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    On this date, October 1, 2002, a Pedophile by the name of James Rexford Powell was executed by lethal injection in Texas. He was convicted of the October 6, 1990 murder of 10-year-old Falyssa Van Winkle. Please go to this previous blog post to learn more about this pedophile.

    James Rexford Powell

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                On this date, October 1, 1946, the Nazi Leaders are sentenced at the Nuremberg Trials, with the individual sentences read out on the afternoon that day. Please go to this previous blog post to learn more.


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    On this date, October 2, 2002, a Prison Killer and Pedophile by the name of Rigoberto Sanchez-Velasco was executed by lethal injection in Florida. Please go to this previous blog post to learn more.

    Rigoberto Sanchez-Velasco

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                I will post information about the Deputy Commandant of Sobibor Extermination Camp, Gustav Wagner from Wikipedia and other links.

    Gustav Wagner

    Birth name
    Gustav Franz Wagner
    The Beast, Wolf (Yiddish: Welfel‎)
    18 July 1911
    Vienna, Austria-Hungary
    3 October 1980 (aged 69)
    São Paulo, Brazil
    Nazi Germany
    Years of service
    late 1930s—1945
    SS-Oberscharführer (Staff Sergeant)
    Commands held

    Gustav Franz Wagner (18 July 1911 – 3 October 1980) was an SS-Oberscharführer(Staff Sergeant) from Vienna, Austria. Wagner was a starter deputy commander of the Sobibór extermination camp in German-occupied Poland, where more than 200,000 Jews were gassed during Operation Reinhard. Due to his brutality, he was known as "The Beast" and "Wolf" (Yiddish: Welfel).


    While living in Austria, Wagner joined the Nazi Party in 1931 as member number 443,217. After being arrested for proscribed National Socialist agitation, he fled to Germany, where he joined the SAand later the SS in the late 1930s.

    In May 1940, Wagner first participated in killing during the Action T4euthanasia program at Hadamar and Hartheim. Due to his killing experience in T-4, Wagner was assigned to help establish the Sobibór extermination camp in March 1942. Once the gassing installations were completed, Wagner became deputy commandant of the camp under Commandant Franz Stangl. His official title was quartermaster-sergeant of the camp.

    Wagner was in charge of selecting which prisoners from the newly arrived transports would be used as slave laborers in and outside the camp, and which would be sent to their deaths in the gas chambers. When Wagner was on vacation or attending to duties elsewhere, Karl Frenzel assumed his role within the camp.

    More than any other officer at Sobibór, Wagner was responsible for the daily interactions with prisoners. Wagner supervised the routine and daily life at Sobibór, and he was one of the most brutal SS officers. Survivors of the camp described him as a cold-blooded sadist. Wagner was known to beat and thrash camp inmates on a regular basis, and to kill Jews without reason or restraint. Inmate Moshe Bahir described him:

    “He was a handsome man, tall and blond — a pure Aryan. In civilian life he was, no doubt, a well-mannered man; at Sobibor he was a wild beast. His lust to kill knew no bounds... He would snatch babies from their mothers' arms and tear them to pieces in his hands. I saw him beat two men to death with a rifle, because they did not carry out his instructions properly, since they did not understand German. I remember that one night a group of youths aged fifteen or sixteen arrived in the camp. The head of this group was one Abraham. After a long and arduous work day, this young man collapsed on his pallet and fell asleep. Suddenly Wagner came into our barrack, and Abraham did not hear him call to stand up at once before him. Furious, he pulled Abraham naked off his bed and began to beat him all over his body. When Wagner grew weary of the blows, he took out his revolver and killed him on the spot. This atrocious spectacle was carried out before all of us, including Abraham's younger brother.”

    Erich Bauer would later remark:

    “I estimate that the number of Jews gassed at Sobibor was about 350,000. In the canteen at Sobibor I once overheard a conversation between Karl Frenzel, Franz Stangl and Gustav Wagner. They were discussing the number of victims in the extermination camps of Belzec, Treblinka and Sobibor and expressed their regret that Sobibor "came last" in the competition.”

    Inmate Eda Lichtman wrote that on the Jewish fast day of Yom Kippur, Wagner appeared at roll call, selected some prisoners, gave them bread and forced them to eat it. As the prisoners ate the bread, Wagner laughed loudly, enjoying his joke because he knew that these Jews were pious.

    One of the Sobibór prisoners improvised a song which ironically described camp life (quite the opposite was the truth):

    Wie lustig ist da unser Leben

    Man tut uns zu essen geben
    Wie lustig ist im grünen Wald

    Wo ich mir aufhalt

    translated to English:

    How fun is our life there,

    They give us food to eat that's fair,
    What fun it is in the green wood,

    Where I am stood.

    Wagner enjoyed this song and he forced the prisoners to sing it frequently.

    After two Jews escaped from Sobibór in the spring of 1943, Wagner was put in charge of a group of soldiers from the Wehrmacht, who laid down minefields around the camp so as to prevent further escapes. However, these efforts did not prevent another escape, which took form in the Sobibór revolt. Wagner was not present at the camp on the day of the Sobibór revolt (14 October 1943). The inmates knew of Wagner's absence and believed that it would improve their chances of success. Wagner was considered the strictest in terms of prisoner supervision at the camp. After the successful revolt, Wagner was ordered to aid in closing the camp. He helped to dismantle and remove evidence of the camp by ruthlessly commanding the Jewish prisoners who performed this task. For instance, after the Arbeitsjuden ("worker Jews") had been transported from Treblinkaand had successfully torn down the Sobibór barracks, Wagner killed them.

    Heinrich Himmler considered Wagner to be "one of the most deserving men of Operation Reinhard" (German: einer der verdientesten Männer der Aktion Reinhard).

    After Sobibór, Wagner was transferred to Italy, where he participated in the deportation of Jews.

    After World War II, Gustav Wagner was sentenced to deathin absentia, but escaped with Franz Stangl to Brazil. It is speculated that the Vatican helped Wagner to flee to Syria and then to Brazil. Wagner was admitted as a permanent resident on 12 April 1950. Wagner was issued a Brazilian passport on 4 December 1950. He lived in Brazil under the pseudonymGünther Mendel until he was exposed by Simon Wiesenthal and arrested on 30 May 1978. Extraditionrequests from Israel, Austria and Poland were rejected by Brazil's Attorney General. On 22 June 1979 the Brazilian Supreme Court also rejected a West German extradition request.

    Wagner, in a 1979 BBC interview, showed no remorse for his activities in running the camp, remarking:

    “I had no feelings.... It just became another job. In the evening we never discussed our work, but just drank and played cards.”

    In October 1980, Wagner was found with a knife in his chest in São Paulo. According to his attorney, Wagner committed suicide. But evidence suggest that he was killed. At the time of death his fingers of his right hand were cut off and a knife was stuck in his chest. Additionally he was beaten. His date of death was determined to be 3 October 1980.


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               The World Day Against the Death Penalty is held every year on October 10. As a former Death Penalty opponent myself, I used to support this event but as I think of the feelings of the murdered victims’ families, I switched my position. At the same time, I noticed the Abolitionists in this organizationare begging poetic sympathy for evildoers. They do not dare to mention the names of violent criminals, terrorists, mass murderers, prison killers, pedophiles, serial killers and most of all, repeat offenders

                Rather than celebrate the World Day Against the Death Penalty, I rather honor the victims who died in the Nag Hammadi massacre. I will remember that Hamam El-Kamouny was hung this date (October 10, 2011) to remind the abolitionists that keeping killers alive are dangerous. 

    Hamam El-Kamouny

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  • 10/09/15--10:09: SEVERITY ORDER

    Generalfeldmarschall Walther von Reichenau, 1941

    The Severity Order or Reichenau Order was the name given to an order promulgated within the German Sixth Army on the Eastern Front during World War II by Field MarshalWalther von Reichenau on 10 October 1941.

    ...The most important objective of this campaign against the Jewish-Bolshevik system is the complete destruction of its sources of power and the extermination of the Asiatic influence in European civilization. ... In this eastern theatre, the soldier is not only a man fighting in accordance with the rules of the art of war, but also the ruthless standard bearer of a national conception. ... 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. ...

    This infamous order paved the way for mass murder of Jews. 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 Einsatzgruppen execution squads of the SS-Totenkopfverbändeas the situation dictated.

    Upon hearing of the Severity Order, Reichenau's superior Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt expressed "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".

