[...] Certainly, the planet is improved by the fact that Heinrich Boere no longer resides on the skin of this Earth, but is buried beneath it. He was not the last living Nazi of Hitler’s Reich, but he is among the last. Very soon now – certainly within the next ten years – the sun will rise upon a world without a single living soul who saw what happened, who participated either directly or by way of tacit approval in the formation and defense of the so-called “Thousand Year Reich.”
In my own way, I mourn the passing of Heinrich Boere. Not because of what he believed or what he did; were I able, I would spit on his grave…and then light a candle, and stand a vigil, because Heinrich Boere is important to us all. When men like Heinrich Boere die, we are one step closer to forgetting that men like him lived at all, one step closer to forgetting that party-sponsored murder gangs like the Waffen SS ever existed, one step closer to forgetting that hate-fueled thuggery thrives in economic chaos, can take over, and can wreak bloody havoc.
When men like Heinrich Boere die, we are one step closer to having men like Heinrich Boere among us again, because we forget what they did when they are gone, and by forgetting, we allow them to live again. Sooner or later, inevitably, they rise when we forget.
In the weeks following the atomic attacks on Japan 68 years ago, and then for decades afterward, the United States engaged in airtight suppression of all film shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings. This included footage shot by U.S. military crews and Japanese newsreel teams. In addition, for many years, all but a handful of newspaper photographs were seized or prohibited not only in the United States, but also in occupied Japan.
Meanwhile, the American public only got to see the same black and white images: a mushroom cloud, battered buildings, a devastated landscape. The true human costs–a full airing of the bomb’s effects on people –were kept hidden. The writer Mary McCarthy declared that Hiroshima had already fallen into “a hole in history.” The public did not see any of the newsreel footage for 25 years, and the U.S. military film remained hidden for more than three decades. (The story is told in full in my bookAtomic Cover-up.)
In fact, the Japanese footage might have disappeared forever if the newsreel team had not hidden one print from the Americans in a ceiling. The color U.S. military footage was not shown anywhere until the early 1980s, and has never been fully aired. It rests today at the National Archives in College Park, Md. When that footage finally emerged, I spoke with and corresponded with the man at the center of this drama: Lt. Col. (Ret.) Daniel A. McGovern, who directed the U.S. military film-makers in 1945-1946, managed the Japanese footage, and then kept watch on all of the top-secret material for decades.
McGovern observed that, “The main reason it was classified was…because of the horror, the devastation.” I also met and interviewed one top member of his military crew, who had fought for years to get the footage aired widely in America, and interviewed some of the hibakusha who appear in the footage. Those accounts form the center of Atomic Cover-Up. You can read about that a view some of the color footage here. But let’s focus on tjhe Japanese newsreel footage for the moment.
On my wall is the Daily Express front page of September 5 1945 and the words: “I write this as a warning to the world.” So began Wilfred Burchett’s report from Hiroshima. It was the scoop of the century. For his lone, perilous journey that defied the US occupation authorities, Burchett was pilloried, not least by his embedded colleagues. He warned that an act of premeditated mass murder on an epic scale had launched a new era of terror.
Almost every day now, he is vindicated. The intrinsic criminality of the atomic bombing is borne out in the US National Archives and by the subsequent decades of militarism camouflaged as democracy. The Syria psychodrama exemplifies this. Yet again we are held hostage by the prospect of a terrorism whose nature and history even the most liberal critics still deny. The great unmentionable is that humanity’s most dangerous enemy resides across the Atlantic.
John Kerry’s farce and Barack Obama’s pirouettes are temporary. Russia’s peace deal over chemical weapons will, in time, be treated with the contempt that all militarists reserve for diplomacy. With al-Qaida now among its allies, and US-armed coupmasters secure in Cairo, the US intends to crush the last independent states in the Middle East: Syria first, then Iran. “This operation [in Syria],” said the former French foreign minister Roland Dumas in June, “goes way back. It was prepared, pre-conceived and planned.”
When the public is “psychologically scarred”, as the Channel 4 reporter Jonathan Rugman described the British people’s overwhelming hostility to an attack on Syria, suppressing the truth is made urgent. Whether or not Bashar al-Assad or the “rebels” used gas in the suburbs of Damascus, it is the US, not Syria, that is the world’s most prolific user of these terrible weapons.
Adolf Hitler’s Nazi deputy Rudolf Hess ‘murdered by British agents’ to stop him spilling wartime secrets
Scotland Yard was given the names of British agents who allegedly murdered the Nazi Rudolf Hess in the infamous Spandau Prison but was advised by prosecutors not to pursue its investigations, according to a newly-released police report.
Written two years after Hess’s death in 1987, the classified document outlines a highly-sensitive inquiry into the claims of a British surgeon who had once treated Adolf Hitler’s deputy that, rather than taking his own life, the elderly Nazi was killed on British orders to preserve wartime secrets.
Released under the Freedom of Information Act, the partially-redacted report by Detective Chief Superintendent Howard Jones revealed that the surgeon – Hugh Thomas – had supplied him with the names of two suspects provided by a “government employee” responsible for training secret agents.
Withheld for nearly 25 years, the report has been released by the Yard’s counter-terrorism command following consultation with “other Government and foreign government departments”.
