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  • 01/04/15--08:10: THE UNITED STATES ARMY NORTH

  •             I will post information about the United States Army North from Wikipedia.

    Fifth Army Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
    4 January 1943 – October 1945
    June 1946 – present
    United States of America
    United States Army
    Army Service Component Command
    "Strength of the Nation!"
    World War II
    Lieutenant General Perry L. Wiggins

    United States Army North is the Army Service Component Command of United States Northern Command. As the joint force land component command, it is responsible for homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities. It is garrisoned at Fort Sam Houston. From 1943 to 2004, it was previously designated as Fifth Army.

    U.S. Army North / 5th Army Distinctive Unit Insignia

    World War II

    The Fifth United States Army was one of the principal formations of the U.S. Army in the Mediterraneanduring World War II. It was activated on 5 January 1943 at Oujda, French Morocco and made responsible for the defence of Algeria and Morocco. It was also given the responsibility for planning the American part of the invasion of mainland Italy. It was commanded by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark.

    It first saw action during Operation Avalanche, the assault landings at Salerno in September 1943. Due to the low numbers of American troops available in theatre it was made up of one American and one British corps. It had the X Corps (United Kingdom) and the VI Corps (United States) under its command. At Salerno, X Corps landed on the left flank, and VI Corps on the right flank. Progress was initially slow, due in part to lack of initiative by the American corps commander, Maj. Gen. Ernest J. Dawley, who was subsequently replaced. However, after heavy naval and air bombardment had saved the forces from any danger of being driven back into the sea, and also with the approach of the British Eighth Army(which had landed further south), the German forces retreated.

    Progress was then good for a couple of months until the Germans turned, stood and fought. The Germans established a position on the Winter Line, which included the formidable defensive positions at San Pietro Infine in the Liri Valley and at Monte Cassino. By this point, Fifth Army had been reinforced by a second American corps, II Corps. With the failure of the first operations to capture Monte Cassino, an attempt was made to exploit the Allied preponderance in seapower before the coming invasion of Normandy robbed the Mediterranean of the naval forces necessary for an amphibious assault.

    VI Corps was withdrawn from the line and replaced by the French Expeditionary Corps under General Alphonse Juin. They made a second attempt to capture Monte Cassino in conjunction with the amphibious assault by VI Corps, which again failed. VI Corps landed at Anzioon 22 January 1944 in Operation Shingle, and suffered many of the same problems as had been seen at Salerno. A lack of initiative on the part of the U.S. commander, Maj Gen. John P. Lucas, combined with worries about the Germans catching VI Corps off balance if it advanced too far in land resulted in the bridgehead being bottled up. The Germans nearly breached the last beachhead defences before again being driven off by heavy naval and air support.

    After the failure of Shingle, a large reorganisation took place. Previously the Apennineshad been the rough dividing line between Fifth and Eighth Armies. However, the dividing line was shifted westwards, to allow the concentration of both armies on the western side of Italy for maximum firepower to break through to Rome. the V Corps (United Kingdom) was left on the Adriatic coast to pin down any German units there. Fifth Army was relieved of responsibility for Cassino and the final phases of that battle saw Indian, New Zealand and finally Polish troops thrown against the fortress. Fifth Army also lost X Corps at this time, since it was felt that having exclusively American-organised units under Fifth Army and British-organised units under Eighth Army would ease logistics.

    The breakthrough was achieved during the spring of 1944. Coordinated assaults by all the Allied forces, except V Corps, which was confined to a holding action, broke through. II Corps attacked along the coast, the French Expeditionary Corps, in a classic demonstration of mountain warfare, broke through on the right flank of Fifth Army, and VI Corps broke out of the Anzio beachhead. By early summer, Allied forces were well on their way to capturing Rome.

    At this point, one of the more controversial incidents in the history of Fifth Army occurred. The strategic conception of General Harold Alexander, commanding 15th Army Group was that the forces of VI Corps, coming out of Anzio would trap the retreating German forces, and leave them to be annihilated by the advancing Fifth and Eighth Armies. However, in contravention of orders, Clark diverted units of VI Corps towards Rome, leaving a small blocking force to attempt to stop the Germans. It failed to do so, and the German forces were able to escape and reestablish a coherent line to the north of Rome. Clark claimed that there were significant German threats which necessitated the diversion, but many believe that he was primarily glory-seeking by being the first to liberate Rome.

    Two days after Rome fell, Operation Overlordwas launched. The strategic conception of Overlord called for a supporting operation to be mounted by invading southern France. In order to do so, forces would have to be withdrawn from Allied Armies in Italy. In the end, VI Corps was withdrawn, forming the nucleus of the field forces of the US Seventh Armyfor the invasion of the French Riviera, Operation Dragoon. The French Expeditionary Corps was also withdrawn, to allow its men to be used to form French First Army, a follow-up formation for Dragoon. In two months, the strength of the Fifth Army dropped from 250,000 to 150,000, or the equivalent of 9 divisions. However the Brazilian Expeditionary Division as well as other divisions had arrived to align with IV Corps, so two corps were maintained within Fifth Army.

    In the 2nd half of 1944, the Allied force on Italian Front within the US 5th Army and 8th British Army resembled more a multi-national force being constituted by: Americans (including segregated African/and/Japanese-Americans), British, French, members of French and British colonies (New Zealanders, Canadians, Indians, Gurkhas, Black Africans, Moroccans, Algerians, Jews and Arabs from the British Mandate in Palestine, South Africans, Rhodesians), as well as Brazilians and exiled forces from Poland, Greece, former Czechoslovakia and anti-fascist Italians.

    The Germans reestablished their line across Italy at the level of Pisaand Rimini. The Allied forces spent another winter frustrated at their lack of ability to break through. This time Fifth Army was straddling the Apennines, with many of its units occupying high, exposed positions which were miserable to garrison. That winter also saw a significant change of command. General Clark moved to command 15th Army Group, and Lieutenant General Lucian Truscottwas appointed to command Fifth Army in his place. Truscott would command the Army from 16 December 1944 until the war's end.

    In the final operations against the German Army Group C, the Eighth Army initiated the main offensive on the Adriatic coast, and then the Fifth Army also broke through the German defenses around Bologna. The German units, in the main, were pinned against the Po River and destroyed, or at the very least deprived of their transport and heavy weapons, which effectively made many of them useless. II Corps units raced through Milan towards the French frontier and the great port of Genoa. The IV Corps pushed due north through Verona, Vicenza and as far as Bolzano and to the Brenner Pass, where they linked up with elements of the US Seventh Army.

    Its role in Italy cost Fifth Army dearly. It suffered 109,642 casualties in 602 days of combat. 19,475 were killed in action. The Fifth Army headquarters returned to the United States in September, 1945. 2 October 1945 saw Fifth Army inactivated at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts.

    In the informal athletic competitions held between units of the European and North African theaters, the 5th Army was among the most successful, winning titles in baseball, boxing, swimming and football during the 1944 season. The football championship was gained after a victory over 12th Air Force in the Spaghetti Bowl on January 1, 1945.

    Post war

    Its next role was considerably less violent, and it was reactivated on 11 June 1946 at Chicago under the command of Major-General John P. Lucas, who had commanded Operation Shingle at Anzioduring World War II. It was redesignated Fifth United States Army on 1 January 1957. Its postwar role was as a command and control headquarters for Army Reserveunits, formally responsible for the training of many Army troops and also the ground defense of part of the continental United States. In June 1971, Fifth Army moved to its current base at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

    Redesignation in 2004

    In 2004, Fifth Army transferred its Reserve preparation obligations to First Army, and became responsible for homeland defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) as United States Army North, the Army Service Component Command of United States Northern Command. Joint Task Force-Civil Support, a subordinate command, is designated as the Department of Defense (DoD) command element for Department of Defense assistance to the overall federal response to a state governments request for assistance in the event of a catastrophic chemical, biological, nuclear or high yield explosive CBRNE emergency. The command also has a subordinate Contingency Command Post (CCP), known as Task Force-51, which is responsible for responding to all hazards incidents that require DOD assistance. TF-51 can be employed as an all-hazards task force or a Joint Task Force (JTF) with joint augmentation.