    When Reichenau died, and command of the Sixth Army was taken over by General Friedrich Paulus, both the Severity Order and Hitler's Commissar Orderwere rescinded in his command sector.

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                On this date, October 10, 1966, one of the Gas Operators of Sobibor Extermination Camp, committed suicide by hanging himself in his prison cell. I will post information about this Nazi War Criminal from Wikipedia and other links.

    Kurt Bolender
    Heinz Kurt Bolender
    May 21, 1912
    Duisburg, German Empire
    October 10, 1966 (aged 54)
    Hagen, West Germany
    Nazi Germany
    Years of service
    SS-Oberscharführer (Staff Sergeant)
    Commands held
    Operated gas chambers at Sobibór Camp III
    World War II
    Iron Cross 2nd Class
    Other work
    Doorman at Nightclub

    Heinz Kurt Bolender (May 21, 1912 – October 10, 1966) was an SS-Oberscharführer (Staff Sergeant) during the Second World War. In 1942 Bolender operated the gas chambers at Sobibór extermination camp, thereby directly perpetrating acts of genocideagainst Jews and Gypsiesduring the Nazi operation known as Operation Reinhard.

    After the war, Bolender was recognized in 1961 while working under a false identity as a doorman at a nightclub in Germany, and subsequently accused in 1965 of personally murdering at least 360 Jewish inmates and assisting in the murder of 86,000 more at Sobibór. He committed suicide in prison two months prior to the end of the trial.

    Kurt Bolender


    Bolender was born in 1912 in Duisburg and stayed in school until the age of 16 when he became a blacksmith apprentice. He joined the NSDAP in the 1930s.

    In 1939 Bolender joined the SS-Totenkopfverbände ("Death's Head Unit"). He was attached to the Action T4 euthanasia program and worked at Hartheim, Hadamar, Brandenburg and Sonnenstein killing centers where physically and mentally disabled Germans were exterminated by gassing and lethal injection. Bolender was involved in the cremationprocess of disposing of victims, as well as "test" gassing procedures during the Action T4. During this period he worked with Franz Stangl and Christian Wirth. In 1941-1942 he was attached to an ambulance unit on the Eastern Front in Russia along with the other T-4 workers.

    Kurt Bolender in SS uniform
    Sobibór extermination camp

    On April 22, 1942, SS-Obersturmführer (First Lieutenant) Franz Stangl was appointed commandant of Sobibór. Stangl appointed SS-Oberscharführer (Staff Sergeant) Kurt Bolender as his deputy due to their prior work relationship and his extensive experience in the T-4 program. Bolender served as commander of Sobibór Camp III (gas chambers/crematoriums) from April until Autumn of 1942. He was one of the most feared men at the camp.

    At Sobibór, Bolender actively participated in operating the gas chamber. SS-ScharführerErich Fuchs, who served with Bolender, testified about him in 1966:

    About thirty to forty women were gassed in one gas chamber. The Jewish women were forced to undress in an open place close to the gas chamber, and were driven into the gas chamber by SS members and the Ukrainian auxiliaries. When the women were shut up in the gas chamber I and Bolender set the motor in motion. About ten minutes later the thirty to forty women were dead.

    Part of Bolender's duties included supervision of the Jewish work details in Lager III. In his own words:

    I assigned the Arbeitsjuden ("worker Jews") to different groups: some had to empty out the gas chamber after the cremation was completed; others had to transport the dead bodies to the graves.

    SS-OberscharführerErich Bauer, who also served with Bolender at Sobibór, testified about him in 1966:

    Bolender was in charge of Camp III. In Sobibor there was a working Jew whom Bolender ordered to box with another working Jew, and for his pleasure they hit each other almost until death. Bolender had a big dog, and when he was in charge of the platform workers, he set the dog at the Jews who did not work quickly enough.

    Also, according to Bauer, Bolender forced female prisoners into entertaining himself and other SS personnel during orgies, prior to killing them.

    In 1965, Ada Lichtman, a Sobibór survivor, described Bolender and his dog:

    Paul Groth and Kurt Bolender would take Barry (the dog) with them. The dog would walk quietly by their side, but when his master turned to one of the people and asked, “So you don’t want to work?” Barry would launch himself at the person, biting the flesh, tearing at it and pulling off chunks of it.

    In the Autumn of 1942, Bolender became the commander of all the Ukrainian camp guards at Sobibór.

    Moshe Bahir, a Sobibór survivor, wrote about Bolender:

    It is hard to forget Oberscharführer Kurt Bolender, with his athletic body and long hair, who used to go walking half naked, clad only in training breeches, carrying a long whip with which he brutally lashed the camp prisoners whom he came upon on his way. On his way to lunch he was in the habit of passing the main gate and swinging a whip with all his strength upon the heads of the Jews who went through. Once, when I was still working in the platform commando, the group was accused of carelessness when we had left a window open on one of the train cars. Each one of us was punished with 100 lashes. Bolender was very active in this task. More than once I saw him throwing babies, children, and the sick straight from the freight cars into the trolley with the load that went to the Lazarett [execution pits disguised as a field hospital]. He was the one who chose the ten men to deliver the food to the workers in Camp III. When he had a yen to accompany the group, not one of them would return to us when the task was done.

    In December 1942, Bolender's duties at Sobibór were temporarily put on hold when he was convicted by a (Nazi) German court of inciting a witness for perjury during divorce proceedings with his wife. For this, he was sentenced to a short prison term in the Kraków SS prison camp Danzig Matzkau. After serving the sentence, he returned to Operation Reinhard. However, on 14 October 1943, there had been a successful uprising and escape of prisoners at Sobibór, which caused Operation Reinhard to come to an end. Therefore, Bolender instead returned to the operation at the SS labor camp at Dorohucza and subsequently to Trieste in Italy. On 18 January 1945, Bolender was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd class. As the war came to a close, Bolender returned to Germany.

    From l-r: S.S. at Sobibor Paul Groth, unknown, Werner Dubois, Siegfried Graetschus, Kurt Bolender, and Ernst Zierke.
    Arrest and trial

    After World War II, Kurt Bolender assumed a fake identity, did not contact his family or his relatives, and after some time, had himself declared deceased. He was recognized in May 1961 working as a doorman at a nightclub in Germany and was immediately arrested. He was arrested under an assumed name Heinz Brennerwhich from German translates to "person who burns things" or "burner". It is probable that after the war he also went by the pseudonym Wilhelm Kurt Vahle while working as a doorman at the Er- und Siebarand the Hofbräuhaus in Hamburg. At his residence police found a whip with the silver initials "KB", the inscription that was created at the camp by Sobibór survivor Stanisław Szmajzner.

    In 1965, Kurt Bolender, along with eleven former SS guards from Sobibór, was tried in Hagen, West Germany. At the trial Bolender initially claimed that he had never been in Sobibór, but instead fought against partisans around Lublin, Poland. However, he broke down under cross-examination and confessed to being present at Sobibór.

    Prior to the completion of the trial, Kurt Bolender committed suicide by hanging himself in his prison cell. In his suicide note, he insisted that he was innocent.


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  • 10/10/15--05:58: MARCH FOR THE BABIES 2015

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    Woman allegedly slain by son was devoted to the end
    BY JASON NARK, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-5916
    Posted: October 15, 2014

    WHEN Steven L. Pratt walked out of prison Friday morning after 30 years, his mom was there waiting and took him to get pancakes.

    Gwendolyn Pratt, 64, helped her son get a driver's permit, a cellphone and a bank account after breakfast at IHOP, along with the help of his brother, a relative said, and his first day beyond the bars of Bayside State Prison ended with a welcome-home party back at their house in Atlantic City.

    Steven Pratt's uncle Darryl Pratt said he was nervous but hopeful that Steven, jailed since he was 15 for shooting a neighbor in the head in 1984, could assemble a new life from nothing, somehow, at age 45.

    "He was saying all the right things. He was saying he was going to get his life back on track," Darryl Pratt, a pastor, said yesterday. "He was saying he'd like to get married."

    But what happened in that home fewer than 48 hours later makes Darryl Pratt wonder if 30 years in prison broke his nephew down beyond repair.

    "You do 30 years and there's no telling who you are. He spent twice as much time in prison as he spent being out," Pratt said. "It's like he just slipped back. Something just snapped."

