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12 March 1945

12 March 1945



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12 March 1945

March 1945

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War at Sea

German submarine U-260 scuttled off Ireland after hitting a mine

Eastern Front

Soviet troops capture Kustrin, on the Oder



ELAS Leaders Throw in the Towel

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 11, 12 March 1945, p.ل.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The pact which was signed by the Stalinist leaders of the ELAS and the puppet Greek government of Nicholas Plastiras is an outright betrayal of all that the Greek masses were fighting for when they took up arms in a struggle that was waged for over a month

The heroic Greek people who had fought for freedom and democracy against the Nazis and had continued the fight against the British were once more betrayed by the agents of one of the Big Three, Stalinist Russia.

Under the Nazis and later when the British took over through the Papandreou regime the Greek people had learned that the only way ini which they could press for and defend their rights was through the use of arms. What led to the direct outbreak of hostilities between the ELAS and the government was the attempt of the latter to disarm the resistance fighters, while permitting the pro-fascist and royalist military groups to retain their arms.

Popular opposition to the Papandreou government and the King, whom the British were trying to ram down the throats of the Greek people, led to the removal of the former and the appointment of a regency. The new Plastiras government then entered into negotiations with the ELAS in order to establish “law and order.”

During the armed conflict, in which London directed the bombing and strafing of the Greek people and Washington limited itself to words of indignation at British policy (not before it cut off UNRRA supplies to Greece), Moscow maintained official silence.
 

Yalta Aids Pact

On the day the decisions of the Yalta Conference were announced, the world was also informed that the leaders of ELAS had finally signed a pact with the Plastiras government. The terms of the pact and the fact that it was signed by the Stalinist leaders of ELAS indicate the close connection between it and the “pacts” signed at Yalta by the Big Three.

The accord stipulates that the ELAS fighters are to surrender their arms within two weeks. No political amnesty will be given persons who refuse to give up their arms by March 15th. In place of the armed people, the National Guard will start calling up men by age groups. At the same time the reactionary and royalist military formations were to retain their arms. ELAS is to turn over a minimum of 41,500 rifles, 1,000 light machine guns, 163 mortars, submachine guns, heavy machine guns, 32 pieces of assorted artillery and 15 radios, and ELAS guards are to collect these from the people for the government.

Negotiations which finally resulted in the agreement to disarm the Greek warriors and peasants had been going on for many weeks, with the government refusing to meet the conditions made by ELAS, which included the demand that all military groups be disarmed, including the reactionary and pro-fascist Mountain Brigade and Sacred Squadron that political amnesty be granted to all who participated in the fighting and that collaborationists be punished. Suddenly, but coineidentally with the Yalta agreement, comes the news that an agreement was signed in which not one of the above conditions was included.
 

A Betrayal of Labor

The general secretary of EAM stated to the press that this agreement would contribute to the “pacification of the country,” and that EAM will continue to exist “with a view of securing the people’s rights.” He’ did not say how this jibed with what the people had learned, namely, that their rights could be secured only by their own armed strength.

Partsalides went on to repudiate the ELAS “for taking things into their own hands” and promised an investigation of the executions carried out by them.

The role of the Communist Party and the Stalinists in EAM and ELAS was suspect from the very beginning, when, as members of the Papandreou government, they had voted to disarm the fighting forces of the people. When this proved to be impossible, they placed themselves in the leadership of the fighting ELAS and sought to utilize the opposition of the Greek people to British domination for the purpose of strengthening Stalin’s hand against Churchill.

The role of the Greek Communist Party, and this holds for the Stalinist parties throughout the world, is clear only if we understand that what motivated it was the service it renders to the policies of the Russian ruling class. Stalin saw in the conflict in Greece an opportunity to pressure Churchill into reinforcing agreements previously reached for the partitioning of Europe in which domination of the eastern half of that continent would go to Russia: Hence the militant action of the Greek Communists.

The Greek situation was undoubtedly another of the “arguments” Stalin used at the Yalta Conference to “persuade” the other two partners of the “justice” of Russia’s claims. Once these were conceded, Stalin agreed to the liquidation of the Greek situation, that is, he instructed his agents to sign the pact with the British puppet government by which all that the Greek people were fighting for, and the means which they had for achieving their aims, were surrendered. Stalin’s aims may be satisfied, and the militancy of the Greek Stalinists may be at an end, but the Greek people still have the struggle before them.


World Politics

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 11, 12 March 1945, p.ك.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Romanian Overturn

The crisis and fall of the Radescu government have been reported in all the newspapers as “the first big test of the effectiveness of the Yalta decisions.” By that is meant that the test will come on whether Russia alone will decide the issue in Romania or whether the Big Three, acting in unison, will settle the fate of that Balkan country. One thing is certain, Yalta does not provide for the people settling their own fate.

Censorship imposed by Moscow and Bucharest makes impossible a complete picture of what has been happening, but the main outline is fairly clear.

1. The Romanian People: As everywhere throughout Europe, the people of Romania want peace, freedom, economic security and the necessary changes that will produce these things. The workers want work at decent wages the peasants want the big estates broken up and the 1and returned to them. All of them, want a change from years of political reaction, starvation, exploitation, war and destruction.

None of these things have been achieved since the Germans were driven out and the Russian armies took over. Even the abolition of the anti-Jewish laws decreed by the Nazis has remained on paper, since the government, and all the parties which supported it, has done nothing to implement it.

The various Romanian governments which have been set up since the “liberation” have been governments “of the capitalists and landlords, and like their similars, throughout the world, they have not solved a single one of the problems which the masses of people face. In addition, the masses are saddled with the burden of the stiff reparations terms foisted upon Romania by Russia, occupation of the oil fields, the carrying off of their plants and deportation to Russian labor camps of thousands of Romanian workers (supposedly of German descent, but actually coming from groups which have lived in Romania for two or more centuries).

2. The Role of the Stalinist-Communists: This can be understood only if we realize that they are the agents of Russian imperialism and that their actions are always determined by the needs of their masters. Through the National Democratic Front, organized last October, the Stalinists occupied forty per cent of the Radescu cabinet. They saw nothing wrong in cooperating with this extreme right-wing conservative.

Making use of the popular demand for the purge of all fascists from the army and other government agencies, the NDF placed itself in the leadership of the movement. The interest of the Stalinists, however, was limited to the purge of all anti-Russian elements, since they themselves remained loyal to the King and collaborated with any pro-Russian fascists in Romania They were also demanding increased representation in the cabinet in order to strengthen their political position in the country before any elections were held.

The attack on a popular meeting and the shootings and arrests which occurred on February 24th served as the pretext for the Stalinists to break with Radescu and demand his resignation. Had he yielded to their earlier demands, he would not now be called a fascist by the Romanian communists and by the Moscow press.

The pattern of Stalinist behavior in Europe is the same. They try to obtain political control, and friendship, that is, subservience, to Russia through deals at the top, even with fascists. Where this fails, or is not executed: satisfactorily, they will call into being, or place themselves at the head of the popular movement. Their purpose, is to derail this movement, use it as a bargaining point, and eventually to betray it when the bargain, suitable to Russian needs, is struck. The last thing the Stalinists want is the victory of the masses.

3. The Role of Russia: It is difficult to judge the exact reasons Moscow had for dumping Radescu. In all probability it did not judge his government “reliable” enough for Russian interests. The denunciation and demand for resignation carried in the Russian press certainly had nothing in common with the demands and desires of the Romanian people whom Stalin seeks to dominate and enslave. The Russian army has remained in the background thus far, allowing the NDF to do Stalin’s work.

In every country where the Russian armies have entered, deals were arranged with the capitalists and landlords at the expense of the masses of people. The revolt of the people is never encouraged, and where the “Red” Army encounters such revolts, as in Bulgaria, it quickly puts them down.