    Structure and Organization of the Fifth Army

    Command Group
    • Commanding General: Lieutenant General Perry L. Wiggins
    • Deputy Commanding General-Operations: Major General William F. Roy
    • Deputy to the Commanding General: Mr. Robert Naething
    • Command Sergeant Major: Command Sergeant Major Hu Rhodes

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                On this date, January 8, 1949, General Yoshijirō Umezu, died from rectal cancer in Prison. I will post information about this IJA General from Wikipedia and other links.


    Yoshijirō Umezu

    Native name
    January 4, 1882
    Nakatsu, Ōita Prefecture, Japan
    January 8, 1949 (aged 67)
    Tokyo, Japan
    Years of service
    1903 - 1945
    Commands held
    Other work
    Chief the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff

    Yoshijirō Umezu(梅津美治郎Umezu Yoshijirō) (January 4, 1882 – January 8, 1949) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II.

    Yoshijirō Umezu on Total War

    Umezu was born in Nakatsu (Ōita Prefecture) where his family ran a bookstore since the 18th century. During his years at the Seisei Highschool in Kumamoto he decided to pursue a military career. He graduated from the 15th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy on November 30, 1903 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry the following February 12. Promoted to lieutenant on June 30, 1905, he entered the 23rd class of the Army Staff College, graduating first in 1911. Following his promotion to captain on March 25, 1912, he was sent to Europe for further studies in Germany and Denmark. While in Denmark, he was also a military observer from Japan during the course of World War I, and was promoted to major on June 1, 1918. From 1919-1921, he was appointed as a military attaché to Switzerland.

    Umezu was promoted to lieutenant colonel on February 8, 1922 and to colonel on December 15, 1925. During the 1920s, he was a member of the Tōseihaled by General Kazushige Ugaki along with Gen Sugiyama, Koiso Kuniaki, Tetsuzan Nagata and Hideki Tōjō. They represented a politically moderateline between the armed forces, in opposition to the radicalKōdōhamovement guided by Sadao Araki. He served as an instructor at the Army Staff College from 1923–1924, and was commander of the IJA 3rd Infantry Regiment from 1924-1926.

    In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Umezu held a number of staff positions within the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. He was promoted to major general on August 1, 1930. Umezu returned to the field as a lieutenant general (promoted August 1, 1934) and commander of the Japanese China Garrison Army from 1934–1935 and as commander of the IJA 2nd Division from 1935-1936.

    After being recalled to Japan in 1936, Umezu was appointed Vice Minister of War from 1936-1938. He returned to China in 1938 as commander-in-chief of the IJA 1st Army, and subsequently commander-in-chief of the Kwangtung Army from 1939-1944. He was promoted to full Generalon August 1, 1940.

    Surrender of Japan, Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945: Japanese representatives on board USS Missouri (BB-63) during the surrender ceremonies.
    Standing in front are:
    Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu (wearing top hat) and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff.
    In July 1944, Umezu was appointed as the final Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff and a member of the Supreme War Council. Along with War MinisterKorechika Anami and Soemu Toyoda, Chief of Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff, Umezu opposed surrender in August 1945; he believed that the military should fight on, forcing the Allies to sustain such heavy losses in an invasion of Japan, that Japan could negotiate for peace under better terms. He was aware of the planned coup d'état by junior officers opposed to the surrender, but did nothing to either aid or hinder it. He was personally ordered by Emperor Hirohito to sign the instrument of surrender on behalf of the armed forces on September 2, 1945 and thus, was the Army's senior representative during the surrender ceremonies on the battleshipUSS Missouri at the end of World War II. He entered the reserves on November 30.

    Umezu signing the instrument of surrender to the Allied nations

    A different perspective of Japanese Gen. Umezu signing the instrument of Japanese surrender. Taken by my grandfather, Sept 2, 1945
    After the war, he was arrested by the SCAP authorities and tried as a war criminal at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo. He was found guilty of Counts 1, 27, 29, 31 and 32 of waging a war of aggression and sentenced to life imprisonment on November 12, 1948. While in prison, he became a convert to Christianity. Umezu died from rectal cancer in prison in 1949.

    Yoshijirō Umezu on Total War

    Yoshijirō Umezu (January 4, 1882 – January 8, 1949) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. In July 1944, Umezu became the final Chief the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff and a member of the Supreme War Council. Along with War Minister Korechika Anami and Soemu Toyoda, Chief of Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff, Umezu opposed surrender in August 1945; After the war, he was tried as a war criminal at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo. He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Umezu died from rectal cancer in prison in 1949.


    • Germ warfare against the United States would escalate to war against all humanity.
      • Quoted in "The Second Attack on Pearl Harbor" - Page 201 - by Steve Horn - History - 2005.
    • With luck we will be able to repulse the invaders before they land. At any rate, I can say that we will be able to destroy the major part of an invading force. That is, we will be able to inflict extremely heavy damage on the enemy.
      • Quoted in "The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire" - by John Toland - History - 2003.
    • The certain way to victory...lies in making everything on Imperial soil contribute to the war effort...combining the total material and spiritual strength of the nation...
      • Quoted in "Suicide Squads: Axis and Allied Special Attack Weapons of World War II" - Page 267 - by Richard O'Neill - History - 1981.
    • It is all very well to be cautious, but if we are too cautious we will miss our opportunity.
      • Quoted in "The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire" - Page 754 - by John Toland - History - 2003.
    • It is not possible to foretell the reaction of certain elements in the Army and Navy.
      • Quoted in "The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb" - Page 107 - by Dennis Wainstock - History - 1996.
    • I can say with confidence that we will be able to destroy the major part of an invading force.
      • Quoted in "A-Bombs Left Top Councils Of Japan Split" - Washington Post article - July 17, 1995.

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    On this date, 9 January 2009, a Salakau gangster in Singapore, Tan Chor Jin A.K.A The One-Eyed Dragon was executed by hanging in Singapore. He shot and killed nightclub owner Lim Hock Soon at the latter's apartment at Serangoon Ave 4 in the early hours of the morning on 15 February 2006. The weapon used was believed to be a Beretta 92. A total of 5 shots were fired. Good that he was executed 3 years after the murder, not live on Death Row for decades. 

    Please go to this previous blog post to learn more about this hitman.

    Tan Chor Jin A.K.A One-eyed Dragon

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                On this date, January 9, 2013, 70-year-old Dennis Stanworth phoned the Police to confess that he had murdered his own mother. Keep in mind; he had murdered two teenage girls in 1966. Those murders had all happened in the State of California. The SAFE California and the A.C.L.U are as usual keeping quiet about it. Dennis Stanworth’s case is similar to the one of Robert Lee Massie who had his death sentence overturned, only to be paroled to kill again in California.

                Please go to this previous blog post to learn more about this recidivist killer and go to the Unit 1012 Blog Post to read an op-ed on him. 

    Dennis Stanworth in 2013, left, and in the 1960s ( (Mike Jory/Times-Herald; Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office)

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    On this date, January 17, 1977, convicted murderer Gary Gilmore was executed by a firing squadin Utah, ending a ten-year moratorium on capital punishment in the United States. Please go to this previous blog post to read an op-ed on one of his quotes.

    Portland Police Bureau mug shot of Gary Gilmore

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     On this date, January 17, 2006, Clarence Ray Allen was executed by lethal injection in California. As of today, he is the last person to be put to death by the State of California. Please go this blog post to learn more.

    Clarence Ray Allen
    Please hear from Patricia Pendergrass, the sister of Bryon Schletewitz and read this article by Former Californian Judge, James A. Ardaiz

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                On this date, January 17, 1942, one of Hitler’s General, Walther Von Reichenau died. I will post information about him from Wikipedia and other links.  