    The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office responded to a 9-1-1 call at the house about 6:30 a.m. Sunday and found Gwendolyn Pratt beaten to death. Steven Pratt, listed at 6 feet 2 and 215 pounds by the New Jersey Department of Corrections, was detained there and later charged with murder. His freedom lasted less than two days. He's being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

    Gwendolyn Pratt, a graduate of Atlantic City High School, worked as a housekeeping shift supervisor at Resorts Casino Hotel for close to 25 years.

    "Gwendolyn was a star employee and will be missed deeply by the Resorts family," Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts, said in a statement.

    A widow, she lived a quiet, simple life, her brother said, in the home where they and their family were raised.

    "She was sweet as can be. She was harmless, never hurt anybody," Darryl Pratt said. "She was always very supportive of him. She was so excited when he got out."

    On Oct 11, 1984, Steven Pratt, then 15, shot neighbor Michael Anderson after the two had a fight at the Carver Hall apartments in Atlantic City. According to an appeal Pratt filed after his conviction in 1986, his mother had intervened to break up the fight. Gwendolyn Pratt also took her son to the police station afterward, where he admitted to the shooting.

    Anderson's family declined to comment yesterday, and spokesmen for the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and the Department of Corrections could not be reached for comment. Darryl Pratt said his nephew spoke to both a social worker and a counselor before leaving the Cumberland County prison last week.

    Family members went to visit Steven Pratt there often, his uncle said, but no one asked too much about prison life.

    "We just talked family things and sports mostly. He seemed upbeat," he said. "But he had never been in jail before."

    Darryl Pratt said the family will have a funeral for his sister Saturday at his church in Bridgeton, and in the future he'll go see his nephew again.

    "God can forgive him," Pratt said. "I just feel sorry for him. It's unbelievable."

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  • 10/12/15--14:51: OPERATION REINHARD

  • On this date, October 13, 1941, SS and Police Leader Odilo Globocnik headquartered in Lublin received an oral order from Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler to start immediate construction work on the first Aktion Reinhard camp at Bełżec in the General Government territory of occupied Poland. Please go to this previous blog post to learn more.

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                On this date, October 14, 1943, Prisoners at the Nazi German Sobibór extermination camp in Poland revolt against the Germans, killing eleven SS guards, and wounding many more. About 300 of the Sobibor Camp's 600 prisoners escape, and about 50 of these survive the end of the war.

                I will post information about the Gas Chamber Operator, Erich Bauer from Wikipedia and other links.

    Erich Bauer

    Erich Bauer in Wehrmachtuniform
    Gasmeister ("Gas Master"), Badmeister ("Bath Master")
    March 26, 1900
    Berlin, German Empire
    February 4, 1980 (aged 79)
    Berlin Tegel prison, West Germany
    • German Empire (to 1918)
    • Nazi Germany
    SS-Oberscharführer (Staff Sergeant)
    Commands held
    Operated gas chambers at Sobibór Camp III; lorry driver
    Other work
    Tram conductor, laborer

    Hermann Erich Bauer (March 26, 1900 — February 4, 1980), sometimes referred to as "Gasmeister", was a SS-Oberscharführer (Staff Sergeant). He participated in Nazi Germany's Action T4 program and later in Operation Reinhard, serving as a gas chamber operator at Sobibór extermination camp. Erich Bauer was one of the persons who directly perpetrated the Holocaust.

    Erich Bauer

    Erich Bauer was born in Berlin on 26 March 1900. He served as a soldier in World War I and was POW under the French. In 1933, Erich Bauer joined the NSDAP and SA while working as a tram conductor.

    Action T4

    In 1940 he joined the T-4 Euthanasia Program where the physically and mentally disabled were exterminated by gassing and lethal injection. In the beginning, he worked as a driver but he was quickly promoted. Erich Bauer described in testimony one of his first mass murders:

    A pipe connected the exhaust of a car to a bricked-up laboratory in the asylum. A few patients were shut into the room and I turned on the car engine. This killed the patients in eight minutes.

    Karl Frenzel, in charge of the Bahnhofskommando and the Judenarbeitslager in Lager I. On the right is Erich Bauer, who called himself the "Gasmeister" of Sobibor. Note: Bauer is in Wehrmacht Uniform, not SS

    In early 1942, Bauer was transferred to Odilo Globocnik, the SS and Police Leaderof Lublin in Poland. Bauer was given an SSuniform and promoted to the rank of Oberscharfuhrer (Staff Sergeant). In April 1942, he was dispatched to the Sobibór death camp where he remained until the camp's liquidation in December 1943.

    At Sobibór, Erich Bauer was in charge of the camp's gas chambers. At the time the Jews called him the Badmeister ("Bath Master"), while after the war he became known as the Gasmeister ("Gas Master"). He was described as a short, stocky man, a known drinker who regularly overindulged. He kept a private bar in his room. While other SS guards were neatly dressed, Bauer was different: he was always filthy and unkempt, with a stench of alcohol and chlorine emanating from him. In his room, he had a picture on the wall of himself and a picture of all of his family with the Führer.

    On October 14, 1943, the day of the Sobibór uprising, Bauer unexpectedly drove out to Chełm for supplies. The uprising was almost postponed since Bauer was at the top of the "death list" of SS guards to be assassinated prior to the escape that was created by the leader of the revolt, Alexander Pechersky. The revolt had to start early because Bauer had returned earlier from Chełm than expected. He discovered that SS-OberscharführerRudolf Beckmann was dead and started shooting at the two Jewish prisoners unloading his truck. The sound of the gunfire prompted Pechersky to begin the revolt early.

    Ester Raab identified Erich Bauer in court in Berlin in 1950 as one of those responsible in running the gas chamber at the concentration camp in Sobibor , Poland
    After the war

    At the end of the war, Bauer was arrested in Austria by the Americans and confined to a POW camp until 1946. Shortly afterwards he returned to Berlin where he found employment as a laborer cleaning up debris from the war.

    Erich Bauer was arrested in 1949 when two former Jewish prisoners from Sobibór, Samuel Lerer and Esther Raab, recognized him during a chance encounter at a Kreuzberg fair ground. When Ester Raab confronted Erich Bauer at the fair, he reportedly said, "How is it that you are still alive?" He was arrested soon afterwards and his trial started the following year.

    During the course of his trial, Bauer maintained that at Sobibór he only worked as a truck driver, collecting the necessary supplies for the camp's inmates and the German and Ukrainian guards. He admitted being aware of the mass murders at Sobibór, but claimed to have never taken any part in them, nor engaged in any acts of cruelty. His primary witnesses, former Sobibór guards SS-OberscharführerHubert Gomerski and Untersturmführer Johann Klier testified on his behalf.

    The court, however, convicted Erich Bauer based on the testimony of four Jewish witnesses who managed to escape from Sobibór. They identified Bauer as the former Sobibór Gasmeister, who not only operated the gas chambers in the camp but also engaged in mass executions by shooting as well as in a variety of particularly vicious and random acts of cruelty against camp inmates and victims on their way to the gas chambers.

    On May 8, 1950 the court, Schwurgericht Berlin-Moabit, sentenced Erich Bauer to death for crimes against humanity. Since capital punishment had been abolished in West Germany, Bauer's sentence was automatically commuted to life imprisonment. He served 21 years in Alt-Moabit Prison in Berlin before being transferred to Berlin Tegel prison. During his imprisonment, he admitted to his participation in mass murder at Sobibór and even occasionally testified against his former SS colleagues.

    Bauer died at Berlin Tegel prison on February 4, 1980.

    Erich Bauer

    Usually the undressing went smoothly. Subsequently, the Jews were taken through the "tube" to Camp III — the real extermination camp. The transfer through the "tube" proceeded as follows: one SS man was in the lead and five or six Ukrainian auxiliaries were at the back hastening the [Jews] along. The women were taken through a barrack where their hair was cut off. In Camp III the Jews were received by SS men.... As I already mentioned, the motor was then switched on by Go[t]ringer and one of the [Ukrainian] auxiliaries whose name I don't remember. Then the gassed Jews were taken out.— Erich Bauer, 15.11.1965, StA Dortmund 45 Js 27/61.

    I was blamed for being responsible for the death of the Jewish girls Ruth and Gisela, who lived in the so-called forester house. As it is known, these two girls lived in the forester house, and they were visited frequently by the SS men. Orgieswere conducted there. They were attended byBolender, Gomerski, Karl Ludwig, Franz Stangl,Gustav Wagner, and Steubel. I lived in the room above them and due to these celebrations could not fall asleep after coming back from a journey....