John MacCormac in the New York Times correctly states that “nowhere has a revolutionary solution been encouraged by Soviet Russia in any liberated country of Middle Europe, unless the revolt of the ELAS in Greece was such an attempt.” And in Greece the Stalinists delivered the goods too by selling out the splendid ELAS fighters in the agreement with Churchill’s puppet in exchange for what Stalin got at Yalta. MacCormac adds:

“With the possible exception of Greece, it (Russia) has discouraged revolutions from below. The solutions it has imposed have been from above. What has been happening in Middle Europe – and at Yalta – has been that Soviet Russia has been holding the European revolution in check, where its own national interests could be served without it, in order to reach an accommodation with the capitalist and, democratic world.”

The first part is absolutely correct, but the reason that Russia plays this counter-revolutionary role in Europe is the reason which all imperialists have in suppressing the free action and movements of the oppressed and exploited. The counter-revolutionary role of the Russian imperialists is all the more dangerous because they have at their disposal organizations which pose as “communist” and “revolutionary” and which can and do sidetrack and betray the popular movements.


Germany annexes Austria

On March 12, 1938, German troops march into Austria to annex the German-speaking nation for the Third Reich.

In early 1938, Austrian Nazis conspired for the second time in four years to seize the Austrian government by force and unite their nation with Nazi Germany. Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg, learning of the conspiracy, met with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in the hopes of reasserting his country’s independence but was instead bullied into naming several top Austrian Nazis to his cabinet. On March 9, Schuschnigg called a national vote to resolve the question of Anschluss, or 𠇊nnexation,” once and for all. Before the plebiscite could take place, however, Schuschnigg gave in to pressure from Hitler and resigned on March 11. In his resignation address, under coercion from the Nazis, he pleaded with Austrian forces not to resist a German �vance” into the country.

The next day, March 12, Hitler accompanied German troops into Austria, where enthusiastic crowds met them. Hitler appointed a new Nazi government, and on March 13 the Anschluss was proclaimed. Austria existed as a federal state of Germany until the end of World War II, when the Allied powers declared the Anschluss void and reestablished an independent Austria. Schuschnigg, who had been imprisoned soon after resigning, was released in 1945.


12 March 1945 - History

MONDAY, 12 MARCH 1945

CHINA THEATER (Fourteenth Air Force): Four B-25s knock out the Song Rang bridge in French Indochina 6 P-51s hit road communications at Hwayuan, China and bomb a building at Ha Coi, French Indochina.

HQ AAF (Twentieth Air Force): Mission 42: 44 of 49 B-29s hit oil storage facilities on Bukum, Malayan States, and Samboe Island and Sebarok Island off Sumatra 1 other B-29 bombs Arang Hill, Malayan States they claim 0-0-1 Japanese aircraft results are poor.

INDIA-BURMA THEATER (Tenth Air Force): In Burma, 13 B-25s and 35 P-47s hit troop concentrations, supplies, vehicles, and AA guns along the battlefront and behind enemy lines 66 P-47s hit transportation targets and a bridge during several road sweeps in C Burma 12 others damage a bypass bridge at Hay-ti. Transports complete 677 sorties delivering men and supplies to advanced bases and dropping supplies to frontline forces. The 164th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 1st Air Commando Group, moves from Shwebo to Ondaw, Burma with UC-64s and L-5s.

AAFPOA (Seventh Air Force): Sixteen P-51s bomb and strafe Okimura. Thirteen B-24s fly daylight strike against Susaki Airfield During the night of 12/13 Mar, eight B-24s hit Susaki Airfield and Okimura. Twenty-four B-24s from Angaur Airfield hit a Saragani Bay storage area on Mindanao.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA [SWPA, Far East Air Force (FEAF)]: B-24s hit Mercedes and Malabang on Mindanao. Lost are B-24L 44-41549 (MIA) and B-24L 44-49840 (MIA). On Luzon, other B-24s bomb Japanese troops near Ipo, B-25s hit supply area at Bangued and troops at Pattao, A-20s and fighter-bombers fly ground forces support missions. fighter-bombers also bomb Calallo. On Formosa B-24s, with P-38 support bomb Takao and Tainan and P-51s also hit Tainan and bomb Jitsugetsu power plants. 6th Troop Carrier Squadron, 374th Troop Carrier Group moves from Biak to Tacloban with C-47s the 33d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 22d Bombardment Group (Heavy), moves from Guiuan Airfield to Clark Field with B-24s the 69th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 42d Bombardment Group (Medium) moves from Sansapor to Puerto Princesa with B-25s (the 69th is operating from Morotai). Also lost is C-47A 42-100455 (MIA).


Orders and Documents Archived with the 12 Fld Coy War Diary, March 1945

Following are some selected quotes from the documents associated with the 12th Fld Coy War Diaries during March 1945:

1 – Privileged Leave to the U.K.

As is clear from reading the War Diary, leave to the U.K. (and Canada) was becoming a significant issue. For a group like 12 Fld Coy, who had been far away in Italy this prospect must have seemed awfully exciting. No doubt there would have been some griping about who got to go first and just how quickly people could get their leave. So, this order seems to be an effort to keep these expectations from getting out of hand.

March 27, 1945

Under NO circumstances should definite dates be given to relatives or friends in the U.K. when personnel expect to be there on leave. Everyone can count on getting their leave, and everyone will get their leave, but no one is in a position to state exact or approximate dates as to when they will be in the U.K.. This only misleads and disappoints relatives and friends. All officers and NCOs down to and including L/Cpls are being given their leave first, as when operations start they will not be able to be spared, but as many sappers as possible are being sent each time. Sappers leaves will continue irrespective of operations. There are the added circumstances of weather and tides which can do affect the time and day that boats can cross the channel.

2 – Rotational Leave to Canada

This must have been even more enticing to the men. With the end of the war in sight (though nobody knew how many months it would be), sappers and soldiers would be sharpening their pencils and calculating their scores, in order to see where they stacked up in terms of leave, and ultimately in terms of demobilization. Here is an example of the mathematics of the situation.

I would estimate my dad would have had (35 months overseas) + (16 months theatre of ops) + (wound) = 35+16+6=57. So, no go. Since his wife was in the U.K., a trip to Canada probably wouldn’t have been of much interest anyway. Plus, at this point he was recovering from his land mine wound (foot injuries can take a surprisingly long time, especially to recover to the standards needed in the army).

March 27, 1945

1 Candidates for Leave No. 4 will be based on points system as was in effect in the last theatre.

2 Henceforth this leave will be based on the following system:

a) All ranks must have a basic service score of 60 points based on satisfactory continuous service overseas. Satisfactory services is defined as all services except time spent in detention, field punishment, imprisonment or penal servitude, and this also excludes personnel who have had a bad disciplinary record during the 12 months preceding date of application.

b) Service in a theatre of ops will count double. Total service will be reckoned as the total number of months and days (the latter expressed as a fraction of a 30 day month e.g. 19/30) since date of TOS Cdn Army Overseas plus the number of months and days in a theatre of ops (i.e. exclusive of U.K. and Iceland).

c) One point is given for each month of satisfactory continuous service under (a) and (b) above in computing score.

d) One point will be deducted for each month spent in detention, field punishment, imprisonment or penal servitude.

e) The basic service score will be subject to the following additions where applicable:

(i) Six points will be added for each wound up to a maximum of two, where the wound entitles the individual to a wound stripe, and

(ii) Six points will be added where the individual has a wife residing in Canada or the U.S.A..

3 It is emphasized that unless the individual has a basic service score of 60, paragraphs 2e(i) and (ii) do NOT apply. This system may be slightly amended particularly regarding bonus points.

4 Proforma will be sent to platoons to have service entered. Punishments will be entered at Company HQ.

3 – Goodbye from Italy, from those Staying Behind

The sappers weren’t generally sorry to leave Italy, but they probably had some regrets about leaving Allied comrades behind, that they had worked with for more than a year. I imagine that these allies were sorry to see the Canadians go, as well. Here’s a message from the C.O. of the troops that they were leaving behind.

Personal Message from the Army Commander

To All Ranks 1 Canadian Corps

Now that 1 st Canadian Corps is leaving the Eighth Army, I want to thank you all for your splendid contribution to the successes of the Eighth Army in the Sicilian and Italian campaigns.