    Generalfeldmarschall Walther von Reichenau, 1941

    October 8, 1884
    Karlsruhe, Baden, Germany
    January 17, 1942 (aged 57)
    Buried at
    Invalidenfriedhof Berlin
    German Empire (to 1918)
    Weimar Republic (to 1933)
    Nazi Germany
    Years of service
    Commands held
    10th Army
    6th Army
    World War I
    World War II
    Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

    Walter von Reichenau (8 October 1884 – 17 January 1942) was a German officer and Generalfeldmarschall during World War II. He issued the notorious Severity Order concerning fighting on the eastern front, which made him a war criminal. He was in charge of forces which helped to commit the massacre of Jews at Babi Yar.

    Walther von Reichenau 2
    Generalmajor von Reichenau, 1933
    Early life

    Reichenau was born in Karlsruhe, Baden into an aristocratic Prussian family, the son of the later General lieutenant Ernst August von Reichenau (1841–1919). Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries the Reichenau family owned and operated one of the largest furniture factories in Germany. Having passed the Abiturexamination, Reichenau joined the Prussian Army in 1903.

    During World War I he served as adjutant in the 1st Guards Field Artillery Regiment (1st Guards Infantry Division) on the Western Front. He was awarded the Iron Cross Second and First Class and already by 1914 had been promoted to the rank of captain. From the next year he served as Second General Staff officer (Ib) of the 47th Reserve Division and First General Staff office (Ia) of the 7th Cavalry Division. After the Armistice of 11 November 1918, he joined the Grenzschutz Ost Freikorps units in Upper Silesia and Pomerania.

    In 1919 Reichenau was selected to remain in the newly established Reichswehr, the 96,000 man army that Germany was allowed to maintain under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The Reichswehr was limited to 4,000 officers, and the German General Staff was not permitted to exist. Reichenau took a post in the Truppenamt, which was the equivalent underground General Staffthat was formed by Hans von Seeckt. From 1931 Reichenau was Chief of Staff to the Inspector of Signals at the Reichswehr Ministry, and later served with General Werner von Blombergin East Prussia. Here he supported Blomberg in the development of new tactics to put into practice the concept of mobile warfare that showed promise at the end of the First World War. Reichenau had many of the books of British tank proponents, including B.H. Liddell Hartand J.F.C. Fuller, translated into German.

    Warsaw during World War II: General Gerd von Rundstedt, General Walter von Reichenau and General Johannes Blaskowitz in conversation at Warsaw Airport before the arrival of Adolf Hitler in late September / early October 1939
    Nazi support

    Reichenau's uncle was an ardent Naziand introduced him to Adolf Hitler in April 1932. Reichenau joined the Nazi Party, although doing so was a violation of the army regulations laid down by Seeckt to insulate the army from national politics.

    In 1938, records indicate, the family "donated" its furniture factory outside Karlsruhe to the Nazi Party and it was transformed into a munitions plant. During Allied attacks in 1945, this factory was destroyed in an air raid.

    Reichenau married Alix, a daughter of the Silesian Count Andreas von Maltzan. During the war, Alix's sister Maria(Marushka) hid her Jewish lover Hans Hirschel from the Gestapoin her Berlin flat; Reichenau knew this and visited them there. Maria also worked to hide underground Jews and political dissidents, sustain them, or help them escape from Germany.

    When Hitler came to power in January 1933, Blomberg became Minister of War and Reichenau was appointed as head of the Ministerial Office, acting as liaison officer between the Army and the Nazi Party. He played a leading role in persuading Nazi leaders such as Göring and Himmler that the power of Ernst Röhmand the SA must be broken if the army was to support the Nazi-led government. This led directly to the "Night of the Long Knives" of 30 June 1934.

    In 1935 Reichenau was promoted to lieutenant general(Generalleutnant) and was also appointed to command the military forces in Munich. In 1938, after the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair, in which General Werner von Fritsch was forced out of the Army command, Reichenau was Hitler's first choice to succeed him, but older leaders such as Gerd von Rundstedtand Ludwig Beck refused to serve under Reichenau, and Hitler backed down. Reichenau's enthusiastic Nazism repelled many of the generals who would not oppose Hitler but who did not care for Nazi ideology.

    Walther von Reichenau
    Second World War

    Poland and France

    In September 1939, Reichenau commanded the 10th Army during the German invasion of Poland. In 1940 he led the 6th Army during the invasion of Belgium and France, and in 1940, Hitler promoted him to field marshal during the 1940 Field Marshal Ceremony.


    Reichenau strongly opposed the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless as commander of the Sixth Army, he led his army into the heart of Russia during the summer of 1941. The Sixth Army was a part of Army Group South, and captured Kiev, Belgorod, Kharkov and Kursk. In September 1941, Reichenau reportedly wrote to Adolf Hitler to suggest that Ukrainians and White Russians, who initially viewed the German army as liberators, should be recruited to fight against the Bolsheviks. Hitler rejected this idea, telling Reichenau to stop interfering in political matters. Later that month Reichenau wrote again to Hitler on this subject, warning him of the dangers of large-scale partisan warfare in the Soviet Union. His advice was ignored, but his persistence in challenging Hitler's opinion was noted.

    During its offensive into Russia, the German army was confronted with a number of superior tank designs. Reichenau inspected the Soviet tanks he came across, entering each tank and measuring its armour plate. According to general staff officer Paul Jordan, after examining a T-34, Reichenau told his officers "If the Russians ever produce it on an assembly line we will have lost the war."

    Reichenau supported the work of the SSEinsatzgruppen in exterminating the Jews in the occupied Soviet territories. On 19 December 1941, Hitler sacked Walther von Brauchitsch as Commander-in-Chief and tried to appoint Reichenau to the post. But again the senior Army leaders rejected Reichenau as being "too political", and Hitler appointed himself instead.

    Hitler and Reichenau in Russia, September 1941

    On 15 January 1942 Reichenau suffered a hemorrhagic stroke after a trail run in harsh cold weather, and it was decided to fly him from Poltava to a hospital in Leipzig, Germany. He is often said to have been killed in a plane crash in Russia, although Görlitz writes that the plane merely made an emergency landing in a field and that Reichenau actually died of a heart attack. His death coincided with a propaganda offensive conducted by the Polish underground, Operation Reichenau, the goal of which was to discredit Reichenau, in the eyes of the German leadership, as a man who had allegedly been plotting to overthrow the Nazi régime, thus sowing distrust between the Nazi political leadership and its military command and punishing one of the German generals responsible for war crimes in Poland. The coincidence of such propaganda with Reichenau's death became a fertile ground for conspiracy theories, which allege that Reichenau might actually have been killed by the Nazi secret services.

    War crimes

    Politically, Reichenau was an anti-Semite who equated Jewry with Bolshevism and the perceived Asianthreat to Europe. The infamous "Reichenau Order" or Severity Orderof October 1941 paved the way for mass murder by instructing the officers thus:

    "In this eastern theatre, the soldier is not only a man fighting in accordance with the rules of the art of war... For this reason the soldier must learn fully to appreciate the necessity for the severe but just retribution that must be meted out to the subhuman species of Jewry...".

    All Jews were henceforth to be treated as de facto partisans, and commanders were directed that they be either summarily shot or handed over to the Einsatzgruppenexecution squads of the SS-Totenkopfverbändeas the situation dictated. Upon hearing of the Severity Order, Reichenau's superior Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedtexpressed "complete agreement" with it, and sent out a circular to all of the Army generals under his command urging them to send out their own versions of the Severity Order, which would impress upon the troops the need to exterminate Jews. During the Nuremberg trials, however, Rundstedt denied any knowledge of that order before his capture by the Allies, although he acknowledged that Reichenau's orders "may have reached my army group and probably got into the office". Some historians such as Walter Görlitz (de) have sought to defend Reichenau, summarizing the above order as "demanding that the troops keep their distance from the Russian civilian population."