    I cannot exclude any member of the Sobibor camp staff of taking part in the extermination operation. We were a "blood brotherhood gang" in a foreign land.

    We were a band of "fellow conspirators" ("verschworener Haufen") in a foreign land, surrounded by Ukrainian volunteers whom we could not trust....The bond between us was so strong that Frenzel, Stangl and Wagner had had a ring with SS runes made from five-mark pieces for every member of the permanent staff. These rings were distributed to the camp staff as a sign so that the "conspirators" could be identified. In addition the tasks in the camp were shared. Each of us had at some point carried out every camp duty in Sobibor (station squad, undressing, and gassing).

    I estimate that the number of Jews gassed at Sobibor was about 350,000. In the canteen at Sobibor I once overheard a conversation between Karl Frenzel, Franz Stangl and Gustav Wagner. They were discussing the number of victims in the extermination camps of Belzec,TreblinkaandSobiborand expressed their regret that Sobibor "came last" in the competition.


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  • 10/14/15--14:29: TREASON
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                70 years ago on this date, the former premier of Vichy France Pierre Laval is shot by a firing squad for treason. I will post information about this Nazi Collaborator from Wikipedia and other links.

    Pierre Laval

    Pierre laval (1883-1945). French politician, he was several times Prime Minister of France during the 3rd Republic and especially during WWII. Executed by firing squad for high treason in 1945. Cropped print
    In office
    27 January 1931 – 20 February 1932
    Preceded by
    Succeeded by
    In office
    7 June 1935 – 24 January 1936
    Preceded by
    Succeeded by
    120th Prime Minister of France
    (as Vice-President of the Council)
    Head of State and nominal Head of Government: Philippe Pétain
    In office
    11 July 1940 – 13 December 1940
    Preceded by
    Succeeded by
    In office
    18 April 1942 – 20 August 1944
    Preceded by
    Succeeded by
    Personal details
    28 June 1883
    Châteldon, France
    15 October 1945 (aged 62)
    Fresnes, France
    Political party
    Roman Catholic

    Pierre Laval(French pronunciation: ​[pjɛʁ laval]; 28 June 1883 – 15 October 1945) was a French politician. During the time of the Third Republic, he served as Prime Minister of France from 27 January 1931 and 20 February 1932, and also headed another government from 7 June 1935 to 24 January 1936.

    Laval began his career as a socialist, but over time drifted far to the right. Following France's surrender and armistice with Germany in 1940, he also served in the Vichy Regime. He served in a prominent role under Philippe Pétain as the vice-president of Vichy's Council of Ministers from 11 July 1940 to 13 December 1940, and later as the head of government from 18 April 1942 to 20 August 1944.

    After the liberation of France in 1944, Laval was arrested by the French government under General Charles de Gaulle. In what some historians consider a flawed trial, Laval was found guilty of high treason, and after a thwarted suicide attempt, he was executed by firing squad. His manifold political activities have left behind a complicated and controversial legacy, and more than a dozen biographies have been written about him.
    Early life

    Laval was born 28 June 1883 at Châteldon, Puy-de-Dôme, in the northern part of Auvergne. His father worked in the village as a café proprietor, butcher and postman; he also owned a vineyard and horses. Laval was educated at the village school in Châteldon. At age 15, he was sent to a Paris lycéeto study for his baccalauréat. Returning south to Lyon, he spent the next year reading for a degree in zoology.

    Laval joined the Socialists in 1903, when he was living in Saint-Étienne, 62 km southwest of Lyon.

    "I was never a very orthodox socialist", he said in 1945, "by which I mean that I was never much of a Marxist. My socialism was much more a socialism of the heart than a doctrinal socialism... I was much more interested in men, their jobs, their misfortunes and their conflicts than in the digressions of the great German pontiff."

    Laval returned to Paris in 1907 at the age of 24. He was called up for military service and, after serving in the ranks, was discharged for varicose veins. In April 1913 he said: "Barrack-based armies are incapable of the slightest effort, because they are badly-trained and, above all, badly commanded." He favoured abolition of the army and replacement by a citizens' militia.

    During this period, Laval became familiar with the left-wing doctrines of Georges Sorel and Hubert Lagardelle. In 1909, he turned to the law.

    Marriage and family

    Shortly after becoming a member of the Paris bar, he married the daughter of a Dr Claussat and set up a home in Paris with his new wife. Their only child, a daughter, was born in 1911. Although Laval's wife came from a political family, she never participated in politics. Laval was generally considered to be devoted to his family.

    Before the war

    The years before the First World War were characterised by labour unrest, and Laval defended strikers, trade unionists, and left-wing agitators against government attempts to prosecute them. At a trade union conference, Laval said:

    I am a comrade among comrades, a worker among workers. I am not one of those lawyers who are mindful of their bourgeois origin even when attempting to deny it. I am not one of those high-brow attorneys who engage in academic controversies and pose as intellectuals. I am proud to be what I am. A lawyer in the service of manual laborers who are my comrades, a worker like them, I am their brother. Comrades, I am a manual lawyer.

    During the First World War

    Socialist Deputy for the Seine

    In April 1914, as fear of war swept the nation, the Socialists and Radicals geared up their electoral campaign in defence of peace. Their leaders were Jean Jaurès and Joseph Caillaux. The Bloc des Gauches (Leftist Bloc) denounced the law passed in July 1913 extending compulsory military service from two to three years. The Confédération générale du travailtrade union sought Laval as Socialist candidate for the Seine, the district comprising Paris and its suburbs. He won. The Radicals, with the support of Socialists, held the majority in the French Chamber of Deputies. Together they hoped to avert war. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on 28 June 1914 and of Jaurès on 31 July 1914 shattered those hopes. Laval's brother, Jean, died in the first months of the war.

    Laval and 2,000 others were listed by the military in the Carnet B, a compilation of potentially subversive elements who might hinder mobilisation. In the name of national unity, Minister of the InteriorJean-Louis Malvy, despite pressure from chiefs of staff, refused to have anyone apprehended. Laval remained true to his pacifist convictions during the war. In December 1915, Jean Longuet, grandson of Karl Marx, proposed to Socialist parliamentarians that they communicate with socialists of other states, hoping to press governments into a negotiated peace. Laval signed on, but the motion was defeated.

    With France's resources geared for war, goods were scarce or overpriced. On 30 January 1917, in the National Assembly Laval called upon the Supply Minister Édouard Herriot to deal with the inadequate coal supply in Paris. When Herriot said, "If I could, I would unload the barges myself", Laval retorted "Do not add ridicule to ineptitude." The words delighted the assembly and attracted the attention of George Clemenceau, but left the relationship between Laval and Herriot permanently strained.

    Stockholm, the "polar star"

    Laval scorned the conduct of the war and the poor supply of troops in the field. When mutinies broke out after General Robert Nivelle's offensive of April 1917 at Chemin des Dames, he spoke in defence of the mutineers. When Marcel Cachin and Marius Moutet returned from St. Petersburg in June 1917 with the invitation to a socialist convention in Stockholm, Laval saw a chance for peace. In an address to the Assembly, he urged the chamber to allow a delegation to go: "Yes, Stockholm, in response to the call of the Russian Revolution.... Yes, Stockholm, for peace.... Yes, Stockholm the polar star." The request was denied.

    The hope of peace in spring 1917 was overwhelmed by discovery of traitors, some real, some imagined, as with Malvy. Because he had refused to arrest Frenchmen on the Carnet B, Malvy became a suspect. Laval's "Stockholm, étoile polaire" speech had not been forgotten. Many of Laval's acquaintances, the publishers of the anarchist Bonnet rouge, and other pacifists were arrested or interrogated. Though Laval frequented pacifist circles – it was said that he was acquainted with Leon Trotsky– the authorities did not pursue him. His status as a deputy, his caution, and his friendships protected him. In November 1917, Clemenceau offered him a post in government, but the Socialist Party had by then refused to enter any government. Laval toed the party line, but he questioned the wisdom of such a policy in a meeting of the Socialist members of parliament.

    Initial postwar career

    From Socialist to Independent

    In 1919 a conservative wave swept the Bloc National into control. Laval was not re-elected. The Socialists' record of pacifism, their opposition to Clemenceau, and anxiety arising from the excesses of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia contributed to their defeat.

    The General Confederation of Labour (CGT), with 2,400,000 members, launched a general strike in 1920, which petered out as thousands of workers were laid off. In response, the government sought to dissolve the CGT. Laval, with Joseph Paul-Boncour as chief counsel, defended the union's leaders, saving the union by appealing to the ministers Théodore Steeg (interior) and Auguste Isaac (commerce and industry).

