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  • 01/24/15--20:32: THE GULAG

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                70 years ago on this date, Soviet Girl-Sniper, Roza Shanina was killed in action. I will post information about this female soldier from Wikipedia and other links.

    Sniper Roza Shanina, holding a 1891/30 Mosin–Nagant with the 3.5x PU scope. 1944.

    3 April 1924
    Yedma, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
    28 January 1945 (aged 20)
    East Prussia, Nazi Germany
    Soviet Union
    Red Army
    Years of service
    Senior Sergeant
    184th Rifle Division (3rd Belorussian Front)
    Commands held
    1st Sniper Platoon (184th Rifle Division)
    World War II (Eastern Front)
    • Battle of Vilnius
    • East Prussian Offensive
    • Orders of Glory 3rd and 2nd Class
    • Medal for Courage
    Roza Georgiyevna Shanina (Russian: Ро́за Гео́ргиевна Ша́нина, IPA: [ˈrozə ɡʲɪˈorɡʲɪɪvnəˈʂanʲɪnə]; 3 April 1924 – 28 January 1945) was a Soviet sniper during World War II, credited with fifty-nine confirmed kills, including twelve soldiers during the Battle of Vilnius. Shanina volunteered for the military after the death of her brother in 1941 and chose to be a marksman on the front line. Praised for her shooting accuracy, Shanina was capable of precisely hitting moving enemy personnel and making doublets (two target hits by two rounds fired in quick succession).

    Allied newspapers described Shanina as "the unseen terror of East Prussia". She became the first Soviet female sniper to be awarded the Order of Glory and was the first servicewoman of the 3rd Belorussian Front to receive it. Shanina was killed in action during the East Prussian Offensive while shielding the severely wounded commander of an artillery unit. Shanina's bravery received praise already during her lifetime, but came at odds with the Soviet policy of sparing snipers from heavy fights. Her combat diary was first published in 1965.
    Early life

    Roza Shanina was born on 3 April 1924 in the Russian village of Yedma (Arkhangelsk Oblast) to Anna Alexeyevna Shanina, a kolkhozmilkmaid, and Georgiy (Yegor) Mikhailovich Shanin, a logger who had been disabled by a wound received during World War I. Roza was reportedly named after the Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg and had six siblings: one sister Yuliya and five brothers: Mikhail, Fyodor, Sergei, Pavel and Marat. The Shanins also raised three orphans. Roza was above average height, with light brown hair and blue eyes, and spoke in a Northern Russian dialect. After finishing four classes of elementary school in Yedma, Shanina continued her education in the village of Bereznik. As there was no school transport at the time, when she was in grades five through seven Roza had to walk 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) to Bereznik to attend middle school. On Saturdays, Shanina again went to Bereznik to take care of her ill aunt Agnia Borisova.

    At the age of fourteen, Shanina, against her parents' wishes, walked 200 kilometres (120 mi) across the taiga to the rail station and travelled to Arkhangelskto study at the college there (the trek was later attested by Shanina's school teacher Alexander Makaryin). Shanina left home with little money and almost no possessions; and before moving to the college dormitory she lived with her elder brother Fyodor. Later in her combat diary Shanina would recall Arkhangelsk's stadium Dinamo, and the cinemas, Ars and Pobeda. Shanina's friend Anna Samsonova remembered that Roza sometimes returned from her friends in Ustyansky District to her college dormitory between 2:00 and 3:00 am. As the doors were locked by that time, the other students tied several bedsheets together to help Roza climb into her room. In 1938, Shanina became a member of the Soviet youth movement Komsomol.

    Two years later, Soviet secondary education institutes introduced tuition fees, and the scholarship fund was cut. Shanina received little financial support from home and on 11 September 1941, she took a job in kindergarten No. 2 (lately known as Beryozka) in Arkhangelsk, with which she was offered a free apartment. She studied in the evenings and worked in the kindergarten during the daytime. The children liked Shanina and their parents appreciated her. Shanina graduated from college in the 1941–42 academic year, when the Soviet Union was in the grip of World War II.

    World War II sniper Roza Shanina with her rifle, 1944. Photo by A. N. Fridlyanski

    Commendation list of Roza Shanina for her Order of Glory 3rd Class.

    Commendation list of Roza Shanina for her Order of Glory 2nd Class.

    Commendation list of Roza Shanina for her Medal for Courage
    Tour of duty

    Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Arkhangelsk was bombed by the Luftwaffe, and Shanina and other townspeople were involved in firefighting and mounted voluntary vigils on rooftops to protect the kindergarten. Shanina's two elder brothers had volunteered for the military. In December 1941, a death notification was received for her 19-year-old brother Mikhail, who had died during the Siege of Leningrad. In response, Shanina went to the military commissariat to ask for permission to serve. Two more of Shanina's brothers died in the war. At that time the Soviet Union had begun deploying female snipers because they had flexible limbs, and it was believed that they were patient and cunning. They were also thought to be more resilient than men under combat stress, and more resistant to cold. In February 1942, Soviet women between the ages of 16 and 45 became eligible for the military draft, but Shanina was not drafted that month as the local military commissariat wanted to pinion her out of war's way. She first learned to shoot at a shooting range. On 22 June 1943, while still living in the dormitory, Shanina was accepted into the Vsevobuch program for universal military training. After Shanina's several applications, the military commissariat finally allowed her to enrol in the Central Female Sniper Academy, where she met Aleksandra "Sasha" Yekimova and Kaleriya "Kalya" Petrova, who became her closest friends, with Shanina calling them "the vagrant three". Honed to a fine point, Shanina scored highly in training and graduated from the academy with honours. She was offered to stay as an instructor there, but refused due to a call of duty. In 1941 – 1945 a total of 2,484 Soviet female snipers were deployed for the war and their combined tally of kills is conservatively estimated to be at least 11,280.

    After the momentous victory in the Battle of Stalingrad the Soviet troops proceeded to nationwide counter-offensives and Shanina on 2 April 1944 joined the 184th Rifle Division, where a separate female sniper platoon had been formed. Shanina was appointed a commander of that platoon. Three days later, southeast of Vitebsk, Shanina killed her first German soldier. In Shanina's own words, recorded by an anonymous author, her legs gave way upon that first encounter and she slid down into the trench, saying, "I've killed a man." Concerned, the other women ran up saying, "That was a fascist you finished off!" Seven months later, Shanina wrote in her diary that she was now killing the enemy in cold blood and saw the meaning of her life in her actions. She wrote that if she had to do everything over again, she would still strive to enter the sniper academy and would go to the front again.

    For her actions in the battle for the village of Kozyi Gory (Smolensk Oblast), Shanina was awarded her first military distinction, the Order of Glory 3rd Class on 17 April 1944. She became the first Soviet female sniper and the first servicewoman of the 3rd Belorussian Front to receive that order. According to the report of Major Degtyarev (the commander of the 1138th Rifle Regiment) for the corresponding commendation list, between 6 and 11 April Shanina killed 13 enemy soldiers while subjected to artillery and machine gun fire. By May 1944, her sniper tally increased to 17 confirmed enemy kills, and Shanina was praised as a precise and brave soldier. The same year, on 9 June, Shanina's portrait was featured on the front page of the Soviet newspaper Unichtozhim Vraga.

    When Operation Bagration commenced in the Vitebskregion on 22 June 1944, it was decided that female snipers would be withdrawn. They voluntarily continued to support the advancing infantry anyway, and despite the Soviet policy of sparing snipers, Shanina asked to be sent to the front line. Although her request was refused, she went anyway. Shanina was later sanctioned for going to the front line without permission, but did not face a court martial. She wanted to be attached to a battalion or a reconnaissance company, turning to the commander of the 5th Army, Nikolai Krylov. Shanina also wrote twice to Joseph Stalinwith the same request.

    From 26 to 28 June 1944, Shanina participated in the elimination of the encircledGerman troops near Vitebsk during the Vitebsk–Orsha Offensive. As the Soviet army advanced further westward, from 8 to 13 July of the same year, Shanina and her sisters-in-arms took part in the struggle for Vilnius, which had been under German occupation since 24 June 1941. The Germans were finally driven out from Vilnius on 13 July 1944. During the Soviet summer offensives of that year Shanina managed to capture three Germans.

    From her time at the military academy, Shanina became known for her ability to score doublets (two target hits made in quick succession). Shanina was also capable of precisely hitting moving enemy personnel. During one period she crawled through a muddy communications trench each day at dawn to a specially camouflaged pit which overlooked German-controlled territory. She wrote, "the unconditional requirement—to outwit the enemy and kill him—became an irrevocable law of my hunt". Shanina successfully used counter-sniper tactics against a German cuckoo sniperhidden in a tree, by waiting until dusk when the space between the tree branches would be backlit by sunlight and the sniper's nest became visible. On one occasion, Shanina also made use of selective fire from a submachine gun.