As a Corps, you had, after a long period of training, your first battle experience with the Eighth Army. In the Sicilian battles and in those ensuing you showed a magnificent fighting spirit, skill, determination and endurance and these qualities produced the successes they deserved. In the battles of the Sicilian campaign, in the landing in Italy and the advance to Campobasso, at the crossing of the Moro and the capture of Ortona, in the advance up the Liri Valley and the breaking of the Hitler Line, in the breaking of the Gothic Line and the capture of S. Fortunato, and finally in the capture of Ravenna and the advance to the Senio, in all of these you have maintained and enhanced the great reputation that Canadian arms established in the last war at Vimy Ridge and other historic battlefields.

You leave at a time when we can look forward with confidence to an early and final victory over the Germans. To this, your contribution has already been outstanding, and whatever the future may bring I am confident that your progress will be as distinguished as it has always been in the past while serving with the Eighth Army.

We shall miss you much.

R.L. McCreary, G.O.C. Eighth Army.


Death is Not Defeat: Mass Suicides in Nazi Germany in 1945

On April 30, 1945, while in his Führerbunker in Berlin, Adolf Hitler shot himself.

Around the same time, about a thousand residents of the German town of Demmin also committed suicide. For several weeks afterward, the Soviet soldiers took the bodies of the dead from the rivers and buried them.

It was reported that desperate people committed suicide using firearms, poisons, and razor blades. Some people chose to hang themselves, others drowned in the Tollense and Peene rivers. In some cases, parents killed their children before committing suicide.

There is evidence of various unsuccessful attempts as well. In rare cases, according to eyewitnesses, Soviet soldiers dragged people out of the water and then had to prevent them from repeated attempts to kill themselves.

Ruins of Garten Reichskanzlei, Adolf Hitler’s Führerbunker, Berlin, 1945.

What happened in Demmin was not an isolated case. In 1945, a wave of mass suicide occurred throughout Nazi Germany.

According to estimates by various historians, the number of those who voluntarily gave up their lives in the last months of the war ranges from 10,000 to 100,000 people. The main reasons are considered to be aggressive German propaganda combined with depression caused by life in the war zone among the ruins of buildings.

On April 12, 1945, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra organized its last appearance before the inevitable end of World War II. Albert Speer, a leading Nazi, organized the evening. The Berlin Philharmonic performed on that day Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung” – Twilight of the Gods.

At the same time, representatives of the Hitler Youth handed out tablets of potassium cyanide to the audience, so that they could take them and commit suicide without serious consequences.

March 9, 1945: Goebbels awards a 16-year-old Hitler Youth member, Willi Hübner, the Iron Cross for the defense of Lauban. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J31305 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

For many years, German propaganda had created the image of cruel Soviet soldiers robbing houses, killing children, and raping women. This image became one of the catalysts for panic in Germany by the end of the war.

In February 1945, the Nazis distributed leaflets throughout Czechoslovakia. These leaflets detailed the “Bolshevik murderer-pack” and the fact that their victory would lead to looting, starvation, and extermination. They called on German men to “save German women and girls from defilement and slaughter by the Bolshevik bloodhounds.”

Bolshevik political cartoon poster from 1920, showing Lenin sweeping away monarchs, clergy, and capitalists.

The behavior of Soviet soldiers during the liberation campaign only aggravated the situation. Based on suicide notes, diaries, and personal testimonies, German historians have concluded that many German women committed suicide to avoid being raped or out of shame at having already been raped.

The German psychiatrist Erich Menninger-Lerchenthal noted that there had been “organized mass suicide on a large scale which had previously not occurred in the history of Europe.”

He went on to say that “there are suicides which do not have anything to do with mental illness or some moral and intellectual deviance, but predominantly with the continuity of a heavy political defeat and the fear of being held responsible.”

During the hunger-winter of 1947, thousands protest against the disastrous food situation (March 31, 1947). Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-B0527-0001-753 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The German journalist and historian Florian Huber wrote the book “Kind, versprich mir, dass du dich erschießt” (Child Promise Me That You Will Shoot Yourself) which is devoted to the events of mass suicide in Demmin in 1945. He wrote that people who decided to commit suicide alone were few. Most often, it was carried out in families or couples.

Gerhard Jacobi, a priest from Demmin, described a wave of suicides in his city as an “epidemic of suicides” that lasted about three days. When everything died down, the daughter of the cemetery gardener counted 612 people who died.

However, according to other data from Demmin in those days, between 700 and 1,200 people committed suicide. A historian from Rostock, Fred Mrotzek, considered that the death toll ranged as high as 1,200 to 2,500 people.

German children, who have been deported from the eastern areas of Germany when it was taken over by Poland, arrive in West Germany. Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2003-0703-500 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

According to some eyewitnesses, mass suicide was provoked by the actions of Soviet soldiers. For three days, they drank, robbed, killed German men, and raped women. In addition, during their stay, 80% of the city was destroyed.

It is worth noting that, in the last months of the war, suicide in the Third Reich was proclaimed a heroic act. On February 28, 1945, on public radio, Joseph Goebbels declared that if Germany was defeated, he would “cheerfully throw away his life.”

Goebbels speaks at a political rally (1932). Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 119-2406-01 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

On August 30, 1944, during a military briefing, Hitler stated that “It’s only [a fraction] of a second. Then one is redeemed of everything and finds tranquility and eternal peace.”

The Führer declared his preference for suicide over defeat in 1939. In the Reichstag, during the invasion of Poland, he said: “I now wish to be nothing other than the first soldier of the German Reich. Therefore I have put on that tunic which has always been the most holy and dear to me. I shall not take it off again until after victory is ours, or I shall not live to see the day!”

Adolf Hitler declares war on the United States on 11 December 1941 in the wake of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Photo by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1987-0703-507 / unbekannt / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Most supporters of the Nazi party were planning to commit suicide in case of defeat. In addition, years of Nazi propaganda had insisted to the population of Germany that depriving oneself of life was the only way out of this situation.

In March 1945, the British reprinted a black and white German propaganda postcard, which was supposedly issued by the German government. It contained detailed instructions on how to hang yourself painlessly, quickly, and correctly.

Hitler on April 20, 1945, in his last public appearance, in the garden of the Reich Chancellery, ten days before he and Eva Braun committed suicide.

Many service members, significant Nazis, and party followers committed suicide in the last days of the war. There were also those who killed themselves only after being captured.

The list includes 8 out of 41 regional leaders of the Nazi Party, 7 out of 47 top police and SS officers, 14 out of 98 Luftwaffe generals, 53 out of 554 Army generals, 11 out of 53 admirals in the Kriegsmarine, and an unknown number of junior officers.

During 1945, more than 7,000 suicides were registered in Berlin, although this figure is considered to be an underestimate due to the chaos of the post-war period. A similar phenomenon was recorded in more than 16 other cities.


  • What ideals does Truman directly call upon in his support of free people?
  • How would Ho Chi Minh have seen his request in keeping with U.S. ideas? How did Truman have categorized Ho Chi Minh's request?
  • Consider the phrase "I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." What does Truman mean by this statement? Who might the armed minorities or outside pressures be? Why didn't he just name specific groups or people he was referring to in the document?

Truman, Harry S., "Truman Doctrine," 12 March 1947. Courtesy of National Archives


12 March 1945 - History

Sure &mdash it's Spring again &mdash a nice one at that &mdash and the lights are on once more in Paris.

We did our share of planning and working and sweating to help rekindle those lights &mdash and we may well feel proud of the job we've done.

This booklet is dedicated to the men who helped complete that job. To the men who drove the trucks and carried the litters, repaired facilities and kept the supplies rolling forward to the men who &mdash ever willing &mdash did a job of which they may well feel proud. This booklet, in other words, is dedicated to

The personnel of Seine Section were on duty first in London, England, assigned to Central Base Section, under the command of Brigadier General Pleas B. Rogers with headquarters on Regent Street. The boundaries of CBS incorporated metropolitan London.

