Scrapbookpages Blog

November 12, 2016

Holocaust survivor Renee Firestone is still alive and still speaking out

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 6:36 am

Today, you can read the latest news about 92-year-old Holocaust Survivor Renee Firestone at http://elvaq.com/features/2016/11/11/holocaust-survivor-shares-her-story-of-auschwitz/

I wrote about Renee Firestone in this previous blog post:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/renee-firestones-shoah-testimony/

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

Begin quote

[Renee Firestone] was two weeks past her 20th birthday when she was hurled into the confined train to Auschwitz in April 1944. Along with her, her father, a textile businessman, her mother, a housewife and her younger sister had been taken from their home in Czechoslovakia. Her brother had already been separated from her family and placed in [several] Hungarian labor camps.

Forced over the Polish border then escorted by Germans on train, it was uncertain as to what their future held.

“This old woman who was sitting at the edge of the cattle car ripped open her coat lining, reached in and removed a gold locket and started to cry, bitterly,” Firestone said in interview with Si Frumkin.

“I thought maybe that was her wedding picture in the locket, her family or grandchildren whom she left behind. . . I thought to myself, how cruel that they wouldn’t let her keep this little memoir and then she closed the locket and through the cracks of the cattle car handed it to the Nazis.”

The trip lasted three days without food or water with only a bucket for hundreds to share for bodily waste.

Nazis banged on the walls during the night, yelling at us to give up any valuables we possessed or we would be shot, Firestone recalls. This was followed by screaming and gunshots outside the train.

After arriving at camp, she was immediately separated from her parents but managed to keep her sister by her side.

The Nazis, described as young, handsome and smiling, led the women into an underground dressing rooms where they were forced to undress and stand naked from mid-afternoon to midnight.

End quote

August 24, 2016

Anthropoid — the movie, now showing in a few select theaters

Filed under: Germany, movies, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:47 am

There is a new movie, about the story of Reinhard Heinrich, which I am dying to see, but it is not showing in any of the theaters anywhere near me. The movie is based on Operation Anthropoid, a famous historical event that took place years ago.

Reinhard Heydrichh is the man in the middle

Reinhard Heydrich is the man in the center

Reinhard Heydrich was noted for having a feminine type body with hips wider than his shoulders, as depicted in the photo above.

Heydrich is also noted for having had two girlfriends at the same time, and for getting one of them pregnant, then refusing to marry her. However, none of this is pointed out in the movie. Would it have killed the producer of this movie to have included a little bit of human interest?

You can read a review of the movie at http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/anthropoid-2016

The following quote is from the review, cited above:

Begin quote

The events [in the movie] take place in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in the early 1940s. As students of World War II should know—well, as anyone should know, really, but let’s not get into that—Czechoslovakia was for all intents and purposes handed over to Germany in 1939, which gave Hitler access to a wealth of natural resources and manufacturing power to fuel the German war machine which then went on to conquer Poland and put the Second World War into active motion.

The SS was terribly efficient in quashing the Czechoslovakian resistance movement, but a Czech government in absentia kept up the effort, and in late 1941 it flew a plane from England and dispatched parachutists to drop outside of Prague, where they were to begin a daring and divisive mission.

The movie begins by following two parachutists, Jan (Jamie Dornan) and Josef (Cillian Murphy). Josef cuts his foot badly on the way down and needs some stitching up. Contemporary movies like to signal their integrity and/or authenticity by including graphic scenes depicting the suturing of icky wounds, and this one is no exception.

The duo’s bad luck continues, as they are sniffed out and then nearly sold out by a couple of quasi-quisling farm folk. And then, once they get to Prague and make their contacts, the remnants of the Czechoslovakian resistance with whom they have to work are in large part appalled by the mission they’ve come to carry out.

That is, the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, engineer of the Final Solution and the iron fist personally dispatched by Hitler to crush resistance, a man nicknamed “the Butcher of Prague.” 

