world war ii: third reich

Berlin 1945: Ezquerra Unit by Jose Ferre Clauzel.

Miguel Ezquerra (January 10, 1913 – October 29, 1984) was a Spanish Falangist, soldier and volunteer member of the Waffen-SS. He fought in the Spanish Civil War and in the Second World War, in a battalion of the Spanish Blue Division or 250. Infanterie-Division as it was known in the German Army.

After the Blue Division had been repatriated to Spain on April 2, 1944, he was determined to continue to fight. He secretly crossed the French border in April 1944 to enlist in the Wehrmacht, and he was eventually transferred into the Waffen-SS.

As part of the 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division “Nordland”, and with the rank of Hauptsturmführer, Miguel Ezquerra fought to defend the town of Stettin on the Oder River and then helped defend Berlin against Soviet troops, commanding a unit formed by Spanish Fascists, who were among the last defenders of the bunker of Adolf Hitler. The so-called “Ezquerra Unit” was tiny, made up of 37 Spaniards. He was briefly captured by Soviet troops but was released and after various false identities and misadventures across Western Europe, returned to Spain

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During the Einsatzgruppen trial in Nuremberg, most of the 24 defendants, which dropped to 22, due to the death of one and suicide of another, denied culpability for murder by claiming they weren’t present for the executions to flat out saying it was the first time they heard Jews were killed, but one man provided an unflinchingly honest testimony that lead prosecutor, Benjmain Ferencz, said was the “best explanation for the justification for what they did.” Forty-year-old Otto Ohlendorf was the commander of Einsatzgruppe D from June 1941 until Reinhard Heydrich’s death a year later. Einsatzgruppe D operated in the southern Ukraine following the 11th Army, and the reports indicate the group was responsible for the execution of 90,000 people, though Ohlendorf stated those numbers were likely exaggerated. He testified that when he first received the liquidation order “that in addition to our general task the Security Police and SD, the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos had the mission to protect the rear of the troops by killing the Jews, gypsies, Communist functionaries, active Communists, and all persons who would endanger the security,” he protested it: “I pointed out that these were missions which couldn’t possibly be accomplished. It is impossible to ask people to carry out such executions.” However, his concerns lied with the impact it would have on his men, and he responded to the follow-up question of why with: “Well, I believe there is no doubt that there is nothing worse for people spiritually than to have to shoot defenseless populations.” Prosecutor James Heath countered, “If I may be a little facetious in a grim matter, there is nothing worse than to be shot either, when you are defenseless?“ but Ohlendorf remained unfazed in his reply: “Since this is meant ironically by you, I can imagine worse things, for example, to starve.”

Ohlendorf was repeatedly questioned about the necessity of such an order, and he offered the following explanation: “I was under military coercion and carried it out under military coercion knowing that it was given in a state of emergency, and the measures were ordered as emergency measures in self-defense.” Heinrich Himmler tackled its extension to women and children in a 1943 speech: “Then the question arose, what about the women and children? I decided to find a perfectly clear-cut solution to this too. For I did not feel justified in exterminating the men -that is, to kill them or have them killed- while allowing the avengers, in the form of their children, to grow up in the midst of our sons and grandsons.” Ohlendorf’s response mirrored his when the prosecution asked him what threat women and children posed to the security of Germany: “I believe that it is very simple to explain if one starts from the fact this order did not only try to achieve a security but also a permanent security because for that reason the children were people who would grow up and surely being the children of parents who had been killed they would constitute a danger no smaller than that of their parents.” An earlier piece of testimony expanded on his conviction: “I have had no cause, and I still have no cause today to think that any other goal was aimed at than the goal of any war, namely, an immediate and permanent security of our own realm against that realm with which the belligerent conflict is taking place.”

Ohlendorf maintained a strict militaristic manner throughout his cross-examination, refusing to view the extermination order through a personal moral lens, which prompted the prosecution to ask if he surrendered his moral conscience to Adolf Hitler. He replied, “No. But I surrendered my moral conscience to the fact that I was a soldier and therefore a wheel in a low position, relatively of great machinery; and what I did there is the same as is done in any other army, and I am convinced that in spite of facts and comparison which I do not want to mention again, the persons receiving the orders - and all armies are in the same position - until today, until this very day.”