    A page from Roza Shanina's diary.

    Shanina enjoyed writing and would often send letters to her home village and to her friends in Arkhangelsk. She started writing a combat diary; although diaries were strictly prohibited in the Soviet military, there were some furtive exceptions, such as The Front Diary of Izrael Kukuyev and The Chronicle of War of Muzagit Hayrutdinov. To preserve military secrecy, Shanina termed the killed and wounded "blacks" and "reds" respectively in her diary. Shanina kept the diary from 6 October 1944 to 24 January 1945.

    After Shanina's death, the diary, consisting of three thick notebooks, was kept by the war correspondent Pyotr Molchanov for twenty years in Kiev. An abridged version was published in the magazine Yunost in 1965, and the diary was transferred to the Regional Museum of Arkhangelsk Oblast. Several of Shanina's letters and some data from her sniper log have also been published.

    Roza Shanina with the Red Army sniper badge.
    East Prussia

    In August 1944 advancing Soviet troops had reached the Soviet border with East Prussia and by 31 August of that year Shanina's battle count reached 42 kills. The following month the Šešupė River was crossed. Shanina's 184th Rifle Division became the first Soviet unit to enter East Prussia. At that time, two Canadian newspapers, the Ottawa Citizen and Leader-Post, reported that according to an official dispatch from the Šešupė River front, Shanina killed five Germans in one day as she crouched in a sniper hideout. Later in September her sniper tally had reached 46 kills, of which 15 were made on German soil and seven during an offensive. On 17 September, Unichtozhim Vraga credited Shanina with 51 hits. In the third quarter of 1944, Shanina was given a short furlough and visited Arkhangelsk. She returned to the front on October 17 for one day, and later received an honourable certificate from the Central Committee of Komsomol. On 16 September 1944, Shanina was awarded her second military distinction, the Order of Glory 2nd Class for intrepidity and bravery displayed in various battles against the Germans in that year.
    On 26 October 1944 Shanina became eligible for the Order of Glory 1st Class for her actions in a battle near Schlossberg (now Dobrovolsk), but ultimately received the Medal for Courage instead. Shanina was awarded the medal on 27 December for the gallant posture displayed during a German counter-offensive on 26 October. There Shanina fought together with Captain Igor Aseyev, the Hero of the Soviet Union, and witnessed his death on 26 October. Shanina, who served as an assistant platoon commander, was ordered to commit the female snipers to combat. She was among the first female snipers to receive the Medal for Courage. Schlossberg was finally retaken from Germans by the troops of the 3rd Belorussian Front on 16 January 1945 during the Insterburg–Königsberg Operation.

    On 12 December 1944, an enemy sniper shot Shanina in her right shoulder. She wrote in her diary that she had not felt the pain, "the shoulder was just scalded with something hot." Although the injury, which Shanina described as "two small holes", seemed minor to her, she needed an operation and was incapacitated for several days. She reported in her diary that the previous day she had a prophetic dream in which she was wounded in exactly the same place.

    On 8 January 1945 Nikolai Krylovformally allowed Shanina to participate in front-line combat, albeit with great reluctance: previously Shanina was denied that permission by the commander of the 184th Rifle Division and the military council of the 5th Armyas well. Five days later, the Soviets launched the East Prussian Offensive, which prompted heavy fighting in East Prussia. By 15 January, travelling with divisional logistics, Shanina reached the East Prussian town of Eydtkuhnen (now Chernyshevskoye), where she used white military camouflage. She joined the infantry offensive despite enemy fire from rocket mortars. Several days later, she experienced friendly firefrom a Katyusha rocket launcher and wrote in her diary, "Now I understand why the Germans are so afraid of Katyushas. What a fire!" At the border of East Prussia, Shanina killed 26 enemy soldiers. The last unit she served in was the 144th Rifle Division. According to the online Book of Memory of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Shanina served in the 205th Special Motorized Rifle Battalion of that division. Shanina had hoped to go to university after the war, or if that was not possible, to raise orphans.

    In the course of her tour of duty Shanina was mentioned in despatches several times. Her final sniper tally reached fifty-nine confirmed kills (fifty-four, according to other sources), including twelve kills during the Battle of Vilnius, with sixty-two enemies knocked out of action. Domestically her achievements were acknowledged particularly by the war correspondent Ilya Ehrenburg and in the newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda, which said that Shanina was one of the best snipers in her unit and that even veteran soldiers were inferior to her in shooting accuracy. Shanina's exploits were also reported in the Western press, particularly in Canadian newspapers, where she was called "the unseen terror of East Prussia". She paid no special attention to the achieved renown, and once wrote that she had been overrated. On 16 January 1945 Shanina wrote in her combat diary: "What I've actually done? No more than I have to as a Soviet man, having stood up to defend the motherland." She also wrote, "The essence of my happiness is fighting for the happiness of others. It's strange, why is it that in grammar, the word "happiness" can only be singular? That is counter to its meaning, after all. ... If it turns necessary to die for the common happiness, then I'm braced to."

    Death notification of Roza Shanina addressed to her mother Anna Shanina.


    In the face of the East Prussian Offensive, the Germans tried to strengthen the localities they controlled against great odds. In a diary entry dated 16 January 1945, Shanina wrote that despite her wish to be in a safer place, some unknown force was drawing her to the front line. In the same entry she wrote that she had no fear and that she had even agreed to go "to a melee combat". The next day, Shanina wrote in a letter that she might be on the verge of being killed because her battalion had lost 72 out of 78 people. Her last diary entry reports that German fire had become so intense that the Soviet troops, including herself, had sheltered inside self-propelled guns. On 27 January Shanina was severely injured while shielding a wounded artillery officer. She was found by two soldiers disemboweled, with her chest torn open by a shell fragment. Despite attempts to save her, Shanina died the following day near the Richau estate (later a Soviet settlement of Telmanovka), 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) southeast of the East Prussian village of Ilmsdorf (Novobobruysk). Nurse Yekaterina Radkina remembered Shanina telling her that she regretted having done so little. By the day of Shanina's death the Soviets had overtaken several major East Prussian localities, including Tilsit, Insterburg and Pillau, and approached Königsberg. Recalling the moment Shanina's mother received notification of her daughter's death, her brother Marat wrote: "I clearly remembered mother's eyes. They weren't teary anymore. ... 'That's all, that's all'—she repeated". Shanina was buried under a spreading pear tree on the shore of the Alle River—now called the Lava— and was later reinterred in the settlement of Znamensk, Kaliningrad Oblast.

    Posthumous honours

    In 1964–65 a renewed interest in Shanina arose in the Soviet press, largely due to the publication of her diary. The newspaper Severny Komsomolets asked Shanina's contemporaries to write what they knew about her. Streets in Arkhangelsk, Shangaly and Stroyevskoye were named after her, and the village of Yedma has a museum dedicated to Shanina. The local school where she studied in 1931–35 has a commemorative plate. In Arkhangelsk, regular shooting competitions were organized among members of the paramilitary DOSAAF sport organisation for the Roza Shanina Prize, while Novodvinskorganized an open shooting sports championship in her memory. The village of Malinovka in Ustyansky District started to hold annual cross-country ski races for the Roza Shanina Prize.

    In 1985, the Council of Veterans of the Russian Central Women Sniper Academy unsuccessfully requested the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Unionto posthumously bestow the Order of Glory 1st Class on Shanina (which would have made her a Full Cavalier of that order). In the same year, Russian author Nikolai Zhuravlyovpublished the book Posle boya vernulas (Returned After Battle). Its title refers to Shanina's words, "I will return after the battle," which she uttered after receiving a note from her battalion commander urging her to return to the rear immediately. Verses have been composed about Shanina, such as those by writer Nikolai Nabitovich. A small memorial stelededicated to Shanina (part of a three-piece monument) was erected in Bogdanovsky settlement, Ustyansky District.

    In 2000, Shanina's name appeared on the war memorial stone of the Siberian State Technological University, although there is no evidence she had any affiliation with it during her life. Russian author Viktor Logvinov controversially wrote in the 1970s that Shanina had studied in the Siberian Forestry Institute and that she was the daughter of an "old Krasnoyarskcommunist". The claim was continued by Krasnoyarsk publications in later years, particularly in 2005. In 2013, a wall of memory, featuring graffitiportraits of six Russian war honorees, including Roza Shanina, was opened in Arkhangelsk.