Local resistance leader Ladislav (Marcin Dorocinski) balks, while suitably avuncular cohort “Uncle” Hajsky (Toby Jones) counsels cooperation. Jan and Josef shack up with a local family, establish covers in part by romancing a couple of local women, and start doing recon to determine the pattern of Heydrich’s comings and goings.

So here’s where the spoiler question comes in: do these heroes pull it off? Well, the answer to that is part of the historical record, and yet, who knows. Some folks might want to go into this movie blind, or semi-blind, or what have you. For myself, I found the picture a frustrating experience. It is cast with largely British actors, which is fine, but it does not follow what I now consider the anachronistic convention of having them speak with their native accents; rather, Ellis makes the performers speak English in heavy Czech, or “Czech” accents—I don’t have the ear to make a pronouncement as to how accurate they are, although all the actors are dedicated and expert professionals. In any event, this strategy kind of made me yearn for the anachronistic practice, which at least had a kind of inherent consistency. I also found the movie’s style off-putting. It’s shot in widescreen format, about a 2.35 ratio, but almost all of the shots are handheld. A lot of the time the experience of the movie is like looking at a very long wobbly rectangle, and the frequently abrupt cutting doesn’t help. The tighter the aspect ratio, the more effective the hand-held, or simulated hand-held, camerawork is, I’ve found. The movie’s scenario also trucks in a variety of clichés. And, near the end, at least one mistaken, overstated metaphor.

End quote

When I visited Prague, years ago, I took a guided tour, which included a stop at the hairpin curve where Heydrich’s car was forced to slow down. He was fatally wounded on this corner, but not before he jumped out of the car and began firing his gun.

The hairpin turn where Heydrich was ambused, his car can be seen on the left.jpg

The photo above shows the hairpin turn where Heydrich’s car was forced to slow down; this is where he was fatally wounded. This is what the curve looks like today.

To some people, Heydrich is a hero, but to others, he can never be a hero because of the way that he treated women. Getting a girl pregnant, and then not marrying her, was unknown in Germany back then.

March 5, 2014

Charles Krauthammer mentions the Sudetenland on Fox News show

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:29 am

Update, March 7, 2014

Hillary Clinton is the latest person to compare Putin to Hitler, according to a news report which you can read in full at  http://www.presstelegram.com/general-news/20140304/hillary-clinton-compares-vladimir-putins-actions-in-ukraine-to-adolf-hitlers-in-nazi-germany

This quote is from the news article, cited above:

LONG BEACH >> Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday compared recent actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine to those implemented by Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s.

Putin’s desire to protect minority Russians in Ukraine is reminiscent of Hitler’s actions to protect ethnic Germans outside Germany, she said.  […]

Clinton made her comments at a private event benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach.

“Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the 30s,” she said. “All the Germans that were … the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”

Hillary Clinton is exactly right.  But she made a mistake in saying something good about Hitler.  You can’t do that, when you are thinking about running for president of the United States.

Continue reading my original post:

The following quote is the words of Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, on the Fox News show Special Report with  Bret Baier, on March 4, 2014.

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“That’s not a blink. That’s a KGB agent lying through his teeth, which is what they train to do for all of their lives. I mean, when Hitler went into the Sudetenland, he claimed it was in response to a desire on the part of the population. This is what all dictators do. The idea that somehow it’s a blink, because he’s waiting to see if he wants to take the rest of Ukraine, and that’s a sign of weakness? I think it’s delusional.” – Charles Krauthammer, on “Special Report with Bret Baier”

You can read the full text of the “Special Report” show at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/03/05/from-reset-button-to-nazi-talk-hillary-hawk-returns/

Charles Krauthammer has a vast knowledge of history (and everything else). His remarks on The O’Reilly Factor are normally 100% correct.  But the official history of World War II is so ingrained that this chapter of history is usually told from the standpoint of the Jews and the Holocaust.