Russell Brand ‘thrown out of GQ after-party’ for offensive Nazi jibes about event sponsors Hugo Boss
‘Brand took to the stage after Boris Johnson who received GQ magazine’s award for Politician of the Year at Tuesday night’s event at the Royal Opera House in London.
And after the mayor made jokes regarding the recent chemical attacks and subsequent deaths in Syria, Brand said: ‘Glad to grace the stage where Boris Johnson has just made light of the use of chemical weapons in Syria,’ during his acceptance speech for the Oracle award.
‘Meaning that GQ can now stand for genocide quips.
‘I mention that only to make the next comment a bit lighter because if any of you know a little bit about history and fashion, you’ll know Hugo Boss made the uniforms for the Nazis,’ he added.
‘But they did look f****** fantastic, lets face it, while they were killing people on the basis of their religion and sexuality.”‘
- Third Reich to Fortune 500: Five Popular Brands the Nazis Gave Us (Cracked)
- 10 Global Businesses that Worked With the Nazis (Business Pundit)
- How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power (Guardian)
- IBM ‘dealt directly with Holocaust organisers’ (Guardian)
- Big Banks Funded the Nazis and Launched a Coup Against the President of the United States (Washington’s Blog)
- Documentary: Banking With Hitler (UKTV History)
- Book: America’s Nazi Secret (John Loftus)
- Book: Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler (Anthony Sutton)
- Book: Hitler’s Secret Backers (Sidney Warburg)
An astonishing photograph of John Kerry having a cozy and intimate dinner with Bashar al-Assad has emerged at the moment the U.S Secretary of State is making the case to bomb the Syrian dictator’s country and remove him from power.
Kerry, who compared Assad to Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein yesterday, is pictured around a small table with his wife Teresa Heinz and the Assads in 2009.
Assad and Kerry, then a Massachusetts senator, lean in towards each other and appear deep in conversation as their spouses look on.
- US evokes ghost of Hitler as PR campaign against Assad goes crazy (RT)
- John Kerry to Democrats: ‘Munich moment’ (Politico)
- Military action against Assad would avoid repeating failure to deal with Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein at early stage, warns Boris Johnson (Independent)
- Congresswoman Wasserman: ‘As a Jew.. to me the concept of never again has to mean something’ (CNN)
Japan marked the 68th anniversary Tuesday of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima with a somber ceremony to honor the dead and pledges to seek to eliminate nuclear weapons.
Some 50,000 people stood for a minute of silence in Hiroshima’s peace park near the epicenter of the early morning blast on Aug. 6, 1945, that killed up to 140,000 people. The bombing of Nagasaki three days later killed tens of thousands more, prompting Japan’s surrender to the World War II Allies.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, among many dignitaries attending the event, said that as the sole country to face nuclear attack, Japan has the duty to seek to wipe out nuclear weapons. He made no mention of the dilemma this resource-scarce country is facing over nuclear energy, nor of the tens of thousands of people displaced by risks from radioactivity from a nuclear disaster in Fukushima, in its northeast.
Most of Japan’s nuclear power plants were taken offline after the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 damaged reactors at a plant in Fukushima, causing meltdowns. Abe favors restarting plants under new safety guidelines, while many Japanese oppose such restarts.
There are over 200,000 “hibakusha,” surviving victims from the atomic bombings, with an average age of nearly 79. Many gathered in Hiroshima to burn incense, bowing in prayer.
The 1930s are celebrated as one of Hollywood’s golden ages, but in an exclusive excerpt from his controversial new book, The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler (Harvard University Press, on sale Sept. 9), Harvard post-doctoral fellow Ben Urwand uncovers a darker side to Hollywood’s past.
Drawing on a wealth of archival documents in the U.S. and Germany, he reveals the shocking extent to which Hollywood cooperated and collaborated with the Nazis during the decade leading up to World War II to protect its business.
Indeed, “collaboration” (and its German translation, Zusammenarbeit) is a word that appears regularly in the correspondence between studio officials and the Nazis. Although the word is fraught with meaning to modern ears, its everyday use at the time underscored the eagerness of both sides to smooth away their differences to preserve commerce.
The Nazis threatened to exclude American movies — more than 250 played in Germany after Hitler took power in 1933 — unless the studios cooperated. Before World War I, the German market had been the world’s second largest, and even though it had shrunk during the Great Depression, the studios believed it would bounce back and worried that if they left, they would never be able to return.
Beginning with wholesale changes made to Universal’s 1930 release All Quiet on the Western Front, Hollywood regularly ran scripts and finished movies by German officials for approval. When they objected to scenes or dialogue they thought made Germany look bad, criticized the Nazis or dwelled on the mistreatment of Jews, the studios would accommodate them — and make cuts in the American versions as well as those shown elsewhere in the world.
It was not only scenes: Nazi pressure managed to kill whole projects critical of the rise of AdolfHitler. Indeed, Hollywood would not make an important anti-Nazi film until 1940. Hitler was obsessed with the propaganda power of film, and the Nazis actively promoted American movies like 1937′s Captains Courageous that they thought showcased Aryan values.
Historians have long known about American companies such as IBM and General Motors that did business in Germany into the late 1930s, but the cultural power of movies — their ability to shape what people think — makes Hollywood’s cooperation with the Nazis a particularly important and chilling moment in history.