    Character and personal life

    The war correspondent Pyotr Molchanov, who had frequently met Shanina at the front, described her as a person of unusual will with a genuine, bright nature. Shanina described herself as "boundlessly and recklessly talky" during her college years. She typified her own character as like that of the Romantic poet, painter and writer Mikhail Lermontov, deciding, like him, to act as she saw fit. Shanina dressed modestly and liked to play volleyball. According to Shanina's sister-in-arms Lidiya Vdovina, Roza used to sing her favourite war song "Oy tumany moi, rastumany" ("O My Mists") each time she cleaned her weapon. Shanina had a straightforward character and valued courage and the absence of egotism in people. She once told a story when "about half a hundred frenzied fascists with wild cries" attacked a trench accommodating twelve female snipers, including Shanina: "Some fell from our well-aimed bullets, some we finished with our bayonets, grenades, shovels, and some we took prisoners, having restrained their arms."

    Shanina's personal life was thwarted by war. On 10 October 1944, she wrote in her diary, "I can't accept that Misha Panarin doesn't live anymore. What a good guy! [He] has been killed ... He loved me, I know, and I him ... My heart is heavy, I'm twenty, but I have no close [male] friend". In November 1944, Shanina wrote that she "is flogging into her head that [she] loves" a man named Nikolai, although he "doesn't shine in upbringing and education". In the same entry she wrote that she did not think about marriage because "it's not the time now". She later wrote that she "had it out" with Nikolai and "wrote him a note in the sense of 'but I'm given to the one and will love no other one '​". Ultimately in her last diary record, filled with sombre tones, Shanina wrote that she "cannot find a solace" now and is "of no use to anyone".


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    70 years ago on this date, January 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler gave one of his last few speeches on broadcast. Please go to this previous blog post to read about it.

    Adolf Hitler


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                I will post information about the Sparta Battalion Commander, Arseny Pavlov AKA Motorola from Wikipedia

    Arseny Pavlov, aka Motorola.
    2 February 1983 (age 31)
    Ukhta, Komi ASSR, Soviet Union
    Donetsk People's Republic
    Years of service
    2014 – present
    Sparta Battalion
    Second Chechen War
    War in Donbass

    Arseny Sergeyevich Pavlov (Russian: Арсе́ний Серге́евич Па́влов), better known as Motorola (Моторо́ла), is a pro-Russian separatist leading the "Sparta Battalion" in the ongoing War in Donbass.

    Arseny Pavlov, aka Motorola
    Personal life

    On March 16, 2014 Pavlov participated in the pro-Russian protests in Kharkiv that called for the Russian help where he acted as a resident of Kharkiv city and an opponent of the Ukrainian government. He was caught on camera in a video footage of the events by the city's internet news publisher,

    Motorola publicly married on July 11, 2014 in a wedding amid the war. His wedding was attended by Igor Girkin and Pavel Gubarev. In a June 2014 interview to Russian newspaper Zavtra he stated they were already married and had a five year old son.

    Motorola’s wedding
    Separatist commander

    On October 2, 2014 Motorola threatened to go to Poland after the plane of Russian defense minister was not allowed to fly over the Polish airspace on August 29, 2014. He has lead his battalion in both the Battle of Ilovaisk and the Second Battle of Donetsk Airport.

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                70 years ago on this date, February 3, 1945, one of Adolf Hitler’s most notorious Hanging Judge, Roland Freisler, whom some people nicknamed him, ‘Hitler’s Blood Judge’, was killed in an air raid. Please go to this previous blog post to learn more about him.

    Roland Freisler

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                On this date, 3 February 1946, Nazi War Criminal, Friedrich Jeckeln was executed by hanging at Riga. 

    Photograph (mugshot) of Nazi SS General Friedrich Jeckeln in Soviet custody.

    Friedrich Jeckeln (standing, at left) SS war criminal and murder, on trial in 1946 in Riga.
    Friedrich August Jeckeln (2 February 1895, Hornberg, Baden  – 3 February 1946) was an SS-Obergruppenführerwho served as an SS and Police Leader in the occupied Soviet Union during World War II. Jeckeln was the commanding SS General over one of the largest collection of Einsatzgruppenand was personally responsible for ordering the deaths of over 100,000 Jews, Slavs, Romani, and other "undesirables" of the Third Reich.

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                60 years ago on this date, February 3, 1955, the most prolific executioner in history, Vasili Blokhin, passed away. I will post information about him from Wikipedia and other links.

    Vasili Blokhin

    Vasili Mikhailovich Blokhin
    Russian: Василий Михайлович Блохин

    Official Communist-party photograph of Major-General Vasili Blokhin

    Chief Executioner and Commander
    Kommandatura Branch
    Main Administrative-Economic Department, Moscow Oblast People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD)
    In office
    Personal details
    7 January 1895
    Vladimir Governorate, Russian Empire
    3 February 1955 (aged 60)
    Moscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
    Political party
    Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    Vasili Mikhailovich Blokhin (7 January 1895 – 3 February 1955) was a Soviet Russian Major-General who served as the chief executioner of the Stalinist NKVD under the administrations of Genrikh Yagoda, Nikolai Yezhov and Lavrentiy Beria(after their respective falls from power, Yagoda and Yezhov were executed by Blokhin himself). Hand-picked for the position by Joseph Stalin in 1926, Blokhin led a company of executioners that performed and supervised numerous mass executions during Stalin's reign, mostly during the Great Purge and World War II. He is recorded as having executed tens of thousands of prisoners by his own hand, including his killing of about 7,000 Polish prisoners of war during the Katyn massacre in spring 1940, making him the most prolific official executioner and mass murderer in recorded world history. Forced into retirement following the death of Stalin, Blokhin died in 1955, officially by suicide.

    Early life and career

    Blokhin, born into a peasant family on 7 January 1895, served in the Tsarist army during World War I, and joined the Soviet state security agency Cheka in March 1921. Though records are scant, he was evidently noted for both his pugnaciousness and his mastery of what Joseph Stalin termed chernaya rabota—"black work": assassinations, torture, intimidation, and executions conducted clandestinely. Once he gained Stalin's attention, he was quickly promoted and within six years was appointed the head of the purposely created KommandaturaBranch of the Administrative Executive Department of the NKVD. This branch was a company-sized element created by Stalin specifically for "black work". Headquartered at the Lubyanka in Moscow, its members were all approved by Stalin and took their orders directly from his hand, a fact that ensured the unit's longevity despite three bloody purges of the NKVD.

    As senior executioner, Blokhin had the official title of commandant of the internal prison at the Lubyanka, which allowed him to perform his true job with a minimum of scrutiny and no official paperwork. Although most of the estimated 828,000 NKVD executions conducted in Stalin's lifetime were performed by local Chekists in concert with NKVD troikas, mass executions were overseen by specialist executioners from the Kommandantura. In addition to overseeing the mass operations, Blokhin also personally pulled the trigger of the gun during all of the individual high-profile executions conducted in the Soviet Unionduring his tenure, including those of the Old Bolsheviks condemned at the Moscow Show Trials; Marshal of the Soviet UnionMikhail Tukhachevsky (condemned at a secret trial); and two of the three fallen NKVD Chiefs (Genrikh Yagoda in 1938 and Nikolai Yezhov in 1940) he had once served under. He was awarded the Badge of Honor for his service in 1937.

    Vasili Blokhin in action

    Scene from the 2007 Movie ‘Katyn’
    Role in the Katyn massacre

    Blokhin's most infamous act was the April 1940 execution by shooting of over 7,000 Polish prisoners interned in the Ostashkovprisoner of war camp—mostly military—and police officers who had been captured following the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939—as part of the extended Katyn massacre. (The event's infamy also stems from the Stalin regime's orchestration of the murders and subsequent propaganda campaign in order to blame Nazi Germany for the massacres.) In 1990 as part of Glasnost, Gorbachevgave the Polish government the files on the massacres at Katyn, Starobelskand Kalinin (now Tver), revealing Stalin's involvement. Based on the 4 April secret order from Stalin to NKVD Chief Lavrentiy Beria (as well as NKVD Order № 00485, which still applied), the executions were carried out over 28 consecutive nights at the specially-constructed basement execution chamber at the NKVD headquarters in Kalinin, and were assigned, by name, directly to Blokhin, making him the official executioner of the NKVD.

