german civilians


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

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.


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

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. 


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.
czechs execute german civilians in jun. 1945 Ethnic cleansing by benes and his henchmen
czech brutality against german civilians, czech savagery towards germans beneš called in May 1945 in Prague to completely liquidate the Germans in the Czech ...

czech brutality against german civilians, czech savagery towards germans
beneš called in May 1945 in Prague to completely liquidate the Germans in the Czech lands and the Hungarians in Slovakia.
The native German population in Czechoslovakia when Berlin surrendered on 8 May 1945 exceeded three million people. During the spring and summer of 1945 the newly established government in Czechoslovakia under Edvard Benes instituted a brutal campaign of wild expulsions against the country’s ethnic German population. The Czechs rounded up ethnic Germans into internment camps and confiscated their property before expelling them from the country with only 60 kilograms of possessions. These initial wild expulsions permanently uprooted more than 700,000 Germans from Czechoslovakia. They also involved considerable violence. On 18-19 June 1945 an anti-German pogrom in Prerov/Prerau killed 71 men, 120 women and 74 children. The Czech authorities enforced a series of measures meant to humiliate and demean its German population as a stigmatized population. They required Germans not already interned in concentration or labor camps to wear white armbands with the letter “N” for Nemec, the Czech word for German. The Czech authorities also banned Germans from using park benches, sidewalks, public transportation, trains and telephones and attending restaurants, cinemas and theatres during this time. The wild expulsions from Czechoslovakia involved a complete denial of civil and human rights to the victimized German population. These expulsions as well as the ones in Poland and Hungary received the official approval of the US, USSR and UK at the Potsdam conference starting on 17 July 1945. The pertinent line from Article XIII of the treaty arising from this conference reads, “the transfer to Germany of German populations, or elements thereof remaining in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary will have to be undertaken.” This treaty, however, also required that the transfer of ethnic Germans be conducted in an orderly fashion. The conditions for German expellees thus improved somewhat during the second stage of the expulsions, but still remained extremely inhumane.

A number of horrifying atrocities committed by Czechs against Germans after the end of World War II.
These crimes include:
-The death march of some 30,000 ethnic Germans from Brno/Brunn into Austria at the end of May 1945.
-Another particularly stunning example of Czech brutality against German civilians occurred in Usti nad Labem/Aussig an der Elbe on 31 July 1945. Here Czechs massacred dozens of German men, women and children.
These ramifications are still relevant today. Unlike Germany the Czechs have never come to terms with the crimes against humanity perpetrated in their name during 1945 and 1946. Like its larger Slavic cousin Russia the Czech Republic remains a country in denial about the truth of its contribution to human misery in the twentieth century.

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.

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


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


18th Century German Hunting Hanger

This is an early 18th century German Hunting hanger. These civilian side arms were commonly used by gentlemen as town swords, or as a supplementary weapon whilst hunting.It has a tortoise shell grip with a russet and gilt, half shell guard and knuckle bow.This curved, slender blade has some pitting along the spine, but is otherwise in excellent condition. The hilt is completely solid and firm.
Bade 58cmTotal 73cm

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

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.

anonymous asked:

This may seem like an odd request, but I love your historical aus A LOTTTT, and do think you could consider writing a captain swan Berlin Wall au? (Bc I love angst and reunions and emma and Killian on either side of the wall could mean both). Thankyou! :D

Emma Schwann was seventeen when the Wall went up, and the world became a jail.

She had been born in the last days of the war, and never known her father, who had died at Flossenbürg with Bonhoeffer, part of the German Resistance. Her first memory is of when she, barely a year old, was taken by the widowed Marie-Margret to her aunt Ingrid in Dresden. The Allies would not bomb that city, so her mother had apparently said. It did not have enough of a military or industrial presence to justify such measures. They were fighting against Hitler as Papa had done, they were the good ones, who could be trusted. They would never kill innocent German civilians. They would never.

(Emma remembers, though everyone tells her she can’t possibly, the sight of her mother’s body, her aunt’s body, her cousins Anna and Elsa, dead and clinging to each other with their charred hands, until the emergency services came to take her to a hospital full of burned men, women, children. She is haunted by humanity.)

Now when the Wall rose, overnight her section of Berlin, where she had raised herself and done what she had to to survive, became a nightmare. The Stasi were everywhere, always watching, always waiting. She heard stories of people who tried to leap the barbed wire and were shot in plain sight, dying slowly on the cement, that the Westerners could not even move to help them for fear of provoking retaliatory fire, to start another war, the war to end all wars. West and East. West Berlin was sanctuary, was hope, was freedom. East Berlin was death. Was lost hope. Was nothing.

It was Killian Jones who got her out.

He was a few years older than her, a young Englishman at the Free University of West Berlin, part of the rumored Reisebüro student group that got people out. Met them with harmless cover stories and forged passports, and took them through the Wall at extreme danger to their own lives. Emma did not trust him at first, not with his blue eyes and his dazzling smile and his charmingly accented, “Guten Tag, Fraulein Schwann”-s. He could be an informant, a spy. Speak a word to the wrong person and they would both be dead before the dawn.

But he did it. He got her through. And as she stood on the wrong side of the wall, staring up at the barbed wire, at the apartment buildings on the far side that they had had to board up to stop people leaping out the windows to escape, shivering, and waiting, he never came out. 

She heard gunshots from the other side.

