Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day

The Police Commissioner Made A Deal With Leigh And Devine. In 1935, Police Commissioner McKay decided to speak with Devine and Leigh to get them to stop ordering attacks and cut the cocaine distribution. It was either they stop picking on each other and pedalling coke, or the entire police force would find a way to shut down every shady business they both had. So they agreed.

Tilly Devine ‘Queen of Woolloomooloo’

 and

Kate Leigh “Queen of the Underworld”

Brothel Madams to Crime Moguls: These Women Terrorised Sydney with Their Fierce Gang Rivalry. Dubbed the “Worst Woman in Sydney,” Tilly Devine was the Queen of the criminal underworld in Woolloomooloo in the 1920s. She spent years as a prostitute and ran a string of brothels, in addition to heading a razor blade gang.

Not far behind her in the criminal ranks, was rival razor gang leader and booze bootlegger Kate Leigh. Leigh was the Queen of Surry Hills, but she had her eye on becoming the crime lord of Sydney and would stop at nothing to dethrone Devine. In addition to terrorising Sydney, the two would have brawls in the streets and attack each other’s businesses.

Tilly Devine was born Matilda Twiss and began her career of prostitution as a teenager in England. She didn’t take on the name Tilly Devine until she met Jim Devine, an Australian serviceman, in 1917. She married him and followed him back to Australia in 1919, where she managed to accrue 79 convictions in just five years time. It wasn’t until 1925 that any of her arrests resulted in a serious penalty—she served two years jail time after slashing the face of a Sydney Corke with a razor blade.

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Young Julian Bilecki. Julian Bilecki (also called Yulian Biletskiy) (1928–2007), a Polish teenager, aided the rescue of 23 Jews during the Holocaust in Poland.  He lived in the village of Zawalow with his family and cousins. His parents owned a farm and all the family would live there in the part of Poland that is know known as Ukraine.

Julian Bilecki

(1928–2007)

“To save one life is as if you have saved the world”

Teenager Who Saved Dozens Of Jews From Nazi Death Squads

Paralysing terror and enduring agony bind the characteristics of the Holocaust together. It expressed man’s carnal barbarism to the fullest with the rarity of human kindness to illuminate the darkness bestowed. Thankfully, there were some people who preserved the hope for humanity’s future.

A Ukrainian Bible and a bag of mushrooms. Those were the most precious items Julian Bilecki packed for his Lot Polish Airlines flight to New York in 1999, for a reunion with some of the 23 Jews he and his family saved from the Nazis in 1943.

The Bible is for Bilecki. An evangelical Christian, he prayed from it each morning.

The mushrooms were for Genia Melzer, Sabina Grau Schnitzer, Mina Blumenfeld, Oscar Friedfertig and Arthur Friedfertig, mutual relatives from Zawalow (now in western Ukraine but part of Poland until World War II) who live in New York and met Bilecki at JFK Airport in a sea of tears and hugs.

They asked him to bring the mushrooms, a reminder of survival. One morning in the winter of 1943, they and other emaciated Jews emerged from the second of three bunkers in the woods near Zawalow, where Bilecki and his relatives had surreptitiously brought food for a year. The survivors, who were fasting at least once a week as a form of prayer and conservation, encountered a field of freshly sprouted mushrooms.

“Non-poisonous mushrooms,” Schnitzer stressed in the living room of her Forest Hills, Queens, home where her family gathered with Bilecki for an afternoon of reminiscence. The mushrooms kept them alive for a week until the Bileckis could reach the Jews’ new hiding place.

“It was like manna from heaven,” Melzer added.

Julian Bilecki handpicked the mushrooms from nearby woods before flying from Lvov, on a flight paid for by the Polish airline. He dried them over a fire, tied them with a string and wrapped them in a plastic bag, handing them to his hosts at an all-night party the day he arrived. “The best gift was him,” Schnizter said.

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Gerd Heidemann poses with the diaries. Image from Stern Magazine – Apr 22, 1983. Gerd Heidemann, a reporter for Stern, stood at the centre of the hoax. He was both its primary instigator and, paradoxically, one of its main dupes.

The Fake Hitler Diaries

Media organisations competed to buy the rights to Hitler’s diaries, which turned out to be one of the most outrageous fakes in the history of journalism. It would have been one of the greatest historical buys of the 20th century: Sixty-two handwritten volumes of a secret diary kept by Adolf Hitler. Der Stern Magazine thought they had the exclusive rights into one of the darkest minds of all time. Instead, they paid millions of dollars for a hoax.

In 1983, German newsweekly Stern came out with an exclusive report on what seemed to be the most explosive diaries in history: the collected thoughts of Adolf Hitler. The diaries, allegedly written between 1932 and 1945, were found in East Germany, apparently in the wreckage of a plane crash where they had been hidden since that time.