    Blokhin initially decided on an ambitious quota of 300 executions per night; and engineered an efficient system in which the prisoners were individually led to a small antechamber—which had been painted red and was known as the "Leninist room"—for a brief and cursory positive identification, before being handcuffed and led into the execution room next door. The room was specially designed with padded walls for soundproofing, a sloping concrete floor with a drain and hose, and a log wall for the prisoners to stand against. Blokhin would stand waiting behind the door in his executioner garb: a leather butcher's apron, leather hat, and shoulder-length leather gloves. Then, without a hearing, the reading of a sentence or any other formalities, each prisoner was brought in and restrained by guards while Blokhin shot him once in the base of the skull with a German WaltherModel 2 .25 ACPpistol. He had brought a briefcase full of his own Walther pistols, since he did not trust the reliability of the standard-issue Soviet TT-30 for the frequent, heavy use he intended. The use of a German pocket pistol, which was commonly carried by German police and intelligence agents, also provided plausible deniability of the executions if the bodies were discovered later.

    An estimated 30 local NKVD agents, guards and drivers were pressed into service to escort prisoners to the basement, confirm identification, then remove the bodies and hose down the blood after each execution. Although some of the executions were carried out by Senior Lieutenant of State Security Andrei M. Rubanov, Blokhin was the primary executioner and, true to his reputation, liked to work continuously and rapidly without interruption. In keeping with NKVD policy and the overall "black" nature of the operation, the executions were conducted at night, starting at dark and continuing until just prior to dawn. The bodies were continuously loaded onto covered flat-bed trucks through a back door in the execution chamber and trucked, twice a night, to Mednoye, where Blokhin had arranged for a bulldozer and two NKVD drivers to dispose of bodies at an unfenced site. Each night, 24–25 trenches, measuring eight to ten meters (24.3 to 32.8 feet) total, were dug to hold that night's corpses, and each trench was covered up before dawn.

    Blokhin and his team worked without pause for ten hours each night, with Blokhin executing an average of one prisoner every three minutes. At the end of the night, Blokhin provided vodka to all his men. On 27 April 1940, Blokhin secretly received the Order of the Red Banner and a modest monthly pay premium as a reward from Joseph Stalin for his "skill and organization in the effective carrying out of special tasks". His count of 7,000 shot in 28 days remains the most organized and protracted mass murderby a single individual on record; and saw him being named the Guinness World Record holder for 'Most Prolific Executioner' in 2010.

    Vasili Blokhin tomb
    Retirement and death

    Blokhin was forcibly retired in 1953 following Stalin's death that March, although his "irreproachable service" was publicly noted by Lavrenty Beria at the time of his departure. After Beria's fall from power in June of the same year, Blokhin's rank was stripped from him in the de-Stalinizationcampaigns of Nikita Khrushchev. He reportedly sank into alcoholism, went insane, and died on 3 February 1955 with the official cause of death listed as "suicide".

    Honours and awards

    This article incorporates information from the Russian Wikipedia.

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    QUOTE:If you don't know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it. I think this consideration itself should be enough for all of us to insist on protecting the unborn.”
     [Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation (1983)]

    AUTHOR: Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989), the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975), and prior to that, a radio, film and television actor. Reagan was born in Tampico in Whiteside County, Illinois, reared in Dixon in Lee County, Illinois, and educated at Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and sociology. Upon his graduation, Reagan first moved to Iowa to work as a radio broadcaster and then in 1937 to Los Angeles, California. He began a career as an actor, first in films and later television, appearing in over 50 movie productions and earning enough success to become a famous, publicly recognized figure. Some of his most notable roles are in Knute Rockne, All American and Kings Row. Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and later spokesman for General Electric; his start in politics occurred during his work for GE. Originally a member of the Democratic Party, he switched to the Republican Party in 1962. After delivering a rousing speech in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential candidacy in 1964, he was persuaded to seek the California governorship, winning two years later and again in 1970. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976, but won both the nomination and election, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980. As president, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics", advocated reducing tax rates to spur economic growth, controlling the money supply to reduce inflation, deregulation of the economy, and reducing government spending. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, took a hard line against labor unions, and ordered an invasion of Grenada. He was reelected in a landslide in 1984, proclaiming that it was "Morning in America". His second term was primarily marked by foreign matters, such as the ending of the Cold War, the 1986 bombing of Libya, and the revelation of the Iran-Contra affair. Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", he supported anti-communist movements worldwide and spent his first term forgoing the strategy of détente by ordering a massive military buildup in an arms race with the USSR. Reagan negotiated with General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, culminating in the INF Treaty and the decrease of both countries' nuclear arsenals. Reagan left office in 1989. In 1994, the former president disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier in the year; he died ten years later at the age of 93. Although a polarizing figure to some on the American left, he often ranks highly in public opinion polls of U.S. Presidents. Moreover, as a popular conservative icon, he is credited for generating an ideological renaissance on the American political right.

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    On this date, February 9, 2011, A child killer, Martin Link was executed by lethal injection in Missouri. Please go to this previous blog post to learn more. 

    Martin Link

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    We were supposed to have reached a stage of civilization in which it might still be necessary to execute a criminal, but not to gloat, or to hang his wife and child by him while the orc-crowd hooted. The destruction of Germany, be it 100 times merited, is one of the most appalling world-catastrophes. Well, well,—you and I can do nothing about it. And that [should] be a measure of the amount of guilt that can justly be assumed to attach to any member of a country who is not a member of its actual Government. Well the first War of the Machines seems to be drawing to its final inconclusive chapter—leaving, alas, everyone the poorer, many bereaved or maimed and millions dead, and only one thing triumphant: the Machines.

    - J. R. R. Tolkien

    On this date, February 9, 1944, Bishop George Bell gave a great speech against the British bombing of German civilians, delivered in the House of Lords.


    Bishop George Bell (4 February 1883 to 3 October 1958)



    HL Deb 09 February 1944 vol 130 cc737-55737
    §THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER had the following Notice on the Paper: To ask His Majesty's Government, whether, without detriment to the public interest, they can make a statement as to their policy regarding the bombing of towns in enemy countries, with special reference to the effect of such bombing on civilians as well as objects of non-military and non-Industrial significance in the area attacked; and to move for Papers. 

    § The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, the question which I have to ask is beset with difficulties. It deals with an issue which must have it own anxieties for the Government, and certainly causes great searchings of heart amongst large numbers of people who are as resolute champions of the Allied cause as any member of your Lordships' House. If long-sustained and public opposition to Hitler and the Nazis since 1933 is any credential, I would humbly claim to be one of the most convinced and consistent Anti-Nazis in Great Britain. But I desire to challenge the Government on the policy which directs the bombing of enemy towns on the present scale, especially with reference to civilians, non-combatants, and non-military and non-industrial objectives. I also desire to make it plain that, in anything I say on this issue of policy, no criticism is intended of the pilots, the gunners, and the air crews who, in circumstances of tremendous danger, with supreme courage and skill, carry out the simple duty of obeying their superiors' orders. 

    § Few will deny that there is a distinction in principle between attacks on military and industrial objectives and attacks on objectives which do not possess that character. At the outbreak of the war, in response to an appeal by President Roosevelt, the Governments of the United Kingdom and France issued a joint declaration of their intention to conduct hostilities with a firm desire to spare the civilian population and to preserve in every way possible those monuments of human achievement which are treasured in all civilized countries. At the same time explicit instructions were issued to the Commanders of the Armed Forces prohibiting the bombardment, whether from the air or from the sea or by artillery on land, of any except strictly military objectives in the narrowest sense of the word. Both sides accepted this agreement. It is true that the Government added that, In the event of the enemy not observing any of the restrictions which the Governments of the United Kingdom and France have thus imposed on the operation of their Armed Forces, these Governments reserve the right to take all such action as they may consider appropriate. It is true that on May 10, 1940, the Government publicly proclaimed their intention to exercise this right in the event of bombing by the enemy of civilian populations. But the point which I wish to establish at this moment is that in entering the war there was no doubt in the Government's mind that the distinction between military and non-military objectives was real. 

    § Further, that this distinction is based on fundamental principles accepted by civilized nations is clear from the authorities in International Law. I give one instance the weight of which will hardly be denied. The Washington Conference on Limitation of Armaments in 1922 appointed a Commission of Jurists to draw up a code of rules about aerial warfare. It did not become an international convention, yet great weight should be attached to that code on account of its authors. Article 22 reads: Aerial bombardment for the purpose of terrorizing the civilian population, of destroying or damaging private property not of military character, or of injuring non-combatants is prohibited. Article 24 says: Aerial bombardment is legitimate only when directed at a military objective—that 739 is to say, an objective of which the destruction or injury would constitute a distinct military advantage to the belligerent. Professor A. L. Goodhart, of Oxford, states: Both these Articles are based on the fundamental assumption that direct attack on non-combatants is an unjustifiable act of war. 