    Laval's relations with the Socialist Party drew to an end. The last years with the Socialist caucus in the chamber combined with the party's disciplinary policies eroded Laval's attachment to the cause. With the Bolshevik victory in Russia the party was changing; at the Congress of Tours in December 1920, the Socialists split into two ideological components: the French Communist Party (SFIC later PCF), inspired by Moscow, and the more moderate French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO). Laval let his membership lapse, not taking sides as the two factions battled over the legacy of Jean Jaurès.

    Mayor of Aubervilliers

    In 1923 Aubervilliers in northern Paris needed a mayor. As a former deputy of the constituency, Laval was an obvious candidate. To be eligible for election, Laval bought farmland, Les Bergeries. Few were aware of his defection from the Socialists. Laval was also asked by the local SFIO and Communist Party to head their lists. Laval chose to run under his own list, of former socialists he convinced to leave the party and work for him. This was an independent Socialist Party of sorts that existed only in Aubervilliers. In a four-way race, Laval won in the second round. He served as mayor of Aubervilliers until just before his death.

    Laval won over those he defeated by cultivating personal contacts. He developed a network among the humble and the well-to-do in Aubervilliers, and with mayors of neighbouring towns. He was the only independent politician in the suburb. He avoided entering the ideological war between socialists and communists.

    Independent Deputy for the Seine

    In the 1924 legislative elections, the SFIO and the Radicals formed a national coalition known as the Cartel des Gauches. Laval headed a list of independent socialists in the Seine. The cartel won and Laval regained a seat in the National Assembly. His first act was to bring back Joseph Caillaux, former Prime Minister, Cabinet member and member of the National Assembly and once the star of the Radical Party. Clemenceau had had Caillaux arrested toward the end of the war for collusion with the enemy. He spent two years in prison and lost his civic rights. Laval stood for Caillaux's pardon and won. Caillaux became an influential patron.

    As a member of the government

    Minister and senator

    Laval's reward for support of the cartel was appointment as Minister of Public Works in the government of Paul Painlevé in April 1925. Six months later, the government collapsed. Laval from then on belonged to the club of former ministers from which new ministers were drawn. Between 1925 and 1926 Laval participated three more times in governments of Aristide Briand, once as under-secretary to the premier and twice as Minister of Justice (garde des sceaux). When he first became Minister of Justice, Laval abandoned his law practice to avoid conflict of interest.

    Laval's momentum was frozen after 1926 through a reshuffling of the cartel majority orchestrated by the Radical-Socialist mayor and deputy of Lyon, Édouard Herriot. Founded in 1901, the Radical Party became the hinge faction of the Third Republic. Its support or defection often meant survival or collapse of governments. Through this latest swing, Laval was excluded from the direction of France for four years. Author Gaston Jacquemin suggested that Laval chose not to partake in a Herriot government, which he judged incapable of handling the financial crisis. 1926 marked the definitive break between Laval and the left, but he maintained friends on the left.

    In 1927 Laval was elected Senator for the Seine, withdrawing from and placing himself above the political battles for majorities in the National Assembly. He longed for a constitutional reform to strengthen the executive branch and eliminate political instability, the flaw of the Third Republic.

    On 2 March 1930 Laval returned as Minister of Labour in the second André Tardieu government. Tardieu and Laval knew each other from the days of Clemenceau, which developed into mutual appreciation. Tardieu needed men he could trust: his previous government had collapsed a little over a week earlier because of the defection of the minister of Labor, Louis Loucheur. But, when the Radical Socialist Camille Chautemps failed to form a viable government, Tardieu was called back.

    Personal investments

    From 1927 to 1930, Laval began to accumulate a sizeable personal fortune; after the war his wealth resulted in charges that he had used his political position to line his own pockets. "I have always thought", he wrote to the examining magistrate on 11 September 1945, "that a soundly based material independence, if not indispensable, gives those statesmen who possess it a much greater political independence." Until 1927 his principal source of income had been his fees as a lawyer and in that year they totalled 113,350 francs, according to his income tax returns. Between August 1927 and June 1930, he undertook large-scale investments in various enterprises, totalling 51 million francs. Not all this money was his own; it came from a group of financiers who had the backing of an investment trust, the Union Syndicale et Financière and two banks, the Comptoir Lyon Allemand and the Banque Nationale de Crédit.

    Two of the investments which Laval and his backers acquired were provincial newspapers, Le Moniteur du Puy-de-Dôme and its associated printing works at Clermont-Ferrand, and the Lyon Républicain. The circulation of the Moniteur stood at 27,000 in 1926 before Laval took it over. By 1933, it had more than doubled to 58,250. Thereafter circulation declined and never surpassed this peak. Profits varied, but during the seventeen years of his control, Laval earned some 39 million francs in income from the paper and the printing works combined. The renewed plant was valued at 50 million francs, which led the high court expert in 1945 to say with some justification that it had been "an excellent deal for him."

    Minister of Labour and Social Insurance

    More than 150,000 textile workers were on strike, and violence was feared. As Minister of Public Works in 1925, Laval had ended the strike of mine workers. Tardieu hoped he could do the same as Minister of Labour. The conflict was settled without bloodshed. Socialist politician Léon Blum, never one of Laval's allies, conceded that Laval's "intervention was skillful, opportune and decisive."

    Social insurance had been on the agenda for ten years. It had passed the Chamber of Deputies, but not the Senate, in 1928. Tardieu gave Laval until May Day to get the project through. The date was chosen to stifle the agitation of Labour Day. Laval's first effort went into clarifying the muddled collection of texts. He then consulted employer and labour organisations. Laval had to reconcile the divergent views of Chamber and Senate. "Had it not been for Laval's unwearying patience", Laval's associate Tissier wrote, "an agreement would never have been achieved", In two months Laval presented the Assembly a text which overcame its original failure. It met the financial constraints, reduced the control of the government, and preserved the choice of doctors and their billing freedom. The Chamber and the Senate passed the law with an overwhelming majority.

    When the bill had passed its final stages, Tardieu described his Minister of Labour as "displaying at every moment of the discussion as much tenacity as restraint and ingenuity."

    Premier Laval is second from left, at a 1931 diplomatic function in Germany
    First Laval government

    Tardieu's government ultimately proved unable to weather the Oustric Affair. After the failure of the Oustric Bank, it appeared that members of the government had improper ties to it. The scandal involved Minister of JusticeRaoul Péret, and Under-Secretaries Henri Falcoz and Eugène Lautier. Though Tardieu was not involved, on 4 December 1930, he lost his majority in the Senate. President Gaston Doumergue called on Louis Barthou to form a government, but Barthou failed. Doumergue turned to Laval, who fared no better. The following month the government formed by Théodore Steeg floundered. Doumergue renewed his offer to Laval. On 27 January 1931 Laval successfully formed his first government.

    In the words of Léon Blum, the Socialist opposition was amazed and disappointed that the ghost of Tardieu's government reappeared within a few weeks of being defeated with Laval at its head, "like a night bird surprised by the light." Laval's nomination as premier led to speculation that Tardieu, the new agriculture minister, held the real power in the Laval Government. Although Laval thought highly of Tardieu and Briand, and applied policies in line with theirs, Laval was not Tardieu's mouthpiece. Ministers who formed the Laval government were in great part those who had formed Tardieu governments but that was a function of the composite majority Laval could find at the National Assembly. Raymond Poincaré, Aristide Briand and Tardieu before him had offered ministerial posts to Herriot's Radicals, but to no avail.

    Besides Briand, André Maginot, Pierre-Étienne Flandin, Paul Reynaud, Laval brought in as his advisors, friends such as Maurice Foulon from Aubervilliers, and Pierre Cathala, whom he knew from his days in Bayonne and who had worked in Laval's Labour ministry. Cathala began as Under-Secretary of the Interior and was appointed as Minister of the Interior in January 1932. Blaise Diagne of Senegal, the first African deputy, had been elected to the National Assembly at the same time as Laval in 1914. Laval invited Diagne to join his cabinet as under-secretary to the colonies; he was the first Black African appointed to a cabinet position in a French government. Laval also called on financial experts such as Jacques Rueff, Charles Rist and Adéodat Boissard. André François-Poncet was appointed as under-secretary to the premier and then as ambassador to Germany. Laval's government included an economist, Claude-Joseph Gignoux, when economists in government service were rare.

