Categories
History

Daniel Cordier, French Resistance Hero (1920 – 2020)

Alan Cowell writing in The New York Times:

[Cordier] had been shocked to see German soldiers photographing one another at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. But as he headed toward a covert encounter with a fellow operative at a cafe on the Champs Élysées, he was even more stunned to see an old Jewish man and a child with yellow stars on their overcoats.

“The shock of this vision plunges me into an unbearable shame,” he wrote in the memoir, “Alias Caracalla.”

At first he wanted to rush up to the people he saw and embrace them to seek forgiveness, he wrote. At that moment, though, he recognized, walking toward him, the operative he was scheduled to meet. It was an epiphany: “His presence leads me back to reality: I am not in Paris to care for my conscience.”

Categories
History

George Will: Holocaust Museum Showcases Lessons for Today

George Will writing in The Washington Post on the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington:

Nothing — nothing — is unthinkable, and political institutions by themselves provide no permanent safety from barbarism, which permanently lurks beneath civilization’s thin, brittle crust.

This is why the Holocaust is the dark sun into which this democracy should peer.

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Audiobooks History

‘The Liberation of Paris’

The Liberation of Paris is a gripping book that is packed full of interesting details about Nazi-occupied Paris and its last commander Dietrich von Choltitz.

Dietrich v. Choltitz – Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R63712 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE via Wikimedia Commons

At the end of WWII, Adolf Hitler ordered Choltitz to hold Paris, but if that wasn’t possible, to destroy it. Although General Choltitz had been very loyal to Hitler, he could not bring himself to obliterate the City of Light. He ultimately surrendered Paris to French forces on August 25, 1944. He’s been called the “Saviour of Paris” for preventing its destruction.

After his surrender, Choltitz was held for the remainder of the war in London and the United States and was ultimately released from captivity in 1947. He died in Baden-Baden in 1966.

The author of this exceptional book was the distinguished political scientist and biographer Jean Edward Smith. Smith’s work includes highly regarded biographies of Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He died on September 1, 2019 at the age of 86.

The audiobook is ably narrated by Fred Sanders, who has narrated many fine audiobooks including Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.

Categories
Audiobooks History

Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Re-enacted

“Report from Nuremberg: The International War Crimes Trial” is a collection of reenacted radio broadcasts providing news covering the Nuremberg War Crimes trials. Given all that has been written about the trial, it is interesting to hear the contemporary radio reports. It is almost like CNN updates on the trials. The descriptions of the defendants and their dress, mannerisms and personalities were of great interest.

I commend Audible for creating these reenactments and making them available. I enjoyed listening to them. The narrators were all excellent. The sound of the mechanical typewriter at the start of each broadcast helped me imagine what it must have been like to hear these broadcasts live.

Between October 18, 1945, and October 1, 1946, the International Military Tribunal, as it was known, tried 22 people on charges of crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and conspiracy to commit such crimes. Twelve of those convicted were sentenced to death. Three defendants were acquitted.

Categories
History Statistics

World War II Deaths

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans estimates that 15 million people died in battle in World War II. The estimate of civilian deaths is 45 million.

This is a partial list of total civilian and military deaths by country, in millions:

CountryTotal Civilian and Military Deaths
in millions
Soviet Union24
China20
Germany6.6 to 8.8
Poland5.6
Japan2.6 to 3.1
India1.5 to 2.5
Hungary0.6
France0.6
UK0.5
US0.4
Source: The National WWII Museum

Categories
History

Switzerland’s Relationship With Dachau

Germany’s National Socialist (Nazi) government and Switzerland had substantial ties. Switzerland’s contribution to the construction of the Dachau concentration camp near Munich is not well known.

Before WWII, Extroc, SA, a Swiss state-subsidized timber company built the Dachau concentration camp, under a contract for 13 million Swiss francs. The contract was negotiated by Colonel Henri Guisan, the son of the later Swiss Commander-in-Chief Henri Guisan (1874–1960) and a Swiss national hero.The Swiss Colonel was in turn connected to Hans Wilhelm Eggen, an SS captain who bought timber in Switzerland for the Waffen SS. This was the wood used to construct Dachau. Dachau was the first regular concentration camp established by the Nazi government.

According to a now declassified CIA report, Eggen often went to “Switzerland under cover of a delivery agent for wooden barracks.” Eggen was a friend of Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS. In Nazi Germany, the SS controlled the German police forces and the concentration camp system.

See, Roberts, Andrew, The Storm of War (p. 113). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition; Goñi, Uki, The Real Odessa: How Perón Brought the Nazi War Criminals to Argentina (p. 170). Granta Books. Kindle Edition.