german civilians

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These People Were Working So Hard To Create Something. And When You See It From Above It’s Just Incredible.

All of our most impressive achievements in human history - the pyramids of Giza, the lighthouse of Alexandria, and the hanging gardens of Babylon - are the result of tireless effort and collaboration.

This gorgeous, monumental effort was no different.

It took 60 volunteers from around the world along with 500 residents to create.

They painstakingly etched the bodies of 9,000 fallen soldiers from D-Day into the sand.

The effort was led by the artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss to commemorate those who sacrificed dearly on June 6, 1944.

The work is titled The Fallen 9000.

Everyone threw themselves into the effort, even though they knew with the tide it couldn’t last forever.

Here those who served in the D-Day landings will be remembered.

It includes all those civilians, Germans, and allied forces who died during the D-Day beach landings.

The original team was just a few volunteers.

But as word spread of what they were trying to accomplish nearly 500 residents pitched in too, and built this beautiful memorial together.

D-Day was one of the most significant days in our world and forever changed the course of history. These men were all a part of it, and this memorial stands as a stark reminder of how costly war can be. Share this important memory with your friends by clicking below.

 

“A French man and woman fight with captured German weapons as both civilians and members of the French Forces of the Interior took the fight to the Germans, in Paris in August of 1944, prior to the surrender of German forces and the Liberation of Paris on August 25.”

(AP)

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GERMANY. Berlin. November 1989. Fall of the Berlin Wall. A man takes a piece of the Berlin Wall as a souvenir (picture 1). Santas pose for a group photo by the Berlin Wall (picture 2). Student protesters in East Berlin carrying coffin saying Stalinism is dead (pictures 3 & 4). A champagne bottle wedged between pieces of the Berlin Wall (last picture). [Part 3 & End]

Photographs: Bruno Barbey/Magnum Photos
Sergeant Léo Major, the Nazi Killing Machine

Sergeant Léo Major was a French Canadian soldier in the Régiment de la Chaudière during the Second World War. He was the only Canadian and one of only three soldiers in the British Commonwealth to ever receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal twice in separate wars.

Major’s first military action came in June of 1944. During a reconnaissance mission on D-Day, Major captured a German armoured vehicle single-handedly. The vehicle contained German communication equipment and secret German Army codes.

Days later, during his first encounter with an SS patrol, he killed four soldiers; however, one of them managed to ignite a phosphorus grenade. After the resulting explosion, Major lost one eye but continued to fight.

He continued his service as a scout and a sniper by insisting that he needed only one eye to sight his weapon. According to him, he “looked like a pirate”.

Major single-handedly captured 93 German soldiers during the Battle of the Scheldt in Zeeland in the southern Netherlands. In a nearby village, SS troops who witnessed German soldiers being escorted by a Canadian soldier shot at their own soldiers, injuring a few and killing seven. Major disregarded the enemy fire and kept escorting his prisoners to the Canadian front line. Major then ordered a passing Canadian tank to fire on the SS troops.

He marched back to camp with nearly a hundred prisoners. Thus, he was chosen to receive a DCM. He declined the invitation to be decorated, however, because according to him General Montgomery (who was giving the award) was “incompetent” and in no position to be giving out medals.

In February 1945, Major was helping a padre load corpses from a destroyed Tiger tank into a Bren Carrier. After they finished loading the bodies, the padre and the driver seated themselves in the front whilst Major jumped on the back of the vehicle. The carrier soon struck a land mine. Major claims to have remembered a loud blast followed by his body being thrown into the air and smashing down hard as he landed on his back. He lost consciousness and awoke to two concerned medical officers trying to assess his condition. He simply asked if the padre was okay. They did not answer, but loaded him onto a truck so he could be transported to a field hospital 30 miles (48 km) away, stopping every 15 minutes to inject morphine to relieve the pain in his back.

A doctor at the field hospital informed him that he had broken his back in three places, four ribs, and both ankles. Again they told Major that the war was over for him. A week went by and Major seize an opportunity to flee. He managed to get a ride from a passing jeep that drove him to Nijmegen. He went back to his unit in March 1945. Technically, Pte Major would have been AWOA (Absent Without Authority). There is a lack of sources regarding how Major was able to avoid punishment.