Stern paid an estimated $6 million for the diaries, and the plan was to publish them in partnership with The Sunday Times of London. The Times (along with Newsweek) brought in experts to confirm the document’s authenticity — to historian Hugh Trevor-Roper the diaries appeared genuine, at least the handwriting. But as Stern began to share the documents, it became clear they were not authentic — in fact, they were a modern forgery containing historical mistakes, written in tea-stained composition books — and as it turns out, Trevor-Roper, who reviewed the documents for their authenticity, couldn’t read German. While the documents had come from Germany, they had not come from Hitler; Heidemann had bought the faked diaries from an art dealer (and forger) named Konrad Kajau.

The documents had apparently been hidden away in East Germany by a mysterious Dr Fischer after being recovered from an aircraft crash near Dresden in April 1945. The diaries passed three handwriting tests; the Times of London and Newsweek engaged historians, Hugh Trevor-Roper and Gerhard Weinberg, to examine the papers, with Trevor-Roper, convinced of their authenticity.

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The star-struck Claretta, Mussolini’s last love. According to her diaries, he radiated a ‘god-like potency’ and a ‘bull-like’ magnetism.

‘I’d like To Jump Onto Your Bed Like a Big Tomcat’

Benito Mussolini had two wives, several mistresses and dozens, possibly hundreds, of casual lovers during his lifetime

Star-struck Claretta Petacci was determined to conquer her ‘divine Caesar’ — and was finally strung up beside him. Claretta Petacci, born 28 February 1912, was perhaps the biggest love in Benito Mussolini’s life, a man 30 years her senior. Brought up in a wealthy family, Clara’s father was the pope’s personal physician.

As a child in fascist Italy, Clara Petacci (known as Claretta) was dutifully adoring of Benito Mussolini and the Cult of ducismo. She gave the stiff-armed Roman salute while at school (the Duce had declared handshaking Fey and unhygienic) and sang the fascist youth anthem ‘Giovinezza’. Her father, was a convinced fascist, for whom Mussolini was the incarnation of animal cunning — furbizia — and the manful fascist soul. Claretta herself would have to wait before she met the ‘divine Caesar’.

The story begins like a romantic novel. On a glorious spring day in Rome in April 1932, stunning heiress Claretta Petacci and her dashing fiance, an army lieutenant, took off in their chauffeured limousine for a day at the beach.

Giggling excitedly between them on the back seat of the Lancia was Claretta’s nine-year-old sister, Myriam, there as chaperone. The road to the coast was a marvel of modern engineering, a motorway built at the command of Italy’s fascist dictator — prime minister Benito Mussolini. He was at the height of his powers, adored by Italians who knew him as Il Duce and feted by leaders around the world. Winston Churchill called him the ‘Roman genius’, and even Mahatma Gandhi praised his ‘passionate love for his people’.

That same day, Il Duce was also taking a spin in the sunshine along the Via del Mare in his bright red Alfa Romeo 8C, with its long running boards and rear fin like the crest of a Roman god’s helmet. Near Ostia, Mussolini’s car recklessly overtook the limousine, blasting his horn as he did. The young woman in the back smiled and waved. For a fleeting moment, Mussolini looked into her eyes — and was smitten. Pulling over, he signalled for the Lancia to stop. Claretta recognised Mussolini at once and scrambled out of the car. ‘I’m going to pay homage to him,’ she declared. ‘I’ve been waiting for such a long time.’

Claretta had been besotted with Mussolini for years, ever since a 1926 assassination attempt when the insane Irish aristocrat Violet Gibson took a potshot at him with a revolver. The bullet just nicked the bridge of his nose. Then a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Claretta had been aghast at the news and penned a gushing letter to him: ‘O, Duce, why was I not with you? Could I not have strangled that murderous woman?’

She told him she dreamed of putting her ‘head on your chest so I could still hear the beats of your great heart. Duce, my life is for you’. Now her teenage fantasies were about to be realised.

The cars drew level, and Mussolini pulled over to confront his pursuer. Petacci was 19; he was 49. But to judge by her diaries — first published in Italy in 2009 as Mussolini segreto (Secret Mussolini) — the encounter was love at first sight. As the weeks went by, the doctor’s daughter began to court the Duce in a decorous way, first by sending him perfumed billets-doux, then by calling him on the telephone.

Mussolini, never one to resist a woman’s advances, soon took her to bed.

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Throughout Chillingham Castle’s years of restoration, countless bodies have been discovered hidden in various hidden rooms, crawlspaces, and behind brick walls. Perhaps most notable of the discoveries where the skeletons of a man and child found hiding in a small underground vault. No one knows who they are, or why they were hiding in the tiny stone vault in the first place.