The Bank of England’s involvement in the sale of gold stolen by Nazis following the invasion of Czechoslovakia has been revealed in newly released documents.
Archived material released by the BoE details how the gold bars were sold on behalf of Germany’s central bank, the Reichsbank, in 1939, after being seized during the Nazi invasion, despite the fact that British government had frozen all Czech assets being held in London at the time.
The BoE documents have been made public following the first stage of the digitalisation of the bank’s archive.
Key members of the Bank of England together with their German counterparts established the BIS, the Bank for International Settlement, which laundered the plundered gold of Europe. On its board were key Nazis such as Walther Funk and Hjalamar Schact The president of BIS was an American, Thomas McKittrick, who readily socialized with leading Nazis. Not only the BIS, but other allied banks worked hand in hand with the Nazis.
Work has begun on a monument in Berlin to commemorate the 200,000 disabled people killed under Hitler’s euthanasia program during WWII. The monument – the fourth of its kind in Berlin – will be a 30-meter long blue glass wall, situated in the same position as the original headquarters of the Nazi campaign.
It was a mystery for nearly 70 years: What happened to Nazi Party leader Alfred Rosenberg’s diary, a valuable document with insights into the Third Reich?
Rosenberg was the party’s chief ideologue and became a confidante of Adolf Hitler after meeting him in 1921. He joined the party before Hitler and gained fame writing anti-Semitic tracts and editing the Nazi newspaper. He eventually became head of the foreign policy office and was one of the chief architects of the plan to systematically exterminate Jews.
The influential Nazi intellectual was convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal and hanged in October 1946. Parts of his diary — a loose-leaf collection of notes he kept from 1934-1944 were used by the tribunal, but the bulk of the diary, dating from 1936-1944, went missing after the trial.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, working with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and investigators in Delaware, finally solved the case, tracking down 400 missing pages of the diary. Scholars hope it will help them learn more about how the Nazis operated in the years before and during World War II.
by Holly Williams
‘The conscientious objector is a popular trope in any drama touching on the First World War: Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs and more recently The Village have been awash with young men persecuted for their moral stance, the white feathers they were shamed with fluttering about TV screens as if war was a pillow fight.
As we approach the centenary of the First World War next year, we’ll no doubt hear a lot more about those that fought – and those that felt an equally powerful compulsion not to. But conscientious objection did not begin and end there: conflicts since, including the Second World War and the Vietnam war, have involved conscription, while countries as diverse as Finland, Israel, South Korea, Greece, Columbia and Turkey still require their young people to perform military service.
Getting an exemption on conscientious grounds is, even today, often an arduous process, potentially prompting the century-old accusations of cowardice. COs may face jail sentences or fines, despite a 2012 UN document stating that “conscientious objection … is based on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
International Conscientious Objection Day took place this week, on 15 May, and in the UK, a ceremony was held at the CO Commemorative Stone in Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury. Tomorrow, a small event will be held in the Peace Garden in Birmingham. The UK has also recently seen the opening of a new memorial to COs, at The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Last month, the Quakers erected a new circular limestone structure there to commemorate, specifically, the Friends Ambulance Unit – a Quaker-run body open to all COs – and the Friends Relief Service, which aims to relieve civilian distress in Britain.’
Abby Martin takes a look the 71st anniversary of the internment of Japanese people in the US following the attack on Pearl Harbor, and how the growing surveillance state is the modern day internment camp.
Over 40 per cent of Austrians believe the Hitler era wasn’t ‘all bad’, according to the latest poll conducted by the Linz Market Institute.
The survey was carried out ahead of the 75th anniversary of the country’s annexation by the Nazi Germany, the Anschluss, and included 502 people.
Fifty-seven per cent of respondents believed that “there was nothing positive about the Hitler era“.
However, 61 per cent of respondents indicated that they wanted a “strong leader” at the head of Austria.
That was in fact more than in previous polls, the newspaper Der Standard reported. A similar survey in 2008 found just a fifth of Austrians could imagine having “a strong leader who does not have to worry about a parliament or elections.”
Also, 54 per cent – most of them young and well-educated – were of the opinion that if there was no legislation prohibiting the neo-Nazi parties, they would succeed in elections.
Older participants in the survey strictly opposed the idea, which, according to historians, is logical.
“It’s a normal process that topics are no longer considered hot after two or three generations,” Oliver Rathkolb at the University of Vienna told Der Standard.
Finally, 61 per cent indicated that they thought the country’s Nazi past had been adequately dealt with, while 39 per cent disagreed with that statement.
The opinions remain similarly divided when it comes to the compensation of Nazi victims. 57 per cent of respondents thought that “the victims of this injustice or their descendants have been adequately compensated”, whereas 42 per cent believed that wasn’t the case.
On March 12, 1938, Hitler’s troops entered Austria, and were welcomed by many who supported his ideology at the time. In the latest poll, 53 per cent thought the Anschluss was voluntary and 46 per cent saw Austria as a victim of the unification.
As for the present political situation in the country, right-wing nationalist parties have often triumphed in Austria, even since World War II. In January, the leader of Vienna’s Jewish Community said the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported to his office had doubled in the previous year.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center regularly grades Austria among its lowest-scoring countries in terms of prosecuting Nazi war criminals.
by David Edwards
Ben Shapiro, the Breitbart News editor-at-large who reported a false story about Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s ties to the non-existent group “Friends of Hamas,” says that there was no doubt “Hitler was a left-winger.”