In the beginning of April, the Régiment de la Chaudière were approaching the city of Zwolle, which presented strong German resistance. The Commanding Officer asked for two volunteers to reconnoitre the German force before the artillery began firing at the city. Private Major and his friend Corporal Willie Arseneault stepped forward to accept the task. In order to keep the city intact, the pair decided to try to capture Zwolle alone, though they were only supposed to reconnoitre the German numbers and attempt contact with the Dutch Resistance.

Around midnight Arseneault was killed by German fire after accidentally giving away the team’s position. Enraged, Major killed two of the Germans, but the rest of the group fled in a vehicle. He decided to continue his mission alone. He entered Zwolle near Sassenport and came upon a staff car. He ambushed and captured the German driver, and then led him to a bar where an officer was taking a drink. Inside he found that they could both speak French (the officer was from Alsace), and Major told him that at 6:00 am Canadian artillery would begin firing at the city, causing numerous casualties among both the German troops and the civilians. As a sign of good faith, he gave the German his gun back.

Major then proceeded to run throughout the city firing his machine gun, throwing grenades and making so much noise that he fooled the Germans into thinking that the Canadian Army was storming the city in earnest. As he was doing this, he would attack and capture German troops. About 10 times during the night he captured groups of 8 to 10 German soldiers, escorted them out of the city and gave them to the French-Canadian troops that were waiting in the vicinity. After transferring his prisoners to the troops, he would return to Zwolle to continue his assault. However, four times during the night he had to force his way into civilians’ houses to get some rest. He eventually located the Gestapo HQ and set the building on fire. Later stumbling upon the SS HQ, he got into a quick but deadly fight with eight ranking Nazi officers: four were killed, and the other half fled. He noticed that two of the SS he just killed were disguised as resistance members. The Zwolle resistance had been (or were going to be) infiltrated by the Nazis.

By 4:30 am, the exhausted Major found out that the Germans had retreated. Zwolle had been liberated, and the Resistance contacted. Walking in the street he met four members of the Dutch Resistance. He informed them that the city was now free of Germans.

Major found out later that morning that the Germans had fled to the west of the River IJssel and, perhaps more importantly, that the planned shelling of the city would be called off and his Régiment de la Chaudière could enter the city unopposed. Major then took his dead friend back to the Van Gerner farm until regimental reinforcements could carry him away. He was back at camp by 9:00 am. For his actions, he received the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Léo Major also fought in the Korean War, where he was awarded a bar to his Distinguished Conduct Medal for capturing and holding a key hill (Hill 355).

This position was being controlled by the Third US Infantry Division (around 10,000 men) when the 64th Chinese Army (around 40,000 men) lowered a decisive artillery barrage. Over the course of two days, the Americans were pushed back by elements of the Chinese 190th and 191st Divisions.

They tried to recapture the hill, but without any success, and the Chinese had moved to the nearby Hill 227, practically surrounding the US forces. In order to relieve pressure, LCol J.A. Dextraze, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion Royal 22nd Regiment, brought up an elite scout and sniper team led by Léo Major. Wielding Stenguns, Major and his 18 men silently crept up the hill. At a signal, Major’s men opened fire, panicking the Chinese who were trying to understand why the firing was coming from the center of their troops instead of from the outside. By 12:45 am they had retaken the hill.

However, an hour later two Chinese divisions (the 190th and the 191st, totaling around 14,000 men) counter-attacked. Major was ordered to retreat, but refused and found scant cover for his men. There he held the enemy off throughout the night, though they were so close to him that Major’s own mortar shells were practically raining down on him.

For three days his men held off multiple Chinese counter-assaults until reinforcements arrived. For his actions, Major was awarded the bar to the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Major died in Longueuil on 12 October 2008 and was buried at the Last Post Fund National Field of Honour in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. He was survived by: Pauline De Croiselle, his wife of 57 years; four children; and five grandchildren.

I guess I’ve seen it all now. Up is down on tumblr. 

Tumblr is a grotesque trainwreck when discussing WW2 precisely because the crimes enacted by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan don’t at all fall neatly into the US racial paradigm where “white” = oppressor and “POC” = oppressed dichotomy. Yet people feel a need to shoehorn it into the conversation no matter how offensive it is to us. Both were cases where the primary victims were other European and Asian ethnic groups, who by US standards, inhabited the same race category as their oppressors. It therefore doesn’t fit at all into “White/POC”. It just DOESN’T. Privilege in 1940s Europe was some warped version of German/Nordic/Aryan supremacy. Privilege in 1940s Asia was about being Japanese. 

