical students, discussing more academic issues such as philosophy and art. After the war, in an effort to memorialize her siblings, Inge Scholl, the elder sister of Hans and Sophie, wrote mostly about them in her book entitled "The White Rose". This led to the now commonly accepted perception that the others who contributed equally and who were also executed played insignificant roles. As the group of friends became more aware of the horrific deeds of the Nazis, they realized the need for action. The only method possible was by writing and distributing leaflets, which was much more dangerous than one would think. Purchasing mass amounts of paper and stamps immediately roused suspicion. In 1942 the first four leaflets were written by Schmorell and Scholl, the first and fourth almost entirely by Scholl, Wittenstein edited the third and fourth leaflets. These leaflets were very idealistic and implied a more passive approach to resistance. Quoting many famous philosophers, they were targeted toward the intellectual community.
After a philosophy professor missed two lectures with no explanation, Wittenstein and a painter friend led about fifty fellow students to the university President's office to demand the whereabouts of the teacher. The President, who was visibly disturbed and frightened, because such action was unheard of in Nazi Germany, denied any knowledge Dr. Wittenstein and his friend then led the group of students on a "sympathy demonstration" through the streets of Munich to the professor's apartment. Such an open protest (in broad daylight) was until then unthinkable. The student unrest was growing.
As was true for all medical students, the friends were drafted into the military but permitted to continue their studies in uniform. In the summer of 1942 they were sent to serve at the Russian front where they gained a new member and friend, Willi Graf. While in Russia, they were exposed to the true extent of the atrocities being committed by the Nazis. Because of Schmorell's ability to speak the language, they had frequent interaction with the Russian people and came to realize that they were genuinely good-natured, despite Hitler's propaganda describing them barbaric animals. Upon their return from Russia, Wittenstein felt that the passive, philosophical approach was not enough and pushed for more active resistance. A fifth leaflet was written that took this new approach, but it unfortunately required an enormous sacrifice. The group now realized that in order to save their beloved country, Germany must lose the war as soon as possible.
As more students became aware of the true intentions of Hitler's plan, the resentment increased. At the University of Munich one event sparked an almost total riot. The Gauleiter (a Nazi appointed head-of-state) of Bavaria delivered a speech at the university in which he berated the female students for continuing their studies, while instead they should be producing children for Hitler's "master race." He went so far as to offer access to his male staff if they were unable to find a boyfriend on their own. Obviously outraged, the female students attempted to walk out but were stopped and arrested by Gestapo guards. The male students revolted and took the stage, holding the leader of the Nazi student organization hostage until the women were allowed to leave.
After the disappearance of his first professor, Dr. Wittenstein found a new mentor for his Ph.D thesis in psychology in Professor Kurt Huber, who agreed with the ideals of "The White Rose" and active resistance. In February of 1943 came the fall of Stalingrad and the printing of the sixth and final leaflet. In another example of misrepresentation, many sources claim that the students wrote the sixth leaflet, when in fact Professor Huber himself wrote it.
On February 18, 1943, the final leaflet was distributed. Hans Scholl and his younger sister, Sophie (who had joined the group despite Hans' insistence on her safety), clandestinely placed the leaflet throughout the University of Munich. As they left the building they must have realized that they had a few copies remaining and went back inside to drop them into the courtyard from above. They were spotted by a janitor and were immediately arrested. In the following months all but one suspected of being associated with "The White Rose" were arrested.
During his arrest, a draft leaflet written by Christoph Probst was found in Hans Scholl's pocket, which he tried in vain to tear up and swallow. Christoph Probst was promptly arrested and stood trial with the Scholl siblings. Hitler's "Peoples Court," which was established to eliminate his enemies (usually by death sentences), flew to Munich from its usual venue in Berlin only four days after the arrests to hold the trial. After a very brief trial, Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst were immediately executed by guillotine. Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, and Professor Kurt Huber were tried by the People's Court in April of the same year and executed later. In his defense, Huber gave a speech in which he stated, "...I demand the freedom of the German people..."
Having been warned that the Gestapo was once again tracking him Dr. Wittenstein requested transfer to the Italian front, which was out of the range Gestapo jurisdiction and saved him from prosecution. He had already been involved with the "Freiheitsaktion Bayern," a Bavarian resistance group that later carried out the only successful putsch against Hitler (as mentioned above, this is yet another historical fact that has been distorted, in this case being completely omitted). Dr. Rupprecht Gerngross, a commander of an unarmed interpreters unit, managed to weed out Nazi supporters under his command, whom he promptly sent to Russia. The unit obtained a huge arsenal of light weapons (grenades, rifles, etc.). It was in Italy, that Dr. Wittenstein collected diverse weapons and had them transported to this group in Munich. With the help of a like-minded tank commander and his unit, this group overtook the main radio station and disarmed all bridges leading into the city. As the US forces reached Munich, the resistance group announced over the radio that the citizens must wave white flags in surrender and arrest all the "little Nazis" before they could escape. In this way, Munich was spared total destruction by resisting Hitler's order that every city must be defended to the last man.
This is, of course, only a brief overview of the story of "The White Rose," as Dr. Wittenstein explained, but for myself it had a significant impact, as my mother was born in 1939 near Munich. As a child she witnessed the bombing of her hometown and still recalls running for shelter amidst the flames and destruction. Because of the emotional nature of the topic, she, like Dr. Wittenstein, is usually somewhat reluctant to discuss the past. Both her older brother and father served in the German military, but only her father, an interpreter, survived. Her older brother, Otto, was a fighter pilot for the "Luftwaffe" (German Airforce) and was killed in battle in 1944. As a young boy, I was passionate about flying, so too was my uncle. I remember my mother sitting me down and showing me photos of her older brother when he was close to my age at the time and how emotionally difficult it was for her. He and his friends, being only 13 or 14 years old, had built full-scale gliders that they would launch and pilot from the hilltops of Bavaria. These same friends, only four or five years later were flying warplanes, most of them never returning.
It was not until recently, when I told her that Dr. Wittenstein was coming to speak about "The White Rose," that I really discussed the war again with my mother. After looking through the old photos again, I realized that my uncle and his friends probably built those gliders as part of their training in the "Hitler Youth" (after noticing the swastikas painted on the planes and the officer accompanying them). As impressionable young boys, they were undoubtedly filled with enthusiasm as they built and flew their own aircraft. As they began flying for the "Luftwaffe" as trained fighter pilots, the faces in the pictures began to change. In a matter of a few years, the enthusiastic young boys began to look like weary old men. According to my mother, my uncle in particular became disillusioned as he realized the futility of Hitler's war.
As Dr. Wittenstein talked about the female students' revolt at the University of Munich, it reminded me of stories my mother told me of Hitler's plans for the German women to provide him with as many offspring as possible. Hitler declared that he would be the Godfather of every family's fourth child, and upon bearing a fifth child, the mother would receive a gold medal.
After speaking with my mother and hearing Dr. Wittenstein, I can only hope that I have gained some further understanding of the hardships endured by those living under Hitler's dictatorship. I do realize though, now better than before, that resisting oppression may be life threatening, but in extreme circumstances it is the only way to protect one's freedom. The truth must be told and the people must listen.
Schmorell's father, a medical doctor, was a German born and raised in Russia. Schmorell's mother was Russian, the daughter of a Russian Orthodox priest. Schmorell was baptised in the Russian Orthodox Church. His mother died of typhus during the Russian Civil War when he was two years old. In 1920 his widowed father married a German woman who, like him, grew up in Russia. Fleeing from the Bolsheviks they left Russia and moved to Munich, Germany, in 1921, when Schmorell was four years old. His Russian nanny came along with them and she took his late mother's place in his upbringing. Alexander Schmorell grew up bilingual, speaking both German and Russian. He was anEastern Orthodox Christian who considered himself both German and Russian.
White Rose member Alexander Schmorell (left) with Hans Scholl (right) Military service
After his military service, the artistically gifted Alexander Schmorell began studies in medicine in 1939 in Hamburg. In the autumn of 1940, he went back with his student corps to Munich where he got to know Hans Scholl, and later Willi Graf. Together with Hans Scholl, Schmorell put together the White Rose's first four anti-Nazi leaflets. In the second leaflet Schmorell wrote a passage containing an outcry against theHolocaust.
The Russian front
In June 1942, Schmorell took part as a combat medic in the Russian campaign on the Eastern Front, together with Hans Scholl, Willi Graf and Jürgen Wittenstein, and came to strongly oppose the Nazis' treatment of enemy soldiers and civilians during campaigns there. Once back from Russia, he continued his studies in Munich in the 1942-1943 semester.
In December 1942, Schmorell, along with Hans Scholl, sought contact with Professor Kurt Huber. Together in 1943 they wrote the fifth leaflet_"Aufruf an alle Deutschen!"_ (Appeal to all Germans!), which Schmorell then distributed in Austrian cities. Along with Hans Scholl and Willi Graf, he also painted words such as "Nieder mit Hitler" (Down with Hitler) and "Freiheit" (Freedom) on house walls in Munich.
After the arrests of Christoph Probst and Hans and Sophie Scholl, Schmorell attempted to escape to Switzerland but was eventually arrested on 24 February 1943, the day of his friends' funeral, after being recognized in an air raid shelter.
Trial and execution
Alexander Schmorell was sentenced to death on 19 April 1943 at the Volksgerichtshof (People's Court) in the second trial against the White Rose. In the letters he wrote from prison he tried to console his family and assured them that he was at peace with his fate and not fearful of death. On July 13, 1943, at the age of 25, Schmorell was put to death by guillotine along with Kurt Huber at the Munich-Stadelheim Prison.
- Alexander Schmorell's grave
**Alexander Schmorell is buried with his father and stepmother, Hugo and Elisabeth Schmorell. **
Huber was appalled by the rise of the Nazis. Huber decided that Hitler and his government had to be removed from power. He came into contact with the White Rose movement through some students who attended his lectures: Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell.
Huber wrote the White Rose's sixth and final leaflet calling for an end to National Socialism.
Trial and execution
Huber's political activities came to the attention of the Gestapo and he was arrested on February 27, 1943. By happenstance composer Carl Orff called at Huber’s house the day after he was taken. Huber’s wife begged him to use his influence to help her husband. But Orff told her that if his friendship with Huber was ever discovered he would be “ruined”. Orff left, Huber’s wife never saw him again. Later, wracked by guilt, Orff would write a letter to his late friend Huber imploring him for forgiveness.
The Nazi government executed von Moltke for treason, he having discussed with the Kreisau Circle group the prospects for a Germany based on moral and democratic principles that could develop after Hitler.
In 1928 Moltke became involved with college teachers and youth movement leaders in the organization of the Löwenberger Arbeitsgemeinschaften (Löwenberg Labour Community) in which jobless young workers and young farmers were brought together with students so they could learn from each other. They also discussed civics, obligations, and rights. In Kreisau, Moltke set aside an unused part of the estate for farming startups, which earned him harsh criticism from neighbouring landowners.
In 1934, Moltke took his junior law examination. In 1935, he declined the chance to become a judge because he would have been obliged to join the Nazi Party. Instead, he opened a law practice in Berlin. As a lawyer dealing in international law, he helped victims of Hitler's régime emigrate, and traveled abroad to maintain contacts. Between 1935 and 1938, Moltke regularly visited Great Britain, where he completed English legal training in London and Oxford.
In his travels through German-occupied Europe, he observed many human rights abuses, which he attempted to thwart by insisting that Germany observe the Geneva Convention (it continued not to) and through local actions in creating more benign outcomes for local inhabitants, citing legal principles. In October 1941, Moltke wrote, "Certainly more than a thousand people are murdered in this way every day, and another thousand German men are habituated to murder... What shall I say when I am asked: And what did you do during that time?" In the same letter he said, "Since Saturday the Berlin Jews are being rounded up. Then they are sent off with what they can carry.... How can anyone know these things and walk around free?"
Moltke hoped that, with his appraisals, he could have a humanitarian effect on military events, and was supported in this by anti-Hitler officers such as Canaris and Major General Hans Oster, Chief of the Central Division. During Nazi Germany's war with the Soviet Union, Moltke wrote a controversial opinion urging Germany to follow both the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention, in order to comply with international law and to promote reciprocal good treatment for German prisoners of war; however he was overruled on the grounds that Russia was not a signatory to the agreements, with Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel describing the Geneva Convention as "a product of a notion of chivalry of a bygone era." He further acted on his opposition to the brutalities of Nazism by ordering deportation of Jews to countries which provided safe haven, and by writing reports emphasizing the psychological problems German soldiers developed after witnessing and participating in mass killings of Jews and Eastern Europeans. Having access to this information reinforced Moltke's opposition to the war, and the entire program of the Nazi party.
In 1943 Moltke traveled to Istanbul on two occasions. The official reason was to retrieve some German merchant ships impounded by Turkey. The real reason was his participation in an effort to end World War II by a coalition of anti-Hitler elements of the German Army, German refugees living in Turkey, members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the Abwehr (German military intelligence) and the German ambassador to Turkey, Franz von Papen. This group passed a report to the allies, which reached President Roosevelt. However, Roosevelt's advisers, including Henry Morgenthau Jr., counseled against the credibility of the report.
Non-violent resistance to Nazi rule
Moltke also surreptitiously spread the information to which he was privy, regarding the war and the concentration camps, to friends outside the Nazi party, including members of the Resistance in occupied Europe. Declassified British documents reveal that he twice attempted to contact British officials, including friends from Oxford, offering to "go to any length" to assist them; however the British refused the first time, confusing him with his uncle, the German ambassador to Spain, and replied to the second offer by asking for "deeds" rather than "talk".
Moltke possessed strong religious convictions and in a 1942 letter smuggled to a British friend Lionel Curtis, Moltke wrote: “Today, not a numerous, but an active part of the German people are beginning to realize, not that they have been led astray, not that bad times await them, not that the war may end in defeat, but that what is happening is sin and that they are personally responsible for each terrible deed that has been committed - naturally, not in the earthly sense, but as Christians.” In the same letter, Moltke wrote that before World War II, he had believed that it was possible to be totally opposed to Nazism without believing in God, but he now declared his former ideas to be "wrong, completely wrong". In Moltke's opinion, only by believing in God could one be a total opponent of the Nazis.
Kreisau Circle The von Moltke main house at Kreisau
In Berlin Moltke had a circle of acquaintances who opposed Nazism and who met frequently there, but on three occasions met at Kreisau. These three incidental gatherings were the basis for the term “Kreisau Circle.” The meetings at Kreisau had an agenda of well-organized discussion topics, starting with relatively innocuous ones as cover. The topics of the first meeting of May, 1942 included the failure of German educational and religious institutions to fend off the rise of Nazism. The theme of the second meeting in the autumn of 1942 was on post-war reconstruction, assuming the likely defeat of Germany. This included both economic planning and self-government, developing a pan-European concept that pre-dated the European Union by nearly sixty years, summarized in documented resolutions. The third meeting in June, 1943 addressed how to handle the legacy of Nazi war crimes after the fall of the dictatorship. These and other meetings resulted in “Principles for the New [Post-Nazi] Order” and “Directions to Regional Commissioners”, works, which Moltke asked his wife, Freya, to hide in a place that not even he knew.
Moltke opposed the assassination of Hitler. He warned that if one succeeded, Hitler would become a martyr, whereas if one were to fail, it would expose those few individuals among the German leadership who could be counted on to build a democratic state after the collapse of the Third Reich. On July 20, 1944 there was an attempt on Hitler's life, which the Gestapo used as a pretext to eliminate perceived opponents to the Nazi regime. In the aftermath of the plot some 5,000 of Hitler's opponents were executed.
Arrest, trial and execution by the Gestapo Moltke at the Volksgerichtshof
Moltke's mindset and his objections to orders that were at odds with international law were not without danger, and in January 1944, he was arrested by the Gestapo. A year later, in January 1945, he stood, along with several of his fellow régime opponents, before the People's Court(Volksgerichtshof), presided over by Roland Freisler. Because no evidence could be found that Moltke had participated in any conspiracy to bring about a coup d'état, Freisler had to invent a charge de novo.
Since Moltke and his friends had discussed a Germany based on moral and democratic principles that could develop after Hitler, Freisler deemed this discussion as treason, a crime worthy of death. Hanns Lilje writes in his autobiography that as Moltke stood before the Volksgerichtshof, he had "possessed, in the face of clear recognition of the fact that the death penalty had already been decided, the moral courage for an attack on Freisler and the whole institution". In two letters written to his wife in January 1945 while imprisoned at Tegel, Moltke noted with considerable pride that he was to be executed for his ideas, not his actions, a point that had been underlined a number of times by Freisler. In one letter, Moltke noted "Thus it is documented, that not plans, not preparations, but the spirit as such shall be persecuted. Vivat Freisler!" In the second letter, Moltke claimed that he stood before the court "...not as a Protestant, not as a great landowner, not as an aristocrat, not as a Prussian, not as a German...but as a Christian and nothing else". He wrote: "But what the Third Reich is so terrified of ... is ultimately the following: a private individual, your husband, of whom it is established that he discussed with 2 clergymen of both denominations [Protestant and Catholic] ... questions of the practical, ethical demands of Christianity. Nothing else; for that alone we are condemned.... I just wept a little, not because I was sad or melancholy ... but because I am thankful and moved by this proof of God's presence."
Moltke was sentenced to death on 11 January 1945 and executed twelve days later at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin. In a letter written while in custody, he revealed his motivation for resistance to his two sons: "Since National Socialism came to power, I have striven to make its consequences milder for its victims and to prepare the way for a change. In that, my conscience drove me – and in the end, that is a man's duty."
Recognition Memorial stone to Moltke and his brother at Kreisau (Krzy?owa)
In 2001 the German Section of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War established the Helmuth-James-von-Moltke-Preis for outstanding judicial works in the field of security policy.
The term 'Red Orchestra' was coined by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), which referred to resistance radio operators as 'pianists', their transmitters as 'pianos', and their supervisors as 'conductors'. "Red" stood for communism. Thus, German counterintelligence called the Soviet covert network die Rote Kapelle ("the Red Orchestra").
German counter-intelligence operations
The RSHA included three independent espionage networks in the "Red Orchestra": the Trepper group, in Germany, France, and Belgium, the Red Three (German: Rote Drei) in Switzerland, and the Schulze-Boysen/Harnack group in Berlin.
In 1942 the RSHA established the Red Orchestra Special Detachment (German: Sonderkommando Rote Kapelle). It included representatives of the Gestapo, Abwehr, and the SD.
Leopold Trepper was an agent of the GRU. In early 1939 he was sent to Brussels, posing as a Canadian industrialist, to establish a commercial cover for a spy network in France and the Low Countries. Trepper established the cover firm the "Foreign Excellent Raincoat Company" in Brussels, an export firm with branches in many major European ports. Following the fall of Belgium in May 1940 he moved toParis and established the cover firms of Simex in Paris and Simexco in Brussels. Both companies sold black market goods to the Germans and made a profit doing so. Belgian born socialite Suzanne Spaak joined the Trepper Group in Paris after seeing the conduct of the Nazi occupiers in her country.
Trepper directed seven GRU networks in France, and the network steadily gathered military and industrial intelligence in Occupied Europe, including data on troop deployments, industrial production, raw material availability, aircraft production, and German tank designs. Trepper was also able to get important information through his contacts with highly-placed Germans. Posing as a German businessman, he held dinner parties at which he acquired information on the morale and attitudes of German military figures, troop movements, and plans for the Eastern Front.
In addition, contacts between the Simex company and its main customer, the Todt Organization, provided information on German military fortifications and troop movements. As a further bonus, these contacts supplied some of Trepper's agents with passes that allowed them to move freely in German-occupied areas.
In December 1941 German security forces shut down Trepper's transmitter in Brussel. Trepper himself was arrested on 5 December 1942 in Paris. He agreed to work for the Germans, and began transmitting disinformation to Moscow, which may have included hidden warnings. In September 1943 he escaped and went into hiding with the French Resistance.
Operations by the Trepper ring had been entirely eliminated by the spring of 1943. Most agents were executed, including Suzanne Spaak atFresnes Prison just thirteen days before the Liberation of Paris in 1944. Trepper himself survived the war.
Schulze-Boysen had been active in opposition to the Nazis before Hitler took power, but then joined the Luftwaffe for "cover". In private he continued to meet with other anti-Nazis, including Libertas, whom he married in 1936.
Harnack also had a circle of anti-Nazi associates. He joined the NSDAP in 1937 for "cover".
In 1939, the two groups made contact, and began to work together.
The combined group ran the gamut of German society, comprising Communists, political conservatives, Jews, devout Catholics, and atheists. Their ages ran from 16 to 86, and about 40% were women.
The group gathered intelligence from many sources. The group was not in contact with the USSR by radio.
For the remainder of 1941, the Schulze-Boysen/Harnack group gave most of its intelligence to the United States, through the American embassy's monetary attaché, Donald Heath.
However, these efforts to inform other governments about Nazi atrocities and war plans were only a small part of their resistance effort.
Their primary activity was the distribution of leaflets, to incite civil disobedience and cause the Nazis to worry about subversion. They also printed and pasted up anti-Nazi stickers in large numbers, and they helped people in danger from the Nazis to escape the country via an Underground Railroad-like network.
The network began to unravel in 1942. The OKH Cipher Section decoded some of Trepper's radio traffic, and on 30 July 1942 the Gestapo arrested radio operator Johann Wenzel. Horst Heilmann tried to warn Schulze-Boysen, but the warning was not in time. Schulze-Boysen was arrested on 30 August, and Harnack on 3 September. The rest of the group was arrested within a few weeks, and many were executed.
There was one part of the Red Orchestra which was outside the reach of German security forces: Die Roten Drei (Sender) (the Red Three(stations)") in Switzerland. It was headed by Alexander Radó (codename DORA), a Hungarian émigré, Communist, and geographer. The_Roten Drei_ was founded in 1936 when Rado arrived in Geneva. By April 1942 the organization had been established with Radó as group leader and three subgroup leaders: Rachel Dübendörfer (codename SISSY), Georges Blun (LONG), and Otto Pünter (PAKBO).
Radó's group collected much useful information in Switzerland, and had some contacts inside Germany. Perhaps most importantly, Radó was also in touch with the Lucy spy ring, which had very valuable contacts inside Germany and was linked to British intelligence.
It has been speculated that the Lucy ring was used by British intelligence to pass Ultra information to Soviet intelligence without revealing the codebreaking operation that was its source.
In 1944-1945, Radó was recalled to the USSR, and charged with spying for Britain and the U.S. He was imprisoned for eight years, but was released and rehabilitated after Stalin's death.
Schulze-Boysen was born in Kiel as the son of decorated naval officer Erich Edgar Schulze. His mother was Marie Luise (née Boysen). On his father's side, he also counted Grand AdmiralAlfred von Tirpitz among his kin. He had sister, Helga (born 1910) and brother, Hartmut (born 1922).
He spent his youth in Duisburg. In 1923, when he was 14, he found himself in the middle of the occupation of the Ruhr by French and Belgian troops. Schulze-Boysen's participation in the struggle against the occupiers brought about his swift arrest by the French.
In 1928, he joined the Jungdeutscher Orden, a youth organization in the Weimar Republic and the Studentenverbindung Albingia. He studied law in Freiburg (Baden-Württemberg), and Berlin, without finishing. In 1930, he supported an intellectual-nationalistic group called the_Volksnationale Reichsvereinigung_ ("People's National Imperial Union"), had contacts with the French magazine Plans in 1931, which sought the establishment of a Europe-wide collective economic system. The same year, he published the left-liberal Der Gegner founded by Franz Jung and modelled on Plans. Although he was leaning towards the political left, he maintained his contacts to nationalistic circles.
In 1932, he organized the Treffen der revolutionären Jugend Europas ("Meeting of Europe's Revolutionary Youth"), with over a hundred participants. He also advocated the abolition of the capitalist system, and the liquidation of the Diktat of Versailles.
In April 1933, the offices of Der Gegner were destroyed by Brown Shirt thugs, and Schulze-Boysen was roughed up, had crooked crossesscratched in his skin, and was held in confinement for several days. He was released after his parents intervened. In May 1933 he began pilot training at Warnemünde and from 1934 he was working in the communications department of the Reich Air Transport Ministry (Reichsluftfahrtministerium) in Berlin.
In 1940-1941, the group was in wireless contact with Soviet agents, and was thereby trying to thwart the forthcoming German aggression upon the Soviet Union. (As a first lieutenant on the Luftwaffe Leadership Staff, Schulze-Boysen had access to secret documents.)
Arrest and death
In July 1942, the Decryption Department of the Oberkommando des Heeres managed to decode the group's radio messages, and theGestapo pounced. On 31 August, Harro and Libertas Schulze-Boysen were arrested. They were sentenced to death on 19 December and executed three days later at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.
This plaque commemorates Libertas en Harro Schulze-Boysen, who lived here. They were both active resistance fighters in the "Rote Kapelle"-group. On 22 December 1942, both were executed at Plötzensee.
Arvid and Mildred Harnack
From 1933 on, the law scholar Arvid Harnack and his wife, the American literary scholar Mildred Harnack, were determined to fight the National Socialist regime from within. In the circle with Adam Kuckhoff, his wife Greta and other friends they discussed new literature, fundamental political questions and scholarly problems. Some of Mildred Harnack's students from Berlin Night School were also part of the circle. Mildred and Arvid Harnack Arvid Harnack wanted to prepare his friends for the reorganization of Germany after the end of National Socialism. After his second state examination in law he was employed in the Reich Ministry of Economics. He even joined the National Socialist Party (NSDAP) in 1937 to be able to work less conspicuously against the regime. He maintained some of his links to representatives from the American and Soviet embassies with whom he had previously been in contact. After 1939 Harnack, a cautious, sober ministerial official, intended to contribute most of all to ending the war quickly and securing the independent existence of Germany as a nation. To achieve this, he fought the regime from within not only with study courses and leaflets, but also by trying to establish contact with other resistance members and to shorten the war by passing on important military information to the Soviet Union.
Mildred Fish Harnack: The Story of a Wisconsin Woman’s Resistance
Aug 7, 2011 - Nov 27, 2011
The Jewish Museum Milwaukee will begin a new exhibit displaying the life and work of Mildred Fish Harnack. The exhibit runs from August 7 until November 27, 2011. The grand opening of the exhibit is on Thursday, September 8 at 7 pm, and will feature a lecture from Shareen Blair Brysac, the author of Resisting Hitler: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra.
The Jewish Museum Milwaukee will use artistic and historical displays to present the life and work of Milwaukee’s own heroic daughter, Mildred Harnack. The museum encourages visitors to come and learn about Mildred’s fascinating story of personal courage and the difference that one individual can make by standing up in the face of adversity.
Mildred Harnack was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin on September 16, 1902 and studied at the Milwaukee State Normal School (now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). In 1926, while studying and working as a lecturer for the German language, Mildred met her future husband, Arvid Harnack, a Rockefeller fellow from Germany.
Three years later they moved to Berlin where she started working as an assistant lecturer and translator at the University of Berlin. She was acclaimed for her translations of Goethe's works into English and for her work as a part-time writer for several newspapers and magazines. Apart from their academic careers, Mildred and Arvid Harnack were active members of the expatriates' community in Berlin. They were well-connected to various groups of intellectuals and also to members of the strongly oppressed and persecuted opposition movement in Nazi Germany.
Mildred and her husband created a discussion group that focused on political perspectives should the National Socialist movement collapse or be overthrown. From these meetings arose what the Nazi Secret State Police (Gestapo) would call the Red Orchestra resistance group (Rote Kapelle). The term "red" referred to the contacts the group maintained with Soviet spies. However, an often forgotten fact is that the group also had contact with the British and the American governments.
In July 1942, the Gestapo was able to decode a secret radio message that had been broadcast by Mildred and Arvid’s group, and onSeptember 7, 1942 Mildred and Arvid Harnack were arrested in part due to their group’s involvement with Soviet agents. After a four day trial, Arvid Harnack was executed at the Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.
Initially, Mildred Harnack was sentenced to a six-year prison term, but Hitler negated that sentence and ordered a new trial. On January 16, 1943 Mildred was sentenced to death, and on February 16th she became the only American civilian executed under Nazi rule. Her last words before being executed were purported to have been: "Und ich hatte Deutschland so geliebt." ("And I had loved Germany so much.").
Arvid Harnack und Mildred Harnack-Fish bei Saalfeld, um 1930
Adam Kuckhoff published a popular edition of the works of Georg Büchner in 1927, and headed the cultural-political magazine Die Tat ("The Deed") in 1928-1929, which he gave a leftwing democratic flavour. In 1931, he wrote the artistic novel Scherry about Grock. After that, in 1931-1932, he was a dramatic adviser at the Berliner Schauspielhaus. His main work, the world war novel Der Deutsche von Bayencourt ("The German from Bayencourt") appeared in Germany in 1937.
Together with his wife Greta and the married couple Arvid and Mildred Harnack, he conspired to build the resistance group that the Gestapowould later call the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle). On 12 September 1942, he was arrested in Prague.
In East Germany, Kuckhoff was honoured as a resistance fighter. In Leipzig-Grünau a school was named after him. It bore his name from 1985 to 1990.
During the Second World War he worked with The Schulze-Boysen / Harnack Organization, one of the resistance groups known as the Rote Kapelle between 1940 and 1942, and was arrested by Gestapo together with other members of the group in 1943. He claimed that he was unaware of the anti-Nazi activities of his friends, and that they had only met to listen to music. His friends in the Rote Kapelle did not betray him either, even under torture, and he was released for lack of evidence.
In 1945 he was appointed to the newly-established Universität der Künste Berlin (HfM) where he taught and, in 1970, became director until his retirement in 1978. He continued to live in Berlin, where he died in 2001. He is survived by his wife, Inge Roloff and his sons, Stefan Roloff, Ulrich Roloff and Johannes Roloff
was a German journalist and anti-Nazi resistance fighter.
Ilse Stöbe grew up in a working class home in Berlin. After school, she was first employed in the publishing house of Rudolf Mosse and then as secretary to the journalist Theodor Wolff in the_Berliner Tageblatt_ There she met Rudolf Herrnstadt, to whom she later became engaged. Together, they went early in 1934 to Warsaw, where she worked as a foreign correspondent. Stöbe was then a member of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party) and in mid-1934 was appointed Cultural Attaché of the Nazi party's foreign office in Poland.
Just before the start of the Second World War, she returned to Berlin and worked in the Information Department of the Foreign Office. With her brother Kurt, Ilse soon resumed contact with politically minded groups in the fight against the Nazi regime. She kept constant contact with her childhood friend Helmut Kindler. During the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936 Ilse met the Swiss publisher Rudolf Huber who left her most of his fortune in his will when he died in 1940. In autumn 1939 she met Carl Helfrich, with whom she lived until her arrest in an apartment in Berlin.
She was arrested on 12 September 1942 by the Gestapo, allegedly for spying for the Soviet Union and for membership of the Red Orchestra (Die Rote Kapelle) Soviet espionage ring. A Gestapo report of November 1942 said a radio message from the Soviet Union informed that a parachuted resistance fighter would come to her address. Under torture she was compelled to confess to conspiratorial connections to the Soviet secret service and to persons such as Rudolf von Scheliha. He was then also arrested in October 1942. Both were sentenced to death for treason on 14 December 1942 by the Reich Military Court, and on 22 December 1942 executed by guillotine in the Plötzensee Prison in Berlin. The Soviet agent, Heinrich Koenen, who had landed in Germany by parachute, was arrested at her house by a waiting Gestapo official.
Her mother was also arrested and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she died in 1943. Stöbe's brother Kurt Müller was able to escape arrest and continue his resistance activities with the resistance group, the European Union Resistance. He was murdered in June 1944.
Warning messages sent by Ilse (code name "Alta") about the impending invasion of the Soviet Union were ignored by the Soviet leadership.
She was the only woman to be featured on a special coin issued by the East German Ministry of State (Stasi) to commemorate important spies in Communist service during the war. The Ilse Stöbe Vocational School in Market Street, Berlin is named in her honour.
Masha Bruskina. Masha Bruskina was a Russian teenage female partisan. She was a 17 year old Jewish high school graduate and was the first teenage girl to be publicly hanged by the Nazis in Belorussia (Belarus), since the German invasion of Soviet Union on the 22nd of June 1941.
Her execution and that of the two men hanged with her took place on the 26th of October 1941 in the city of Minsk. In the photos of her, you will see that she has blond hair, but her natural colour was dark. She dyed her hair when she started to work for the underground.
Witnesses to her hanging, testified that Masha struggled hard and lost control of her bladder and bowels. After hanging for three days, she and the men were taken down and only when her body was traditionally washed before her burial by local people and members of her family, did her dark hair show up.
She worked as a nurse in a military hospital and was a member of an underground cell which aided Soviet officers hospitalised there to escape and join the partisans. The members of this cell were informed on and quickly rounded up. Masha and two of her male comrades, Volodya Sherbateivich and Krill Trous, were sentenced to death. They were led through the streets with Masha wearing a large placard proclaiming that they were partisans and hanged one at a time, Masha first, by the 707 Infanteriedivision, who meticulously filmed the proceedings.
The execution of Masha Bruskina and her two colleagues.
Masha, Volodya and Krill are led to the gallows.
An officer nooses Masha.
Masha hanging with the placard proclaiming that she is a partisan
Zoya Kosmodemjanskaja was another Russian partisan. She was born on the 14th of September 1923andbelonged to the Diversionsabteilung no. 9903 of the Soviet secret police (NKVD), which ran some 400 agents.
On the night of the 27th of November 1941, Zoya, together with two comrades, set fire to a building in the village of Petrischtschewo near Moscow. German soldiers quickly caught one of them - Wassilij Klubkow.
Under interrogation he betrayed Zoya. She was arrested and tortured before being sentenced to hang.
Eighteen year old Zoya was executed near Moscow, on the 29th of November 1941. Round her neck was hung a sign describing the reason for her execution. Just before she was pushed off the stack of boxes they had placed under the simple gallows, she told the soldiers, "You can’t hang all 190 million of us." Her partly clothed body was left to rot in the snow.
During Zoya's interrogation, she used the name of Tanya (a popular Russian first name) as an alias and her real name was only discovered much later. Even in the newspaper article, where her execution was described in full detail, the author calls her Tanya.
Zoya adopted this name from a woman called Tanya (last name unknown) who was one of the heroes of Civil War in Russia (1918-1922) and had been hanged by the White Guards. Zoya was posthumously decorated a Hero of the Soviet Union as was her brother, Shura, for his service in the Red Army tank corps.
Vera Voloshina served in the same partisan group as Zoya and was described as a pretty 23 year old blonde. She had been wounded in the shoulder during a gun fight with German soldiers and captured. After torture, Vera Voloshina was also publicly hanged, later the same day.
Klava Nazarova was hanged in 1942 and is one of the three women who were later made Heroes of Soviet Union. The other two were Zoya (above) and Maria Kislyak (see below). Klava was born in 1918 and was 24 when she died.
She was said to be quite an attractive girl. Klava was a Komsomol member and when the Germans occupied her town of Ostrov in Russia in 1941, she and her friends organised an underground resistance squad. On November the 7th 1942, Klava and another girl, Nura Ivanova with two young men, Nikolai Mikhailov and Konstantin Dmitriev, and the parents of another organisation member, husband and wife Nadezhda and Ivan Kozlovskiy, were all arrested. After torture, they were each sentenced to death.
The Nazis made a big show of the hangings to intimidate the town's people. On December the 12th 1942, a wooden gallows was erected in the town square of Ostrov and the townsfolk were forced to watch the proceedings. The executions were carried out in three parts. Klava and Nura were first to suffer. The girls were led out and the soldiers hoisted Klava onto a stool beneath the beam. She was wearing a light grey coat without a hat or scarf and her hands were tied behind her back. The executioner put the noose around her neck and one of the officers took pictures of her. A moment before the stool was removed from under her feet, Klava, screamed to the crowd: - Farewell! We'll win! We... The next moment she was hanging. Nura was then hanged beside her.
From Ostrov a procession of soldiers went to the next village, Nogino. The executioners stopped at a barn in Nogino and put up two nooses on a crossbeam. Here they hanged Ivan and Nadezhda Kozlovskiy. Nadezhda was said to have been almost unconscious before she hanged. The final pair of this series of executions took place in the village of Ryadobzha where Nikolai Mikhailov and Konstantin Dmitriev were hanged together.
Maria Kislyak was born in March 1925, in the village of Lednoe in the Kharkov region of the Ukraine. The village had been occupied by the Germans during 1943. Maria and her school friend, Fedor Rudenko, who were both Komsomol members, hatched a plan to murder a German officer as an act of revenge for the cruelty inflicted by the Nazis on the local people.
The plan was for 18 year old Maria, who was very pretty, to make friends with a German Lieutenant. She suggested to this man that they went for a walk in the countryside to which he naturally agreed. Outside the village, Fedor was waiting for them and came up behind the soldier and hit him over the head with an iron crowbar. Maria was arrested the next day and violently beaten during her interrogations but maintained her innocence throughout. As they could not prove anything, they finally let her go.
Several months later, Maria and her friends murdered another officer in the same way. This time the Germans arrested nearly 100 inhabitants as hostages and declared that they would execute them all if the murderers didn't come forward. The following day Maria and her friends gave themselves up to the Gestapo and confessed to the murder. Maria claimed that she was the leader of the group.
On June the 18th, 1943, Maria, Fedor Rudenko and their comrade Vasiliy Bugrimenko (both 19) were publicly hanged on the branch of an ash tree. Three nooses dangled from the branch each with a box under it. The prisoners were made to step up onto the boxes, the executioner noosed them and then boxes were kicked out from under their feet leaving them to slowly strangle to death.
Seventeen year old Lepa Radic was also publicly hanged from the branch of a tree, in Bosanska Krupa in Bosnia in January 1943, for shooting at German soldiers. She was made to stand on a large chest, her hands were tied behind her and she was noosed with a thin cord. The chest was pulled away leaving her suspended.
Roza Robota was a Polish Jew who was an underground activist in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. She was a member of the Birkenau Sonderkommando. In 1944, this group planned an uprising in the women’s camp at Auschwitz. The plan was to blow up one of the crematoria which it was hoped would lead to a general uprising in the camp. Using dynamite that had been smuggled in stick by stick by girls who worked in the ammunition factory, they managed to blow up Krema IV (Crematorium 4) on October the 7th, 1944.
Ala Gertner, was a 32 year old married woman, who also became part of the resistance movement in the camp and recruited Estera Wajcblum and Regina Safirsztajn because they had access to explosives. They passed whatever they could steal to Ala, who transferred it to Roza, who in turn, gave it to other members of the Sonderkommando in preparation for the operation_._
Roza and her three comrades, Ala, and Estera Wajcblum were arrested, interrogated and condemned for the theft of the explosives. All four went to the gallows on January 6th, 1945. They were led out and made to stand on folding chairs placed under the beam. Once they had been noosed and their death sentences read out to the assembled inmates, the chairs were taken away and they were left suspended. Roza's last word prior to her execution was, "Nekama!" Revenge! She enjoined the other inmates to "Be strong, have courage".
Ala Gertner’s letters to Sala reveal a bold, modern, and courageous woman. Well educated and fluent in German, Ala was assigned to the administrative office at Geppersdorf. She shared her privileges as one of the camp elite—including her tiny private room—with her young friend, Sala. When Ala fell in love with the prisoner Bernhard Holtz, they recruited Sala to deliver their secret letters, nicknaming their swift-moving messenger “Sarenka,” Polish for “little deer.”
After nearly a year in Geppersdorf, Ala and Sala were allowed to return home, where the intensity of their friendship was captured by a local photographer. Sala returned to the camp alone, Ala having secured a position with the **Judenrat**in nearby Bendsburg. Although separated from Sala, Ala sustained for two more years a rare, optimistic, loving, and energetic correspondence. Forced into the Sosnowitz ghetto in March 1943, Ala was reunited with Bernhard and they were soon married. On August 1, the final liquidation of the Sosnowitz ghetto began.
Ala was sent to Auschwitz, where she worked at the Union Munitions Factory. She joined an underground conspiracy to smuggle gunpowder to the Sonderkommando, the work crew that burned and buried corpses from the gas chambers. On October 7, 1944, the Sonderkommando blew up Crematorium IV and shot several SS guards. Their revolt was the only armed uprising at Auschwitz.
Ala Gertner and Sala Garncarz, September 1941
Most of the men who had escaped after the explosion were recaptured and killed, and four women—Ala, Roza Robota, Regina Sapirstein, and Esther Wajcblum—were arrested and charged with acts of sabotage and resistance. They were tortured and all four were hanged publicly on January 5, 1945, only a few weeks before the camp was liberated.
Twenty two year old Mala Zimetbaum was another Polish Jew who been interned at Auschwitz.
She was the first woman to escape from the camp but she and a young soldier named Edek, who absconded with her, were soon caught and returned to Auschwitz. Both were sentenced to hang in front of the assembled inmates.
She was led out and mounted the gallows but while her sentence was being read out, she slashed her wrists with a razor blade she had concealed up her sleeve. As the guards tried to take the blade from her, Mala slapped one across the face with her bloodied hand and yelled, "I fall a heroine and you will die as a dog." She was not hanged but bled to death, dying on her way to the crematorium on a handcart pulled by women prisoners. Mala's story became a legend at Auschwitz as a symbol of courage and defiance. of these brave women.