During a Thursday radio interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity’s radio show, Shapiro accused the American “left-wing press” of supporting Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, Italian fascist Benito Mussolini and the Soviet Union.
“Of course Hitler was a left-winger!” Shapiro exclaimed. “The name of his party was National Socialism, he redistributed wealth, he shut down businesses. This argument that Hitler was a right-winger is absurd. It’s absolutely ridiculous and historically ignorant.”
He added: “It’s a slander put forward by the left in order to try and shut down all debate on the fact that socialism and the rise of the left in countries in a major way usually leads to dictatorial natures for more of than, for example, a limited government.”
In 2010 “documentary” on Fox News, former host Glenn Beck had also argued that Hitler was more liberal than conservative.
But the Examiner’s Ryan Witt called that an “absurd claim.”
“Looking at all of Hitler’s policies, not just the select few Beck picks, Hitler was clearly more right-wing conservative that left-wing liberal,” he wrote.
Witt pointed out that Hitler allowed the industrialist to make tremendous profits, greatly increased defense spending and used religion to advance his agenda.
“Beck only distorts the historical record by arguing Hitler was somehow more progressive or liberal than conservative,” he concluded. “If anything an analysis of all of Hitler policies resemble more of an extreme far-right ideology than anything else.”
Victor Gregg: I survived the bombing of Dresden and continue to believe it was a war crime ~ Guardian
by Victor Gregg
I wasn’t new to murder and bloodletting. I had enlisted two years prior to the outbreak of the second world war and by the time I was 21 I had taken part in one major battle and various smaller ones. I had been in fights where the ground in front of me was littered with the remains of young men who had once been full of the joy of living, laughing and joking with their mates. As each year of the war went by, the fighting got more ferocious, new weapons were introduced and fresh young men became the targets. How I remained a sane person through all this I don’t know.
Then came the evening of the 13 February, 1945 – 68 years ago this week. I was a prisoner of war held in Dresden. At about 10.30pm that night, the air raid sirens started their mournful wailing and because this happened every night no notice was taken. The people of Dresden believed that as long as the Luftwaffe kept away from Oxford, Dresden would be spared. The sirens stopped and after a short period of silence the first wave of pathfinders were over the city dropping their target flares.
As the incendiaries fell, the phosphorus clung to the bodies of those below, turning them into human torches. The screaming of those who were being burned alive was added to the cries of those not yet hit. There was no need for flares to lead the second wave of bombers to their target, as the whole city had become a gigantic torch. It must have been visible to the pilots from a hundred miles away. Dresden had no defences, no anti-aircraft guns, no searchlights, nothing.
My account of this tragedy, Dresden: A Survivor’s Story, was published on the day of the anniversary this week. I gave a number of interviews around the publication, in which I insisted that the affair was a war crime at the highest level, a stain upon the name Englishman that only an apology made in full public view would suffice to obliterate.
Many – including some writing comments underneath articles on this site – have criticised me for this. Reading through the criticisms I have to admit that some of the things I have written have caused many people some hurt, but to these people I would say that as a person I still suffer at times the memories of those terrible events.
From being regarded as some form of hero on the one hand, to a Nazi supporter on the other, has taught me that there are so many sides to any question. I have learned to try to understand those who disagree with my outlook. Like Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse-Five, I wrote as I witnessed. I have no axe to grind. I just sat down and tried to empty my mind and clear away the residues of the nightmares that I still occasionally suffered from.
My justification for still harbouring these attitudes is the events in European history since the ending of the second world war. The massacres in Bosnia at Srebrenica, the hurling of Tomahawk missiles by British naval cruisers into the centre of an inhabited Benghazi, the manner in which as a nation we still tend to be sympathetic to the use of superior aircraft strength to bomb overcrowded refugee centres. These are the reasons my anger has refused to subside.
Perhaps I should be more realistic and knuckle down to the concept of the brutality of the human race, but I have always been a stubborn individual. I am not a diplomat. I just happen to have witnessed the worst that man has to offer and I like it not one bit. Bearing in mind that I care deeply about the future of all my children and grandchildren, please allow me to express my anger.
A top Russian Orthodox cleric has praised the Russian people for disrupting Stalin’s plan to change the historical course of Russia, but at the same time called for not all Soviet history to be painted black.
“I doubt that Stalin wanted Russia to return to its roots, he sincerely lived by the ideals of the World Revolution. But the logic of history, the conscience of the people forced him to start Russia’s return to its roots,” said the head of the Holy Synod’s Department for Church and Society Relations, Vsevolod Chaplin at a discussion dedicated to the 60th anniversary of Stalin’s death.
The panel was held at the discussion club of the World’s Russian People’s Assembly – the international NGO that specializes in development of the Russian political thought.
The Russian Orthodox Church enjoyed a privileged role in the Russian Empire, but after 1917 revolution the Bolshevik government declared a secular state and seized all of the church’s assets, including land and church buildings. The move caused opposition in the clergy leading to repression that ended only after the Soviet Union’s entry into World War II as the state needed religion to boost people’s morale.
Vsevolod Chaplin told the discussion club that it was the Russian Orthodox Church that appeared to be stronger than Stalin.
