War

Photo Of The Day

Solomon and Frieda Radasky. After over 50 years of marriage and two children, Frieda Radasky passed away in 1999. Frieda, like her husband, was from Warsaw.

Solomon and Frieda Radasky. After over 50 years of marriage and two children, Frieda Radasky passed away in 1999. Frieda, like her husband, was from Warsaw.

Solomon Radasky

Survivor

The 27th of January was Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember how little we remember. Despite the many movies, books and survivor testimonies, there are the countless stories that have been lost and there are all the non-transmissible sensations. One who was not there can never know what it felt like to be there.

How did I survive? When a person is in trouble he wants to live. He fights for his life…Some people say, “Eh — What will be, will be.” No! You have to fight for yourself day by day. Some people did not care. They said, “I do not want to live. What is the difference? I don’t give a damn.” I was thinking day by day. I want to live. A person has to hold on to his own will, hold on to that to the last minute.

I am from Warsaw. I lived in Praga, which is the part of the city across the Vistula river. I had a nice life there; I had my own shop where I used to make fur coats. In Warsaw when a Jewish holiday came we used to know it was a holiday. All the stores were closed, and the people were in the synagogues.

Out of the 78 people in my family, I am the only one to survive. My parents had 3 boys and 3 girls: My parents were Jacob and Toby; my brothers were Moishe and Baruch, and my sisters were Sarah, Rivka and Leah. They were all killed.

My mother and my older sister were killed in the last week of January 1941. The year 1941 was a cold winter with a lot of snow. One morning the SD and the Jewish police caught me in the street. I was forced to work with a lot of other people clearing snow from the railroad tracks. Our job was to keep the trains running.

When I returned to the ghetto I found out that my mother and older sister had been killed. The Germans demanded that the Judenrat collect gold and furs from the people in the ghetto. When they asked my mother for jewelry and furs, she said she had none. So they shot her and my older sister too.

My father was killed in April 1942. He went to buy bread from the children who were smuggling food into the ghetto. The children brought bread, potatoes and cabbages across the wall into the Warsaw ghetto. A Jewish policeman pointed out my father to a German and told him that he saw my father take a bread from a boy at the wall. The German shot my father in the back.

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Photo Of The Day

A German worker refuses to raise his arm to give the nazi salute at Hitler's arrival to his factory, Hamburg, 1936.

A German worker refuses to raise his arm to give the nazi salute at Hitler’s arrival to his factory, Hamburg, 1936.

Just One Refused The Nazi Salute

It was Nazi Germany in 1936, and a crowd of people had gathered in Hamburg to watch the launch of a navy training vessel. As hundreds raised their arms in unison in the Nazi salute, one man stood with his arms crossed, his eyes squinting at whoever was leading the salute.

This picture has appeared periodically over the last few years. Its popularity is easy to understand. A crowd is slavishly announcing the thousand year Reich but one man, can you spot him, refuses to lift his hand. The picture has become associated with August Landmesser, a member of the Nazi party who made the error (according to his regime) of marrying a Jewish woman and then saw his family broken up, his wife murdered, and who was ultimately drafted and lost (MIA) on the Croatian front as the iron dream turned rusty.

And yet… And yet…

Well, we’ll get to the story in a minute but first, the basic facts about the photograph. The image was taken 13 June 1936 at the launch of the Horst Wessel at the Blohm und Voss shipyard in Hamburg, a German training vessel: bizarrists may be interested to know that this ship is now called the Eagle and is part of the U.S. Coast Guard.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: August 01, 1944| Crédits : W. Eugene Smith. Desperation: Saipan civilians commit suicide rather than surrendering to American troops.

Photo: August 01, 1944| Crédits : W. Eugene Smith.
Desperation: Saipan civilians commit suicide rather than surrendering to American troops.

Suicide Cliff

The Battle of the Island of Saipan is most remembered as an amazing show of US military defiance, but there was another act of defiance which took place during that bloody battle: Mass Suicide.

Fearing the US troops would torture and murder them—mainly due to propaganda laid out by the Japanese Imperial Army—the citizens of Saipan walked into the sea, or jumped off the cliffs and drowned themselves. The most notorious scene of the mass suicide was Marpi Point, a steep 250-meter (800 ft) precipice where American soldiers witnessed entire families fling themselves into the waves. First the older children pushed the younger children over the edge, then the mothers would push the eldest children, and finally the fathers would push their wives, before jumping over the edge themselves. Thousands of civilians died this way.