    France in 1931 was unaffected by the world economic crisis. Laval declared on embarking for the United States on 16 October 1931, "France remained healthy thanks to work and savings." Agriculture, small industry, and protectionism were the bases of France's economy. With a conservative policy of contained wages and limited social services, France had accumulated the largest gold reserves in the world after the United States. France reaped the benefit of devaluationof the franc orchestrated by Poincaré, which made French products competitive on the world market. In the whole of France, 12,000 people were recorded as unemployed.

    Laval and his cabinet considered the economy and gold reserves as means to diplomatic ends. Laval left to visit London, Berlin and Washington. He attended conferences on the world crisis, war reparations and debt, disarmament, and the gold standard.

    Role in 1931 Austrian financial crisis

    In 1931, Austria underwent a banking crisis when its largest bank, the Creditanstalt, was revealed to be nearly bankrupt, threatening a worldwide financial crisis. World leaders began negotiating the terms for an international loan to Austria's central government to sustain its financial system; however, Laval blocked the proposed package for nationalistic reasons. He demanded that France receive a series of diplomatic concessions in exchange for its support, including renunciation of a prospective German-Austrian customs union. This proved to be fatal for the negotiations, which ultimately fell through. As a result, the Creditanstalt declared bankruptcy on 11 May 1931, precipitating a crisis that quickly spread to other nations. Within four days, bank runs in Budapest were underway, and the bank failures began spreading to Germany and Britain, among others.

    Hoover Moratorium (20 June 1931)

    The Hoover Moratorium of 1931, a proposal made by American President Herbert Hoover to freeze all intergovernmental debt for a one-year period, was, according to author and political advisor McGeorge Bundy, "the most significant action taken by an American president for Europe since Woodrow Wilson's administration." The United States had enormous stakes in Germany: long-term German borrowers owed the United States private sector more than $1.25 billion; the short-term debt neared $1 billion. By comparison, the entire United States national income in 1931 was just $54 billion. To put it into perspective, authors Walter Lippmann and William O. Scroggs stated in The United States in World Affairs, An Account of American Foreign Relations, that "the American stake in Germany's government and private obligations was equal to half that of all the rest of the world combined."

    The proposed moratorium would also benefit Great Britain's investment in Germany's private sector, making more likely the repayment of those loans while the public indebtedness was frozen. It was in Hoover's interest to offer aid to an ailing British economy in the light of the indebtedness of Great Britain to the United States. France, on the other hand, had a relatively small stake in Germany's private debt but a huge interest in German reparations; and payment to France would be compromised under Hoover's moratorium.

    The scheme was further complicated by ill timing, perceived collusion among the US, Great Britain and Germany, and the fact that it constituted a breach of the Young Plan. Such breach could only be approved in France by the National Assembly; the survival of the Laval Government rested on the legislative body's approval of the moratorium. Seventeen days elapsed between the proposal and the vote of confidence of the French legislators. That delay was blamed for the lack of success of the Hoover Moratorium. The US Congress did not approve it until December 1931.

    In support of the Hoover Moratorium Laval undertook a year of personal and direct diplomacy by which he traveled to London, Berlin and the United States. While he had considerable domestic achievements, his international efforts were short in results. British PremierRamsay MacDonald and Foreign Secretary Arthur Anderson—preoccupied by internal political divisions and the collapse of the pound sterling—were unable to help. German ChancellorHeinrich Brüning and Foreign MinisterJulius Curtius, both eager for Franco-German reconciliation, were under siege on all quarters: they faced a very weak economy which made meeting government payroll a weekly miracle. Private bankruptcies and constant layoffs had the communists on a short fuse. On the other end of the political spectrum, the German Army was spying on the Brüning cabinet and feeding information to the Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldatenand the National Socialists, effectively freezing any overtures towards France.

    In the United States the conference between Hoover and Laval was an exercise in mutual frustration. Hoover's plan for a reduced military had been rebuffed—albeit gently. A solution to the Danzig corridor had been retracted. The concept of introducing silver standard for the countries that went off the gold standard was disregarded as a frivolous proposal by Laval and Albert-Buisson. Hoover thought it might have helped "Mexico, India, China and South America", but Laval dismissed the silver solution as an inflationary proposition, adding that "it was cheaper to inflate paper."

    Laval did not get a security pact, without which the French would never consider disarmament, nor did he obtain an endorsement for the political moratorium. The promise to match any reduction of German reparations with a decrease of the French debt was not put in the communiqué. The joint statement declared the attachment of France and the United States to the gold standard. The two governments also agreed that the Banque de France and the Federal Reserve would consult each other before transfers of gold. This was welcome news after the run on American gold in the preceding weeks. In light of the financial crisis, the leaders agreed to review the economic situation of Germany before the Hoover moratorium ran its course.

    These were meagre political results. The Hoover–Laval encounter, however, had other effects, as it made Laval more widely known and raised his standing in the United States and France. The American and French press were smitten with Laval. His optimism was such a contrast to his grim-sounding international contemporaries that Timemagazine named his as the 1931 Man of the Year, an honour never bestowed before on a Frenchman. He followed Mohandas K. Gandhi and preceded Franklin D. Roosevelt in receiving that honor.


    The second Cartel des Gauches (Left-Wing Cartel) was driven from power by the riots of 6 February 1934, staged by fascist, monarchist, and other far-right groups. (These groups had contacts with some conservative politicians, among whom were Laval and Marshal Philippe Pétain.) Laval became Minister of Colonies in the new right-wing government of Gaston Doumergue. In October, Foreign MinisterLouis Barthou was assassinated; Laval succeeded him, holding that office until 1936.

    At this time, Laval was opposed to Germany, the "hereditary enemy" of France. He pursued anti-German alliances with Benito Mussolini's Italy and Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. He met with Mussolini in Rome, and they signed the Franco-Italian Agreement of 1935 on 4 January. The agreement ceded parts of French Somaliland to Italy and allowed Italy a free hand in Abyssinia, in exchange for support against any German aggression. Laval denied that he gave Mussolini a free hand in Abyssinia, he even wrote to Mussolini on the subject. In April 1935, Laval persuaded Italy and Great Britain to join France in the Stresa Front against German ambitions in Austria.

    Laval's primary aim during the build-up to the Italo-Abyssinian War was to retain Italy as an anti-German power and not to drive Italy into Germany's hands by adopting a hostile attitude to its invasion of Abyssinia. According to the English historian Correlli Barnett, in Laval's view "all that really mattered was Nazi Germany. His eyes were on the demilitarised zone of the Rhineland; his thoughts on the Locarno guarantees. To estrange Italy, one of the Locarno powers, over such a question as Abyssinia did not appeal to Laval's Auvergnat peasant mind".

    In June 1935, he became Prime Minister as well. In October 1935, Laval and British foreign minister Samuel Hoare proposed a "realpolitik" solution to the Abyssinia Crisis. When leaked to the media in December, the Hoare–Laval Pact was widely denounced as appeasement to Mussolini. Laval was forced to resign on 22 January 1936, and was driven completely out of ministerial politics.

    The victory of the Popular Front in 1936 meant that Laval had a left-wing government as a target for his media.

    Occupation zones of France during the Second World War
    Under Vichy France

    Formation of the Vichy Government

    During the phoney war, Laval's attitude towards the conflict reflected a cautious ambivalence. He was on record as saying that although the war could have been avoided by diplomatic means, it was now up to the government to prosecute it with the utmost vigor.

    On 9 June 1940, the Germans were advancing on a front of more than 250 kilometres (160 mi) in length across the entire width of France. As far as General Maxime Weygand was concerned, "if the Germans crossed the Seine and the Marne, it was the end."

    Simultaneously, Marshal Philippe Pétain was increasing the pressure upon Prime Minister Paul Reynaud to call for an armistice. During this time Laval was in Châteldon. On 10 June, in view of the German advance, the government left Paris for Tours. Weygand had informed Reynaud: "the final rupture of our lines may take place at any time." If that happened "our forces would continue to fight until their strength and resources were extinguished. But their disintegration would be no more than a matter of time."

    Weygand had avoided using the word armistice, but it was on the minds of all those involved. Only Reynaud was in opposition. During this time Laval had left Châteldon for Bordeaux, where his daughter nearly convinced him of the necessity of going to the United States. Instead, it was reported that he was sending "messengers and messengers" to Pétain.