I really wish this website will stop this crass appropriation of WW2 crimes to it into a “white/POC” dichotomy. All too often, it’s done to minimise hideous crimes committed by Imperial Japan and to trivialise the suffering of Holocaust victims just because some of them are “white” by US standards. Because there’s the tiresome, incessant need to somehow force it to cohere to the US race paradigm where white people have power and POC don’t.

A mass murdering, brutal and expansionist empire killed millions of people because of its mad vision of Japanese superiority and people are so keen to make some bullshit statement about their lack of “white privilege”? Plus the obligatory “some European country made them do it! Waaaahhh!” (Btw, the first atomic bomb wasn’t operational until after Germany surrendered. Not to mention overall, more German than Japanese civilians died in the Allied bombings. Also, the Sino-Japanese War already started in 1937, which is before the invasion of Poland in 1939 that marks the official start of WW2. Tell me again how the Soviet Union tricked the poor, gullible Empire of Japan into conquering and slaughtering millions of their neighbours?) 

At the same time, one can suffer from a hideous, internationally recognised genocide but hey, you have light skin and you are an ethnic group that lived in Europe? WHITE PRIVILEGE~!!!!!! As if antisemitism, antiroma racism and anti slavic racism died with Hitler, as if European racism today isn’t still based on ethnicity and doesn’t involve hatred of these aforementioned groups of people. As if everybody killed in the Holocaust even looked “white” by US standards. As if Europe doesn’t have racist, far right parties actually in the EU Parliament and prominent politicians who are Holocaust deniers. 

Is that supposed to make us feel all warm and fuzzy? Like seriously, what even goes into this kind of thinking? Do they think my grandmother would have felt ANY sympathy or kinship with the Japanese soldiers who wanted to rape Chinese women and who were brutalising the entire region because, “yeah dude, we both don’t have white privilege!” Do they think those “you would have white privilege if you were American” or “people will bother remembering you because you’re white!!!” is supposed to be comforting to the people stripped of their humanity, turned to ashes before their time, of entire ethnic groups that bear the scars of an attempt to utterly destroy them? 

Is it that hard to understand that where we would sit in the power structure in the US is totally irrelevant to where the crimes of Germany and Japan were committed because they did not happen in the US? 

People talk about not derailing, and putting in US dynamics into a non-US tragedy IS derailing. If we’re talking about an intra-European genocide where the light skin didn’t confer any privilege to its victims, bringing US white privilege to the picture IS derailing. If we’re talking about a brutal Asian empire, your comments about how European imperialism was “so much worse anyway” is derailing.

The blatant disrespect for WW2 tragedies by people on this website who refuse to decentre from the US race paradigm when discussing it pisses me off to no end honestly. 

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GERMANY. Nordhausen. April 1945. Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. A series of posts for all the Nazi apologists and Holocaust revisionists/negationists. [Part 1 of 5]

(1) (2) (3) Hundreds of bodies clad in grey and white striped prison uniforms are laid out in rows at Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. This is what US troops found after they took control of the camp.

(4) Dying prisoners.

(5) A Polish boy and his father bury the corpse of the boy’s grandmother who died at Nordhausen.

(6) National Archives description: “These two staring, emaciated men are liberated inmates of Lager Nordhausen, a Gestapo concentration camp. The camp had from 3,000 to 4,000 inmates. All were maltreated, beaten and starved”. April 12, 1945.  

(7) (8) (9) Supervised by American soldiers, German civilians from the town of Nordhausen bury the corpses of prisoners found at the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp in mass graves. The Allies insisted that the male citizens of Nordhausen bury the dead. Although the German civilians denied knowledge of the conditions in the camps, the Allies suspected they were fully aware of the situation. The camps and tunnels were less than two miles from the town of Nordhausen.

Photographs: United States Army Signal Corps/Library of Congress/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Mittelbau-Dora (aka Dora-Mittelbau, Nordhausen and Nordhausen-Dora) was a German Nazi concentration camp located near Nordhausen in Germany. It was established in late summer 1943 as a subcamp of Buchenwald concentration camp, supplying labour for extending the nearby tunnels in the Kohnstein and for manufacturing the V-2 rocket and the V-1 flying bomb. In the summer of 1944, Mittelbau became an independent concentration camp with numerous subcamps of its own.