The mission assigned Central Base Section was to provide all of the supplies and services for all American Army units in London which included USAFBI Army Forces in the British Isles), ETOUSA (European Theater of Operations Army), Hq., Allied Force (for North Africa), Hq. SOS (Services of Supply), and Hq., 1st Army Group (later 12th . In addition London was a leave center for 1,500 officers and 15,000 enlisted men, total strength served, approximately 33,000.

A plan was prepared for the organization of Seine Section and submitted to (Communications Zone) on 31 July 1944. Fighting broke out in Paris between the Resistance and the Germans 19 August 1944. On 21 August, in response to a military cable from Com Z, Forward, General Rogers flew to Valognes, France, and started a small planning group forward from Central Base Section by motor, and LCT (Landing Craft Tank), to complete the plan for the organization of Seine Section. The plan submitted 31 July was approved and by the 24th of that month it was evident that Paris would soon fall. NOW STARTS THE

General Rogers was already in Valognes, conferring with the General and Special Staff Sections of Headquarters, Com Z, (Forward). Advance Detachment Number One composed of 11 officers, mostly section chiefs, and 14 enlisted men left London by motor for Southampton and from there by LCT for France arriving at Utah Beach (remember that hill we climbed??) at 1200 hours of the 24th. Advance Detachment Number Two composed of 32 officers and 105 enlisted men left London by plane the 24th of August and arrived in Cherbourg a little over an hour after the take-off. On the 24th of August General Rogers flew to Bayeux and conferred with his new British Deputy, Brigadier Carthew-Yorstoun, DSO, MBE, thence to Chartres and conferred with General Omar Bradley, Commanding General 12th Army Group in regards to taking over the Paris area as soon as possible, while it was in the combat zone, thence on the 25th to Le Mans where he joined his advance party.

After conferring with Headquarters "ADSEC" (Advance Section, Communications Zone) in Le Mans, General Rogers led the convoy into "Gay Paree" on the day of Liberation, 25 August

Paris had fallen very suddenly and the proper agencies were unable to cope with the situation. People thought that we had an inexhaustible supply of food and lots of clothing, yes, and plenty of gasoline for their cars. Our and offices were as crowded as a Paris metro. One American resident demanded the daily delivery of specified brand foods to his house for the personal use of his family and In fact, we had so little that we had to send four trucks (we had 14 in all) back to Cherbourg for K, C and 10 in 1 food rations to feed our men. The German depots contained great quantities of all types of supplies, but stocks had to be surveyed and distribution handled judiciously and not scattered hither and yon as expected.

The Military Police did an outstanding job of guarding the depots, saving valuable stocks of captured enemy material.

Beginning in September 1944, one of the large and important systems of supply depots on the Continent was organized in Seine Section to serve the frontline troops. These depots received more than 1,150,000 tons of supplies and shipped out more than 1,000,000 tons prior to . Included in the outbound shipments were 150,000 tons of captured enemy material, most of which was forwarded to our fighting forces during the early winter months.

With the liberation of the population, the wants were many and the supplies very inadequate. No trains or barges were operating due to the bombing and sabotage of rail and water lines during the German occupation. Automobiles had not been allowed to operate by the Germans. The metro lines could not operate because of lack of power. Transportation was limited to cycling and walking. Gasoline was so precious for the first two weeks that no issue could be made until our had personally examined and approved each and every request. It is literally impossible to recount in detail how the personnel and units of Seine Section met these difficulties. The task was immense, the problems manifold, and the difficulties at times seemed insurmountable. But the courage and initiative of the officers and men of this section were equal to the demands made upon them.

Well, just for the record &mdash and for our wives and kids back home &mdash and for the fighting men whom we kept supplied &mdash here's what we did.

We supported the armies with most of their Class I Quartermaster supplies for the period 23 October to 28 November 1944, shipping a maximum of six trains per day made available all the gasoline from the pipeline for the period 1 October 1944 to 15 March 1945, or a total of one and a half million gallons per day furnished all the engineer material required by our armies for the period September to December 1944, using supplies which had been left behind by the Germans when they evacuated from Paris. We operated 14 million square feet of storage space, which was 10% of that on the Continent. The transportation facilities from 27 August 1944 to V-E plus 7 brought 814,264 personnel into Paris, shipped out 821,930 and handled 1,364,737 more in a total of 3,000,931 troops transported by Seine Section.

We requisitioned over 3,600 pieces of property for office space, billets and depots hired approximately 110,000 civilians, cleared 90 miles of the Oise Canal, including the repair and construction of locks and bridges, the removal of 34 demolished bridges and the construction of two new bridges across the Seine River. We operated 11 General and 5 Station Hospitals filled to from 150% to 200% of capacity during peak operations, as well as 42 hospital trains. We handled over a half million patients in our General Hospitals and evacuated almost a hundred thousand patients by air to the United Kingdom and 12,000 to the U. S. A. Complete laboratory facilities and specialized treatment centers for neuro-surgery, plastic surgery, chest surgery, etc., were established for the latest specialized treatment of casualties evacuated from other areas.

Our Signal Corps Spare Parts and Base Maintenance Depot, at , was the only shop of its kind on the Continent, and in addition to storing and distributing spare parts to all the Army Ground Forces, this Depot also repaired all types of Signal Corps equipment. Ordnance Depot number was the largest base, filler, and issue depot on the Continent for all groups of class II and IV Ordnance material, handling 1,204 long tons daily. From the latter part of November and during the month of December 1944, Quartermaster Depot number was operating under the control of Seine Section, and handled an average tonnage of 5,800 tons daily of supplies.

Our Post Exchange Distributing Point served the 50,000 troops assigned to Seine Section plus 400,000 troops operating in other continental locations but authorized to draw PX supplies from the Paris DP since it was the closest supply point. A high priority was placed by the Army Exchange Service upon serving the needs of battle casualties in Seine Section hospitals. Gratuitous rations were issued to hospitalized battle casualties who were without funds, and who had not received comparable issues from other authorized agencies. A unique service was provided for casualties who were being evacuated to the Zone of the Interior. This involved the procurement, through local sources, of special gift items such as perfumes, novelty jewelry and ladies accessories which, as they were difficult to procure, were reserved for issue to Hospital Exchanges for exclusive sale to such patients. This service was also available to combat troops on 3-day pass from the fighting fronts. This service was considered to be of especial morale significance in that this was the final, and, in many cases, the only, opportunity for the purchase of such gifts while in the Paris area.

On 16 December 1944 came word of the German counter-attack into Luxembourg which immediately threatened communications zone installations in forward areas. The 3619th Quartermaster Trucking Company was given the mission of moving a portion of the 101st Airborne Division to Bastogne on 19 December 1944. This Company was expected to return to Paris the following day but because of the situation it was not possible to release the trucks as planned, and it became necessary for the officer and the enlisted men of this company to become a part of the combat element of an airborne battalion, although they were not familiar with combat conditions. These men were later cited for the rapidity with which they adapted themselves and for the assistance they gave the battalion during the battle of the bulge. Word was received through Counter-Intelligence Agencies that German agents, in conjunction with the breakthrough, were to be infiltrated by various means into Paris, with the primary mission of sabotage. At that time, we were alerted 24 hours daily and a curfew was put into effect. The Counter-Intelligence Branch of the Section immediately went into action to meet the enemy threat, and elaborate security precautions were undertaken. Guards were doubled on all installations and four Engineer Combat Battalions were assigned to our section for the protection of vital installations, namely railway bridges, POL installations, Road-blocks were established at all entrances to the city of Paris and all cars were stopped and occupants questioned. Suspicious characters were taken into custody and brought to our Section where over seven hundred of these suspects were "screened". As a result of these efforts, eight enemy saboteurs and four enemy parachutists who had landed at Souppes (Seine et Marne), along with many "smaller fry" operators were caught and Seine Section efforts contributed to the complete thwarting of the attempt by Nazi agents to disrupt our lines of communications.