    • Leutnant - 18 August 1904
    • Oberleutnant - 18 August 1912
    • Hauptmann - 28 November 1914
    • Major - 1 July 1923
    • Oberstleutnant - 1 April 1929
    • Oberst - 1 February 1932
    • Generalmajor - 1 February 1934
    • Generalleutnant - 1 October 1935
    • General der Artillerie - 1 October 1936
    • Generaloberst - 1 October 1939
    • Generalfeldmarschall - 19 July 1940

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  •             70 years ago on this date, January 18, 1945, the Germans retreated from Chelmno Extermination Camp. I will post information about this Death Camp from Wikipedia and other links.

    Monument to victims of Nazi extermination camp Kulmhof (Chełmno) in occupied Poland, unveiled in 1990 at the site of the camp

    Map of the Holocaust in Poland during the Second World War (1939-1945) at the time of German occupation of Poland.
    This map shows all German Nazi extermination camps (or death camps), prominent concentration, labor and prison camps, major prewar Polish cities with ghettos set up by Nazi Germany, major deportation routes and major massacre sites.

    1. Extermination camps were dedicated death camps for gassing, but all camps and ghettos took a toll of many, many lives.
    2. Concentration camps include labor camps, prison camps & transit camps.
    3. Not all camps & ghettos are shown.
    4. Borders are at the height of Axis domination (1942).
    5. Regions have German designations (e.g. "Ostland"), with the country name denoted in uppercase letters, e.g. LITHUANIA, CZECHOSLOVAKIA, or in parenthesis below the German occupational designation, e.g. (POLAND).

    Known for
    Genocide during the Holocaust
    Near Chełmno nad Nerem, General Government (German-occupied Poland)
    Original use
    December 8, 1941 – April 11, 1943 (1st period),
    June 23, 1944 – January 18, 1945
    Number of gas chambers
    3 gas vans
    mainly Jews
    est. 152,000–340,000
    Liberated by
    Soviet Union, January 20, 1945
    Notable inmates
    Mordechaï Podchlebnik, Simon Srebnik, Yakov Grojanowski

    Chełmno extermination camp, known to the Germans as the Kulmhof concentration camp, was a Nazi Germanextermination campsituated 50 kilometres (31 mi) from Łódź, near the Polish village of Chełmno nad Nerem (Kulmhof an der Nehr in German). After the invasion of Polandin 1939 Germany annexed the area as part of the new territory of Reichsgau Wartheland aiming at its complete "Germanization". The camp was set up specifically for that process. It operated from December 8, 1941 to April 11, 1943 during Aktion Reinhard(the most deadly phase of the Holocaust), and from June 23, 1944 to January 18, 1945 during the Soviet counter-offensive. It was built to exterminate Jews of the Łódź Ghetto and the local Polish inhabitants of Reichsgau Wartheland (Warthegau). In 1943 modifications were made to the camp's killing methods, as the reception building was already dismantled.

    At a very minimum 152,000 people (Bohn) were killed in the camp, though the West German prosecution citing Nazi figures during the Chełmno Trials of 1962–65, laid charges for at least 180,000 Jews murdered there. The Polish estimates in the early postwar period suggested a great deal more, up to a total of 340,000 victims, the vast majority of whom were Jews. The murdered came chiefly from Łódź and the surrounding area, along with Romani from Greater Poland. But Jews from Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia, Germany, Luxemburg, and Austria were also transported to Chelmno via the Łódź Ghetto, and Soviet prisoners of war were killed there. The camp killed most of the victims by the use of gas vans. It was a center for early experimentation and development of methods of mass murder, some of which were applied in later phases of the Holocaust.

    One of the camp survivors testified that only three Jewish males had escaped the Chełmno extermination camp successfully; he was fifteen years old. The Holocaust Encyclopedia noted that seven escaped from work details during the early 1940s; among them was Yakov Grojanowski, who documented the camp's operations in his Grojanowski Report.But he was later captured and killed at another death camp before war's end. In June 1945 two survivors testified at a trial of captured camp personnel in Łódź, Poland. The three best-known survivors testified about their Chełmno experiences at the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Two also testified at the camp personnel trials conducted in 1962–65 by West Germany.

    Command structure

    Setting up the extermination camp at Chełmno was initiated by the Governor (Reichsstatthalter) of the Reichsgau Wartheland, Arthur Greiser. In a letter to Himmlerdated 30 May 1942, Greiser referred to an authorisation he had received from him and Reinhard Heydrich, to start the Sonderbehandlung (Special Handling, i.e. mass killing without judicial process) of 100,000 Jews, about one-third of the total Jewish population of the Wartheland territory. The letter stated that the process of killing those Jews was expected to be completed very soon. One theory is that Greiser's request arose from the German Government's decision of October 1941 to deport German Jews to the Łódź Ghetto (Litzmannstadt) in central Poland. Greiser wanted to create space for the incoming German Jews by killing off part of the existing Polish Jewish population.

    According to post-war testimony by the Higher SS and Police Leader for Reichsgau Wartheland, SS General Wilhelm Koppe, he received an order from Himmler to liaise with Reichsstatthalter Greiser to carry out the Sonderbehandlungrequested by the latter. Koppe entrusted the extermination operation to SS-StandartenführerErnst Damzog, Commander of Security Policeand SD from the headquarters in occupied Poznań (Posen). Damzog personally selected staff for the killing centre and later supervised its daily operation. Damzog formed an SS-Sonderkommando(special detachment) commanded by SS Captain Herbert Lange who was appointed the first camp commander. Lange had previous experience with mass killing of Poles in the Wartheland region (Wielkopolska) during the Euthanasia Aktion of mid-1940, when his forces used a mobile gas-chamber (Einsatzwagen) as well as shooting other victims. In October 1941, Lange toured the area looking for a suitable site for an extermination centre, and finally chose Chełmno (Kulmhof) because of the estate. He was the first commander of forces at the camp.

    A destroyed Magirus-Deutz van found in 1945 in Koło (Kolo), Poland, not far from the Kulmhof (Chelmno) extermination camp. The same type of van was used by the Nazis for suffocation, with the exhaust fumes diverted into the sealed rear compartment where the victims were locked in. This particular van has not been modified yet, as explained by World War II Today (read) sourced to Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality publication Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression– Washington, U.S Govt. Print. Office, 1946, Vol III, p. 418; nevertheless it gives a good idea about the whole process.

    The killing center consisted of a vacated manorial estate in the town of Chełmno and a large forest clearing about 4 km (2.5 mi) northwest of Chełmno, off the east side of the road to Koło and abutting the village of Rzuchów to the south. These sites were known respectively as the Schlosslager(manor-house camp) and the Waldlager (forest camp). On the grounds of the estate was a large two-story brick country house called "the palace." Its rooms were adapted to use as the reception offices, including rooms for the victims to undress and to give up their valuables. The SSand police staff and guards were housed in other buildings in the town. The Germans had a high wooden fence built around the manor house and the grounds. The clearing in the forest camp, which contained space for mass graves, was likewise fenced off. The camp consisted of three parts: an administration section, barracks and storage for plundered goods; and a burial and cremation site.


    The SS-Sonderkommando "Lange" was supplied with three gas vans, assigned by the RSHA in Berlin, for killing mass numbers of victims. These vehicles had been converted to mobile gas-chambers by the use of sealed compartments installed on the chassis, into which the engine exhaust was directed by an attached pipe. The Germans had used such vans successfully in September 1941 to kill mental patients in the occupied Soviet Union. For all practical purposes, the extermination by mobile gas vans proved very efficient. On June 5, 1942 inspector Becker wrote to Obersturmbannfuhrer Rauff in RSHA that, by using just three vans on the Eastern Front (the Opel-Blitz and the larger Saurerwagen), without any faults, they were able to "process" 97,000 captives in less than six months between December 1941 and June 1942.

    The rank and file of the so-called SS Special Detachment Lange was made up of Gestapo, Criminal Police, and Order Policepersonnel, under the leadership of Security Police and SD officers. Herbert Lange was replaced as camp commandant in March (or April) 1942 by Schultze. He was succeeded by SS-Captain Hans Bothmann, who formed and led the Special Detachment Bothmann. The maximum strength of each Special Detachment was just under 100 men, of whom around 80 belonged to the Order Police. The local SSalso maintained a "paper command" of the camps Allgemeine-SS inspectorate, to which most of the Chełmno camp staff were attached for administrative purposes. Historians do not believe members of the 120th SS-Standarteoffice established in Chełmno performed any duties at the camp.