Did the 3.5 million ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland really like the way that they were being treated by the Czechs after their homeland was given to the new country of Czechoslovakia after World War I? Did the Germans really want to be ruled by the Czechs, after centuries of being ruled by their fellow Germans?

Years ago, when I visited Prague, I took a guided tour, which I arranged through my hotel.  The tour guide was an elderly Jewish man.  Before we began the tour of Prague, the tour bus drove to a park on the outskirts of the city.  Everyone had to get out of the bus.  Then the tour guide pointed to a hill that we were supposed to look at.

There was nothing there.  It was like Gertrude Stein’s description of Oakland, CA.  “When you get there, there is no there, there.”

Then the tour guide told us that the hill, at which were were looking, was the spot where the Germans, who came to this land many years ago, first built a castle when they claimed this land for the German people.   The Czechs did not arrive until many years later.  The original inhabitants were the Celts, who were driven out by the Germans.

The whole point of a trip to this hill was that the tour guide was trying to impress upon us that this land had first belonged to the Celts, and then to the Germans.  The Czechs came much later, and they were ruled by the Germans for centuries.

But, according to Charles Krauthammer, the Germans in the Sudetenland were happy to be ruled by the Czechs, after living under German rule for hundreds of years, and they had no desire for their land to be part of Germany.

Sudeten Germans being expelled from the Sudetenland after World War II

Sudeten Germans being expelled from the Sudetenland after World War II

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the Sudetenland and World War II:

German Bohemians, later known as the Sudeten Germans, were ethnic Germans living in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, which later became an integral part of the state of Czechoslovakia. Before 1945, Czechoslovakia was inhabited by over three million such German Bohemians, comprising about 23 percent of the population of the whole republic and about 29 and a half percent of the population of Bohemia and Moravia.[4] Ethnic Germans had lived in Bohemia, a part of the Holy Roman Empire, since the 14th century (and in some areas from the 12th century or earlier), mostly in the border regions of the so-called Sudetenland. They became known as the Sudeten Germans after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which was a consequence of the First World War. After 1945, most ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia, and sent to Germany and Austria.

You can read about the expulsion of the ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudeten_Germans#Expulsion_and_transfer

In the aftermath of WWII, when the Czechoslovak state was restored, the government expelled the majority of ethnic Germans (about 3 million altogether), in the belief that their behavior had been a major cause of the war and subsequent destruction. In the months directly following the end of the war, “wild” expulsions happened from May till August 1945. Several Czechoslovak statesmen encouraged such expulsions with polemical speeches. Generally local authorities ordered the expulsions, which armed volunteers carried out. In some cases the regular army initiated or assisted such expulsions.[39] Several thousand Germans were murdered during the expulsion, and many more died from hunger and illness as a consequence of becoming refugees.

Krauthammer’s comment that “when Hitler went into the Sudetenland, he claimed it was in response to a desire on the part of the population” is completely and totally wrong.  Hitler didn’t [erroneously] CLAIM that it was “in response to a desire on the part of the population.”

It was, IN FACT, a desire on the part of the population in the Sudetenland to be part of Germany.  The ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland were being treated badly by the Czechs.

The border between the Sudetenland and Germany was the Sudeten mountains.  During the occupation of Germany, after World War II, by American soldiers and Russian soldiers, the Sudeten mountains were the only protection that the Americans had from the Russians.  The families of American soldiers, stationed in Bavaria, were told to keep the gas tank of their car full at all times, and a packed suitcase in the car, ready to escape if the Russians should ever come over the Sudeten mountains to attack, during the “Cold war.”

March 4, 2014

Putin is “taking a page out of the Hitler playbook” according to Bill O’Reilly

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:55 am

You can read what Bill O’Reilly said on his Fox news show last night at http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/2014/03/04/bill-oreilly-how-handle-putin

This quote is from O’Reilly’s “Talking Points” at the beginning of his show, The O’Reilly Factor, last night:

Taking a page out of the Hitler playbook, Russian President Putin has invaded Ukraine saying that Russian nationals are in danger in that country. You may remember back in 1938 the Nazi leader did the exact same thing in Czechoslovakia sending in forces to, quote, “protect Germans” who[m] the Fuhrer said were at risk it was a reuse (sic).

