WW2

A peek at the past: Extracts from a reader’s memoirs

Guest Post:

Extract One: WW2.?? The beginning.


 

haikudeck.com

My first memory of it was being fitted with gas masks and the posters which said,”Hitler will send no warning, so always carry your gas mask” Then there was the arrival of the Anderson Air Raid Shelter. For this, which consisted mainly of sections of curved corrugated iron, a hole had to be dug in the garden, I would say about 6 ft deep x 6ft x 7ft.

Father assembled the shelter in this, piling earth above it, and around it, which he made into a dwarf wall and a rockery. He built steps down into it at right angles and a protective wall alongside the steps. Duckboards were placed on bricks for a floor, and we had a couple of bunk beds in there and seats of some sort. Lighting came from a hurricane lamp. In wet weather, my Mother used to have to bale out the water using a child’s chamberpot, which was then emptied into buckets, and we children formed a chain to empty them down the drain at the corner of the house.

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Photo Of The Day

After: Joseph R. Beyrle: His POW mug shot shows a justifiably angry young man. That anger would earn him a beating when he insulted a German officer who interrogated him. But it would also motivate him to attempt escape at every turn.

After: Joseph R. Beyrle: His POW mug shot shows a justifiably angry young man. That anger would earn him a beating when he insulted a German officer who interrogated him. But it would also motivate him to attempt escape at every turn.

?A Hero of Two Nations?

A Long and Arduous Odyssey through a World at War

As the twentieth century closed, the veterans of its defining war passed away at a rate of a thousand per day. This is the story of Joseph R. Beyrle. It is a story of battle, followed by a succession of captures, escapes, then battle, in the final months of fighting on the Eastern Front.

Twice before the invasion he parachuted into Normandy, bearing gold for the French resistance. D Day resulted in his capture, and he was mistaken for a German line-crosser ? a soldier who had, in fact, died in the attempt.

Getting the nickname “Jumpin'” when you’re in the 101st Airborne’s “Screaming Eagles” division and everyone’s job is to jump out of planes has to be an achievement in itself. Not satisfied with that, Jumpin’ Joe Beyrle also went on to become the only American soldier to serve in both the U.S. Army and the Soviet Army in World War II … but not before having to go through hell and back. Just looking at his face before and after his ordeal should tell you the whole story

From his spot in the hayloft, American paratrooper Joe Beyrle watched as Russian soldiers cautiously advanced across the Polish fields and toward the farm where he was hiding. He saw the soldiers approach the adjacent farmhouse and summon the old German couple who lived there. The Russians gunned down the man and woman, then cut up their bodies and fed them to their pigs. Beyrle remained hidden. That night he heard the sound of arriving tanks, and dawn broke to reveal a Russian tank battalion.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: University of North Texas Libraries.German WWII POWs in Fort Bend County.Undated photo. It shows the funeral procession for a dead German POW inmate in Rosenberg. The camp was located on the old Fort Bend County Fair Grounds, where the Fiesta supermarket now stands.Notice the lone diehard who's giving the Nazi salute. Look closer, and you can see a few more in the distance.

Photo: University of North Texas Libraries.German WWII POWs in Fort Bend County.Undated photo. It shows the funeral procession for a dead German POW inmate in Rosenberg. The camp was located on the old Fort Bend County Fair Grounds, where the Fiesta supermarket now stands.Notice the lone diehard who’s giving the Nazi salute. Look closer, and you can see a few more in the distance.

America’s Forgotten German POW Camps

By May of 1943, the British government had asked the United States to help with over 300,000 German POWs taken from the North African campaign There was simply no more room to house all of the prisoners within their country. The U.S. agreed, and throughout 1943, POWs were arriving at the rate of 10,000 a week until around 450,000 were housed in over 500 POWs camps across 45 states.

They arrived on crowded troop carriers, converted freighters not meant for passengers, and even cruise ships used for troop transport. The first arrivals were the elite Afrika Corps?who had surrendered after they had run out of ammunition and supplies. The POWs were sent to processing centres where the S.S. and hard-core Nazi?s were to have been weeded out of the POWS being sent to the U.S., but many eluded detection and were sent to the U.S. in the numerous shipments of soldiers.

S.S. soldiers were easily identifiable as they had a tattoo under their arm that designated that they would be the first to receive blood, medicine, and rations in the case of injury in battle. However, many Nazi soldiers passed through undetected as the U.S. simply asked each solider if they were a Nazi, and a good number of the Nazi soldiers simply said ?no? when they answered. This was unlike the British screening process which had a more thorough approach in determining party affiliation.

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Photo Of The Day

Girls dancing at the rally of Greater Germany in 1938.

Girls dancing at the rally of Greater Germany in 1938.

German League of Girls

With origins in the 1920s, the Bund Deutscher M?del was the only female youth organization within Nazi Germany. Against a racial ?defilement? and pro-rebelling against parents should they compel female youth to take part in events that involved Jewish people, the M?del formed as a way to harvest good German mothers for the one thousand-year Reich. Members contributed to the Nazi war effort by collecting money, goods and clothing for Nazi charitable donations. The female arm of the Nazi movement was severed in 1945 at the hands of the Allied Control Council.