The Imperial Army drove residents from shelters, took their food, prohibited them from surrendering, tortured, and slaughtered them on grounds of suspected spying. They forced people into “mutual killing” among close relatives, and left the sick and handicapped on the battlefield.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Unknown Source. Häyhä after being awarded the honorary rifle model 28.

Photo: Unknown Source.
Häyhä after being awarded the honorary rifle model 28.

Simo Häyhä

The White Death – World’s Greatest Sniper

Simo Häyhä was credited with over 500 kills in his service during the Winter War with his service cut short as he was wounded by a Soviet sniper. Simo was shot in the face with what turned out to be an exploding bullet and he was taken out of action due to these wounds. The total time that Simo Häyhä served in the Winter War was 100 days with about 500 kills credited to him. His record is truly remarkable and is long since remembered in the nation of Finland.

Häyhä’s specialty was his knowledge of the forests, his enduring patience, and his impeccable rifle marksmanship. A sniper by trade, he would dress up in all-white camouflage, sneak through the woods with only a day’s worth of food and couple clips of ammunition, and then lie in wait for any Russian stupid enough to wander into his kill zone.

Simo Häyhä was born in 1906 or 1905 (there seems to be two dates of his birth depending on the reference materials) in Rautajärvi, Finland.  The town was in the shadow of the Soviet Union and as was the case with many border areas, the home of Mr. Häyhä was lost to the Soviets in the spoils of the Winter War.  Like many of the towns and villages of this region the area was rural, and Mr. Häyhä was what people would call an outdoorsman spending much of his time outside letting his skills sharpen.

In 1925 Mr. Häyhä joined the Finnish Army for his one year of mandatory service.  He must have been suited well for the Army in some regards as when he left he had achieved the rank of corporal.  Later Simo Häyhä joined the Suojelskunta (Finnish Civil Guard) serving in his home district. The Civil Guard is a difficult organization to explain but putting the Civil Guard in US terms it is much like a very well-trained National Guard Unit.

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Sonny Bill Williams doesn’t want Syrian children bombed

sonny-bill1

The images of dead children tweeted by Sonny Bill Williams are purportedly casualties of a Russian airstrike on a Syrian school.

Without picking sides, Williams wrote: “What did these children do to deserve this? This summer share a thought for the innocent lives lost everyday in war.” Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Remarkable: Captain Robert Campbell returned to a German PoW camp after being given permission to leave to visit his dying mother in Britain by the Kaiser.

Remarkable: Captain Robert Campbell returned to a German PoW camp after being given permission to leave to visit his dying mother in Britain by the Kaiser.

Prisoner of Honour

A British Army officer captured by the Germans during World War One was granted temporary leave from a prisoner of war camp to visit his dying mother on one condition – that he returns.

Robert Campbell, pictured above, served as a captain in the British military in World War I. As the conflict went on, so did the number of prisoners of war held by both sides, and by the summer of 1916, Germany held more than 1.6 million such POWs. In December of that year, Captain Campbell became one of those POWs for the second time.

Captain Campbell was captured early in the war; the UK declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, Campbell became a POW before the month was out. He spent more than two years at a German prison camp in the town of Magdeburg and, like many POWs, was allowed to write letters to friends and family back home.

But after two years in Magdeburg Prisoner of War Camp the British officer received word from home his mother Louise Campbell was close to death.

He speculatively wrote to Kaiser Wilhelm II begging to be allowed home to visit his mother one final time. He was astonished to be given permission – on condition that he promised to return.

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Photo Of The Day

Picture: CORBIS. American soldier Floyd James Thompson was captured on March 26, 1964 and released March 16, 1973. He spent 10 days short of 9 years (8 years, 355 days) as a POW, he is the longest held POW of the Vietnam war and longest held POW in the United States history.

Picture: CORBIS.
American soldier Floyd James Thompson was captured on March 26, 1964 and released March 16, 1973. He spent 10 days short of 9 years (8 years, 355 days) as a POW, he is the longest held POW of the Vietnam war and longest held POW in the United States history.

 The Glory and Tragedy of a P.O.W.

In the early years of American involvement in Southeast Asia, most Americans were not aware of the situation there. When Floyd J. Thompson told his mother he was being shipped out to Vietnam for a six-month tour in early 1964, she asked, “Where the hell is that?”  He replied, “I don’t know.”

Col. Floyd James “Jim” Thompson of the U.S. Army Special Forces was captured by the Vietcong in South Vietnam in March 1964 and held longer than any other prisoner of war in American history, suffering greatly physically and emotionally.