    § The noble Viscount, Lord Halifax, at the beginning of this war, in reference to this very thing, described war as bloody and brutal. It is idle to suppose that it can be carried on without fearful injury and violence from which non-combatants as well as combatants suffer. It is still true, nevertheless, that there are recognized limits to what is permissible. The Hague Regulations of 1907 are explicit. "The right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited." M. Bonfils, a famous French jurist, says: If it is permissible to drive inhabitants to desire peace by making them suffer, why not admit pillage, burning, torture, murder, violation? I have recalled the joint declaration and these pronouncements because it is so easy in the process of a long and exhausting war to forget what they were once held without question to imply, and because it is a common experience in the history of warfare that not only war but actions taken in war as military necessities are often supported at the time by a class of arguments which, after the war is over, people find are arguments to which they never should have listened. 

    § I turn to the situation in February, 1944, and the terrific devastation by Bomber Command of German towns. I do not forget the Luftwaffe, or its tremendous bombing of Belgrade, Warsaw, Rotterdam, London, Portsmouth, Coventry, Canterbury and many other places of military, industrial and cultural importance. Hitler is a barbarian. There is no decent person on the Allied side who is likely to suggest that we should make him our pattern or attempt to be competitors in that market. It is clear enough that large-scale bombing of enemy towns was begun by the Nazis. I am not arguing that point at all. The question with which I am concerned is this. Do the Government understand the full force of what area bombardment is doing and is destroying now? Are they alive not only to the vastness of the material damage, much of which is irreparable, but also to 740 the harvest they are laying up for the future relationships of the peoples of Europe as well as to its moral implications? The aim of Allied bombing from the air, said the Secretary of State for Air at Plymouth on January 22, is to paralyze German war industry and transport. I recognize the legitimacy of concentrated attack on industrial and military objectives, on airfields and air bases, in view especially of the coming of the Second Front. I fully realize that in attacks on centres of war industry and transport the killing of civilians when it is the result of bona-fide military activity is inevitable. But there must be a fair balance between the means employed and the purpose achieved. To obliterate a whole town because certain portions contain military and industrial establishments is to reject the balance. 

    § Let me take two crucial instances, Hamburg and Berlin. Hamburg has a population of between one and two million people. It contains targets of immense military and industrial importance. It also happens to be the most democratic town in Germany where the Anti-Nazi opposition was strongest. Injuries to civilians resulting from bona-fide attacks on particular objectives are legitimate according to International Law. But owing to the methods used the whole town is now a ruin. Unutterable destruction and devastation were wrought last autumn. On a very conservative estimate, according to the early German statistics, 28,000 persons were killed. Never before in the history of air warfare was an attack of such weight and persistence carried out against a single industrial concentration. Practically all the buildings, cultural, military, residential, industrial, religious—including the famous University Library with its 800,000 volumes, of which three-quarters have perished—were razed to the ground. 

    § Berlin, the capital of the Reich, is four times the size of Hamburg. The offices of the Government, the military, industrial, war-making establishments in Berlin are a fair target. Injuries to civilians are inevitable. But up to date half Berlin has been destroyed, area by area, the residential and the industrial portions alike. Through the dropping of thousands of tons of bombs, including fire-phosphorus bombs, of extraordinary power, men and women have been lost, overwhelmed in the colossal tornado of smoke, blast and 741 flame. It is said that 74,000 persons have been killed and that 3,000,000 are already homeless. The policy is obliteration, openly acknowledged. That is not a justifiable act of war. Again, Berlin is one of the great centres of art collections in the world. It has a large collection of Oriental and classical sculpture. It has one of the best picture galleries in Europe, comparable to the National Gallery. It has a gallery of modern art better than the Tate, a museum of ethnology without parallel in this country, one of the biggest and best organized libraries—State and university, containing two and a half million books—in the world. Almost all these non-industrial, non-military buildings are grouped together near the old Palace and in the Street of the Linden. The whole of that street, which has been constantly mentioned in the accounts of the raids, has been demolished. It is possible to replace flat houses by mass production. It is not possible so quickly to rebuild libraries or galleries or churches or museums. It is not very easy to rehouse those works of art which have been spared. Those works of art and those libraries will be wanted for the re-education of the Germans after the war. I wonder whether your Lordships realize the loss involved in that. 

    § How is it, then, that this wholesale destruction has come about? The answer is that it is the method used, the method of area bombing. The first outstanding raid of area bombing was, I believe, in the spring of 1942, directed against Lubeck, then against Rostock, followed by the thousand-bomber raid against Cologne at the end of May, 1942. The point I want to bring home, because I doubt whether it is sufficiently realized, is that it is no longer definite military and industrial objectives which are the aim of the bombers, but the whole town, area by area, is plotted carefully out. This area is singled out and plastered on one night; that area is singled out and plastered on another night; a third, a fourth, a fifth area is similarly singled out and plastered night after night, till, to use the language of the Chief of Bomber Command with regard to Berlin, the heart of Nazi Germany ceases to beat. How can there be discrimination in such matters when civilians, monuments, military objectives and industrial objectives all together form the target? How can the bombers aim at anything more than 742 a great space when they see nothing and the bombing is blind? 

    § When the Nazis bombed France and Britain in 1940 it was denounced as "indiscriminate bombing." I recall this passage from a leader in The Times after the bombing of Paris on June 4, 1940: No doubt in the case of raids on large cities the targets are always avowedly military or industrial establishments; but, when delivered from the great height which the raiders seem to have been forced to keep by the anti-aircraft defences, the bombing in fact is bound to be indiscriminate. And I recall two other more recent articles in The Times on our own policy. On January 10, 1944, the following was published: It is the proclaimed intention of Bomber Command to proceed with the systematic obliteration one by one of the centres of German war production until the enemy's capacity to continue the fight is broken down. On January 31 the Aeronautical Correspondent wrote: Some of the most successful attacks of recent times have been made when every inch of the target area was obscured by unbroken cloud, thousands of feet thick, and when the crews have hardly seen the ground from which they took off until they were back at their bases again. If your Lordships will weigh the implication, and observe not only the destruction of the war-production factories but the obliteration of the places in which they are and the complete invisibility of the target area, it must surely be admitted that the bombing is comprehensive and what would ordinarily be called indiscriminate. 

    § The Government have announced their determination to continue this policy city by city. I give quotations. The Prime Minister, after the thousand-bomber raid on Cologne in 1942, said: Proof of the growing power of the British bomber force is also the herald of what Germany will receive city by city from now on. Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, on July 28, 1942, said: We are going to scourge the Third Reich from end to end. We are bombing Germany city by city and ever more terribly in order to make it impossible for her to go on with the war. That is our object; we shall pursue it relentlessly. A few days ago, as reported in the Sunday Express of January 23, an Air Marshal said: "One by one we shall pull out every town in Germany like teeth." 

    § I shall offer reasons for questioning this policy as a whole, but what I wish immediately to urge is this. There are old German towns, away from the great centres, which may be subjected—which almost certainly will be subjected—to the raids of Bomber Command. Almost certainly they are on the long list. Dresden, Augsburg, Munich are among the larger towns, Regensburg, Hildesheim and Marburg are a few among the smaller beautiful cities. In all these towns the old centres, the historic and beautiful things, are well preserved, and the industrial establishments are on the outskirts. After the destruction of the ancient town centres of Cologne, with its unique Romanesque churches, and Lubeck, with its brick cathedral, and Mainz, with one of the most famous German cathedrals, and of the old Gothic towns, the inner towns, Nuremburg, Hamburg and others, it would seem to be indicated that an effort, a great effort should be made to try to save the remaining inner towns. In the fifth year of the war it must surely be apparent to any but the most complacent and reckless how far the destruction of European culture has already gone. We ought to think once, twice, and three times before destroying the rest. Something can still be saved if it is realized by the authorities that the industrial centres, generally speaking, lie outside the old inner parts where are the historical monuments. 

    § I would especially stress the danger—outside Germany—to Rome. The principle is the same, but the destruction of the main Roman monuments would create such hatred that the misery would survive when all the military and political advantages that may have accrued may have long worn off. The history of Rome is our own history. Rome taught us, through the example of Christ, to abolish human sacrifice and taught us the Christian faith. The destruction would rankle in the memory of every good European as Rome's destruction by the Goths or the sack of Rome rankled. The blame simply must not fall on those who are professing to create a better world. The resentment which would, inevitably, follow would be too deep-seated to be forgotten. It would be the sort of crime which one day, even in the political field, would turn against the perpetrators. 