Liselotte “Lilo” Hermann was a 29 year old German student. She passed information she had received from Artur Göritz about Hitler’s secret rearmament program and the production of armaments in the Dornier plant in Friedrichshafen and about the construction of an underground munitions factory near Celle to the Central Committee of the German Communist Party in Switzerland.
She was arrested in December 1935 and finally sentenced to death for high treason by the “People’s Court” in Berlin on the 12th of June 1937, becoming the first woman to be condemned for this offence by the Third Reich. She was guillotined together with her accomplices, Stefan Lovasz, Josef Steidle, and Artur Göritz, on the 20th of June 1938.
Eva was a bookseller and also worked for the Schulze-Boysen-Harnack resistance group. She was arrested on October 10th, 1942 for passing messages to French slave workers in factories. On February 3rd, 1943, she was sentenced to death by the People's Court and was reportedly hanged on August the 5th of that year. (It is more likely that she was guillotined, however, as this was the normal method for women.)
Cato Bontjes Van Beek
Cato was born in 1921 and grew up in Bremen, the daughter of an artist. In 1942, she joined the resistance group and spy ring "Rote Kapelle" but left after only six weeks because of disagreements within the group. When the German authorities investigated the group, her name was discovered and this was enough evidence on which to arrest her, charge her with treason and sentence her to death. She was guillotined in the early evening of August the 5th, 1943.
Elizabeth Charlotte Lilo Gloeden was a 31 year old Berlin housewife, who with her mother and husband, helped shelter those who were persecuted by the Nazis, by hiding them for weeks at a time in their flat. Among those they took in was resistance leader, Dr. Carl Goerdeler and the Mayor of Leipzig. Elizabeth, her mother and husband, were all arrested by the Gestapo, and subjected to torture under interrogation. OnNovember 30th, 1944, all three were guillotined at two minute intervals.
Gertrud was 28 years old at the time of her execution and was a nurse and social worker. She had been born in Berlin and served for a time in the Nazi Labour Corps. She was arrested in 1944 for helping Jews to escape Nazi persecution and for "defeatist statements designed to undermine the moral of the people". She was tried before the People's Court in Potsdam and executed on the 12th of January 1945.
WWII Resistance fighter marks her 104th birthday by breaking silence on wartime heroics.....
At the age of 104, Andrée Peel has plenty of memories to cherish.
And as a French Resistance fighter who saved the lives of more than 100 servicemen in the Second World War, there will be plenty who have cherished her.
Mrs Peel today told how she received a personal letter of thanks from Winston Churchill for her valued efforts. For security reasons, the letter had to be immediately destroyed.
Andree Peel, upper, photographed during the war and, lower, proudly wearing the medals she has been awarded for her bravery
But along with Mrs Peel herself, plenty of other souvenirs of the war have survived. Thought to be among the most highly decorated women to have survived the conflict, she was awarded France's highest award for Bravery, the Legion d'Honneur, by her own brother - four-star General Maurice Virot.
She was also awarded the War Cross with palm, the War Cross with purple star, the medal of the Resistance and the Liberation cross.
She then received the American Medal of Freedom - from US President Dwight Eisenhower - and the King's Commendation for Brave Conduct, given to her by King George VI.
The moment when Mrs Peel received the Legion d'Honneur - France's highest decoration - from her brother, General Maurice Virot
Mrs Peel, who now lives in Long Ashton, Bristol, saved more than 100 Allied pilots in a three year period working for the Resistance.
She was locked away in two Nazi concentration camps and even faced a Nazi death squad, but was saved at the last minute when they fled as Americans troops advanced on the camp.
Code-named Agent Rose, the resistance fighter passed on vital information about the German Army after it invaded her home town of Brest, in Brittany, France.
Then Andrée Virot, she met husband John Peel in her home town of Brest during the occupation after he asked her to teach him French.
Mrs Peel holds up the concentration camp uniform she had to wear after she was captured. She spent time in two such camps and miraculously survived a firing squad
The couple married in France and moved to England after the war where Mr Peel, who has since died, was a clinical psychologist.
Today as she celebrated her birthday, Mrs Peel who says she was 'too old' to have children by the time the war had ended, said: 'The war is a time I will never forget.
'I don't think anybody who lived during that period ever really can, but I lived a different life to many woman as I fought like a man.
This elegant picture of Mrs Peel, who operated under the codename Agent Rose, was taken during the Second World War when she was working for the Resistance
'There weren't many women in the sort of role which I had. In my house in Brest I used to hide the British and help them with their orders.
'I'd also tell them what they should be doing next and passed on information. This was extremely dangerous as the Germans had occupied France during this time.
'Under the Germans everyone had to be at home and have their curtains closed by 6pm and it used to terrify me that the comings and goings at my house would be discovered.'
Her first role was distributing clandestine newspapers, but within weeks she was made head of a section in the Resistance reporting on troop movements, naval installations and the results of Allied attacks.
Agent Rose and her team used torches to guide Allied planes and smuggled fugitive airmen on to submarines and gun-boats on remote parts of the coast. She fled to Paris and assumed another identity when the Gestapo closed in on the Resistance network in Brest, but was arrested a week after D-Day.
She still keeps the striped blue and grey camp uniform she was forced to wear in the concentration camp as a reminder and said: 'It was a terrible time but looking back I am so proud of what I did and I'm glad to have helped defend the freedom of our future generations.'
She continued: 'You don't know what freedom is if you have never lost it. Everybody was ready to contribute to the fight and to risk their lives.
'It was a kind of fear that was not really fear. We had accepted we would die. The only fear we had was of being tortured and of speaking under torture.
'I rarely thought of my personal safety, I just acted and did what I believed was the right thing.'
Partisan Resistance in Belarus during World War II
_The tragedy that Belarusian people have undergone during World War II is so deep that even today this topic is embedded in everyday surrounding and culture of Belarusians. After 60 years of peaceful life, Chernobyl, dismantling of the USSR, 14 years of sovereignty still WWII remains a major emotional rift in Belarusian soul. For 60 years after WWII BelarusFilm - the main Belarusian movie studio - was making movies centered on WWII Belarusian tragedy, to such an extent that some have jokingly renamed it into Partisan Film. Even this year the two major Belarusian movies that came out - both State sponsored and independent movie, forbidden in Belarus - are dealing with WWII and Belarusian partisans. The literary heritage of the beloved Belarusian writer - Vasil' Bykau, referred by many as consciousness of Belarusian nation - was centered entirely on WWII. The march of ever diminishing number of the WWII veterans in Minsk every May 9 is a cherished national event televised not only in Belarus, but in many neighboring states. The WWII topic is too difficult emotionally and for years I was avoiding to write about it in the Virtual Guide to Belarus. Even now I shall probably restrict it to dry statistics as I write these lines on a sunny Californian Saturday of July 24, 2004 with a lump in my throat. _
**1930-ies in Belarus and generally in USSR weren't the happiest years. Stalinist doctrine grew, millions of people were prosecuted by NKVD. Fear and suspicion were nesting in every house. "Black crows" - the NKVD black cars were coming to the houses of your neighbor to pick him up in the midst of night, only to never see him again. The forced organization of collective farms - kolkhozes - from individual peasant families sparked many conflicts and resulted in many victims. 1937 was written into the history of USSR as perhaps the bloodiest year ever. Millions of executions were performed in a permanent hunt of traitors and "inner enemies". Several years before Khatyn executions by Hitler Germany horrible Katyn' and Kurapaty executions by Stalin's USSR took place. In 1939 Germany and USSR have struck Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in which they divided Eastern European lands lying between them - Western Belarus, Western Ukraine and Baltic states were occupied by USSR. The repressions against Poles and anti-communists on the occupied areas were a background in which Belarus has arrived into 1941. **
** It is not surprising that when Germans attacked USSR (Belarus) on June 22, 1941 the response of local population was more than ambivalent.**
Generalkommissar Wilhelm Kube (left) receives power as a head of newly formed Minsk German administration, August 31, 1941. When Kube was killed by Minsk underground resistance in 1943 Germans have killed 1,000 hostages - citizens of Minsk - in retaliation.
** Some people tried to retreat further into USSR, whereas others met Germans with flowers in their best clothes with hope of liberation from Stalin repressions. It is at that time a wide collaboration movement emerged in Belarus. Estimated 120,000 Belarusians have collaborated (willingly or unwillingly) with Nazi. **
German officers and Ukrainian Collaborationist police in Sarig, near Kiev, Ukraine - 1942
** After a decade of experiencing prosecution of everything Belarusian as "bourgeois" Belarusian nationals hoped to exploit the occupation as an opportunity to re-built Belarusian nation. A "Second All-Belarusian Congress" in 1944 has even proclaimed sovereign Belarusian State in July 1944, against German will. One must recollect here that the first Belarusian state in the new history - Belarusian Democratic Republic (BDR) - was created in the years of German occupation of Belarus during WWI in 1918 by the "First All-Belarusian Congress". Radaslau Astrouski, who led Belarusian national movement during WWII was actually member of the government of BDR in 1918. Many of these nationalists have turned anti-Semitic because of their belief in Jewish origins of Bolshevism. But even the most hardcore nationalists were affected by horrible massacres of Belarusian Jewry, tortures and cruelty with captured Red Army POWs and mass executions of general population. **
Execution of women and children near Mizoch, October 14, 1942. Jewish work column - Mahilyow, 1941.
** Himmler has pronounced a plan according to which 3/4 of Belarusian population was designated to "eradication" and 1/4 of racially cleaner population (blue eyes, light hair) would be allowed to serve Germans as slaves. Mass executions of entire villages were a common Nazi practice. While initially Germans allowed peasants to take cattle from kolkhoz, later all this cattle was loaded on trains and shipped to Germany. Many Belarusian youth were shipped to Germany as slaves.**
Young Belarusians shipped to Germany as forced laborers, 1942.
** By Summer 1942 the sentiments in Belarusian population were strongly anti-Nazi. It is at this time a serious partisan and underground resistance fight brakes out on the occupied territory in Belarus. Already in the Summer of 1941 approximately 12,000 of Belarusian partisans have conducted military operations against German occupants. At that time the partisan forces were comprised mostly of Red Army soldiers that escaped surrounding or from German captivity. By January 1, 1943 there were 448 Belarusian partisan detachments and 64 diversion groups. They counted approximately 58,000 partisan fighters. At the same time Ukraine with 4 times larger population than Belarus had 68 partisan detachments with 9,000 people in them. Smaliensk region of Russia just East of Belarus had counted 120 partisan detachments and 9 diversion groups - 10,000 people total.**
Belarusian partisan in a forest dugout with his family, 1944
** While majority of the partisan and underground movement was driven by a heroic effort of Belarusian people to liberate their homeland from Nazi, there were also negative things associated with some partisan detachments. The rumors about crimes of partisans have always existed in Belarus. Common villagers were often as scared of Soviet partisans as they were of Nazi. In an effort to protect the villages from both some village leaders have become double agents of both Nazi and Partisans. Clearly majority of partisans were not able to fight and feed themselves simultaneously, and so many times they forced Belarusian villagers to give up their food supplies and cattle. This would in term put villagers in mortal danger from Germans, since they could be identified as collaborators to partisans. **
Victims of Anti-Partisan Punishment Operation - Minsk region, 1943. 17y.o. Belarusian Jewish (Masha Bruskina 17y.o. Jewish partisan on the left) partisans public hanging by Nazi.
** The standard of SS practice was to execute entire population of the village near which partisan attack has occurred in retaliation. More than 600 villages like Khatyn were burned by Nazi with their entire population. Not all partisan detachments had pristine morals - tyranny of commanders, heavy drinking, anarchy, looting of food and clothing, even rape - were reported. These actions were known to happen in partisan detachments of Lunin, Charkasau, group of Muhin. The head of Central Headquarters of Partisan Movement - Brigade Commissar Konkin called partisan detachments of Miciuhin and Zaharau "bandit formations". The recent independent feature film Mysterium Occupation, which is forbidden today in Belarus as "distorting historical truth", is delivering exactly this taboo information about partisan movement in Belarus. In many senses society governed by Communist totalitarian regime of Stalin in 1930-ies was already militarized and had established discipline of fear. And so, the development of the network of 1,200 Communist Party cells within partisan detachments around 1943 has considerably improved discipline and cleaned the situation. **
** 1943 was a year of unprecedented Belarusian partisan battle against Nazi. Over the period of 1418 days of German occupation of Belarus 1,255 partisan detachments were formed and lead military actions in Belarus with 374,000 fighters. Additionally approximately 400,000 of locals supported partisan movement. In the cities 70,000 people were involved in the underground resistance. During the three years of war on occupied territory of Belarus (June 1941 - July 1944) Belarusian partisans and underground resistance fighters have killed or incapacitated more than 500,000 of Nazis. 11,128 of German trains following to Russian East Front, as well as 34 armored battle trains were blown up or derailed by Belarusian partisans. 29 railway stations, 948 Military Headquarters, 18,700 cars and trucks, 819 railway and 4,710 auto bridges were destroyed by Belarusian partisans. The partisan movement was so overwhelming that in 1943-44 there were large regions in occupied Belarus, where Soviet rule was established deep inside the German occupation territory. The fully functioning partisan kolkhozes were farming and growing cattle to support partisans.**
Pages of the Moscow propaganda newspaper published for Belarusian partisans "Squish the Fascist Beast". Interestingly in an effort to appeal to Belarusian patriotism it is all published in Belarusian - the very language that was prosecuted by Soviets just before WWII and is prosecuted by Lukashenka regime in today's Belarus.
** The most known partisan detachments acting in Belarus were led by U.E. Labanok, R.N. Machul'ski, K.S. Zaslonau, V.I. Kazlou, V.Z. Korzh, K.T. Mazurau, M.V.Zimianin, P.M. Masherau. Many of these commanders have become party and government leaders of Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic after WWII. **
** Over 500,000 Belarusians were drafted in the Red Army during 1941 retreat. Overall 1.3 million Belarusians fought in Red Army against Nazi, including 194,000 partisan detachment members, who enlisted after liberation of Belarus in 1944. **
Red Army infantry attack supported by T-34 tank. Red Army woman-sniper in Belarus, July 1944
** Belarusians have received over 300,000 combat Orders and Medals for the courage in the battles of WWII. 396 Belarusians received the USSR highest military reward - the golden star of the Hero of the Soviet Union. Four Belarusians - P.Ya. Halavachou, I.I. Husakouski, S.F. Shutau and I.I.Yakubouski - were honored the title of the Hero of Soviet Union twice. 63 Belarusians became Cavaliers of Order of Glory of all three stages. Belarusian partisans and underground resistance members received 140,000 combat orders and medals during the WWII. 88 of them have become Heroes of the Soviet Union for heroic deeds.**
Red Army soldiers liberating Belarusian City, 1944
** The USSR did not join Geneva convention in 1929. This convention was signed even by Germany in 1934. It is hard to guess what strange ideas governed Stalin - a dictator of the USSR at that time - in not signing the convention. The official pretext was that Geneva Convention does not go far enough in protecting POWs. But most likely Stalin did not expected anyone to become a prisoner. He treated all Soviet POWs as traitors. Because of this Red Army POWs were not supervised by International Red Cross or any international organizations and were treated by Nazis many times worse than Western allies. Millions of Soviet POWs and Belarusian forced laborers transported to Germany have paid for this Stalin's attitude with their suffering, tortures and often lives. Even worse, on their return to the USSR they were met with suspicion, NKVD interrogations, treated as traitors and deserters. Many of them served long times (25 years was the usual term) in Stalin's Gulags in Siberia.**
German POWs marched by Red Army through Belarusian city. Four women partisans in liberated Minsk, 1944.
** Different statistics are given for the number of WWII victims in Belarus. The situation is distorted by the secret Stalin's mass executions that occurred in Belarus few years before the war. It is now a common belief that every forth citizen of Belarus has perished in the World War II, reaching every third in some regions (Vitebsk region). Per capita Belarusians lost more lives during WWII than any other nation. The Nazi occupation forces were responsible for 2.2 Million Belarusians dead, while 380,000 young Belarusians were sent to Germany for forced labor - "Ostarbeiters". Some recent reports raise the number of Belarusians who perished in War to "**3 million 650 thousand people, unlike the former 2.2 million. That is to say not every fourth inhabitant but almost 40% of the pre-war Belarusian population perished (considering the present-day borders of Belarus). "
** The material losses of Belarus reached 75 Billion Rubles, which equals to 35 annual state budgets of Belarus of 1940. More than 209 cities and towns (out of 270 total), 9,000 villages were destroyed. 10,000 industrial enterprises were either destroyed or evacuated to Germany. The capital of Belarus was ruined by bombings to such extent that for a while it was considered more reasonable to build it in a different place. But emotions took over reason and Minsk was re-built in it's old place, just as entire Belarus was. In about 5 years after war Belarus was rebuilt and Belarusian industry exceeded pre-war levels through an extraordinary effort of the youth delegated by other Soviet Republics of the USSR. Many of those delegates settled in Belarus and were quite disturbed by the rising nationalism in Belarus of the early 1990-ies. But amidst the hurricane of ethnic conflicts that swept Eastern Europe and former USSR republics in 1990-ies Belarus was the only former soviet republic that has never lost one human life to ethnic differences. **
References used in this page:
"**Bolshevik System of Power in Belarus" **("Bal'shavickaia sistema ulady na Belarusi") by M. Kasciuk, Minsk - 2000, Publishing house "Ekaperspektyva". ISBN 985-6102-30-8 - This is the main source used in this page. It gives perhaps most balanced picture on the WWII events and partisan struggle in Belarus.
**"Belarus. From Soviet Rule to Nuclear Catastrophe" **by David R. Marples, New York - 1996, Publishing house "St. Martin's Press". ISBN 0-312-16181-6
"Collaboration in the Holocaust. Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 1941-1944" by Martin Dean, New York - 2000, Publishing house "St. Martin's Press" ISBN 0-312-22056-1
"Belorussia 1944. The Soviet General Staff Study" ed. David M. Glantz, Harold S. Orenstein, London-Portland, Or - 2001, Publishing house "Frank Cass" . ISBN 0-7146-5102-8
History of Belarus @ World IQSince the early days of the occupation, a powerful and increasingly well-coordinated partisan movement emerged. Hiding in the woods and swamps, the partisans inflicted heavy damage to German supply lines and communications, disrupting railway tracks, bridges, telegraph wires, attacking supply depots, fuel dumps and transports and ambushing German occupation soldiers. In the greatest partisan sabotage action of the entire Second World War, the so-called Osipovichi diversion of 30 July 1943, for instance four German trains with supplies and Tiger tanks were destroyed. To fight Soviet partisan activity, the Germans had to withdraw considerable forces back behind their front line.
"Partisan War" - an article by "Moscow Times" about recent Belarusian independent movie - "Mysterium Occupation": Occupied by various powers throughout its history, Belarus has plenty of painful memories connected with the World War II period, during which a quarter of its population died, and its aftermath, when thousands more were sent to Soviet labor camps on charges of collaboration. Indeed, much of the country's national mythology is tied to those experiences
How many Belarusians perished during the war? an article at Open.byThe ESC's report stresses that 810,091 military prisoners were killed and tortured to death on the Belarusian territory. We do not have to forget that the most part of them were not Belarusians or natives of the republic. For some reasons, for 54 years this number had been representing the considerable part of Belarus' demographic losses.It results, according to incomplete data, that demographic losses of Belarus during the war amounted to 3 million 650 thousand people, unlike the former 2.2 million. That is to say not every fourth inhabitant but almost 40% of the pre-war Belarusian population perished (considering the present-day borders of Belarus). Of course, this problem requires further investigation and it is too early to put the final point in this case.
A Partisan's StoryBy Boris Kozinitz, Dokshitz-Tel-AvivWhen we neared the monastery which was only 200 meters from the ghetto gate, we talked to Sagalchik about freeing the ghetto. According to the plan we were supposed to take from the ghetto only men vital to us: A doctor with his equipment; medicines; the dentist Simchelevitch and others, but with Sagalchik we talked about freeing the whole ghetto.
WWII Pictures of Simon Wiesenthal Center._ Bear in mind, when they say Russians they most likely refer to Belarusians_.
Republic-Partisan - an article in Russian in "Sovetskaia Rossia" about Partisan Movement in Belarus.This is already more modern interpretation of partisan war in Belarus, slightly departed from Soviet black&white doctrine
**Eurozine: Between brotherly Russia and peaceful Europe by **Andrej Dynko The Belarusians consider peace to be the highest value. The notorious phrase, "Anything rather than war," is the basis of their political behavior. In the period between the 1950s and 1980s, Belarusian culture created a rich pacifist tradition. A humanistic message was contained in fine art masterpieces such as Mikhas Savitski's Partisan Madonna. Even mass culture could not avoid the anti-war theme. A lot of pacifistic songs appeared. "We want the peaceful sky not to know the fire of war... We wish friendship and sincere brotherly love to peoples," - these are lines from the unofficial anthem "Radzima Maya Darahaya" (My Dear Motherland), the tune of which serves as the station designator of Belarusian Radio. Literature, whose role was extremely important in society at that time, was the determining factor in creating the pacifistic sentiments. Essays by Ales Adamovich, novels by Vasil Bykaw and Ivan Shamyakin gained prominence for their deromanticization of warfare. Pacifism and tolerance were questioned by none of the more or less significant authors of that time. The presence of this theme in works of art was even intrusive. The authorities tolerated that pacifism. In Soviet Belarusian culture, it was one of the manifestations of conformism, a substitute for open dissent, upon which nobody among the front-rank figures of Belarusian culture ventured. That pacifism was so popular and consistent that it became one of the cultural and political canons and turned into a consciousness-determining phenomenon. Pacifism harmonized with the historic memory of people and came from previous cultural traditions. Incidentally, the influence of high culture, in particular literature, on the formation of the Belarusians' consciousness in the Soviet era is frequently underestimated, above all because change has now occurred in the methods of mass communication. For it is no longer the written word but sight and sound that dominate the communications industry. Anyway, pacifism and the propagation of tolerance in the Belarusian culture of the Soviet era are worth of certain consideration. The replacement of the first lines of the state anthem, "We, Belarusians, with brotherly Russia," for "We, Belarusians, are peaceful people," which was initiated by Alyaksandr Lukashenka, on the surface looked like the result of search for a solution that would insult nobody. But this choice in fact reveals the intuition and opportunism generally characteristic of Lukashenka's political style
As a teenager, Vera (Oravec) Laska defied statistics and lasted three years as a Czechoslovak Resistance fighter (instead of the average six months); survived Auschwitz and two other camps as a political prisoner; and escaped the Nazis during a death march.
After the war, Vera worked full-time as executive secretary for the Czechoslovak War Crimes Investigation Commission while also attending Charles University in Prague, focusing on philosophy and history. Then, on the recommendation of two of her professors, she was sent to the United States in 1946 on a fellowship given by the Institute of International Education. She studied at the University of Chicago, earning her doctorate in American history in 1959. There she served as a foreign students counselor and also met her future husband: Andrew ("Andy") J. Laska. The two became parents of two sons: Tom, who later was killed in an automobile accident on the way to attend graduate school; and Paul, whom they adopted after Tom’s death.
The Laskas lived in Cuba, Brazil, and Chicago before settling in New England, where in 1966 Vera joined the faculty at Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts; there she taught American and diplomatic history and earned the love of a generation of students. From the time she settled in Massachusetts, Vera was active in helping refugees from Communist Czechoslovakia. When the regime was toppled and replaced by a democratic system, she returned for a semester in 1993 to her beloved Charles University as a Fulbright professor of American history. She was accompanied by her husband, who served as a director of Citizens Democracy Corps.
Over the course of her adult life, Vera was an honored historian, educator, and author of numerous publications, including “Women in the Resistance and in the Holocaust: The Voices of Eyewitnesses” and several books about American patriots. She was married to Andy for 52 years, until his death on May 23, 2001 after a short illness. On December 11, 2005, Vera lost her battle with lung cancer. She was 82-years-old.
Meet Holocaust survivor, Leah Bedzowki-Johnson, member of the partisans and a personal friend of Tuvia Bielski, leader of the Bielsky Brothers, portrayed in the movie Defiance. In 1939 at the age of 16, her hometown, Lida, was invaded and set ablaze by the Germans. Initially taken in by a series of gentile farmers and then ensconced in a barb-wired ghetto, she and her family soon got word of Hitler’s master plan to annihilate the Jewish people. One day, a gentile man who was with Tuvia Bielski brought a note advising her mother to enter the forest. She was 20 when she met Wolf Yonson, known to partisans by his alias, “Wolf the machine gunner.” They were married in the woods in the early part of 1943. Leah and her two brothers survived the war. After spending time in a displacement camp in Torino, Italy, she and her husband eventually settled in Montréal where they raised three children. Leah has 5 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren, and currently lives in Hallandale Beach, Florida.
On 7 September 1939, a week after the German invasion of Poland, Anielewicz escaped with a group from Warsaw to the east of the country in the hopes that the Polish Army would slow down the German advance. When the SovietRed Armyinvaded and then occupied Eastern Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Anielewicz heard that Jewish refugees, other youth movement members and political groups had flocked to Vilna, Lithuania, which was then under Soviet control. He travelled to Vilna and attempted to convince his colleagues to send people back to Poland to continue the fight against the Germans. He then attempted to cross the Romanian border in order to open a route for young Jews to get to the Mandate of Palestine, but was caught and thrown into a Soviet jail. He was released a short time later, and returned to Warsaw in January 1940 with his girlfriend, Mira Fuchrer.
Anielewicz and girlfriend Mira Fuchrer in the destroyed Warsaw Ghetto (a painting by Shimon Garmize)A monument of Anielewicz standing on the site of the bunker Mila 18
In the summer of 1942 Anielewicz visited the southwest region of Poland – annexed to Germany – attempting to organize armed resistance. Upon his return to Warsaw, he found that a major deportation to the Treblinka extermination camp had been carried out and only 60,000 of the Warsaw Ghetto's 350,000 Jews remained. He soon joined the ?OB, and in November 1942 he was appointed as the group's chief commander. A connection with the Polish government in exile inLondon was made and the group began receiving weapons from the Polish underground on the "Aryan" side of the city. On 18 January 1943, Anielewicz was instrumental in the first act of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, preventing the majority of a second wave of Jews from being deported to extermination camps. This initial incident of armed resistance was a prelude to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that commenced on 19 April.
Though there were no surviving eyewitnesses, it is assumed that he took his own life on 8 May 1943, along with his girlfriend and many of his staff, in a mass suicide at the surrounded ?OB command post at 18 Mi?a Street. His body was never found and it is generally believed that it was carried off to nearby crematoria along with those of all the other Jewish dead; nevertheless, the inscription on the memorial at the site of the Mi?a 18 bunker states that he is buried there.
Honors Anielewicz memorial at kibbutz Yad MordechaiWarsaw Ghetto Heroes' Monument in Warsaw (Anielewicz is in the center, wielding a hand grenade)
During the later part of the war a unit of the People's Guard formed from Warsaw Ghetto survivors bore the name of Anielewicz. In December 1943 kibbutzYad Mordechai in Israel was renamed after him and had a monument erected in his memory. There are also memorials for him in Wyszków and in Warsaw, where in the 1960s G?sia Street, site of a former German concentration camp, was renamed Mordechaj Anielewicz Street. In 1983, 40 years after their deaths, the Israeli government issued a two-stamp set honoring Anielewicz and Josef Glazman as heroes of the Warsaw and Vilna ghettos
ust after the close of World War I, on November 15, 1918, Charaszkiewicz joined the Polish Army in the rank of sublieutenant. During thePolish-Soviet War (1919–21) he participated in battles at Nowo?wi?ciany, Podbrodzie, Bezdany, Vilnius and Ejszyszki. During the Polish defense of Vilnius, he was taken prisoner by the Lithuanians and was interned, July 19 – August 18, 1920. He escaped and, on returning to the Bia?ystok Rifle Regiment (Bia?ostocki Pu?k Strzelców), temporarily commanded the 11th Company (September 21 – October 6, 1920), then served as a junior officer in the 9th Company. On February 27, 1921, for conspicuous valor behind Soviet lines, he was recommended for Poland's highest military decoration, the Virtuti Militari.
Meanwhile, on December 15, 1920, Charaszkiewicz had been assigned to the Polish General Staff's Section II, or Intelligence — specifically, to its Upper Silesia PlebisciteDepartment. During the Third Silesian Uprising he served (May 2 – August 15, 1921) as deputy commander of demolition squads known as the Wawelberg Group. For his courage and steadfastness in action against the Germans, as he blew up mined structures in the face of withering enemy fire and thereby halted the German advance, he was on February 18, 1922, again recommended for the Virtuti Militari. On June 27, 1922, Lt. Charaszkiewicz was decorated with the Virtuti Militari, 5th class](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Charaszkiewicz#cite_note-5)
Charaszkiewicz would later (February 16, 1940, in Paris) describe the Polish military-intelligence operation in the Third Silesian Uprising as a model operation of its kind: its objectives were clearly defined; the requisite personnel were skilfully recruited and trained; the necessary explosives, weapons, ammunition, equipment and supplies were smuggled into the operational areas and cached well in advance; and the plans were efficiently and resourcefully executed. He would later favorably contrast the Third Silesian Uprising with the indecisive preparations for, and execution of, Poland's takeover of Zaolzie 17 years later, in 1938. Moreover, the preponderant political circumstances in Poland, Germany and the world favored the Polish cause. The Silesian-Polish population gave its enthusiastic support, and all its social groups were recruited except for the communists, who for their part evinced a benign neutrality, having been instructed to back the Polishproletariat.
Between 1918 and 1923, Charaszkiewicz completed three years of the four-year law curriculum at Warsaw University.
After the Third Silesian Uprising (May 2 – July 5, 1921), in 1922 Charaszkiewicz was assigned to the General Staff's Section II. In evaluations, he was commended for his strength of character, initiative, energy, enthusiasm, and devotion to duty, especially in covert operations inLithuania, with which Poland had a running dispute over Vilnius. In 1927, when he was decorated with the Silver Cross of Merit, he was cited for actions in the rear of the Soviet Army in 1920, actions in the Third Silesian Uprising, and actions in the Polish-Lithuanian neutral zone to secure the lives and property of Polish citizens against Lithuanian irregulars.
Charaszkiewicz's service record noted that his qualifications for intelligence work included a knowledge of German, French and English. He was promoted to lieutenant on June 1, 1919, to captain on July 1, 1925, and to major in 1935.
By 1931, until World War II, Charaszkiewicz served, last in the rank of major, as chief of "Office [Ekspozytura] 2" of the General Staff's Section II. Office 2, which had been so named on April 1, 1929, was charged with the planning, preparation and execution of clandestine-warfare operations.
In the face of growing threats from Germany and the Soviet Union, Polish organizing of a "behind-the-lines" (pozafrontowa) clandestine network had begun immediately after the post-World War I wars for Poland's borders. Charaszkiewicz had been assigned to this network already on April 15, 1922.
Especially after Adolf Hitler's accession to power in 1933, Polish clandestine organizations were vigorously built up. They were meant, in future military actions, to paralyze enemy road and rail transport and destroy enemy military depots. Clandestine centers were created in Poland as well as in neighboring countries, chiefly Germany and the Soviet Union.
Personnel for the clandestine networks were recruited with great care. Thanks to this, the intelligence services of Poland's neighbors learned nothing about them until mid-1939, when the rising German threat prompted mass Polish training of irregular forces.
During his career as an intelligence and covert-operations officer, Charaszkiewicz helped pioneer modern techniques of asymmetric warfare. Just before World War II, during a week's visit to London, he shared information on these with Britain's Colonel Holland, Lt. Colonel Gubbins(future leader of the Special Operations Executive), and technical specialists. In his reports about these meetings, Charaszkiewicz noted how far Poland's techniques outstripped Britain's.
Woli?ski was a lawyer in the Warsaw administration before the Germans invasion of Polandin September 1939. He had a Jewish wife and many Jewish associates and friends, many of them from the Polish Bar Association, he was in contact with the Jewish intelligentsia involved in the administration of the ghetto and he quickly got involved with the support for the Jews organized by the Poles.
Polish underground got organized much quicker than the first Jewish underground organization, so at first the Polish underground authorities contacted Jews unofficially. Polish authorities had soon established contacts with Jewish communities in ghettos and beyond, with the help of the Bund through the Polish Socialist Party and with the Hechaluc, through the Polish Scout Association and Aleksander Kami?ski. In time, both the Polish and Jewish undergrounds matured and new organizations evolved.
On 1 February 1942 Woli?ski became the head of the "Jewish Department" (or "Referat ?ydowski") in Bureau of Information and Propaganda (Biuro lnformacji i Propagandy) at Komenda G?ówna of AK and provided information to the Polish government-in-exile about the Holocaust.
Wolinski was the co-author of the report of the underground authorities to the Polish government-in-exile in London. He provided information about the mass deportations from the Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka that lasted from July 21 till mid September 1942, when over 300,000 Jews from the Warsaw ghetto were transported under the guise of "resettlement for work in the East".
He received daily reports from railway men about the number of trains and of people in them, and he likely received the reports from Witold Pilecki, AK operative who became the only person to volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz in order to organize camp's resistance and provide information on the atrocities.
Through Woli?ski's network the Polish government in London was able to inform the Alliedgovernments and the western mass media about the enormity of German crimes in Poland and particularly against its Jewish population, however much of the reports were judged as exaggeration in the West.
Woli?ski served as the Polish underground’s liaison with the ?ydowska Organizacja Bojowa (?OB, or Jewish Fighting Association). For Arie Wilner, the Jewish liaison of ZOB, and for Jewish ?egota leaders Woli?ski was their primary contact in the Armia Krajowa. He was also one of people who came out with the initiative of creating ?egota - Council for Aid to Jews.
His department provided work permits and shelter allowing many Jews to escape imprisonment and death, he also procured weapons for the Jewish underground. The latter aid was small, insufficient for the enormous needs, but the AK had itself only a very limited amount of arms and ammunition and in the Warsaw Uprising a year and a half after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Polish insurgents were even less equipped than the ghetto fighters.
Woli?ski is known to have been a strong voice in the AK command supporting any action supporting the Jews. He headed a ?egota cell that saved almost 300 Jews and he himself harbored in his apartment over 25 Jews for a period going from a few days to several weeks.
He represented the Sarthe Department as a Socialist in the National Assembly from 1946 to 1958. After the war, he served as a Minister in French governments between 1945–1958. He was minister of Supply in de Gaulle's government (1945) and Minister of Public works (1947–1950) in different governments. For a short time, he was Finance Minister in 1948. Designated as Prime minister by president Coty after Mendes France's fall in February 1955, the National Assembly refused to invest his cabinet by 312 votes against 268. So he was for two days between 17 and 19 February 1955 the Prime Minister of France.
As Foreign Minister (February 1956 – May 1958), he was responsible for handling the Suez canal crisis and he signed the Treaty of Rome on behalf of France. With Guy Mollet, he visited Moscow.
He was always an advocate of European integration.
A photo of Aris Velouchiotis; major, charismatic figure, but also controversial, of the Greek Resistance.
World War II
During World War II, he was drafted as reserve officer of the Hellenic Army but due to indisciplined behavior he was degraded and sent to serve as a corporal to a disciplinary squad of Artillery at the Albanian front (1940–1941) against the Italian army, until the German invasion in April 1941 and Greece's subsequent surrender and occupation.
After Germany's offensive campaign in the Soviet Union, the Greek Communist Party championed the creation of the National Liberation Front(EAM), and Klaras was sent to Central Greece (Greek Roumeli) to assess the potential for the development of a guerrilla movement against the occupation forces. His proposals were adopted by the party, and in January 1942, Klaras moved to the mountains to start setting up guerrilla groups.
The first appearance of the partisans organised by Klaras occurred on June 7, 1942 in the village of Domnista in Evritania in Central Greece. There he presented himself as Major of Artillery (for gaining extra prestige among the villagers) with the nom de guerre of Aris Velouchiotis(from Ares, the Greek god of war, and Velouchi, a local mountain) and proclaimed the existence of the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS).
One of the most important early operations of the Greek resistance movement (in which Velouchiotis and his fighters, after long negotiations with the British, finally agreed to participate alongside Napoleon Zervas's republican EDES resistance forces and twelve British saboteurs under the leadership of Major E. C. W. "Eddie" Myers), was the blowing-up of theGorgopotamos railway viaduct, south of Lamia, on November 25, 1942 (Operation Harling). The destruction of the viaduct cut the single Thessaloniki-Athens rail line, thus the line connecting the Balkans with southern Greece, but did not disrupt any supply lines - as would have been the case had it happened, as the British intended, two months earlier - for Erwin Rommel's German forces in Northern Africa because it took place one month after the commencement of the El Alamein battle on October 23, 1942, in which Rommel was badly defeated by the British.
The destruction of the Gorgopotamos viaduct was to be the last operation where the communist-influenced ELAS organisation fought alongside with Greek Republican resistance forces, such as the EKKA's 5/42 Evzones Regiment (military arm of EKKA) and EOEA (National Groups of Greek Guerillas, Εthnikes Omades Ellinwn Antartwn, military arm of EDES). But despite the signing of an agreement in May 1943 between the three main Resistance groups (EAM/ELAS, EDES and EKKA) to cooperate and to subject themselves to the Allied Middle East High Command under General Wilson (the "National Bands Agreement"), in the political field, the mutual mistrust between EAM and the other groups escalated. EAM-ELAS was by now the dominant political and military force in Greece, and EDES and EKKA, along with the British and the Greek government-in-exile, feared that after the inevitable German withdrawal, it would try to dominate the country and establish a soviet regime The rift ultimately led to a mini-civil war in late 1943 and early 1944, in which ELAS attacked EDES, EOEA and destroyed EKKA's 5/42 Evzones Regiment, savagely executing its leader Col. Dimitrios Psarros.
In October 1944, the Nazis evacuated Greece and a new government was formed under Georgios Papandreou, the leader of the Greek National Unity Government which was established following the Treaties of Lebanon and Caserta. When the Varkiza agreement was signed to end the Dekemvriana fighting between EAM forces in Athens and governmental forces (with the support of the British troops), Velouchiotis vehemently refused to comply, in defiance of the Communist Party leadership, who consequently accused him of treachery and spurned him as a member of KKE.,
Velouchiotis moved again to the mountains of Central Greece in order to start an insurgency (see Greek Civil War) against the new government and the British allies who supported them. He was reported to have denounced the sell-out to the British in the 'Varkiza Agreement' to lay down the National Resistance arms; particularly moving was the sight of his elite massed Mavroskoufides (Black Berets) openly mourning. He was out-manoeuvred by the KKE leadership and resolved to leave Greece; he repeatedly requested permission from the party to be allowed to be left to depart, but was refused. Though most of his associates abandoned him, he was reported to have continued to conduct guerrilla activities until June 1945. He was denounced by the KKE Central Committee and increasingly isolated until he was ambushed with his unit in the mountain of Agrafa - some say that he was set up or even betrayed by KKE contacts, in 1945 - by para-military groups controlled by the Athens government. Although many members of the Security Battalions and the organisation 'X' (leader of the X team was the Colonel, at the time, Georgios Grivas), which had collaborated with the German occupying forces, were rounded up and detained in Korydallos Prison in Athens, the majority of their officers were allowed to join the new Greek police force, organised by the British. The new Greek police force was formed under the expert leadership of British officers who had formed the paramilitary organization in Ireland called the 'Black & Tans'.
Aris and his second in command, Leon Javellas, were isolated by the main unit and finally Aris was killed with his comrade either by a hand grenade or by a bullet. Rumors want him to "commit suicide with his commander Javellas when his thoughts were that there is no better future for his revolution and its betrayals.".
The corpses of Velouchiotis and his second in command were subsequently decapitated, and the heads displayed, hanging from a lamp post in the central square of the town of Trikala. When British Labour government members of Parliament objected to the barbarity of the operation, they received the reply that the display was in accordance to "Ancient Greek War Custom".
Following the rehabilitation in Greece of the EAM and subsequently of the KKE itself, busts and statues of Aris have been erected in his native town; the KKE moved discreetly for Velouchiotis' rehabilitation, following in turn the expulsion of the KKE's wartime leader who had denounced him, Party Secretary Zahariadis, who had survived incarceration at Dachau.
On November 9, 1939, the two men founded the Secret Polish Army (Tajna Armia Polska, TAP), one of the first underground organizations in Poland. Pilecki became its organizational commander as TAP expanded to cover not only Warsaw but Siedlce, Radom, Lublin and other major cities of central Poland.By 1940, TAP had approximately 8,000 men (more than half of them armed), some 20 machine guns and several anti-tank rifles. Later, the organization was incorporated into the Union for Armed Struggle (Zwi?zek Walki Zbrojnej), later renamed and better known as the Home Army (Armia Krajowa).
Within AK, TAP units became the core of the Wachlarz unit.Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, on August 26, 1939, Pilecki was mobilized as a cavalry-platoon commander. He was assigned to the 19th Infantry Division under Józef Kwaciszewski, part of Polish Army Prusy. His unit took part in heavy fighting against the advancing Germans during the invasion of Polandand was partially destroyed.
Pilecki's platoon withdrew southeast toward Lwów (now L'viv, in Ukraine) and the Romanian bridgehead and was incorporated into the recently formed 41st Infantry Division, where he served as the Division's second-in-command under Major Jan W?odarkiewicz. During that conflict (known in Poland as the September Campaign), Pilecki and his men destroyed seven German tanks, shot down an aircraft and destroyed two more on the ground.