    Ghetto Litzmannstadt: Children rounded up for deportation to the Kulmhof death camp
    Deportations begin

    The SS and police began killing operations at Chełmno on December 8, 1941. The first people transported to the camp were the Jewish and Romany populations of Koło, Dąbie, Sompolno, Kłodawa, Babiak, Izbica Kujawska, Bugaj, Nowiny Brdowskie and Kowale Pańskie. A total of 3,830 Jews and around 4,000 Gypsies were killed by gas before February 1942. First, the victims were brought from all over Landkreis Warthbrücken to Powiercie by rail. Using whips, the Nazis marched them toward the river near Zawadki, where they were locked overnight in a mill, without food or water. The next morning, they were loaded onto lorries and taken to Chełmno. They were transferred to vans and gassed to death with the exhaust fumes on the way to the burial pits in the forest. The daily average for the camp was about 6 to 9 van-loads of the dead. The drivers used gas-masks. From January 1942 the transports included hundreds of Poles and Soviet prisoners of war. In addition, they included Jews from Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia and Luxemburg, who had first been deported to the ghetto in Łódź, a railroad hub, where they had been subsiding for some time. One of the sisters of author Franz Kafka, Valeria Pollakova (born 1890) was sent to the Łódź Ghetto from Prague on September 10, 1942, her last known destination. She may have been gassed at Chełmno or died in the ghetto before that.

    In late February 1942, the secretary of the local Polish council in Chełmno, Stanisław Kaszyński (b. 1903), was arrested for trying to bring public attention to what was being perpetrated at the camp. He was interrogated and executed three days later on February 28, 1942 by the church along with his wife. His secret communiqué was intercepted by the SS-Sonderkommando. Today, there is an obelisk to his memory at Chełmno, erected on August 7, 1991.

    Chelmno extermination camp did not have direct rail connections. Jews were delivered by train to Koło, then to nearby Powiercie,

    Killing process

    During the first five weeks, the murder victims came from the nearby areas. They were transported to the manor house (Schlosslager) in Chełmno under the guard of Special Detachment called SS-Sonderkommando Kulmhof commanded by Herbert Lange. The victims, mostly Jews, disembarked at the courtyard and entered the manor house, where the SS men, wearing white coats and pretending to be medics, waited for them with a translator released from the Gestapo prison in Poznań. The deportees were told to undress for bathing, and to have their clothes disinfected before transport to Germany and Austria. Occasionally they were met by a German officer dressed as a local squire with a feather hat, announcing that some of them would remain there.

    The Jews were led to a special room to strip and hand over their valuables. They were told that all hidden banknotes would be destroyed during steaming and needed to be taken out and handed over for safe-keeping. Wearing just underwear, with the women allowed to keep slips on, they were taken to the cellar and across the ramp into the back of a gas van holding from 50-70 people each (Opel Blitz) and up to 150 (Magirus). When the van was full, the doors were shut and the engine started, pumping fumes into the rear compartment. After about 5–10 minutes, the victims were killed by asphyxiation. Witnesses heard their screams as they were dying. The vans full of corpses were driven 4 km (2.5 mi) to the forest Waldlager camp, to previously excavated mass graves. The vans were unloaded and cleaned by the Waldkommando, and then returned to the loading dock at the manor house.

    Murder of Jews from the Łódź ghetto

    On January 16, 1942, the SS and police began deportations from the Łódź Ghetto (Litzmannstadt). German officials transported the Jews from Łódź by train to Koło railway station, six miles (10 km) northwest of Chełmno. There, the SS and police personnel supervised transfer of the Jews from the freight as well as passenger trains, to smaller-size cargo trains running on a narrow-gauge track, which took them from Koło to the Powiercie station, three miles (5 km) northwest of Chełmno. Beginning in late July 1942, the victims were brought to the camp directly after the regular railway line linking Koło with Dąbie was restored; the bridge over the Rgilewka River had been repaired.

    As round-ups in Łódź normally took place in the morning, it was usually late afternoon by the time the victims arrived by rail. Therefore they were marched to a disused mill at Zawadki some two kilometres from Powiercie where they spent the night. The mill continued to be used after the railway repairs, if transports arrived late. The following morning the Jews were transported from Zawadki by truck, in numbers which could be easily controlled at their destination point. They were "processed" immediately upon arrival at the manor-house camp.


    German staff selected young Jewish prisoners from incoming transports to join the camp Sonderkommando, a special unit of 50 to 60 men deployed at the forest burial camp. They removed corpses from the gas-vans and placed them in mass graves. The large trenches were quickly filled, but the smell of decomposing bodies began to permeate the surrounding countryside including nearby villages. In the spring of 1942, the SSordered burning of the bodies in the forest. The bodies were cremated on open air grids constructed of concrete slabs and rail tracks; pipes were used for air ducts, and long ash pans were built below the grid. Later, the Jewish Sonderkommando had to exhume the mass graves and burn the previously interred bodies. In addition, they sorted the clothing of the victims, and cleaned the excrement and blood from the vans.

    A small detachment of about 15 Jews worked at the manor house, sorting and packing the belongings of the victims. Between eight and ten skilled craftsmen worked there to produce or repair goods for the SS Special Detachment.

    Periodically, the SS executed the members of the Jewish special detachment and replaced them with workers selected from recent transports. The SS held jumping contests and races among the prisoners, who were shackled with chains on their ankles, to deem who was fit to continue working. The losers of such contests were shot.

    Stages of camp operation

    The early killing process carried out by the SS from December 8, 1941 until mid January 1942, was intended to kill Jews and Poles from all nearby towns and villages, which were slated for German colonization (Lebensraum). From mid-January 1942, the SS and Order Police began transporting Jews in crowded freight and passenger trains from Łódź. By then, Jews had also been deported to Łódź from Germany, Bohemia-Moravia, and Luxembourg, and were included in the transports at that time. The transports included most of the 5,000 Roma (Gypsies) who had been deported from Austria. Throughout 1942, the Jews from Wartheland were still being processed; in March 1943 the SS declared the district judenfrei. Other victims murdered at the killing center included several hundred Poles, and Soviet prisoners of war.

    During the summer of 1942, the new commandant Bothmann made substantial changes to the camp's killing methods. The change was prompted by two incidents in March and April of that year. First, the gas-van broke down on the highway while full of living victims. Many passers-by heard their loud cries. Soon after that, the Sauer van exploded while the driver was revving its engine at the loading ramp; the gassing compartment was full of living Jews. The explosion blew off the locked back door, and badly burned the victims inside. Drivers were replaced. Bothmann's modifications to the killing methods included adding poison to gasoline. There is evidence that some red powder and a fluid were delivered from Germany by Maks Sado freight company, in order to kill the victims more quickly. Another major change involved parking the gas vans while prisoners were killed. They were no longer driven en route to the forest cremation area with living victims inside.

    After having annihilated almost all Jews of Wartheland District, in March 1943 the Germans closed the Chełmno killing centre, while Operation Reinhard was still underway elsewhere. Other death camps had faster methods of killing and incinerating people. Chełmno was not a part of Reinhard. The SS ordered complete demolition of Schlosslager, along with the manor house, which was levelled. To hide the evidence of the SS-committed war crimes, from 1943 onward, the Germans ordered the exhumation of all remains and burning of bodies in open-air cremation pits by a unit of Sonderkommando1005. The bones were crushed on cement with mallets and added to the ashes. These were transported every night in sacks made of blankets to river Warta (or to the Ner River) on the other side of Zawadka, where they were dumped into the water from a bridge and from a flat-bottomed boat. Eventually, the camp authorities bought a bone-crushing machine (Knochenmühle) from Schriever and Co. in Hamburg to speed up the process

    The final extermination phase

    On June 23, 1944, in spite of earlier demolitions, the SS renewed gassing operations at Chełmno in order to complete the liquidation of the remaining 70,000 Jewish prisoners of the Łódź ghetto, producing war supplies for the Germans. The Special Detachment "Bothmann" returned to the forest and resumed killing operations at a smaller camp, consisting of brand new wooden barracks along with new pyres.