The Chilling History of Chillingham Castle

Believed to be the most horrific place in Europe, the Chillingham Castle has seen many wars, deaths and tortures since the 12th century.

In North Northumberland, within sight of the Cheviot Hills, lies the medieval stronghold of Chillingham Castle. Tucked away on the outskirts of the village of the same name, it is remote and forbidding in aspect. Wild cattle still live in these parts, descendants of the beasts that once roamed the ancient forests of Britain. This was once a lawless land, subject to violent cross-border raids during the constant bloody warfare between England and Scotland. It seems peaceful now, but that peace may be deceptive.

Built in the 12th century in the northern part of Northumberland, England, Chillingham was originally intended to be a monastery, but since 1246 the infamous castle has been owned by the same continuous bloodline, and not all of them were very nice. It was the distinguished Grey family who scooped up the surrounding forest and palace, and while renovating the massive building, they added a dungeon and torture chamber or two. It is purportedly quite haunted, with some, however, refusing to go … cries of terror and pain can be heard emanating from a passage in the wall. When those cries fade, it is said that a halo of blue light has been known appear. A figure of a boy in blue was seen as it approached a guest’s bed during a refurbishing of the castle, after which the bones of a boy along with fragments of a blue dress were found in a wall of the room.

It is estimated that over 7500 Scots, including men, women and children of all ages were tortured and killed in this dungeon over a three-year period.

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Marilyn Monroe with President John F. Kennedy, centre, and Robert Kennedy left, at a Democratic fundraiser on May 19, 1962, at a home in New York City. Monroe had come straight from Madison Square Garden, where she had sung sultry “Happy Birthday” to the president. (CECIL STOUGHTON/AP)

The Strange Saga of JFK and the Original ‘Dr. Feelgood’

In 1962, at the Carlyle Hotel in New York, a man “peeled off his clothing and began prancing around his hotel suite.” His bodyguards were cautiously amused until the man “left the suite and began roaming through the corridor of the Carlyle.”

The man in question was delusional, paranoid and suffering a “psychotic break” from the effects of an overdose of methamphetamine. The man was a pharmaceutical miracle, with his own speed connection on the Upper East Side.

He was also the President of the United States.

The man who supposedly made him so was Max Jacobson, a doctor who had invented a secret vitamin formula that gave people renewed energy and cured their pain, and was given the code name “Dr Feelgood” by Kennedy’s Secret Service detail.

Dr Max Jacobson fled Nazi Berlin in 1936 and set up a medical practice in New York on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The location couldn’t have been more perfect. He had a lifelong interest in treating multiple sclerosis, but he made his name developing booster shots for healthy patients, first among other European émigrés, then in New York’s theatrical community, and eventually in Hollywood and Washington. Sloshing and mixing amphetamines, vitamins, enzymes, tranquillizers, placenta, and anything else that inspired him into what he called an “IV Special,” Jacobson came up with concoctions to pump up stressed-out celebrities.

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A child soldier with a human skull resting on the tip of his rifle.Dei Kraham, Cambodia. 1973. Bettmann/Getty Images

Pol Pot

The Brutal Cambodian Dictator

After a solid 30 years of solemnly pledging “never again,” the world stood by and watched in horror as another 20th-century genocide unfolded — this time in Cambodia. As head of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot oversaw an unprecedented and extremely brutal attempt to remove Cambodia from the modern world and establish an agrarian utopia. While attempting to create this utopia, Pol Pot created the Cambodian Genocide, which lasted from 1975 to 1979.

Pol Pot conducted a rule of terror that led to the deaths of nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s seven million people, by the most widely accepted estimates, through execution, torture, starvation and disease.

His smiling face and quiet manner belied his brutality. He and his inner circle of revolutionaries adopted a Communism based on Maoism and Stalinism, then carried it to extremes: They and their Khmer Rouge movement tore apart Cambodia in an attempt to ”purify” the country’s agrarian society and turn people into revolutionary worker-peasants.

Beginning on the day in 1975 when his guerrilla army marched silently into the capital, Phnom Penh, Pol Pot emptied the cities, pulled families apart, abolished religion and closed schools. Everyone was ordered to work, even children. The Khmer Rouge outlawed money and closed all markets. Doctors were killed, as were most people with skills and education that threatened the regime.

The Khmer Rouge especially persecuted members of minority ethnic groups — the Chinese, Muslim Chams, Vietnamese and Thais who had lived for generations in the country, and any other foreigners — in an attempt to make one ”pure” Cambodia. Non-Cambodians were forbidden to speak their native languages or to exhibit any ”foreign” traits. The pogrom against the Cham minority was the most devastating, killing more than half of that community.

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23rd Headquarters Special Troops was a tactical deception unit comprised of 1,100 troops. They took part in over 20 battles, to include the Operation Overlord. This unit remained classified for almost 40 years after the close of World War II, and even today some of their missions are still classified.