On September 17, the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland pursuant to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Involved in more heavy fighting on two fronts, by September 22, Pilecki's division was disbanded, partially surrendering to the enemies. He returned to Warsaw with his commander, Major W?odarkiewicz.
In 1940, Pilecki presented to his superiors a plan to enter Germany's Auschwitz concentration camp at O?wi?cim (the Polish name of the locality), gather intelligence on the camp from the inside, and organize inmate resistance. Until then, little had been known about the Germans' running of the camp and it was thought to be an internment camp or large prison rather than adeath camp.
His superiors approved the plan and provided him with a false identity card in the name of "Tomasz Serafi?ski." On September 19, 1940, he deliberately went out during a Warsaw street roundup (?apanka) and was caught by the Germans, along with some 2,000 innocent civilians (among them, W?adys?aw Bartoszewski). After two days of torture in Wehrmacht barracks, Pilecki was sent to Auschwitz where he was assigned inmate number 4859.
Auschwitz concentration camp photos of Pilecki (1941)
At Auschwitz, while working in variouskommandos and surviving pneumonia, Pilecki organized an underground Union of Military Organizations (Zwi?zek Organizacji Wojskowej, ZOW). Many smaller underground organizations at Auschwitz eventually merged with ZOW. ZOW's tasks were to improve inmate morale, provide news from outside, distribute extra food and clothing to members, set up intelligence networks, and train detachments to take over the camp in the event of a relief attack by the Home Army, arms airdrops, or an airborne landing by the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, based in Britain.
ZOW provided the Polish underground with invaluable information about the camp. From October 1940, ZOW sent reports to Warsaw, and beginning in March of 1941, Pilecki's reports were being forwarded via the Polish resistance to the British government in London.These reports were a principal source of intelligence on Auschwitz for the Western Allies.
Pilecki hoped that either the Allies would drop arms or troops into the camp or that the Home Army would organize an assault on it from outside. Such plans, however, were all judged impossible to carry out. Meanwhile, the Gestapo redoubled its efforts to ferret out ZOW members, succeeding in killing many of them.
Pilecki decided to break out of the camp, with the hope of personally convincing Home Army leaders that a rescue attempt was a valid option. When he was assigned to a night shift at a camp bakery outside the fence, he and two comrades overpowered a guard, cut the phone line and escaped on the night of April 26/27, 1943, taking with them documents stolen from the Germans.
Outside the camp
After several days, he made contact with the Home Army units. On August 25, 1943, Pilecki reached Warsaw and joined the Home Army's intelligence department. The Home Army, after losing several operatives in reconnoitering the vicinity of the camp, including the Cichociemny commando Stefan Jasie?ski, decided that it lacked sufficient strength to capture the camp without Allied help.
Pilecki's detailed report (Raport Witolda — Witold's Report) was sent to London, where the scale of Nazi atrocities at Auschwitz ("During the first 3 years, at Auschwitz there perished 2 million people; in the next 2 years—3 million") was thought to be grossly exaggerated. The British authorities refused the Home Army air support for an operation to help the inmates escape.
The Home Army in turn decided that it did not have enough force to storm the camp by itself. In 1944, the Russian army, despite being within attacking distance of the camp, showed no interest in a joint effort with the Home Army and the ZOW to free the camp. Until he became involved in the Warsaw Uprising, Pilecki remained in charge of coordinated ZOW and AK activities, and provided what limited support he was able to offer to ZOW.
On February 23, 1944, Pilecki was promoted to cavalry captain (rotmistrz) and joined a secret anti-communist organization, NIE ("NO or NIEpodleg?o?? - independence"), formed as a secret organization within the Home Army with the goal of preparing resistance against a possible Soviet occupation.
When the Warsaw Uprising broke out on August 1, 1944, Pilecki volunteered for the Kedyw's Chrobry II group. At first, he fought in the northern city center as a simple private, without revealing his actual rank. Later, as many officers fell, he disclosed his true identity and accepted command. His forces held a fortified area called the "Great Bastion of Warsaw".
It was one of the most outlying partisan redoubts and caused considerable difficulties for German supply lines. The bastion held for two weeks in the face of constant attacks by German infantry and armor. On the capitulation of the uprising, Pilecki hid some weapons in a private apartment and went into captivity. He spent the rest of the war in German prisoner-of-war camps at ?ambinowice and Murnau.
Pilecki returned to Poland in October 1945, where he proceeded to organize his intelligence network. In early 1946, the Polish government-in-exile decided that the postwar political situation afforded no hope of Poland's liberation and ordered all partisans still in the forests (cursed soldiers) either to return to their normal civilian lives or to escape to the West.
In July 1946, Pilecki was informed that his cover was blown and ordered to leave; he declined. In April 1947, he began collecting evidence on Soviet atrocities and on the prosecution of Poles (mostly members of the Home Army and the 2nd Polish Corps) and their executions or imprisonment in Soviet gulags.
Arrest and execution Pilecki in the court (1948)Trial of Pilecki (1948)
Pilecki denied the assassination charges, as well as espionage (although he admitted to passing information to the II Polish Corps of whom he considered himself an officer and thus claimed that he was not breaking any laws); he pleaded guilty to the other charges. On May 15, with three of his comrades, he was sentenced to death.
Ten days later, on May 25, 1948, Pilecki was executed at the Warsaw Mokotów Prison on _ulica Rakowiecka_street, by Staff Sergeant Piotr ?mieta?ski. ?mieta?ski was nicknamed by the prisoners the "Butcher of the Mokotow Prison". Pilecki's place of burial has never been found but is thought to be somewhere within Pow?zki Cemetery. A symbolic gravestone was erected in his memory at Ostrowa Mazowiecka Cemetery after the fall of Communism in Poland.
Pilecki's conviction was part of a prosecution of Home Army members and others connected with the Polish Government-in-Exile in London. In 2003, the prosecutor, Czes?aw ?api?ski, and several others involved in the trial were charged with complicity in Pilecki's murder. Cyrankiewicz escaped similar proceedings, having died; ?api?ski died in 2004, before the trial was concluded.
Remains may still be in use at German medical faculties.
The corpses of some of Czechoslovakia's most celebrated war heroes may be serving as models in anatomy classes in Germany and Austria to this day. Thousands of political prisoners were murdered at the Ploetzensee detention and execution centre outside Berlin during WWII. Among them were nearly seven hundred Czech and Slovak resistance fighters, whose bodies were immediately sent on to medical universities and institutions within the Third Reich.
Condemned prisoners at Ploetzensee spent their final hours in shackles before crossing the small courtyard leading to the execution chamber, to be beheaded by guillotine or hung in groups of eight on the gallows.
In the first weeks after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia that began on March 15, 1939, dozens of high-ranking Czech military officers in the resistance movement Obrana Naroda (Defence of the Nation) met such deaths within Ploetzensee's prison walls. During the course of the Second World War, many hundreds would follow, as the list of crimes meriting capital punishment was expanded from murder and high treason to include 25 other offences.
Ploetzensee prison The so-called "People's Court" of occupied Czechoslovakia -- the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia - sentenced thousands of suspected resistance fighters and their family members to death.
Josef Srstka, an army colonel who through Obrana Naroda helped the families of Czechoslovak resistance fighters, and soldiers fighting with the Allies, was killed at Ploetzensee on the 1st of June, 1943, along with his good friend General Alois Machacik, the wealthy entrepreneur Gustav Svoboda, and Vaclav Adam, a captain assigned to the Czechoslovakian ministry of defence.
More than 670 such Czechoslovak resistance fighters alone were murdered in Ploetzensee, from where fresh corpses were routinely delivered to Nazi doctors for study.
This dark chapter of history has come under renewed scrutiny following calls from German medical students and researchers at Berlin's Humboldt University to purge anatomical stocks of unwitting donors -- victims of Nazi persecution.
By the mid-1980s, medical faculties and institutions in Western Germany and, to a lesser degree, Austria had completed this morbid task, by tracing the origins of corpses used for the study of anatomy and forensic medicine. Verified and presumed victims of Nazi persecution --including Czechoslovaks-- were then given proper burials.
But at Humboldt University, on the Communist side of the Berlin Wall, no such inventory took place. In recent weeks, university researchers presented the Czech Embassy in Berlin with evidence that the remains of Czechoslovak political prisoners executed at Ploetzensee were still being studied at Humboldt - a fact they find unconscionable.
Jozef Gabcik and Jan KubisThe daily Mlada fronta Dnes broke the story in the Czech media this week with the sensational headline that among them could be the bodies of national heroes Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik -- British-trained paratroopers who in May 1942 assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi governor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia known as "The Butcher of Prague."
The severed heads of sergeants Kubis and Gabcik were kept at the Gestapo's Prague headquarters until the end of the war. Their bodies, and those of their fellow paratroopers -- all of whom committed suicide with a single bullet to the head, after exhausting their ammunition in battle with Nazi troops -- were sent by special train to Germany for study by Nazi criminal police. What eventually became of their remains is a matter of historical debate.
The Czech embassy in Berlin is backing a proposal by German academics to hold an international conference this February in hopes of putting this dark chapter of history -- and its victims -- finally to rest.
A Remembrance of WWII Resistance Fighter Reidar Dittmann
by Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio January 5, 2011 St. Paul, Minn. — Reidar Dittmann, a retired professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield who was a prisoner at a German concentration camp during World War II, is being remembered by friends as a man committed to helping people marginalized by society. Dittmann died Dec. 29 at the age of 88. Reider Dittmann was born and raised in Norway, one of the countries occupied by the Nazis during World War II.
Dittmann, who was a student and director of a youth choir at the time, became a member of the resistance. During a 1997 interview with Minnesota Public Radio, he recounted his wartime experiences -- beginning with his first arrest, for leading a couple thousand protesters in song.
Norway's puppet government had forbade public singing, and gatherings larger than a few dozen people. "I could see the Germans coming, you know, four abreast with their bayonets bared, marching up to split this group apart," Dittmann recalled at the time. "And I did the only sensible thing a person would do. I jumped off my ledge and ran away as fast as I could."
Dittmann hid overnight in the forest on the edge of his hometown. The next morning he went back to his family's home, opened the door -- and inside were two men he'd never seen before. "One of them stepped forward and said, in German, 'Are you Mr. Dittmann? You are under arrest.' And so I became the first political prisoner in my 1,100-year-old hometown's history."
His first imprisonment lasted three months. There'd be a second arrest, as well. But it was the third arrest in 1942, as Dittmann was preparing to take a public exam for college, that ended his resistance activities in Norway. The Nazis decided to take advantage of the large student gathering in the exam room, suspecting that many of them were resistance members, and rounded all of them up at one time. "Into the auditorium, from the back and from the side, streamed German soldiers with their bayonets bared, and an officer jumped up in front of me on the stage and he shouted out, 'Everybody's under arrest.'"
Dittmann said that he and more than 300 others were interrogated, put on a prisoner ship bound for Germany, transferred to rail box cars and shipped to Buchenwald. "And above the gateway, emblazoned in brass letters was the motto of the camp, and it said, 'Right or wrong, my country.'" Dittmann said the Nazis gave him and many other Scandinavian prisoners preferential treatment because of their Nordic or Aryan ethnicity.
They were allowed to live together in their own barracks, but they lived in constant fear of being killed. Dittmann remembered hearing the numbers of prisoners to be executed on a given day read over the camp public address system, which summoned the victims to the main entrance. "The public address system crackled and it said, 'All the Norwegians to the gate area.'" But instead of being killed, the Norwegians were put on buses and then ferries to Sweden, where officials had brokered a deal for their release. Dittmann also spoke of the motto above the gate at Buchenwald, "Right or wrong, my country." He explained that it was originally uttered by an American naval officer, Stephen Decatur, in the early 1800s.
"He lifted his glass to his fellow soldiers and he said, 'My country, may she always be right. But right or wrong, my country,' thereby issuing forth one of the most immoral statements ever made, one that we've struggled with in America ever after, where we put patriotism ahead of our own moral responsibility," said Dittmann. After the war, Dittmann moved to the United States, married, raised a family and taught art history at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
Joseph Shaw, Dittmann's friend and a retired St. Olaf religion professor, said Dittmann seldom if ever turned down a chance to recount his wartime experiences. "He came away with a profound sense of a mission almost to be a spokesperson on behalf of the Jewish people, but I think more broadly than that, just tolerance for marginalized people," said Shaw.
Reidar Dittmann, shown in a recent undated photo. Dittmann was an art history professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., and a member of the Nazi resistance movement in his native Norway during World War II. He died on Dec. 29 at the age of 88. (Photo courtesy of St. Olaf College)
A service for Dittmann will be held Saturday afternoon in Northfield.
The only known photographs of French Resistance fighters facing a Nazi firing squad at an execution site on the outskirts of Paris have gone on display for the first time. The three pictures were taken by a German soldier who hid in the bushes on February 21, 1941 and secretly captured the executions at Mont-Valerien.
Despite more than 1,000 'hostages' being killed at the site, it was thought no pictures existed as Nazis prohibited the taking of photographs for fear they would be used as anti-propaganda.
_Unseen photographs of French Resistance fighters being executed by a Nazi firing squad on the outskirts of Paris in February 1941 have gone on public display for the first time _
Taken only months after the French surrendered to the Nazis in June 1940, members of the Resistance fought the Nazi occupation as well as the collaborationist Vichy regime. After four years of occupation, France was liberated by Allied forces in August 1944.
The photographs are being permanently exhibited at Mont-Valerien - the 19th-century fort in a Paris suburb that was the Nazis' largest execution site in France during the Second World War.
German soldiers sit outside a Paris cafe on the Champs Elysees on Bastille Day in 1940. France was invaded by Nazi Germany earlier that year and was liberated in 1944
France's most famous Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfield identified those being executed as members of an anti-Nazi network led by Missak Manouchian
The condemned, who were captured in revenge for the death of German soldiers and tried by military tribunals, were driven in lorries to the remote fort in western Paris and held in a chapel before they were executed. Some scrawled their final messages on the walls of the chapel, which have recently been restored.
Men were blindfolded and tied to wooden poles in a clearing before being shot by a group of 60 soldiers. Women were usually sent to Germany and beheaded. Clemens Ruter, who provided a motorcycle escort to the prisoners, took the photographs with his Minox camera. The non-commissioned soldier never told anyone about the shots and the film was left in the camera for 40 years. Shortly before his death, while on a pilgrimage, Roman Catholic Mr Ruter confided his secret to a fellow German pilgrim.
Mr Ruter's confidante worked for the Franz Stock association, who developed the negatives, although the pictures were not made public until France's most famous Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfield took an interest in those members of the Resistance captured in the photographs. Mr Klarsfield identified those being executed as members of a network led by Missak Manouchian, a French-Armenian poet who ran an anti-Nazi force in Paris.
On August 1, 1944 more than forty thousand resistance fighters, who answered to the Polishgovernment-in-exile in London, rose up against Warsaw’s German occupiers. By taking on the Germans before the Soviets arrived they hoped to show their independence to the world.
Soviet propaganda had encouraged the citizens of Warsaw to believe they were about to be liberated by the Red Army . But the Poles had not consulted Stalin before launching their attack, and he had no intention of committing the Red Army to the struggle. He even refused to assist Allied planes that were trying to supply the uprising by air.
“We realized that they [the Soviets] were not going to allow either us or the Americans to land on Soviet territory. And this seemed to us a most terrible betrayal, not only of the Poles but of the Allies.”
– Hugh Lunghi, British Military Mission, Moscow British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wanted to help Warsaw’s resistance fighters. Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots made more than three hundred supply flights to the city, most flying a tortuous journey from bases in southern Italy. Many of the missions were flown by Poles serving in the RAF, one hundred of whom were shot down.
But the situation in Warsaw remained grim. German forces committed numerous atrocities, openly targeting Polish civilians as well as members of the Home Army. In the first two weeks of the uprising, the Germans killed more than forty thousand civilians in just one district of the city. In total, more than two hundred thousand Polish civilians died.
“Just imagine, it was sixty something days in conditions that weren’t even fit for animals. We were hounded. Imagine if your closest friends are killed, if the city and the churches are burnt down, and all life is collapsing. And everything you live for has disappeared.”
– Zbigniew Wolak, Polish Home Army
A few weeks before the Poles in Warsaw surrendered in early October, Stalin relented and offered some help. Soviet planes dropped some supplies. But many believed he deliberately did too little, too late. The fighting in Warsaw lasted more than sixty days, and when it was over, the Germans began destroying the city brick by brick.
“All autumn there was an aura over Warsaw in the evening. A red aura, a pink aura. Warsaw was burning. The people of Warsaw are dying. Warsaw is dying. The national culture of Poland is dying.”
Prisoners liberated from the Gesiowka concentration camp by the Polish Home Army
The name refers to the Place Jacques Bonsergent, named for Jacques Bonsergent, an engineer who became the first Parisian (and possibly first French) civilian executed by the German occupation in 1940. The station was named Lancry until 1946.
Bonsergent was born at Malestroit, in 1912 and was condemned to death by a German military tribunal on 5th December 1940 after being accused, and found guilty, of an act of violence against German soldiers during the night of 10th November.
The execution was carried out on 23rd December 1940 at the Bois de Vincennes; the commanding officer was Général Otto von St?lpnagel. Bonsergent's remains lie in the cemetery at Malestroit, Brittany.
Jacques Bonsergent: first squad in occupied France - 23/12/1940. Comrades, The Reich has to regret today first execution by shooting of a civilian French: Jacques Bonsergent , engineer of 28 years on Sunday November 10, 1940 he was involved in a street brawl between a group of French and one German soldiers. Jacques Bonsergent . Would be about 21 hours when Jacques and his friends were returning from a wedding with a few drinks. Walking along the Rue Saint Lazare in the dark (passive defense were forced to maintain the streetlights off) when a group of German soldiers approached in the opposite direction. The French, most veterans of the last campaign in France to which the magnanimity of the Führer had avoided imprisonment in a POW camp, used the darkness to attack their enemies. There were shoves and a confused melee that ended with several soldiers and a sergeant bruised slightly wounded. After the cowardly attack, the French left the scene of the felony and dispersed. However, shortly after Jacques Bonsergent was identified by his height and arrested. Inside the Hotel Terminus was asked to reveal the names of his companions, but the rebel French refused, so he was transferred to the prison of Cherche-Midi. Notice the people of Paris of the execution of Jacques. It has not helped Jacques to the fate of the fact that his arrest occurred on the eve of the first demonstration in Paris against the Germans, nor that on December 13 Marshal Petain refused to appear in person to receive the ashes of Napoleon II and sent instead to Pierre Laval. As a result, a military court found him guilty and sentenced to death on 5 December and the General Stülpnagel not granted clemency. The Führer has decided to use his case as an exemplary measure. Yesterday, December 22, Jacques Bonsergent wrote a farewell letter to his cell number 175 of Cherche-Midi. This morning, first thing in the woods near Vincennes, has fallen under the bullets of a firing squad. Indeed, the Reich regrets this necessary death.
Born in 1914 Maximo Guillermo Manus, he is more commonly known as Max Manus, one of the most recognized Norwegian Resistance fighters in WWII. Manus´father, known as Juan Manus, was a Danish-Norwegian with the born name of Johna Magnussen. After having lived for several years in Spanish-speaking countries, he changed his name to Juan Manus.
Max Manus´fought first as a volunteer in the Winter War between the Soviets and Finland. Manus fought for the Finnish side and after a year of that conflict, Manus returned to Norway on the day the German army invaded his country, April 9, 1940. Manus was a pioneer of the resistance movement and unfortunately was arrested by the Gestapo after they discovered he was working underground organizing the resistance, illegal propoganda, and manufacturing of weapons. Manus and his fellow resistance fighters nearly managed to kill Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels during a visit to Oslo.
After escape from an Oslo hospital to Sweden, Manus kept moving through the Soviet Union, through Turkey and then by ship around Capetown, South Africa, and to the US. He trained a bit in Canada and soon thereafter crossed the Atlantic for the UK for training. Manus returned to Norway by parachute into the forest around Oslo to continue his work with the resistance movement. Manus joined Lingekompaniet, the Norwegian Independent Company 1, for which he became a ship sabotage specialist. They used mines to sink German ships including the SS Monte Rosa and the SS Donau.
By the end of the war, Manus was a First Lieutenant. Other awards that he received include: Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross and Bar, Defence Medal, and War Cross with two swords, Norway´s highest decoration for military gallantry. He also received a Winter War Participation Medal from the Finns and a Brittish Military Cross and Bar.
After the war, Manus wrote several books depicting his adventures. His first book was Det vil helst gå godt (It Usually Ends Well), which he wrote about his time in the jungles of South America and Latin America prior to WWII. Manus´second book, Det blir alvor (It Gets Serious) is about his continued resistance efforts and the great successes of sinking 2 large German warships.
After the war, Manus was chosen to be the personal protection for the Crown Prince of Norway in the Oslo Parade in celebration of the end of the war. He then was also asked to protect King Haakon VII. Imagine that he was only 30 years at this time!
Manus got into the office supply business and together with Sophus Clausen, started the company Clausen and Manus, an office machine company. In a reconciliation effort, Manus also decided to hire people who had collaborated with the Nazis during the war.
After marriage and a family, as well as bouts of depression and alcoholism caused by his war experiences, Manus died peacefully in Spain at the age of 81. What a life!
(They fought here and they fell. They gave us everything.)
Written by C.E. Chambers, a portion was published in 2003 by the Sons of Norway_Viking_ magazine. Read more info. after the article. If you copy my work, please include my byline and a link back to this website.
(Photo by Bernt Rostad at http://www.flickr.com/photos/brostad/2290845430/)
“De kjempet de falt. De gav oss alt.” (They fought here and they fell. They gave us everything.) The inscription on a memorial at Akershus Fortress in Oslo, Norway, to the brave WWII Resistance Fighters who were imprisoned and executed there by the Germans.
When war broke out in Europe in late 1939, the Norwegian government repeated a successful tactic from the First World War and declared neutrality. Trade agreements secured with Germany and Great Britain in early 1940 were thought to be an additional protection against invaders, as was Norway’s military presence on its national borders and the close proximity of Britain’s naval power.
With utter surprise, then, did Norway find itself in the talons of the German eagle on April 9, 1940. The massive Nazi invasion by land, sea, and air — the first of its kind in history — conquered eight strategic Norwegian cities within 24 hours. Despite the support of British, French, and Polish allies, the brutal onslaught pushed King Haakon VII and his administration into exile within two months. The wide-sweeping Nazification of Norway began in earnest.
Hitler’s well-planned invasion of Norway on April 9, 1940, caused chaos and death – but not demoralization. The profound patriotism of the Norwegian people soared to only greater heights in the rubble of war, and a heroic Resistance Movement began almost immediately. Hundreds of thousands were eventually involved in some sort of underground activity, and military and civilian arms of the Resistance sometimes worked in tandem with each other. Clandestine operations were so successful that close family members were oftentimes unaware of each other’s involvement until after the war.
Milorg, an underground military organization that evolved into the national Hjemmestyrkere (Home Forces), was officially formed in May 1941 and was recognized by the exiled Norwegian government in November 1941. By the end of the war in May 1945 it had “trained and supplied 40,000 soldiers”. XU, members of Milorg who split from the organization in 1941 as a precaution against detection by the German occupiers, worked closely with Allied forces. “The existence of XU wasn’t made known to the general public until around 1980 ”
The KK (Coordination Committee) directed the civilian resistance and oversaw matters regarding the schools, churches, homes, and the prolific underground press. Kretsen (The Circle) coordinated with the KK and addressed economic and political concerns via steady but clandestine contact with King Haakon VII and his leaders in London.
During the latter part of the war, the diverse underground organizations began to operate under a single umbrella known as The Leadership of the Resistance. In addition, Norwegians were recruited and trained in Great Britain for the SIS (Special Intelligence Service) and the SOE (Special Operations Executive). The SIS was the first organization to establish clandestine radio contact from Norway to Great Britain in June 1940.
Heroes continued to emerge in spite of threats of imprisonment and execution, and some are well-known even today: Gunnar Sønsteby, a daring and innovative Resistance Fighter who was awarded his country’s highest honors; Leif Hovelsen, who was victorious even after betrayal, torture and a death sentence; Knut Haukelid, a Norwegian-American who was one of the ten successful saboteurs of the heavy water plant at Telemark.
Untold others deserve recognition. Kåre Haukland was a teenager-turned-Resistance Fighter whose badly-scarred body bore evidence of incarceration in Oslo’s infamous Grini prison and also as a prisoner of war in Germany. Kolbjørn Varmann was a Lutheran minister who fearlessly denounced Hitler from his church’s pulpit and secretly spirited Jews to Sweden. Knut and Haldis Einarsen fled for their lives on skis from Norway to Sweden after Knut disabled his family’s commercial ship to prevent its confiscation by Nazis.
Margit Varnes is another little-known Norwegian hero. Seven-months pregnant, she regularly walked 30 minutes at night on a long, treacherous trail to feed four French POWs who had escaped from a German slave labor camp on the island of Otrøy. They were successfully hidden for six months in a massive cave.
Journalist C.E. Chambers interviewed Knut and Haldis Einarsen and Margit Varnes. Their stories are told in “Heroes In Our Backyard” and “Margit’s Secret Cave: Hiding POWs in Dryna, Norway.”
(This was written by C.E. Chambers. A portion of this article was published by the Sons of Norway Viking magazine April 2003 as a sidebar to a true narrative written by C.E. Chambers that was titled “A Well-Kept Secret.” The author added new material to the narrative, reworked some sections, and renamed it “Margit’s Secret Cave: Hiding POWs in Dryna, Norway” for inclusion on this website in May 2011 (without the sidebar). The narrative has since been featured in the Norwegian American Weekly‘s print and online publications.)
EU's Online Video Portal to Archive WWII Resistance Fighters
EU's Online Video Portal to Archive WWII Resistance Fighters Siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl were some of the Germany's best-known resistance fighters The EU has launched the first online history project that collects videotaped personal stories of resistance fighters: men and women who stood up against Nazism and Fascism during World War II. There have been numerous efforts to document the histories of Nazi concentration camp survivors, trying to make sure their collective history is not lost to future generations.
Similarly, concerned that the last living European resistance fighters were dying out, the EU launched a pilot project in 2006 to preserve their stories on videotape and make them available to the public.
On May 7, some nine months after it began, The European Resistance Archive (ERA) video portal went online. The archive's official opening, in Berlin, coincided with diverse celebrations marking the anniversary of the end of World War II.
"A great satisfaction"
"For me, it is a great satisfaction that on the day of liberation of fascism here in Berlin, this video archive is being presented," said Giacomo Notari, an Italian resistance fighter who attended the conference.
Notari's story was one of the 20 informative and intimate interviews that have so far been taped and added to the searchable portal, which together give a kaleidescopic view of the resistance movement in wartime Europe.
Six countries so far have joined the project -- Italy, Germany, Austria, France, Poland and Slovenia. But organizers hope it will spread to include others.
"I am delighted that … the first video-archive with eyewitnesses of the European resistance could be developed and is online from today on," said Belen Enciso of the European Commission. The commission funded the pilot project under the Active European Remembrance campaign, which was launched in 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the fall of Nazism.
Together with professional historians, "memory workers" and filmmakers, the project trained young people from around Europe in the different skills needed to make living-history documents. They researched, interviewed, filmed and edited the segments, then put them, along with supporting documentation like maps and historical documents, online.
Meanwhile, the grassroots site has called on the general public, asking anyone who has the know-how to create a historically valid interview and put it online, to do so.
"If you would like to add an interview completely documented to ERA, a couple of steps are required…," reads the site's call for help. These include doing historical research, researching pictures, interviewing, and translating, among other things.
Collecting site for material
The site also hopes to be a centralized home for some of the already-existing reams of material on resistance fighters. The site exhorts classrooms to make a project out of resistance histories, and notes that "in many places, already recorded interviews of protagonists of the resistance are kept. This material could be consolidated and documented for ERA."
I sit in awe of the war time stories of our brave soldiers of the war days. My father being one of those heros. During the war he fought the germans but knew what was going on with the slaughtering of the jews and became a freedom fighter starting up the Dutch resistance in his area.
During these times he was as known "Sjakkie" translated as being Jack. He told of stories of how he rescued Dutch Jews from the clutches of the Germans smuggling them underground to safety. He also told of stories of sticking up the coupon printing office and stole the food coupons to give to the starving jews.
One sad story which haunted him all of his life was where he was being chased by the germans and hid out in a farm house on the out skirts of Amsterdam. Here the Germans heard of his location and persued him to the farm house.
They then tortured the farmer and his family trying to get them to divulge Sjakkies where-a-bouts.The brave farmer would not give him up and hence was murdered. He told of how he broke into the concentration camp to save his mate. Others escaped as well.
The impact the war days had and still has are sad.
He married my mother Cornelia Van De Lubbe after the war and migrated to Australia,where they had 6 children.But as the years progressed the affects of the war slowly but surely took a bad toll on him and now in his last years he has managed to alienate all of those 6 children.
Cornelia went back to Holland in 1978 as she knew she was dying and wanted to die in her birth home. Here it is 2005 and he is still alive but cannot and will not talk about the war days as he breaks down. I wish I could motivate him to tell me more stories as they are precious to those left behind.
This is a story of the French Resistance Fighters written by Stella Meiko who in fact is the young English girl who acted as interpreter at the questioning of the two American Parachutists mentioned in the story.
A remarkable woman, now in her 80’s, she still lives in the Chateau de Veyrieres Concores. As a young girl of 19 she joined the Resistance Fighters group at the beginning of the German occupation, the Chateau, situated on the hillside, has a commanding view of the valley through which runs the road from Concores to Gourdon, it was one of her duties to keep the group informed of all German troop movements up and down the valley. Her father Austrian born, had married an English woman, Stella their daughter had been born in England the family moving to France just before the outbreak of war. It was of course very dangerous for her and her mother, if the Germans had had the slightest suspicion they would have been immediately interned in a concentration camp.
Stella is much loved and respected especially by the various English families who now reside in that very beautiful area of France, a great character, she cannot stand fuss who courageously “did her bit” throughout the war.
“DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO DID THEIR DUTY WITHOUT A FUSS”
A story of the Resistance, amongst others.
6th of June 1944: A memorable date in the heart of the French. “Le debarquement”. Something that we were waiting for with impatience, “H Hour D Day” at last had arrived.
7th of June: The head of the gendarmerie leaves with a full complement. They are all French at heart, not only by words and know were their duties lie. Leaving with cars and motorbikes, they arrive in Durban, near Espedaillar Dot.
The chief decided to come back with two of his staff. They are taken for Germans, everybody was shouting “the Germans are here, hide quickly”.
They stop at a café, not realising that the car they are using was the one supposed to be full of Germans. Once they identify themselves they are warned “don’t go to the gendarmerie the Germans are there”. It is not with the one and only machine gut that they have with them that they could do a lot of damage. As fast as they can they go back to Durban.
8th of June: Round up of three columns in two directions. Gabaudit is the vetting centre. It’s 1800 after a poor meal men are talking and making themselves as comfortable as possible.
Suddenly, German planes are roaring above their heads, at the same time nineteen armoured cars surround the farm. The attack is swift, four to five hundred Resistant fighters are surrounded with no weapons except the police men with their guns and twenty rounds of ammunition.
The armoured cars start firing, the gendarmes counter attack, the ones with no weapons try to escape, others hide under hay stacks, but those German brutes set fire to them. They will burn them alive, 11 men die, the young farmer’s daughter is killed in a field, an armoured car passes over her body.
The outcome: 71 are made prisoners, 17 of which are gendarmes who held out until their last rounds of ammunition. The “boches” made them go in their armoured car and, for 3 days and 3 nights, they are on the road. They arrived in Tulle where they were due to be hanged. Having arrived half an hour late, and as they had already hanged 12 people, the Germans ordered a stop to the hangings which saved the lives of those prisoners.
9th of June: Again at Durban, trying to re-group what’s left here and there from different places. A new leader is chosen to create a new group near the N20 road and also the railway line Paris-Toulouse, a new password and a new meeting place.
The leader will have a codename “Rossignol” the password will be “Martin”, the meetings will be at Souvliac St. Germain and Auliac.
At Auliac, a stay of about a week, a group has been formed. These forty maquisards (name of resistant fighters) have the job of cutting the N20, which is the Paris — Toulouse road and the railway line. The telephone wires under the earth have to be cut very cleverly so that the Germans could not spot the cut.
The expedition was done in a car taken from a collaborator at 2am; the night was very dark with no moon.
The Germans are patrolling up and down the road. Six maquisards are with “Rossignol”. They went across woodlands, and also by very poor roads. The last mileage had to be done on foot. Their weapons, 1 revolver, 2 machine guns, pick axes and shovels. The Germans are very near, it’s a question of being silent and working fast. They had the satisfaction of seeing the Germans being made a fool of. At day break they are back quite happy of having done a good job.
The group of maquisards is getting larger day by day and they are now two hundred. Weapons and ammunition are still very scarce, they are confident and the parachute drops are on their way.
A Scottish commandant and his radio man come to stay in the region, 15 gendarmes are designated to look after them at the Delbreil farm at Lavercantiere.
A few days’ later three R.A.F. planes parachute arms, explosives and also two Canadians. One of them landed badly and hurt his ankle, we had sufficient medical supplies, so he was well looked after.
The drop area was in the “FRAU”, a large barren region well known in the Lot, it was guarded by 200 maquisards. At day break the planes had gone from the sky. Landing lights had disappeared and there were no traces of containers or parachutes. Beware “Messiurs les Boches” the maquisards are armed.
In the Dordogne the Germans also encounter the Maquis, they have had a few disasters by then, and are furious. They make their way towards Gourdon in the Lot. A decision, an order and the bridge of Pont-Carral explodes cutting the road in two. “Pont-Carral” dearly liked by A. Cahuet who wrote a book, and a film was made about this village. Well, the German column will not pass.
The Scottish officer informs us that an armoured division and one of infantry are leaving the south in the direction of Normandy to try to stop the landing of the Allied troops.
The maquisards, losing no time, are destroying the railway lines around Thedirac in sections of different lengths. The cuts are multiple what a night of bangs…
A trap is laid for the “boches” on the N20 around Cahors. Under an aquaduct, sixty kilos of explosives are in place. Two volunteers are required to light the fuse the moment the column passes.
One of those volunteers was Pierre Benestebe who, at several times risked his life for the homeland. Alas, at the Pointe de Grave, going to get a wounded comrade they were both killed on a land mine.
Unaware of what was waiting for them, the German column arrive and they are blown up. It took four hours for them to clear the road and the ones who were left alive carried on.
Obliged to leave Auliac because of the “informers” who today if you listen to them were resistant fighters themselves.
The start of a new group at the Mas de L’Ost, one hundred and ten “Resistants” flanked by older men. They are all comrades of the same country or met as “Resistants” all with the same ideal. This is what is making their strength.
The Canadian officer said “try not to get captured, but use as many traps that you can think of”. One day, two thirds of the company were asked to go to St Denis-Catus to be shown how to blow up enemy trains. They need plastic explosives and weapons. A heavy rain with thunder and lightening did not stop them all getting into a van and off they went.
Arriving at the tunnel of Roquesou where the demonstration is due to be held, they find it is already guarded by maquisards. Explanations are given and everybody agrees except “Rossignol”. He thinks that Lt. Harry’s way is not the best one to blow up armoured cars. He was right. The traps placed by the Lieutenant did not work for the simple reason that the German trains were fitted with mine detectors. Rossignol’s idea was the best one, as he wanted to hide a bomb in the chimney of the tunnel and let it go off when the trains were passing.
Unfortunately, the Germans find a few traps and realise that the Maquis are not far. Now the trains go in two’s following one and other and not waiting long enough before sending the second one. Inevitably the second one catches up with the first and there is a crash. For anyone who wants to open a fruit stall, the fruits are there.
It takes the Germans forty eight hours to clear the railway line. Forty eight hours that stop them going towards Brittany. One of their armoured trains goes up and down the track, the inhabitants are terrified.
A few days later there is a question of blowing up one hundred and fifty railway lines. The Lieutenant entrusts Rossignol to do the job. The Germans, in order to repair one line have to destroy the other one, thereby leaving them with one working line.
The Maquis are starting to harass them on all sides. The Germans leave the Dordogne and make their way towards the Lot. They find the road at Pont-Carral cut. Furious, they take 11 hostages and execute them between the road and a little stream, leaving them there and forbidding anyone to bury them. For a week they lay there under the blazing sun. Who are they? Where are they from? Nobody knows them. The mayor gives the order to cover them with quick lime.
The column changes its route and makes for Gourdon. Poor Gourdon, within its walls the Boches will pass. They will round up the men in the square, twenty two hostages are taken, three days of terror in the town. Then the Germans get their troops together and make their way towards CONCORES. There they take another hostage, and by 7pm near the railway line Paris — Toulouse, after the village of Boissieres, they make the men get out from the vehicle and line them up and shoot them, leaving orders not to touch the bodies. They then continue on their trail of destruction.
The terror, the consternation, desolation and the panic of the villagers, as soon as they hear a car they go and hide, nobody is left around.
The contacts of Rossignol have noticed 200 German cars in the vicinity. An alert is given. A young girl and an Italian one are known at Rampoux as being dangerous if the Boches pass. Rossignol and his second in command Elie jump in their car and make their way to Rampoux and Lavercantiere where they meet the young girls. Explanations are given. Everything is in order and they make their way back by coasting their car to economise on petrol which is a very rare and very precious commodity.
As the car starts gathering speed, a German armoured patrol car suddenly comes out of nowhere and starts to machine gun the back of their car. As soon as they realise what kind of “birds” they have behind them they accelerate, having only one revolver, one machine gun and two grenades with which to defend themselves.
The Germans fire again but the car speeds up and takes the first bend on two wheels and, on the next one, lands on the bonnet. Fortunately by then, the car had reached a forest. The Germans, thinking it could be a trap did not go any further and went off. Rossignol and Elie waste no time to see if the Germans are following, they jump out of their car and make their way back on foot to a different camp to give the alert. Orders are not to try to fight back, not having the necessary ammunition. Also there is the infirmary to evacuate.
The withdrawal is made on foot through woodland, arriving a Les Arques and leaving all the food reserves behind. At this point you should see the speed of some of the farmers who could not go quick enough to grab everything left. To listen to them talk, they are first “Resistants”, but forget to give back the arms and ammunition, the car wheels and the bikes. Amazing how easy it is to lose one’s memory.
The Mas de L’Ortne will never be billeting quarters of that company again. The Cie, Moreau will take over and it is from Les Arques that the ambushes will leave.
The railway line has been broken in several places. All night a few rails are missing. The Germans repair them at a terrific speed and take civilians from different places. A waning is given, “For every track blown up, one person in five will be shot”.
One day under a blazing sun one of the maquisards bring two men who look more like tramps and are not known as being from these parts. They possess French identity cards which indicate that they are “Deaf and Dumb”.
Taken to the camp, they mutter, explaining that they are American airmen caught by the Defense Civile Aerienne, and came down by parachute. Very suspicious, an eye is kept on them. In he mean time an interpreter is needed. Rossignol remembers that at the Chateau de Veyrieres at Conceres Lives a British family with two women who were known to have helped the Resistance from the very beginning when he was the head of the Gendarmerie at St. Germain. The young girl has been called for. When she arrives at the camp, the Americans ask “who is this girl”. The answer was “military agent”. This made her very proud.
After talking for a while, it appears that they are telling the truth. They are AMERICAN PARACHUTISTS. They will stay until the 14th July and participate at the procession of Castelfranc while the Germans are only few kilometres away at Puy-L’Eveque and Fumel.
The speeches are made at the monument for the dead soldiers of past wars. Appeals are made for the young to join the Resistance. Lots of people are crying, “Freedom is near”. Nobody is thinking of how near the German troops are.
While the informers are doing their work, the Germans learn about the processions and demonstrations. The Maquisards are getting very nervous they want to give a final attack. In Cahors the Germans are hardly going out, as they are frightened of the ambushes. Nevertheless, some successful ambushes are made.
A reconnaissance is made towards the hill of Espere by a commanding officer and Rossignol. Explanations of how things have to be done are given to their men.
Thirty men, armed with one machine gun and two automatic rifles, take to the road in single file. The rest of the group are already in position along the road, grenades in their hands. By midnight they are in position.
At 7a.m. a German column with about 30 cars arrives at the point of the ambush. A whistle is blown and the automatic arms start firing. A car with German officers in front of the detachment is sent into a ditch with its occupants. From a second car a German officer comes out holding a revolver and starts shooting in the air. You can hear some swearing, some cries of pain. A young marine whose name was “Tarzan” saw the German officer firing. He has an American rifle. He hesitates. He has never had a German soldier in front of him before. He fires, the officer falls and the young boy is so excited, he shouts to his comrades, “OK boys, I have killed one”, then he kills two more.
In this ambush sixty four were killed, one car thrown into the ditch, five lorries destroyed and one abandoned. This is the result of the ambush. Another blow of the whistle signals our withdrawal.
Ms Wake, who has died in London just before her 99th birthday, was a New Zealander brought up in Australia. She became a nurse, a journalist who interviewed Adolf Hitler, a wealthy French socialite, a British agent and a French resistance leader.