Upon our arrival in Paris in August 1944 the distribution system for food and other civilian essentials had temporarily broken down and many critically needed items were totally unavailable from French sources. Over the period of the next ten months quantities of equipment and supplies of all kinds were delivered to the French civil authorities through channels. These supplies comprised both AEF (Allied Expeditionary Forces) and captured enemy products. The Monuments Officer insured the preservation of monuments, works of art and archives and, consistent with military necessity, placed out-of-bounds many private chateaux because of their historical value and because they contained works of art and furnishings impossible to replace.

During the same period of time the Civil Affairs organization aided in the supply, maintenance, transportation and repatriation of thousands of displaced persons representing almost a cross section of the world's nationalities.

All V-Mail operations on the Continent were under our 23rd Base Post Office located at Villepinte. Between 1 February and 30 April 1945 over thirty million letters were dispatched on film rolls. The receiving section processed 32,194,081 inbound V-Letters in a ten day period commencing 18 February 1945.

The establishment of Paris as an important leave center brought with it the need for lodging, messing and recreational facilities for the U. S. Forces. The American Red Cross made available a number of clubs for all branches of the service. The first club to open in Paris was Rainbow Corner, which opened on 3 September 1944. By Day, 1945, there were fourteen clubs open in Paris plus three day-clubs for feeding. By the middle of June 1945, there were a total of approximately 10,000 beds for leave troops. Over a hundred thousand officers and men per week attended six of our large Cinemas and Theaters.

At last came the day that none of us will forget &mdash Day &mdash 8 May 1945!!

The cessation of hostilities in this theater did not mean that our operations would also cease, though rumors of every imaginable description were heard from all sides. Most of us paid little attention to these rumors because even if we had finished the greater part of a tough assignment, a good man doesn't want to leave a job unfinished.

The job that has been completed has been finished in a superior manner. It has been a source of pride to your Commanding General and you may feel proud that you did your share in bringing the Nazis to their knees. Your efforts have produced positive results and in every way have been a credit to the Army of the United States.


PLEAS B. ROGERS
Brigadier General, U. S. Army,
Commanding

Chief of Staff . Col EUGENE J. BLAKELY, Jr, GSC . Lexington, Va. Acting Chief of Staff . Lt Col JULIAN D. ABELL, CE . Nappanee, Ind. Deputy Chief of Staff . Lt Col FRANCIS L. REMUS, GSC . Minneapolis, Minn. Secretary of the General Staff . 1st Lt HARRY F. BEAR, MAC . Baltimore, Md. Capt ROSE F. ROSS, WAC . Long Island, N. Y. Capt DONALD E. WENTZEL, AC A C of S, G-1 . Col PAUL K. BROWN, GSC . Norristown, Pa. A C of S, G-2 & G-3 . Col HENRY C. AHALT, GSC . Blacksburg, Va. A C of S, G-4 . Col LOREN W POTTER, GSC . Laclede, Mo. A C of S, G-5 . Col ROBERT P. HAMILTON, GSC . Columbia University, N. Y., N. Y. General Purchasing Agent . Col LEELAN E. WITNEY, GSC . Peabody, Mass. Adjutant General . Lt Col RAY C. SCOTT, AGD . Sacramento, Cal. . Lt Col DAVID C. MAYERS, AGD . San Francisco, Cal. Army Exchange Officer . Major KAUFMAN R. KATZ, QMC . Baltimore, Md. Chaplain . Chap (Maj) CHESTER R. MC CLELLAND . Dallas, Texas. Chemical Warfare Officer . Lt Col HENRY G. BEAMER, CWS . East Pittsburgh, Pa. . Maj KENNETH E. KITCHEN, CWS Chief, Control, Control Division . Cap ARTHUR E. NEIGLER, FA . Brooklyn, N. Y. Maj HOWARD E. SOMMER, QMC . Chicago, Ill. Lt Col HARRY H. STOUT, Jr, ORD Director, Claims Service . Lt Col ALDO H. LOOS, JAGD . Kansas City, Mo. Col DAVID C. BYRD, JAGD . Atlanta, Ga. Engineer Officer . Col ROBERT E. M. DES ISLETS, CE . Kansas City, Mo. Col PHILIP R. GARGES, CE . Washington, D. C. Col ALBERT RIANI, CE Lt Col JAMES R. GRIFFITH, Jr, CE Fiscal Officer . Capt ROBERT J. FARRIS, FD . Tulsa, Okla. Lt Col CLARENCE C. NEELY, FD French Liaison Officer . Maj ROLAND DE MAILLE, French Army . Paris, France Headquarters Commandant . Lt Col JAMES B. RAMAGE, Inf . Atlanta, Ga. Maj JOSEPH W. SAUNDERS, Inf . Silver Spring, Md. Historian . 1st Lt HARRY F. BEAR, MAC . Baltimore, Md. Information and Education . Capt FRANCIS M. DOWD, AUS . East Orange, N. J. Inspector General . Maj WILLIAM J. ENGERT, IGD . Knoxville, Tenn. Col FRED S. HANNA, IGD . Columbia, Mo. Mess Director . Maj WALTER A. STANSBURY, QMC . Goldsboro, N. C. Miscellaneous Supply . Lt Col WILLIAM E. WILLEY, QMC . Salt Lake City, Utah Ordnance Officer . Col FLOYD C. DEVINBECK, Ord . Washington D. C. Col JOSEPH HORRIDGE, Ord . Chambersburg, Pa. Lt Col FRED Q. AUNGST, Ord . Palmyra, Pa. Capt ALBERT RISI, Ord . Bridgeport, Conn. Postal Officer . Lt Col EARL A. BARNHART, AGD . Dana, Ill. Maj FRANCIS P. KAINE, AGD . South Plainfield, N. J. Maj ERVIN W. BOETTCHER, AGD . Chicago, Ill. Capt CECIL E. MASON, AGD Provost Marshal . Col ERNEST G. BUHRMASTER, CMP . Scotia, N. Y. Public Relations Officer . Capt DAVID G. WYLIE, CE . Chicago, Ill. 2nd Lt HUBERT C. BUTTS, CWS Quartermaster . Col FLOYD C. HARDING, QMC . Falls City, Neb. Col WILBERT V. RENNER, QMC Col CHARLES A. VALVERDE, QMC Signal Officer . Col WALTER J. ROSENGREN, SC . N. Y., N. Y. Special Service . Lt Col RALPH W. RUFFNER, Inf . Washington, D. C. Maj WARD J. WALKER, Inf Special Troops . Lt Col JULIAN D. ABELL, CE . Nappanee, Ind. Maj JOSEPH W. SAUNDERS, Inf . Silver Spring, Md. Staff Judge Advocate . Col CLARENCE E. BRAND, JAGD . Washington D. C. Lt Col VINCENT A. MILLER, JAGD Surgeon . Col THAIR C. RICH, MC . Odgen, Utah. Transportation Officer . Col HERBERT P. EVANS, TC . Scituate, Mass. Versailles District . Lt Col CHARLES A. MERKLE, Inf . Los Angeles, Calif.


Work by Lt. H. F. Bear
Historian, Headquarters, Seine Section
Theater Service Forces, European Theater


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Contents

Early Nazi persecutions Edit

In the 1920s, most German Jews were fully integrated into German society as German citizens. They served in the German army and navy and contributed to every field of German business, science and culture. [13] Conditions for German Jews began to change after the appointment of Adolf Hitler (the Austrian-born leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party) as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933, and the Enabling Act (implemented 23 March 1933) which enabled the assumption of power by Hitler after the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933. [14] [15] From its inception, Hitler's régime moved quickly to introduce anti-Jewish policies. Nazi propaganda alienated 500,000 Jews in Germany, who accounted for only 0.86% of the overall population, and framed them as an enemy responsible for Germany's defeat in the First World War and for its subsequent economic disasters, such as the 1920s hyperinflation and Wall Street Crash Great Depression. [16] Beginning in 1933, the German government enacted a series of anti-Jewish laws restricting the rights of German Jews to earn a living, to enjoy full citizenship and to gain education, including the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service of 7 April 1933, which forbade Jews to work in the civil service. [17] The subsequent 1935 Nuremberg Laws stripped German Jews of their citizenship and prohibited Jews from marrying non-Jewish Germans.