“The martyr’s feat and the resurrection of the Church and everything that has happened after it showed that our people, its spirit, the logic of its history and its way are stronger than the strongest force and more powerful than the most powerful leader,” Chaplin was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
At the same time Chaplin said the Soviet period of Russian history was not uniform and therefore could be assessed very differently.
Chaplin said during the discussion that the harmful theories and philosophy were all imported from abroad, including the theory of the World Revolution while during the Great Patriotic war the people started to return to the deep rooted home values, including the Christian faith.
The church official emphasized that Soviet authorities under Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin committed a lot of crimes against innocent people, including the repressions against the clergy and the Church itself. “These crimes must get a duly assessment from our people and we must do everything to prevent these crimes from happening again,” Chaplin said.
The attitude towards Stalin is a topic of heated discussion in Russia.
For years activists posted Stalin’s image on buses during Victory Day celebrations and local legislature in the central Russian city of Volgograd renamed the city Stalingrad on major holidays. This move, however got no support at the federal level.
At the same time, a number of NGOs and public movements still demand public condemnation of the Soviet dictator due to his purges and repressions.
An opinion poll conducted in October 2012 has shown that Stalin’s popularity has grown from the final days of the Soviet Union. 42 percent of those polled called Stalin a person with greatest influence on the history of mankind compared to just 12 percent in 1989. 22 percent of Russians said that Stalin’s role in history was purely negative against 60 percent holding the same opinion in 1989.
by Dalya Alberge
Pius XII has long been vilified as “Hitler’s pope”, accused of failing publicly to condemn the genocide of Europe’s Jews. Now a British author has unearthed extensive material that Vatican insiders believe will restore his reputation, revealing the part that he played in saving lives and opposing nazism. Gordon Thomas, a Protestant, was given access to previously unpublished Vatican documents and tracked down victims, priests and others who had not told their stories before.
The Pope’s Jews, which will be published next month, details how Pius gave his blessing to the establishment of safe houses in the Vatican and Europe’s convents and monasteries. He oversaw a secret operation with code names and fake documents for priests who risked their lives to shelter Jews, some of whom were even made Vatican subjects.
Thomas shows, for example, that priests were instructed to issue baptism certificates to hundreds of Jews hidden in Genoa, Rome and elsewhere in Italy. More than 2,000 Jews in Hungary were given fabricated Vatican documents identifying them as Catholics and a network saved German Jews by bringing them to Rome. The pope appointed a priest with extensive funds with which to provide food, clothing and medicine. More than 4,000 Jews were hidden in convents and monasteries across Italy.
During and immediately after the war, the pope was considered a Jewish saviour. Jewish leaders – such as Jerusalem’s chief rabbi in 1944 – said the people of Israel would never forget what he and his delegates “are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters at the most tragic hour”. Jewish newspapers in Britain and America echoed that praise, and Hitler branded him “a Jew lover”.
However, his image turned sour in the 1960s, thanks to Soviet antagonism towards the Vatican and a German play by Rolf Hochhuth, The Deputy, which vilified the pope, accusing him of silence and inaction over the Jews. It was a trend that intensified with the publication of Hitler’s Pope, a book by John Cornwell.
by Matthew Day
Some 18 crates of gold and platinum may lie buried under the bed of the Stolpsee, a 988-acre stretch of water to the north of the German capital.
Yaron Svoray, who has the backing of German authorities, will use the latest sonar and radar equipment to try and locate the gold, which, the story goes, was dropped into the lake under the orders of Hermann Goering as the Red Army made its final push for Berlin in March, 1945.
One eyewitness, Eckhard Litz, told a post-war commission that he saw around 30 concentration camp prisoners unloading heavy crates from lorries parked by the Stolpsee. The boxes were then ferried into the middle of the lake, and thrown into its waters.
“When the last case had been thrown overboard, the men returned to shore, were lined up and the last thing I saw were the flashes of the machine guns of the guards as they were killed,” recalled Mr Litz.
Mr Svoray, who has spent much of his life tracking anti-Semites and hunting for Nazi treasure, believes that the German in command of the operation later fled to South America.
His attempt to find the mysterious Stolpsee treasure is not the first. In the 1980s when the lake lay behind the Iron Curtain, the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police, used combat divers to hunt for the gold, and two years ago a group of businessmen also tried to locate it.
The Nazis, and in particular Hermann Goering, amassed vast fortunes in treasure stolen from their victims, and this, said Mr Svoray, has provided him with another reason to find the gold.
“To me it is not just about the treasure, but also about the people who had it taken from them,” he explained. “My goal is to finally earn them a bit of justice.”
by Ofer Aderet
A rug from the collection of Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler’s second-in-command and an obsessive art collector, is decorating German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office, the German weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday.
The rug is one of thousands of artifacts, art and jewelry once owned by Nazis – some of which was looted from Jews and other Holocaust victims – that is either installed in government buildings or in the possession of museums throughout Germany, nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, according to the magazine.
Another Nazi-owned rug is located in a German government guesthouse near Bonn, and a table once owned by the special official who advised Hitler on art is located in the home of German President Joachim Gauck, according to the report. It said the items are among 660 that were passed on to 18 federal offices throughout the country after World War II.