She led 7,000 guerrilla fighters in battles against the Nazis in the northern Auvergne, just before the D-Day landings in 1944. On one occasion, she strangled an SS sentry with her bare hands. On another, she cycled 500 miles to replace lost codes. In June 1944, she led her fighters in an attack on the Gestapo headquarters at Montlucon in central France.
Work began earlier this month on a feature film about Nancy Wake’s life. Ms Wake, one of the models for Sebastian Faulks’ fictional heroine, Charlotte Gray, had mixed feelings about previous cinematic efforts to portray her wartime exploits, including a TV mini-series made in 1987. “It was well-acted but in parts it was extremely stupid,” she said. “At one stage they had me cooking eggs and bacon to feed the men. For goodness’ sake, did the Allies parachute me into France to fry eggs and bacon for the men? There wasn’t an egg to be had for love nor money. Even if there had been why would I be frying it? I had men to do that sort of thing.”
Ms Wake was also furious the TV series suggested she had had a love affair with one of her fellow fighters.** She was too busy killing Nazis for amorous entanglements, she said.**
Even before she escaped to Britain, through Spain, in 1943 to train as a guerrilla leader, Nancy had been** top of the Gestapo’s French “wanted” list.** With her husband, she ran a resistance network which helped to smuggle Jews and allied airmen out of the country.
Nancy recalled later in life that her parachute had snagged in a tree. The French resistance fighter who freed her said he wished all trees bore “such beautiful fruit”. Nancy retorted:_ “Don’t give me that French shit.”_
It's the traditional Jewish greeting, meaning peace in Hebrew.
But for a man who shares its name, there are years of pain and conflict still settling in his mind.
It was more than 60 years ago that Shalom Yoran, 79, began his mission to find peace in his world at war in Nazi-occupied Poland by fighting German forces as an undercover foot soldier.
With neatly combed gray hair and soft lines of age on his face, Yoran recalled Monday his young life as a member of the Partisans ? resistance fighters who lived in forest bunkers by day and blew up train tracks during the deep, dark night. "We went, we did it. . .we went on our way," he said.
But some parts of Yoran's story aren't so easy to tell. Yoran shared his life, recorded in his autobiography "The Defiant," during a lecture sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Lee & Charlotte Counties and Florida Gulf Coast University on the university campus Monday.
His jaw tightened and his eyes strained when his wife, Varda Yoran, 75, described the scenes of his brutalized homeland. It was a time when the flesh of Jewish people was used to make soap and their skin to make lamp shades. It was a time when entire towns were burned and Jewish mothers were forced to throw their babies into fire before they flung themselves to the flames. It was a time of discovery, of realizing a nightmare that seemed too terrible for the human mind to hold.
"We didn't know that we are already dead," Shalom Yoran said. "Now I know. At that time, I didn't know."It was in 1942 that Yoran lost his mother and father to the Nazi regime. The German army traveled from town to town, searching homes and barns and crevices for Jews in hiding. Yoran talked to his parents about leaving and going to fight as a resistance soldier in the woods. His father asked him to stay. "We shall live together and we should die together," his father said.
But Yoran's mother offered her son words that brought tears to his eyes as he repeated them Monday. "Go, fight, avenge our death and tell the people what happened here," she said. Yoran went. His mother and father, along with 1,138 townspeople, died soon after.
They were herded into barns and executed in groups. "When the pile of bodies were too high, the victims were made to climb atop and were shot there, in order to save time," Varda Yoran read from the pages of Yoran's book. "Behind the murderers were tables laid with food and drink, so that every once in a while they could refresh themselves. When the barns were filled sufficiently high with bodies, they were set on fire." Yoran and his older brother emerged from hiding beneath hay in a barn and retreated to an underground bunker with other resistance fighters to begin a battle of their own.
For the next few years, Yoran and other Jewish fighters would scavenge for food, battle cruel weather and do everything they could to thwart the Nazis advancing. They burned a Nazi rifle factory and blew up train tracks.But peace was difficult to find. Conflict came in many forms.Some resistance fighters discriminated against Jews, too.
It was discouraging and lonely, Yoran said. He was part of a movement fighting evil, but those on his side were fighting him, too. Yoran wrote his memories down after the war and tucked the memoirs away. He found them about 45 years later in a suitcase. They were written in Polish, so the Yorans began to translate them.
It took time, a few hours each weekend. Any more was too painful, Varda Yoran said. "It was like reliving the whole thing again," she said. But Shalom Yoran is at peace with his mission to tell a story unknown to others. To honor his mother. To honor his father. To honor his people.
"I saw the first train, coming, coming coming," Yoran recalls of a Nazi train chugging down the tracks. "And in one moment it blew up and flew in the air. And I felt that at that time I did something to avenge the killing of my family and all others."
“If we don’t meet each other on Earth again, we will meet in Heaven. We will never be sorry for what we did.”
This farewell note, written to Kentwood resident Diet Eman and carefully inscribed on toilet paper from a Red Cross package, was folded inside of a piece of brown paper, and thrown off a train in the Netherlands by her fiancée, Hein Sietsma, on the way to his death at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany in 1944. Miraculously, though this small note should have been destroyed by the heavy October rains, it made it to Diet months later, and today, at 89 years old, she still carries a copy of it around in her wallet.
Portraits of Diet Eman and Hein Sietsma.
Diet was born just outside of the Hague, in the Netherlands, in 1920 and two weeks before she turned 20, World War II broke out. For the next five years, she was a dedicated member of the Dutch Resistance, helping secure ration cards for Jews, rescuing shot-down Allied soldiers, and risking her life again and again in Nazi-occupied territory.
On May 8, 1944, Diet was arrested under a false name and sent to the Scheveningen prison, which was called “the Orange Hotel” by the Germans, for its high concentration of Dutch resistance fighters whose royal family’s color was orange. Her only reminder of a world not ravaged by war was the Red Cross package she received once a month.
“It was precious,” Diet says. “All we had to keep clean in the camp was a pipe with cold water. The Red Cross would send us toilet paper and a sandwich. It was wonderful. I never complain because everything now is better than it was there.”
She was soon moved to Vught, a nearby concentration camp. Living in a place where she fell asleep to machine gun fire at night and heard children taken from their parents to be lead away to gas chambers, Diet would secretly needlepoint on her handkerchief under her blankets at night as a way of escape, using a needle that had been smuggled in inside a woman’s sock.
Today, she points out the symbolism of each date, letter, and picture on the needlepoint, and finally, points to a line of Dutch and a red cross.
A Dutch Red Cross bag that says "Help Us Help" and a copy of the needlepoint Diet made in the Vught concentration camp.
“This says ‘Long live the Red Cross,’” says Diet with a smile.
In August 1944, Diet was released from Vught and alongside her continued efforts with the Dutch Resistance, she began volunteering with the Dutch Red Cross. Fluent in seven languages and holding a degree in nursing, Diet was sent all over the world with Red Cross to help after disasters.
“It was really hard to see people who often had lost everything,” she recounts. “We began the day with a psychiatrist. 3 weeks is all most people can take. I learned how to take distance, working as a nurse, but it was still so hard to see.”
While working at a hospital in Venezuela, she met and married an American. They moved to the States in 1969, and Diet ended up in Grand Rapids, wanting to be close to a cousin who worked for Zondervan. She became involved with what was then the Kent County Red Cross, taking every class she could, and volunteering to go on disasters during her vacations.
After she retired, she continued to travel both with Red Cross and other organizations well into her 70s and 80s to places all over South and Central America, Mexico, and Puetro Rico.
“You would sleep on the floor, wake up, and have to shake scorpions out of your shoes,” she says, with a glint in her eyes, laughing. “I loved it.”
She mischievously recounts her last Red Cross assignment in Mexico, following a hurricane. She traveled around as a Spanish interpreter with a fellow Red Cross volunteer, and was invited to sit down at one of the houses owned by a young couple. When she got up from their couch, which had recently been under flood water, she says she could feel that her entire backside was wet.
“I was so embarrassed, but we still had other houses to visit, so I just stood with my back to the wall,” she laughs, clapping her hands. “Oh, it was funny!”
When asked in high school what she wanted out of life, Diet’s answer was this: “I don’t care if I will be rich or poor, if only my life won’t be dull.”
Per Kirkhorn, 84, a Norwegian resistance fighter during World War II who was marked for death by the German Gestapo, died of cancer Nov. 7 at a veterans home in Livermore, Calif.
The Oslo-born Kirkhorn joined the Norwegian resistance after the Nazis overran his country in 1940. As a saboteur, he entered the holds of German cargo ships and changed the markings on cartons containing prefabricated buildings designed for military bases. Some bases received only roofs or south walls.
_PRAGUE- Famous World War Two resistance fighter General Rudolf Pernicky died this afternoon, Magda Thomesova, the spokeswoman for the Central Military Hospital, said. _
_Pernicky, 90, died after a long disease connected with a complicated diabetes. __Pernicky, a former paratrooper, was among the most outstanding Czech fighters against the Nazi rule. _ _President Vaclav Klaus bestowed upon him the Order of White Lion this year, on the national holiday on October 28. _
_Pernicky left Czechoslovakia abroad to struggle for its independence in 1939. Five years later, he was parachuted to the former Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, but by mistake he and his fellow soldier landed near Kutna Hora in Central Bohemia, instead of Nove Mesto na Morave in Moravia. _ Due to the fault, they had to cover an 80-kilometre distance, when they had to hide all the time. They reached their destination quite exhausted and with numerous frostbites. After the 1948 communist coup, Pernicky had to spend several years in forced labour camps, including the uranium mines. He was only rehabilitated after the fall of the Communist regime in 1989.
Every one of the young men who had participated in rigorous training in the Scottish Highlands has his own very personal story to tell. The best of them were chosen for uncertain and risky operations in the Protectorate or elsewhere in Europe. Many of them died on operations, hunted by the enemy or in the line of fire, yet they all contributed to the final defeat of Nazism in Europe. Some of them, unfortunately, were unable to withstand the pressures of life behind enemy lines and collaborated.
Those, who were lucky and survived the war, had to face a new totalitarian regime a few years later. They were considered an „unhealthy burden“ and were dealt with accordingly. Some managed to flee abroad once more. Others stayed and after February 1948 they found themselves isolated, at best, or at worst, faced political show trials and were sentenced to many years of imprisonment or even death. One of those whose journey to freedom lasted an incredible 50 years (1939-1989) was General Rudolf Pernický (retired), the man whose motto was: „I found any dictatorship of the 20th century unacceptable – both the brown one and later the red one.“
Rudolf Pernický was born on 1st July 1915 at Krhová near Valašské Mezi?í?í. Thanks to his father, a grammar school teacher and a great patriot, he developed his love for Czechoslovakia´s First Republic. He rejected his parents´ wish to continue the family´s teaching tradition and instead he decided to join the army. The reason, in his own words, was „an enthusiasm for patriotic struggle.“ His love of horses led him to enlist in an artillery regiment. After completing officer cadet training, he was posted to Artillery Regiment 108 at Hranice na Morav?.
During the increasingly worsening political situation between 1937-1938 he attended and graduated from the Military Academy and was promoted to the rank of artillery lieutenant. Munich deeply shocked him. This mere word often led him to ask himself the question whether Czechoslovakia should not have had rejected the Diktat of the Superpowers.
Like many other young men, he found the consequent developments, which culminated in the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, unacceptable. He therefore decided to go abroad, where he believed he would be able to fight for the restoration of the Republic he loved. Towards the end of June 1939 he crossed the border into Poland with the help of the illegal Falcon organization, at Morávka, hidden in the wagon of a coal train. After a ten day internment at Prost?ední Bludowice, Poland, he reported for duty at the Czech Consulate in Krakow. At that time in the summer of 1939 the only possibility for Czechoslovak volunteers to stand against Nazi Germany was to join the French Foreign Legion. Rudolf Pernický signed up for five years and left from Polish Gdynia on board the steamship Chrobrý towards the end of July 1939.
He found his way to elite legionnaire troops in North Africa via France and the famous Fort Saint Jean of Marseille. When France went to war with Germany, Czechoslovak soldiers, including Rudolf Pernický, were released from their obligation to serve in the Legion, based on an earlier agreement, and were allowed to return to southern France where a new Czechoslovak army in exile was being formed. Because of a lack of equipment, Pernický´s artillery troops could not fight the Nazi war machine directly and had to merely observe the fall of the host country from a distance. Following an agreement with the British, Czechoslovak soldiers were evacuated ro UK territory from France, which had now undergone German occupation. Like others Rudolf Pernický sailed on board the colliery ship Northmoor from Séte in southern France.
At the beginning of January 1942 he was approached by Staff Captain Jaroslav Šustr from the 2nd Department (Intelligence) of the Ministry of National Defence-in-Exile and asked if he would be willing to return „home“ to carry out missions in the occupied motherland. Rudolf Pernický agreed and thus started on another adventure. He volunteered for parachute training.
He successfully completed the basic training as a future parachutist. For his excellent sniper skills he was selected to become an instructor for other fighting volunteers. Until 1944 he worked as an instructor with Special Group D, one of sub-sections of the 2nd Department of the Czechoslovak MND in exile, tasked with the training of future Czechoslovak parachutists for special operations in the enemy backyard. He trained many young men who were getting ready for their hazardous task in the occupied motherland.
In 1944 Rudolf Pernický was chosen for a special operation. He did not hesitate and immediately accepted the mission. The main task of the Operation code-named Tungsten, planned jointly by Czechoslovak intelligence officers and SIS, was to act as a reception party for special flights, personnel and equipment. The target of the operation, to be carried out by two men, was the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands (?eskomoravská vrchovina). Leopold Musil, a Staff Sergeant, was Rudolf Pernický´s comrade-at-arms.
After the final briefing, equipped with operational materials and instructions, Pernický and Musil were transported to Bari, Italy, in September 1944. After a failed attempt to drop them on 7 October and the postponement of November flights, they were called up on 21 December 1944. They took off, jointly with the Embassy Group, on board a Halifax bomber from Brindisi Airport on their mission to Central Europe. This time they succeeded. The two-man Tungsten Group landed on Protectorate territory one hour before midnight.
The two parachutists were, however, unlucky. Instead of the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands they landed on fields near the village of Libenice by Kutná Hora. They only discovered where they were the following evening. They found out that their intended site of operation at Studnice near Nové M?sto na Morav? was 80 km away – a seven night long march along forestry roads and through snowdrifts. Exhausted, hungry and frostbitten, they managed to reach their contact address, Cyril Musil, a resistance fighter. They fullfilled the task given to them in Great Britain.
They were locating suitable landing sites for cargo drops and passed on their precise position, together with information on Protectorate life and strategically important intelligence on the deployment of German troops via couriers to the hideout of the Calcium Group, who in turn transmitted these to the Allies. The greatest achievement of Tungsten was the successful drop of an Allied cargo and the parachutist Pavel Hromko, code-named Operation Bauxite on 22 March 1945.
Pernický spent the final months of the war as District Military Commander at Nové M?sto na Morav?. He was tasked with the co-ordination of activities hindering the retreat of Nazi troops. He was also a liaison officer with the approaching Red Army. In the final days of the war he helped to protect hamlets and isolated settlements near Poli?ka against raids of desperate German deserters.
Rudolf Pernický´s resistance did not even end after 1945. As a pre-war army officer he remained on active service. He married and graduated from the University of Military Warfare. After the Communist takeover, he was arrested on 1.11.1948 and charged with subversive activities. On 3.3.1949, after several months of harsh interrogation, he was sentenced to 20 years hard labour and the loss of his military rank, decorations and all civic rights for 10 years.
He first found himself at Plze?-Bory Prison. He also tasted „the comfort“ of the Military Penitentiary at Opava. Except for a one-year stay at Leopoldov, he served most of his sentence working underground in the uranium mines in Western Bohemia. He passed through famous prison camps in the Jachymov and P?íbram areas. In 1960 while in the Correctional Work Camp at Bytíz, he was granted a pardon and his sentence ended.
He returned home, believing that he was finally free. It was, however, not to be so simple. The persecution of the Communist regime continued until the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Pernický toiled in the brickworks at Lib?ice; he worked at a chemist´s shop in Prague and as a pensioner he earned extra money in the boiler room of the Máj Department Store in Prague.
In 1989 his life finally changed for the better. He was fully restored to his former position, promoted to the rank of army General in retirement and decorated with the Order of Milan Rastislav Štefánik. He became the co-founder and the first chairman of the Confederation of Political Prisoners. On 28 October 2005 his active life reached its peak when he received the highest state order – The Order of the White Lion. On that occasion he proved his reputation as a fighter extraordinaire – he received it in person although merely a fortnight earlier he had undergone a serious operation (the amputation of his left leg due to advanced diabetes) in the Central Military Hospital in Prague -St?ešovice.
He was, however, not able to relish this high honour for long. His health deteriorated. On 21.12.2005 for the first time in his life he had no strength left to overcome his enemy. It seems highly symbolic that General Rudolf Pernický died on the same day and at nearly the same hour sixty one years after he had jumped from his plane over the snow-covered Protectorate. His story is to a degree, the story of 20th century Czechoslovakia, a contrasting tale of happiness and sadness, democracy and resistance to totalitarianism.
One of the bravest Polish female resistance fighters in World War II, El?bieta Zawacka, has died in Torun.
Born on 19 March 1909 she first worked in Polish Victory Service, then in Armed Combat Association and finally in the National Army. Known under a pseudonym "Zo", she became a living legend among couriers operating in occupied Europe. She repeatedly illegally crossed the border carrying news and reports. She also trained other couriers. Among her many post-war occupations, Elzbieta Zawacka worked as a university lecturer. Her honors include the highest Polish state distinction, the Order of the White Eagle as well as the British Veterans’ Badge. In 1993 professor Zawacka was awarded an honorary citizenship of her hometown of Torun.
In October 1939 she joined the Silesian branch of Zwi?zek Walki Zbrojnej under the nom de guerre "Zelma", which later was changed to "Zo". In late 1940 she was moved to Warsaw and began her courier trips. She was also a deputy ofZagroda—the Department of Foreign Communication of the Home Army. In February 1943 she traveled across Germany,France and Spain to Gibraltar, where she was transported by air to London. In Great Britain she went through parachute training, and on 10 September 1943, dropped into Poland, as the only woman in the history of the Cichociemni.
Elzbieta Zawacka Messenger for Poland's resistance forces during World War II dies at 99
Warsaw, Poland - Elzbieta Zawacka, who crisscrossed Nazi-occupied Europe to carry messages between Poland's exiled government and its resistance forces during World War II, died Saturday. She was 99. Zawacka died in her hometown of Torun after a long illness, her assistant Izabela Kuczynska told the PAP agency.
During the war, Zawacka was member of the resistance Home Army and repeatedly risked her life crossing the borders of Nazi-occupied Poland on false documents to carry reports about the Nazi atrocities and the resistance to Poland's government-in-exile in London.
On one such trip, in early 1943, she traveled though Germany, France and Spain to Gibraltar, where she was airlifted to London.
In September of the same year, she was the first and only woman to be dropped by parachute into Poland, bringing orders and instructions for the Home Army. She also fought in the ill-fated Warsaw Uprising against the Germans.
In 1951, the newly-imposed communist authorities falsely accused Zawacka of espionage and treason. Tortured by the secret security forces, she was given a 10-year prison term, but was released in 1955. For her bravery, President Lech Kaczynski promoted Zawacka to the rank of the general in 2006. She had a degree in mathematics and was a professor at the Institute of Pedagogy at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun.
Zawacka was single and had no children. Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.
59 Italian Resistance Fighters Massacred On May 19th 44!
On May 19th 1944 in WWII History - 59 Italian resistance fighters were massacred on a mountain pass above Genoa, Italy. On July 5, 2002, Nazi SS officer Friedrich Engel was convicted of murder for the massacre. Ending one of Germany's last trials for Nazi crimes, former SS Maj. Friedrich Engel was convicted Friday of 59 counts of murder for a World War II massacre of Italian prisoners but was spared a seven-year jail term because of his age.
The Hamburg state court said the 93-year-old Engel will not have to serve the sentence, even though the judge described the killings as "cruel."
Prosecutors said the captives were bound in pairs and forced to walk onto a plank over an open grave where they were shot. The May 1944 shootings at a mountain pass outside Genoa were in retaliation for an attack by Italian partisans on a movie theater that killed five German soldiers.
A neatly dressed man who walks with the help of cane, Engel appeared unmoved as the verdict was read. He denied the charges and blamed Nazi naval officers who carried out the shootings at the Turchino Pass.
Prosecutors sought life imprisonment for Engel but the court issued a lesser sentence, given the "exceptional circumstances" created by the long interval since the crimes and a spotty witness testimony.
"It was a cruel and illegal killing, which Engel helped bring about," said Judge Rolf Seedorf.
Seedorf rejected Engel's argument that naval personnel who guarded the transport from Genoa's Marassi jail and carried out the shootings on Turchino Pass bore the main responsibility, noting that Engel was the highest-ranking officer present.
"Why was your presence at the site required if it was a matter for the navy?" the judge said. "You were the highest-ranking person at the site, and therefore in charge. So one must conclude that events unfolded the way you had imagined, and, I might add, to your satisfaction."
The court based its findings on witness accounts, including those of several former German military officers, and historical records presented during the trial, which opened May 7.
At the time of the massacre, Engel headed the Genoa branch of an SS intelligence unit charged with tracking enemies of the Nazis. He testified he approved the list of prisoners from Genoa's Marassi jail to be shot and was present during the killings, but did not order the massacre or shoot anyone himself.
However, a former member of the German Navy, Walter Emig, told the court that Engel "clearly had the job of supervising the killings" and at one point ordered a lieutenant to shoot a captive who was not yet dead. Prosecutor Jochen Kuhlmann argued that the SS would not have allowed such an operation to be handed off to anyone else.
Engel's lawyer pleaded for acquittal, pointing out that the Hamburg court last week upheld arguments that such reprisal killings were not explicitly outlawed under rules of war in 1944. The lawyer, Udo Kneip, argued that the prisoners died an "honorable death."
That argument, however, also was rejected.
Engel appeared attentive during the trial and in an interview with The Associated Press, he argued that the partisans provoked the Nazis with "treacherous, underhanded attacks" and cited an alleged order from Adolf Hitler to retaliate massively against attacks on German forces in Italy.
Hamburg authorities investigated Engel in 1969 for his role in Nazi executions in Italy. The case was dropped the same year for reasons that are not known because the files were lost.
But an Italian military court convicted him in absentia in 1999 and sentenced him to life in prison for war crimes connected to a total of 246 deaths.
Italy pressed for Engel's trial after a German television documentary last year drew attention to his case and the fact that he had been living for decades in Hamburg.
The special German prosecutors' office that has hunted Nazis since 1958 has said up to 20 more trials for Nazi-era crimes still are possible as new archive material becomes available and strengthens cases. Engel appeared attentive during the trial and in an interview with The Associated Press, he argued that the partisans provoked the Nazis with "treacherous, underhanded attacks" and cited an alleged order from Adolf Hitler to retaliate massively against attacks on German forces in Italy.
Hamburg authorities investigated Engel in 1969 for his role in Nazi executions in Italy. The case was dropped the same year for reasons that are not known because the files were lost.
But an Italian military court convicted him in absentia in 1999 and sentenced him to life in prison for war crimes connected to a total of 246 deaths.
Italy pressed for Engel's trial after a German television documentary last year drew attention to his case and the fact that he had been living for decades in Hamburg.
The special German prosecutors' office that has hunted Nazis since 1958 has said up to 20 more trials for Nazi-era crimes still are possible as new archive material becomes available and strengthens cases.
Tony van Renterghem~WWII Dutch Resistance Fighter 1919 - 2009
Tony was serving as one of the last mounted cavalry officers in the Netherlands Armed Forces, when he fought the Germans during the Blitz, and later served in the Dutch Resistance during the German WWII occupation of Holland, where he helped hide those fleeing Nazi persecution and rand the film and photo units of the Dutch Resistance (known as the "Underground Camera").
He immigrated to the USA in 1948 where he spent thirty five years in the motion picture and television industry, working on such films as "The Diary of Anne Frank" and the biblical epic "The Greatest Story Ever Told."
Tony co-founded and served as the first executive director of the Northern Arizona Veterans For Peace "Bud Day Chapter 108." He designed and helped produce the "Voices for Peace" traveling exhibit, a series of quotations about war that was displayed in schools and libraries. He later became a founding member of the North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of VFP in Port Angeles when he moved to Washington State.
His book, "The Last Hussar - Resistance Without Bullets," completed just before his death, his resistance memoirs is to be published in 2010 by Dutch publisher, Conserve.
Veterans for Peace "Tony van Renterghem Chapter 139", Olympic Peninsula, marches in the Port Angeles, Washington 4th of July. This is the first time the Chapter has marched in the 4th of July parade as the re-named "Tony van Renterghem" chapter, in honor of the WWII Dutch Resistance fighter in WWII who co-founder the No. Ariz. and Olympic Peninsula VFP Chapters before his death in 2010.
When France surrendered to Germany on 22 Jun 1940, those who resented Germany occupation and the Vichy government formed cells that collectively were named the French Resistance.
Some groups were violent in nature, aiming to hurt or kill the German occupiers; these were called maquis. Other groups used non-violent means, publishing underground newspapers and broadcasted anti-German and anti-Vichy radio programs.
Many of these groups were born after the 18 Jun 1940 address by Charles de Gaulle who encouraged the French people to continue the fight against the German forces even if the nation surrendered. To take advantage of these groups, the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) began infiltrating into France beginning in May 1941 to aid the resistance groups.
Because de Gaulle often disagreed with his British allies, he formed his own agency to independently aid French resistance efforts without coordinating with British efforts. In the beginning, the resistance groups were scattered and lacked cooperation.
On 22 Jun 1941, all communist groups in France merged into a larger group, showing the rest of the resistance groups the effectiveness of more coordinated resistance actions. On 11 Nov 1942, German forces marched to Vichy-held southern France, and the resistance sentiment spread into that region as well, especially after the Vichy government adopted some German-influenced anti-Semitic policies.
The initial German response was that of annoyance, and it soon turned into great frustration. "During the summer of 1941 the civilian population's resistance to our occupation forces intensified perceptibly in every theater of war, with sabotage incidents and attacks on Germany security troops and installations", German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel recalled the reports that came to his desk during the war.
"[A]cts of sabotage became horrifying frequent in France and even in Belgium." The counter the resistance movement, German forces employed a policy to rule by iron fist, including later retribution operations against innocent civilians. The SS also tortured many suspected resistance group members, with them ending up either dead or in a concentration camp.
Rarely, entire villages would be razed as deterrence to future acts of sabotage; such was the fate of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane. Adolf Hitler insisted that such draconian measures were necessary to deter the would-be "terrorists", otherwise the situation in France would become out of control. Despite the risks, many fighters continued to wield British-supplied weapons to fight.
In 1943, when the prospect of a cross-Channel invasion on France became closer to reality, the United States also began aiding the French Resistance. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) began sending its own agents into France in cooperation with the SOE to rally French support against German occupation.
On 27 May 1943, after months of work, Jean Moulin persuaded several resistance groups to merge into the Conseil National de la Resistance (CNR), with Moulin becoming the first chairman of the alliance.
On 21 Jun, however, Moulin was captured by the German Gestapo and was tortured to death. Henri Giraud and Charles de Gaulle became joint presidents of the CNR after the death of Moulin, but by Oct that year, the politically-minded de Gaulle maneuvered Giraud out of the position of power and became the sole leader of CNR. Although de Gaulle was difficult to work with for the Allied commanders, with him in London, it was possible for the Allied command to pass orders for the resistance fighters to attack key communications and transportation targets to aid the planned Operation Overlord.
93 small teams of three agents (one American, one British, and one French) were then sent into France to closely coordinate actions immediately before the invasion. The resistance fighters continued to aid Allied invasion efforts after the forces had made footing on continental Europe, in northern France aiding the troops marching toward Paris, and in southern France during Operation Dragoon.
Groups in Paris, supported by the Paris policemen, began their fiercest resistance on 19 Aug 1944, attacking German forces with rifles and grenades while rounding up collaborators for execution. The fighting climaxed on 22 Aug. 1,500 resistance fighters and civilians lost their lives before Paris was liberated on 25 Aug. Three days later, de Gaulle called for the disbanding of all resistance groups and encouraged them to join the new French Army under his direct control.
The French Resistance Timeline
21 Aug 1941 A German naval cadet became the first victim of French Resistance, shot in a Metro station. Over 150 Parisians were shot in reprisal. 24 Aug 1941 Vichy France passed anti-terrorist laws, punishable with death sentences, to deal with the resistance movement.
15 Sep 1941 German soldiers were attacked by resistance fighters in Paris, France. 1 Jan 1942 Jean Moulin, the former mayor of Chartes, parachuted into France in an effort to coordinate and unify resistance groups. 15 Apr 1942 German headquarters at Arras, France was attacked by members of the French Resistance. 31 Jan 1943
The Milice was created in Vichy France under Joseph Darnand to counter the Resistance. This organization became another force of the German occupation, reaching a strength of over 20,000 by the Allied invasion in 1944. 27 May 1943 The first unified meeting of French resistance groups took place, chaired by Jean Moulin; it recognized de Gaulle as the leader of the movement.
Moulin would be betrayed to the Gestapo a month later, dying en route to a concentration camp. 3 Jun 1943 French Resistance saboteurs destroyed 300 tons of tires in the Michelin factory at Clermont-Ferrant. 19 Dec 1943 French Résistants engaged in heavy fighting with Germans in Bernex, France. 10 May 1944 The French Resistance claimed a membership of over 100,000 and requested more military aid from the Allies. 28 Jun 1944 French resistance fighters killed Minister of Information and local Milice leader Phillipe Henriot.
Milice leader in Lyon, Paul Touvier, was ordered to conduct reprisal killings. 30 Jun 1944 Milice leader in French city of Lyon, Paul Touvier, selected 7 Jewish prisoners to be executed by firing squad as reprisal for the killing of Minister of Information and local Milice leader Phillipe Henriot two days earlier by the French resistance. 16 Aug 1944 French resistance fighters captured three German posts along the Swiss border. 20 Aug 1944
French resistance fighters liberated Toulouse, France.
French resistance fighters in the Huelgoat region of France, date unknown A French resistant fighter shortly after being arrested by the occupation administration in France, date unknown Captured resistance fighters, France, date unknown Captured resistance fighters, France, circa
1944 Polish Jew Marcel Rayman, member of the French resistance, after being arrested by Germans, 1943-1944 USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress bombers dropping supplies for French resistance fighters, Vercors, France, 1944 An American officer and a French partisan with a Sten sub-machinegun crouched behind a car during a street fight in a French city, Jun 1944 Captured **resistance fighters, France, Jul 1944 ** French resistance fighter being arrested, France, Jul 1944 French resistance fighters being arrested, France, Jul 1944 French resistance fighters working with American paratroopers in Normandy, France, Jun-Jul 1944 German officers speaking to Frenchmen suspected of being members of the resistance, Brittany, France, Jul 1944Suspected resistance fighters being rounded up in a city in France, Jul 1944 Suspected resistance fighters being rounded up in France, Jul 1944 US Generals Eisenhower and Bradley speaking with a member of the French resistance, Normandy, France, summer 1944 Member of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) posing with his Brengun, Chateaudun, Eure-et-Loir, France, Aug 1944Resistance fighters in La Tresorerie near Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, 14 Sep 1944
Out of the darkness of the French defeat and capitulation of 1940 rose one of the greatest mass-resistance movements in history. Thousands of French patriots rose up, by themselves and in groups, and defied Nazi authority. There were many political factions involved, with people from all walks of life.
Sabotage, espionage, publishing anti-fascist newspapers, cutting phone lines. There were many ways to resist. Many of the young people, having fled to the wild country to escape deportation, formed guerrilla forces, waiting for the day when the Allies would invade France. Families hid downed Allied airmen and helped them evade capture. Telephone and postal workers intercepted military messages, passing them on to British spies. Railroad workers successfully derailed trains and destroyed tracks and bridges.
While Allied troops were storming the beaches on D-Day, fighting men of the Resistance were busy impeding German reinforcements from reaching the beachheads.
The Nazis tried again and again to crush the Resistance. German spies infiltrated movements, betraying whole groups of resisters, many of whom were killed or deported to camps. For every fallen hero, though, there was another patriot ready to fight. For every destroyed movement, another rose up to fill the gap in the network of Frenchmen who opposed the Nazi government. In his book, "Soldiers of the Night", David Schoenbrun sums it up best.
The story of the French Resistance is the story of these commonplace people who, under circumstances that none had foreseen, began to do things they never would have imagined possible. They were not consciously trying to save the honor of France, although that is what they did. They simply refused, at risk of their lives, to accept dishonor and degradation of human values.
Although they themselves talk of networks and movements and the maquis, although they did function through such structures . . . the real story is one of individual actions often taken impulsively, to the astonishment of the actors themselves. . .
These men and women of the French Resistance were quite ordinary men and women. They never planned to be heroes, did not yearn for greatness . . . They were average people, ordinary people, who did extraordinary things. Quotes to Remember:
We lived in the shadows as soldiers of the night, but our lives were not dark and martial. . . There were arrests, torture, and death for so many of our friends and comrades, and tragedy awaited all of us just around the corner.
But we did not live in or with tragedy. We were exhilarated by the challenge and rightness of our cause. It was in many ways the worst of times and in just as many ways the best of times, and the best is what we remember today. Jean-Pierre Levy: Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not and shall not die. Charles de Gaulle:Soldiers of France, wherever you may be, arise!
Abraham du Bois (Born in Sloten, The Netherlands, April 12th, 1916 - † Woeste Hoeve, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands March 8th 1945) was a Dutch resistance fighter during WWII. Du Bois was a so-called "Engelandvaarder" (young Dutch man who fled to England at the outbreak of the war in The Netherlands in order to be able to join the allied fighting forces)
and 1st Lieutenant (Reserve) of Infantry in the Dutch army. Dubois received training and was attached to the Dutch Bureau of Special Assignments (Bureau Bijzondere Opdrachten) as a member of the Dutch Princess Irene Brigade. He parachuted twice into The Netherlands during WWII. The first time was a SAS Jedburgh mission on September 17th, 1944 and the second time for the Bureau of Special Assignments in combination with MI9 on October 16th, 1944.
Dubois was arrested by the German occupying forces on December 4th, 1944. He was executed at the Woeste Hoeve near Apeldoorn in The Netherlands four months later. Dubois received the (Dutch) Bronze Lion, the (Dutch) Resistance Memorial Cross and the (U.S.) Medal of Freedom posthumously and post-war. His last resting place is the mausoleum on the "Paasberg" in Ede, The Netherlands. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lieutenant Bram Du Bois and the execution at "De Woeste Hoeve", The Netherlands In August 1944 Abraham Dubois was still part of the Dutch army unit called the "Prinses Irene Brigade". Only six months later he was one of the victims of the mass execution which took place at "The Woeste Hoeve" near Apeldoorn, The Netherlands. The following is a letter written by J. Rijkens from Beilen, The Netherlands. Mr Rijkens was Captain and sports instructor with the "Prinses Irene Brigade". In this letter Mr Rijkens describes his memories of Abraham Dubois. Mr Rijkens: "I have known Abraham Dubois from the beginning of the "Brigade" in Porthcawl. The "Brigade" was then still called the Dutch Legion. Dubois was a pleasant, joyful but serious chap on whom you could rely. After a while Dubois disappeared to London or "somewhere". In the spring of 1944, in London, I suddenly ran into Dubois. After a few drinks we decided to have dinner. During the conversation we had, I drew the conclusion that he was going on missions in occupied Holland. Afterwards, I didn't give him another thought until, in September 1944, during Operation Market-Garden, when our column had to wait at the bridge at Son, Dubois suddenly turned up. He had jumped into occupied Holland with an American Airborne Division close to the bridge at Son. Our conversation at the time couldn't last long as the command to "move on" came within minutes. We waved goodbye and that was the last time I saw Dubois. Later I came to understand that Dubois had been arrested in occupied Holland by the Germans and eventually executed near "The Woeste Hoeve". The fact that Dubois and his memory receives attention at the moment has my full support."
**Team Daniel was assigned to the U.S. 101st Airborne Division and dropped near the village of Son in The Netherlands on September 17th, 1944. The team's radios were lost during the jump so the team was unable to contact their headquarters in England. Team Daniel consisted of four men: Lt Abraham Dubois (Dutch) Sgt Lykele Faber (Dutch) Major Wilson (British) Radio operator Mason (British) **
Sgt Lykele Faber recalls: "The first mission came rather quick. With the Dutch Captain Bram Dubois, an English Major Wilson and a wireless radio operator called Mason, we jumped on September 17th together with the 101st US Airbornes near Son as part of the Operation Market Garden. We never found our radio transmitters, so therefore weren't able to send anything. I was a liason officer and guarded German prisoners. I never was able to bring any messages because of the cross fire of the German and British artillery. After 5 weeks, the four of us went by car to Brussels, from there we went to England again. Bram Dubois and I were invited to meet the Dutch Queen (Wilhelmina). We described the situation and told her what happened in and around Son. Also Princess Juliana was present. I had a tear in my trousers, but couldn't fix it before I went to see her." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Berthe Fraser, from Housewife to French Resistance Hero
Posted January 18th, 2009 by Jen
In Nazi occupied France during the dark days of WWII, there was a group of valiant and daring individuals known as the French Resistance. They dared to defy the vice-grip of Nazi Germany (as well as the French collaborators) using stealth, reconnaissance, infiltration, and whatever means necessary to save their beloved country and fellow man from destruction. Most of these brave souls were subject to betrayal, unspeakable torture, or death. One of these members of the French Resistance appeared to be an ordinary housewife, but Berthe Fraser was anything but ordinary.
Berthe Fraser was among hundreds of people who rose to the treacherous task of defending France. Be they a housewife, a mother, a Catholic, a Jew, a communist, an artist, or a politician, these resistance fighters came from all layers of society, both male and female, young and old, and without their heroic acts, Hitler’s march through France may not have been halted.
The French Resistance took many forms, from groups of armed guerilla bands who escaped to the mountains, known as the Maquis, to organizers of escape networks for Jews and other targets of the Nazis, to publishers of underground newspapers, to those who carried out sabotage operations, to couriers who carried coded messages back and forth between Allied members.
Mrs. Fraser’s story begins with her birth in 1894 as Berthe Emilie Vicogne. She married an Englishman and thus became a British subject. When the rumblings of WWII hit France, Berthe Fraser was going about her domestic life in her hometown of Arras, France, all the while organizing an underground network that saved the lives of countless English agents and pilots. Her husband reported later to an English newspaper:
My wife was the head of a great movement, which worried the Germans stupid. She was the hub of this big wheel. Her first work was in 1940 when there were hundreds of British soldiers roaming around France. My wife started a movement which grew until it was a sort of underground channel. She sent dozens of British soldiers by devious means to the coast where they were smuggled to England.
Twice betrayed but never broken, Berthe Fraser was an unshakable woman for whom I have the utmost awe and respect. I can relate to where she was in life; a woman in her 40s, tending to her home. I don’t know if she had any children, but as a woman, I feel the risks of undertaking the work of the Resistance were doubly perilous.
I wish there was more information available about this woman. I know she suffered extreme torture during her second capture, and this trauma surely accounts for the lack of details. Who wants to recall the horror? I can find no record of a public interview. I discovered in the back matter of the book SOE in France by M.R.D. Foot, that Berthe Fraser died in 1956, her health never restored.
In 1941, someone betrayed Berthe, and she was arrested by the Gestapo. She spent 15 months in a Belgian prison, and was released in December 1942. Did this imprisonment deter her? No. Berthe immediately jumped back into the work of fighting Hitler’s campaign of death and terror.
No sooner had she got out than Berthe immediately contacted the officers sent into France from England, and embarked on a new phase of anti–Nazi activity, helping the Allies by supplying English agents with a complete support network of Resistance fighters. She looked after the foreigners, providing them with shelter, transport, and safe hiding places where they could engage in their clandestine missions. She arranged liaisons, transmitted vital messages, and took on the very dangerous role of courier, travelling far and wide by car, sometimes on foot, laden with documents, arms, and occasionally the dynamite required for sabotage operations.
Somehow she managed to evade discovery, collecting the supplies of weapons that were dropped by night at secret locations by British planes, hiding the vital goods in safe houses where they could only be released on presenting her signature.
Berthe had to go to great lengths to protect her English charges. Once, entrusted with the care of the well–known English agent Wing Commander Yeo–Thomas, known as “The White Rabbit,” she arranged a funeral cortege to transport the senior officer, hidden inside the hearse. He says she was “one of the great Resistance heroines…. She worked impartially for any French or British organisation that needed her.”
Berthe was betrayed again in 1944, unbelievably by one of the very English agents whose life she saved. She spent six months in solitary confinement at Loos where she was tortured every day. She was stripped and flogged in front of Nazi troops and condemned to death. Never did she betray her friends in the Resistance or the English army. How many lives she saved through her own afflictions will never be known.
When the Allies stormed the prison on September 1, 1944, Berthe Fraser was just hanging onto life, and she is reported to have said, “Thank you boys, you are just in time.”
SISTERS IN RESISTANCE tells the story of four young women who risked their lives to fight Nazi oppression and brutality in occupied France, not because they themselves were Jewish or in danger of being arrested, but because it was the right thing to do. Within two years of the start of the Occupation, they had all been arrested by the Gestapo and were deported as political prisoners to Ravensbruck concentration camp.
