--he escaped from Auschwitz with another guy, Wetzler, in April 1944 and got to Slovakia and Hungary, telling the world of the atrocities in the Auschwitz Protocol. Some Hungarian community leaders, however (Hungary was the only country that hadn't had its Jewish population deported yet), were busy making deals with Eichmann
for safe passage away. In any case, the result was that about 1,700 Hungarian Jewish leaders, with their families and friends, ended up in Switzerland, while almost half a million unsuspecting Hungarian Jews ended up dead in Auschwitz.
Vrba's report first alerted the world (including the Vatican, Red Cross, and US and British authorities) to exactly what was going on, and helped prosecute some who were tried later. ...Knowing perfectly well that it was the secrecy surrounding their actions that allowed the Nazis to herd unsuspecting Jews and transport them like sheep to slaughter, Vrba and Wetzler — as soon as they got in touch with Jewish community representatives in their native Slovakia — compiled a detailed report. They wrote about Auschwitz and what awaited Hungarian Jews once they arrived: immediate death by gassing.
posted by amberglow
on Apr 11, 2006 -
He has cavorted naked with Charlotte Rampling [this is VERY NSFW]
and covered himself in caviar for Marc Jacobs
, but Jürgen Teller
thinks "fashion is a wank".
Teller's first solo show in Paris is entitled "Nurnberg"
, it consists of a sequence of images (annoying Flash site, sorry)
taken at the infamous Zeppelintribune
parade ground, site of Nazi propaganda rallies
, which was designed by Hitler's favourite builder, Albert Speer. Over several months, Teller (.pdf)
has photographed the monument, the podium and the steep, ruthless steps, all of which have been left to decay. Or not. "It wasn't really maintained, but if there was a broken step, or a smashed wall, it would be mysteriously replaced with a new one." Teller's photographs show the delicate weeds, flowers and lichen [NSFW]
that have grown up around the stone blocks. "In Germany, there is a saying about letting the grass grow over things, meaning that events will eventually be forgotten".
posted by matteo
on Mar 22, 2006 -
"They are demanding that I kill the children of my people with my own hands"
On October 4, 1939, a few days after Warsaw's surrender to the Nazis, Adam Czerniaków
was made head of the 24 member Judenrat, the Jewish Council (write "Czerniakow" in the linked page's search box)
responsible for implementing German orders in the Jewish community (interactive map of the Warsaw ghetto)
. On July 22, 1942 -- Tisha B'Av
, the "saddest day in Jewish history
" -- the Judenrat received instructions that all Warsaw Jews were to be deported to the East (exceptions were to be made for Jews working in German factories, Jewish hospital staff, members of the Judenrat and their families, and members of the Jewish police force and their families. Czerniaków tried to convince the Germans at least not to deport the Jewish orphans)
. Czerniaków kept a diary from September 6, 1939, until the day of his death. It was published in 1979 in the English language as the "The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniaków: Prelude to Doom
", edited by one of the most prominent
, Raul Hilberg
. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Feb 17, 2006 -
"The German invasion of Britain took place in July 1940, after the British retreat from Dunkirk".
We see, documentary-style, members of the Wehrmacht trooping past Big Ben and St Paul's Cathedral, lounging in the parks, having their jackboots shined by old cockneys, and appreciatively visiting the shrine of that good German, Prince Albert
, in Kensington Gardens. Kevin Brownlow
and Andrew Mollo
's film "It Happened Here
", with its cast of hundreds (.pdf)
, imagines what a Nazi occupation might have been like — complete with underground resistance, civilian massacres, civil strife, torch-lit rallies, Jewish ghettos, and organized euthanasia. Shot on weekends, eight years in production, made for about $20,000 with nonactors and borrowed equipment and Stanley Kubrick's help, "It Happened Here" was originally envisioned by Brownlow
as a sort of Hammer horror flick about a Nazi Britain
. Thanks in part to Mollo's fanatical concern with historical accuracy
, however, it became something else
. The most remarkable thing about this account of everyday fascism is that it has no period footage. Brownlow's 1968 book
about the film's production, "How It Happened Here
", has recently been republished
. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Feb 12, 2006 -
“Wouldn’t you know, the kid they pick to play tramps is the only good girl in Hollywood.”