    First, the new victims were taken to the church building in Chełmno where they were ordered to leave their bundles behind. They were driven to the forest, where the camp authorities had constructed two fenced-out reception barracks for undressing, and two new open-air cremation pits further up. The SS and police guarded the victims as they took off their clothes and gave up valuables before entering gas-vans. In this final phase of the camp operation, some 25,000 Jews were murdered. Their bodies were burned immediately after death. From mid-July 1944, the SS and police began deporting the remaining inhabitants of the Łódź ghetto to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

    In September 1944, the SS brought in a new Commando 1005 of Jewish prisoners from outside the Wartheland District to exhume and cremate remaining corpses and to remove evidence of the mass murder operations. A month later, the SS executed about half of the 80-man detachment after most of the work was done. The gas vans were sent back to Berlin. The remaining Jewish workers were executed just before the German retreat from the Chełmno killing center on January 18, 1945, as the Soviet army approached (it reached the camp two days later). The 15-year-old Jewish prisoner Simon Srebnik was the only one to survive the last executions with a gunshot wound to the head. Historians estimate that the SSkilled at least 152,000–180,000 people at Chełmno between December 1941 and March 1943, and from June 23, 1944 until the Soviet advance. Note: a 1946–47 report by the Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland (IPN) placed the number closer to 340,000 based on a statistical approach, as the camp authorities had destroyed all waybills in an effort to hide their actions.

    A remnant of the open-air mass cremation structure at the forest camp, with memorial plaque

    Main article: Chełmno Trials

    After the war, Chełmno extermination camp personnel were tried in court cases in Poland and in over a period of about 20 years. The first judicial trial of the former members of the SS-Sonderkommando Kulmhof took place in 1945 at the District Court in Łódź. The subsequent four trials, held in Bonn, began in 1962 and concluded three years later in 1965 in Cologne.

    Adolf Eichmann testified about the camp during his 1961 war-crimes trial in Jerusalem. He visited it once in late 1942. Simon Srebnik, from the burial Sonderkommando,testified in both the Chelmno Guard and Eichmann trials. Nicknamed Spinnefixat the camp, Srebnik was recognised only by the Chelmno Guards by this name.

    As soon as the ramp had been erected in the castle, people started arriving in Kulmhof from Litzmannstadt (Łódź) in lorries... The people were told that they had to take a bath, that their clothes had to be disinfected and that they could hand in any valuable items beforehand to be registered...

    When they had undressed they were sent to the cellar of the castle and then along a passageway on to the ramp and from there into the gas-van. In the castle there were signs marked "to the baths". The gas vans were large vans, about 4-5 metres [13-16 ft] long, 2.2 metres [7.2 ft] wide and 2 metres [6.5 ft] high. The interior walls were lined with sheet metal. A wooden grille was set into the floor. The floor of the van had an opening which could be connected to the exhaust by means of a removable metal pipe. When the lorries were full of people, the double doors at the back were closed and the exhaust connected to the interior of the van...

    The commando member detailed as driver started the engine right away so that the people inside the lorry were suffocated by the exhaust gases. Once this had taken place, the union between the exhaust and the inside of the lorry was disconnected and the van was driven to the camp in the woods where the bodies were unloaded. In the early days they were initially buried in mass graves, later incinerated... I then drove the van back to the castle and parked it there. Here it would be cleaned of the excretions of the people that had died in it. Afterwards it would once again be used for gassing.

    — Walter Burmeister, The Good Old Days


    Adolf Eichmann at trial in Jerusalem 1961

    Determining the identities of the few survivors of Chełmno had presented ambiguity because records used different versions of their names. One survivor may not have been recorded in the early postwar years because he did not testify at trials of camp personnel. According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia, a total of seven Jews from the burial Sonderkommando escaped from the Waldlager. Five escaped during the winter of 1942, including Mordechaï Podchlebnik, Milnak Meyer, Abraham Tauber, Abram Roj, and Szlamek Bajler (whose identity was later established as Yakov (or Jacob) Grojanowski). Mordechaï Zurawski and Simon Srebnikescaped later. Srebnik was among Jews shot by the Germans two days before the Russians entered Chelmno, but he survived. Yakov (or Jacob) Grojanowski wrote about the operations of the camp in his Grojanowski Report.But Grojanowski was captured and murdered in the gas chamber at Bełżec extermination camp before the end of the war. Other of the escapees who have not been documented since the postwar period likely died during the war.

    In June 1945, both Podchlebnik and Srebnik, then age fifteen, testified at a trial in Lodz, Poland of camp personnel. In addition to being included in the Holocaust Encyclopedia list, Mordechaï Zurawski is included as a survivor in three other sources each of which documents his testifying, along with Srebnik and Podchlebnik, about his experience at Chełmno at the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. In addition, Srebnik testified in the Chelmno Guard Trials of 1962/3. The French director Claude Lanzmann included interviews with Srebnik and Podchlebnik in his documentary Shoah, referring to them as the only two Jewish survivors of Chełmno, but he was in error. Some sources repeat that only Simon Srebnik and Mordechaï Podchlebnik survived the war but these are in error. Podchlebnik is sometimes referred to as Michał (or Michael), in Polish and English versions of his name.

    In 2002 Dr. Sara Roy of Harvard Universitywrote that her father, Abraham, was one of "two survivors" of Chełmno. Her father is the "Abram Roj" noted as an escapee by the Holocaust Encyclopedia, as Abram/Avram stands for Abraham, and Roj appears to have been transliterated or anglicized to Roy. She was mistaken about the total number of survivors.


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    Ten years ago on this day, January 19, 2005, a Missouri recidivist killer, Donald Beardslee was executed by means of a lethal injection in in San Quentin State Prison, California. I find it hard to believe that abolitionists can protest his execution despite, the fact that he had murdered once, went on parole to murder twice again. 


    Donald Beardslee

    Please go to this previous blog post to learn more.

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    ACLU Opposes Death Penalty for Rapist, Okay With Death Penalty for Unborn Baby
    by Katie McCann | | 1/28/14 4:55 PM

    Last week, the ACLU sent a letter to Governor John Kasich, opposing the death penalty in light of the recent execution of Dennis McGuire, a man who brutally raped and murdered a 30-weeks pregnant woman in 1989. Last week was also the week that the government sentenced to death one child and tens of millions of other children.  Ironically, the ACLU endorses both of those death sentences.

    One of those sentences was Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling which sentenced to death more than 56 million children. The other sentence was rendered just two days after the 41st anniversary of Roe when Marlise Munoz, a 22 weeks and 5 days pregnant woman, was taken off life-support as a result of a Texas judge’s ruling.

    In early January, one ACLU opinion piece asserted, “Laws like those that exist in Texas undermine women’s and families’ abilities to make personal and private decisions.” One left-wing op-ed columnist argued a similar point—that removing the pregnant woman from life-support is justifiable because it is in keeping with the family’s “personal morality.” But this argument completely overlooks objective, scientific facts in favor of subjective and inconsistent preferences.

    “Life” is not a preference. It is a right. Its value is not determined or granted by a court. It is natural–we are born with it. It is a simple and age-old concept that (frighteningly) seems increasingly difficult for the relativist, pro-choice culture to grasp.

    At 22 weeks gestation, a baby has a 40 percent chance of surviving if born prematurely and given expert medical attention. Just one more week, and the baby’s survival chance will increase to 61 percent. The baby can hear and respond to sound. She can open and close her eyes. Her ovaries contain their lifetime supply of eggs. And yes, she can feel pain.

    (Learn more about human development here.)