These laws resulted in the exclusion and alienation of Jews from German social and political life. [18] Many sought asylum abroad hundreds of thousands emigrated, but as Chaim Weizmann wrote in 1936, "The world seemed to be divided into two parts—those places where the Jews could not live and those where they could not enter." [19] The international Évian Conference on 6 July 1938 addressed the issue of Jewish and Gypsy immigration to other countries. By the time the conference took place, more than 250,000 Jews had fled Germany and Austria, which had been annexed by Germany in March 1938 more than 300,000 German and Austrian Jews continued to seek refuge and asylum from oppression. As the number of Jews and Gypsies wanting to leave increased, the restrictions against them grew, with many countries tightening their rules for admission. By 1938, Germany "had entered a new radical phase in anti-Semitic activity". [20] Some historians believe that the Nazi government had been contemplating a planned outbreak of violence against the Jews and were waiting for an appropriate provocation there is evidence of this planning dating back to 1937. [21] In a 1997 interview, the German historian Hans Mommsen claimed that a major motive for the pogrom was the desire of the Gauleiters of the NSDAP to seize Jewish property and businesses. [22] Mommsen stated:

The need for money by the party organization stemmed from the fact that Franz Xaver Schwarz, the party treasurer, kept the local and regional organizations of the party short of money. In the fall of 1938, the increased pressure on Jewish property nourished the party's ambition, especially since Hjalmar Schacht had been ousted as Reich minister for economics. This, however, was only one aspect of the origin of the November 1938 pogrom. The Polish government threatened to extradite all Jews who were Polish citizens but would stay in Germany, thus creating a burden of responsibility on the German side. The immediate reaction by the Gestapo was to push the Polish Jews—16,000 persons—over the borderline, but this measure failed due to the stubbornness of the Polish customs officers. The loss of prestige as a result of this abortive operation called for some sort of compensation. Thus, the overreaction to Herschel Grynszpan's attempt against the diplomat Ernst vom Rath came into being and led to the November pogrom. The background of the pogrom was signified by a sharp cleavage of interests between the different agencies of party and state. While the Nazi party was interested in improving its financial strength on the regional and local level by taking over Jewish property, Hermann Göring, in charge of the Four-Year Plan, hoped to acquire access to foreign currency in order to pay for the import of urgently-needed raw material. Heydrich and Himmler were interested in fostering Jewish emigration. [22]

The Zionist leadership in the British Mandate of Palestine wrote in February 1938 that according to "a very reliable private source—one which can be traced back to the highest echelons of the SS leadership", there was "an intention to carry out a genuine and dramatic pogrom in Germany on a large scale in the near future". [23]

Expulsion of Polish Jews in Germany Edit

In August 1938, German authorities announced that residence permits for foreigners were being canceled and would have to be renewed. [ citation needed ] This included German-born Jews of foreign citizenship. Poland stated that it would renounce citizenship rights of Polish Jews living abroad for at least five years after the end of October, effectively making them stateless. [24] In the so-called "Polenaktion", more than 12,000 Polish Jews, among them the philosopher and theologian Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and future literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki were expelled from Germany on 28 October 1938, on Hitler's orders. They were ordered to leave their homes in a single night and were allowed only one suitcase per person to carry their belongings. As the Jews were taken away, their remaining possessions were seized as loot both by Nazi authorities and by neighbors.

The deportees were taken from their homes to railway stations and were put on trains to the Polish border, where Polish border guards sent them back into Germany. This stalemate continued for days in the pouring rain, with the Jews marching without food or shelter between the borders. Four thousand were granted entry into Poland, but the remaining 8,000 were forced to stay at the border. They waited there in harsh conditions to be allowed to enter Poland. A British newspaper told its readers that hundreds "are reported to be lying about, penniless and deserted, in little villages along the frontier near where they had been driven out by the Gestapo and left." [25] Conditions in the refugee camps "were so bad that some actually tried to escape back into Germany and were shot", recalled a British woman who was sent to help those who had been expelled. [26]

Shooting of vom Rath Edit

Among those expelled was the family of Sendel and Riva Grynszpan, Polish Jews who had emigrated to Germany in 1911 and settled in Hanover, Germany. At the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961, Sendel Grynszpan recounted the events of their deportation from Hanover on the night of 27 October 1938: "Then they took us in police trucks, in prisoners' lorries, about 20 men in each truck, and they took us to the railway station. The streets were full of people shouting: ' Juden Raus! Auf Nach Palästina! ' " ("Jews out, out to Palestine!"). [27] Their seventeen-year-old son Herschel was living in Paris with an uncle. [12] Herschel received a postcard from his family from the Polish border, describing the family's expulsion: "No one told us what was up, but we realized this was going to be the end . We haven't a penny. Could you send us something?" [28] He received the postcard on 3 November 1938.

On the morning of Monday, 7 November 1938, he purchased a revolver and a box of bullets, then went to the German embassy and asked to see an embassy official. After he was taken to the office of Ernst vom Rath, Grynszpan fired five bullets at Vom Rath, two of which hit him in the abdomen. Vom Rath was a professional diplomat with the Foreign Office who expressed anti-Nazi sympathies, largely based on the Nazis' treatment of the Jews and was under Gestapo investigation for being politically unreliable. [29] Grynszpan made no attempt to escape the French police and freely confessed to the shooting. In his pocket, he carried a postcard to his parents with the message, "May God forgive me . I must protest so that the whole world hears my protest, and that I will do." It is widely assumed that the assassination was politically motivated, but historian Hans-Jürgen Döscher says the shooting may have been the result of a homosexual love affair gone wrong. Grynszpan and vom Rath had become intimate after they met in Le Boeuf sur le Toit, which was a popular meeting place for gay men at the time. [30]

The next day, the German government retaliated, barring Jewish children from German state elementary schools, indefinitely suspending Jewish cultural activities, and putting a halt to the publication of Jewish newspapers and magazines, including the three national German Jewish newspapers. A newspaper in Britain described the last move, which cut off the Jewish populace from their leaders, as "intended to disrupt the Jewish community and rob it of the last frail ties which hold it together." [16] Their rights as citizens had been stripped. [31] One of the first legal measures issued was an order by Heinrich Himmler, commander of all German police, forbidding Jews to possess any weapons whatsoever and imposing a penalty of twenty years' confinement in a concentration camp upon every Jew found in possession of a weapon hereafter. [32]

Death of Ernst vom Rath Edit

Ernst vom Rath died of his wounds on 9 November 1938. Word of his death reached Hitler that evening while he was with several key members of the Nazi party at a dinner commemorating the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. After intense discussions, Hitler left the assembly abruptly without giving his usual address. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels delivered the speech, in his place, and said that "the Führer has decided that. demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered." [33] The chief party judge Walter Buch later stated that the message was clear with these words, Goebbels had commanded the party leaders to organize a pogrom. [34]

Some leading party officials disagreed with Goebbels' actions, fearing the diplomatic crisis it would provoke. Heinrich Himmler wrote, "I suppose that it is Goebbels's megalomania. and stupidity which is responsible for starting this operation now, in a particularly difficult diplomatic situation." [35] The Israeli historian Saul Friedländer believes that Goebbels had personal reasons for wanting to bring about Kristallnacht. Goebbels had recently suffered humiliation for the ineffectiveness of his propaganda campaign during the Sudeten crisis, and was in some disgrace over an affair with a Czech actress, Lída Baarová. Goebbels needed a chance to improve his standing in the eyes of Hitler. At 1:20 a.m. on 10 November 1938, Reinhard Heydrich sent an urgent secret telegram to the Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police SiPo) and the Sturmabteilung (SA), containing instructions regarding the riots. This included guidelines for the protection of foreigners and non-Jewish businesses and property. Police were instructed not to interfere with the riots unless the guidelines were violated. Police were also instructed to seize Jewish archives from synagogues and community offices, and to arrest and detain "healthy male Jews, who are not too old", for eventual transfer to (labor) concentration camps. [36]