Michael Naumann, the former German secretary of culture, is calling on the German government to force the return of stolen works of art and to fund continued research that would locate additional works.
Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis plundered thousands of works of art throughout Europe, including valuable paintings by artists like Monet and Chagall. Most have not been restored to their owners, or the owners’ heirs, to this day. Some are on display in museums worldwide, including in Israel.
The magazine states that after the war, the state of Bavaria cheaply sold off dozens of villas that been owned by senior Nazi officials, thus depriving Holocaust survivors and their heirs of compensation payments they could have received if the properties had been sold for the market price.
Despite the scope of the property theft, there are no clear laws governing the return of the items. However, in recent years a number of international commissions have been formed to regulate the matter and initiate legislation.
On the cover of the latest issue is a photograph of the valuable platinum watch Adolf Hitler gave his lover, Eva Braun, which is now in the storerooms of the Pinakothek der Moderne museum in Munich. The watch bears a personal inscription from Hitler and the date February 6, 1939 – Braun’s 27th birthday.
There are also many items in Munich that belonged to Goering, including gold cuff links, a ring with a gemstone, gilded champagne glasses, and a gilded cigarette box bearing a 1940 inscription from Goering’s wife and daughter that reads: “Wishing the Reichsmarschall much luck and pride, with love Emmy and Edda.” A set of cutlery belonging to Hitler is also in Munich.
The Der Spiegel probe also revealed that a great deal of information is missing on the Nazi provenance of the art objects in the 6,300 museums throughout Germany. So far, 84 projects have been launched to locate the source of suspect items, but the resources allocated for the search are meager. For example, there is only one team responsible for locating the source of some 4,400 paintings and 770 statues from one of the collections in Munich.
In Jerusalem, the Israel Museum has had a permanent exhibition since 2008 entitled “Orphaned Art: Looted Art from the Holocaust in the Israel Museum,” which includes 50 items, out of the 1,200 in the museum’s possession, whose owners are unknown.
by Robert McCrum
[...] Braun’s home movies, mostly shot in Hitler’s fortified chalet in Berchtesgaden, in the Bavarian Alps, have a naive innocence. She captures in the private life of the Nazi high command what Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil”. In Braun’s footage, we see Hitler and his cronies relaxing on the terrace of his chalet. They drink coffee and take cakes; they joke and pose for the camera. Hitler talks to the children of his associates, or caresses his Alsatian, Blondi. The camera (in Eva Braun’s hands) approaches Hitler in rare and intimate close-up. Occasionally, when a visitor from outside the party elite appears, the camera retreats to a more respectful distance. Mostly, however, Braun’s cine-camera is among the party circle, at Hitler’s side, and at his table. Most of the footage is in colour, with an extraordinary immediacy. Braun’s films offer a remarkably unmediated view of the Nazi leadership and of Hitler himself. This was not the image presented by his propaganda team, or by Leni Riefenstahl, “Hitler’s favourite film-maker”, but the man as he actually was.
Braun’s films chart the Führer’s career up to the zenith of Nazi success, the summer of 1941. At that moment, with the eastern divisions of the Wehrmacht racing into the heart of the Soviet Union, it was reasonable to conclude, as many did, that Germany would win the war. But then came Pearl Harbor in December 1941, followed by Stalingrad and the defeat of Rommel in North Africa. Once Russia was fighting back, undefeated, and once America was committed to the Allied cause, the Third Reich was doomed, and Eva Braun ceased filming.
In the apocalyptic chaos of Hitler’s downfall, the final days in the bunker and the dramatic suicides of Adolf and Eva, Braun’s home movies, never widely known, became forgotten. Until Becker came on the scene.
“I asked for a Steenbeck [editing machine],” he recalls, “and began to watch. In my excitement, it was as if my life had a sense of purpose. I had been very angry about those Nazis. Now I could channel that anger in a positive way.”
In film-history terms, the moment Becker opened those first canisters was the equivalent of peering into the tomb of Tutankhamun. He had finally identified the treasure that many had spoken about but none had found. Adolf Hitler’s image would never be the same again.
Italy’s gaffe-prone former premier Silvio Berlusconi sparked outrage Sunday with remarks praising wartime dictator Benito Mussolini despite Il Duce’s persecution of Jews and allowing thousands to be deported to Auschwitz.
“The racial laws were the worst mistake of a leader, Mussolini, who however did good things in so many other areas,” Berlusconi, who is angling for a return to politics in elections next month, said on the sidelines of a ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day in Milan.
Starting in 1938, Mussolini promulgated decrees known collectively as racial laws that barred Jews from the civil service, the armed forces and the National Fascist Party. The laws also banned intermarriage.
Mussolini’s Italy participated in the deportation of Jews to the Auschwitz death camp, and an estimated 7,500 are estimated to have been victims of the Holocaust.
Italy “does not have the same responsibilities as Germany,” said Berlusconi, a billionaire media tycoon known for ill-considered outbursts.
On Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany had “an everlasting responsibility for the crimes of (the Nazis)”.
The head of Italy’s Jewish community, Renzo Gattegna, slammed Berlusconi’s remarks, saying they were “not only superficial and inopportune, but also… devoid of any moral meaning or historical foundation.”
