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Posts Tagged ‘Nazism

Berlin 2010 and 1945 mixed in one image of the German Reichstag

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WW II German halftrack (Sd.Kfz251) at Reenactment
Image by NovaMan396 (walking wounded) via Flickr

Sergey Larenkov offers us a the result of “good Photoshop” work. In one image he neatly captures the present and past.

For me this brings back my short and tangential connection, in 1936 Spain and then 1939-40 France, with the Nazi war against civilization, or WW II in Europe and Greater Russia. It seems fitting that a Russian photograper would do this sort of remembrance of that awful time.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/08/20 at 13:24

There are many complaints about inaccuracies propagated via the Web

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To the members of the resistence, killed by Nazis
Image by moacirpdsp via Flickr

And I may have been an unwitting participant to this kind of questionable information about the past. I posted about a collection of images dating from Nazi oocupation time of Paris.

Most of those images showed almost normal Paris scenes with seemingly unthreatened citizenry going about their business in Nazi occupied Paris. It seems that the images have been hotly contested.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/07/06 at 05:34

1939 was a “turning point year”

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German cavalry and motorized units entering Po...
Image via Wikipedia

Writing a review of the latest Hitchens book, Ian Buruma writes that 1939 was a turning point year. Well it is a fact of history that Hitler chose the turn his game of international blackmail in 1936, 1937 and 1938 into all out war in September, 1939.

A German and a Soviet officer shaking hands at...
Image via Wikipedia

What did my father have in mind when he accepted to go to Paris in April 1939 for the Royal Bank of Canada after getting out of Barcelona only months before that in 1938? Did he simply ignore the trend of overt agressiveness being openly shown by Hitler’s Nazi regime? Did he care if that could have any effect on his life and the life of his family?

I’ve read about 1939 in a few history books. All agreed that it was a beautiful spring and summer, especially in Paris. Was that the existential factor that induced him to continue living in Paris even after Hitler’s armies invaded Poland in September 1939?

It’s a fact I remember about my boyhood in Sherbrooke QC during the war years of late 1940 till 1945, that my father rarely missed listening to the BBC news broadcast. Surely he listened to the same news broadcasts in 1939? How could he not feel the menace of attack from the belligerent Nazi armed forces right up to the invasion of Poland and especially as reports from the Eastern Front left little doubt that Hitler’s  intentions couldn’t be peaceful since his takeover and elimination of Polish elites was evident, even at that early stage of WW II?

Or was it that my father subscribed to the ideas of the Canadian Prime Minister of that  time, McKenzie-King, who met with Hitler in 1937 and felt he was a calm and serious political leader, even though Von Neurath, the German Foreign Minister admitted to King that many Jews had been treated “very roughly” in “cleaning things up” in German cities, like Berlin?

In the end me and my family made it out of France at a few minutes after midnight!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/06/28 at 23:32

June 18, 1940 me and my family were still in France

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and Sir Winston Churchill was giving his “their finest hour” speech in the British Parliament:

This is how this time is described in yesterday’s NY Times:

Seventy years ago, on June 18, 1940,Winston Churchill, barely six weeks in office as Britain’s prime minister and confronted with the threat of invasion from Nazi-occupied France, rose in the House of Commons and, in 36 minutes of soaring oratory, sought to rally his countrymen with what has gone down in history as his “finest hour” speech.

The speech — ending with the words “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’ ” — has resonated ever since. On both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, it has been hailed as the moment when Britain found the resolve to fight on after the fall of France, and ultimately, in alliance with American and Russian military might, to vanquish the German armies that had overrun most of Europe.

Me and my family eventually, around June 25, 1940, well after Churchill’s speech and after the armistice was signed by Petain  with Hitler’s Nazi regime, left the shores of France for Portsmouth, England.  We  got back to shores of Canada, via Halifax NS by July 13, 1940 when I officially landed in Canada as testified by a document from Immigration Canada.

I have no living memory of landing in Canada or of leaving the shores of France, but I take something from my feeble connection by place to Churchill’s famous words.

We made our way back to Canada on the MS Batory, which at that time was carrying the gold bullion holdings of the Government of Poland. Needless to say our convoy,  which left Greenock,  Scotland on July 7 was heavily protected by ships of the Royal Navy.

This is a quote from an earlier post about his convoy:

According to Royal Navy archives on the July 5th, battleship REVENGE met anti-aircraft cruiser BONAVENTURE (Captain H. J. Egerton) and troopships MONARCH OF BERMUDA (22,424grt), SOBIESKI (11,030grt), and BATORY (14,287grt). These five ships, which carried $1,750,000,000 in gold and securities from the Bank of England for safekeeping in Canada, departedGreenock at 0545 on the 5th escorted by destroyer GARTH.

The British ships arrived safely at Halifax on the 12th. Troopship BATORY with engine room defects was detached to St Johns escorted by anti-aircraft cruiser BONAVENTURE which then continued on to Halifax. Troopship BATORY arrived at Halifax on the 13th.

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Serendipitous reading, or something like it

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I have just finished reading The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck, which he titled Panzer Commander. In some small way our paths almost crossed in the southwest of France in and around Bordeaux in June 1940. He was an officer in the victorious Panzer units commanded by Erwin Rommel, who became famous in the battles of Libya and Egypt.

I was a 5 yr old surviving as well as we could to get away from German occupied France to return to Canada by wartime convoy. With my father, mother and siblings we were making our way by hook or crook to board ships under Royal Navy command that were part of the later phase of Operation Aerial to escape from France. So close and yet so far apart.

As is often the case I have been reading another book from that fearsome time titled Explaining Hitler. The chasm that exists between the first and second books is obvious and glaring.

Here’s a sample of what von Luck writes in the last few paras of his wartime memoir:

I have often felt that in the first half of my life I was, in a double sense, a prisoner of my time: trapped on the one hand in the Prussian tradition and bound by the oath of allegiance, which made it all too easy for the Nazi regime to misuse the military leadership; then forced to pay my country’s tribute, along with so many thousand others, with five years of captivity in Russian camps.

As a professional soldier I cannot escape my share of collective guilt but as a human being I feel none.

I hope that nowhere in the world will young people ever again allow themselves to be misused.

On the other hand the story of Hitler’s ill-gotten rise to political power reeks of the worst kind of blackmail, cruelty to others, political assassinations and mayhem, with the most inhuman sentiments I can imagine. What a contrast of humanity and evil men!

Erwin Rommel
Image via Wikipedia
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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/10/27 at 08:36

The debate in Eastern Europe about the main cause of WW2 points to a tweaking of history

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Adolf Hitler
Image via Wikipedia
Panzer IV Ausf.
Image via Wikipedia

One side says that Poland caused the war and guess who that is?

This headline puts it clearly:

The war? Nothing to do with Stalin, says Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev

The other says that Stalin’s deal with Hitler in late August 1939 gave Hitler the military cover he needed to launch his Panzers into the first blitzkrieg action. Now Mr. Medvedev promises a commission and documents to prove his case against Poland. That does sound like Putin is very much in favor of at least tweaking history here.

There is little doubt that the USSR, which was dissolved in the late ’90s and replaced to all intents by the Russian Republic, fought the nasty Nazis and bled Hitler’s armed forces dry and then reconquered the Eastern Front until Berlin was occupied.

But Stalin was playing a many sided game in the late 1930s. When it seemed that the democracies couldn’t cut bait to his satisfaction he certainly seemed to trigger the deal with Hitler which led to the double invasion of Poland in 1939 by the Germans from the West and by USSR forces from the East.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/08/31 at 12:03