    § I wish to offer a few concluding remarks on the policy as a whole. It will be said that this area bombing—for it is this area bombing which is the issue to-day—is definitely designed to diminish the sacrifice of British lives and to shorten the war. We all wish with all our hearts that these two objects could be achieved, but to justify methods inhumane in themselves by arguments of expediency smacks of the Nazi philosophy that Might is Right. In any case the idea that it will reduce the sacrifice is speculation. The Prime Minister, as far back as August, 1940, before either Russia or America entered the war, justified the continued bombardment of German industries and communications as one of the surest, if not the shortest, of all the roads to victory. We are still fighting. It is generally admitted that German aircraft and military production, though it has slowed down, is going forward; and your Lordships may have noticed signs in certain military quarters of a tendency to question the value of this area bombing policy on military grounds. The cost in sacrifice of human life when the Second Front begins has never been disguised either from the American or from the British public by our leaders. 

    § It is also urged that area bombing will break down morale and the will to fight. On November 5, in a speech at Cheltenham, the Secretary of State for Air said that bombing in this way would continue until we had paralysed German war industries, disrupted their transport system and broken their will to war. Again leaving the ethical issue aside, it is pure speculation. Up to now the evidence received from neutral countries is to the opposite effect. It is said that the Berliners are taking it well. Let me quote from two Swedish papers. On November 30 last, the Svenska Dagbladet—this was during the first stage of our raids on Berlin—said: Through their gigantic air raids the British have achieved what Hitler failed to achieve by means of decrees and regulations; they have put the majority of the German people on a war footing. On January 9 of this year, the Sydsvenska Dagbladet said: The relative German strength on the home front is undoubtedly based on desperation, which increases and gets worse the longer the mass bombing lasts. It is understandable that the fewer the survivors and the more they 745 lose the more the idea spreads 'We have everything to gain and nothing to lose, and we can only regain what is ours if Germany wins the final victory, so let us do everything in our power.' If there is one thing absolutely sure, it is that a combination of the policy of obliteration with a policy of complete negation as to the future of a Germany which has got free from Hitler is bound to prolong the war and make the period after the war more miserable. 

    § I am not extenuating the crimes of the Nazis or the responsibility of Germany as a whole in tolerating them for so long, but I should like to add this. I do not believe that His Majesty's Government desire the annihilation of Germany. They have accepted the distinction between Germany and the Hitlerite State. 


    On March 10 of last year the Lord Chancellor, speaking officially for the Government, accepted that distinction quite clearly and precisely. Is it a matter for wonder that Anti-Nazis who long for help to overthrow Hitler are driven to despair? I have here a telegram, which I have communicated to the Foreign Office, sent to me on December 27 last by a well-known Anti-Nazi Christian leader who had to flee from Germany for his life long before the war. It was sent from Zurich, and puts what millions inside Germany must feel. He says: Is it understood that present situation gives us no sincere opportunity for appeal to people because one cannot but suspect effect of promising words on practically powerless population convinced by bombs and phosphor that their annihilation is resolved? If we wish to shorten the war, as we must, then let the Government speak a word of hope and encouragement both to the tortured millions of Europe and to those enemies of Hitler to whom in 1939 Mr. Churchill referred as ''millions who stand aloof from the seething mass of criminality and corruption constituted by the Nazi Party machine."

    Why is there this blindness to the psychological side? Why is there this inability to reckon with the moral and spiritual facts? Why is there this forget-fulness of the ideals by which our cause is inspired? How can the War Cabinet fail to see that this progressive devastation of cities is threatening the roots of civiliza- 746 tion? How can they be blind to the harvest of even fiercer warring and desolation, even in this country, to which the present destruction will inevitably lead when the members of the War Cabinet have long passed to their rest? How can they fail to realize that this is not the way to curb military aggression and end war? This is an extraordinarily solemn moment. What we do in war—which, after all, lasts a comparatively short time—affects the whole character of peace, which covers a much longer period. The sufferings of Europe, brought about by the demoniac cruelty of Hitler and his Nazis, and hardly imaginable to those in this country who for the last five years have not been out of this island or had intimate association with Hitler's victims, are not to be healed by the use of power only, power exclusive and unlimited. The Allies stand for something greater than power. The chief name inscribed on our banner is "Law." It is of supreme importance that we who, with our Allies, are the liberators of Europe should so use power that it is always under the control of law. It is because the bombing of enemy towns—this area bombing—raises this issue of power unlimited and exclusive that such immense importance is bound to attach to the policy and action of His Majesty's Government. I beg to move. 

    My Lords, I cannot possibly agree with what I understand to be the views of the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken in regard to bombing on the Continent. I am an out-and-out bomber, and I approve of the bombing action the Government have taken against Germany, and I hope that there may be more to come. When the right reverend Prelate appeals to me to say a word, if I can, on the question of religious persecution or trouble in Rome I am very glad to be able to respond to his request. Personally I have the greatest possible devotion and affection for the present holder of the high office of Pope, and I should deprecate strongly anything being done that might put him to any personal inconvenience. At the same time, apart from sentimental grounds, I cannot be blind to the fact that whatever may happen to the existing occupant of the Holy See at any particular time, the Church always arranges that we are provided with a successor whenever a vacancy does occur. Also I depre- 747 cate strongly the possibility of any action being taken that might encourage the bombing of the city of Rome itself. I think it would be deplorable, not only on religious grounds but also on grounds of culture, if any damage were done to the city of Rome. I do not at all confine my views on that point to those of my own religion. I say exactly the same thing with regard to any other religious centre or religious culture throughout the world. I cannot conceive anything more humiliating to our Government or anyone else than to be responsible for doing wanton damage to the city of Rome, and I earnestly hope the Government will take every precaution to avoid any such thing occurring. 

    My Lords, let me say at once that in the few remarks with which I shall trouble your Lordships I do not intend to follow the speech of the Bishop of Chichester, because I should be sorry, whether by agreement or by criticism, in any way to diminish the effect of its courage, sincerity and impressive-ness. I must content myself with one or two quite general observations. There is indeed one subject alluded to by the right reverend Prelate and by my noble friend who has just sat down on which I should have liked to speak at some length, that is to say the preservation of objects of historical and cultural value in the war areas. I think that is a subject so important that it deserves separate treatment, apart from any question of the ethics of the policy of bombing. Besides, it is a subject upon which I think many of your Lordships are well able to speak with special knowledge and interest. Accordingly I wish to say now that I have tabled a Motion to be brought before your Lordships' House at the next series of sittings on this particular subject, and I have reason to think that the Government would welcome the opportunity of amplifying the statement recently made in another place by the Secretary for War, which was in some ways reassuring. I therefore add nothing more on that subject to-day, and I say this now because perhaps some of your Lordships who may have wished to speak on this particular aspect of the subject may prefer to defer your remarks till the next series of sittings.

    I therefore confine myself to one or two quite general observations. Of course, we must all assume, as the right reverend 748 Prelate assumes, that one of the primary objects of modern warfare must be to cripple or destroy the enemy's supply and manufacture of the munitions of war. That means, of course, in the main the destruction of munition works of every sort and kind, and that mainly from the air. Unfortunately, it must also be acknowledged that this cannot well be done without running the risk of destroying or damaging the houses or lives of civilians who live near, or in the immediate neighbourhood of, these munition works. That, I think, is a matter of necessary agreement. At the same time in passing I am bound to say that the recent attacks upon cities like Hamburg, Frankfurt and Berlin seem to me to go a long way beyond what has hitherto been the declared policy of the Government and the Higher Command. We were always told that that policy was to limit attacks to definite military objectives or their immediate neighbourhood, and not directly and purposely to involve the destruction of the lives and the homes of the people. I do not think it can be said that that policy has been adhered to in these apparently deliberate attempts to destroy whole cities, and I venture to think there is some force—I think we must all admit it—in the plea that either the hitherto declared policy is to be changed or this new policy is to be definitely adopted. That I think would give rise to a good deal of criticism which has hitherto been quite silent.

    But, be that as it may, this is the very simple point on which I wish to base my few remarks: It is one thing to accept the destruction of military objectives and of their immediate neighbourhood as a regrettable military necessity; it is quite another thing to exult in it, to gloat over it, and to regard it as something that is in itself worthy of almost jubilant congratulations. What I want to do in these few remarks is not to criticize the Government but to give some indication of the effect of all this upon the moral outlook of our people. If it be true that such a mood, such a temper, of exultation is becoming prevalent among large sections of the people, it must involve a very lamentable lapse in their moral outlook. I may be wrong—I hope Iam—but I seem to see a good many signs of the spread of this particular mood and temper amongst some of our people. For example, I have recently had a fairly full correspondence where the language in 749 which this mood is expressed is to me shocking, not only from those cranks and fanatics who are apparently the natural correspondents of one who has been an Archbishop, from people whose frenzies we may entirely ignore, but from, apparently, sane and sober citizens. This is the kind of thing—"Let them have it, they did it to us, let us do it to them tenfold, pay them back in their own coin," and all the language with which we are only too familiar. It is the effect of all that upon the people that I deplore.

