War

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The remains of Hitler’s bunker. Photo Getty Images.

Adolf Hitler’s Last Days

At one time, Adolf Hitler was the most powerful individual in the world. Yet he ended his life cowering in a foetid bunker, surrounded by enemy troops and raging against those he believed had betrayed him. Hitler’s last days were a humiliating final chapter in the life of a man once revered by millions. But they were also the last days of a man who had been mentally and physically unravelling for months.

By April 1945, Hitler’s health was deteriorating fast. His left arm often shook, his skin was sallow and his face was puffy. An assassination attempt in 1944 had damaged his eardrums. Witnesses reported that his eyes were often filmed over. He suffered from intense stomach cramps at moments of crisis. He was taking Benzedrine and cocaine-laced eye drops to get him through the day and barbiturates to help him sleep at night. His diet cannot have helped his situation. A committed vegetarian and paranoid about being poisoned, he was only eating mashed potatoes and thin soup by the end.

In late April 1945, chaos reigned in Berlin. Years of war had turned former superpower Germany into a battleground, and its cities from strongholds into places under siege. The Red Army had completely circled the city, which now called on elderly men, police, and even children to defend it. But though a battle raged on in the streets, the war was already lost. Adolf Hitler’s time was almost up.

Despite the hopeless situation, he was now in, visitors to the bunker were amazed that Hitler was still able to work himself up into a megalomaniacal frenzy in which Berlin would be saved and the Nazi dream fulfilled.

While in one of these moods, Hitler would pore over maps, moving buttons to represent military units. In truth, the divisions he imagined himself to be directing were broken remnants. What was left of Berlin was defended by old men and teenagers hurriedly conscripted from the Hitler Youth.

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Korean comfort women. Ms. Park Young-Shim (center) poses with her comfort woman friends in North Korean region during the Pacific War. A man with the rifle appears to be Japanese soldier.

Women Made to be Comfort Women 

The phrase “comfort women” is a controversial term that refers to approximately 200,000 women who were recruited as prostitutes by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Many of the young women were forced into servitude and exploited as sex slaves throughout Asia, becoming victims of the largest case of human trafficking in the 20th century.

During World War II, the Japanese established military brothels in the countries they occupied. The women in these “comfort stations” were forced into sexual slavery and moved around the region as Japanese aggression increased. Known as “comfort women,” their story is an often-understated tragedy of the war that continues to strike debate.

There were advertisements found in wartime newspapers; a failed attempt at attracting volunteers into prostitution. Instead, young women as young as 11-years-old were kidnapped and forced into service where they faced rape, torture and extreme violence at military camps known as “comfort stations.”

Most were teenagers… and were raped by between 10 to 100 soldiers a day at military rape camps.

The Japanese government denied that they ran any such system until 1991 when a brave woman named Kim Hak-Soon came out and revealed the Japanese atrocities to the world. Japanese Governor General’s Office in Seoul incinerated all related documents before the closing of WWII.

A 1994 report shows that there are still hundreds of former sex slaves alive. Most of them are women of Asian countries occupied by Japan before and during the Pacific War. Among them are 160 South Koreans, 131 North Koreans, 100 Filipinos, 50 Taiwanese, 8 Indonesians, and two Malays. These numbers are only for those who revealed their real name.

There are much more victims living out there who do not want to identify their tragic past. Even after Korea’s liberation from Japan in 1945, many of the Korean victims chose to live in the Asian country where they were forced to serve sex to Japanese soldiers.

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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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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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The Sullivan Brothers on the USS Juneau. Among the losses on Juneau were the five brothers from Iowa, the Sullivans: George, 27; Francis, or “Frank,” 26; Joseph, known as “Red,” 24; Madison, or “Matt,” 23; and Albert, or “Al,” 20. It was—and remains—the single greatest wartime sacrifice of any American family.

“We Stick Together”

The death of the five Sullivan brothers was impossible to imagine. So horrible it forced the U.S. War department to adopt “The Sole Survivor Policy” so it would never happen again. Can anyone even think of the heartache that the Sullivan family suffered? How much sorrow can a family take?

Des Moines “Register”, January 4, 1942:

“Five husky Waterloo brothers who lost a “pal” at Pearl Harbour were accepted as Navy recruits at Des Moines.  All passed their physical exams “with flying colours” and left by train for the Great Lakes (Ill.) naval training station.
“You see,” explained George Sullivan, “a buddy of ours was killed in the Pearl Harbour attack, Bill Ball of Fredericksburg, Iowa.”
“That’s where we want to go now, to Pearl Harbour,” put in Francis, and the others nodded.”

When Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison, and George Sullivan heard about their friend Bill Ball’s death, they marched into the Naval recruiting office together. They wanted to avenge their friend if they could do it together, they told the recruiter. Their motto had always been, “We Stick Together,” and they intended to stick together. The Sullivan’s hometown paper, The Waterloo Iowa Courier featured a series of stories of about soldiers getting ready to go to war and asked Aletta Sullivan how she felt about all five of her sons going to war together. “I remember I was crying a little,” she said. George Thomas Sullivan summed up the feelings of all of the brothers when he said, “Well I guess our minds are made up, aren’t they fellows? And, when we go in we want to go in together. If the worst comes to the worst, why we’ll all have gone down together.”

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Mannequin helps an MP direct traffic to the front in Viersen, Germany.

After the War...

At the end of World War II, huge swaths of Europe and Asia had been reduced to ruins. Borders were redrawn and homecomings, expulsions, and burials were under way. But the massive efforts to rebuild had just begun.

When the war began in the late 1930s, the world’s population was approximately 2 billion. In less than a decade, the war between the Axis the Allied powers had resulted in 80 million deaths — killing off about 4 percent of the whole world. Allied forces now became occupiers, taking control of Germany, Japan, and much of the territory they had formerly ruled. Efforts were made to permanently dismantle the war-making abilities of those nations, as factories were destroyed and former leadership was removed or prosecuted. War crimes trials took place in Europe and Asia, leading to many executions and prison sentences.

Soon after the Truman Doctrine promised to ‘support free peoples’ (March 1947), General George Marshall went to Europe.   He was shocked by what he saw.   Europe was ruined and – after the coldest winter in record – starving.   Marshall told Truman that all Europe would turn Communist unless the US helped.

Marshall announced his Plan to students at Harvard University on 5th June 1947.   He promised that America would do ‘whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world.’

He challenged the countries of Europe to produce a plan, which the US would fund.   By 12 July, the British politician Ernest Bevin (who called the Plan ‘a lifeline to sinking men’) had organised a meeting of European nations in Paris, which asked for $22 billion of aid.   Stalin forbade Cominform countries to take part.    Truman asked Congress for $17 bn, and Congress (after the collapse of Czechoslovakia, March 1948) gave $13 bn.

Marshall Aid took the form of fuel, raw materials, goods, loans and food, machinery and advisers.   It jump-started rapid European economic growth, and stopped the spread of Communism.

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The only way to stop the Muslim refugee crisis becoming our crisis is to shut the door

It is time for a pragmatic solution to what is, in reality, an unsolvable problem affecting most of the world. Daniel Greenfield who is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Centre provides a pragmatic solution. It may not make people feel good as it involves putting our country and our country’s citizens first but it is as essential as this memorable scene in Game of Thrones where Hodor gave his life, holding the door shut so that his friends could survive.

…Even without the Sunnis and Shiites competing to give each other machete haircuts every sunny morning, there would still be a permanent Muslim refugee crisis.

The vast majority of civil wars over the last ten years have taken place in Muslim countries. Muslim countries are also some of the poorest in the world. And Muslim countries also have high birth rates.

Combine violence and poverty with a population boom and you get a permanent migration crisis.

No matter what happens in Syria or Libya next year, that permanent migration crisis isn’t going away.

The Muslim world is expanding unsustainably. In the Middle East and Asia, Muslims tend to underperform their non-Muslim neighbors both educationally and economically. Oil is the only asset that gave Muslims any advantage and in the age of fracking, its value is a lot shakier than it used to be.

The Muslim world had lost its old role as the intermediary between Asia and the West. And it has no economic function in the new world except to blackmail it by spreading violence and instability.

Muslim countries with lower literacy rates, especially for women, are never going to be economic winners at any trade that doesn’t come gushing out of the ground. Nor will unstable dictatorships ever be able to provide social mobility or access to the good life…

The Muslim world has no prospects for getting any better. The Arab Spring was a Western delusion.

Growing populations divided along tribal and religious lines are competing for a limited amount of land, power and wealth. Countries without a future are set to double in size.

There are only two solutions; war or migration.

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Eugene Deatrick and Dieter Dengler, NAS Miramar, 1968. His inmates included Air Force Lieutenant Duane Martin, and Eugene DeBruin an Air American crewman who bailed out of a burning cargo plane, and others from the Air American crew. They were far from the first American men to be imprisoned in a camp in Vietnam; Ban Houei Het was one of a dozen camps in North Vietnam alone. USN Photo.

Escape from Laos

On February 2nd of 1966, US Navy Lieutenant Dieter Dengler was flying his first combat mission over North Vietnam from the carrier U.S.S. Ranger. The Ranger and its warplanes, including the Skyraiders of VA-145, had just repositioned from Dixie to Yankee Station following a short workup off the waters of South Vietnam in the South China Sea. Missions from Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf would be much more demanding and dangerous than those flown in the relatively benign South Vietnamese environment.