He was dead. They’d gotten him. A life for a life, in hideous balance.

She fled, sobbing.


Emma did not know what to do with a life of freedom. She could not get used to West Berlin and the ease it offered. She kept running. She went to France, was swept up in the ‘68 student riots, met an American, Neal Cassidy, who was clearly there to smoke all the weed and bed all the beautiful French women he could find. She barely dared to speak with her German accent and she was flattered by the attention he paid her. There were sidewalk dates at boulangeries and then quickly more. She almost forgot about Killian and how she still dreamt about him at night.

It wasn’t until she woke up one morning to an empty flat, no note, no explanation, Neal gone like the wind, that she realized he hadn’t exactly left her with nothing after all.

She had the baby in a grotty Parisian public hospital, surrounded by doctors and nurses who could barely stand her, who called her “Nazi” under their breaths when they thought she couldn’t hear. She had learned all the stories of the occupation and what had become of France under Vichy, under Hitler. When Henry was a few months old, she couldn’t stand it anymore. Heartsick and alone, she packed her few things and took the train home. Back to West Berlin.

She did her best to build a life for herself and her son. She took jobs chasing down Soviet spies and suspected Stasi moles. Dangerous, hard, late-night work, not the kind for a single mother if she wanted to live to see her son grow up. But one of those late nights, she was walking along the length of the graffitied Wall, wondering if it had ever been worth it to jump, when she heard a whisper, a hiss, from the other side, and nearly perished of shock on the spot.

It was him. Killian Jones. He was alive. Scarred and thin and filthy, clearly living a rough, dangerous, hellish life in the prison of East Berlin that he had freed her from, but it was him. Him. It was like a visitation. Like… something Emma could not expect or explain. Her father had been the believer, the religious one, and it had gotten him hanged at a concentration camp. But even she could not cast it aside.

They stayed at the wall, whispering through the crack, trying to get close enough to brush fingers, until almost dawn, and the guards roused, and she had to run again.

Yet after that, the precedent was set. She snuck there at a certain time (which was changed every week to avoid the guards noticing patterns) and on a certain day. Killian would be waiting. The crack was just large enough for her to wiggle some food through, or a newspaper, so he knew what was going on in the world beyond, not the communist propaganda. They lived in fear of being spotted and shot, but that never stopped them. Emma memorized the guards’ rounds, became good at playing the ditzy blonde. Distracted them sometimes while Killian ran.

Years passed. Henry grew up, and went away to university in England. Married a nice British girl, Grace, and settled in London. The Cold War raged. Emma grew older. For weeks at a time, once, she didn’t see Killian, and worried herself to distraction that now was it, he had finally run out of his luck. But he’d said he was a survivor. He’d promised her he’d make it. But looking out of her window at the grim grey monolith dividing her city, she grew less certain every day.

Until, at last, the Annus Mirabilis. 

Emma helped rip down the Wall until her hands bled. She worked harder than most of the men, until they knew her by sight. And when at last, after decades, she stepped back into East Berlin, she barely recognized it. Was a stranger in a strange land, seen through a glass darkly. But she looked, and looked, and finally, at last, through all time and death and madness, they found each other.

They were married quietly in a civil registry ceremony the next day.


Killian died a little over a year after the Wall came down.

He got to enjoy three hundred and sixty five mornings of waking up with Emma at his side, of holding her, of both of them kissing the nightmares away. They rarely let go of the other’s hand. They sat on the couch in each other’s arms for hours. And he even got to return to England, which he had not seen in over thirty years, and meet his stepson, mourn over his brother’s grave, killed in action in the Royal Navy. Got to know that indeed, the cliffs of Dover were still white, to ride a red double-decker through Piccadilly Circus. To come home, a hero, at last.

That was what he needed, it seemed. That was the culmination.

He had been sick for years, fighting a ragged, bronchial cough that he had never been able to treat in East Berlin. It grew worse. He was tired, he said. Ready to lie down and rest a while. And yet, he was pleased. His life had bought Emma’s, given her freedom, given her her son, given her a memory of a time when she could walk out her door in the morning, and not be afraid. And so, he counted it well spent.

He slipped away quietly in Emma’s arms, as always, by the first light of dawn, on a rose-pink winter morning.

Henry buried them together, in one specially made coffin, six days later.

HMS Campbeltown, thoroughly buggered against the Louis Joubert drydock at Saint-Nazaire; the only German-held drydock on the Atlantic coast large enough to service a battleship.

At 01:34 on 28 March 1942 HMS Campbeltown (bought from the US Navy disposal list at the cost of a few British islands) smashed into the drydock at Saint-Nazaire. Her Commandos and crew, launching their own little invasion of occupied Europe two years before everyone else, ran ashore under a hail of fire and set about demolishing the dock machinery. Of 611 men 169 were killed (64 commandos and 105 sailors), 222 were evacuated by small craft and 215 were captured. Five men somehow managed to evade capture and travel overland through France down into Spain and on to Gibraltar, a British territory.

For the Germans it was an interesting morning, they set about searching the ship, standing on it, marching their latest prisoners around it, etc. For those captured it was a nervous morning, Campbeltown had a bow packed with explosives. One hour and a half later than expected, at noon, Campbeltown bid farewell to this world, taking much of the drydock as well as 250 German soldiers and French civilians with her. The dock remained unusable until 1947 and the German battleship Tirpitz never ventured from its Norwegian fjord.