Before Myrna Loy
rose to stardom with Manhattan Melodrama
and The Thin Man (both 1934)
, she was often relegated to playing vamps, mistresses, and other assorted flavors of wicked women
. Then, after 80 movies playing mostly bad girls, Montana native Loy
became “the perfect wife.” “Men Must Marry Myrna Loy
” clubs were formed around the country. She and Clark Gable, in a poll conducted by Ed Sullivan, were voted by 20 million of the nation’s moviegoers as The King and Queen of Hollywood. She was FDR's favorite actress, and John Dillinger died just to see her new movie
. A staunch anti-Nazi since the mid-Thirties
(to MGM's dismay, Hitler promptly banned her films from the lucrative German market
), wondered aloud in the press why blacks were always given servants' roles, and was the first major star to buck the studios in a contract dispute (the issue: equal pay for equal work. She was making half what William Powell was, didn't like it and quit work for nearly a year until MGM capitulated
). When WWII broke out she quit Hollywood and worked full time for the Red Cross
, and helped run a Naval Auxilary Canteen. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Feb 3, 2006 -
The "Battle of Los Angeles"
occurred on February 24/25, 1942, when a large object was picked up on radar approximately 120 miles off the southern California coastline. Fearing another Japanese attack
, a general blackout was called and fighter planes were dispatched to combat the unknown assailant.
Three hours later, the planes were recalled. Witnesses reported furious fighting but no sightings of downed planes were noted. The Navy claimed there were no enemy planes; the Army put out the story (embedded sound)
that Japanese spy planes were indeed present. Subsequent investigations revealed that the invasion was most likely a weather balloon. Other opinions
were also expressed.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies
on Jan 12, 2006 -
Miracle on 57th Street.
Thomas Wolfe said that America is not only the place where miracles happen, but where they happen all the time. This is the story of a miracle, a true-life fairy tale, and appropriately enough it begins with the intervention of the Almighty.
, music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1943 to 1947, was an eccentric, a health nut who drank only milk from goats he raised himself and who kept a loaded revolver in his back pocket whenever he conducted. Rodzinski said that God told him to hire 24 year old Leonard Bernstein
, to be his assistant conductor. In the fall of 1943 Rodzinski decided to take a vacation, spend a little time with his goats, and called in Bruno Walter
to conduct seven concerts in ten days. Only hours before one of those concerts (in the program, works by Schumann, Rosza, Strauss and Wagner) Walter fell ill
. Rodzinski was only four hours away, in his farm. But he declined to come back to Carnegie Hall: "Call Bernstein. That's why we hired him." The concert was broadcast over radio and a review appeared on page 1 of The New York Times the next day: "Young Aide Leads Philharmonic; Steps in When Bruno Walter is Ill"
. In the same size type as another that read, "Japanese Plane Transport Sunk." More inside.
posted by matteo
on Dec 28, 2005 -
The London Cage.
Kensington Palace Gardens is one of the most exclusive addresses in the world
. Between July 1940 and September 1948 three magnificent houses there were home to one of Great Britain'smost secret military establishments: the London office of the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre, known colloquially as the London Cage. It was run by MI19
, the section of the War Office responsible for gleaning information from enemy prisoners of war
, and few outside this organisation knew exactly what went on beyond the single barbed-wire fence that separated the three houses from the busy streets and grand parks of west London. The London Cage was used partly as a torture centre
, inside which large numbers of German officers and soldiers were subjected to systematic ill-treatment. In total 3,573 men passed through the Cage, and more than 1,000 were persuaded to give statements about war crimes. A number of German civilians joined the servicemen who were interrogated there up to 1948. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Nov 12, 2005 -
What is the difference between refugees and expelled persons? Refugees leave home and land for fear of what would happen to them, or they were driven out. Expellees are told to leave their home country, often immediately. Their added and deep trauma is broken trust
"Modern Wars and the Civilian Experience
as shown in my experience in World War II", by Greta Zybon
posted by PenguinBukkake
on Sep 17, 2005 -
The Emperor's Bunker. "The Japanese, with sadness and irony, stressed that Hirohito couldn't even speak properly. This was partly to do with the fact that he didn't have to speak - people spoke in his name and he was isolated from real life"
", the third part in Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov
's 'Men of Power' tetralogy
after the gloom of Moloch (1999)
, about Hitler and Eva Braun, and the despairing tones of "Taurus
, focused on the wheelchair-bound Lenin in his death throes, "The Sun" seems almost upbeat. This, after all, is a film about reconciliation. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Sep 13, 2005 -
Japanese Propaganda from WWII
I've seen & been fascinated by a fair amount of Allied propaganda from the second World War, including an exhibit at the Smithsonian a decade back, but this is the first bit of "enemy" propaganda I can remember running across. It's a pamphlet detailing Japan's plans for a better future. Another piece, "Farewell American Soldiers" piece which was leafleted to the troops is in English and is particularly chilling.
posted by jonson
on Aug 15, 2005 -
Atoning for World War II, 60 years later (and Japan should continue to do so)
It's no news regarding Japan's role during WWII. However, unlike Germany, Japan has yet to fully apologize and repair strained relations in Asia.