    While the ACLU expresses concerns about the “mistakes and pain” caused by “botched executions,” but, to my knowledge, is silent on the mistakes and pain induced by botched abortions—or any abortion for that matter.

    The ACLU’s hypocrisy becomes clear as they lament the inhumanity of death row, but celebrate another death row, or more fitting, “death Roe.”

    In a society that seeks to preserve and advance life, it would seem absurd to deny a child all last-ditch efforts to save his or her life. That society will have corrupted morality if it could mourn for a rapist but hardened its hearts against a baby.

    If our society wants to maintain any reason or morality, we would reject the corrupted moral code of the ACLU and the rest of the relativist, pro-choice community and embrace the objective, moral code that advances life for the innocent, and in turn, for all of humanity.

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  • 01/19/15--10:39: THE FINAL SOLUTION

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             On this date, January 20, 1942, at the Wannsee Conference held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, senior Nazi German officials discuss the implementation of the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question". I will post information about this historical event on the Holocaust from Wikipedia and other links.

    The 15 Attendees of the Wannsee Conference

    Manor in Berlin-Wannsee, Germany - also known as the House of the Wannsee Conference
    The Wannsee Conference (German: Wannseekonferenz) was a meeting of senior officials of Nazi Germany, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference, called by director of the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt(Reich Main Security Office; RSHA) SS-ObergruppenführerReinhard Heydrich, was to ensure the cooperation of administrative leaders of various government departments in the implementation of the final solution to the Jewish question, whereby most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe would be deported to Poland and murdered. Conference attendees included representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the Schutzstaffel(SS). In the course of the meeting, Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up from west to east and sent to extermination campsin the General Government(the occupied part of Poland), where they would be killed.

    Legalized discrimination against Jews began immediately after the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January 1933. Violence and economic pressure were used by the Nazi regime to encourage Jews to voluntarily leave the country. After the invasion of Polandin September 1939, the extermination of European Jewry began, and the killings continued and accelerated after the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. On 31 July 1941 Hermann Göringgave written authorization to Heydrich to prepare and submit a plan for a "total solution of the Jewish question" in territories under German control and to coordinate the participation of all involved government organisations. At the Wannsee Conference, Heydrich emphasised that once the deportation process was complete, the exterminations would become an internal matter under the purview of the SS. A secondary goal was to arrive at a definition of who was Jewish and thus determine the scope of the exterminations.

    One copy of the Wannsee Protocol, the circulated minutes of the meeting, survived the war to be found by Robert Kempner, lead U.S. prosecutor before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, in files that had been seized from the German Foreign Office. The Wannsee House, site of the conference, is now a Holocaust Memorial.


    The ideology of Nazism brought together elements of antisemitism, racial hygiene, and eugenics, and combined them with pan-Germanism and territorial expansionism with the goal of obtaining more Lebensraum (living space) for the Germanic people. Nazi Germany attempted to obtain this new territory by attacking Poland and the Soviet Union, intending to deport or kill the Jews and Slavs living there, who were viewed as being inferior to the Aryanmaster race.

    Discrimination against Jews, longstanding but extralegal throughout much of Europe at the time, was codified in Germany immediately after the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January 1933. The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, passed on 7 April of that year, excluded most Jews from the legal profession and the civil service. Similar legislation soon deprived Jewish members of other professions of the right to practise. Violence and economic pressure were used by the regime to encourage Jews to voluntarily leave the country. Jewish businesses were denied access to markets, forbidden to advertise in newspapers, and deprived of access to government contracts. Citizens were harassed and subjected to violent attacks and boycotts of their businesses.

    In September 1935 the Nuremberg Lawswere enacted. These laws prohibited marriages between Jews and people of Germanic extraction, extramarital relations between Jews and Germans, and the employment of German women under the age of 45 as domestic servants in Jewish households. The Reich Citizenship Law stated that only those of Germanic or related blood were defined as citizens. Thus Jews and other minority groups were stripped of their German citizenship. A supplementary decree issued in November defined as Jewish anyone with three Jewish grandparents, or two grandparents if the Jewish faith was followed. By the start of World War II in 1939, around 250,000 of Germany's 437,000 Jews emigrated to the United States, Palestine, Great Britain, and other countries.

    After the invasion of Polandin September 1939, Hitler ordered that the Polish leadership and intelligentsia should be destroyed. The Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen (Special Prosecution Book Poland)—lists of people to be killed—had been drawn up by the SS as early as May 1939. The Einsatzgruppen(special task forces) performed these murders with the support of the Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz (Germanic Self-Protection Group), a paramilitary group consisting of ethnic Germans living in Poland. Members of the SS, the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces), and the Ordnungspolizei(Order Police; Orpo) also shot civilians during the Polish campaign. Approximately 65,000 civilians were killed by the end of 1939. In addition to leaders of Polish society, they killed Jews, prostitutes, Romani people, and the mentally ill.

    On 31 July 1941 Hermann Göring gave written authorization to SS-Obergruppenführer(Senior Group Leader) Reinhard Heydrich, Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), to prepare and submit a plan for a "total solution of the Jewish question" in territories under German control and to coordinate the participation of all involved government organisations. The resulting Generalplan Ost (General Plan for the East) called for deporting the population of occupied Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to Siberia, for use as slave labour or to be murdered. The minutes of the Wannsee Conference estimated the Jewish population of the Soviet Union to be five million, with another three million in Ukraine.

    In addition to eliminating Jews, the Nazis also planned to reduce the population of the conquered territories by 30 million people through starvation in an action called the Hunger Plan. Food supplies would be diverted to the German army and German civilians. Cities would be razed and the land allowed to return to forest or resettled by German colonists. The objective of the Hunger Plan was to inflict deliberate mass starvation on the Slavic civilian populations under German occupation by directing all food supplies to the German home population and the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. According to the historian Timothy Snyder, "4.2 million Soviet citizens (largely Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians) were starved" by the Nazis (and the Nazi controlled Wehrmacht) in 1941–1944 as a result of Backe's plan.

    Harvests were poor in Germany in 1940 and 1941 and food supplies were short, as large numbers of forced labourers had been brought into the country to work in the armaments industry. If these workers—as well as the German people—were to be adequately fed, there must be a sharp reduction in the number of "useless mouths", of whom the millions of Jews under German rule were, in the light of Nazi ideology, the most obvious example.

    At the time of the Wannsee Conference, the killing of Jews in the Soviet Union had already been underway for some months. Right from the start of Operation Barbarossa—the invasion of the Soviet Union—Einsatzgruppenwere assigned to follow the army into the conquered areas and round up and kill Jews. In a letter dated 2 July 1941 Heydrich communicated to his SS and Police Leaders that the Einsatzgruppen were to execute Comintern officials, ranking members of the Communist Party, extremist and radical Communist Party members, people's commissars, and Jews in party and government posts. Open-ended instructions were given to execute "other radical elements (saboteurs, propagandists, snipers, assassins, agitators, etc.)." He instructed that any pogroms spontaneously initiated by the occupants of the conquered territories were to be quietly encouraged. On 8 July, he announced that all Jews were to be regarded as partisans, and gave the order for all male Jews between the ages of 15 and 45 to be shot. By August the net had been widened to include women, children, and the elderly—the entire Jewish population. By the time planning was underway for the Wannsee Conference, hundreds of thousands of Polish, Serbian, and Russian Jews had already been killed. The initial plan was to implement Generalplan Ost after the conquest of the Soviet Union. European Jews would be deported to occupied parts of Russia, where they would be worked to death in road-building projects.

    Letter from Heydrich to Martin Luther, Undersecretary at the Foreign Office, inviting him to the Wannsee Conference (Wannsee Conference House Memorial, Berlin)
    Planning the conference

    On 29 November 1941, Heydrich sent invitations for a ministerial conference to be held on 9 December at the offices of Interpol at 16 Am Kleinen Wannsee. He changed the venue on 4 December to the eventual location of the meeting. He enclosed a copy of a letter from Göring dated 31 July that authorised him to plan a Final Solution to the Jewish question. The ministries to be represented were Interior, Justice, the Four Year Plan, Propaganda, and the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories.