Riots Edit

Müller, in a message to SA and SS commanders, stated the "most extreme measures" were to be taken against Jewish people. [37] The SA and Hitler Youth shattered the windows of about 7,500 Jewish stores and businesses, hence the name Kristallnacht (Crystal Night), and looted their goods. [38] [6] Jewish homes were ransacked all throughout Germany. Although violence against Jews had not been explicitly condoned by the authorities, there were cases of Jews being beaten or assaulted. Following the violence, police departments recorded a large number of suicides and rapes. [6]

The rioters destroyed 267 synagogues throughout Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland. [6] Over 1,400 synagogues and prayer rooms, [39] many Jewish cemeteries, more than 7,000 Jewish shops, and 29 department stores were damaged, and in many cases destroyed. More than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps primarily Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen. [40]

The synagogues, some centuries old, were also victims of considerable violence and vandalism, with the tactics the Stormtroops practiced on these and other sacred sites described as "approaching the ghoulish" by the United States Consul in Leipzig. Tombstones were uprooted and graves violated. Fires were lit, and prayer books, scrolls, artwork and philosophy texts were thrown upon them, and precious buildings were either burned or smashed until unrecognizable. Eric Lucas recalls the destruction of the synagogue that a tiny Jewish community had constructed in a small village only twelve years earlier:

"It did not take long before the first heavy grey stones came tumbling down, and the children of the village amused themselves as they flung stones into the many colored windows. When the first rays of a cold and pale November sun penetrated the heavy dark clouds, the little synagogue was but a heap of stone, broken glass and smashed-up woodwork." [41]

The Daily Telegraph correspondent, Hugh Greene, wrote of events in Berlin:

"Mob law ruled in Berlin throughout the afternoon and evening and hordes of hooligans indulged in an orgy of destruction. I have seen several anti-Jewish outbreaks in Germany during the last five years, but never anything as nauseating as this. Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of otherwise decent people. I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle-class mothers held up their babies to see the 'fun'." [42]

Many Berliners were however deeply ashamed of the pogrom, and some took great personal risks to offer help. The son of a US consular official heard the janitor of his block cry: "They must have emptied the insane asylums and penitentiaries to find people who'd do things like that!" [43]

Tucson News TV channel briefly reported on a 2008 remembrance meeting at a local Jewish congregation. According to eyewitness Esther Harris: "They ripped up the belongings, the books, knocked over furniture, shouted obscenities". [44] Historian Gerhard Weinberg is quoted as saying:

"Houses of worship burned down, vandalized, in every community in the country where people either participate or watch." [44]

Former German Kaiser Wilhelm II commented "For the first time, I am ashamed to be German." [45]

Göring, who was in favor of expropriating the Jews rather than destroying Jewish property as had happened in the pogrom, complained directly to Sicherheitspolizei Chief Heydrich immediately after the events: "I'd rather you had done in two-hundred Jews than destroy so many valuable assets!" ("Mir wäre lieber gewesen, ihr hättet 200 Juden erschlagen und hättet nicht solche Werte vernichtet!"). [46] Göring met with other members of the Nazi leadership on 12 November to plan the next steps after the riot, setting the stage for formal government action. In the transcript of the meeting, Göring said,

I have received a letter written on the Führer's orders requesting that the Jewish question be now, once and for all, coordinated and solved one way or another. I should not want to leave any doubt, gentlemen, as to the aim of today's meeting. We have not come together merely to talk again, but to make decisions, and I implore competent agencies to take all measures for the elimination of the Jew from the German economy, and to submit them to me. [47]

The persecution and economic damage inflicted upon German Jews continued after the pogrom, even as their places of business were ransacked. They were forced to pay Judenvermögensabgabe, a collective fine or "atonement contribution" of one billion Reichsmarks for the murder of vom Rath (equivalent to 4 billion 2017 € or 7 billion in 2020 USD), which was levied by the compulsory acquisition of 20% of all Jewish property by the state. Six million Reichsmarks of insurance payments for property damage due to the Jewish community were instead paid to the Reich government as "damages to the German Nation". Jews were required to pay for the cost of all damages caused by the pogrom to their residences and businesses. [48] [49] [50]

The number of emigrating Jews surged, as those who were able to left the country. In the ten months following Kristallnacht, more than 115,000 Jews emigrated from the Reich. [51] The majority went to other European countries, the U.S. and Mandatory Palestine, and at least 14,000 made it to Shanghai, China. As part of government policy, the Nazis seized houses, shops, and other property the émigrés left behind. Many of the destroyed remains of Jewish property plundered during Kristallnacht were dumped near Brandenburg. In October 2008, this dumpsite was discovered by Yaron Svoray, an investigative journalist. The site, the size of four football fields, contained an extensive array of personal and ceremonial items looted during the riots against Jewish property and places of worship on the night of 9 November 1938. It is believed the goods were brought by rail to the outskirts of the village and dumped on designated land. Among the items found were glass bottles engraved with the Star of David, mezuzot, painted window sills, and the armrests of chairs found in synagogues, in addition to an ornamental swastika. [52]

In Germany Edit

The reaction of non-Jewish Germans to Kristallnacht was varied. Many spectators gathered on the scenes, most of them in silence. The local fire departments confined themselves to prevent the flames from spreading to neighboring buildings. In Berlin, police Lieutenant Otto Bellgardt barred SA troopers from setting the New Synagogue on fire, earning his superior officer a verbal reprimand from the commissioner. [53]

The British historian Martin Gilbert believes that "many non-Jews resented the round-up", [54] his opinion being supported by German witness Dr. Arthur Flehinger who recalls seeing "people crying while watching from behind their curtains". [55] Rolf Dessauers recalls how a neighbor came forward and restored a portrait of Paul Ehrlich that had been "slashed to ribbons" by the Sturmabteilung. "He wanted it to be known that not all Germans supported Kristallnacht." [56]

The extent of the damage done on Kristallnacht was so great that many Germans are said to have expressed their disapproval of it, and to have described it as senseless. [57]

In an article released for publication on the evening of 11 November, Goebbels ascribed the events of Kristallnacht to the "healthy instincts" of the German people. He went on to explain: "The German people are anti-Semitic. It has no desire to have its rights restricted or to be provoked in the future by parasites of the Jewish race." [58] Less than 24 hours after Kristallnacht, Adolf Hitler made a one-hour long speech in front of a group of journalists where he completely ignored the recent events on everyone's mind. According to Eugene Davidson the reason for this was that Hitler wished to avoid being directly connected to an event that he was aware that many of those present condemned, regardless of Goebbels's unconvincing explanation that Kristallnacht was caused by popular wrath. [59] Goebbels met the foreign press in the afternoon of 11 November and said that the burning of synagogues and damage to Jewish owned property had been "spontaneous manifestations of indignation against the murder of Herr Vom Rath by the young Jew Grynsban [sic]". [60]

In 1938, just after Kristallnacht, the psychologist Michael Müller-Claudius interviewed 41 randomly selected Nazi Party members on their attitudes towards racial persecution. Of the interviewed party-members 63% expressed extreme indignation against it, while only 5% expressed approval of racial persecution, the rest being noncommittal. [61] A study conducted in 1933 had then shown that 33% of Nazi Party members held no racial prejudice while 13% supported persecution. Sarah Ann Gordon sees two possible reasons for this difference. First, by 1938 large numbers of Germans had joined the Nazi Party for pragmatic reasons rather than ideology thus diluting the percentage of rabid antisemites second, the Kristallnacht could have caused party members to reject antisemitism that had been acceptable to them in abstract terms but which they could not support when they saw it concretely enacted. [62] During the events of Kristallnacht, several Gauleiter and deputy Gauleiters had refused orders to enact the Kristallnacht, and many leaders of the SA and of the Hitler Youth also openly refused party orders, while expressing disgust. [63] Some Nazis helped Jews during the Kristallnacht. [63]