If there was ever a man who never got a break in his life, it was Jim Thompson. Raised by a domineering and abusive father, drafted into the Army he at first hated military life but then came to love it. But in the military things did not come easily for Thompson. Commissioned through OCS, he did not volunteer for Special Forces but is ordered into it when the Army, at JFK’s directive, rapidly expands the Green Berets.

Sent to Vietnam, Thompson and his team were sent to one the most remote and potentially dangerous outposts the Army had and he and his team found themselves very quickly in over their heads.

Thompson’s saga as a POW for nearly 9 years was a brutal one, isolation, malnutrition, torture. It is not until he has been a prisoner over 4 yrs that he finally met other Americans, a group of soldiers and civilian personnel captures at Hue during the Tet Offensive. By this point Thompson was reduced to about 100 lbs and looked to the other POWs to be in his 70s when he’s actually in his mid 30s.

After his return is even more brutal, betrayal by his wife, divorce, alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, career problems, totally dysfunctional children, attempted suicide, psychiatric hospitalization.The Thompson family was literally destroyed by the Vietnam War and there were almost no survivors.

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Photo Of The Day

Matej Divizna/Getty Images News/Getty Images. Sir Nicholas George Winton MBE.

Matej Divizna/Getty Images News/Getty Images.
Sir Nicholas George Winton MBE.

Sir Nicholas Winton

Saved Hundreds of Children from Holocaust

Sir Nicholas Winton, organized the transport of 669 Czech children destined for Nazi concentration camps. As the threat of World War II loomed on the horizon and Germany’s growing anti-semitism became more apparent, Winton helped transport hundreds of Jewish children from Czechoslovakia to safety in England, but his heroic efforts went largely unknown for decades.

In October 1939, Nazi Germany annexed a large portion of western Czechoslovakia. News had reached the world of Germany’s violent campaigns against Jews, and many feared that their growing presence in Czechoslovakia meant that Czech Jews were no longer safe.

Winton, who was 29-years-old at the time, was working as a stockbroker in London. When he learned about the situation in Czechoslovakia he became concerned about the Nazi threat and decided to act. Setting up an office for his new organization in the dining room of a Prague hotel, Winton utilized a 1938 Act of Parliament that allowed refugee children under the age of 17 to enter the U.K. as long as money was deposited and a family was found to look after them.

Despite his incredible humanitarian work, Winton never sought or received recognition for many years after the end of the war. Many of the children he rescued were simply so young that they could not remember how they had been saved.

The world found out about his work over 50 years later.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Imperial War Museums. Douglas Bader sitting on his Hurricane, as commanding officer of No.242 Squadron after the Battle of France.

Photo: Imperial War Museums.
Douglas Bader sitting on his Hurricane, as commanding officer of No.242 Squadron after the Battle of France.

Douglas Bader

“To my way of thinking, a disabled man who has achieved
independence is no longer disabled”

Douglas Bader is one of the Royal Air Force’s most famous pilots and his story has inspired countless people in many different ways. He possessed many of the qualities that might be expected of a fighter pilot, especially determination to succeed in difficult circumstances and the ability to lead and inspire others.

Bader has been described as “determined and dogmatic”, “fearless and always eager for a challenge” and “intensely loyal to the causes he cared about and to his friends”.

Bader was born in London in 1910, the son of a civil engineer who travelled to the furthest reaches of the British Empire building all kinds of cool stuff, but then ended up being mortally wounded fighting the Germans in the First World War.

Bader didn’t have the money to go to Cambridge University (even though he had been accepted), but did manage to get a scholarship to attend the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell on scholarship.

While at school, he captained the Rugby team, was a champion boxer, and almost got expelled a couple times because he kept racing cars even though he totally wasn’t supposed to.  Basically this guy’s entire life was like Fast and the Furious.

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Is it us versus them or are we more civilised than that?

chess

According to research political debates can trigger the same parts of the brain as war. They claim that being affiliated to a political party is more like membership of a gang or clique.They also say that race is only noticed by our brains if it will help us predict which side of a political debate someone is on.

While I consider myself to belong to a group of people I would loosely call right wing I see it as a club rather than a gang and one that has very diverse beliefs and only a very general consensus within the ranks to use military terminology.On individual issues we are not all the same. One prime example that we have seen on this blog would be the Gay marriage debate.

My closest friend is a Green supporter and she and I can quite happily agree to disagree.When I read things in the Media or on other blogs that I believe to be ignorant or deliberately misleading I admit I do get a little upset but that I believe is not because of the alternative view but because I feel that it is not based on facts.

What do you think about the study? Does discussing politics or watching political debates make you angry?Do different opinions to yours here on WO make you angry? On other blogs? Do the researchers have a point?

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