    Between the date the invitations to the conference went out (29 November) and the date of the cancelled first meeting (9 December), the situation changed. On 5 December, the Soviet Army began a counter-offensive in front of Moscow, ending the prospect of a rapid conquest of the Soviet Union. On 7 December, the Japanese attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, causing the U.S. to declare war on Japan the next day. The Reich government declared war on the U.S.on 11 December. Some invitees were involved in these preparations, so Heydrich postponed his meeting. Somewhere around this time, Hitler resolved that the Jews of Europe were to be exterminated immediately, rather than after the war, which now had no end in sight.[a] At the Reich Chancellery meeting of 12 December 1941 he met with top party officials and made his intentions plain. The war was still ongoing, and since transporting masses of people into a combat zone was impossible, Heydrich decided that the Jews currently living in the General Government (the German-occupied area of Poland) would be killed in extermination camps set up in occupied areas of Poland, as would Jews from the rest of Europe.

    On 8 January 1942, Heydrich sent new invitations to a meeting to be held on 20 January. The venue for the rescheduled conference was a villa at 56–58 Am Großen Wannsee, overlooking the Großer Wannsee. The villa had been purchased from Friedrich Minouxin 1940 by the Sicherheitsdienst(Security Force; SD) for use as a conference centre and guest house.

    Eichmann’s lists


    Heydrich invited representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the SS. The process of disseminating information about the fate of the Jews was already well underway by the time the meeting was held.

    List of attendees


    In preparation for the conference, Eichmann drafted a list of the numbers of Jews in the various European countries. Countries were listed in two groups, "A" and "B". "A" countries were those under direct Reich control or occupation (or partially occupied and quiescent, in the case of Vichy France); "B" countries were allied or client states, neutral, or at war with Germany.[b]The numbers reflect actions already completed by Nazi forces; for example, Estonia is listed as Judenfrei (free of Jews), since the 4,500 Jews who remained in Estonia after the German occupation had been exterminated by the end of 1941.

    Heydrich opened the conference with an account of the anti-Jewish measures taken in Germany since the Nazi seizure of power in 1933. He said that between 1933 and October 1941, 537,000 German, Austrian, and Czech Jews had emigrated. This information was taken from a briefing paper prepared for him the previous week by Eichmann.

    Heydrich reported that there were approximately eleven million Jews in the whole of Europe, of whom half were in countries not under German control.[b]He explained that since further Jewish emigration had been prohibited by Himmler, a new solution would take its place: "evacuating" Jews to the east. This would be a temporary solution, a step towards the final solution of the Jewish question.

    Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labor in the East. Able-bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes. The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as the seed of a new Jewish revival.

    German historian Peter Longerich notes that vague orders couched in terminology that had a specific meaning for members of the regime were common, especially when people were being ordered to carry out criminal activities. Leaders were given briefings about the need to be "severe" and "firm"; all Jews were to be viewed as potential enemies that had to be dealt with ruthlessly. The wording of the Wannsee Protocol—the distributed minutes of the meeting—made it clear to participants that evacuation east was a euphemism for death.

    Heydrich went on to say that in the course of the "practical execution of the final solution", Europe would be "combed through from west to east" but that Germany, Austria, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia would have priority "due to the housing problem and additional social and political necessities". This was a reference to increasing pressure from the Gauleiters (regional Nazi Party leaders) in Germany for the Jews to be removed from their areas to allow accommodation for Germans made homeless by Allied bombing, as well as to make space for laborers being imported from occupied countries. The "evacuated" Jews, he said, would first be sent to "transit ghettos" in the General Government, from which they would be transported eastward. Heydrich said that to avoid legal and political difficulties, it was important to define who was a Jew for the purposes of "evacuation". He outlined categories of people who would not be killed. Jews over 65 years old, and Jewish World War I veterans who had been severely wounded or who had won the Iron Cross, might be sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp instead of being killed. "With this expedient solution," he said, "in one fell swoop many interventions will be prevented."

    The situation of people who were half or quarter Jews, and of Jews who were married to non-Jews, was more complex. Under the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, their status had been left deliberately ambiguous. Heydrich announced that Mischlings (a Nazi pejorative for mixed-race persons) of the first degree (persons with two Jewish grandparents) would be treated as Jews. This would not apply if they were married to a non-Jew and had children by that marriage. It would also not apply if they had been granted written exemption by "the highest offices of the Party and State." Such persons would be sterilised or deported if they refused sterilisation. "Mischlings of the second degree" (persons with one Jewish grandparent) would be treated as Germans unless they were married to Jews or Mischlings of the first degree, had a "racially especially undesirable appearance that marks him outwardly as a Jew", or had a "political record that shows that he feels and behaves like a Jew". Persons in these latter categories would be killed even if married to non-Jews. In the case of mixed marriages, Heydrich recommended that each case should be evaluated individually and the impact on any German relatives assessed. If such a marriage had produced children who were being raised as Germans, the Jewish partner would not be killed. If they were being raised as Jews, they might be killed or sent to an old-age ghetto. These exemptions applied only to German and Austrian Jews, and were not always observed even for them. In most of the occupied countries, Jews were rounded up and killed en masse, and anyone who lived in or identified with the Jewish community in any given place was regarded as a Jew.[c]

    Heydrich commented, "In occupied and unoccupied France, the registration of Jews for evacuation will in all probability proceed without great difficulty", but in the end the great majority of French-born Jews survived. More difficulty was anticipated with Germany's allies Romania and Hungary. "In Romania the government has [now] appointed a commissioner for Jewish affairs", Heydrich said. In fact the deportation of Romanian Jews was slow and inefficient despite a high degree of popular antisemitism. "In order to settle the question in Hungary," Heydrich said, "it will soon be necessary to force an adviser for Jewish questions onto the Hungarian government". The Hungarian regime of Miklós Horthy continued to resist German interference in its Jewish policy until the spring of 1944, when the Wehrmacht invaded Hungary. Very soon, 600,000 Jews of Hungary (and parts of Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia occupied by Hungary) were sent to their deaths by Eichmann, with the collaboration of Hungarian authorities.

    Heydrich spoke for nearly an hour. Then followed about thirty minutes of questions and comments, followed by some less formal conversation. Otto Hofmann (head of the SS Race and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA)) and Wilhelm Stuckart (State Secretary of the Reich Interior Ministry) pointed out the legalistic and administrative difficulties over mixed marriages, and suggested compulsory dissolution of mixed marriages or the wider use of sterilisation as a simpler alternative. Erich Neumannfrom the Four Year Plan argued for the exemption of Jews who were working in industries vital to the war effort and for whom no replacements were available. Heydrich assured him that this was already the policy; such Jews would not be killed.[d]Josef Bühler, State Secretary of the General Government, stated his support for the plan and his hope that the killings would commence as soon as possible.[59] Towards the end of the meeting cognac was served, and after that the conversation became less restrained. "The gentlemen were standing together, or sitting together", Eichmann said, "and were discussing the subject quite bluntly, quite differently from the language which I had to use later in the record. During the conversation they minced no words about it at all ... they spoke about methods of killing, about liquidation, about extermination". Eichmann recorded that Heydrich was pleased with the course of the meeting. He had expected a lot of resistance, Eichmann recalled, but instead he had found "an atmosphere not only of agreement on the part of the participants, but more than that, one could feel an agreement which had assumed a form which had not been expected".

    July 1941 letter from Göring to Heydrich concerning the "final solution" of the Jewish question



    English: In addition to the task you received with the order of January 24 1939 to solve the Jewish question of emigration or evacuation in a manner feasible according to the current circumstances, I hereby command you to make all necessary organizational, functional, and material preparations for a complete solution of the Jewish Question in the German sphere of influence in Europe.

    In case this affects the responsibilities of other central organisations, these shall participate as well.

    I further instruct you to submit to me in the near future with an overall concept of the organizational, factual and material measures to carry out the desired final solution of the Jewish question