Did Hitler send forces into Czechoslovakia in 1938?

O’Reilly has said on his show that he is currently writing a book about World War II, so he should know.

I have forgotten much of the history of World War II, so I had to look it up myself.  I did a google search and found the following quote on a website at http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/nazis-take-czechoslovakia

On this day [March 15, 1939], Hitler’s forces invade and occupy Czechoslovakia–a nation sacrificed on the altar of the Munich Pact, which was a vain attempt to prevent Germany’s imperial aims.

On September 30, 1938, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, French Premier Edouard Daladier, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Pact, which sealed the fate of Czechoslovakia, virtually handing it over to Germany in the name of peace. Although the agreement was to give into Hitler’s hands only the Sudentenland, that part of Czechoslovakia where 3 million ethnic Germans lived, it also handed over to the Nazi war machine 66 percent of Czechoslovakia’s coal, 70 percent of its iron and steel, and 70 percent of its electrical power. Without those resources, the Czech nation was left vulnerable to complete German domination.

No matter what concessions the Czech government attempted to make to appease Hitler, whether dissolving the Communist Party or suspending all Jewish teachers in ethnic-German majority schools, rumors continued to circulate about “the incorporation of Czechoslovakia into the Reich.” In fact, as early as October 1938, Hitler made it clear that he intended to force the central Czechoslovakian government to give Slovakia its independence, which would make the “rump” Czech state “even more completely at our mercy,” remarked Hermann Goering. Slovakia indeed declared its “independence” (in fact, complete dependence on Germany) on March 14, 1939, with the threat of invasion squelching all debate within the Czech province.

Then, on March 15, 1939, during a meeting with Czech President Emil Hacha–a man considered weak, and possibly even senile–Hitler threatened a bombing raid against Prague, the Czech capital, unless he obtained from Hacha free passage for German troops into Czech borders. He got it. That same day, German troops poured into Bohemia and Moravia. The two provinces offered no resistance, and they were quickly made a protectorate of Germany. By evening, Hitler made a triumphant entry into Prague.

The Munich Pact, which according to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had purchased “peace in our time,” was actually a mere negotiating ploy by the Hitler, only temporarily delaying the Fuhrer’s blood and land lust.

Several years ago, I visited the Czech Republic and before I went, I did a lot of research on the subject.

Bastion on southeast side of the old fortress, Sudeten mountains in background

Bastion on southeast side of the old Theresienstadt fortress with the Sudeten mountains in background

I am quoting below what I wrote on my website scrapbookpages.com after my visit to the Czech Republic.

The Czechoslovak Republic was founded on October 28, 1918, before the end of World War I, by Tomas G. Masaryk, who strongly supported Zionism and opposed anti-Semitism. Masaryk had an American wife and during the war, he had frequent talks with President Woodrow Wilson to gain support for Czech independence. As a strong supporter of the Jews, Masaryk had made a name for himself when he publicly sided with the Jews in the blood libel case in the town of Polna in 1899. (There is an exhibit about this case in the Maisel Synagogue in Prague.)

Thomas G. Masaryk became the first president of the new country of Czechoslovakia which was set up in accordance with Wilson’s Fourteen Points, on which the Armistice was signed to end World War I on November 11, 1918.

After he had united Germany and Austria in March 1938 [Der Anschluss], Hitler began complaining that the Czechs were mistreating and discriminating against the 3.5 million ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia, who had been citizens of Austria-Hungary before World War I. Political parties, which were pro-Nazi, had been banned in Czechoslovakia and ethnic Germans who supported Hitler were being jailed. The Czechs hated the ethnic Germans because they had been under the rule of the Germans in the Austrian Hapsburg Empire for over 600 years before they gained their independence. On the other hand, the Slovaks tended to be anti-Semitic and they supported the Nazis. The very first Jews to be sent to Auschwitz and Majdanek were Slovaks who had already been put into labor camps in their own country.