As it was aware that the German public did not support the Kristallnacht, the propaganda ministry directed the German press to portray opponents of racial persecution as disloyal. [64] The press was also under orders to downplay the Kristallnacht, describing general events at the local level only, with prohibition against depictions of individual events. [65] In 1939 this was extended to a prohibition on reporting any anti-Jewish measures. [66]

The U.S. ambassador to Germany reported:

In view of this being a totalitarian state a surprising characteristic of the situation here is the intensity and scope among German citizens of condemnation of the recent happenings against Jews. [67]

To the consternation of the Nazis, the Kristallnacht affected public opinion counter to their desires, the peak of opposition against the Nazi racial policies was reached just then, when according to almost all accounts the vast majority of Germans rejected the violence perpetrated against the Jews. [68] Verbal complaints grew rapidly in numbers, and for example, the Duesseldorf branch of the Gestapo reported a sharp decline in anti-Semitic attitudes among the population. [69]

There are many indications of Protestant and Catholic disapproval of racial persecution for example, anti-Nazi Protestants adopted the Barmen Declaration in 1934, and the Catholic church had already distributed pastoral letters critical of Nazi racial ideology, and the Nazi regime expected to encounter organised resistance from it following Kristallnacht. [70] The Catholic leadership however, just as the various Protestant churches, refrained from responding with organised action. [70] While individual Catholics and Protestants took action, the churches as a whole chose silence publicly. [70] Nevertheless, individuals continued to show courage, for example, a parson paid the medical bills of a Jewish cancer patient and was sentenced to a large fine and several months in prison in 1941, Reformed Church pastor Paul Schneider placed a Nazi sympathizer under church discipline and he was subsequently sent to Buchenwald where he was murdered. A Catholic nun was sentenced to death in 1945 for helping Jews. [70] A Protestant parson spoke out in 1943 and was sent to Dachau concentration camp where he died after a few days. [70]

Martin Sasse, Nazi Party member and bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia, leading member of the Nazi German Christians, one of the schismatic factions of German Protestantism, published a compendium of Martin Luther's writings shortly after the Kristallnacht Sasse "applauded the burning of the synagogues" and the coincidence of the day, writing in the introduction, "On 10 November 1938, on Luther's birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany." The German people, he urged, ought to heed these words "of the greatest anti-Semite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews." [71] Diarmaid MacCulloch argued that Luther's 1543 pamphlet, On the Jews and Their Lies was a "blueprint" for the Kristallnacht. [72]

Internationally Edit

Kristallnacht sparked international outrage. According to Volker Ullrich, ". a line had been crossed: Germany had left the community of civilised nations." [73] It discredited pro-Nazi movements in Europe and North America, leading to an eventual decline in their support. Many newspapers condemned Kristallnacht, with some of them comparing it to the murderous pogroms incited by Imperial Russia during the 1880s. The United States recalled its ambassador (but it did not break off diplomatic relations) while other governments severed diplomatic relations with Germany in protest. The British government approved the Kindertransport program for refugee children. As such, Kristallnacht also marked a turning point in relations between Nazi Germany and the rest of the world. The brutality of the pogrom, and the Nazi government's deliberate policy of encouraging the violence once it had begun, laid bare the repressive nature and widespread anti-Semitism entrenched in Germany. World opinion thus turned sharply against the Nazi regime, with some politicians calling for war. On 6 December 1938, William Cooper, an Aboriginal Australian, led a delegation of the Australian Aboriginal League on a march through Melbourne to the German Consulate to deliver a petition which condemned the "cruel persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazi government of Germany". German officials refused to accept the tendered document. [74]

After the Kristallnacht, Salvador Allende, Gabriel González Videla, Marmaduke Grove, Florencio Durán and other members of the Congress of Chile sent a telegram to Adolf Hitler denouncing the persecution of Jews. [75] A more personal response, in 1939, was the oratorio A Child of Our Time by the English composer Michael Tippett. [76]

Kristallnacht changed the nature of the Nazi persecution of Jews from economic, political, and social to physical with beatings, incarceration, and murder the event is often referred to as the beginning of the Holocaust. In this view, it is described not only as a pogrom but also a critical stage within a process where each step becomes the seed of the next. [77] An account cited that Hitler's green light for Kristallnacht was made with the belief that it would help him realize his ambition of getting rid of the Jews in Germany. [77] Prior to this large-scale and organized violence against the Jews, the Nazi's primary objective was to eject them from Germany, leaving their wealth behind. [77] In the words of historian Max Rein in 1988, "Kristallnacht came. and everything was changed." [78]

While November 1938 predated the overt articulation of "the Final Solution", it foreshadowed the genocide to come. Around the time of Kristallnacht, the SS newspaper Das Schwarze Korps called for a "destruction by swords and flames." At a conference on the day after the pogrom, Hermann Göring said: "The Jewish problem will reach its solution if, in anytime soon, we will be drawn into war beyond our border—then it is obvious that we will have to manage a final account with the Jews." [16]

Kristallnacht was also instrumental in changing global opinion. In the United States, for instance, it was this specific incident that came to symbolize Nazism and was the reason the Nazis became associated with evil. [79]

Many decades later, association with the Kristallnacht anniversary was cited as the main reason against choosing 9 November (Schicksalstag), the day the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, as the new German national holiday a different day was chosen (3 October 1990, German reunification). [ citation needed ]

The avant-garde guitarist Gary Lucas's 1988 composition "Verklärte Kristallnacht", which juxtaposes what would become the Israeli national anthem ten years after Kristallnacht, "Hatikvah", with phrases from the German national anthem "Deutschland Über Alles" amid wild electronic shrieks and noise, is intended to be a sonic representation of the horrors of Kristallnacht. It was premiered at the 1988 Berlin Jazz Festival and received rave reviews. (The title is a reference to Arnold Schoenberg's 1899 work "Verklärte Nacht" that presaged his pioneering work on atonal music Schoenberg was an Austrian Jew who would move to the United States to escape the Nazis). [80]

In 1989, Al Gore, then a senator from Tennessee and later Vice President of the United States, wrote of an "ecological Kristallnacht" in the New York Times. He opined that events then taking place, such as deforestation and ozone depletion, prefigured a greater environmental catastrophe in the way Kristallnacht prefigured the Holocaust. [81]

Kristallnacht was the inspiration for the 1993 album Kristallnacht by the composer John Zorn. The German power metal band Masterplan's debut album, Masterplan (2003), features an anti-Nazi song entitled "Crystal Night" as the fourth track. The German band BAP published a song titled "Kristallnaach" in their Cologne dialect, dealing with the emotions engendered by the Kristallnacht. [82]

Kristallnacht was the inspiration for the 1988 composition Mayn Yngele by the composer Frederic Rzewski, of which he says: "I began writing this piece in November 1988, on the 50th anniversary of the Kristallnacht . My piece is a reflection on that vanished part of Jewish tradition which so strongly colors, by its absence, the culture of our time". [83]

In 2014, the Wall Street Journal published a letter from billionaire Thomas Perkins that compared the "progressive war on the American one percent" of wealthiest Americans and the Occupy movement's "demonization of the rich" to the Kristallnacht and antisemitism in Nazi Germany. [84] The letter was widely criticized and condemned in The Atlantic, [85] The Independent, [86] among bloggers, Twitter users, and "his own colleagues in Silicon Valley". [87] Perkins subsequently apologized for making the comparisons with Nazi Germany, but otherwise stood by his letter, saying, "In the Nazi era it was racial demonization, now it's class demonization." [87]

Kristallnacht has been referenced both explicitly and implicitly in countless cases of vandalism of Jewish property including the toppling of gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, [88] and the two 2017 vandalisms of the New England Holocaust Memorial, as the memorial's founder Steve Ross discusses in his book, From Broken Glass: My Story of Finding Hope in Hitler's Death Camps to Inspire a New Generation. [89] The Sri Lankan Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera also used the term to describe the violence in 2019 against Muslims by Sinhalese nationalists. [90]


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