Gattegna, head of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, added: “The persecution and the racist anti-Semitic laws of Italy originated well before the war and were applied with full autonomy under the… fascist regime, later an ally and willing and conscious accomplice of Nazi Germany.”
He said the remarks showed “the extent to which Italy still has trouble seriously accepting its own history and its own responsibilities”.
Centre-left politicians also voiced outrage over Berlusconi’s comments.
“Berlusconi’s words are a disgrace and an insult to history and memory. He should apologise to the Italian people today,” Dario Francheschini, head of the centre-left Democratic Party, said in a Twitter message.
His party is tipped to win the elections set for February 24-25.
by David Leigh, Jean François Tanda and Jessica Benhamou
Few passing London tourists would ever guess that the premises of Bulgari, the upmarket jewellers in New Bond Street, had anything to do with the pope. Nor indeed the nearby headquarters of the wealthy investment bank Altium Capital, on the corner of St James’s Square and Pall Mall.
Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church’s international portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.
Since then the international value of Mussolini’s nest-egg has mounted until it now exceeds £500m. In 2006, at the height of the recent property bubble, the Vatican spent £15m of those funds to buy 30 St James’s Square. Other UK properties are at 168 New Bond Street and in the city of Coventry. It also owns blocks of flats in Paris and Switzerland.
The surprising aspect for some will be the lengths to which the Vatican has gone to preserve secrecy about the Mussolini millions. The St James’s Square office block was bought by a company called British Grolux Investments Ltd, which also holds the other UK properties. Published registers at Companies House do not disclose the company’s true ownership, nor make any mention of the Vatican.
Instead, they list two nominee shareholders, both prominent Catholic bankers: John Varley, recently chief executive of Barclays Bank, and Robin Herbert, formerly of the Leopold Joseph merchant bank. Letters were sent from the Guardian to each of them asking whom they act for. They went unanswered. British company law allows the true beneficial ownership of companies to be concealed behind nominees in this way.
The company secretary, John Jenkins, a Reading accountant, was equally uninformative. He told us the firm was owned by a trust but refused to identify it on grounds of confidentiality. He told us after taking instructions: “I confirm that I am not authorised by my client to provide any information.”
Research in old archives, however, reveals more of the truth. Companies House files disclose that British Grolux Investments inherited its entire property portfolio after a reorganisation in 1999 from two predecessor companies called British Grolux Ltd and Cheylesmore Estates. The shares of those firms were in turn held by a company based at the address of the JP Morgan bank in New York. Ultimate control is recorded as being exercised by a Swiss company, Profima SA.
British wartime records from the National Archives in Kew complete the picture. They confirm Profima SA as the Vatican’s own holding company, accused at the time of “engaging in activities contrary to Allied interests”. Files from officials at Britain’s Ministry of Economic Warfare at the end of the war criticised the pope’s financier, Bernardino Nogara, who controlled the investment of more than £50m cash from the Mussolini windfall.
Nogara’s “shady activities” were detailed in intercepted 1945 cable traffic from the Vatican to a contact in Geneva, according to the British, who discussed whether to blacklist Profima as a result. “Nogara, a Roman lawyer, is the Vatican financial agent and Profima SA in Lausanne is the Swiss holding company for certain Vatican interests.” They believed Nogara was trying to transfer shares of two Vatican-owned French property firms to the Swiss company, to prevent the French government blacklisting them as enemy assets.
Earlier in the war, in 1943, the British accused Nogara of similar “dirty work”, by shifting Italian bank shares into Profima’s hands in order to “whitewash” them and present the bank as being controlled by Swiss neutrals. This was described as “manipulation” of Vatican finances to serve “extraneous political ends”.
The Mussolini money was dramatically important to the Vatican’s finances. John Pollard, a Cambridge historian, says in Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy: “The papacy was now financially secure. It would never be poor again.”
From the outset, Nogara was innovative in investing the cash. In 1931 records show he founded an offshore company in Luxembourg to hold the continental European property assets he was buying. It was called Groupement Financier Luxembourgeois, hence Grolux. Luxembourg was one of the first countries to set up tax-haven company structures in 1929. The UK end, called British Grolux, was incorporated the following year.
When war broke out, with the prospect of a German invasion, the Luxembourg operation and ostensible control of the British Grolux operation were moved to the US and to neutral Switzerland.
The Mussolini investments in Britain are currently controlled, along with its other European holdings and a currency trading arm, by a papal official in Rome, Paolo Mennini, who is in effect the pope’s merchant banker. Mennini heads a special unit inside the Vatican called the extraordinary division of APSA – Amministrazione del Patrimonio della Sede Apostolica – which handles the so-called “patrimony of the Holy See”.
According to a report last year from the Council of Europe, which surveyed the Vatican’s financial controls, the assets of Mennini’s special unit now exceed €680m (£570m).
While secrecy about the Fascist origins of the papacy’s wealth might have been understandable in wartime, what is less clear is why the Vatican subsequently continued to maintain secrecy about its holdings in Britain, even after its financial structure was reorganised in 1999.
The Guardian asked the Vatican’s representative in London, the papal nuncio, archbishop Antonio Mennini, why the papacy continued with such secrecy over the identity of its property investments in London. We also asked what the pope spent the income on. True to its tradition of silence on the subject, the Roman Catholic church’s spokesman said that the nuncio had no comment.