    It may be in a sense natural. The lex talionis is one of the oldest and most primitive instincts of mankind. We cannot be surprised that it rises in strength in the hearts of chose who have lost homes and lives which they loved; though indeed I must add It is not among them, but among people more comfortably placed, from whom we hear most of this rather savage language. We may admit all that, but nevertheless it is plain that there must be some real moral deterioration in the indulgence of this temper, stimulated as it is, apparently, by the headlines of our popular Press—so many thousands and thousands of bombs dropped here and there—and sometimes by the announcements on the wireless. If that becomes prevalent, it means this, that the ruthlessness in which it exults, and for which it clamours, must bring us into competition with our enemy at his worst. It must mean that, somehow or other, we become indifferent to those values of humane civilization for which, as a people, we have believed we are contending in this war. That sort of competition is one, we should all agree, in which success would be far more dishonourable than defeat. It is a competition in which we can win only by the sacrifice of what has been best and noblest in the traditions of our race.

    War, as the right reverend Prelate truly said, is fertile of every kind of evil. There are some splendid memories which this generation which has gone through the war may be able to hand down to the succeeding generations—memories of the vigilance and resourcefulness of our sailors, of the constant courage and cheerfulness of our soldiers, of the skill and bravery of our gallant airmen, and of the endurance and fortitude of our people. Would it not be lamentable if these great memories were to be sullied by other memories of which, on reflection, 750 conscience would have cause to be ashamed? I repeat that I should be glad to be convinced that I was exaggerating the prevalence of this rather truculent spirit among our people, but I know there are many of our fellow countrymen giving themselves heart and soul, spending all they can of their energies and of what they possess, in this war effort who are becoming convinced that it represents a very real moral danger to our people, and who are anxious that some word of warning should be uttered against it. I hope you will not think I have been wasting your time in these few minutes if I have ventured to utter such a warning in your Lordships' House. 

    My Lords, the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chichester, in his very eloquent, moving, and sincere speech this afternoon, raised the question of our bombing policy towards enemy countries. If he asked for some assurance from His Majesty's Government that the purpose of these intensive attacks upon German cities is to hamper and, if possible, to bring to a standstill enemy war production, and not merely to sprinkle bombs broadcast with the object of damaging ancient monuments and spreading terror among the civilian population, I am very ready to give him that assurance. Indeed I am very happy to have the opportunity of doing so. As your Lordships know, the Royal Air Force has never indulged in pure terror raids, in what used to be known as Baedeker raids of the kind which the Luftwaffe indulged in at one time on this country. Nor, as indeed the right reverend Prelate himself recognized, did we start raids on enemy cities. The city of Rotterdam and the city of Warsaw were destroyed by the Germans before a single British bomb ever fell upon German soil. In passing, if I may take the opportunity, I should like to say a word about what was said by my noble friend Lord FitzAlan of Derwent. I would assure him that it is certainly not the intention of His Majesty's Government to drop bombs within the precincts of the Vatican City nor, if it can be avoided, on the city of Rome.

    At the same time, although it is clearly right that the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chichester, should clear his 751 conscience on this matter, about which he feels so very deeply, although all of us have very considerable sympathy with much that he has said to your Lordships to-day, and although I entirely agree with what was said by my most reverend friend Lord Lang of Lambeth that it would be very wrong for us to gloat over the destruction of German towns which has been forced upon us by the necessities of the military situation—in this respect I would entirely agree with the right reverend Prelate—at the same time I think it is also right that he and we should face hard facts frankly. If the right reverend Prelate will allow me to say so, I do not think he was facing these facts, quite, this afternoon. The hard, inescapable fact is that war is a horrible thing, and that it cannot be carried on without suffering, often caused to those who are not immediately responsible for causing the conflict. In the situation with which we are faced today we cannot expect to find means of conducting hostilities which do not involve suffering. We cannot do any such thing. What we have to do, to the best of our ability, is to weigh against each other how much suffering is going to be caused or saved by any action which we may feel obliged to take.

    My Lords, the right reverend Prelate himself has been within recent months prominent in bringing before your Lordships other aspects of the present conflict. He has pointed out again and again—though it is not an aspect he dealt with very much to-day—the cruelties which are being inflicted by the Axis Powers upon Jews and upon the peoples of the occupied countries. He has told—and we know it to be entirely true—how they are being persecuted, how they are being tortured, how they are being starved, and he has asked what His Majesty's Government can do to alleviate their miseries. He has always received a reply from the Government spokesman—I have had to give it to him several times myself—that the only cure for these miseries is to bring the war to a victorious end and liberate the occupied countries from their present servitude. That is the only honest answer, as I am quite sure the right reverend Prelate himself would agree. The purpose of the present air offensive is to achieve just that happy result at the earliest possible moment. It has been carefully planned with precisely that aim.

    752 The targets which have been attacked are the administrative centres, the great industrial towns, the ports and the centres of communication. These targets have been chosen with the definite object of making it more difficult for Germany and her Allies to carry on war. That is why the Royal Air Force attacked Essen, why it attacked Mannheim, Cologne, Hamburg, Magdeburg, Berlin and many other towns. Your Lordships will remember that we have never concentrated upon sleepy country towns and villages. That would not only have been unnecessarily brutal; it would have been utterly futile from our point of view. But I would emphasize this to the right reverend Prelate: the great centres of administration, of production and of communication are themselves military targets in a total war. You cannot escape that fact.

    Take Berlin, which was mentioned by the right reverend Prelate himself this afternoon. It is not only the administrative centre of Germany, it is not only the heart and soul of the Nazi system, where are situated Government Departments and the headquarters of Himmler's network of Secret Police; it is also the most important centre of German war production and it is the largest railway and air transport centre in Europe to-day. It contains the Siemens works, which make electrical equipment, it contains the Rheinmetal Borsig, which make guns, the Daimler Benz, which make tanks, the A.E.G., which make electrical cables and submarine motors, the Lorenz works, which make wireless equipment, the Henschel works, which are devoted to aircraft assembly, and the Argus works, which make aero engines. These are only some of the works which are within the boundaries of the city of Berlin. They are all war targets of the very first importance. In addition, there are numbers of smaller enterprises scattered broadcast throughout the city. Every garage is transformed into a factory for the production of war material.

    If you look at another city, Magdeburg, which has also been the subject of air attack, it is one of the foremost cities in central Germany, it is an important centre both of industry and of river and rail traffic, it contains many large engineering and armaments firms, the Braun-kohle Synthetic Oil Plant, the Krupps Tank Assembly Works, the Lignose 753 Chemical Works which produces more than half the total output of T.N.T., and the Polte Armament Works. I could give similar details of every one of the cities that the Royal Air Force has attacked in its recent campaign.

    I would like to give one or two more instances, because I think it is important that your Lordships and the country should realize the purpose for which our raids are organized. Take Essen, which, as we all know, is the centre of the Krupp Armament Works. I thought it might be valuable to your Lordships to know what the results of our bombing of that city have been, and I have taken pains to obtain a very brief account. This is what it says: As a result of our attacks virtually no part of the Krupp Armament Works, which covers an area of two square miles, escaped damage, and most of the important shops were destroyed completely. The severity of the damage was such that virtually no reconstruction has been undertaken, and this concern, probably the largest individual producers of armaments in Germany and also an important centre of locomotive manufacture, has been virtually put out of action. The earlier raids brought the work to a standstill from which subsequent ones never permitted it to recover, and some indication of the effect upon the German military position can be gauged from the fact that the production of heavy guns by the whole of the Krupp organization was reported, in the month of June, to have been reduced by 75 per cent. compared with the production in January. One last example. It is calculated that the intensive attacks which were made against Hamburg last summer cost Germany, in the next three months no less than 400,000,000 man-hours—an immense reduction of her capacity to manufacture materials of war. This could have been achieved in no other way than the method that was adopted. Now it may well be, and I personally do not blink the fact, that these great German war industries can only be paralysed by bringing the whole life of the cities in which they are situated to a standstill, making it quite impossible for the workmen to carry on their work. That is a fact we may have to face and I do face it. It is, I suggest, a full justification for the present bombing campaign. I am sure that your Lordships would not refuse to accept the idea of shelling cities and towns in the front line. Nobody likes it, but it has to be done for the purpose of winning wars. The German cities which I have mentioned are in the front line and they must be 754 bombarded. In addition—and this is another point which I would like the. right reverend Prelate to consider—by the very fact of our attack, and the possibility of further attacks, we are holding at the present time a vast proportion of German fighter planes on the Western Front. Up to 80 per cent. are held there and they are 80 per cent. of the best German machines. That, of course, greatly facilitates the efforts of our heroic Russian Allies to liberate their own country from the Nazi yoke.