The documentary follows the paths of the four women — Geneviève de Gaulle Anthonioz, Jacqueline Pery d'Alincourt, Anise Postel-Vinay and Germaine Tillion — from before the war to the present. The women speak about what compelled them to resist, their roles in the Resistance, their arrests, deportation and liberation. They talk about the struggle to rebuild their lives after the war, their desire for children and their continued battles in the name of justice.
Today the women live in Paris. They were decorated for their heroism and became social activists and intellectual leaders in their fields. SISTERS is about these four lifelong friends as Resistance fighters, as fellow prisoners, as idealists and as women, offering a perspective that has been largely overlooked in the history of the Holocaust.
Director Maia Wechsler filmed interviews with the women separately, in pairs and with all four together. She shot at Ravensbruck concentration camp, at the French prisons and at numerous Paris locations central to the story. Archival footage illustrates their activities in the Resistance.
The eldest of the women is Germaine Tillion; at 93, she is the “mother hen.” A founder of the famous Resistance network Musée de l'Homme, Germaine met the youngest of the friends, Anise Postel-Vinay, before boarding the train to Ravensbruck. Said Anise of Germaine: “This phenomenal woman, with her tremendous sense of humor, literally took me under her wing. Every day for the next 18 months she gave me a piece of her bread ration, on the grounds that I was younger than she and would, as she said, one day be going home to get married and have 10 children.”
Geneviève de Gaulle Anthonioz, the niece of Resistance leader General Charles de Gaulle, was arrested while working for the newspaper Défense de la France. Just before war broke out, she met Jacqueline Pery d'Alincourt; they immediately recognized that they were kindred spirits. When they met again in 1941, Jacqueline was a war widow. She was 21 years old. Resistance and arrest led them to Ravensbruck, where they shared a straw mattress, and most importantly, defied the dehumanization of the camp by taking care of one another with love and tenderness. The intense camaraderie that existed among these four friends helped them survive the concentration camp and lead productive lives after the war.
All four women were liberated in the spring of 1945. To this day, the women have remained passionately engaged in the cause of justice. Germaine Tillion was among the first to denounce the use of torture by French forces in Algeria’s war of independence. Anise Postel-Vinay was the first to document the use of poison gas in Ravensbruck. Jacqueline Pery d’Alincourt speaks tirelessly to students in the United States and France about her war experiences. Geneviève de Gaulle Anthonioz was the long-standing president of an international movement to help the poor until her death on February 14, 2002.
Denise Edwards (nee Laveyn) was born in 1916 towards the end of the hostilities of the First World War. She was married to my cousin Lesley Edwards. They were married in 1947 in France. She will always be remembered by my family as a brave loyal person, both to her country and to her husband.
She came to England to live with Les and spent many years of happiness with him. Unfortunately, Les suffered a stroke that left him bed ridden for a number of years, during which time Denise cared for him with great devotion until his death. She lived on in England and was kindness itself to my mother who lived next door.
The devotion to her country was told to us mainly through Les for Denise was reluctant to talk about her exploits, but non the less she was very proud of her award. She lived in France at a farm which was situated right on the coast at Cap Grisnez between Calais and Boulogne with her parents and family. The ground behind the fram sloped sharply away affording a panaramic view of the whole countryside.
France at this time was being over run by the German army and both French and British forces were trying desperatly to Dunkerque. On this certain day, Denise looked over the countryside, saw a company of French troops trying to get to Dunkerque was, unkown to them the cut off in a pincer movement by the Germans. She immediatley ran a good kilometre between the German lines and warned the French troops of their prediciment. They faught for three days surrounded in about a windmill. They at one stage managed to knock out a tank from which they took tea and sugar and a small amount of food, but this was all they had. The French Commander told Denise that they would have to surrender and said that if she wanted to try and return to the farm, they would cover her.
So the troops occupied the Germans as much as possible while Denise ran zig-zagging all the way back to the fram, dodging the bullets on the way.
The French Commander told his deputy that if he survived the War he was to recommend Denise for Decoration. It was learned after the War that the Commander shot himself. All the rest were taken prisoners of war. The second in command must have survived the War and carried out his instructions, for in 1949 she was notified that she has been awarded The Croix-de-Guerre and Palm.
She has always been very modest about this great honour, and if you ever tried to ask her about it, her stock answer was always "it is nossing".
However, there is no doubt about it, she was a very brave girl, for although the farm was occupied by the Germans, she stood up to them as much as she could.
She did speak of a big German officer who said he had before the War been in the Diplomatic Core and that if the allies had not taken away their territories in North Africa there would have been no need to invade Austria and Czechoslavachia. Also, of the young German soldiers sent out as recruits were told that when the tide was out, they could walk to England. They were really scared of the Gestepo who appeared if things in the area were getting lax.
She had a wire concealed behind cupboards, which led to the attic where she went at night to listen to the radio progammes from London, trying to decipher the obvious code references, like "the fish is dead" and no doubt keeping up what news there was.
Denise and her mother were very active in the Resistence movement, and took great risks all the time but had to be very careful of the coloberators who would give anyone away to the Germans to keep in with them.
Apparently the German soldiers were the worst when it came to the Black Market goods, her mother kept cans of petrol burried in the outhouses where the pigs were, and sold it to the soldiers so they could go home on leave. Her mother was caught and sent to prison for two months.
Periodically, German patrols would arrive to search the farm, sometimes in day or night and if it was the latter, the radio was thrown under a pile of washing or a like.
One day when a patrol arrived they were worried because they had two British airmen concealed on the farmlands and the patrol came very close to finding them. The tension must have shown for the Sargent said "you don't seem very relaxed, I believe you have something to hide". They went away but returned a while later, when he said "you look more relaxed this time, I wonder why". In the meantime, of course, they had hidden the airmen away from the farm amongst the displased persons they had working on the farm.
Whether the next incident follows on from this, I am not sure. But Denise and the mother where sheltering two British airmen who had been shot down and where having trouble trying to pass them on the escape route. Her father took no part in all of this, apparently he was an alcoholic and this night he came home from the village very drunk.
After a terrible row he said he going to tell the Gestape about the Airmen, and set off to do so. The mother got to the airmen and told them what was happening, gave them a gun and told them to do whatever they had to do.
We are told that the father was shot and buried in the woods. She would never talk of this and someone not too long before she died asked her about it, waving her arms, saying "non non" and getting very excited and upset.
She told of taking their horse and cart to Arras, she was gone for three days obsensibly taking vegetables to market, but really was delivering messages along the route. There was some sabbotage in the area and many young men were rounded up including her brother and cousin. They were marched off and later hurded into a Church. her brother managed to escape , but her cousin was never heard of again. Denise and her mother were very worried incase they would be named.
She told stories, such as when Hitler was heard to be coming to review the sea defences. They all ran down to the shore to have a look at him. Another time a Doodlebug bomb, which was aimed at London, landed on the beach below with a loud explosion, she reported on this.
Les told of dog fights which went on daily over the channel and how they cheared everytime the "Bosch" went into the Brink and how the skies went almost dark when the RAF were passing over, to their targets on their thousand bomber raids.
She did not realise then, that her future husband was only fifty miles away on the otherside of the Channel at Manston on the South coast. He was in the R.A.F in signals and was very lucky to escape alive from a heavy raid on Manston by the Lufftwaffer. On D-Day, the Canadiands stormed the cliffs and they rushed to help whereever they could to greet them - they were shouting "Goodbye, Bosch".
Later Les was stationed on the farm where they both fell in love and were married in 1947 in France, and came to live in Erdington, Birmingham. She always remained very French and had a great sense of humour. She did however, admire our Royal family, she loved to hear other people's exploits about our side of the War from my husband and his friends in the RAF.
Just before she died she expressed the wish that her medal should go to the museum in Bologne - whether it ever did, I do not know.
Denise was a very brave lady and I feel these events should be recorded and kept in the family in honour of her. Who knows, future generations might gain some inspriation from her story, because had some of these exploits been revealed to the Germans at that time the outcome would have been unthinkable.
Told by: Mrs Veronica J. Smith Stourbridge, West Midlands.
ROME - Urbano Lazzaro, a resistance fighter credited with arresting fascist dictator Benito Mussolini at the end of World War II, has died at age 81, officials said Wednesday. Lazzaro died Tuesday after being hospitalized in Vercelli, a town between Milan and Turin, officials at St. Andrea hospital said, refusing to be identified further because they were not authorized to give the information.
Lazzaro, known to his comrades as "Partisan Bill," fought with a communist resistance group in northern Italy and is known as the man who captured Mussolini in the dying days of the war, Italy's National Partisan Association said. In April 1945, with Nazi forces in full retreat and Italians rising up against the fascist puppet state of Salo, Mussolini fled north in a German convoy. Lazzaro was among a group of resistance fighters who stopped the retreating convoy near Dongo, on the shores of Lake Como. On the lookout for fleeing fascists, the partisans searched the trucks and Lazzaro recognized "Il Duce" disguised as a German soldier. Mussolini and his mistress, Claretta Petacci, were executed after a summary trial, although the details of the dictator's demise are often a matter of debate in Italy. Lazzaro eventually wrote books on those final hours, challenging the official story by claiming that Mussolini was killed by mistake during an escape attempt, news reports have said.
After the war, Lazzaro married and had three daughters who survive him, the ANSA news agency said. He divided his time between San Germano, near Vercelli, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A funeral will be held Thursday in San Germano, ANSA said.
She was born in Berlin. After 1917, when the October Revolution began, she moved with her family to Finland. After returning to Second Polish Republic (which had regained independence in the aftermath of the First World War) she attended a school led by the Sisters of the Holy Heart of Jesus in Zbylitowska Góra. Afterwards she studied humanities at Grenoble University in France. In Paris she married Azis Zangenah – son of the prince of Iran. For a period they lived together in a palace in Persia. Irena was a person accustomed to frequent meetings with family and friends. Persia, a long way from home, became arduous for her. After two years, with permission from her husband, she secretly left and went to Teheran. Polish diplomats in Teheran made it possible for her return to Poland. After a period in Poland, she again went to Paris where she met Jerzy Olgierd I??akowicz. They married on 23 October 1934 in Warsaw. On 25 June 1936 she bore their only child – daughter Ligia.
Between 1941 and 1942, her section was destroyed by the Germans. The outcome of this action were the numerous arrests of underground activists. Irena was arrested by the Gestapo on 7 October 1942. They placed her at Pawiak. She underwent harsh interrogations but revealed nothing. Other colleagues, knowing her role in intelligence, sent her a vial of cyanide, but she didn't use it. Her husband arranged for her to be freed from prison. A bribed guard put her in the group of non-political prisoners to be transported to the Majdanek camp. While there, a group of NSZ fighters from Pomerania freed her from the camp. Dressed in Gestapo uniforms, they came to the camp and presented a falsified document saying that Irena was to be brought to Warsaw for more interrogation. This event was documented in a Delegatura Rz?du report.
After a short stay in the Lublin area, Irena found herself in Klarysek-Janówek. Later she came back to Warsaw and stayed with Dr. Mi?odroska at Filtrowa street. She started working on the Soviet intelligence network in Poland. Her husband was to be sent to London as the representative of TNRP (command of the National Armed Forces). He wanted to take her with him, but the command decided against it. She was to be sent with Tadeusz Salski ("Jan"). Nine days before the trip, on the night of 4 October 1943, Irena was summoned to a meeting on an important issue. She suspected a provocation, but thinking it too important, went to the meeting. In case she did not return, she asked Dr. Mi?odroska to notify her contact.
Irena was murdered in unknown circumstances. Jerzy, her husband, started searching for her and found her body in the infirmary at Oczki street. Her body was found in Pole Mokotowskie. Irena's murderers remain unknown. In the days before her death she was involved in intelligence activities against a radio contact point in Otwock which actively supported Soviet parachutists sent to Poland. Accusations were directed at the NKVD or the PPR.
Irena was buried at Pow?zki under the name of Barbara Zawisza. Because the Gestapo often sent agents to family funerals (and other ceremonies), her husband participated in the ceremony dressed as a gravedigger and her mother as cemetery helper. In 1948 her mother placed a plaque with Irena's true name on her grave.
was an Americanspyduring World War II. She was also known by many aliases: "Marie Monin", "Germaine", "Diane", "Marie of Lyon" and "Camille". The Germans gave her the nickname Artemis. The Gestapo reportedly considered her "the most dangerous of all Allied spies".
She was born in Baltimore, Maryland and attended prestigious Radcliffe College andBarnard College (Columbia University), but wanted to finish her studies in Europe. With help from her parents, she traveled the Continent and studied in France,Germany, and Austria, finally landing an appointment as a Consular Service clerk at the American Embassy in Warsaw, Poland in 1931. Hall had hoped to join the Foreign Service, but suffered a setback around 1932 when she accidentally shot herself in the left leg while hunting in Turkey. It was later amputated from the knee down, and replaced with a wooden appendage she named "Cuthbert". The injury foreclosed whatever chance she might have had for a diplomatic career, and she resigned from the Department of State in 1939.
World War II
The coming of war that year found Hall in Paris. She joined the Ambulance Service before the fall of France and ended up in Vichy-controlled territory when the fighting stopped in the summer of 1940. Hall made her way to London and volunteered for Britain's newly formed Special Operations Executive, which sent her back to Vichy in August 1941. She spent the next 15 months there, helping to coordinate the activities of the French Underground in Vichy and the occupied zone of France. At the time she had the cover of a correspondent for the New York Post.
When the Germans suddenly seized all of France in November 1942, Hall barely escaped to Spain. Journeying back to London (after working for SOE for a time in Madrid), in July 1943 she was quietly made an honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
She joined the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Special Operations Branch in March 1944 and asked to return to occupied France. She hardly needed training in clandestine work behind enemy lines, and OSS promptly granted her request and landed her from a British MTBin Brittany (her artificial leg having kept her from parachuting in). Codenamed "Diane", she eluded the Gestapo and contacted the French Resistance in central France. She mapped drop zones for supplies and commandos from England, found safe houses, and linked up with aJedburgh team after the Allied Forces landed at Normandy. Hall helped train three battalions of Resistance forces to wage guerrilla warfare against the Germans and kept up a stream of valuable reporting until Allied troops overtook her small band in September.
Is truth stranger than fiction? Can a suburban housewife from Portland, Oregon, become a spy and leader of a major underground resistance movement?
Claire Phillips, also known as Dorothy Fuentes, a.k.a. High-Pockets, lived life on the edge. A singer and dancer with a flair for the dramatic, Claire was to become a spy and a resistance leader in the Philippines-- funding her efforts by running an exclusive nightclub catering to powerful Japanese officers: Club Tsubaki.
Running Toward Adventure In 1941, despite the fact that war was looming in the Pacific, Claire took off for Manila with her baby daughter, hoping to join a song and dance revue. There she met a handsome, young American soldier, fell in love and married for the second time.
When war broke out, Claire fled Manila in an attempt to stay near her husband's outfit. But life was difficult in the hills and food was scarce. Moreover, it was hard to keep in contact with her husband. Soon he was captured by the Japanese and Claire had to fend for herself. She decided to return Manila.
A New Identity Desperate to evade the Japanese and avoid internment in the prison camps for American civilians, Claire Phillips assumed a new identity -- as a Filipina of Italian descent. She became Dorothy Fuentes. "Dorothy" took a job in a nightclub and began making plans to open her own club. She aimed to "raise funds for the [American] guerrillas and to alleviate the suffering of our prisoners, rotting like Phil (her husband), in Japanese hell-holes."
Japanese Officers' Playground She planned to attract and relax the most powerful Japanese officers in Manila, enticing them to reveal troop movements and special intelligence. Club Tsubaki was exclusive and inordinately successful. The officers were mesmerized by slinky fan dances and glittery floor shows. They succumbed easily to the girls' pampering and lavish attention. Soon Claire was regularly supplying the local guerrillas with relevant intelligence. Claire became known as "High Pockets" -- a reference to her habit of stashing money and valuables in her lingerie.
Medicine, Food, and Morale Claire took the proceeds from her club and translated them directly into supplies for the prisoners at Cabanatuan. At great personal risk, she made sure that quinine, drugs, fruit, even food and letters made their way into the camp. While her efforts could not save all the men, they did save lives and raise spirits. A letter to her from a Cabanatuan prisoner reads:
Hello High Pockets: When I got your letter, I came to life again. Gee, it's good to know someone like you. You deserve more gold medals than all of us in here together. You've done more for the boys' morale in here than you'll ever know. Some of them are flat on their backs and I wish you could've seen the looks of gratitude....
Arrest and Torture Dorothy's club and High Pockets' activities were high-risk endeavors. They depended greatly on secrecy, loyal compatriots, and luck. For one and a half years, Claire's luck held. But on May 23, 1944, the Japanese military police apprehended her; her torture and interrogation began. She was imprisoned in Manila's infamous prison, Bilibid -- later to be liberated by American forces.
Later Years After the war, Claire and her daughter returned home to Portland, Oregon. She published her incredible story in 1947 under the title Manila Espionage. In 1951, she received the Medal of Freedom. She would die unexpectedly nine years later, a heroine for having risked her life to help the prisoners.
An 89-year-old former Croatian interior minister was arrested on Wednesday over his role in war crimes committed during and in the aftermath of World War II, national radio reported.
An interior ministry spokeswoman confirmed to AFP that Josip Boljkovac was detained in the central town of Karlovac, but refused to provide further details.
According to local media reports Boljkovac was detained over his role in the killings of detainees, alleged to be anti-communist, held in a camp near Karlovac. The Dubovac camp was run by Josip Broz Tito's partisan communist resistance fighters.
During WWII Boljkovac fought alongside partisans and after the war he was a secret police official.The Croatian branch of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights says Boljkovac had a key role in the killing of some 210 people in the region of Karlovac during and after WWII.
Boljkovac was Croatia's first interior minister after the country proclaimed independence from the former Yugoslavia in mid-1991 and was a member of the ruling conservative HDZ. Although media report that a probe against Boljkovac was already ongoing for the past several years, he was detained barely a month before general elections.
The HDZ which has been tainted by a string of high level corruption cases is trailing in the polls. The party has repeatedly pledged that it will investigate and punish crimes committed by communists and partisans, a move seen as a bid to attract rightwing voters. -AFP
Fighters of the Bialystok Ghetto~Mordechai Tenenbaum - Tamaroff,
Mordechai Tenenbaum - Tamaroff, member of the Dror youth movement and the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Warsaw and Bialystok ghettos.
Tenenbaum was born in Warsaw in 1916. Upon the outbreak of WWII, he and his friends went from the Dror movement center in Warsaw to Kovel and then to Vilnius (Vilna). His movement activities there included work at the center for pioneering youth, organizing a special seminar for movement activists, field visits to branches in outlying cities and towns, and transmitting funds and materials to them. He crossed borders and, under threat of danger, kept contact between the Dror branches throughout the occupied areas. With the German occupation in 1941 he increased his activities, seeking hideouts for his comrades and bringing groups of pioneers from all the movements to Bialystok, accompanying them on their way. His contingent of activists brought the news to Warsaw about the mass killings of Jews and called for organized armed resistance.
In Warsaw he posed as a Tatar, using a forged passport issued with the name Yussuf Tamaroff. While working in Vilnius, he established contact with the anti - Nazi Austrian sergeant Anton Schmid in the German army, who later paid with his life for his aid to Jews.
After the Great Aktion (mass deportations) in the Warsaw ghetto of the summer of 1942, there was a decision of theJewish Fighting Organization (ZOB) on Sept. 12, 1942 to organize armed resistance in the other key ghettos, and Mordechai Tenenbaum was put in charge of organizing the fighters of the Bialystok ghetto. He succeeded in uniting two underground factions in the Bialystok ghetto and to prepare for an uprising on a day when the Germans would try to liquidate the ghetto. The Judenrat chairman Efraim Barasz and other Bialystock Jews were reluctant to accept this , as they believed this productive ghetto would remain untouched by the Germans. In August 1943, the Germans did come to liquidate the ghetto. They were resisted by hundreds of fighters who had prepared for this event, and they fought hard and suffered dozens of casualties.
For a long time, the circumstances of Tenenbaum's death were unknown, despite searches conducted afterwards in the Poniatowa and Trawniki camps. The historian Dr. Datner has determined that Mordechai Tenenbaum, together with his deputy Daniel Moszkowic, committed suicide rather than falling into German hands.
On April 18, 1945, he was posthumously awarded the Gruenwald Cross, Third Class, by the Polish army High Command
Rivka Madeiskar, member of the Jewish underground in the Vilnius (Vilna) and Bialystok ghettos.
Rivka Madeiskar, born in 1922, she was a member of Ha - Shomer ha - Tsa'ir and took part in the Bialystok ghetto uprising. After that she lived as a Pole, under the assumed name of Marysia Madejska, on the "Aryan" side of Bialystok, and served as a courier with the partisans. She was arrested by Ukrainian SS men after having been informed on. She was charged with providing aid for a wounded Jew in hiding. Rivka Madeiskar was tortured to death; she died on December 3, 1943.
Zipora Birmann, member of Dror and the Jewish underground in the Vilnius (Vilna) and Bialystok ghettos.
Birman was born in Rozhishche (Rozyszcze) in 1916. At the outbreak of the war she was in a hachshara (Zionist pioneering training program) in Vilnius. She was active in smuggling comrades out of the Soviet occupied area to a movement center in Vilnius. In 1942 she moved to Bialystok. She was among the organizers of the groups which escaped from the Grodno ghetto to the forests. She fell in the Bialystok ghetto uprising in August 1943.
Zvi Mersik, member of He - Chaluts ha - Tsa'ir and Dror and the Jewish underground of the Bialystok ghetto.
Zvi Mersik was born in Melnitsa near Kovel. From 1938, he was a member of the Dror central committee. In 1939 he was active in the pioneering underground in the area of Soviet - occupied Poland. During the Nazi occupation of Vilnius (Vilna), he moved to Bialystok and operated in the Jewish underground in the ghetto, along with Mordechai Tenenbaum - Tamaroff. Mersik was involved in preserving documentation and collecting testimonies for an archive. He died of typhus in 1942.
Zvi Rozental, member of the Dror youth movement and the Jewish underground in the Bialystok ghetto. Rozental was born in Yasinuvka in 1922. He belonged to the He - Chaluts ha - Tsa'ir youth movement, and afterwards joined Dror. He was part of the hachsharot (Hebrew: Zionist pioneering training programs) in Grochow and Kielce. He came to Bialystok in 1942, and was also active in Grodno and the forests in the area. He fell in the Bialystok ghetto uprising in August 1943.
Arnold Goldstein, of the Polish Communist Party and the Jewish underground in the Bialystok ghetto.
Arnold Goldstein was born in Lodz in 1908. He was an attorney by profession. He belonged to the K.P.P. (Polish Communist Party), and was arrested for his political activities. He fell in the Bialystok ghetto uprising on August 17, 1943.
Daniel Moszkowic ("Jerzy"), member of the Jewish underground in the Bialystok ghetto.
Moszkowic was born in 1905 in Warsaw. He was a sergeant in the Polish Army. He was among the heads of the anti - Fascist organization in the Bialystok ghetto, an active Communist, and a proponent of resistance from within the ghetto. He was second - in - command to Mordechai Tenenbaum - Tamaroff, and was killed with him in the ghetto uprising. He was posthumously awarded a decoration for bravery after the war.
Fighters of the Bialystok Ghetto~Tema Schneiderman
Tema Schneiderman, courier of the Dror youth movement and a member of the Jewish underground in the Bialystok ghetto.
Tema Schneiderman was born in Warsaw in 1917. Upon the outbreak of WWII, she moved to Kovel, then went to the He - Chaluts movement center in Vilnius (Vilna), together with Mordechai Tenenbaum. In Vilnius she began her activities in the Jewish underground and became a courier for the Dror movement in Lithuania and Poland. With the entry of the Germans into Vilnius, she remained there with forged documents, as instructed by the movement. Her "Aryan" appearance and command of the Polish language enabled here to work as a liaison, together with Frumka Plotnicka and Lonka Kozibrodska. Schneiderman was among the first to spread the news of the mass extermination of Vilnius Jewry.
In January 1943, she was sent by Tenenbaum on a mission to Warsaw, taking with her a large sum of money entrusted to her by Efraim Barasz, head of the Judenrat in the Bialystok ghetto, who was opposed to armed resistance. Schneiderman carried out some twenty courier missions between Bialystok and Warsaw. On January 17, 1943, she entered the Warsaw ghetto where, the next day -- during the Second Aktion (mass roundup for deportation) -- she and other young women were arrested and deported to the Treblinka extermination camp. She perished there.
Chaika Grosman, member of Ha - Shomer ha - Tsa'ir and the Jewish underground in the Bialystok ghetto. Photographed in London in 1945.
Chaika Grosman was born in 1919 in Bialystok. She served on the central steering committee of the Ha - Shomer Ha - Tsa'ir youth movement. In late 1939 she went to Vilnius (Vilna). With the German occupation in 1941, she was a courier with an "Aryan" assumed identity. She was among the founders of the FPO (Yiddish: United Partisans Organization) in the Vilnius ghetto. In 1941 she relocated to Bialystok, where she was active in the underground and a member of the command staff. She took part in the Bialystok ghetto uprising in August 1943. She was rescued from the ghetto, and joined the partisans. After the war, she immigrated to Israel in 1948.
Fighters of the Bialystok Ghetto~Bronka Winicka - Klibanski
The courier**Bronka Winicka - Klibanski**, member of the Jewish underground in the Bialystok ghetto.She was instrumental in preserving what archives remained of the Bialystok ghetto uprising after the liquidation of the ghetto. After the liquidation she was a partisan in the forests around Bialystok. From 1955 she played an essential role in the founding and organization of the Yad Vashem Museum and Archives.
The Transport of 1,200 Children from the Bialystok Ghetto to the Theresienstadt Camp
by Bronka Klibanski
Over the years, various reports of this affair have come to light, all stating that at the end of August 1943 (on the 21st or 22nd), at the time of the annihilation of the Bialystok ghetto and the uprising there, the Gestapo suddenly demanded from the chairman of the Judenrat, Barash, that 1,200 children ages 6-12 be gathered in order to transfer them, so they said, in an exchange deal to Palestine. Four hundred children were removed from two ghetto orphanages and the rest were taken from their parents, who hoped thereby to save their children from death. The Judenrat also arranged for 20 nurses and doctors, headed by Mrs. Haddassa-Helena Levkovitz (1), Barash’s secretary, to accompany the children. It should be noted that in the Bialystok ghetto, already on October 26, 1942, a woman named Mrs.Yente Leizerson with her two children received permission to leave for Palestine in an exchange deal, and that they did, indeed, reach their destination.(2)
The transport of 1,200 children and 20 adults, escorted by 8-10 SS men, traveled for three days by train - in passenger carriages - and arrived on the 24th or 25th of August at the Theresienstadt camp. Upon their arrival, the 20 adults, as well as three other women with their children, Palestinian citizens, were separated from the children and sent on to Auschwitz where they were immediately gassed.(3)
At Theresienstadt the children from the Bialystok ghetto were placed in a special camp called Crete, which had been built outside the citadel. Fifty-three doctors and nurses, inmates of the camp, were assigned to the children, including Dr. Blumenthal, Dr. Kowitsch, Dr. Margulis, Dr. Reich and Dr. Weiss. The children’s camp was completely separated from the other prisoners, and all contact with them was forbidden. The entire arrangement was shrouded in mystery. Despite this, rumors circulated that the children, who had arrived starved and exhausted, resisted undergoing disinfection out of fear of being gassed in the showers.(4)
The inmates of Theresienstadt could not understand this fear, but in the Bialystok ghetto the children had already heard of the shower-like gas chambers in which the Germans killed Jews. Rumors of these began appearing in the Bialystok ghetto at the beginning of 1943, spread by escapees from Treblinka. The testimony of one of them, Abraham Broide, was spread in the ghetto by Mordechai Tenenbaum and can be found in his Underground Archives.(5)
The children were carefully examined by doctors, and those who were found to have infectious diseases were separated from he rest, taken to the small fortress and murdered. The remaining children received excellent care, special food and good clothing. The children’s health soon improved and they learnt once again how to smile and be happy. The prevailing rumor at the time was that they were to be sent to Palestine or Switzerland on the basis of some sort of exchange agreement. The doctors and nurses who were assigned to them were obliged to sign a secrecy pact in everything related to the conditions at Theresienstadt, and all signs indicated that the Germans did indeed intend to send the children abroad.
However, one night, on October 5, 1943, six weeks after they had been brought to Theresienstadt, the children and their accompanying adults disappeared, as mysteriously as they had arrived.(6) The only thing which remained is a list of the 1,196 children and 53 accompanying adults, listed as a special transport, number Dn/a, to Auschwitz.(7)
Only after the war did it become known that the children were brought to Auschwitz and sent straight to the gas chambers.(8) Was their fate connected to the exchange plan? And if so, what were the reasons for the plan’s failure?
Answers to these questions may be found in documents from the German Foreign Ministry, presented to the Nuremberg trials.(9) This documentation enables us to reconstruct the background to this affair, and to uncover the Nazis’ modes of action -their fanatical commitment to the total extermination of the Jews, their manner of holding the children as hostages and utilizing them for propaganda purposes, as well as the mass murder of the children at the end without any hesitation or spark of human feeling, conscience or compassion. Not a single voice was raised in protest against the extermination.
The children from the Bialystok ghetto were among the last surviving Jewish children in Eastern Europe. Aside from them, a few children still remained in the Lodz ghetto, but they too were led to their death in the summer of 1944.
The documentation of the negotiations to save the children and of their extermination, which encompasses an entire year (from April 1943 until May 1944), uncovers a nefarious chapter in German diplomacy. The Germans intended to use this affair to mislead international public opinion, to denigrate England in the eyes of the Arabs and to increase anti-Semitism. The diplomatic correspondence about saving children continues even after there were hardly any Jewish children still alive in all of conquered Europe.
We rightfully tend to blame the world for not doing anything to save Jews. However, here we find that there was someone who tried to do something, but the Germans always found ways to defeat every effort or attempt to save Jews, like the failed humanitarian effort on the part of the British to save 5,000 children. The question is whether the British really intended to save the children and misunderstood the Germans’ intentions, or whether they well understood the game and found it convenient to participate in order to win humanitarian points after the war. On their side the Germans, based on the reactious of the English, apparently estimated that the entire exchange was not very vital to them, and therefore felt no need to take the British offers seriously. Or was it, perhaps, impossible through diplomatic negotiations to dissuade the Germans from their intention to exterminate every last Jew? We still do not have an unequivocal answer to this question.
The efforts to save the children began in February 1943, after the German embassy in Sofia sent a telegram to Eichmann at the Main Reich Security Office on 8.2.43 in regard to a British proposal, presented by the Schutzmacht Section (a division for the protection of the interests of foreign enemy countries in German, trans.) of the Swiss embassy in Berlin, to accept 5,000 Jewish children to Palestine. In response, the German embassy in Sofia received these instructions: “Please tell the Prime Minister (Bulgarian), that we urgently recommend
not to agree to the Swiss intermediary’s proposal in regard to the emigration of 5,000 Jewish children to Palestine. Our experience gives rise to very real fears that under the influence of the British these 5,000 Jews will turn into agents of propaganda against the anti-semitic measures we are taking.... This act will be construed by the enemy powers as a weakness on our side, and it is also in opposition to our policy towards the Arab nations. Please make sure that the refusal will be effected in the most polite manner possible. As far as possible we must prevent enemy propaganda from denouncing our actions as being non-humanitarian. For this reason we must also politely accept the formal offer of the intermediary country.”(10)
Beside the British government, the government of Argentina also expressed its willingness to accept 1,000 children. In addition, at that time, after Stalingrad and the beginning of the German defeat, other governments which were friendly to Germany, such as Rumania, Bulgaria and France, approached the German government and asked its permission to allow several thousands of Jews to emigrate from their countries to Palestine. More than any other, it seems that the Rumanian government was sincere in its request.
On 30.4.43 the German ambassador to Rumania, von Killinger, asked the German Foreign Ministry for information on its final position regarding the emigration of 70,000 Jewish children under eight years of age from Rumania to Palestine - a proposal for which the Marshal Antonescu received the German’s basic agreement” (11) during his visit to the Fubrer (12.4.43).
In a secret letter from 14.5.43, von Tadden, counselor to Inland II (the division of Jewish affairs at the German Foreign Office), relates that Eichmann from the Main Reich Security office mentioned that the heads of his office have expressed their position regarding the Allies’ request to permit the emigration of Jewish children from Rumania and from the East. Their position is “that the emigration of Jewish children must be rejected on principle, and the departure of 5,000 children will be possible only in exchange for German prisoners abroad, four Germans for each child. This would mean the return of 20,000 fertile Germans up to the age of 40 to the German Reich.”’(12) Aside from this, the negotiations must be conducted swiftly, because “the hour is drawing near when as a result of our activities against the Jews, the emigration of 5,000 Jewish children from the East will be impossible for technical reasons. In response to my question whether it is possible to transmit this position of the Reich Fuhrer SS to Herr RAM (the German Foreign Minister) as final, Eichmann answered in the affirmative.”(13)
Nevertheless negotiations dragged on with the Germans using all their talents to place new impossible conditions on the British, and to trap them into a position in which Germany could blame them for the failure of the negotiations. They then used this in their propaganda to accuse Britain of lack of respect for the Arabs and of acting for the good of the Jews.
On 21.5.43, Wagner, the head of the Office for Jewish Affairs at Inland II, submitted a memo on all different efforts being made to save Jewish children. The delegate Feldscher, head of the Schutzmacht Department of the Swiss Embassy in Berlin, submitted the British governments proposal to agree to the emigration of 5,000 non-Aryan people, (85% children and 15% adults from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia) to Palestine, to the delegate Albrecht, Director of the Legal Department. The British government also wished to learn about the Reich’s views in regard to the emigration of Jewish children from Germany, Holland, Denmark and Belgium. The Rumanian government requested a permit for the immigration of 7,000 (not 70,000) children and the Bulgarian government requested a permit for the immigration of 4,000 children and 500 accompanying adults. According to the information obtained by the Foreign Ministry, this was part of a plan to remove 30-50 thousand Jewish children from Europe and send them to Palestine, in order to save them from apparent extermination.(14)
According to Wagner even though the Bulgarian government had already agreed to the children’s departure, it nevertheless informed the German embassy that it intends to respect the Germans’ wish to prevent the emigration of Jews, and will obstruct their leaving by placing technical obstacles in their way. The Reich Fuhrer SS is of the opinion, writes Wagner, that in principle the departure of Jewish children from areas under German control and from friendly countries should be rejected in principle, unless young Germans are permitted to return to the Reich from their places of internment (Palestine, Australia, Portuguese colonies, Argentina and more) at a ratio of 1:4. Inland II decided that aside from fundamental considerations, “we cannot agree to the emigration of Jewish children in light of our Arab policy and the Grand Mufti’s protest against the emigration of Jewish children from Bulgaria to Palestine."(15)
However, in order to place the onus of blame on the other side, Inland II suggested to answer the British query with counter-questions: Will the Jewish children be exchanged for German internees, and will the Jewish children not be sent to Palestine but to other areas?
It appears from the above that the cunning Germans were holding the stick by both ends. In principle they did not intend to allow Jewish children to escape extermination, but they played their game and used politeness to confuse the enemy. They attempted to gain advantage from this diabolical commerce, especially in the realm of propaganda against England.
In a memo dated 1.6.43, von Tadden writes that on 27.5.43 Killinger related by telephone that marshal Antonescu will support the emigration of Jews from Transylvania on Red Cross ships. Inland II suggests that Ambassador Killinger make it clear to the Rumanian government that it must prevent any emigration of Jews, and express the willingness of the Reich government to accept the Jews unwanted in Rumania and send them to the East to work. At that time the real meaning of the innocuous words “send them to the East to work” was well known to both Antonescu and to the Jews.
The nature of the negotiations was worrying to certain German factors, and on 10.7.43 the Ambassador Ruhle wrote to Inland II, warning that the matter of the 5,000 Jews and their transfer to Palestine should be handled with the utmost caution. He states that the German offer (in regard to the exchange, etc) must not be construed “as a brutal blackmail attempt, or as a cynical maneuver. It must be taken into account that even many Jew-haters abroad express emotional resistance to the cruel treatment of the Jews.”(16)
Instead of the German demand that the British Parliament pass a law granting the the children British citizenship immediately upon their arrival in England - a demand without legal precedence - Ruhle suggested that the Germans will agree British government guarantees.
In a memo dated 21.7.43, Wagner summarizes all the requests - ten in number- to save Jews. He call the entire campaign to remove 50,000 Jews from the hands of the Germans the “Jew Campaign” (Action Juive). He lists all the known requests to the German Foreign Office:
1. Feldscher’s request in the name of the British government to remove 5,000 children from the occupied territories in the East.
2. Feldscher’s request concerning the German position on the departure of Jews from the occupied territories in the West.
3. Switzerland’s request in the name of the British government regarding the departure of 5,000 Bulgarian Jews to Palestine.
4. The proposal of the International Red Cross to the German Embassy in Ankara regarding the free passage of 1,000 Jews from Bulgarian ports to Haifa.
5. The request of the Rumanian government to receive permission for the departure of 7,000 Rumanian Jews to Palestine, an approval which the German Foreign Minister already gave to Marshal Antonescu.
6. The request of the Swedish Embassy in the name of the Dutch government in exile in London regarding the departure of 500 Jews to Palestine.
7. The request of the French government (Vichy) regarding the German position on the departure of 2,000 children from France, 500 from Belgium and 500 from Holland, and regarding the transfer of several hundred children from Switzerland through Portugal to Palestine.
8. Intervention on the part of the International Red Cross in regard to the departure of Slovakian Jews to Palestine (no formal request was made since the enemy powers did not recognize Slovakia).
9. Requests for departure of several groups of Jews from Hungary to Palestine.
10. The request of the Argentinian government regarding the departure of 1,000 children from Germany to Argentina.
In the same memo Wagner also suggests answers which should be given to the different governments. He suggested that the answer to Feldscher be that the Reich government is willing in principle to consider the request and negotiate, but only on condition that the British government will agree - on the basis of a cabinet decision - to send the Jews to England instead of to Palestine, and to grant them rights of permanent residents. He also suggested that the responses to the other European governments be in the same vein. He suggests that the Red Cross’s request to permit free passage from Bulgarian ports to Haifa be denied, and that the answer to the Argentinian Embassy be that the Reich government is willing to consider the departure of 1,000 children from the Reich to Argentina in return for 1,000 Germans from Latin or Central America who are
willing to return home, on condition that America or England will ensure them safe conduct. In order to utilize the answer to Britain for propaganda purposes, Wagner suggested that the matter be kept quiet until the response of the British government becomes known. On the other hand he suggests that the German answer be made known to the Grand Mufti and the Arabs. In the event that the British government accepts the German conditions, “arrangements should be made in advance, and the Reich Fuhrer 55 should be requested to give orders that in the meantime the required exchange subjects, i.e. the correct number of children and adults required exchange, will not be evacuated to the East.” The real intention was extermination. Besides Wagner, von Tadden signed the memo as well, in order to emphasize its importance.
At that time the enormity of the extermination of the Jews was already known around the world, and various Jewish organizations (the Joint, the World Jewish Congress, the rescue committees in Constantinople, Geneva, Romania, Hungary and others) tried in every way possible to influence the government of Britain and governments friendly to Germany to make a humanitarian gesture to save the remnants of the Jews, especially the children. These actions did not escape the eyes of the Germans. Parallel to the negotiations which the German Foreign Office seemingly held with the British government, they kept an eye on the activity of the Jewish organizations by penetrating their mail correspondence and through German secret agents who acted as couriers of the Jewish organizations, like V.M. (vertrauensmann in German, confidential men of the security services, trans.) Velti in Switzerland (whom the Germans sometimes called by his private name, Hansli). The letters all reached their destinations, but first were photographed by the German secret police and brought to the attention of the German Foreign Office and of Eichmann at the Main Reich Security Office. In this manner the Germans became aware of all the organized efforts to save Jews, and succeeded in thwarting them without the Jews suspecting a thing. (17)
On the key date, 21.7.43, Ambassador Killinger sent a secret wire through the Foreign Office in Berlin to Eichmann, containing a copy of a letter from Dr. Euzer (head of the Palestinian Office in Bucharest) to Nathan Schwalb in Geneva about the efforts of Romania’s Jews to emigrate despite all the difficulties. In his letter, Dr. Enzer wrote of the pressure the organizations were putting on the Swiss government in Bern so that it will instruct its embassy in Bucharest to act to promote the emigration of children from Bulgaria and Romania through Turkey to Palestine, and of the failure of these plans because of the Romanian government’s objections. We have seen above how the Germans wielded their influence over these governments to thwart any effort to save Jews.
Cynically the Germans tried to turn the drawn-out negotiations with Britain into propaganda material, and described its willingness to save Jewish children as British actions for the benefit of the Jews and against the “noble Arab nations” in the hope that this propaganda will increase the terrorist activities of Arab nationalist circles in the Middle East.