A commonly heard argument against gun control is that the National Socialists of Germany (the Nazis) used it in their ascent to and maintenance of power. A corollary argument is sometimes made that had the Jews (and presumably the other targeted groups) been armed, they could have fought off Nazi tyranny. This tract seeks to counter these misassumptions about Nazi gun control.
Gun control, the Law on Firearms and Ammunition, was introduced to Germany in 1928 under the Weimar regime (there was no Right to Arms in the Constitution of 1919) in large part to disarm the nascent private armies, e.g. the Nazi SA (aka “the brownshirts”). The Weimar government was attempting to bring some stability to German society and politics (a classic “law and order” position). Violent extremist movements (of both the Left and Right) were actively attacking the young, and very fragile, democratic state. A government that cannot maintain some degree of public order cannot sustain its legitimacy. Nor was the German citizenry well grounded in Constitutional, republican government (as was evidenced in their choices at the ballot box). Gun control was not initiated at the behest or on behalf of the Nazis – it was in fact designed to keep them, or others of the same ilk, from executing a revolution against the lawful government. In the strictest sense, the law succeeded – the Nazis did not stage an armed coup.
The 1928 law was subsequently extended in 1938 under the Third Reich (this action being the principal point in support of the contention that the Nazis were advocates of gun control). However, the Nazis were firmly in control of Germany at the time the Weapons Law of 1938 was created. Further, this law was not passed by a legislative body, but was promulgated under the dictatorial power granted Hitler in 1933. Obviously, the Nazis did not need gun control to attain power as they already (in 1938) possessed supreme and unlimited power in Germany. The only feasible argument that gun control favored the Nazis would be that the 1928 law deprived private armies of a means to defeat them. The basic flaw with this argument is that the Nazis did not seize power by force of arms, but through their success at the ballot box (and the political cunning of Hitler himself). Secondary considerations that arise are that gun ownership was not that widespread to begin with, and, even imagining such ubiquity the German people, Jews in particular, were not predisposed to violent resistance to their government.
The Third Reich did not need gun control (in 1938 or at any time thereafter) to maintain their power. The success of Nazi programs (restoring the economy, dispelling socio-political chaos) and the misappropriation of justice by the apparatus of terror (the Gestapo) assured the compliance of the German people. Arguing otherwise assumes a resistance to Nazi rule that did not exist. Further, supposing the existance of an armed resistance also requires the acceptance that the German people would have rallied to the rebellion. This argument requires a total suspension of disbelief given everything we know about 1930s Germany. Why then did the Nazis introduce this program? As with most of their actions (including the formation of the Third Reich itself), they desired to effect a facade of legalism around the exercise of naked power. It is unreasonable to treat this as a normal part of lawful governance, as the rule of law had been entirely demolished in the Third Reich. Any direct quotations, of which there are several, that pronounce some beneficence to the Weapons Law should be considered in the same manner as all other Nazi pronouncements – absolute lies. (See Bogus Gun Control Quotes and endnote .)
A more farfetched question is the hypothetical proposition of armed Jewish resistance. First, they were not commonly armed even prior to the 1928 Law. Second, Jews had seen pogroms before and had survived them, though not without suffering. They would expect that this one would, as had the past ones, eventually subside and permit a return to normalcy. Many considered themselves “patriotic Germans” for their service in the first World War. These simply were not people prepared to stage violent resistance. Nor were they alone in this mode of appeasement. The defiance of “never again” is not so much a warning to potential oppressors as it is a challenge to Jews to reject the passive response to pogrom. Third, it hardly seems conceivable that armed resistance by Jews (or any other target group) would have led to any weakening of Nazi rule, let alone a full scale popular rebellion; on the contrary, it seems more likely it would have strengthened the support the Nazis already had. Their foul lies about Jewish perfidy would have been given a grain of substance. To project backward and speculate thus is to fail to learn the lesson history has so painfully provided.
The simple conclusion is that there are no lessons about the efficacy of gun control to be learned from the Germany of the first half of this century. It is all too easy to forget the seductive allure that fascism presented to all the West, bogged down in economic and social morass. What must be remembered is that the Nazis were master manipulators of popular emotion and sentiment, and were disdainful of people thinking for themselves. There is the danger to which we should pay great heed. Not fanciful stories about Nazi’s seizing guns.
Shirer, William L., The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.Jay Simkin, Aaron Zelman and Alan Rice, Lethal Laws.
. This is not to say Hitler did not value gun control. After having occupied Russian territory Hitler said:
Der größte Unsinn, den man in den besetzen Ostgebieten machen könnte, sei der, den unterworfenen Völkern Waffen zu geben. Die Geschicte lehre, daß alle Herrenvölker untergegangen seien, nachdem sie den von ihnen unterworfenen Volkern Waffen bewilligt hatten.[The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to permit the conquered Eastern peoples to have arms. History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so.]
— Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), April 11, 1942, quoted in Hitlers Tischegesprache Im Fuhrerhauptquartier 1941-1942.
[Hitler's Table-Talk at the Fuhrer's Headquarters 1941-1942], Dr. Henry Picker, ed. (Athenaum-Verlag, Bonn, 1951)
GunCite does not have the German version, but Hitler continues, “Indeed I would go so far as to say that the underdog is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or police. German troops alone will bear the sole responsibility for the maintenance of law and order.”