    As the Germans occupied Paris, Pétain was asked to form a new government. To everyone's surprise, he produced a list of his ministers, convincing proof that he had been expecting the president's summons and he had prepared for it. Laval's name was on the list as Minister of Justice. When informed of his proposed appointment, Laval's temper and ambitions became apparent as he ferociously demanded of Pétain, despite the objections of more experienced men of government, that he be made Minister of Foreign Affairs. Laval realised that only through this position could he effect a reversal of alliances and bring himself to favour with Nazi Germany, the military power he viewed as the inevitable victor. In the face of Laval's wrath, dissenting voices acquiesced and Laval became Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    One result of these events was that Laval was later able to claim that he was not part of the government that requested the armistice. His name did not appear in the chronicles of events until June when he began to assume a more active role in criticising the government's decision to leave France for North Africa.

    Although the final terms of the armistice were harsh, the French colonial empire was left untouched and the French government was allowed to administer the occupied and unoccupied zones. The concept of "collaboration" was written into the Armistice Convention, before Laval joined the government. The French representatives who affixed their signatures to the text accepted the term.

    Article III. In the occupied areas of France, the German Reich is to exercise all the rights of an occupying power. The French government promises to facilitate by all possible means the regulations relative to the exercise of this right, and to carry out these regulations with the participation of the French administration. The French government will immediately order all the French authorities and administrative services in the occupied zone to follow the regulations of the German military authorities and to collaboratewith the latter in a correct manner.

    Laval in the Vichy government, 1940–1941

    When Laval was included in Pétain's cabinet as minister of state, he began the work for which he would be remembered: the emulation of the totalitarian regime of Germany, the taking up of the cause of fascism, the destruction of democracy, and the dismantling of the Third Republic.

    In October 1940, Laval understood collaboration more or less in the same sense as Pétain. For both, to collaborate meant to give up the least possible to get the most. Laval, in his role of go-between, was forced to be in constant touch with the German authorities, to shift ground, to be wily, to plan ahead. All this, under the circumstances, drew more attention to him than to the Marshal and made him appear to many Frenchmen as "the agent of collaboration"; to others, he was "the Germans' man".

    The meetings between Pétain and Adolf Hitler, and between Laval and Hitler, are often used as showing the collaboration of the French leaders and the Nazis. In fact the results of Montoire(24–26 October) were a disappointment for both sides. Hitler wanted France to declare war on the British, and the French wanted improved relations with her conqueror. Neither happened. Virtually the only concession the French obtained was the so-called 'Berlin protocol' of 16 November, which provided release of certain categories of French prisoners of war.

    In November, Laval made a number of pro-German actions on his own, without consulting with his colleagues. The most notorious examples concerned turning over to the Germans the RTB Bor copper mines and the Belgian gold reserves. His post-war justification, apart from a denial that he acted unilaterally, was that the French were powerless to prevent the Germans from gaining something they were clearly so eager to obtain.

    These actions by Laval were a factor in his dismissal on 13 December, when Pétain asked all the ministers to sign a collective letter of resignation during a full cabinet meeting. Laval did so thinking it was a device to get rid of M. Belin, the Minister of Labor. He was therefore stunned when the Marshal announced, "the resignations of MM. Laval and Ripert are accepted."

    That evening, Laval was arrested and driven by the police to his home in Châteldon. The following day, Pétain announced his decision to remove Laval from the government. The reason for Laval's dismissal lies in the fundamental incompatibility between him and Pétain. Laval's methods of working appeared slovenly to the Marshal's precise military mind, and he showed a marked lack of deference, instanced by his habit of blowing cigarette smoke in Pétain's face. By doing so he aroused not only Pétain's anger, but that of his cabinet colleagues as well.

    On 27 August 1941, several top Vichyites including Laval attended a review of the Légion des Volontaires Français(LVF), a collaborationist militia. Paul Collette, a disgruntled ex-member of the Croix-de-Feu, attacked the reviewing stand; he shot and wounded Laval (and also Marcel Déat, another prominent collaborationist). Laval soon recovered from the injury.

    The prime minister of France from 1931-1944 and axis collaborator Pierre Laval, from the film Divide and Conquer (the film is in the Public Domain)
    Return to power, 1942

    Laval returned to power in April 1942. Laval had been in power for a mere two months when he was faced with the decision of providing forced workers to Germany. Germany was short of skilled labour due to its need for troop replacements on the Russian front. Unlike the other occupied countries, France was technically protected by the armistice, and her workers could not be simply rounded up and transported to Germany. However, in the occupied zone, the Germans used intimidation and control of raw materials to create unemployment and thus reasons for French labourers to volunteer to work in Germany. German officials demanded from Laval that more than 300,000 skilled workers should be immediately sent to factories in Germany. Laval delayed and then countered by offering to send one worker for the return of one French soldier being held captive in Germany. The proposal was sent to Hitler, with a compromise being reached; one prisoner of war to be repatriated for every three workers arriving in Germany.

    The role of Laval in the deportation of Jews to death camps has been hotly debated by both his accusers and defenders. When ordered to have all Jews in France rounded up to be transported to German-occupied Poland, Laval negotiated a compromise. He allowed only those Jews who were not French citizens to be forfeited to the control of Germany. It has been estimated that by the end of the war, the Germans had killed 90 percent of the Jewish population of the other occupied countries, but in France fifty per cent of the pre-war French and foreign Jewish population, with perhaps ninety per cent of the purely French Jewish population still remaining alive. Laval went beyond the orders given to him by the Germans, as he included Jewish children under 16 in the deportations. The Germans had given him permission to spare children under 16. In his book Churches and the Holocaust, Mordecai Paldiel claims that when Protestant leader Martin Boegner visited Laval to remonstrate, Laval claimed that he had ordered children to be deported along with their parents because families should not be separated and "children should remain with their parents". According to Paldiel, when Boegner argued that the children would almost certainly die, Laval replied "not one [Jewish child] must remain in France". Yet, Sarah Fishman (in a reliably sourced book, but lacking citations) claims that Laval also attempted to prevent Jewish children gaining visas to America, arranged by the American Friends Service Committee. Fishman asserts Laval was not so much committed to expelling Jewish children from France, as making sure they reached Nazi camps.

    More and more the insoluble dilemma of collaboration faced Laval and his chief of staff, Jean Jardin. Laval had to maintain Vichy's authority to prevent Germany from installing a Quisling Government made up of French Nazis such as Jacques Doriot.


    In 1943, Laval became the nominal leader of the newly created Milice, though its operational leader was Secretary General Joseph Darnand.

    When Operation Torch, the landings of Allied forces in North Africa, began, Germany occupied all of France. Hitler continued to ask whether the French government was prepared to fight at his side, wanting Vichy to declare war against Britain. Laval and Pétain agreed to maintain a firm refusal. During this time and the Normandy landings in 1944, Laval was in a struggle against ultra-collaborationist ministers.

    In a speech broadcast on the Normandy landings' D-day, he appealed to the nation:

    You are not in the war. You must not take part in the fighting. If you do not observe this rule, if you show proof of indiscipline, you will provoke reprisals the harshness of which the government would be powerless to moderate. You would suffer, both physically and materially, and you would add to your country's misfortunes. You will refuse to heed the insidious appeals, which will be addressed to you. Those who ask you to stop work or invite you to revolt are the enemies of our country. You will refuse to aggravate the foreign war on our soil with the horror of civil war.... At this moment fraught with drama, when the war has been carried on to our territory, show by your worthy and disciplined attitude that you are thinking of France and only of her."

    A few months later, he was arrested by the Germans and transported to Belfort. In view of the speed of the Allied advance, on 7 September 1944 what was left of the Vichy government was moved from Belfort to the Sigmaringenenclave in Germany. Pétain took residence at the Hohenzollern castle in Sigmaringen. At first Laval also resided in this castle. In January 1945 Laval was assigned to the Stauffenberg castle of Ernst Juenger/Wilflingen12 km outside the Sigmaringen enclave. By April 1945 US General George S. Patton's army approached Sigmaringen, so the Vichy ministers were forced to seek their own refuge. Laval received permission to enter Spain and was flown to Barcelona by a German air force plane. With a lot of pressure from General de Gaulle, the Spanish government sent Laval via the same German plane 90 days later to the American-occupied zone of Austria. The United States authorities immediately took Laval and his wife into custody, and turned them over to the Free French. They were flown to Paris to be imprisoned at Fresnes, Val-de-Marne. Madame Laval was later released; Pierre Laval remained in prison to be tried as a traitor.