In 1930 the Bund Deutscher M?del (German League of Girls) was formed as the female branch of the Hitler Youth movement. It was set up under the direction of Hitler Youth leader, Baldur von Schirach. There were two general age groups: the Jungm?del, from ten to fourteen years of age, and older girls from fifteen to twenty-one years of age. All girls in the BDM were constantly reminded that the great task of their schooling was to prepare them to be “carriers of the… Nazi world view”.

“The leadership immediately set about organizing youth into a coherent body of loyal supporters. Under Baldur von Schirach, himself only twenty-five at the time, the organization was to net all young people from ages ten to eighteen to be schooled in Nazi ideology and trained to be the future valuable members of the Reich. From the start, the Nazis pitched their appeal as the party of youth, building a New Germany…. Hitler intended to inspire youth with a mission, appealing to their idealism and hope.? Schirach promoted the idea of the German Girls’ League as “youth leading youth.? In fact, its leaders were part of “an enormous bureaucratised enterprise, rather than representative of an autonomous youth culture.”

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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

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

Photo: August 01, 1944| Cr?dits : 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. Susan Travers in North Africa. Travers was an Englishwoman and the only woman to serve officially with the French Foreign Legion.

Photo: Unknown Source.
Susan Travers in North Africa. Travers was an Englishwoman and the only woman to serve officially with the French Foreign Legion.

‘I Think Actually They Thought I was a Man’

She was the Mistress of a French General; she led 4,000 troops to safety; and she was the only Woman to join the Foreign Legion.

As a well-bred Englishwoman educated in the nuances of understatement, Susan Travers seemed unimpressed that she was the only woman ever to join the French Foreign Legion.?She had spent World War II as a volunteer driver with Free French legionnaires who were fighting in North Africa and Europe. But in the summer of 1945, she faced demobilization and did not relish the prospect.

”I shall leave all my friends — I shall go back and live with my family, and it will be dull,” she recalled telling the legion’s recruiting officer, who happened to be a friend. He promptly invited her to sign up and passed her an application form. ”I didn’t say I was a woman,” she said, although her nickname was ”La Miss.” ”I didn’t have to pass a medical. I put down that I was a warrant officer in logistics. That was all.”

Indeed, it was pretty straightforward in comparison with her life leading up to that moment. It seemed far more unusual that a free-spirited young woman who spent the 1930’s playing tennis and partying around Europe should end up in the early 1940’s on the front line of the North African campaign carrying on a clandestine love affair with a married man who happened to be the top French military commander in the region.

For this, too, though, Ms. Travers had a simple explanation. ”My family was very dull,” she said of her reason for socializing in Europe. ”England was very dull.” As for becoming a military driver in combat zones, she said, ”I wanted adventure. I wanted more action.” And her romance with Gen. Marie-Pierre Koenig, a man who became such a war hero that a Paris square carries his name? ”It was a relationship between a man and a woman,” she said.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: CIA People Virginia Hall of Special Operations Branch receiving the Distinguished Service Cross from General Donovan, September 1945.

Photo: CIA People
Virginia Hall of Special Operations Branch receiving the Distinguished Service Cross from General Donovan, September 1945.

WANTED

The Limping Lady

The Nazi secret police were hunting her. They had distributed “wanted” posters throughout Vichy France, posters with a sketch of a sharp-featured woman with shoulder-length hair and wide-set eyes, details provided by French double agents.

They were determined to stop her, an unknown “woman with a limp” who had established resistance networks, located drop zones for money and weapons and helped downed airmen and escaped POWs travel to safety. The Gestapo’s orders were clear and merciless: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.

Virginia Hall?s origins began in Baltimore where it soon became evident that she had no intention of heading down the road of life to housewifedom. After a year at Barnard and another at Radcliffe, she was off to Europe in 1926 to finish her education at the Sorborne in Paris and the Konsularakademie in Vienna.

Then came a series of frustrating attempts to join the Foreign Service. She did not do well in her first examination, so she decided to gain experience and try again while working for the State Department as a clerk overseas. It was while in Turkey, in December 1933, that she lost her lower leg in a hunting accident. After recovering at home, she was fitted with a wooden prosthesis that had rubber under the foot.?She then returned to her clerk duties, this time in Venice, Italy, where her Foreign Service dreams ended: She was told that Department regulations prohibited hiring anyone without the necessary number of appendages.

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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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ANZAC Day – Lest we forget

Credit:  christchurchdailyphoto.co.nz

Credit: christchurchdailyphoto.co.nz

Original Post: 25 April 2006

This is my ANZAC Day trib?ute post?ing. ANZAC Day means a great deal for me and my fam?ily. I sup?pose it is because we have a con?nec?tion to the orig?i?nal ANZACS in 1915 and Gal?lipoli and to a vet?eran of a war much fresher in our minds, Viet Nam.

Firstly I pay trib?ute to my Great Grand-father Harry Crozier. I never really knew him, he died many years ago. Harry served in the Gal?lipoli cam?paign and thank?fully came home alive albeit with only one working leg. I know he spent con?sid?er?able time in Rotorua con?va?lesc?ing and learned to carve maori carv?ings as part of his reha?bil?i?ta?tion.

The sec?ond per?son I pay trib?ute to is a guy who truly epit?o?mises the ANZAC spirit. He is an Aussie, liv?ing in New Zealand who fought for New Zealand in Viet Nam. He is mar?ried to a Kiwi and has three Kiwi kids, and four Kiwi grand kids. He is also my Father-in-law.

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