There were no sanitary facilities except for barrels that served as latrines. Inmates (the majority of them from the Soviet Union, Poland or France) died from hunger, thirst, cold and overwork. The prisoners were subject to extreme cruelty. As a result they often suffered injuries, including permanent disability and disfigurement, and death. Severe beatings were routine, as was deliberate starvation, torture and summary executions. Common causes of death also included tuberculosis, pneumonia, starvation, dysentery, and trauma.

In early April 1945, as US troops were advancing, the SS decided to evacuate most of the Mittelbau camps. In great haste and with considerable brutality, the inmates were forced to board box cars. Several trains, each with thousands of prisoners, left the area through 6 April for Bergen-Belsen, Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück (other concentration camps). Others were forced to walk through the Harz hills towards the northeast. Those unable to keep up with these death marches were summarily shot by the guards. The worst atrocity occurred at Gardelegen, known as the Gardelegen massacre. More than 1,000 prisoners from Mittelbau and Neuengamme subcamps were murdered in a barn that was set on fire. Those who were not burned alive were shot by SS, Wehrmacht and men of the Volkssturm.

Overall, although no reliable statistics on the number of deaths on these transports exist, estimates put the number of prisoners killed at up to 8,000.

As most of the camps of the Mittelbau system were completely evacuated, there were not many prisoners left alive to be liberated by the Allies. Only some small subcamps, mostly containing Italian POWs were not evacuated. The SS also left several hundred sick prisoners at Dora and in the Boelcke-Kaserne. They were freed when US troops reached Nordhausen on 11 April 1945. There were also around 1,300 dead prisoners at the barracks.

War correspondents took pictures and made films of the dead and dying prisoners at Dora. Like the documentation of Nazi atrocities at Bergen-Belsen, these were published around the globe and became some of the best-known testimonies of Nazi crimes.

The protective-custody camp leader, SS-Obersturmfuhrer Hans Karl Moeser, was sentenced to death by hanging. In his trial statement he said:

“The same way, with the same pleasure, as you shoot deer, I shoot a human being. When I came to the SS and had to shoot the first three persons, my food didn’t taste good for three days, but today it is a pleasure. It is a joy for me.”

In total, even conservative estimates put the number of people who did not survive being sent to Mittelbau-Dora at over 20,000. Thus, around one in three of those confined here did not survive.

Today, the site hosts a memorial and museum.

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GERMANY. November 1989. Fall of the Berlin Wall. People take pictures of the Wall (1), sometimes in their best outfit (3), chip away pieces as souvenirs (1 & 4) or cross it for the first time in their life (last picture). [Part 2]

Photograph: Bruno Barbey/Magnum Photos

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Elbe Day Memorials inTorgau, Saxony

On April 25, 1945, American And Russian troops simultaneously reached the river Elbe at multiple points: Lorenzkirch near Strehla (between 12:00 and 13:00), Kreinitz near Strehla (13:30), and Torgau (15:30).

The meeting in Torgau is the best known because at the other two sites there were lots of dead bodies of German civilians, who were killed by stray fire during the final phase of the battles. Thus, the polit officer of the Russian army deemed these sites inappropriate for pictures intended for the public, and the meeting was staged at the bridge of Torgau.

The horrible experiences made on that day let many of the soldiers become pacifists and piece activists during the war. A notable example is Joseph Polowsky, who continued to hold vigils on the Michigan Avenue Bridge in Chicago until his death, and who was buried in Torgau, according to his last wish.

How can I describe the actual inhuman, unbelievable sights? I saw dead men lying inside these shacks. I saw them lying in the fields and on the ground.

They were naked. How had they died? They were starved and tortured to death. They were skeletons with skin. Their hideous faces appalled me, but I wandered about almost refusing to believe that I was not dreaming. I saw men with their arms broken into all shapes; men with arms and legs cut of, men with their throats slit; men with their heads cut off; me with their legs twisted and misshapen. I personally saw 50 or 60 of these creatures which were once Human beings. They were some shacks with the Nazis had burned and I saw the charred bodies.

When I had seen all my mind and stomach and heart could stand, I left. Others of the company who explored the area found long ditches for graves which were littered with dead bodies which had not even been filled with dirt.