In his notes from 12.8.43 Wagner writes that the Foreign Minister demanded that eight days later (i.e. on August 20th) he resubmit the Inland II proposal from 21.7.43, slightly altered for propaganda purposes. The purpose of the transport of 1,200 children from the Bialystok ghetto, who at that time were brought to Theresienstadt, was to ensure that the Germans were holding children for exchange. However, as was usual before a death transport was effected, Eichmann arrives at the Bialystok children’s camp at Theresienstadt’(18), and on October 5th the 1,200 children with their nurses and doctors are sent to Auschwitz for immediate extermination. As may be remembered, on May 14th Eichmann already announced in the name of the Reich Fuhrer SS Himmler that in principle the emigration of Jewish children should be forbidden, and accordingly he acted. Despite this, the subject of the exchange and the emigration of the children continued to raise a flurry of activity at Inland II, until it became a matter of prestige and discipline in the German camp, which was beginning to fall apart. On 12.10.43, Wagner once again reports to the German Foreign Minister warning that in the event that no answer is given to the French and other governments, an unwanted situation will be created. He also says that there are signs that Romania and Bulgaria will allow their Jews to leave and therefore he requests that the Minister give his opinion regarding his suggestions from July 21st and August 12th. Since he received no answer, on 28.10.43 Wagner sends a secret memo in the name of Inland II, briefly describing all the answers which should be given to the interested governments. He adds that if, contrary to expectation, the English agree to the German conditions it may be assumed that the arrival of thousands of Jews in Britain will cause an increase in anti-Semitism, which the British government does not want but which will act to advance Germany’s goals.
In the meantime the extermination of the Jews was nearly completed and on January 7, 1944 Wagner sends the version of the answer to be given verbally to Feldscher to the Reich Fuhrer SS Himmler at his field headquarters.
On March 29, 1944 von Tadden sends the British government’s clarifications as formulated by Feldscher to the Foreign Minister: the children will be received in England. However, no exchange may be taken into consideration because according to the British government’s view, Germans may be exchanged only in return for citizens of the British Empire. Feldscher does not clarify whether the English answer should be seen as final, and Wagner interprets it as being a trick. The British are willing to receive the children, but are not dealing decisively with the matter. Therefore, according to the German interpretation, it should be assumed that the British are offering only temporary asylum in order to later send the children to Palestine. Inland II therefore views the British clarifications to the German proposals as an attempt to blame Germany for the failure of the campaign. Inland II suggests that Feldscher be answered verbally that the Germans see the Jews as an asocial element, and since the British are interested in them, they can be exchanged for non-German citizens whom the British define as asocial, like prisoners, Irish nationalists, Arabs and Egyptians. The British clarification, the German threaten, will be publicized as a refusal, an escape to formalism and an avoidance of accepting Jews into England for fear of anti-Semitism. It was the intent of the British to expel them form England to Palestine, due to their discriminatory attitude towards the Jews.
On 2 7.4.44 Inland II presents their view to the Foreign Minister for approval: to inform Feldscher of the negotiations’ failure, and to release the matter for publication and propaganda use. A manuscript of a propaganda pamphlet named “Palestine -the struggle between England and Judea” (Palestine - Machtprobe zwischen England und Juda) was attached to the proposal. The pamphlet presents the Feldscher affair as proof of Germany’s straightforward policy towards the Arabs in the Jewish questions, contrary to the English policy. The pamphlet was to be distributed through German embassies abroad.
But the matter does not end here. On May 5th von Tadden hands the Foreign Minister’s Office a memo from Megerle with further clarifications from Feldscher regarding the British wish to accept the Jewish children into the British Empire, in areas outside Palestine and the Middle East. According to Feldscher, the German
government faces the question whether to hand over the Jewish children and receive nothing in return. After all, the Germans themselves demanded that they be transferred to England in order to cause a rise in anti-Semitism. Von Tadden cautions that the Main Reich Security Office secretly reported that “the necessary 5,000 Jewish children can now be found only in the Lodz ghetto, but this ghetto will soon be destroyed according to the order of the Reich Fuhrer SS”(19)
The Germans continue to drag their feet, and on May 27th Wagner writes to von Tadden that in the meantime the Foreign Minister (Herr RAM) has instructed not to do anything in the matter of the “Feldscher Campaign”. But according to his orders, the Megerle offer should be taken up again as soon as the British renew their interest in the matter.
Thus, for over a year, from April 1943 until the end of May 1944, negotiations took place, replete with trickery and deception on the part of the Germans and caution on the part of the English, to seemingly save 5,000 Jewish children. As we have seen, the Germans never really intended to let the children escape the net of extermination. They held the 1,200 children in a special camp at Theresienstadt until October 1943 for negotiation purposes, and until February 1944 they maintained the Czech family camp at Auschwitz, with 3,791 hostages. In the end both groups were exterminated, and in the summer of 1944 the last of the children from the Lodz ghetto, as well as the last of the Hungarian Jews, were taken to their death.
Top row far right: Shlomo Goldstein, Middle row far right: Mordechai Tanenbaum, Middle row 2nd from right: Ruwke Cyrlin, Middle row 3rd from right: Natan Blizowski, Middle row 2nd from left: Dan Gelbart, Middle Row on the far left:Moske Nowoprucki, Seated on the far right: Feiwel Vgdorhaus, Seated 3rd from the right: Yitzhak Perlis, Seated 2nd from the left: Avraham Gewelber, Seated on the far left. David Kozibrodski,
Shimon Datner standing beside the well which hid the entrance to the underground's bunker at 7 Chmielna Street in Bialystok ghetto
Shimon Datner ("Talek") was in charge of a group of 16 armed Jews who tried to leave the Bialystok ghetto on May 24, 1943. During their exchange of fire with the Germans, a German sentry was shot to death.
An account of the activity of Spanish anarchist and anti-fascist exiles in the Resistance in Nazi-occupied France. Tens of thousands were forced to flee Spain following fascist victory in the Civil War.
"How many lands have my feet trod and my eyes seen! What terrible scenes of desolation of death I witnessed in those years of continual war. Adverse circumstances had made us, anti-militarists, the most battle hardened soldiers of the Allied armies" - Murillo de la Cruz
There are many myths and controversies concerning the French Resistance during the Second World War. The "official" line, from the point of view of the Gaullists, ascribes great significance to the radio appeal broadcast by Charles de Gaulle on June 18th 1940, calling on the French people to continue the fight against the Germans. But for at least one major component of the Resistance movement the armed struggle against Fascism began not on June 18th 1940 but on July 17th 1936. It is a little known fact that over 60,000 Spanish exiles fought alongside the French Resistance, in addition to thousands of others who served in the regular forces of the Free French army. This article pays tribute to the forgotten heroes of the Spanish Resistance - in addition to the thousands who continued armed struggle against Franco in Spain - and explores the wider origins and development of the French Resistance (pictured above are members of the Maquis in La Tresorerie).
Defeat, Exile and Internment Fascist victories in Spain led to several waves of refugees crossing the French border. By June 1938 some 40-45,000 refugees had crossed and an alarmed French government ordered the border to be closed. However, with the fall of Catalonia in January 1939 a human tide flowed northwards. Behind them came the retreating Republican Army covered by a rearguard composed of the 26th Division (Durruti Column) and elements of the Army of the Ebro. The right wing press in France went into near hysteria with banner headlines proclaiming, "Will the Army of Riot Reorganise Itself in France?" and "Close our Borders to the Armed Bands of the FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation) and the POUM (a small socialist party which opposed the Stalinists)". However, with the town of Figueras about to fall to Franco, the French Left and humanitarian sensibilities prevailed and the border was opened to admit hundreds of thousands of civilians and combatants into France.
The population of the Pyrenees-Orientales Department more than doubled due to the influx of Spaniards. French troops in the area had already been reinforced and further reinforcements were brought in as the 26th Division reached the border. As one of its members, Antonio Herrero, recalled,"...we were considered the most dangerous of the refugees". Sections of the French establishment clearly feared that the "Reds" and "Anarchists" would bring social revolution to France.
Whilst the refugees were now safe from Franco's army, they were by no means to be allowed their liberty. Instead they were confined in concentration camps on the beaches at Argeles-sur-mer, St.Cyprien and Barcares, penned in by stakes and barbed wire. French police hunted for those who escaped confinement. Inside the camps, shelter, supplies and medical care were virtually non-existent. Strict military discipline prevailed, with frequent roll calls, patrols and constant surveillance. Distribution of left wing papers was forbidden (but not right wing newspapers). Moreover, those identified as "criminals" or "radicals" were taken to separate prison camps, such as the fortress of Collioure and the camp at Le Vernet. Here, Communists and Anarchists were held as prisoners under a regime of hardlabour. Those who experienced these camps later recalled that, although they were not places of mass extermination, in many other respects they were every bit as bad as the German concentration camps.
The French government tried to encourage repatriation, both voluntarily and by threats. But by December 1939 there were still at least 250,000 Spaniards in the camps. Building work meant an improvement in conditions, though health, sanitation and food supplies were still dismal. The Spaniards organised themselves collectively as best they could through the main political groupings.
Blitzkrieg and Vichy France With a general European war looming and recognising the vast pool of industrial and agricultural skills confined on the beaches, the Spanish exiles were given the option to leave the camps from April 1939. But this was on the condition that they either obtained an individual work contract with local farmers/ employers or enlisted in "workers companies" (labour battalions), the Foreign Legion or the regular French Army. Although the first option was the most desirable, around 15,000 joined the Foreign Legion, including elements of the 26th Division (Durruti Column) who were offered a choice between this and forced repatriation.
Thus many Spanish exiles found themselves at the sharp end of Hitler's Blitzkrieg in 1940. Over 6,000 died in battle before the Armistice and 14,000 were taken prisoner. Spaniards captured by the Nazis were not treated as prisoners of war but sent straight to concentration camps, primarily Mauthausen. Of 12,000 sent to that place of murder only 2,000 survived until liberation. Other Spaniards in the French army found themselves serving in Norway, as part of the expeditionary force to Narvik and Trondheim. They distinguished themselves by their bravery, but at a heavy price. Of 1,200 only 300 survived.
Following the German military triumph in Paris, 14th June 1940, the country was split into occupied and unoccupied zones. The latter, comprising central and southern France and the Mediterranean coast, was governed directly by the Vichy Government of Marshal Petain. At first many French people saw Petain as a national saviour, rescuing the country from the humiliation of total defeat. But the Vichy regime not only pursued a policy of co-existence and collaboration with the Nazis but had many of the trappings of a Fascist state itself. Petain's so-called "National Revolution" operated under the slogan "Work, Family, Fatherland" and pursued nationalist and authoritarian policies.
In August 1940 all trade union organisations were dissolved in favour of the "organic" corporate structures of employers and employees favoured by Fascism. The model for these policies could be easily seen in Italy, Spain (cordial relations with Franco were quickly established) and Portugal and, as in those countries, support for the National Revolution came mostly from the upper and middle class, from small industrialists and financiers, local business and landed property and from high status professions. Such supporters were quickly installed at every level of the administration. Peasant and family life was idealised, as was the Catholic Church as a model of moral life, communal values and obedience. Youth camps and Corps were set up. And, of course, lists were drawn up of Communists, Socialists etc. - some for immediate arrest, others to be arrested at the first sign of any threat to public order.
The Vichy regime was to actively collaborate in choosing hostages and recruiting labour for the Germans, arresting resisters and deporting Jews. The SS and Gestapo swiftly made contacts with French anti-Semites and Fascists, gathering information on Jews and the Left. No single Fascist style party ever emerged, partly because Hitler didn't want any basis for a resurgent French nationalism. But members of the P.P.F. Fascist party went to fight (and die) on the Russian front, and were also used internally as paramilitary units against the Resistance.
But the most important formation was to be the Milice - formed in January 1943 (from the veterans association Legion des Anciens Combattants) by Joseph Darnard, Vichy minister in charge of all internal forces of law and order. The Milice, a paramilitary vanguard of the "National Revolution", became a 150,000 strong force, acting as an auxiliary to the SS and Gestapo and characterised by Vichy-style Fascism. By 1944 they were the only French force the Germans could rely on. Most surviving Miliciens were summarily executed by the Resistance just before or just after liberation. They deserved it.
Resistance Many French people awoke only slowly to the real nature and ideology of the Nazi occupation and its Vichy sidekicks. Apart from a demonstration in Paris, 11th November 1940, and an impressive Communist led miners strike in the North East in May 1941, there was very little public confrontation with the Germans in the first 2 years after defeat.
De Gaulle's famous radio broadcast was to be only one of several starting points of resistance. In fact, until 1942 de Gaulle was by no means a major player. Although Churchill backed him, the Americans seemed more interested in winning over French Vichy commanders in Algeria. De Gaulle was not even informed of Allied plans for Operation Torch, the landing in Algeria. He had to shift some in order to consolidate his position. To do this he sought increasing links with the internal Resistance during 1942 and had to recognise both the diversity and independence of resistance groups and the importance of the Communists as established facts.
The French Communist Party had been stunned by the non-aggression pact between Hitler and Stalin in August 1939, and was then declared illegal under the Vichy regime. This meant that organisationally they played little role in the first stirrings of the Resistance, although individual grassroots militants were involved from the outset, as in the miners' strike. Only after the invasion of Russia was the CP able to regroup - but it quickly became a main player in terms of the politics, organisation and tactics of the Resistance.
In its first roots the Resistance grew from the bottom up. "Early resistance was almost entirely a matter of secret initiatives by individuals and small groups...". The first act of resistance was often graffiti, for example that reversing the German declaration that 10 Frenchmen would be shot for every German assassinated ("One Frenchman Murdered - Ten Germans will Die!") or simply turning around or removing signposts to confuse the enemy. Equally important, once a group formed, was the production and circulation of clandestine pamphlets and newspapers. This propaganda built up a solidarity of attitude uniting the individual acts of resistance.
These small groups of like minded individuals gradually evolved into the wider movements of sabotage and armed struggle and the more diffuse networks which ran escape routes and gathered intelligence on German dispositions. In the North they suffered severe repression from the Gestapo, but in the South the movements took on a more expansive character. This was partly due to geographical factors and partly due to the zone not being under direct German control prior to November 1942. However, there was one other vital factor - the Spanish.
The Vichy regime wanted to make use of the vast amount of Spanish labour available in the South, so they established the Travailleurs Etrangers(T.E.) - basically forced labour corps of between 2-5,000 men. By the end of 1940 over 220,000 Spaniards were engaged in forced labour for French and German enterprises in France. But for the Vichy authorities the revolutionary working class history of the Spaniards posed a problem - the labour corps would provide a natural organisational focus for those intent on rebuilding their movement. And they were right - for the political organisations of the Spanish exiles were soon consolidating their position within the T.E., despite attempts by the Vichy police to identify and weed out Communists, Anarchists and "anti-nationals".
The presence of this vast body of exiles, many of them hardened anti-Fascist fighters, cannot be underestimated. "Resistance was the natural state of the Spanish exiles in France. For them the French dilemma over loyalty to Petain was non-existent...". They were continuing a war that had begun behind the barricades in Barcelona, had already fought German and Italian troops in their own country, and were now about to do the same in France. As much, if not more so, than British agents of the Special Operations Executive it was the Spaniards who instructed their French comrades in armed struggle.
As Serge Ravanel of the French Resistance in the Toulouse area acknowledged: "During the War of Spain our comrades had acquired the knowledge that we did not possess; they knew how to make bombs; they knew how to set ambushes; they had a profound knowledge of the technique of guerrilla war". In addition to this expertise it was said of the Spaniards that their bravery was unequalled in combat and that there was no question of treason or desertion.
Within the Travailleurs Etrangers low level sabotage, the universal symbol of working class defiance, rapidly became the norm. In one incident 50 French mechanics suspected to be engaged in monkey wrenching were replaced by Spaniards. The level of inexplicable vehicle failure increased as the Spanish pleaded ignorance of the rudiments of motor mechanics. Such incidents as this were part of a wider and growing movement of sabotage, a movement that rapidly progressed to dynamiting of industrial installations and railways; grenade attacks on German military parades, canteens and barracks, not to mention individual assassinations.
In a typical progression, Spanish anarchists in the Massif Central organised resistance in the T.E. corps working on a huge dam (Barage de l'Aigle). From sabotaging roads and tunnels the group eventually grew into an armed resistance battalion 150-200 strong, named after the dam.
By 1942 the Resistance was firmly established, as any final illusions about the Nazis disappeared - with the SS increasingly in control in Paris; decrees demanding workers for German factories; the beginning of the deportation of Jews to the death camps and, in November, German military occupation of the Vichy zone. These events strengthened the motivation to resist and ensured a mood of protest and revolt among the French working class as a whole.
By the end of the year the independent and local Resistance movements had begun to co-ordinate more closely. Previously the only movement covering both zones was the Communist led Front National established in May 1941. Its armed wing was the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans Francais. Other groups combined to form Mouvements Unis de Las Resistance (MUR), whose armed wing was the Armee Secrete. The MUR recognised de Gaulle as leader but the Communists retained their independence. Both groups formed part of the Comite National de la Resistance (CNR).
It was through the CNR and MUR that de Gaulle was able to cement his position inside France. Arms supplies from London and Algiers went to groups which recognised his leadership and accepted a degree of tactical control from the British SOE. The guerrillas of the FTPF were left to arm themselves with weapons captured from the Germans or by intercepting Allied supply drops intended for the Armee Secrete. Alongside political differences, there was a difference over tactics. The Armee Secrete argued that the Resistance should hold itself in readiness to support an Allied landing. The FTPF argued for an immediate campaign of harassment, sabotage and ambush of German troops. They also wanted to assassinate individual German officers, a tactic de Gaulle rejected.
The Spaniards, primarily active in the South and South-East, organised themselves, although some individuals fought in French units. Spanish formations were recognised as an independent but integral part of the French Resistance within the CNR The main grouping was the Communist led Union Nacional Espanola (UNE) formed in November 1942. In 1944 its name changed to Agrupacion Guerrillera Espanola. A second organisation, the Alianza Democratica Espanola, rejecting Communist control, was formed by the Anarchists (CNT/FAI); Socialists (UGT/PSOE); Left and Independent republicans and Basque and Catalan nationalists.
The Maquis The critical moment of expansion for the Resistance came in 1943 with an influx of new recruits fleeing forced labour. In June 1942 a decree had been issued requiring French workers for German factories. This was extended in February 1943 with the setting up of the Service du Travail Obligatoire (STO) to meet the ever increasing numbers demanded by the German labour ministry. The STO was resisted by individual evasion, strikes and even angry crowds freeing arrested workers from the French police. It also proved the vital ingredient in the formation of armed groups in the countryside, the Maquis.
Between April and December 1943, 150,000 workers were on the run from the STO, and by June 1944 this had swelled to more than 300,000. The Resistance movement encouraged non compliance and supplied shelter, supplies and arms to the evaders who took to the hills and countryside. The Maquis were supported by the rural population - alienated by constant requisitions of produce and the imposition of the STO on agricultural labourers. This swelling of guerrilla strength in the countryside throughout 1943 inaugurated a new and more ferocious phase of armed struggle, which in the conflict between the Milice and the Maquis increasingly took the form of a civil war.
Whilst the long term plan was to prepare a national insurrection in support of the expected Allied landings, there was disagreement over the best tactics to employ in the meantime. Some favoured massing in large formations, in effect local insurrections. Others argued for small mobile units of 20-30 men as the only viable tactic. The latter was undoubtedly the right policy. On three occasions when the Resistance in the South did mass for conventional warfare, on the Plateau of Glieres; at Vercors and at Mont Mouchet they were both heavily outnumbered and outgunned by the Germans. Spaniards participated in these actions, but had warned against them - knowing full well from the war against Franco that lightly armed troops could not engage in conventional warfare without armour, artillery and air support.
Despite these setbacks resistance in the 18 months before D-Day inflicted massive damage on infrastructure and tied down German troops across France. The Resistance could far more easily neutralise railways, industrial sites and power stations than Allied air power, and their intelligence networks, at first lightly regarded by the British, were of decisive importance. Between June 1943 and May 1944 nearly 2,000 locomotives were destroyed. In October 1943 alone, over 3,000 attacks were recorded on the railways, 427 resulting in heavy damage, with 132 trains derailed. In the South West such sabotage was so effective that by June 6th 1944 it took 3 days to travel from Paris to Toulouse!
Whilst the guerrillas were less numerous in the North, between April and September 1943 some 500 resistance efforts were recorded, 278 against railways and other infrastructure, killing 950 Germans and injuring 1,890.In Normandy and Brittany, Spaniards blew up electrical transformers, a railway station and switching yard and part of an airfield. Spanish resistance fighters in Paris assassinated General von Schaumberg, commandant of Greater Paris and General von Ritter who was responsible for the recruitment of forced labour.
Liberation! The effectiveness of the guerrilla campaign was to lead Eisenhower to comment that the Resistance effort around D-Day was worth a full 15 regular army divisions. Likewise Maquis support of the northern drive of the American 7th army was estimated as worth 4 or 5 divisions of regular troops. It should also be remembered that Allied troops never entered the South of the country. The whole area west of the Rhone and South of the Loire rivers was liberated by the national insurrection of the Maquis, as also was Brittany, save for the Atlantic ports with their strong German garrisons.
In the Department of L'Ariege the 14th Spanish Corps of Guerrillas (reformed April 1942) played a key role in evicting the Germans. Between June 6th and August 1944 they attacked German convoys and liberated several villages before taking Foix, the Nazi HQ in the area. A strong German column attempted a counter attack but were caught in an ambush. Despite their logistical superiority they were pinned down by machine gun fire and 1,200 surrendered. A key role was played by a solitary machine gunner who held his post raking the Germans with bullets. One resistance fighter recollects this man, "firing like a crazy one", and adds, as if by way of explanation, "...but he was a Spaniard, a guerrillero". Allied observers of the engagement commented that the Spaniards were "uniquely perfect guerrillas".
Other examples of the Spanish contribution include the Anarchist Llibertad battalion which liberated Cahors and other towns and the participation of 6,000 Spanish guerrillas in the liberation of Toulouse. One notable encounter occurred as the Germans attempted to withdraw through the Gardarea, following the fall of Marseilles. A group of 32 Spaniards and 4 Frenchmen tackled a German column (consisting of 1,300 men in 60 lorries, with 6 tanks and 2 self propelled guns), at La Madeiline, on August 22, 1944. The Maquis blew up the road and rail bridges and positioned themselves on surrounding hills with machine guns. The battle raged from 3pm till noon the next day. Three Maquis were wounded, 110 Germans killed, 200 wounded and the rest surrendered. The German commander committed suicide!
Over 4,000 Spaniards took part in the Maquis uprising in Paris that began on August 21st 1944. Photographs show them armed and crouched behind barricades in scenes one could easily mistake for the street fighting in Barcelona in July 1936. Before long they were supported by regular troops from the Normandy beach-heads. The first units to enter Paris and reach the Hotel de Ville were from the 9th Tank Company of the French 2nd Armoured Division. But the lead half tracks bore the names of Spanish battlefields -"Guadalajara"; "Teruel"; "Madrid" and "Ebro". They were manned by Spaniards, of whom there were 3,200 serving in the 2nd Armoured. Many of these were veterans of the 26th Division (Durruti Column) who had entered the French army from the prison camps in 1939 and gone on to fight in North Africa.
Captain Raymond Dronne, commander of the 9th Company, remembers that the Spanish anarchists were "both difficult and easy to command". In accordance with their libertarian principles "...it was necessary that they accept for themselves the authority of their officers ... They wished to understand the reason for that which was asked of them". However, "...when they granted their confidence it was total and complete". "They were almost all anti-militarists, but they were magnificent soldiers, valiant and experienced. If they had embraced our cause spontaneously and voluntarily it was [because] it was the cause of liberty. Truly they were fighters for liberty".
The 9th Company featured prominently in the victory parade through Paris with its tanks drawn up at the Arc de Triomphe. They went on to see action on the Moselle and were the first to enter Strasbourg, supported by American infantry. Their campaign ended in Germany at Berchtesgaden, Hitler's "Eagles Nest". Having fought from the streets of Barcelona, across the battlefields of Spain, North Africa and France they stood as victors in the final bolt hole of the Nazi scum.
EpilogueLiberation saw a brief period of euphoria, with the Resistance bridging the vacuum of power in the South - dealing with collaborators and remnants of the Milice; setting up local committees to administer supplies and re-establishing communities on a more equal footing. Ordinary men and women were momentarily in charge of their own history. But this was not to last. De Gaulle and his allies had no desire to see Southern France controlled by revolutionary elements. The Maquisards represented a threat because "an army of guerrillas is always a revolutionary army." De Gaulle feared for revolution in Toulouse where 6,000 Spanish guerrillas were "...still imbued with the revolutionary spirit they had brought from beyond the Pyrenees" .To deal with this explosive situation the Maquis were offered the choice of disarming or joining the regular French forces for the attack on German garrisons in the Atlantic ports. This would show America that there was a regular national army and no need for Allied occupation, and it would also remove the armed bands whilst a smooth transference to Gaullist power took place. This was easily achieved because de Gaulle had cemented his position in key sections of the Resistance by control of the arms supply.
In all 25,000 Spaniards had died in the camps or fighting in armed units. With the German surrender in 1945 the Spaniards believed, understandably, that the Allies would turn their attention to Franco and that, without German and Italian support, he would be swiftly crushed. In fact many had been fighting all along in anticipation of returning to Spain for some unfinished business. Anti-fascist guerrilla activity had continued in Spain throughout the war. Meanwhile, exiles in Algeria and France had been preparing for a return - stockpiling arms "borrowed" from American depots. Likewise, as the French 2nd Armoured Division advanced north from Paris, its 9th Company was secretly joined by six members of the Durruti Column who had been with the Resistance in Paris. Whilst fighting alongside their old comrades in the 9th Company they hid arms and ammunition from the battlefields in secret caches. These were later collected and taken to Spain.
1945 saw Franco very much alone, condemned by Britain, Russia and the USA and excluded from the United Nations. The British Labour government, prior to their election in 1945, had promised a quick resolution to the Spanish question. But sadly history proved that the British were not to be trusted. The Labour government, despite its promises, used delaying tactics in the United Nations to stop effective action, arguing that it was purely an internal matter of the Spanish people and that they had no wish to "permit or encourage civil war in that country". Economic blockade and international isolation would have finished Franco off within months - but Britain and US would not support this; despite protestations from other countries who favoured, if necessary, armed intervention. For the British and Americans, as in 1936-1939, the real problem was not Franco but the possibility of a "Red" revolution of the Spanish working class. This attitude solidified as the Cold War developed. A gradual rehabilitation of Franco took place, ending in full recognition and incorporation into the United Nations in 1955. Fascist Spain took its place at the table of the not so new world order.
Even in 1945, whilst some continued to believe that diplomacy would restore the Republican government, many militants opted to renew the armed struggle. Between 1944 and 1950 approximately 15,000 guerrillas fought in Spain, bringing half the country into a state of war. But, despite strikes in Barcelona and the Basque areas, involving over 250,000 people, the population as a whole, wearied by war and repression, were not prepared to rise, or had placed their faith in the diplomacy of Western "democracies". The guerrillas were left to fight alone and inadequately armed against Franco's impressive police and military apparatus, which was always well supplied with intelligence on guerrilla movements from the other side of the French border. It was an unequal struggle. As Juan Molina lamented: "The prisons consumed a generation of fighters, defeated this time irremediably ... All strength in life has its limits and this limit was amply exceeded by the Resistance, in almost inhuman endurance. But it had to succumb".
These working class militants, who bore arms for ten or even twenty years against fascism and capitalism, deserve far more than just remembrance, though even that has been denied them. The struggle for which they gave their lives has not ended - it falls to us to continue that struggle and keep alight the flame of their resistance.
Jean Bernard, 98; Top Doctor was WWII Resistance Fighter
PARIS -- Jean Bernard, whose research on blood disease helped to found the discipline of hematology, died April 17, his family said. He was 98.
''Our country has lost a great doctor and a pioneering spirit," President Jacques Chirac wrote in letter of condolence to Mr. Bernard's family.
Born in Paris in 1907, Dr. Bernard earned his medical degree in 1936.
After the outbreak of World War II, he moved to southeastern France, where he fought in the Resistance movement against German occupation. In 1943, he was captured by the Nazis and spent six months in a prison near Paris.
After his release several days before V-E Day, Dr. Bernard worked at several hospitals and eventually became head of the hematology department at Paris's Saint Louis Hospital.
In 1961, he became the director of a research institute dedicated to leukemia and blood diseases and later headed France's national committee on bioethics.
He was also a member of the prestigious French Academy. Died April 17,2006
RANCHO BERNARDO — What Steve Pisanos lived through as a downed flier in Nazi-occupied France during World War II sounds like a movie, but it was real.
Pisanos narrowly escaped death, first in the crash of his fighter plane in the French countryside, then at the hands of German soldiers pursuing him after the crash. Literally dodging machine gun bullets, Pisanos managed to lose the soldiers in some woods.
That was just the beginning of the pilot’s odyssey. Saved from capture by members of the French Resistance, Pisanos soon joined their ranks. For five months Pisanos participated in sabotage and other combat missions with his underground comrades. He was able to rejoin Allied lines after the liberation of Paris in August 1944.
Last September, by a decree of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Pisanos was named a Chevalier, or knight, of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration. He formally received the medal from the French consul general of Los Angeles in a ceremony Saturday at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.
In his letter to Pisanos announcing the award, French Ambassador to the United States Pierre Vimont called it “a sign of France’s true and unforgettable gratitude and appreciation for your personal, precious contribution to the United States’ decisive role in the liberation of our country during World War II.”
Pisanos, who lives in Rancho Bernardo, was born in Athens, Greece, in November 1920. He arrived in the United States in 1938 after jumping ship from a Greek freighter. He found a job, learned English and earned a pilot’s license in 1940.
The next year, he sought to become an American fighter pilot to battle Germany but was turned away because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. He then joined the Royal Air Force under a program for allied volunteers. With the nickname “The Flying Greek,” he flew British and American fighter aircraft against coastal targets.
He hooked up with one of the American Eagles RAF volunteer squadrons, which were integrated into the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942. He became a U.S. citizen in May 1943.
His first confirmed aircraft kill was in May 1942 in a P-47. On March 5, 1944, while on a bomber escort mission in a P-51B, he shot down four enemy aircraft, bringing his total to 10. But on that same day, his plane’s engine failed, and he was forced to crash-land south of Le Havre, France. During the crash, Pisanos jumped from the plane and dislocated his shoulder. French Resistance fighters helped him escape and even found care for his shoulder from a German doctor by forging identification papers.
The memories of that period remain vivid for Pisanos, animated and jovial at 90. He talks of being driven from a safe house in the countryside to one in Paris in a truck that was also ferrying machine guns for the Resistance.
The guns were hidden under burlap sacks and firewood. Pisanos was sitting on top of them. Suddenly, two German soldiers blocked the road, one of them aiming his Luger pistol at the truck. It turned out they just wanted to hitch a ride, a request the French driver couldn’t refuse.
The two Germans sat in the open back of the truck, on top of a pile of firewood hiding more machine guns. Pisanos’ fear of being caught began to ease as the truck passed through a number of armed checkpoints without having to stop, probably because of the soldiers in the back.
“That was our security,” Pisanos said with a grin.
The soldiers left the truck at the outskirts of Paris, and Pisanos and his partners continued on their way.
Then there was the time Pisanos and a downed British aviator, also being helped by the Resistance, had to flee a Gestapo raid about 2 a.m. in Paris. They climbed out a fifth-floor apartment bedroom window and onto a balcony, then leapfrogged their way over about five other balconies to escape.
“Thank God that the balconies in France are so close to each other,” Pisanos said.
After the war, Pisanos went on to a distinguished U.S. Air Force career, culminating in his retirement as a colonel in 1973. He has lived in Rancho Bernardo since 1978.
Pisanos’ days in France are recalled in his memoir, “The Flying Greek: An Immigrant Fighter Ace’s WWII Odyssey with the RAF, USAAF and French Resistance,” published in 2008. That same year Pisanos was inducted into the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s International Aerospace Hall of Fame.
He has contributed many artifacts from his career to the San Diego Air and Space Museum, museum President and CEO James Kidrick said. When Pisanos told Kidrick about receiving the Legion of Honor and asked if the museum could host the presentation, Kidrick didn’t hesitate.
“I love the guy,” Kidrick said. “Very few people get to experience such history firsthand. … He’s an international hero in the truest sense.”
by Vincent Nicholas Rossi is a free-lance writer from Rancho Bernardo.
Judith Ginsburg: in the Jewish Resistance During WWII
One of the fortunate few who survived the Holocaust, young Judith Ginsburg served with a Jewish resistance group that successfully fought the Nazis. Learn how she endured though horrific times.
Today 84-year-old Judith Ginsburg lives in Florida, not far from two of her four children. Originally from the city of Lida, which is now in present-day Belarus, Ginsburg is appreciative for what America has done for her. She admits that while she and her late husband were never rich, they have lived a good and normal life. Yet as a Holocaust survivor Ginsburg is haunted by what had happened to her over 60 years ago, a time when her family and thousands of other Jews perished.
“How I survived I don’t know,” she says. “But I survived with tremendous guilt. Why did I survive? Why not my family? It’s been sixty-something years and I still wake up with that guilt.”
Her personal story represents both the horrors of the Holocaust and the human will to survive. Despite tremendous obstacles and dangers Ginsburg ended up as a member of the Bielski partisans, a group of Jewish resistance fighters who rescued over 1,200 Jews during World War II. In the wake of the recent film Defiance, which tells the story of the Bielski brothers-led unit, Ginsburg is now sharing her memories from that time.
As a teenager Judith was living in Lida—which was under Soviet control—when events unfolded that would change her life. The first happened in June 1941 as the Germans bombed her city and then put the Jews in a ghetto. “We were camped into two streets,” she recalls. “It was very old homes…five families in a little apartment, and they started organizing the ghetto. They started to take us to work right away.”
The second devastating event happened on the morning of May 8, 1942, when the Germans ordered everybody out of their houses to start marching outside of the city. “We didn’t know what was going to happen,” Ginsburg says. “While [the soldiers] were walking us, they were beating us. They were killing people who couldn’t walk. They took children from their mother’s arms. It was just terrible.”
During the march, the German soldiers divided the Jews into two separate lines: to the right represented those who would die, and the left was made of up of those who would live. Ginsburg and her sister and brother-in-law were put on the right line, but Ginsburg’s brother, a tailor who made the soldiers’ uniforms, convinced the Germans to put them on the left. In the end, over 5,000 Jews were murdered that day.
“Some of them were not even killed,” says Ginsburg. “They were thrown into the ditches where they dug. They made them get undressed and they were shooting some of them. A lot of people were buried alive.”
The 1,800 survivors of the massacre returned back to the ghetto, but the disruption wasn’t over. On Sept. 22, 1943, the Nazis returned again and ordered the Jews to walk to the train station. “We knew they were going to kill us,” Ginsburg says. “We never heard of concentration camps.”
It was a scene similar to what happened the year before: there were beatings, shootings and killings during the journey. While walking alongside her sister, Ginsburg came to the attention of a German soldier who was sympathetic to her plight. “He said to me, ‘You’re so young and you’re pretty.’ Tears came out of his eyes. I knew he was probably feeling sorry for us. My sister [who was with her children] noticed it and she said that’s good. ‘Tell him you’re gonna run.’”
With another girl, Ginsburg plotted her escape as they were nearing the station. By that time children were screaming and yelling. “I said to the German, ‘I’m gonna run but you could shoot us,’”says Ginsburg. “’Please don’t catch us.’ We start running, and they start shooting. I don’t know if anybody was killed but they made a commotion so we could escape. We jumped [and] ran over to the street.”
After their escape, the two girls went to a village where they were taken in by a shoemaker and his wife. They provided bread and milk to the hungry escapees. “[He said,] ‘God sent you to me because the Jews were good to me, and I will help you as much as I can.’ We were crying, and he was crying with us.”
Ginsburg had already heard of the Bielski partisans, who were hiding in the forest. While waiting along with other survivors to be picked up by the partisans, she was approached by a man in a hearse from the Russian unit. “He said, ‘Who are you?’” says Ginsburg. “I told [him] who my father is. He said, ‘I knew your father very well and I will help you.’”
The man contacted the Russian commander, who in turn took in six survivors including Ginsburg. Eventually she joined the Bielski partisans, whose mission was to forage food to feed the Jews. “It wasn’t easy,” she recalls, “and people didn’t give you the food. You had to take the food. They didn’t rob—they took just for survival.”
Four months later Ginsburg and the others were liberated. She returned to her city and later married one of the partisans from the Russian unit. In 1949, the couple immigrated to the United States where Ginsburg’s husband became a cattle dealer. They settled in upstate New York, bought a farm and raised a family.
Ginsburg now resides in Florida—her husband passed away three years ago. She had always told her children what had happened during the war so they would never forget. “Every time when you talk it still hurts,” she says. “I had to do it for my children’s sake. They had to know what we went through.”
In looking back at her life, Ginsburg adds: “Time teaches you a lot. I’m not brave now and I wasn’t brave then, but I did what I had to do.”
Strasbourg to Make Ruling on Latvian WWII Veteran Case
The European Court of Human Rights will announce on May 17 its verdict on the former Soviet partisan case involving a WWII veteran accused of killing villagers during the war, defense lawyer Mikhail Ioffe said on Tuesday.
Vasily Kononov, who led a group of resistance fighters against Nazi Germany in the Baltic state during WWII, was convicted by Latvian authorities of ordering the killing of nine villagers in 1944. He admitted to the killings, but said the dead were Nazi collaborators who were caught in crossfire. Media reports earlier stated Kononov had lost the case against Latvia citing a source in the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights.
“This is a lie and libel. Someone wants to turn a wish into reality,” Ioffe said, adding that the [court] decision would be announced on May 17.
Kononov was arrested in 1998 and held for two years in custody, but Latvia’s charges against him were overturned by the European Court of Human Rights in 2008.
In 2004, he appealed to the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights. The European Court in 2008 decided Latvian authorities violated the European Convention on Human Rights prescribing that “no person may be punished for an act that was not a criminal offense at the time of its commission”. The Strasbourg Court ordered 30,000 euros in compensation to the former partisan.
After his release, Kononov received Russian citizenship.
WWII continues to be a contentious issue in Russia’s relations with both Estonia and Latvia over the Baltic states’ perceived glorification of Nazi collaborators and their perception of Russia being an occupying country after the war.
In 1940, Hessel, then a soldier in the French army, was captured by German forces. He managed to escape from a prison camp in France and make his way south through Spain and Portugal to North Africa, then to London, where he joined Gen. Charles de Gaulle's resistance forces in March 1941.
Hessel returned to occupied France as a resistance fighter, but was soon captured by the Gestapo and only narrowly avoided execution in a Nazi concentration camp before escaping to rejoin the Allies.
He tells his story in the sitting room of his small Paris apartment. Now 94 years old, Hessel is trim and dapper in a coat and tie. His eyes twinkle with generosity, but that spark of resistance seems to have never left him.
"If you want to be a real human being — a real woman, a real man — you cannot tolerate things which put you to indignation, to outrage," he says. "You must stand up. I always say to people, 'Look around; look at what makes you unhappy, what makes you furious, and then engage yourself in some action.'"
In Time for Outrage, Hessel challenges young people to do just that. Injustice is widespread today, too, he says — though he admits that today's injustice isn't as clear-cut as it was in his day.
"To be conquered by a nation like the Nazis, obviously it was insufferable," he says. "Today we are not in front of problems that immediately appear as impossible to accept. But if we look a little carefully, these challenges are there." He cites the growing gap between rich and poor, and the degradation of the planet as just two examples.
Finding Today's Injustices
Paris high school student Theodore Vonclair, 17, read Time for Outrage after a friend recommended it.
"I was quite touched by it," Vonclair says. "Books asking people to think about these kinds of problems [are] quite useful, and you can't find them so often today, I think."
Vonclair says he could get outraged about the economic crisis and violence in society, but he admits he hasn't acted on it yet.
Still, French reaction to Hessel's book wasn't all positive. Some critics called it old-fashioned, and others were angry about the author's stance on Israel.
Hessel, who is Jewish, was a French diplomat at the U.N. when Israel was born in 1948. He says he remembers it as a glorious moment but believes things have gone very wrong since then.
"The Israeli government is not going the way [of] Jewish ideals," he says. "And the way they acted in Gaza with [Operation Cast Lead] is just impossible to tolerate for honest Jews."
Hessel says he's delighted over the recent people's revolutions in the Arab world, which started just three months after his book came out in France. He doesn't claim any credit but says it is a nice coincidence.
He says he's honored that his book is being published in America. Calling Franklin Delano Roosevelt the most important leader of the 20th century, Hessel says Roosevelt's New Deal and "Four Freedoms" speech set the standard for social and economic justice in the modern world.
Luck, Love, Happiness And Poetry
Hessel is passionate about justice, but he credits his own long life and good health to something very different; luck, love, happiness and poetry. He says he knows many of Shakespeare's sonnets by heart.
"This one I ... used when I just had been arrested by the Gestapo," he says. "I was afraid that I would not survive, and so I put a little paper in my pocket that my wife should find."
He recites the first lines of Shakespeare's "Sonnet 71":
"No longer mourn for me when I am dead/ Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell/ Give warning to the world that I am fled/ From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell."
A female secret service agent has been honoured by the Royal Air Force - 63 years after first complaining at the "injustice" of not getting her "wings".
Pearl Cornioley, formerly Witherington, became the leader of 1,500 French freedom fighters during World War II. She was recommended for the Military Cross but, as a woman, was not allowed to receive it. She turned down an MBE, saying it was a "civil decoration" Now 92, she has received her Parachute Wings at her retirement home in France.