Great Britain, France and Italy assumed responsibility for the conflict in Czechoslovakia since they had signed the Treaty of Versailles which ended the war and stripped the Germans and Austrians of a big chunk of their former territories. Czechoslovakia had become a country as a result of that treaty. America also fought on the side of the Allies in World War I, but did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles because it included the League of Nations, which the American Congress voted not to join.

Austria-Hungary and Germany both signed an Armistice based on the Fourteen Points proposed by Woodrow Wilson, the American President during the war years. One of the key points was self-determination which meant that all ethnic groups had the right to determine the country in which they would live. This point of Wilson’s Fourteen Points was violated by the Treaty of Versailles when half a million Poles and a million Hungarians, along with three and a half million ethnic Germans became citizens of the new country of Czechoslovakia, which was dominated by the Czechs.

In answer to Hitler’s complaints, the British formed a commission to study the problem. This resulted in the Munich agreement, signed on Sept. 30, 1938 between Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain, in which the borderland known as the Sudetenland, with its predominantly German population, was given to Germany. There were also 45,000 Jews living in the Sudetenland who were handed over to Hitler as a result of the Munich appeasement.

The Sudetenland had formerly been part of the Austrian Empire but by 1938, Austria was part of the new Greater German Reich created by Hitler in the Anschluss with Austria. The unification of Germany and Austria had been expressly forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles, but the Allies did not protest this violation of the treaty. The Czech government did not have a say in the Munich agreement, since the country of Czechoslovakia was not in existence before the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

Theresienstadt was right on the dividing line between the Sudetenland and the remaining part of Czechoslovakia with the demarcation line being immediately alongside the town’s fortifications. As soon as the Germans arrived to take over the Sudetenland, 25,000 of the Jews living there fled across the border into Theresienstadt and some of them took temporary refuge in the Small Fortress.

Eduard Benes, who replaced Masaryk as president of Czechoslovakia in 1935, had been opposed to the Germans in World War I. During the period between wars, Benes was a strong supporter of the League of Nations and was active in trying to prevent Germany from regaining military power.

As an opponent of Fascism, Benes had complained to the League of Nations many times when Hitler began to violate the terms of the Versailles Treaty by rearming and placing troops in the Rhineland on the border between France and Germany.

The Munich “appeasement” of Hitler was intended to prevent another world war, but soon afterwards, Hitler demanded the resignation of Benes, his unrelenting opponent, who was agitating against the German takeover of the Sudetenland. In an effort to maintain peace, Benes resigned and went to England where he set up a Czech government in exile.

On March 14, 1939, following the resignation of Benes, Slovakia declared itself an independent state under the rule of Father Jozef Tiso, a Catholic priest and a Nazi supporter. On the following day, the Nazis marched into Czechoslovakia and took over the rest of the country without a fight. The states of Bohemia and Moravia, which had been dominated by the Germans for centuries under the Holy Roman Empire, became a German Protectorate. The Czech town of Terezin became once again a German town, and the name was changed back to the original name of Theresienstadt.

The Czechs fought as partisans against the Fascists in World War II, even sending men from England into Czechoslovakia by parachute to assassinate a top Nazi, SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. According to Ben G. Frank in his book entitled “A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe,” over 50% of the Czech partisans were Jews.

After Slovakia split off into an independent country, it became an ally of the German Fascists. The rest of the small states in Czechoslovakia were taken over by Poland and Hungary to bring their former citizens back into their respective countries in accordance with Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Hungary became a Fascist ally of Germany, but there was still an ongoing dispute between Germany and Poland over the territory which Germany had lost to Poland after World War I. Germany had been divided into two parts, separated by the Polish Corridor which was created to give the Poles access to the port of Danzig.