What had these me done to warrant being torture. (They were tortured; not just starved. The arms and legs of countless other mutilations must have been done while the inmates still lived.)

These men had disagreed with the Nazis. They were political prisoners—Jews, communists, liberals, devout Catholics—anyone who had disagreed with the Nazi political philosophy.

I saw these mangled, misshapen, starved bodies being carried to be buried by German civilians at the point of our soldiers’ guns. These German bastards looked like the corner delicatessen owner. But they were black inside and their hands are bloody with the guts of humanity.

Don’t ever let another sonofabitch tell you that the rape of Lidice, that the slaughter of 2,000,000 Jews in Poland, that the human furnaces, that the concentration camps you read about are lies. I have seen it with my own eyes. I have seen the unbelievable. I have seen the depths of depravity to which so called human beings—the Nazis—can fall. It is unbelievable but—believe me. I have seen it.
—  First Lieutenant Albert Gaynes in a letter to his wife Debbie, 30 April 1945

Famine - The wolf at the door

In 1916 German workers were putting in fourteen-hour days and, according to official German counting, 121,114 Germans had starved to death, up from 88,232 in 1915 – deaths the Germans attributed to the British blockade.

But it was also the result of a decline in Germany’s farm production because men and horses had been taken from farms for the war effort. During 1916, food riots had occurred in approximately thirty German cities. And premature frosts came that killed the potato harvest.

The winter of 16/17 would be known as the Turnip Winter. And short of coal like the French, German civilians were shivering in their homes.
[fsmitha.com]

Cartoon from the Western Mail - 29 December 1916
[National Library of Australia]

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GERMANY. November 1989. Fall of the Berlin Wall. West German soldiers atop the Wall (picture 1). Berliners manifest their joy (pictures 3 & 4). East Berliners, visiting the West, arrive at the border sector between East and West Berlin (last picture). [Part 1]

Photograph: Bruno Barbey/Magnum Photos

January 29, 1917 - Germany Prepares to Restart Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, German Civilian Government Pleads for Prudence

Pictured - “Cry Havoc!”

German U-boats were taking positions in the Atlantic for a prepared resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare, where they would sink all shipping to Great Britain, neutral or not, and without giving warning to their targets. The German Navy had halted its previous venture into this deadly form of warfare in 1915, when its sinkings of neutral ships provoked a severe reaction from the United States. But with the failure in 1916 to defeat France on land, Berlin was swiftly moving back to the U-boats and intensification of the war, hoping to sever Britain’s supply lines and force the island nation to concede.

Of course, sinking neutral shipping would mean almost certain war with the United States. Despite its meager army, the American economy was quickly becoming the world’s greatest, and with its massive amounts of money and manpower it would surely be a colossal enemy and a great boon to the Allies.

Germany’s civilian government understood this and rightly feared going to war with the New World power. The German ambassador in America, Bernstorff, hastily dispatched a telegram to Berlin that arrived on January 28, pleading with Foreign Minister Zimmerman to delay preparations for war with the United States. If Germany made a good faith attempt at Wilson’s peace, then the Americans would surely stay neutral. But if it abruptly returned to unrestricted submarine warfare, then it would jettison any goodwill it had in the United States.

Germany’s civilian government, most notably Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, championed Bernstorff’s argument in Berlin. But as the war had progressed, the civilians had lost much of their governmental power to the military, especially the duumvirate of Hindenburg and Ludendorff who now reigned over Germany as quasi-dictators. The military men shot down the civilians’ arguments, claiming that the U-boats had left port and it was too late to recall them. In 1914 German generals had similarly claimed that once the military timetables began, the war could not be prevented from happening, when in reality a decision by the Kaiser could have stopped it. The Kaiser, however, again acquiesced to his generals. Responding to the critics, he sharply announced that “Now, once and for all, an end to negotiations with America.  If Wilson wants war, let him make it, and let him then have it!”

See also http://today-in-wwi.tumblr.com/post/156514364398/last-ditch-effort-to-stop-the-u-boats

A German woman is overcome as she is forced to walk through and around the exhumed bodies of some 800 slave workers that the SS guards near Namering, Germany murdered. The US Army who liberated the camp laid them out so that the townspeople, who feverishly denied knowledge of the camp, could view the work of their Nazi leaders.