The highly-regarded award was presented to her by Squadron Leader and Major Jack Lemmon of the Parachute Regiment at a ceremony on Tuesday. Mrs Cornioley said: "This is more important to me than receiving the CBE or MBE." '63-year injustice'
Her wings finally materialised when she raised the issue with Squadron Leader Rhys Cowsill, a Parachute jump instructor from RAF Cranwell, who visited Mrs Cornioley in Chateauvieux, near Tours, to interview her about her wartime service. Mrs Cornioley said that as a woman she had carried out three parachute training jumps, with the fourth jump 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," she 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."
Born to British parents in Paris, Pearl Witherington had already escaped occupied France with her mother and three sisters when she returned under cover of darkness aged 29. She was parachuted into France from 300ft (91 metres) on the third attempt - regarded as an extremely low jumping point. Other attempts had been abandoned because the situation on the ground was considered too dangerous.
At the time, Mrs Cornioley said, she was "delighted to be in one piece and back on French soil" after finally making the jump. Sqn Ldr Cowsill, who has completed nearly 1,000 jumps, said: "If I was to jump at 300ft it would be without exception the most frightening experience I would ever undertake." It is a tale which mirrors that of Charlotte Gray, the Sebastian Faulks novel later turned into a film.
I was not a military person, I was supposed to be a courier, but I ended up having to use whatever sense I had.
After working as a secretary in the Air Ministry, she joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in 1943 and was sent to work as a courier for a resistance group a few months later. She explained her move, saying: "We'd got back to England in July 1941 and I was working in the Air Ministry. I was stuck fiddling about with papers, while things were going on in France," she said.
She said her decision to join SOE stemmed from her "fury" about what was happening in France. In May 1944, her leader Maurice Southgate was captured by the Gestapo and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. With the help of her fiance Henri Cornioley and under her code-name "Pauline" she reorganised the new "Wrestler network" with the aim of frustrating German movements in the run-up to the D-Day landings.
Close shave The 1,500-strong network covered 300 square miles between Toulouse and Orleans. "It was a complete accident that I ended up leading 1,500 resistance fighters. I was not a military person, I was supposed to be a courier, but I ended up having to use whatever sense I had - but I certainly didn't do this on my own," she said. They were so effective, the Nazi regime put a 1 million franc (Â£500,000 today) bounty on her head.
Her closest shave came on 11 June 1944 when, holed up in an attic in Valencay with Mr Cornioley, they were woken by German troops. They managed to escape under gunfire, hiding in a wheat field. The couple eventually made it to Britain and married in Kensington Register office on 26 October, 1944. They spent their post-war married life in France. Mr Cornioley died in 1999.
Second World War heroine, Pearl Cornioley, is finally honoured Tuesday April 11, 2006, by the British Royal Air Force, 63-years after she was dropped behind enemy lines in France as part of the legendary Special Operations Executive (SoE) in 1943. Squadron Leader Rhys Cowsill, left, and Squadron Leader Simon Jarvis, right, with Madame Pearl Cornioley at her home in Chateauvieux, France, after she was awarded her operational Parachute Wings.
After three weeks intensive training and then was parachuted behind enemy lines in France where she joined a resistance group, and when her network leader was taken prisoner she found herself effectively commanding 1,500 resistance fighters. (AP Photo / Cpl Emily Burns, RAF)
Born in the United States, he was a leader of the courageous Norwegian Resistance in World War II, sabotaging Nazi operations. He was portrayed in the movie, "The Heroes of Telemark." (Telemark is a county in Southeast Norway.)**
From distant cousins of war hero Knut Haukelid and his twin sister, Hollywood actress Sigrid Gurie, comes the following information on Haukelid.
Bob Coe of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada writes:
He was the leader of a sabotage team of Norwegians who first snuck into the German Heavy Water Plant at Rjukan and blew it up thus setting back German endeavours to produce a product vital to the development of an atomic bomb. Then, when the Germans decided to ship the heavy water back to Germany in barrels, Knut and his team snuck aboard the ferry which had to haul it across a lake, set a time-bomb on board the ferry timed to blow up at the exact time when the ferry was in the middle of the lake. The plot worked perfectly with the entire German cache of heavy water sinking to the bottom of the lake.
His singular action gave the United States the time to complete their own atomic bomb. Hollywood made a movie of it starring Kirk Douglas entitled, "The Heroes of Telemark." He was born in the U.S., and his remarkable sacrifice and courage should be acknowledged by not only the U.S. but by all the Allied countries for actions which directly contributed to the end of WW II.
LaVonne Houlton of Modesto, Calif. provides this information:
Bjørgulv and Sigrid Haukelid were living in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, when their twins, Knut and Sigrid Guri were born, on May 17, 1911.
Bjørgulv was a civil engineer with the New York Subway System for 10 years (1902-1912), and the family returned to Norway shortly before the twins' first birthday.
Knut came back to the United States to attend Massachusetts State College, returning to Norway in 1929. He completed his education in the 1930's, attending the Dresden School of Technology and the University of Berlin. He then returned to Norway, and was working for his father's engineering firm, Haukelid og Five, when the Germans invaded the country in April, 1940.
Knut's wartime deeds have been widely covered. Among the numerous high military awards bestowed on him at the war's end by five grateful nations was the Medal of Freedom with Silver Palm, by the United States of America.
Knut graduated from the Norwegian Military Academy in 1948. He served as Major in the Telemark Infantry Regiment, and was later appointed Lieutenant General and head of the Homeguard of Greater Oslo. After he retired, Knut often lectured, at home and abroad, on the importance of fostering and supporting resistance forces to serve behind enemy lines in wartime.
In 1983, when Vice President George Bush visited in Norway, he invited Knut to a formal dinner at the American Embassy.
In the Spring of 1984, on the 40th anniversary of the sabotage action against the heavy water plant at Vemork, the survivors of the Company Linge group who participated in the action were honored at a reception at the residence of the American Ambassador, Mark Evans Austad. Nine of the 12 survivors were present when they were surprised with a gift of cufflinks from President Ronald Reagan, who also sent them a personal letter. They also received letters of congratulations from John W. Vessey Jr., Chief for the American High Command. Representatives of the Norwegian Parliament and the Army were also among those present when Knut Haukelid was singularly surprised and honored with an American Passport.
He was, after all, born in America.
On Friday, October 18, 1985, Knut Haukelid was honored at the Second Annual Hall of Fame Banquet in Minot, North Dakota. He was one of five people named that night to the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame — again an honor due not only by his deeds but because of his birth in the United States and his holding of dual-citizenship.
In later years, Knut and his wife divided their time between winters in Oslo, and summers along the coast at Lillesand, and to visits with children and grandchildren. Perhaps his last public appearance occurred during Charles Kuralt's fine television tribute to the heavy water saboteurs during the 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, Norway. He took ill soon after, and died on March 8, 1994.
Rolf A. Hoeiberg of Porsgrunn, Telemark, Norway provides details of Haukelid's military career. He notes that Haukelid became a lieutenant colonel in the Army Infantry in 1959 and served as colonel and head of Greater Oslo Homeguard from 1966 until his retirement in 1974. Hoeiberg explains:
There is a difference between Army Reserve and Homeguard. The Norwegian homeguard is armed and operative within a very short time and will secure the mobilization of the Army reserve in a given case.
Hoeiberg points out that at the time of his retirement, Haukelid was one of only three active lieutenant generals (2 stars) in Norway. The only 3-star general, at the time, was King Olav, he relates.
When Haukelid, in Oslo in 1969, learned of his twin sister's death in Mexico from an embolism, he, too, suffered an embolism, but recovered.
He was portrayed in "Heroes of Telemark" by Richard Harris (as Knut Straud).
Shulamit Lack, 83, who risked her life to help other Jews escape Nazi-occupied Hungary as a teenager, survived two concentration camps, fought in the Israeli army and then forged a new life in America, died Monday, Dec. 3, 2007.
“Lack was born Maria Gara in 1924 to a wealthy, assimilated Jewish family. At 13 she joined a Zionist youth group – against her family’s wishes – after brushes with anti-Semitism. Her mother was taken to a concentration camp after the Nazis invaded and was never heard from again. Her father in a sanitarium, Lack turned the family’s apartment into a safe house and forged identity papers for fleeing Jews.
“Eventually she was caught and sent to Polish concentration camps. Liberated by the Allies, Lack returned to Budapest. She immigrated to Palestine with her first husband. Lack served in the Israeli army during the War of Independence.
Lack stopped working at LaGuardia Hospital when her husband was diagnosed with emphysema. He died in 1991.
Jimmy Yule in 1945, and, right, the hidden radio shack at Colditz Castle where he monitored Allied and enemy broadcasts (photographed in 1999)
Controller of the secret radio set at Colditz who helped to keep the British prisoners informed about the progress of the war
Soldier, communicator, musician and tormentor of the pompous over a varied life, Jimmy Yule looked back on the years he spent as a prisoner in Oflag IVC - Colditz Castle, Saxony - as a period when all his skills were in demand. Sent there on recapture after jumping from a train, he decided that his fellow-prisoners would be better served by his remaining with them, rather than attempting to escape.
He was taken prisoner in May 1940 during the ill-fated Allied campaign in Norway, following the German air and sea invasion. After he had landed at the west coast railhead of Andalsnes with a brigade signals detachment, the train carrying his party south-eastwards was attacked by the Luftwaffe and derailed. Yule, trapped in the wreckage with an injured spine, was captured when the brigade withdrew to the coast.
On recovery, he spent the following year in transit from one German prison camp to another, constantly on the lookout for chances to escape. A chance came when the train carrying him and other prisoners from a camp close to the Swiss frontier paused at Munich for a welcome meal of stew. On leaving the station it was discovered that the door had not been bolted on the outside and, before the train could gather speed, several prisoners jumped down beside the track. Yule and a companion remained free for ten days only to be recaptured when they entered a guarded factory in search of food. Both were designated Deutschfeindlich - hostile to Germans - and sent to Colditz in July 1941.
In March 1943, for no apparent reason, Yule and several other Colditz prisoners were moved to Oflag IX - Spangenberg Castle, east of Kassel, where the drawbridge over the surrounding moat offered an escape route. It was supported by concrete blocks which also carried the castle drains encased in a wooden structure along which it seemed possible to crawl. Choosing a blustery evening to cover any sound, Yule and Alan Campbell, now Lord Campbell of Alloway, QC, climbed the support on the castle side of the moat and across the drain casing to the next one. Yule was waiting on the third and last support for Campbell to catch up when, during a drop in the wind, a sentry was alerted by a dislodged stone. The pair were apprehended before reaching the far side.
Together with the discovery of a tunnel under the castle wall, which the Germans mistakenly suspected was dug at their instigation, this incident resulted in the group from Colditz being returned there. That summer also saw the French prisoners moved out of the castle leaving their precious secret radio.
Its location - in a tiny space in the castle roof - was known to only six prisoners formed into two teams of three: an operator, a listener/writer and a ìputter-innerî responsible for concealing the entrance once the other two were inside. As a Royal Signals officer Yule was a natural choice as an operator, usually working with listener/writer Micky Burn, subsequently a foreign correspondent of The Times.
The radio was powered from the castle supply and the hide was furnished with maps to make the news from Allied and German broadcasts more easily intelligible. Yuleís responsibility for maintaining the flow of news to other inmates convinced him that he should join no further escape attempts; but he also had another contribution to make to his comrades morale.
Always fascinated by music and the theatre, he became involved in putting on pantomimes and revues, the Ballet Nonsense being among the best-remembered. He also arranged music for the prisoners band, equipped with instruments acquired in one way or another from the German guards. The noise of band performances or revues, including the applause, was frequently used to drown sound of preparation for escape attempts or distract key members of the guard while an attempt was made. One successful home run began from beneath the theatre stage. Yule's liberation was by the US Army in May 1945 when the German garrison was persuaded to surrender without a fight.
James de Deane Yule was born in Murree, on the border of the North West Frontier province, the only son of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Abercrombie Yule of the Indian Army. Educated at Charterhouse, he entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, in 1936 and was commissioned into the Royal Corps of Signals two years later.
He served in the 5th Division Signal Regiment with the British Expeditionary Force in France until his brigade was withdrawn for operations in Norway.
He returned to regular service after the war and while at Catterick wrote pantomimes and revues for the Cary Theatre. His knowledge of French led to an attachment to the French Army and in 1950 he worked in Paris for the European Longlines Agency, establishing part of the Nato communications network.
He commanded the Signals Regiment in Nicosia during the Eoka terrorist campaign in Cyprus, but retired from the Army in 1961 to join De La Rue Bull in London. He later became a schoolmaster at the Alec Hunter High School in Braintree, Essex, and was responsible for many of their musical productions.
He served as an Independent on the Braintree District Council for 18 years, writing on his own or the councilís account to the BBC, British Rail, trade unions and chairmen of any organisation which he or the council considered were not performing to the required standard.
His musical London, Paris, New York, taken from music written during his time in Colditz was staged professionally at the Imperial War Museum in April 1990, with the proceeds going to the British Red Cross. He was chairman of the Kelvedon and Feering branch of the Royal British Legion and also of the local Scout Association.
He married Stella Lintott in 1947. She predeceased him, and he is survived by a son and two daughters.
Lieutenant-Colonel J. de D. Yule, Colditz prisoner, was born on September 17, 1916. He died on Christmas Day aged 84.
During World War 2 countless Jews perfomed acts of heroism, by resisting the Nazi Holocaust, by fighting in various national armies, and by saving others. Here are just a few of them:
Henrietta Szold (1860-1945), Baltimore-born founder of Hadassah, took a large medical unit to war-torn Palestine in 1916. Heeding the danger of Nazism in 1933, she created Youth Aliyah, which rescued and rehabilitated thousands of young Jews.
Hannah Szenes (or Senesh) (1921-1944), a Hungarian Zionist who left for Palestine at 18, joined a British elite squad that parachuted into Yugoslavia to help trapped allied troops. In 1944 she crossed into Hungary to save Jews from the death camps. She was captured by Nazis and tortured. She divulged nothing and was shot as a consequence.
Mordechai Anielevich (1920-1943) was a Zionist youth leader who led the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. For a while he halted Nazi deportations; but his forces were hopelessly outnumbered and he was killed on Mila 18 Street. Israel's memorial to Jewish partisans, Yad Mordechai, is named after him.
Abba Kovner (1918-1987) and Rozka Korczak-Marla (1921-1988) were leaders of Hashomer Hatzair, a Zionist youth movement. The two masterminded the Vilna Ghetto Uprising of 1942 and then fought Nazis in the Baltic woods. In Israel they set up Moreshet, a memorial to Jewish partisans, and taught about the Holocaust. Abba Kovner became a famous poet.
Roza Robota smuggled arms into Auschwitz-Birkenau after 1942, but was arrested after the abortive 1944 Sonderkommando revolt. Roza was tortured but revealed nothing. She was shot in January 1945, just weeks before liberation.
Yefim Anatolyevich Dyskin (b 1923) was a volunteer in the Russian Red Army tank corps. Dyskin resisted a German onslaught on Gorki in 1941, though his comrades were all dead and he was badly wounded. He was made hero of the Soviet Union.
Raymond Zussman (d 1944) was the son of Russian immigrants Russia. As 2nd lieutenant Zusman led a successful US tank attack on the German-held town of Naru La Borge. He fired until he ran out of ammunition and was slain. He killed 19 German soldiers, seized a further 93; and won a posthumous congressional medal of honor.
Avigdor Goldsmid was a British Army major who in 1944 repulsed a fierce German attack on Goteshty, Russia. Three months later he led tanks and infantry to relieve the French town of Hologin. His courage and cunning won him a Military Cross.
Marc Bloch (1886-1944), an esteemed French historian, won the Croix de Guerre for brave service in World War I. In 1939 he was 53 and a father of six children; yet he re-entered the French Army to fight the Nazis. In 1943 he joined the resistance when Nazis occupied all of France. Collaborationist Vichy police captured him in 1944; Gestapo Chief Klaus Barbie tortured him before he was shot by a firing squad.
Avraham Etiah (b 1924), an Algerian-born Jewish hero who joined his nation's Cavalry Regiment in Italy, 1943. Twice in 1944 he captured enemy soldiers to glean vital intelligence. He gained a medal for launching daring raids in the Fico region. After a year in hospital, Etiah overcame many obstacles to arrive in Israel in 1949.
Of course there was a particularly compelling reason for Jewish heroism in World War 2: the need to prevent the extermination of the entire Jewish people.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising refers to the armed resistance of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto in the early months of 1943. It should not be confused with the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, in which the non-Jewish Poles rose up against Nazi oppression (although some survivors of the Ghetto Uprising did join this fight). The latter was a bid for freedom, with a realistic chance of success; the former was the decision to die fighting, rather than accept death at the German execution camps.
In 1939 the Germans had invaded Warsaw and taken control of the city; by November of 1940 they had ordered all the Jews in the capital into a three mile square area, dubbed the Warsaw Ghetto. Whilst conditions were unbearable, with thousands dying from starvation and disease every month, there was little call amongst the Jews to rise up and fight the Germans. Why? For several reasons: firstly the Nazi propaganda machine had done an effective job of denigrating the Jewish race and breaking their spirit, secondly many pre-eminent Jews and potential leaders had fled or been killed, thirdly - and probably most importantly - they had no realistic chance of defeating the Germans by force, and fear of reprisals were great. That situation was to change.
Early in 1942 Berlin found the 'Final Solution' to the question of what to do with the Jews. During the course of that year the Nazis began an enormous operation, the purpose of which was extermination of an entire race. The Jews were transported in vast numbers, and terrible conditions, to death camps around Poland (those taken from the Warsaw Ghetto were mostly taken to Treblinka). This operation was carried out with so much speed and efficiency, and with an inhumanity that defied the belief of ordinary people, that hundreds of thousands were murdered before the remainder of the Jews finally accepted the fate in store for them. Meanwhile the Allies, who were also finally forced to believe the reports they were hearing, did nothing to help - later claiming that the only way to stop the German atrocities was to focus directly on winning the war.
So it was, outraged at the mass murder of their people and with nothing left to lose, the remainder of the Ghetto Jews decided to fight back with every means in their power, and whatever the consequence. They offered their first resistance on 18th January 1943, when a large group of Germans soldiers arrived intent on rounding up more Jews for deportation. In fact the Z.O.B (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa, or the Jewish Fighters Organization) had been planning an attack on the Jewish Police (who collaborated with the Nazis) for the 22nd, but when the Germans marched into the Ghetto they decided to engage them in combat. A bloody street battle took place, in which the significanly inferior-armed Jews lost a great deal of their number. From then on the Z.O.B decided never to engage the Germans openly - where they were bound to lose - but engaged them in partisan warfare. Despite their losses on this day however, an important psychological blow was struck. The Germans could not have everything their own way. They were not invincible.
From that point until April the Germans deportation plans were delayed, Nazi collaborators killed, and the Z.O.B (along with other Jewish fighting forces) were in virtually complete control of the Ghetto. Meanwhile the Polish underground movement, impressed by the Jews courage, supplied the Z.O.B with more and better weaponry. In this three month period virtually all attempts to arrest and capture Jews failed, several Germans soldiers were killed, and a number of attempts to lure the Jews out, with promises of working in concentration camps in excellent and safe conditions, failed. The mood of the remaining Jews had turned from acceptance of their fate to defiance, and the Z.O.B enjoyed the support and co-operation of all the non-fighting Jews in the Ghetto.
Finally realising that the Jewish Uprising wasn't going to conveniently go away, the Germans arrived in considerable force in the early hours of 19th April with plans for the final liquidation of the Ghetto (ie. the rounding up of every remaining Jew for transportation to the death camps). Nearly a thousand troops marched into the Ghetto, certain that the Jews would either be unwilling and unable to offer them resistance, when they came in such large numbers. However the Z.O.B were now better armed - and more determined - than the Germans realised. As the Nazis advanced into a deserted Ghetto the partisans simply waited for the opportune moment to attack, at which time they reigned bullet and grenades on the exposed German patrols from the cover of tall buildings. The would-be capturers suffered heavy casualties and were forced to retreat. They failed to arrest a single Jewish civilian, all of whom had gone into hiding (mostly in underground bunkers which they had built for this purpose). This day is often cited as the start of the Ghetto Uprising.
After this initial set-back on the 19th, Himmler replaced the ineffective commander, Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg, with Jurgen Stroop, who had experience fighting against partisans. He was urged by Himmler to act with whatever means necessary. In the days that followed Stroop ordered all the buildings of the Ghetto be set on fire, in order to flush out enemy soldiers. The quarter became one burning torch, full of flames and dense black smoke. Still the Jews refused to give in, maintaining their resistance and only giving up their positions at the last moment - many jumping from high floors of burning buildings. Most sought refuge in the bunkers, where conditions were hardly any better. Because of the intensity of the infernos the bunkers were unbearably hot and food and water was quickly spoiled.
By the 23rd of April any sizeable resistance was no longer possible. All that remained for the Nazis to do was uproot the Jews in the bunkers. Not that this was made easy for them. Forced out of hiding by poison or tear gas, the partisans would often come out firing; women were no less militant, and there were several examples of them hiding grenades in their underwear in order to throw them at German soldiers as they were being arrested. These were last ditch tactics however for a battle that was now lost. On the 9th of May the Nazis successfully stormed the Z.O.B's command bunker and on the 16th, the German Commander, Stroop, announced that the fighting was finished. To mark the end of the Uprising he ordered the Great Warsaw Synagogue on Tlomackie Street to be blown up.
Approximately 13,000 Jews were killed during the Uprising, with another 50,000 rounded up and deported to death camps. A few escapees continued to fight in the forests, whilst some who were arrested were later freed by the Polish underground forces and joined the Warsaw Uprising. An estimated 300 German troops died in the struggle.
Cecil Wink's D-Day memories have nothing to do with a pounding surf or a strip of sandy Omaha Beach stained with the blood of America's sons.
Courtesy of Cecil Wink Staff Sgt. Cecil Wink, bottom left, was on the run for 66 days after his Flying Fortress bomber was shot down over Yugoslavia. Wink poses for a picture in Italy after his rescue with some of his crew members who were shot down. The man in the middle of the second row was a Yugoslav resistance fighter.
On June 6, 1944, as the Allies were landing on the French coast, Wink was making a "jump into the unknown" as his Flying Fortress bomber was shot down over Yugoslavia.
With an engine out and fuel streaming across the wings, the pilot told Wink — a 21-year-old staff sergeant and gunner — and other enlisted men to bail.
"We jumped out at 23,400 feet or more than four miles," Wink recalled recently at his East Side home. "I was so excited I didn't feel the cold. You're supposed to make a delayed jump, count to 10 or 15. I counted to 3, and I pulled the cord. I wanted to make sure it opened."
Wink and all but one of the crew evaded capture by the Nazis. They were picked up by so-called Chetniks on horseback who were loyal to Yugoslav resistance leader Gen. Draza Mihailovich.
For 66 days, the airmen were kept on the move, sheltered by peasants who risked their lives and fed them beans, potatoes and goat's milk. At one point Wink's group met Mihailovich and were invited to review his troops, which included women and young boys who got many of their weapons by raiding German units.
They were given an autographed picture of the Chetnik leader who lost favor with the Allies and was executed after the war by communist partisans. In 1948, without public fanfare, President Harry S. Truman quietly awarded the dead Chetnik leader this country's Legion of Merit.
In all, 253 American airmen (including another Evansville resident, Frank Kincaid) were evacuated after being shot down over Yugoslavia during raids on important oil and communication installations.
Three waves of C-47s landed in August at a secret, makeshift airfield 80 miles from Belgrade in what some have suggested was the largest, most daring operation of its kind in Axis-occupied Europe during World War II.
Wink said the rescue — on a plateau where peasants helped cart gravel and fill to make a runway long enough for C-47s — came in broad daylight.
"On Aug. 10, the 15th Air Force bombed all over Yugoslavia to keep the Germans busy. They (U.S.) brought in a dozen or more C-47s (the kind of two-engine transport involved in the University of Evansville basketball crash in 1977) and flew us to Italy where we were deloused and got new clothing. It was one of the happiest days of my life," he said.
Four memorable months at war
For Wink, a Bosse High School graduate who had entered the service in 1943, his European stint went fast. Within a period of four months he had arrived in Europe, made a dozen bombing runs, was shot down, evaded Nazis, met a resistance leader, was rescued and arrived home "in time for Labor Day." He suspects he's the last one of his crew still alive.
After the war he would become a carpenter and eventually start Wink Tile. He married the girl (Doris) he'd met over Christmas 1943 when he was home on furlough. They have two children: a son, Scott, and daughter, Suzanne Smyth of Newburgh.
In 1984, before the fall of communist eastern Europe, Cecil and Doris Wink rented a car and crossed the border into Yugoslavia, hoping to find the Ravna Gora area where Wink had met Mihailovic during a July 1944 village celebration. He carried some pictures taken that summer. It wasn't long before Yugoslavian police took the Winks into custody, questioning Wink at police headquarters. "I guess they thought we were revolutionaries," Wink chuckles.
His passport temporarily was taken and the next day he was questioned again. "They took all my pictures but one, but I had one left. I told them the men in the picture were all American (airmen). "If I'd told them the truth, that the man in the checkered shirt in the back row was a Chetnik, they would have taken it, too." Eventually, the authorities were satisfied the Evansville couple was harmless, even offered to show them how to find the Ravna Gora region.
"We wanted none of that," said Doris. They headed back to the Austrian border as fast as they could. Visit to paper evokes memories
"It doesn't seem possible 64 years have passed," Wink said the other day when he dropped by the Courier & Press hoping to figure out the publication date of a faded newspaper clipping.
"My mother was notified I was safe before she received word from the War Department that I was missing," he said, an odd occurrence that happened because his Chetnik rescuers released his name to the media. Soon, an Evansville newspaper reporter was contacting his family for comments, and on June 19, 1944, the Courier ran a page one story detailing how the 21-year-old had been shot down June 6 and was safely in the hands of the Yugoslavian resistance.
Eight members of the French communist urban guerilla resistance unit 'The Missak Manouchian Group,' including their Armenian-born leader Missak Manouchian (1906 - 1944) (third from left in line, second from left in photo), stand before a wall as they await execution a few days after their capture by German occupation forces, Fort Mont Valerian, Paris, February 21, 1944.
All were members of the Franc Tireurs Partisans-Main d'Oeuvre Immigr?e (Irregular Partisan Riflemen - Immigrant Workers).
They became the subject of a notorious Nazi propaganda poster, l'Affiche Rouge (Red Poster), which attempted to show the resistance as foreign terrorists.
Visible in the photo are (left to right)
French-born Robert Witchitz, Manouchian,
Romanian-born Joseph Boczov,
Polish-born Wolf Wajsbrot (1925 - 1944) (spelled 'Wasjbrot' on the poster),
Polish-born Szlama Grzywacz (1918 - 1944),
Polish-born Maurice Fingercwajg (spelled 'Fingerweig' on poster) (1922 - 1944),
Hungarian-born Thomas Elek (1925 - 1944). (Photo by Roger Viollet Collection/Getty Images)
On September 1, 1939, almost two million German troops stormed out of Germany in a Blitzkrieg, or "lightning war," against Poland. Waves of aircraft and column after column of tanks swept over the half-million Polish defenders. Fascist Germany, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, was on the march. Hitler's aim was to build the greatest empire the world had ever seen. Britain and France, their survival as world powers at stake, declared war on Germany. World War II had begun. France quickly fell to the Germans, leaving Britain alone to face Hitler's legions.
As German armies swept over Europe, Britain urgently prepared to defend the Middle East, its primary source of oil. Palestine became a major military garrison. British soldiers and war materials began arriving at Palestinian ports. But Britain's own troops were not enough; it needed the support of the Arab countries. Britain added to the promises of the 1939 White Paper a series of pledges to support independence throughout the Middle East.
Palestinian Arabs distrusted Britain's promises. As they reopened their shuttered shops and replanted their fallow fields, they remembered vividly the crushing of their recent rebellion. Already they had sacrificed many lives in the struggle for an independent Palestine. Now the fate of Palestine was tied to another raging worldwide conflict. World War I had taught many Palestinians that European wars were collisions of empires in which Arab peoples were used and then discarded. Would World War II be different?
As the war began, despite the promises of the White Paper, Britain made no move to form a representative government in Palestine. Instead, it tightened its grip over the country. Nonetheless, nine thousand Palestinians joined the British armies to fight against Germany. Some joined the other side. Haj Amin El-Husseini, the exiled leader of the Arab Higher Committee, made a bid to increase his power by cooperating with the Germans. Fleeing to Berlin, he made pro-Nazi radio broadcasts that emphasized British betrayal of the Arabs and promised Arab independence under the rising star of Germany. Husseini's path was followed by other Arab reactionaries. They thought it was better to curry favor with the likely winner of the imperial war than to break the grip of Europe over their countries. Haj Amin's small political party continued to operate in Palestine secretly, but his collaboration with the Nazis discredited him in the eyes of many Palestinians.
With most organizations shattered, people began to meet in small groups at their work-place or village to discuss the future of Palestine. The League of Arab Students, founded in Jerusalem during the war, proposed a program of fighting fascism, spreading progressive ideas among the people and teaching peasants to read. The League tried to unite around these goals with some Zionists it considered progressive. But the Zionists told them there could be no "common ground" with any Palestinians who opposed a Jewish state in Palestine.1
WWII: Turning Point for the Jewish State
The outbreak of World War II made many Zionists think their goal for Palestine might not be so distant. In 1938, David Ben-Gurion, who chaired the Jewish Agency in Palestine, predicted: "The First World War brought us the Balfour Declaration; the Second ought to bring us the Jewish State."2 He believed that the war would create the conditions for the Zionist movement to build up a Jewish majority in Palestine. Zionists knew that without a large Jewish population, there could be no Jewish state. Even if they could wrest control of Palestine from the British, a small Jewish population with even smaller landholdings would not be able to rule over the Arab majority. During the 1930s it had seemed likely that the wave of immigrants fleeing Hitler's attacks could soon create a Jewish majority. But Britain's 1939 White Paper cut off that immigration. In 1940, in a further effort to gain Arab support, Britain announced its policy of diverting Jewish refugees who tried to come to Palestine to "an alternative place of refuge in the Colonial Empire."3
Jewish refugees entering Palestine illegally
Zionists vowed to defeat this British policy. If it were allowed to stand and if Jews in other countries concentrated on pressuring their governments to admit Jews fleeing from Europe, the Zionist experiment would be doomed. Ben-Gurion had seen this as early as 1938. Describing how pre-occupation with rescuing Jews might hurt the work of building Jewish institutions in Palestine, he said:
In order to achieve their goal of a Jewish state, the Zionists focused on getting the refugees to Palestine and Palestine only. Jews who accepted Zionist help in escaping from Europe became caught in a vicious crossfire. The Zionists were bent on getting them to Palestine at any cost, and the British government was equally determined to settle them anywhere except in Palestine or Britain. The refugees became pawns in the clash between the Zionists and the British, sometimes with tragic results.
In 1940 the British discovered two steamships carrying 1,171 illegal immigrants toward the coast of Palestine. In line with the White Paper policy on immigration, the mandate authorities transferred the passengers to another ship, the S.S. Patria, and ordered them taken to Cyprus. On the morning of November 25, most of the Jewish population of Haifa stood crowded on the docks, watching the preparations. Suddenly, an explosion rocked the_Patria,_ and it sank in fifteen minutes. Two hundred fifty-two refugees and several Jewish police officers died.
Immediately, officers of the Jewish Agency announced that the refugees had sunk the Patria as an act of protest; they would rather die than be turned away from Palestine. This explanation dominated headlines around the world. The resulting international outcry forced Britain to allow the survivors to remain in Palestine.
A later commission of inquiry revealed a different chain of events. A commando group of the Irgun, a faction of the Zionist movement led by Menahem Begin, had been ordered by the Jewish Agency to plant a bomb on the ship to disable its engines. The commandos used too much explosive and sank the ship instead. The Jewish Agency invented the "mass suicide" story to cover up its role. The sinking of the Patria became a weapon in the Zionists' propaganda campaign against the British.5
Zionist Drive Turns to the U.S.
Stories like the Patria affair made good newspaper copy. They found a receptive audience in the United States where the Zionist movement was escalating its drive for support. With British support eroding, the Zionists needed a new imperial sponsor. Even before the war broke out, Ben-Gurion was convinced that the United States would play that role:
When the Zionists launched their organizing campaign in the United States, they demanded free immigration of Jews to Palestine, not to the United States. They knew that American leaders, whom they wanted to win to the Zionist cause, ad a consistently callous disregard for the plight of European Jews.
In the late 1930s, before the Nazis sealed their borders, thousands of German Jews had applied to immigrate to the United States. U.S. immigration quotas were set primarily to serve the demands of American corporations for cheap labor. In the depression years, American business had no need of more workers. thus, immigration officials turned away Jewish refugees unless they had money, a good job prospect and a "certificate of good conduct" from Nazi officials. Even these did not guarantee admission.
The economic depression also intensified racism and anti-Semitism among Americans. A Fortune magazine poll indicated that 15 percent of all Americans thought that "Germany would be better off if it drove away the Jews." The hate-filled radio broadcasts of Father Charles Coughlin blamed Jews for everything from strikes to lay-offs.7
In this environment, few American Jews spoke out against U.S. immigration policy. Zionism encouraged them to direct their attack at Britain. A Zionist historian, Robert Silverberg, observed:
The Jewish Labor Council, a group of progressive Jewish workers, was one of the few voices to challenge the "closed door" of the United States. Most Zionists were adamant about their loyalty to the United States and its policies. During the hearings on the Wagner Bill of 1939, which proposed admitting ten thousand German Jewish children to the United States, Rabbi Stephen Wise, a top Zionist leader, gave only timid testimony in its favor. He hastened to add his unconditional support for the current immigration laws:
As Zionism gained ground among American Jews in the first years of the war, it became more open about its final goal. The vague diplomatic language of the "national home" in Palestine disappeared. In May 1942 David Ben-Gurion arrived in New York to chair the Zionist Conference at the Biltmore Hotel. The six hundred delegates approved unanimously the "Biltmore Program" which demanded "the establishment of a Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine." For the first time since Herzl, the Zionist movement publicly stated its goal of a Jewish state.
Genocide in Europe: Who Can Be Saved?
In that same year, 1942, Adolph Hitler ordered what he called the "Final Solution" to the "Jewish problem": the murder of all European Jews. No longer did the Nazis harass and expel those they considered "racially unfit." The fascist storm-troopers began to round up Jews, Gypsies and Slavs and send them to concentration camps. In these grim slaughterhouses, efficient work crews exterminated millions of people in the next several years. Among them were most of Eastern Europe's Jews. The organized, political anti-Semitism that had festered inside the structure of European capitalist society since the Czar's pogroms, had reached its ultimate expression, genocide.
In the face of this vicious murder campaign, the Jews of Europe had to act. From the beginning of the war, some Jews had been active in the underground resistance against fascism. As the Nazis began the "Final Solution," building clandestine organizations became at once more difficult and more necessary. Jewish and non-Jewish resistance fighters organized underground escape routes to help Jews flee to safety. They tried to stockpile weapons for eventual use against the Nazis. They gathered intelligence on the Nazis' plans which they tried to share with the still disbelieving Jewish communities. Even as the Nazi death machine ground on, most European Jews did not know exactly what Hitler was doing. Up to the end of the war, many Jews boarded trains to the death camps unaware of their destination.
Jewish partisans at the barricades of Warsaw in 1944.
When they did know the true situation, they did not go peacefully. In 1943, in the Warsaw ghetto of Poland, Jewish fighters rose up against the Nazis who tried to evacuate them. They fought the Nazis for six months, hiding in bombed-out buildings and the maze of sewer tunnels below the city. German commanders recorded in their notes: "Over and over again we observed that Jews, despite the dangers of being burned alive, preferred to return to the flames rather than be caught by us."10 The Germans reported that, when surrounded, women came out with their guns blazing rather than surrender. Against impossible odds, Warsaw Jews fought to the end.
All along, they and the other underground resistance fighters of Europe hoped for direct aid from the Western Allies. It did not come. In 1944, the United States government refused to bomb the railroad tracks into Auschwitz and other concentration camps in order to save thousands of doomed people. A U.S. official said that such an operation would require "diversion of considerable air support" and would be of "doubtful efficacy."11 The United States made no effort to supply and assist the leftist partisans in occupied Europe.
The Zionist leadership in Palestine did little more. According to Uri Avnery, a contemporary Israeli politician who was then a member of the underground Stern Gang in Palestine:
But rescue and defense of Europe's Jews were not the Zionist priority. In 1943, the year of the Warsaw uprising, Itzhak Greenbaum, head of the Zionist Jewish Rescue Committee, declared:
When Zionist leaders faced a conflict between the needs of the Jewish state and the needs of Europe's Jews, they usually decided in favor of the Jewish state. Almost a half-million Hungarian Jews paid with their lives for one such decision.
Dr. Rudolf Kastner was the vice-president of the Zionist Organization in Budapest, Hungary, during the war. He had cooperated with the Nazis through all phases of their "Jewish program," including the "Final Solution." In the early period, when the Nazis favored expelling Jews, he had been able to arrange for some Jews to leave for Palestine with Nazi cooperation. Later, when the Nazis prepared to evacuate Hungary's Jews to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, they approached Kastner. If he would help coordinate the evacuation, they would allow him to select a fixed number of Jews to emigrate to Palestine. In her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt describes the bargain:
Dr. Kastner and his company of "prominent Jews" were able to go to Palestine. Unaware of their final destination, thousands and thousands of Jews who might otherwise have resisted, boarded the trains for Auschwitz.
As word of Nazi genocide trickled to the United States, it galvanized American Zionists into action. Zionist please for U.S. support of the Jewish state found a receptive audience, especially among government and business leaders. During the war, the U.S. government's interest in the Middle East and its oil had skyrocketed. By 1942, a year after America entered the war, C.L. Sulzberger of the New York Times was describing the Middle East as "the most important single geographic area of the war."15 Already U.S. leaders were intent on dislodging Britain from the region. The Zionists' anti-British campaign fit perfectly with their own plans.
Against the backdrop of Hitler's crimes in Europe, the Zionists were able to organize tremendous popular support for their cause. In the election year 1944, more than three thousand non-Jewish organizations, from church groups to labor unions, passed pro-Zionist resolutions. Telegrams and letters poured into Washington. Of the 534 members of Congress, 411 called for American approval of the Jewish state.
Many of the same anti-Semites who refused to open the doors of America to the Jewish refugees clamored for an open door to Palestine. Some critics of the Zionist goal questioned the ethics of making the Palestinians sacrifice their country for the sins of Europe and America. A Midwestern minister answered bluntly:
President Roosevelt, responding to strong corporate interest in the Middle East and growing public support for Zionism, pledged support for a Jewish state in Palestine if he was re-elected. But less than six months after his re-election, Roosevelt met with King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. Roosevelt told him that the United States would consult the Arabs before taking any action in Palestine. Clearly, the United States could not honor both pledges.
As the war drew to a close, fighting broke out in Palestine between the Zionists and the British. The Zionists intensified their campaign for American backing. The policy of the United States - now the most powerful nation in the world - had become a crucial factor in deciding the fate of Palestine.
A short history of the Andartiko, Greek Resistance partisans who fought fascist occupation. This article is highly uncritical and we disagree with some of it but reproduce it here for reference.
Its radical, democratic working class spirit was only put down after the Allied victory, by British forces and the Greek ruling class.
Nowhere in Europe was resistance as simple as good guys in the hills with rusty rifles, and bad guys wearing swastikas and burning villages, but Greece was particularly complex. Even the Italian decision to invade seems bizarre, motivated by a desire to counter German influence in Rumania. After the Italians were humiliated by the Greek Army and their allies, the Wehrmacht stepped in and broke the stubborn resistance in April 1941. Even that wasn't simple, the old Greek ruling class were never shy in showing their sympathy for Nazism, and defeatists in the army and government tripped over one another in the race to capitulate. One such turncoat – General George Tsolakoglu formed a quisling government, while the Germans turned over most of the occupation to the Italians.
At least in spirit, much of the Greek population immediately embraced resistance. The war effort against the Italians had been popular, and in the early days of occupation large crowds applauded lorry loads of British POWs who had fought with the Greek Army. Near the capital, two young men climbed the Acropolis one night and stole the swastika that the occupiers had hung there, dodging the Wehrmacht sentries as they fled. Graffiti was daubed across Athens mocking their conquerors; if the Italians wrote 'Vinceremo - M' (We Will Overcome - Mussolini), the locals added 'erda' to the M to make the Italian word for shit. Some acts were more than symbolic; saboteurs destroyed ships in Piraeus harbour and a munitions dump in Salonika in May. By the Autumn this hostility to the Fascists flickered into an insurrection as bands of fighters emerged in the mountains of Northern Greece, attacking German troops and transport links. These groups dispersed as heavy reprisals made their operations impossible. The Germans burned down villages and massacred peasants to frighten people out of aiding the insurgents. As the resistance dissipated, the horrors of occupation began: Bulgarian troops ethnically cleansed Thrace, sending thousands of refugees toward central Greece, in the German and Italian zones, food requisition, pillaging and looting fuelled a famine that would kill 300,000 people.
