Kolyma, Russia. home to one of the most infamous soviet labor-camps, where millions upon millions of people were worked to death, mining gold. It is said that when you walk down the paths there, you will constantly feel a presence near you, like someone is constantly looking you in the back. like there is a thousand deceased souls walking behind you.
The Last Note (Το τελευταίο σημείωμα)is a movie Pantelis Voulgaris was always meant to do. From Stone Years (Πέτρινα Χρόνια) and through most of his filmography, the director has been a master in describing how political tensions have separated or united Greeks throughout history. Here he tells the story of the 200 Greek prisoners of a communists’ concentration camp, that were executed by the Germans, in response to the killing of a German general by resistance fighters, during the occupation of Greece in 1944. The events have become iconic for modern history and for the left party in Greece, but somehow due to their political background, have not been tought at schools or examined in detail. Surprisingly, Voulgaris and his co-writer, choose to tone their political nature down and just talk in terms of Germans and Greeks, life and death, honour and standing for the things you believe in. That’s very honourable, and the movie manages to be authentic and true to life, but the lack of a clear plotline, or the fact that the ending is served in slow motion, as the iconic moment in time that it is, strip the film of its immediacy, showcased in other places, and specially during the last night celebration of the prisoners just before execution and facing death. It’s a thought provoking film nonetheless, beautifully photographed, produced and acted. And I hope it teaches history that we’ll never see repeated.
Today in history: April 11, 1945 - Prisoners at the Nazis’ Buchenwald concentration camp rise up inside the camp and liberate the camp.
Led by the communists imprisoned there, they forced the Nazis who ran the camp to flee. This was the only Nazi concentration camp where the prisoners liberated the camp themselves. When U.S. troops arrived shortly thereafter, they found the communist concentration camp survivors in control of the camp. For years leading up to that time, communist prisoners and other prisoners from many countries formed an underground resistance inside the camp that was united into a Popular Front Committee.
(image: Sculpture erected in 1958 by East Germany at Buchenwald commemorating the resistance to the Nazis inside the concentration camp.)
Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!)
Dien Bien Phu, mai 1954, des camions russes molotova emmènent les
prisonniers français vers les camps de rééducation communistes.
Plusieurs français tentent de s’enfuir en sautant des camions qui
roulent lentement sur les pistes, deux d’ entre eux sautent en même
temps : Bigeard et Schoendoerffer. Ils sont rattrapés plus loin et
Schoendoerffer est molesté alors que les viets n’osent pas lever la main
sur Bigeard. Un commissaire politique s’approche de Bigeard
et essaye de lui prendre son béret rouge de parachutiste, Bigeard lui
dit : « Tu touches pas à mon béret,tu vas te faire enculer »
Dien Bien Phu, mai 1954, des camions russes molotova emmènent les prisonniers français vers les camps de rééducation communistes. Plusieurs français tentent de s’enfuir en sautant des camions qui roulent lentement sur les pistes, deux d’ entre eux sautent en même temps : Bigeard et Schoendoerffer. Ils sont rattrapés plus loin et Schoendoerffer est molesté alors que les viets n’osent pas lever la main sur Bigeard. Un commissaire politique s’approche de Bigeard et essaye de lui prendre son béret rouge de parachutiste, Bigeard lui dit : « Tu touches pas à mon béret, tu vas te faire enculer »
The Polish Soldier Who Snuck Into Auschwitz and Was First to Report on the Horrors Inside
On September 19, 1940, Witold Pilecki, a Polish soldier, was captured by German SS officers and sent to the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Considering he was a spy, things had turned out exactly as he’d planned. Captain Pilecki’s mission was to organize resistance from within the most horrific symbol of the Holocaust, send information to the Allies, and record the horrors he witnessed for the sake of history.
Pilecki arrived in Auschwitz sometime in the evening between September 21 and 22, 1940, and described what he found as “another planet"—a hell in which every building’s walls were covered in swastikas and corpses lay everywhere. Pilecki went on to live in inhumane conditions for nearly 1,000 days and become the first person to inform the Allies about the appalling conditions of detention and the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime.
Pilecki’s comprehensive 1945 report on his undercover mission was published in English in 2012 under the title The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery. Yet, for some reason, his story still isn’t widely known. I wanted to know more about the career of this exceptional man, so I got in touch with the people who recently translated the book in French—former director of the AFP bureau in Warsaw, Urszula Hyzy, and Patrick Godfard, who is a professor of history.
VICE: The book was published in English in 2012, with theNew York Times describing it as "a historical document of the greatest importance.” How come it was only translated to French now? Urszula Hyzy and Patrick Godfard: Pilecki was a “disturbing” character for the Allies, who pretended for a long time not to know what was happening in the camps, and for the Communists, who were responsible for his death in 1948. In communist Poland, it was forbidden to talk about Pilecki and his children were barred from higher education.
The Auschwitz Volunteer remained in the archives of the Polish Underground Movement Study Trust in London [Studium Polski Podziemnej] before being discovered by the historian and former prisoner Józef Garlinski, who wrote Fighting Auschwitz: The Resistance Movement in the Concentration Camp in the 1970s. It was not until after the end of the Cold War that the book was published in Poland.
No. 77 Squadron RAAF Sabres lined up on the tarmac at Butterworth in 1960 in support of the Malayan Emergency. The first Sabre operation of the Emergency took place on 13 August 1959 when pilots dive-bombed communist camps and supply dumps near the Thai-Malaya border. By the time Australian Sabres arrived, however, the Emergency was all but over and their operational role was limited. Image courtesy of Kevin Stapleton
Comrades Kim Il Sung of Korea and Mao Zedong of China.
“We are for peace. But so long as U.S. imperialism refuses to give up its arrogant and unreasonable demands and its scheme to extend aggression, the only course for the Chinese people is to remain determined to go on fighting side by side with the Korean people. Not that we are warlike. We are willing to stop the war at once and leave the remaining questions for later settlement. However, U.S. imperialism is not willing to do so. All right then let the fighting go on. However many years U.S. imperialism wants to fight, we are ready to fight right up to the moment when it is willing to stop, right up to the moment of complete victory for the Chinese and Korean peoples.”
- Mao Zedong, Speech at the Fourth Session of the First National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (February 7, 1953).