    Laval with the head of German police units in France, Carl Oberg
    Trial and execution

    Two trials were to be held. Although it had its faults, the Pétain trial permitted the presentation and examination of a vast amount of pertinent material. Scholars including Robert Paxton and Geoffrey Warner believe that Laval's trial demonstrated the inadequacies of the judicial system and the poisonous political atmosphere of that purge-trial era.

    During his imprisonment pending the verdict of his treason trial, Laval wrote his only book, his posthumously published Diary (1948). His daughter, Josée de Chambrun, smuggled it out of the prison page by page.

    Laval firmly believed that he would be able to convince his fellow-countrymen that he had been acting in their best interests all along. "Father-in-law wants a big trial which will illuminate everything", René de Chambrun told Laval's lawyers: "If he is given time to prepare his defence, if he is allowed to speak, to call witnesses and to obtain from abroad the information and documents which he needs, he will confound his accusers."

    "Do you want me to tell you the set-up?" Laval asked one of his lawyers on 4 August. "There will be no pre-trial hearings and no trial. I will be condemned – and got rid of – before the elections."

    Laval's trial began at 1:30 pm on Thursday, 4 October 1945. He was charged with plotting against the security of the State and intelligence (collaboration) with the enemy. He had three defence lawyers (Jaques Baraduc, Albert Naud, and Yves-Frédéric Jaffré). None of his lawyers had ever met him before. He saw most of Jaffré, who sat with him, talked, listened and took down notes that he wanted to dictate. Baraduc, who quickly became convinced of Laval's innocence, kept contact with the Chambruns and at first shared their conviction that Laval would be acquitted or at most receive a sentence of temporary exile. Naud, who had been a member of the Resistance, believed Laval to be guilty and urged him to plead that he had made grave errors but had acted under constraint. Laval would not listen to him; he was convinced that he was innocent and could prove it. "He acted", said Naud, "as if his career, not his life, was at stake."

    All three of his lawyers declined to be in court to hear the reading of the formal charges, saying "We fear that the haste which has been employed to open the hearings is inspired, not by judicial preoccupations, but motivated by political considerations." In lieu of attending the hearing, they sent letters stating the shortcomings and asked to be discharged from the task of defending Laval.

    The court carried on without them. The president of the court, Pierre Mongibeaux, announced that the trial had to be completed before the general election scheduled for 21 October. Mongibeaux and Mornet, the public prosecutor, were unable to control constant hostile outbursts from the jury. These occurred as increasingly heated exchanges between Mongibeaux and Laval became louder and louder. On the third day, Laval's three lawyers were with him as the President of the Bar Association had advised them to resume their duties.

    After the adjournment, Mongibeaux announced that the part of the interrogation dealing with the charge of plotting against the security of the state was concluded. He proposed to deal next with the charge of intelligence (collaboration) with the enemy. "Monsieur le Président", Laval replied, "the insulting way in which you questioned me earlier and the demonstrations in which some members of the jury indulged show me that I may be the victim of a judicial crime. I do not want to be an accomplice; I prefer to remain silent." Mongibeaux called the first of the prosecution witnesses, but they had not expected to give evidence so soon and none were present. Mongibeaux adjourned the hearing for the second time so that they could be located. When the court reassembled half an hour later, Laval was no longer in his place.

    Although Pierre-Henri Teitgen, the Minister of Justice in Charles de Gaulle's cabinet, personally appealed to Laval's lawyers to have him attend the hearings, he declined to do so. Teitgen freely confirmed the conduct of Mongibeaux and Mornet, professing he was unable to do anything to curb them. The trial continued without the accused, ending with Laval being sentenced to death. His lawyers were turned down when they requested a re-trial.

    The execution was fixed for the morning of 15 October. Laval attempted to cheat the firing squad by taking poison from a phial which had been stitched inside the lining of his jacket since the war years. He did not intend, he explained in a suicide note, that French soldiers should become accomplices in a "judicial crime". The poison, however, was so old that it was ineffective, and repeated stomach-pumpings revived Laval.

    Laval requested that his lawyers witness his execution. He was shot shouting "Vive la France!" Shouts of "Murderers!" and "Long live Laval!" were apparently heard from the prison. Laval's widow declared: "It is not the French way to try a man without letting him speak", she told an English newspaper, "That's the way he always fought against – the German way."

    The High Court, which functioned until 1949, judged 108 cases; it pronounced eight death penalties, including one for Pétain but asking that it not be carried out because of his age. Only three of the death penalties were carried out: Pierre Laval; Fernand de Brinon, Vichy's Ambassador in Paris to the German authorities; and Joseph Darnand, head of the Milice.


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    Adolf Hitler on war and diplomacy.
    The Commando Order, or Kommandobefehl, was issued by Adolf Hitler on 18 October 1942 stating that all Allied commandos encountered by German forces in Europe and Africa should be killed immediately without trial, even in proper uniforms or if they attempted to surrender. Any commando or small group of commandos or a similar unit, agents, and saboteurs not in proper uniforms, who fell into the hands of the German military forces by some means other than direct combat (through the police in occupied territories, for instance) were to be handed over immediately to the Sicherheitsdienst(SD, Security Service). The order, which was issued in secret, made it clear that failure to carry out these orders by any commander or officer would be considered to be an act of negligence punishable under German military law. This was in fact the second "Commando Order", the first being issued by Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt on 21 July 1942, stipulating that parachutists should be handed over to the Gestapo. Shortly after World War II, at the Nuremberg Trials, the Commando Order was found to be a direct breach of the laws of war, and German officers who carried out illegal executions under the Commando Order were found guilty of war crimes.

    Please go to this previous blog post to learn more.

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             On this date, October 20, 2011, a Baby Killing Pedophile, Christopher Thomas Johnson was executed by lethal injection in Alabama. He was convicted of murdering his 6-month-old son, Elias Ocean Johnson on February 18, 2005. He could not live with his guilt anymore that was why he waived all his appeals and wanted to be put to death. I surprisingly did not see any abolitionist protesting his execution, most probably, is because nobody pities cowards who kill babies.

    Christopher Thomas Johnson
                  Please go to this previous blog post to learn more about this pedophile.

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  • 10/19/15--14:50: OPERATION TANNENBURG

  •             On this date, October 20, 1939, a mass execution of 15 local residents was carried out, part of Operation Tannenberg. I will post information about this Nazi War Crime from Wikipedia and other links.

    Symbol of Einsatzgruppen

    Operation Tannenberg
    Unternehmen Tannenberg

    Execution of Polish hostages by an SS-task force on 10.20.1939 in occupied Kórnik (during the German Nazi occupation of 1939-45).

    German occupied Poland
    Polish people
    Attack type
    Genocidal Massacre, mass shooting
    Automatic weapons
    20,000 deaths in 760 mass executions by SS Einsatzgruppen
    Nazi Germany

    Operation Tannenberg (German: Unternehmen Tannenberg) was the codename for one of the extermination actions directed at the Polish people during World War II, part of the Generalplan Ost. Proscription lists (Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen), prepared by Germans before the war, identified more than 61,000 members of the Polish elite: activists, intelligentsia, scholars, actors, former officers, and others, who were to be interned or shot. Members of the German minority living in Poland assisted in preparing the lists.

    Polish teachers from Bydgoszcz guarded by members of so-called "Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz". Photo taken before the execution in the "Valley of Death" near the Bydgoszcz

    The plan was created in May 1939. Following the orders of Adolf Hitler, a special unit dubbed Tannenberg was created within the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt). It commanded a number of Einsatzgruppender Sicherheitspolizei und des SD formed with Gestapo, Kripo and SDofficers who were theoretically subordinate to local Wehrmachtcommanders. Their task was to arrest all the people listed on the proscription lists prepared before the outbreak of World War II.

    First, in August 1939 about 2,000 activists of Polish minority organisations in Germany were arrested and murdered. The second part of the action began on September 1, 1939, and ended in October, resulting in at least 20,000 deaths in 760 mass executions by Einsatzgruppen special task units with some help from regular Wehrmacht (armed forces) units. In addition, a special formation was created from the German minority living in Poland called Selbstschutz, whose members had trained in Germany before the war in diversion and guerilla fighting (see: Deutscher Volksverband, the German People's Union in Poland). The formation was responsible for many massacres and due to its bad reputation was dissolved by Nazi authorities after the September Campaign.