With the political elite in exile, the stage was set for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) to play a key role in the resistance movement. Communist activists were well-used to clandestine activity, having spent half a decade being persecuted by the pre-war Metaxas dictatorship, and started building networks soon after the surrender. Forming the National Liberation Front (EAM) in September. Mainstream politicians steered clear, preferring to wait for the outcome of the war, and to kow-tow to the Churchill-backed national government (headed by King George) now in Egypt. The EAM became a whirlwind of activity, establishing sections for civil servants, workers, women, students, school kids, as well as town and village committees. All this was hesitantly working toward April 1942 and the founding of the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS) and physical force resistance.
By this point the struggle was spreading: on 12 April a telegram clerk fainted from hunger in Athens, a common enough sight with the food shortages, but this time his colleagues sent a delegation to the office manager demanding larger food rations. He threatened them all with dismissal, so they walked out, and the strike spread rapidly elsewhere. Many were arrested, but the government eventually conceded their demands. However, with their comrades still imprisoned (and threatened with the death penalty) the stoppage continued until all were released. Meanwhile, bands of andartes (partisans) began campaigns in Central Greece. Threats of a 'civil mobilisation' that would force Greeks to work for the Axis, allowed the insurgents to raise the slogan “Mobilisation equals death: andartes everyone!” Increasingly they were able to convince people that the risks of insurgency were nothing besides the everyday suffering of starvation and deportation.
The ELAS continued to grow in strength in 1942, with German reprisals against villages exacerbating the food supply problems and forcing the survivors into the arms of the guerrillas. Early partisan groups were usually roaming bands of de-mobbed soldiers, raiding government warehouses, distributing food, destroying tax and debt rolls, and threatening tax collectors. Gradually the more effective groups came to join ELAS but remained relatively autonomous. By September attacks on Axis personnel were becoming frequent, often with hundreds, even thousands involved. By Spring 1943 the occupation wielded only precarious control in parts of the North East, the Centre and the South West, withdrawing entirely from some towns. The Andartiko (partisan movement) covered most of Greece by May, with 17,000 fighters in the field, rising to 30,000 in July.
The puppet government's control in the capital began to deteriorate at the beginning of 1943. For weeks, strikes and pickets would litter the city. The funeral of the nationalist poet Kostas Palamas became an opportunity to voice opposition. With Fascists among the mourners, to the face of their oppressors, speakers gave nationalist speeches, and the crowd began singing the national anthem, shouting 'long live Greece!' and 'long live Freedom!' On the 5th March 7,000 marched through Central Athens, with banners calling for the death of collaborators and denouncing civil mobilisation. As the parade reached Panepistimiou Street the Gendarmerie opened fire, killing 5 people. Resisters responded with a general strike and civil mobilisation was then withdrawn. This fury and the accompanying government violence continued; flowers marked bloodied spots around the city where fallen comrades had been shot, the streets became filled with people, waving the Greek flag, shouting patriotic slogans. Graffiti was daubed across the city asking, 'what you had done for the struggle today, patriot?' By Summer, strikes forced rises in wages, as well as supplies of food and clothing. The people became fearless, as the Italians walked down the streets, the people sang the national anthem or shouted abuse. On the 25th June the EAM called another general strike and mobilisation: 100,000 marched and were attacked by Italian soldiers, but such were their numbers they continued to the government building, shouting 'down with the Fascists', 'down with the traitors', and 'down with the Nazis'.
As the Andartiko grew they began liberating parts of the country, which were known as 'Free Greece.' This process had been accompanied by mass rejection of pre-war politics, with its mass poverty, corruption and clientalism. Liberated zones started governing themselves as autonomous communities, run by elected village committees, whose work was to be overseen by monthly mass meetings of all the villagers. These bodies oversaw the distribution of food, formed people's courts and provided supplies for the andartes. Increasingly they became drawn into complex questions surrounding land reform and communal rights. Taking their lead from the peasantry, the EAM sought to export the local self-government model across their zones and by 1944 most villages had a committee. The emerging 'people's democracy' in the countryside caused headaches for the Communists. On the one hand it was vital in a country with poor communications and scarce supplies that an effective form of administration could keep the war effort going. On the other, party ideology clashed with some conservative villagers, who were often determined to maintain long established gender relations (in which women's public roles were restricted), as well as deferential attitudes among the young. The EAM was also dependent on the support of some large landowners, who came under threat from squatters and threats of land re-distribution.
Ever larger numbers were politicised in 'the Organisation,' through schools, mutual aid organisations and village self-government. The trouble was that the KKE had very little idea what to do next. Increasingly the EAM looked simply to assert its authority within the resistance, establishing a secret police force and andartes courts to crack down of 'brigandage' and supporters of the anti-communist resistance or the British (who gave supplies to conservative groups of questionable military value). At this point the questions facing the KKE were simple: to strike out on their own for a revolution or to continue courting a popular front and take the reformist road to power. Soviet agents joined much of the leadership in promoting moderation, Stalin and Churchill had already carved up most of Southern Europe between them, and Greece was to be under British influence.
The guerrilla army itself was a complicated beast. Beginning as more of a collection of independent bands, only slowly did the process of 'armyfication' occur. Still, ELAS was never the Communist army that its opponents (and often its allies) liked to paint it. Individual groups tended to be led by charismatic kapetans, usually lacking any overt political allegiances, but generally sympathetic to the KKE. Figures like Aris Velouchiotis emerged as resistance heroes, and often resented the tendency of the EAM to foist ageing army officers and inappropriate tactics on their groups. Some would come to play a key role in the Civil War, continuing the fight when many of their political masters would not. The rank-and-file of their army were for the most part peasant smallholders and rural labourers. The minority were committed Communists, and most persisted with a rugged localism that had marked pre-war attitudes. Their politics were 'radical democracy'; looking for freedom from the Athenian ruling-class.
The occupiers by this point were changing tack. In April 1943 Ioannis Rallis, an old-school Monarchist, was appointed as head of the puppet government, a move designed to affirm anti-communist rather than Fascist principles. Rallis set about the creation of an auxiliary army to aid the Germans in attacking the EAM. Called the Security Battalions, many of their men were drawn from resistance groups which the EAM had forcibly disbanded, and who now sought revenge with the aid of German guns. In Patras, the survivors of EKKA, still in British uniforms, enlisted in the battalions and went on a rampage across the region. Such was the concern surrounding a 'Communist' victory in Greece that the government-in-exile and even some British officers considered co-operating with the Nazis in joint operations. Those conservative resistance groups that were still functioning were ambivalent as to which were the greater threat – the Communists or the Nazis – with some of their members active within the battalions. The British for their part had ceased to broadcast negative opinions about these collaborators. Meanwhile the battalions engaged in some of the worst brutality of the war, their ill-disciplined troops engaging in widespread rape, theft and murder. Death squads operated in the North, where the anti-communist groups roamed towns and villages committing random acts of violence.
In the capital, ELAS's small fighting force now exerted effective control in parts of the city. In Kokkinia they managed to clear out the gendarmes and battalionists in the quarter, which eventually triggered 1944's wave of repression. A fight with a gendarmerie lieutenant who refused to surrender his revolver ended with the officer being shot dead. The following day, 1,000 gendarmes and Security Battalionists raided the area. Greek auxiliaries rounded up hundreds of people, shooting 4 EAM suspects in front of the barber shop where the Lieutenant had been killed. After this, 'bloccos' or round-ups became routine in the capital, where hundreds were detained, and EAMists shot on the spot. The SS became involved and those rounded up were deported to the Haidari concentration camp. Special Security, an SS trained branch of the Gendermarie, roamed the 'red quarters' terrorising the inhabitants and carrying out executions. Every morning fresh bodies appeared, usually the work of the collaborators. ELAS responded in kind, with the assassination of political figures and security service personnel.
In September 1944 as the Red Army threatened to cut them off, German morale collapsed. Gradually troops were withdrawn from various parts of the country, allowing the EAM and ELAS to liberate new towns and cities. Battalion units still held on in some towns, refusing to surrender to the andartes, preferring to stick it out and wait for the British to come. As they were defeated by the insurgents, the enraged communities they terrorised often carried out brutal reprisals. Meanwhile, the EAM set out to restore order rather than seize power, though the de-centralised nature of their army meant some bands behaved with more moderation than others. Athens was liberated on October 12th and celebrations embraced everything; Greek flags, red flags, singing the Marseillaise and the Internationale, even priests chanting the EAM slogan – 'Laokratia' (People's Democracy). When the British arrived, they too were greeted with enthusiasm, like elsewhere showered with kisses and flowers.
Yet politically, the capital was rapidly being turned into a tinderbox, ready to ignite. The government of national unity invited former collaborators into its ranks, even heading the particularly sensitive security services. Churchill had prepared his troops for war with the ELAS (who he expected to try and seize power), and tension continued to rise in the city, as workers and youth pressed their grievances in the streets. Returning after liberation an exiled Greek leader had his landmark speech constantly interrupted by the crowd shouting 'LA-OK-RA-TIA' over and over again, finally urging them to quiet by saying “I'm not here to talk about laokratia.” Finally on December 2nd, the EAM broke with the national government after negotiations over disarming the andartes broke down. The following day, the police opened fire on an EAM demonstration. Their supporters responded by attacking police stations, and the city was pitched into open warfare (the Dekemvriana). This caught resistance leaders off-guard and left them once again without a plan. British troops now set out to clear the city in 2 to 3 days, but were still fighting over a month later, finally reaching a ceasefire on 11 January. ELAS snipers turned central Athens into a 'little Stalingrad', and after failing to retake the city with ground troops, the British resorted to strafing apartment blocks and wooded areas from the air.
Churchill was unrepentant, falsely claiming that the EAM had sought to seize power and had to be put down, even though the partisans had spurned a better chance of victory before Allied troops arrived. British forces then rounded up 15,000 leftists, deporting 8,000 of them, with ELAS responding by seizing thousands of wealthy Greeks. The tragic struggle in Athens broke the EAM. The agreement they came to with the British forced most of the guerrillas to turn in their weapons, with only a minority refusing and taking to the hills. Aris – one of the most prominent Kapetans – led one band that refused; he was eventually caught and beheaded. A White Terror gripped Greece as the newly formed National Guard (mostly ex-Security Battalionists) set about persecuting the EAM. War-crimes went unpunished, as former guerrillas were arrested, sometimes for acts of resistance; by the end of 1945 ten times as many resistance fighters as collaborators had been convicted, a trend that was to worsen with the beginning of the Civil War. Even in the 1960s Greek jails still held people whose only crime was fighting Nazism.
The tragedy of the Andartiko was that it placed brave resistance fighters between so many obstacles. After successfully fighting the Nazis, guerrilla fighters who wanted to create a true Laokratia still had to overcome the imperialist interests of both the British and the Soviets, the scheming of their own capitalist class, as well as the provocative brutality of former collaborators who were now 'saving the country from communism'. A dirty trail of collaboration with Nazi terror stretched through the Security Battalions and conservative resistance groups, to the puppet government, pre-war politicians, and ultimately the British and Soviets. The resistance's own leaders, directionless without guidance from Moscow, timid to the point of suicide, left their fighters to face the guns of the British, whilst they tried to come to a compromise with the status quo. A revolution in Greece might well have been no prettier than those that occurred in Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia. Yet the betrayal of the Greek resistance (and the genuinely progressive values for which many of its participants stood) stands as a testament to the pre-cold war machinations of the capitalist democracies, as well as the counter-revolutionary practice of Stalinism.
April 1945, The Canadian army is about to liberate the Dutch city of Deventer. The bridges across the canal nearby are important for the liberators. The Germans were planning to blow up these bridges before they would retreat, a resistance group tried to prevend this. The small armed group would stop the soldiers if they tried to blow up the bridges.
Eight members waited in the old oil factory ‘Twentol’, close by the bridge. We should never forget their names;
C. (Corry) van Baalen – Bosch (2-8-25) J.W.W. (Jos Wesland) van Baalen (22-9-22) J.J. (Jaap) Bennebroek Evertsz’ (8-9-23) L.H.Z. (Zeger) baron van Boetzelaer (11-9-21)* D.J. (Derk Jan) Bruggeman (28-2-04) H.E.R.O. (Harry) Engels (13-9-19) J.H.L. (Jan) van Gennep Luhrs (14-6-20) M. (Martinus) Woertman (25-7-24)
The young comrades in arms knew each other from college, studying in the local school. Here they joined the resistance, as many other students did as well. They risked everything, the Germans killed many people for small acts of resistance and these friends were involved in armed resistance. They were a very close group, hanging out together all the time. Jos and Corry fell in love and married at the end of march 1945, knowing the liberation was nearby.
When Canadian troops approached the city the shelling started, canons and tanks fired at the area for many days. On the 8th of april 1945 the resistance group took up position in the Lubrication Oil factory Twentol. They were all armed and nobody was afraid to use their weapons. But because of the shelling and heavy fighting nearby the oiltanks near the factory caught fire. There was a lot of thick black smoke and soon the group discovered the Germans had already blown up one of the bridges nearby. They werent sure what to do next but decided to stay and wait for the Canadians so they could assist the liberators.
Gerard, one of the members of the group, went out to see what was happening in the area, a German spotted him and tried to arrest him, but the thick smoke prevented this, Gerard wanted to return to his friends in the factory but the fire nearby made this dangerous and the area was crawling with Germans, his return might betray the whole group. He had no choice and left his friends, it would save his life.
On the 11th of april much of Deventer was being shelled by the Canadians, part of the city was already liberated, but the Germans kept fighting back. Nobody knows why but on that day a group of Germans entered the Twentol Factory looking for something, did someone tell them about the students hiding there? Corry, her husband Jos, Jaap, Harry and Marinus were chased out of the building, Jan had died earlier by a stray bullet. The heavily armed soldiers pushed the five towards the road. The officer, according eyewitnesses a tall man with curly hair, told them to stop.by a little playground.
Here he told them they were to be executed. From where they were standing they probably could have seen the Canadian tanks on the horizon, how could they stall time, the liberation couldnt have been more then an hour away. The officer pointed out a soldier to be part of the firing squad, the soldier refused, he thought it was senseless, the Canadians were around the corner. Without any hesitation the officer shot his own soldier for refusing this order. They then started shooting the young Dutch students, Corry was the first to die. She was shot in her right temple, the others soon followed. Only Harry survived the execution, the Germans didnt notice him moving and quickly marched away, towards the Canadian lines. The officer was never tracked down.
As soon as the Germans left people living nearby rushed forwards to help Harry, but he died later. Within 45 minutes of the execution Deventer was liberated. Six young people, murdered less then an hour before the liberation. They were burried on april 14th. Gerard was there, 23 years old and the only survivor, saying goodbye to his friends and comrades together with thousands of people from Deventer. Derk Jan was found a week later, badly burned by one of the burning oil tanks.
The playground is now gone, the area is called ´Twentolplein´, Twentol Square. There is a monument by a busy road, not a very nice quiet place to remember this drama. But its not forgotten, every year on may 4th, national rememberance day, people of Deventer come to this monument.
Comrades-in-arms and relatives Saturday honoured a largely-forgotten Polish World War II resistance leader, 65 years after he was killed by the Nazis.
Elderly veterans who remembered Ludwik Berger as an inspiration, and young family members who never knew him, gathered on the Warsaw street where was gunned down trying to escape an identity check on November 22, 1943.
"He served Poland to the end of his life, a life that was heroic and all too short," Krzysztof Dunin-Wasowicz, 85, said before a flag-bearing honour guard marched past.
Berger, who died aged 32, was a founder of Baszta (Bastion), a resistance unit created after Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 at the start of World War II.
Polish World War II resistance leader Ludwik Berger (L) walks with his cousin Eugeniusz Berger in this undated photograph taken in Poland in the early 1930s. Berger, who died at the age of 32, was a founder of Baszta (Bastion), a resistance unit created after Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 at the start of World War II. It was part of the Home Army, commanded by the Polish government-in-exile based in London. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
The Home Army was a highly-secret movement -- and with a front job as an allotment manager, Berger was only known by his codename Goliat (Goliath). Baszta started with a few dozen youthful members, gathering intelligence and preparing for battle against the brutal occupiers.
It grew into a 2,300-strong force that played a crucial role in the 1944 Warsaw uprising, an unsuccessful two-month revolt before the Germans retreated from the advancing Soviets, who installed a communist regime.
The only memorial to Berger is a plaque put up in 1983 by Dunin-Wasowicz, who was in the resistance with him and has just published a short biography.
"His story needs to be told," said Ewa Malinowska-Grupinska of Warsaw city council, which has decided to name a street after him.
In the 1970s, Dunin-Wasowicz pushed for a Ludwik Berger Street but ran into a wall of bureaucracy.
The role of non-communist resistance fighters like Berger, a socialist, was brushed aside for political reasons in post-war Poland.
The situation has changed radically since communism fell in 1989, but only a few leaders have regained widespread public recognition, mostly those who fought in 1944.
"The reason he is not as widely known as other Home Army commanders is that he died young," said Julian Kulski, 79, who had been in a pre-war boy scout troop led by Berger and was his resistance runner.
"Ludwik trained us and inspired us to heights of performance which we remembered and used later during the awful 63 days of the uprising," Kulski, who now lives in the United States, told AFP by email.
Berger also helped resistance groups inside the Warsaw ghetto, where the Nazis hadcrammed 450,000 Jews -- most of whom were later killed in the Treblinka death camp northeast of Warsaw -- supplying arms for an ill-fated 1943 uprising there.
Berger's resistance continued a deep-rooted tradition.
He was born in 1911 to a family of socialist independence fighters -- at the time Poland was ruled by the Austrian, German and Russian empires, and only won freedom when they collapsed at the end of World War I in 1918.
An actor and theatre director before the war, Berger stoked his troops' morale with patriotic poetry recitals celebrating past heroism.
"He said we should give everything for Poland," said Berger's son Marek Berger, 73. "They were some of his greatest deliveries."
Kulski said the mental skills Berger taught him were crucial.
"During the torture and interrogation, which were meant to elicit from me the whereabouts of Ludwik, I did not succumb, thanks only to Ludwik's detailed training and foresight in the event I were to be captured," he said.
LYON, France -- A sullen Klaus Barbie, ordered back to court Tuesday, sat stoically as aging French Resistance fighters looked him in the eyes and identified him as the Butcher of Lyon, who tortured and deported them in World War II.
Barbie, led handcuffed into the packed courtroom for his first appearance at his trial on alleged crimes against humanity since May 13, refused to respond to five former Resistance members who took the witness stand. He is charged with the deportation, torture or murder of nearly 800 Jews or Resistance fighters in 1943 and 1944. I recognize him formally, completely formally, said Lucien Margaine, 67, arrested in Lyon in May 1944 and allegedly interrogated and tortured for a week by Barbie before her deportation to the Dachau concentration camp.One cannot be mistaken, she said. Look at that grin. You cannot forget it is not a sane man.
Presiding Judge Andre Cerdini, who earlier in the day ordered Barbie to appear in court, told police to bring Barbie from St. Joseph`s Prison to the court, then asked the defendant if he had anything to say. I would like to make a statement, Barbie responded in German. I am being held in an illegal manner and I am the victim of a kidnapping and I am hereby forced.
Barbie was reiterating his claim that his 1983 expulsion from Bolivia, where he had found refuge from prosecution for over 30 years, to France, was illegal. Cerdini stopped him before he could go any further: I did not give you authorization to make a statement. You are reading a text prepared in advance. You don`t have the right. Answer my question.
I will respond to nothing, said Barbie, who was dressed in a dark business suit and sat unsmiling through the entire procedure. Cerdini then asked Margaine if Barbie was the man who told him when he was deported: Where you are going you will not be coming back.
Margaine responded: Yes, and with the same air he has right now.I have nothing to say, Barbie repeated. He reacted like an SS, Margaine added as a burst of applause erupted, prompting Cerdini to call for silence.
Next came Mario Blardone, 67, who was arrested and tortured along with Margaine. I recognize him formally, he said. I want to look him in the eyes. His eyes, his mouth.You understand French, Blardone yelled at Barbie. I know you do. Cowardice. Cowardice.
I have nothing to say, Barbie responded.
I recognize him. He is false to the core, said gray-haired Robert Clor, 65, who earlier testified he was arrested by Barbie in May 1944 and tortured, notably by dunking in a bathtub to the point of drowning.
"One must know who is to marry: either marry the army, when in a combat unit, or marrying a woman. I thought that I was normal, it is better to marry a woman. I wanted to make it even generations after me when my whole family died. "
Peter Bachrach was born on 5 February 1929 in Bielsko in Polish Upper Silesia in the Czech Jewish and German-speaking family. After the outbreak of World War II in 1939 fled to Slovakia, where until 1942 he attended a Jewish school.
The whole family, to the paternal uncle, was transported to concentration camps, where they all perished. The same fate was to catch and Peter Bachrach. However, he proved in 1943 from a transport train to escape and hide in the mountains.
After some time he joined the local guerrillas, with whom participated in a series of operations in the Slovak National Uprising. After the arrival of the Red Army was mobilized into the army, where he remained until the end of the war. Then an army lieutenant left. After the war he trained as a mechanic and passed the graduation exam.
After the establishment of Israel, he joined the Palmach and fought in Israel's War of Independence. Although in 1952 he left the army was deployed as a reservist still in Sinai (1956), Six-Day (1967) and Yom Kippur War (1973). In 1982 he participated in Operation Peace for Galilee, where he killed one of his sons. In Bohemia, 1990-2005 lived, but then returned to Israel, he considers his home.
was a Dutchcommunistresistance fighter during World War II. She became known as the girl with the red hair (in Dutch_Het meisje met het rode haar_, also the title of a book and film about her). Her secret name in the resistance movement was Hannie.
She joined the Raad van Verzet, a resistance movement that had close ties to the Communist Party of the Netherlands. Her motivation to join the communists was that they were at least resisting actively. With her friend Truus she carried out various attacks on Germans, collaborators and traitors. She learned to speak German fluently and got involved with German soldiers. Some resistance members considered her a traitor for that.
After a sub-department of the Raad van Verzet in Velsen killed a farmer, without authorization from the groups' leaders, Hannie brought a list of names of the ones who did that to her leaders. Afterwards the named people on this list were given to the Sicherheitsdienst, which meant a certain death. Most likely Hannie did not know the result her action would have. After the war this episode was investigated by a special commission.
Hannie Schaft was hated by the German occupiers, because just before the end of the war she carried out various attacks that were pointless in the eyes of the Germans. She was arrested in Haarlem while distributing the illegal communist newspaper de Waarheid. Although at the end of the war there was an agreement between the occupier and the Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten to stop executions, she was shot dead three weeks before the end of the war in the dunes of Bloemendaal. Two men took her there and one shot close range, only wounding her. She supposedly said to her executioners: "I shoot better than you", after which the other man delivered the final shot.
After the war, in these dunes the remains of 422 resistance people were found, 421 men and one woman, Hannie Schaft. She was reburied at the honorary cemetery at the dunes in Overveen in the presence of princess Juliana and her husband prince Bernard. Later, as queen, Juliana unveiled a bronze commemorative statue in the Kenau Park in nearby Haarlem, her birth place. Hannie Schaft also received the 'Wilhelmina resistance cross' and a US decoration.
Shortly after the war, the communist movement enjoyed popularity, partly because of the effort of the USSR in defeating the Nazis. However, with that country's increasing influence in Eastern Europe, the popularity decreased. Because the Dutch communist party celebrated her as an icon, her popularity decreased too, to the point that the commemoration at Hannie's grave was forbidden in 1951. The commemorators (who were estimated to number over 10,000) were stopped by several hundred police and military with the aid of 4 tanks. A group of seven managed to circumvent the blockade and reached the burial ground, but were arrested when they tolled the bell. From the next year on, the communists decided to prevent another such scene by holding their commemoration in Haarlem instead.
A number of schools and streets were named after her. For her, and other resistance-heroines, a foundation has been created; the Stichting Nationale Hannie Schaft-herdenking. A number of books and movies have been made about her. She features in De Aanslag by Harry Mulisch, also released as a movie directed by Fons Rademakers. Ineke Verdoner wrote a song about her. Author Theun de Vries wrote a biography of her life, which has inspired the movie Het Meisje met het Rode Haar by Ben Verbong featuring Renee Soutendijk as Hannie Schaft. She is remembered each year in November during a national event held in Haarlem
"Symbol of the Resistance" It is the evening of 17 April 1945. A truck leaves the Huis van Bewaring, a prison on the Amstelveenseweg in Amsterdam. The truck contains a Dutch driver, three German soldiers and the Dutch detective, Maarten Kuijper.
These men form the escort for one prisoner, a young Dutch woman of 24. They drive to the German Ortskommandantur in Haarlem where a soldier of the Feldgendarmerie (Gefreiter) equipped with a shovel gets in. The truck moves off again and the new man gives directions to the beach at Overveen, a few miles away. The truck stops near the beach where a path leads into the sand dunes.
Kuijper and the German, Mattheus Schmitz, lead their prisoner into the dunes, the man with the shovel bringing up the rear. Schmitz, who is walking a few paces behind the girl, draws his pistol and fires, she cries out in pain but does not fall. Kuijper, seeing she has a wound to the head but is still standing, levels his machine pistol and takes his turn. This time the bullets find their mark and the young woman falls dead.
Kuijper then helps the Gefreiter bury the body in a shallow grave, they are keen to be done with their work and in their haste long strands of red hair are left protruding from the sand.
Hannie Schaft 1920-1945
The Hannie Schaft Monument in Haarlem The incident described above took place less than a month before the liberation of Holland and concerns the final hours of Haarlem-born resistance fighter Hannie Schaft. She had been arrested three weeks earlier at a checkpoint in Haarlem Noord for possession of underground pamphlets and a pistol. Her arrest and subsequent murder brought to an end one of the most heroic and gripping stories of WW2.
Jannetje Johanna Schaft (Hannie was an alias she assumed during the war) was born on 16 September 1920 in Haarlem. Her father, Pieter Schaft, had trained as a teacher and her mother, Aafje, had given up her career when they were married. When Jo, as she was known to friends and family, was seven, her older sister, Annie, died which resulted in her mother becoming over-protective of her remaining daughter. The family lived a close-knit and isolated existence, entertaining themselves at home with books and discussions about the political issues of the day.
Despite her somewhat unusual upbringing, Hannie Schaft was a good student and after much hard work she obtained a place at the Gemeente University in Amsterdam where she began her studies in 1938. At first her parents insisted she live at home and commute but eventually she took a flat in Amsterdam with two fellow students. She began to study hard for a degree in law and in her spare time was involved in the founding of a new university debating society.
On 10 May 1940, German forces crossed the Dutch border and after four days of fighting, culminating in the bombardment of Rotterdam, Holland capitulated and the occupation began. Initially, little changed for Hannie Schaft but she was disgusted by recent events and alarmed by the presence of German troops on the streets. This period of relative normality soon came to an end when in October 1940 the persecution of the Dutch Jews began.
During the next two years Hannie Schaft became involved in minor acts of resistance against the authorities. It began with stealing identity cards from public places (the swimming baths was a favourite location) to help keep her Jewish friends out of the hands of the Germans. Later she progressed to stealing weapons from German soldiers and distributing underground pamphlets. When the German authorities finally demanded that all students sign a declaration of loyalty, she refused and abandoning her studies returned permanently to Haarlem.
In 1943 she joined the communist-leaning resistance group, the Raad van Verzet. Her duties included gathering information for the allies, helping fugitives and distributing underground pamphlets. What set her apart from many other women involved in illegal organisations though was her willingness to take part in dangerous activities usually carried out only by men.
Two close associates of Hannie Schaft who also fell into this category were the sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegen. Although they were even younger than Hannie, they were destined to take part in many dangerous missions together. These included weapon transports, sabotage and the liquidation of collaborators.
Those targeted for assassination were usually Dutch citizens who had allied themselves with the Germans and were actively involved in the betrayal of their fellow countrymen. The RVV saw it as their duty to stop these people by the only means available to them under the prevailing circumstances - liquidation.
It was during one of these missions that Hannie's close friend and fellow resistance fighter Jan Bonekamp was fatally wounded and captured by the Germans. Before his death Bonekamp was tricked into revealing the identity of Hannie Schaft who, until then, had been known only as 'the girl with the red hair'. From that time on she was forced to assume a false identity and wear a disguise including dying her hair black and wearing a pair of false, horn-rimmed glasses.
Despite the trauma of Bonekamp's death and a shot wound to the leg, Hannie Schaft later resumed her resistance work as the German occupation took on an even more brutal character, culminating in the starvation winter of '44-45. On 21 March 1945, Hannie Schaft was captured by the Germans at a check-point in Haarlem Noord. Feverish rescue plans were made by her fellow resistance fighters, all of which came to nothing.
At first her captors did not realise who she was but when the red roots of her hair began to show they were left in no doubt as to her identity. She was held in Amsterdam until her fateful last ride to the sand dunes of Overveen.
Hannie Schaft was given a state funeral at the Erebegraafplaats on 27 November 1945 in the presence of Queen Wilhelmina who called her the "symbol of the Resistance".
Much has been made of Hannie Schaft's communist sympathies but this should be seen in the context of the times. People who had experienced many years of economic failure and hardship were then faced with the threat of brutal, fascist dictatorship. Many communist sympathisers of that time were later to adjust their opinions in the light of the cold war and the revelation of the true nature of the Soviet regime.
It was because of this that the memory of Hannie Schaft became something of a political football during the cold war years. She was turned into an icon by the Dutch communist party, which in turn alienated many war veterans. It was not until 1982 that a monument in her honour was unveiled in the Kenau park in Haarlem.
The Bielski Brothers Jewish Resistance and the “Otriad”
The Bielski Partisans
Prior to the onset of WWII, conditions throughout occupied Poland & Belarus varied greatly. In some areas, especially in eastern Poland, which the Soviet Union invaded in 1939, and subsequently “formally” annexed, the situation was particularly volatile.
During the two year occupation till the Soviet-German war outbreak in 1941, the Soviets carried out the ethnic cleansing of Poles considered as a potential threat to full annexation of these territories into Soviet Union.
Hundred of thousands of Polish officials, officers, soldiers, policemen, teachers, churchmen, landowners, and civilians with their families were sent to Siberian concentration camps.
Some Jews had welcomed the Soviets as liberators, believing that life under the communists might be preferable to that of the Poles. However time would soon disprove that theory.
Novogrudek Market Place 1941
Charles Bedzow from Lida, a city northeast of Novgrudek said the following:
“I remember we were very happy that the Russians liberated us from the anti-Semitic government of Poland, and we were happy that the Germans didn’t occupy our area of Belarus, but when the Russians came in, right away they took away my father’s business. I was forced to go to a Russian school, instead of the Tarbut. The Russians forced my father to work for them. He was sweeping the floors because he was a capitalist, a bourgeois. He worked in his own store as a laborer...”
In the village of Stankevich, Belarus, Tuvia Bielski was sound asleep when the sounds of gunfire woke him from his slumber. From his window he could see smoke and burning buildings. Everywhere in the streets he could see people were running in a mad panic for any type of shelter they could find.
It was the month of June 1941 and Nazi Germany along with its Axis allies invaded the Soviet Union and all of eastern Poland and present-day Belarus territory was soon to be occupied by the Germans within two months.
Shortly after the invasion citizens were informed that any and all “generosity toward Jews was to be stopped immediately.” This policy would come as no surprise to the Jews of eastern Europe who had been oppressed in countless ways throughout their entire history in the region. Life under the Germans would be no different.
The Nazis imposed a brutal racist regime, burning down some 9,000 Belarusian villages, deporting some 380,000 people for slave labor, and millions of civilians. At least 9,000 Belarusian settlements were destroyed by the Nazis. Over 5295 settlements were burned with their entire population and some or all their inhabitants killed. Almost the whole Jewish population of Belarus which did not initially evacuate was killed.
The Bielski family were millers, successful farmers and entrepreneurs. The brothers - Tuvia, Zus and Aasel were to lose their parents and siblings to the cruelty of the Nazis, which began with the creation of ghettos and led on to mass slaughters such as one in which 5,500 people were herded to the outskirts of Lida and machine-gunned into large trenches. There were three trenches for children. Nazi commanders were observed shooting children with their pistols.
The surviving Bielski family member became the de facto leaders of a resistance movement that started when they were forced to flee their home. But the Bielskis were more than that. These were all men of incredible will and personal strength who were born to lead others. They insisted on absolute obedience from anyone who wanted to join them, and their credo became not merely to resist, but to save lives.
The guiding philosophy of Tuvia Bielski and other leaders of the Jewish resistance was that all Jews must be protected. Saving Jews superseded taking revenge against the Germans. Women, children and the elderly were accepted in the unit, including Jewish refugees who had fled other partisan units or the ghettos.
The younger men in the unit took incredible risks on food missions to assure that everyone in the unit would have food. What point could there be in resistance if they left any Jew behind?
They urged friends, neighbors and then strangers to escape the ghettos and join them in the forest. Those who answered the call were the fortunate few – in all about 1,200 – who survived, despite harsh weather and a state of continual vigilance and warfare. The resistors joined forces, not always completely amicably, with the Soviets who were attempting to regain the territory and who had, or claimed to have, a humanitarian tolerance for Jews.
Constantly moving the community to new forest locations to avoid detection over the years, something that became more and more difficult as the population grew to about a thousand people, the Bielskis found themselves fighting on four fronts and they were never “safe.” The immediate threat was from the Germans and the local police, but they were also in danger from local peasants, many of them collaborators, who were willing to turn them in, rather than supply them with food.
They had to be constantly on the alert, they made connections with the Russian partisans, to whom they appeared sufficiently “Communist” and to these men they did not reveal their adherence to Jewish traditions, which would have made Tuvia’s important relationship with the partisans suspect. Most of all, they had to guard against internal dissension. The group was far from a “utopian community of enlightened democratic and egalitarian governance,” and were forced to extremes measures in order to eliminate dissension and ensure the survival of the group as a whole.
By the early spring of 1942, the brothers managed to form what was called an Otriad (a partisan detachment), which initially consisted of their immediate surviving relatives and close friends. Over the next three years, approximately 1200 Jews came into their Otriad. In contrast to Russian partisan units and many of the other Jewish units that restricted participation to young men capable of fighting, the Bielskis took in any Jew who sought their help and actively helped liberate Jews from nearby ghettos to join the unit.
There were enormous strains of life in the forest that the Otriad dealt with on a daily basis. Women needed to worry about their basic survival. Unattached women faced more dangers than those with lovers, and, on several occasions, women took lovers for the express purpose of gaining safety. There were very few children in the community. Women were often encouraged to have abortions in order to prevent extra burdens on the Otriad resources.
At its height, the Otriad camp consisted of long, camouflaged dugouts for sleeping, a large kitchen, a mill, a bakery, a bathhouse, two medical facilities, a tannery, a school, a jail, and a theater. Tailors, seamstresses, shoemakers, watchmakers, carpenters, mechanics, and experts in demolition provided the 1200-member community with necessary skills, and about sixty cows and thirty horses provided food and transportation.
Many of the men served as part of the armed contingent which secured food and engaged in sabotage and even the murder of Germans officials, while many others, including the women, the elderly, and the handicapped received the benefits of the community which protected them, despite the difficulties they presented when it was necessary to travel to new locations.
The Bielski partisans were also affiliated with Soviet partisans in the vicinity of the Naliboki Forest under General Platon, and several attempts by Soviet partisan commanders to absorb Bielski fighters into their units were resisted. This meant that the Jewish partisan group retained its integrity and remained under Tuvia Bielski’s command, allowing him to continue his dedication to protect Jewish lives along with engaging in combat activity.
Tuvia Bielski reflects on a visit by Soviet Partisan General Platon:
At the time of our visit, Bashitz the blacksmith was busy manufacturing the upper parts of rifle breeches, very delicate work indeed. This made an impression on Platon and he asked for more information about the work.
Then Platon interjected: “Many breeches Comrade, to attack the German fascists!”
We stopped next to the empty jailhouse, and the visitor wanted to know if there was anything else to see in the camp. “No”, I told him, “these are the flowers. The fruit is still to come.”
I took him to see the tannery, where Orkovitz from Baranovitch was in charge. His assistant was Muksay, and they worked with a dozen people. There were six wooden tanks full of hides. With the final product we produced soles and other leather goods. Platon was amazed at the ingenuity - and all within the confines of the forest.
Then we moved to the bakery where the ovens were full of bread. Mordecai Gershovitz from Lida, a noted baker, was in charge, but Platon was even more surprised when he saw our sausage factory. So I said to him, “Visit us often and we will be glad to share our bounty with you.”
From there I took our guest to show him our food stores, where we had a three-day supply of bread, meat, and two kilograms of rusks per person. Small bags of dried produce were hanging on the walls. The guest sampled several of the products.
Then we moved on to the soap-making workshop, and he requested that we send soap to his headquarters. From there we went to the slaughterhouse. There were two ritual slaughterers, Rabbi David Brook from Novogrudok and an old man from Varnuva. They had prepared the knives and they deemed them completely kosher.
_We moved to the flourmill and met with the miller Reznick. Finally, the last stop - where we witnessed the production of resins from the barks of the fir trees for use in the tannery. Shmuel Mikolitzky from Novogrudok was the expert in charge of the process. _
“Is it possible that you are making vodka here?” Platon asked.
Partisans operating in the forest of Belarus
The Bielski Partisans felt it necessary to ruthless in order to ensure their survival. Collaborators who turned in partisans to Nazi authorities were executed after cursory investigation. A group of German soldiers who surrendered to the Bielskis were summarily executed, presumably because there was no way for the partisans to keep prisoners in the field, but also because many partisans, who had suffered the loss of family at the hands of the Nazis, frankly sought revenge.
Ruthlessness sometimes extended to their own: In at least one instance, Zus Bielski executed one of his own officers for leaving a civilian behind, because the Bielski partisans maintained a non-negotiable policy of protecting Jewish civilians.
Group portrait of former Bielski partisans from Nowogrodek taken in the Foehrenwald displaced persons' camp
"It was during that summer in the zamek that roughly forty of us younger persons — many of whom had gotten to know one another in the Hashomer Hatzair [the labor-oriented Zionist youth organization] — began to attempt to organize some sort of resistance.
We ranged in age from roughly sixteen to thirty. The majority were men, but there were some women as well. In any ordinary sense, our situation was completely hopeless.
We had no weapons except for rocks, bottles, and a few knives. We were completely outnumbered and surrounded by a trained German military force supported loyally by the local population. But then again, we had no expectation that we would live beyond the next few weeks or months.
Why not resist when the alternative was death at a time and place chosen by the Nazis? Desperation was what drove us, along with the desire for revenge.
Our families had been butchered and piled into nameless graves. The thought of taking at least a few German lives in return was a powerful incentive."-Izik Sutin Mir, Poland 1942
The Bielski partisans were later accused of war crimes on the neighboring population; particularly for involvement in the massacre of 128 people in the Polish village of Naliboki. They were also charged by Polish officials of numerous cases of armed robbery and looting.
Despite their survival method, more than 1000 “Bielski Jews” emerged triumphantly from their forest encampment as a testimony to their resistance to the Nazi tyranny and campaign of murder. Few of the former Otriad were then eager to stay behind in the Soviet Union, many migrated to the United States, Israel and other countries in Western Europe.
Tuvia Bielski sank into obscurity although those he rescued continued to admire him. He first settled first in Israel, where he owned a taxi. Later, he moved to the United States, where he drove a truck; he owned two trucks by the end of his career. Until the end of his life, he thought of his years in the Otriad as the most important time of his life.
Rural Võru County was the site of a memorial service and burial over the weekend for three Estonian resistance fighters - known as "Forest Brothers" - who fought Soviet occupation forces after WWII.
Relatives of Kalju Tiits, Aksel Pallav and Erna Tatrik gathered to remember the three men, whose remains were only discovered recently. The three Forest Brothers are believed to have been killed and buried in an unmarked mass grave by the Soviet authorities.
The number of resistance fighters battling the occupying army during those particular Võrumaa battles in 1946 was roughly a dozen men and women. Some of the longest and fiercest resistance to Soviet forces happened in this part of southern Estonia, lasting several years after the end of WWII. "We really knew nothing about the missing, and our mother and father couldn't find out anything during their lifetimes," said Mati Tiits, brother of Kalju Tiits. "So they died not knowing where their son was [buried]." Mass Grave Believed to Contain Bodies of 'Forest Brothers'
Published: 26.08.2011 08:59
Two days of excavation by forensic researchers and historians near Võru, a town in southern Estonia, has recently uncovered a mass grave dating back to the post-World War II period.
The burial site contains the bodies of 10 men, all of whom died of gunshots or blunt-force trauma. The men are believed to have been members of Estonia's post-war anti-Soviet resistance, probably killed by officers of the NKVD, the Soviet secret police organization under Stalin.
The Estonian resistance - the so-called "Forest Brothers" - held out longest in the Võru region. They fought Soviet occupation into the late 1940s and early 1950s, until they were hunted down and killed. The mass grave was discovered near a road that was built through the forest in the 1970s. Since that forest was the site of one of the last big resistance battles in 1953, and since the NKVD issued orders to bury resistance fighters in secret graves, researchers believe that they have uncovered a decades-old murder scene. "These factors make it a relatively high certainty that this is a secret burial ground in the forest," said military historian Arnold Unt. Unt added that the presence of many bodies makes it more likely that forensic and historical researchers will be able to determine what precisely happened to those men in the forest so many years ago.