    Therefore, when considering what I fully agree is a most difficult question, I do ask the right reverend Prelate and other noble Lords not only to think of the Germans who are suffering from these raids, but to think also of the Russians and the Poles and the Czechs, the Dutch, the Belgians, the Norwegians, the Yugoslavs, the Greeks, the French and the Danes who are at present enduring intolerable anguish at the hands of the Armies of the Axis. Every day, appalling stories flow in from the occupied countries of men, women and children who are being starved, subjected to fiendish tortures, mental and physical, at the hands of the German Secret Police, who are being slaughtered in droves. We must remember that. We must also remember our own soldiers and airmen who at present are engaged in mortal combat in Italy, and those others who are soon to engage in yet greater attacks in other parts of Europe. We must remember our men who are languishing at present in intolerable conditions in Japanese prison camps, and the soldiers and sailors of our Allies. Their lives are our responsibility.

    I sometimes wondered as I listened to the right reverend Prelate—I appreciate his sincerity—whether he really wants to help these people, because if he does want to get them out of their misery he must accept the implications of that policy. The only way to end this horror is to beat our enemies rapidly and completely and restore enduring peace. That is the only way. From that aim we must not avert our eyes, however kind our hearts, however deep our sentiments. While, therefore, I deeply respect the high motives which have inspired the right reverend Prelate, and while I am glad to give the general assurance contained in the earlier part of my speech, I cannot hold out hope that we shall abate our bombing policy. On the contrary, we shall continue it against proper and suitable targets with 755 increasing power and more crushing effects until final victory is achieved. So alone, in my view, shall we be able to fulfil our obligations to our own people, to our Allies, and to the world. 

    My Lords, I should like to express my gratitude for the courtesy of the noble Viscount's reply. I will not disguise the fact that the end of his speech was not exactly unexpected but was nevertheless a disappointment. I, of course, wish—no one more—for the liberation of the unfortunate peoples of Europe, and I know it is only by the conquest of Hitler and his associates that that can be achieved. I would very strongly press the noble Viscount to take great pains about the definition of legitimate objectives of a military and industrial kind and to avoid to the utmost extent possible any confusion of them with non-military and non-industrial objectives. I do not wish to trouble your Lordships further, but we have to think of the future as well as the present. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
    § Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn. 

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    On this date, February 17, 2011, a Neo Nazi by the name of Frank G. Spisak Jr. was executed by lethal injection in Ohio for the shooting spree murder of three people. Please go to this previous blog post to learn more about the killer, and go to the Unit 1012 Blog to hear from the victims’ families. 

    Ohioan Neo Nazi, Frank G. Spisak Jr.

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                I will post information about this Californian Rapist-Killer from Wikipedia and other links.

    Michael Morales

    October 17, 1959 (age 55)
    Criminal penalty
    Execution by lethal injection
    Criminal status
    On death row at San Quentin State Prison

    Rape, murder – April 1983

    Michael Angelo Morales (born October 17, 1959) is a convicted murderer who was scheduled to be executed by the State of California at 7:30 p.m. on February 21, 2006. Two hours before the scheduled execution, the State of California notified the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that they could not comply with a lower federal judge's ruling that the execution must be carried out by a medical professional due to the chemical used in the execution. Consequently, California has indefinitely suspended Morales' execution. The case subsequently led to a moratorium on capital punishment in California entirely, as the only legal method of execution must be carried out with the participation of a licensed physician, who are ethically prohibited from participating in executions.

    Death of Terri Winchell

    Michael Morales was convicted of murdering 17-year-old Terri Winchell on January 8, 1981. Winchell was in a love triangle with Richard Ortega, a cousin of Morales, and another man. Ortega hired Morales to kill Winchell so that Ortega could have exclusive relations with his male lover. According to prosecutors, Morales attacked Winchell from behind and tried to strangle her with his belt. Morales then hit her head with a hammer, beating her into unconsciousness, and crushing the victim's skull. Morales then dragged Winchell face-down across the road and into a vineyard, where he raped her and stabbed her four times in the chest. Winchell died from both the head and chest wounds.

    Trial and appeals

    Morales has not denied that he committed the crime. His defense team argued, however, that since he was high on PCP at the time, the murder does not qualify for the "special circumstances" required against California state law for the death penalty. Morales' defense argued that the crime was not premeditated, despite the fact that he had told Ortega that he would defend him. The prosecution countered with evidence showing that Morales gathered tools before the encounter, practiced strangulation on two female acquaintances, and confessed to an informant while in jail.

    Charles McGrath, the judge who originally sentenced Morales to execution, has announced that he has had a change of heart in the case. He now says he now doubts the testimony of an informant against Morales. Notably, the informant claimed that Morales confessed to him in Spanish, a language Morales does not speak. McGrath asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant Morales clemency under state law. In addition, Morales has claimed that he has found God in prison, and regrets the crime that he committed.

    In early 2006, lead defense attorney David Senior hired former Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr to be one of Morales' attorneys on the appeals. Immediately prior to Morales' execution date, Senior filed papers claiming that five out of the 12 jurors had doubts about sentencing him to death. However, prosecutors alleged that the documents were forgeries, and accused investigator and anti-death penalty activist Kathleen Culhane of falsifying the documents. Senior and his team soon withdrew the documents. Ultimately, clemency was denied, but the falsified documents were not used in the rationale. Eventually, Culhane was criminally charged with forging the documents and, under a plea agreement, was sentenced to five years in prison. At her sentencing hearing, Culhane refused to express remorse to the State of California, stating her acts were crimes of conscience against Morales' execution and the death penalty.
    Postponed execution

    Morales' original execution date of February 21, 2006, was postponed as a result of two court-appointed anesthesiologists withdrawing from the procedure. This is the first death row inmate extant since a judge ruled that the current combination of drugs may cause severe pain, as corroborated by an April 2005 study published in The Lancet. The doctors cited ethical reasons for the decision to withdraw. They had been ordered by the court to intervene in the event Morales woke up or appeared to be in pain. Since both doctors withdrew, California planned to overdose Morales on intravenous barbiturates, the only other option allowed by the court.

    The judge further ruled that the barbiturates could only be administered by a "licensed medical professional," meaning a doctor, nurse or other medical technician legally authorized to administer I.V. medications. Since all such medical personnel are bound by professional ethics against performing an execution, this ruling virtually assured that the execution could not take place. Having failed to find a medical professional willing to carry out the execution, California decided it could not comply with the judge's decision and would allow the death warrant to lapse. The death warrant will now have to be re-issued by the original trial judge, Charles McGrath, who has indicated that he no longer believes testimony from the 1982 trial and asked for clemency for Morales.


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    The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

    - George Washington's Farewell Address

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    On this date, February 23, 1946, the Tiger of Malaya, Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita was executed by hanging in Laguna, Philippines.   Please go to this previous blog post to learn more.

    Photo of Yamashita Tomoyuki, Lieutenant-General, Commander of the Japanese 25th Army in 1941

    I was carrying out my duty, as the Japanese high commander of the Japanese Army in the Philippine Islands, to control my army with the best of my ability during wartime. Until now, I believe that I have tried my best for my army. As I said in the Manila Supreme Court that I have done everything with all my capacity, so I wouldn't be ashamed in front of the Gods for what I have done when I have died. But if you say to me "you do not have any ability to command the Japanese Army," I should say nothing in response, because it is my own nature. Now, our war criminal trial is going on in the Manila Supreme Court, so I wish to be justified under your kindness and righteousness. I know that all your American military affairs always have had tolerant and rightful judgment. When I had been investigated in the Manila court, I have had good treatment, a kind attitude from your good-natured officers who protected me all the time. I will never forget what they have done for me even if I die. I don't blame my executioners. I'll pray that the Gods bless them. Please send my thankful word to Col. Clarke and Lt. Col. Feldhaus, Lt. Col. Hendrix, Maj. Guy, Capt. Sandburg, Capt. Reel, at Manila court, and Col. Arnard. I thank you. I pray for the Emperor's long life and prosperity forever.

    -       The last words of Tomoyuki Yamashita