However, it is complete crap that U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer thinks that people should glaze over the atrocities in light of Japan's monetary donation. Let's not forget that the US benefitted from the medical experiments that were conducted by the Japanese and that in the fight against communism was willing to quickly establish an outpost and let bygones be bygones.
posted by dkhong
on Jul 30, 2005 -
"Now you fellows have lost all your ships. Now you really are orphans of the Pacific. How do you think you will ever get home?" Tokyo Rose
was the name given to any female propaganda broadcaster for the Japanese during WWII’s battle for the Pacific, but it has stuck most tightly to Iva Toguri D'Aquino
, an American who studied zoology at Berkeley and unwisely went to visit a relative in Japan in 1941 without a passport.
Her sultry voice was heard across the Pacific during her radio show “The Zero Hour,” which earned her about $7 per month. After the war, "Orphan Annie
" returned to the U.S., where she was tried for treason in the most expensive trial in history. Her story has been made into movies
, and as of 2003 she was running a store in Chicago. You can listen to her broadcasts
online and apparently even email her
posted by gottabefunky
on Jul 12, 2005 -
The Hidden History of the United Nations
: "The history told about the defeat of Nazism and the founding of the United Nations in the 1940s has become distorted. A false view of the past is being used today to shape how we think about our future. The military power of the victorious wartime allies is offered as a model for running the world, while the UN’s supposed utopianism is seen as ineffective and irrelevant. This is a travesty of the facts."
posted by jenleigh
on Jun 4, 2005 -
The making of a D-Day tradition...
I immediately get goosebumps
when I hear the score of Band of Brothers
...I'm not sure why, maybe it was my local connections (Dick Winters
, Bill Guanere
, Albert Blithe
, Babe Heffron
, Thomas Meehan
, Ralph Spina
, Harry Welsh
, and Robert Strayer
are all from Philadelphia), the surrounding suburbs, or Pennsylvania), or maybe it was because the original airings took place in the shadow of 9/11 (the premiere was September 9th, 2001, with the D-Day drop occuring in the second episode, Day of Days, on 9/16/2001), but this series will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart. Everything is done so beautifully, from the special effects
, to the sound, the music
, to the dutiful translation from Stephen Ambrose book
to the screen. It's certainly worthy of the 9.5 out of 10 that IMDB readers
had given it. Every year now since, either HBO (On Demand - you have to subscribe to HBO plus have digital cable) or the History Channel
has played Tom Hanks'
and Steven Spielberg's
masterful WW2 epic. You can think of it as Saving Private Ryan, but 3 times as long. Even if war movies are not your thing, I can almost guarantee that they will see the human side of the soldier and becomely deeply invested in the characters. Follow the men of Easy Company from training and the running of Currahee, to the parachute jump on D-Day, through the liberation of Europe, the horror of a German concentration camp, and eventually to the end of the war, to Hitler's mountaintop retreat. I'm not the only one - check out the numerous fan sites to BoB (forum shorthand for Band of Brothers) here
, and here
, as well as entries on TVTome
, and Television without Pity
. If you want to try before you commit to watching the whole thing, I'd recommend the episodes Day of Days
, and the Breaking Point
posted by rzklkng
on Jun 4, 2005 -
Our Victory, Day by Day.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti counts down to the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, with songs, posters, photos, and stories. Be sure not to miss the first-person accounts in English (under "Frontline Album").
posted by gimonca
on Apr 9, 2005 -
The Edelweiss Pirates
- Not all German kids joined the Hitler Youth in the 1930's and 40's. A loosely-knit group of thousands of working-class
teenagers called the Edelweiss Pirates
existed in Cologne and nearby towns. Growing out of a youth hiking group
(rather than swing dancing
), they created their own anti-Nazi subculture through clothing and protest music. Many were arrested for tagging the city with anti-Nazi graffiti and working with the Underground--and they eventually killed the head of the Cologne Gestapo
in 1944. Orders to root them out came from Himmler himself, and some were hung
in the streets or killed in the camps. Their story is now being told in a film
playing at film festivals
around the world, including its European premiere in Berlin
a few weeks ago. But the surviving members' criminal records officially remain on the books in Germany.
posted by Asparagirl
on Mar 9, 2005 -
'American and Japanese images of kamikaze pilots differ greatly. This web site explores diverse portrayals and perceptions of the young men who carried out suicide attacks near the end of World War II.'
'When Japanese kamikaze pilots carried out their attacks between October 1944 and October 1945, Japanese and American people had opposite perspectives. Japanese people saw young smiling pilots as they waved goodbye. In contrast, American soldiers viewed death and destruction when the pilots' planes exploded upon crashing into their ships. These very different points of view continue to influence Japanese and American perceptions of kamikaze pilots even until today.'
posted by plep
on Mar 3, 2005 -