Garbo

The Story Behind Britain’s Greatest Double Cross Agent

Juan Pujol Garcia lived a lie that helped win World War II. He was a double agent for the British, performing so well that they nicknamed him for the enigmatic actress Greta Garbo.

Juan Pujol Garcia had been working at a hotel when he decided to become a spy. Although he was born to a wealthy Barcelona family in 1912, Pujol had squandered his privileges. To the disappointment of his family, he dropped out of boarding school at 15, eventually enrolling instead at an academy for poultry farmers. At 21, he served six months of mandatory military service, but army life wasn’t for him: The pacifist ditched the cavalry and bought a movie theatre. When that venture failed, he bought a smaller theatre, which flopped too. Success chronically eluded him. By 24, Pujol had resigned himself to working on a sinking chicken farm and marrying a girl he wasn’t sure he loved. His life was normal, if not boring.

The inside story of Juan Pujol Garcia, codenamed Garbo, was the most remarkable of Britain’s Second World War Double Cross agents. Inside files show how he fed misinformation to the Germans in order to deceive them about Allied intentions on a number of topics, most notably the timing and location of the D-Day landings.

They also reveal the price of this success, particularly on Garbo’s young wife, who had been an integral part of setting up the espionage network and yet soon came to be seen as the biggest threat to its success.

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Josef Mengele Women’s Camp.

A Monster Among Men

Joseph Mengele

Warning Some Parts of this Story are Disturbing.

The Holocaust seems so distant, so far removed from our reality. For us, it is hard to even conceive of the massive horrors and atrocities committed by Josef Mengele and the Nazis. But the few “Mengele twins” survivors remember. They remember being children when they were spared from outright execution but delivered to a decidedly crueller fate.

He was dubbed the Angel of Death – the Nazi doctor who tortured and killed thousands of children in grisly experiments at Auschwitz.

Dr Josef Mengele’s medical facility at Auschwitz was perhaps the most horrifying place the Holocaust produced. Who was this man behind it all, and what made him the notorious “Angel of Death?”

In addition to being sites of slave labour and human annihilation, many Nazi concentration camps also functioned as medical experimentation centres throughout the Holocaust. Under the guise of researching new treatments or investigating racial eugenics, doctors conducted painful and often fatal experiments on thousands of prisoners without consent. The man most commonly associated with these pseudo-medical experiments is Dr Josef Mengele, whose notoriety among the inmates of Auschwitz earned him the nickname ‘the Angel of Death’.

 The Angel of Death, Josef Mengele, was obsessed with twins and performed horrific experiments on them for reasons that still remain unclear. One of his experiments was with eye colour. Mengele or one of his assistants would inject dyes into an eye of a child, preferably a set of twins. The dyes often resulted in injury, sometimes complete blindness, not to mention excruciating pain.

Another series of experiments which Mengele performed was with twins in whom he would inject one with a deadly virus, and after that twin died, kill the other to compare organ tissue at autopsy.

He carried out twin-to-twin transfusions, stitched twins together, castrated, or sterilised twins. Many twins had limbs and organs removed in macabre surgical procedures, performed without using an anaesthetic. Only a few of the estimated 3,000 twins at Auschwitz survived his sadistic madness.

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Elizabeth Borden. Lizzie Andrew Borden (July 19, 1860 – June 1, 1927) was an American woman who was tried and acquitted on August 4, 1892, axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts.

The Lizzie Borden Case

Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks,
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one

Actually, the Bordens received only 29 whacks, not the 81 suggested by the famous ditty, but the popularity of the above poem is a testament to the public’s fascination with the 1893 murder trial of Lizzie Borden. The source of that fascination might lie in the almost unimaginably brutal nature of the crime–given the sex, background, and age of the defendant–or in the jury’s acquittal of Lizzie in the face of prosecution evidence that most historians today find compelling. If anything, the grip is tightening. The reason? Everyone’s fascination with Andrew Borden’s younger daughter, Lizzie, who was arrested, tried for the murders and acquitted.

It didn’t take long after Lizzie Borden was accused of murdering her father and stepmother for the public to start obsessing over the case. Newspaper coverage began immediately after that hot August day in 1892 and centred on the fact that a prim, proper, churchgoing woman in Fall River, Massachusetts, may have brutally killed two members of her family with a hatchet. Lizzie’s acquittal in June 1893 only stoked the interest – and that interest never died down.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts never charged anyone else with the grisly double murder. Lizzie lived the rest of her life in Falls River, unmarried and largely ostracised, finally dying of pneumonia at age 66.

“Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one. Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When her body hit the floor, she gave her father forty more.”

The rhyme is a variation on a song dedicated to Lizzie Andrew Borden, who gained infamy during her trial, an infamy that just never went away.

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