The USS Ranger was a seasoned combat veteran, having been deployed to Vietnam for Flaming Dart I operations. The carrier played a steady role for the remainder of American involvement in the war. The first fighter jets to bomb Haiphong in Operation Rolling Thunder came from her decks.

LT Dieter Dengler was a German-born American citizen who advanced from VT30 to Attack Squadron 122 in late 1964 and then to Attack Squadron 145 onboard the Ranger. Dengler was known to his shipmates as something of a renegade; the ops officer was always after him to get a haircut and Dengler was forever in trouble over his uniform or lack of military manner. In his German accent, he would protest, “I don’t understand.” But Dengler was a good pilot, although his flying career was brief.

U.S. Navy Lt. Dieter Dengler launched from the aircraft carrier USS Ranger in an A1H Skyraider as part of a four-aircraft interdiction mission near the border of Laos. Dieter was the last man to roll in on a target when he was observed by the pilot of one of the other aircraft to start a normal recover. Due to limited visibility, the flight lost sight of him.

The other aircraft in the flight could not determine what had happened. They only knew Dengler disappeared. Dengler later stated that ground fire had severely damaged his aircraft, and he was forced to crash land in Laos. Search continued all that day and part of the night without success. The following morning, squadron members again went to search the area where Dengler disappeared and located the aircraft wreckage. Helicopters were called in. From the air, it appeared that no one was in the cockpit of the aircraft. The helicopter crew photographed the area and noted his donut (a round seat cushion) on the ground by the wing. They hoped he was still alive in the jungle somewhere.

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The diary of Tanya Savicheva, a girl of 11, her notes about starvation and deaths of her sister, then grandmother, then brother, then uncle, then another uncle, then mother. The last three notes say “Savichevs died”, “Everyone died” and “Only Tanya is left.” She died of progressive dystrophy shortly after the siege. Her diary was shown at the Nuremberg trials.

The Siege of Leningrad

When Germans encircled Leningrad they planned to quickly freeze and starve the city. They had no idea the devastation and horror that the people of Leningrad would be willing to endure without ever giving in. The siege is one of the longest in history and one of the deadliest as well.

Leningrad, the old imperial capital, was the most beautiful city in Russia and had for centuries been her cultural heartland. Founded as Czar Peter the Great’s window on the West, it had known many agonies throughout its turbulent history, but in 1941 geography and pragmatic military strategy would see Leningrad engulfed in a tragedy unparalleled in modern history.

With most of Europe already under the heel of Nazi Germany, Hitler turned his attention eastward toward the vast expanse of the Soviet Union and on the morning of June 22, 1941, launched Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia. Spearheaded by three Army groups, German forces stormed across the Russian frontier and completely overwhelmed the Red Army units in their path. With clinical precision, the world’s largest army was being systematically annihilated and, after just 18 days of fighting, the Russians had lost over three million men, 6,000 tanks, and most of their aircraft.

Germany and her allies attempted to strangle the life out of the historic Soviet city of Leningrad – the heart of the Russian Revolution

It would be no exaggeration to say that the family of every native citizen of St. Petersburg was touched by the blockade, which lasted almost 900 days, from September, 1941 to January, 1944. During that time nearly a third of the population at the siege’s beginning, starved to death. Roughly one in three. Many of them in the streets.

Few people outside realised what the siege was like. For years afterwards Stalin kept people in the dark. Deaths were underestimated. Its party leaders were purged. For decades, details of the blockade have been little known in the West. Stalin suppressed the facts of the siege and twisted its history.

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Norwegian Officer Jan Baalsrud Escapes from Nazis in the Arctic

Even during those long months when the sun peers over the horizon night and day, the Arctic wastelands in northern Norway remain among the darkest places on earth.

A vast expanse of inscrutable crags, battered by biting winds and white walls of snow, it is a place where life of any kind receives a less than warm welcome. Yet in the spring of 1943, one man flirted with death there for more than two months, forced to contend not only with the elements, but an occupying Nazi force intent on killing him.
Jan Baalsrud was a young instrument maker who was asked to help the anti-Nazi resistance in Norway during WWII. During his trip on board a ship in the icy Norwegian waters, German soldiers showered his boat with bullets, killing everyone on board except him. He managed to dive into the water, with only one boot and sock, minus his big toe that had been shot off.

On the run, Jan Baalsrud was dependent on the strangers prepared to help, even though they knew they would be killed should anyone find out. Blinded by the snow and severely crippled by frostbite, he was even forced to amputate all but one of his toes. But somehow he survived.
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