Otto Ohlendorf’s role as one of Hitler’s subordinate pawns earned him the death sentence, and he was executed by hanging on June 7, 1951.

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Historical clips of Estonian Waffen-SS in 1944 Narva battle

Ajaloolised klipid Eesti Waffen-SS 1944 Narva lahingutel

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HISTORY MEME | 1/5 Assassinations → Reinhardt Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich was a high-ranking member of the Nazi party and the SS, who played a key role in the planning the Holocaust. In 1941, Adolf Hitler appointed him as acting Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, a puppet state consisting of two large regions of German controlled Czechoslovakia. Under his command, the Czech resistance was infiltrated and then destroyed from the inside. This did not sit well with the Czech government in exile, as they saw that Heydrich’s tyrannical ways were crushing the spirit of their countrymen. They needed a morale boost, and they need him eliminated. Two men, Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis were selected for the job. After intensive special training, they were parachuted into enemy territory.

On 27 May 1942, Kubis and Gabcik attacked Heydrich in Prague, while he was en-route to a meeting with Hitler in Berlin. He was badly wounded, and eight days later, on 4 June 1942, he died. Two assassins escaped, though their hiding place was later found. The two then opted to commit suicide rather than be captured by the SS. As reprisal for losing one of their top officials, the Nazis burned two Czech villages to the ground, executing most of the residents.

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Translation

Hermann Göring: Before I answer the question of the tribunal whether or not I am guilty…

Judge: I informed the Court that defendants were not entitled to make a statement. You must plead guilty or not guilty.

Hermann Göring: I declare myself in the sense of the Indictment not guilty.

Rudolf Heß: No!

Judge: That will be entered as a plea of not guilty.

Joachim von Ribbentrop: I declare myself in the sense of the Indictment not guilty.

Wilhelm Keitel: I declare myself not guilty.

Alfred Rosenberg: I declare myself in the sense of the Indictment not guilty.

Julius Streicher: Not guilty.

Walter Funk: I declare myself not guilty.

Hjalmar Schacht: I am not guilty in any respect.

Alfred Jodl: For what I have done or had to do, I have pure conscience before God, before history and my people.

Franz von Papen: I declare myself in no way guilty.

Constantin von Neurath: I answer the question in the negative.

Hans Fritzsche: As regards this Indictment, not guilty.

Sadly this isn’t the full recording of all defendants doing their pleas for guilty or not guilty.
Not in the recording: Karl Dönitz, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Erich Raeder, Fritz Sauckel, Baldur von Schirach, Arthur Seys-Inquart, Albert Speer, Julius Streicher. Ernst Kaltenbrunner wasn’t present at the beginning of the Trial at the 20th November 1945 because he was ill.

Chess was hardly the most vital interest for the upper ranks in Nazi Germany, but that sedate old intellectual game was not totally ignored in the all-encompassing National Socialist Revolution. Shortly after Hitler’s accession to power, the German Chess Federation was reconstituted in an “Aryanised” form as the “Grossdeutsche Schachbund”.

Now, please, take a moment if you will. And take a deep, hard look at what we see here. What do you see? Do you see a black man in the wrong uniform? A money sucking refugee with welfare babies? No? Me either. Strange, right?

I see a soldier, an honorable and noble defender of the Third Reich, our, MY National Socialist ideology. I do not focus on his race nor his origin. He is as German as I am. Once you adopt a countries’ ideologies, culture, language and customs you are, essentially… integrated and nationalized into that society. If the soldier next to me is African, Arab, Asian, yellow, purple or pink that makes no difference to me, As long as s/he is fighting for the same cause as I am. I see no issue. 

Work hard, fight hard, and enjoy life together through common customs, traditions, hardships and comradery. That’s what National Socialism means to me.

Nazi film director Leni Riefenstahl operates a camera from a cable operated lift basket while filming Triumph of the Will at the 1934 Nuremberg Party Rally. | Location: Luitpoldhain Arena, Nuremberg, Germany.