Friday, December 18, 2009

ARBEIT MACHT FREI Auschwitz sign was stolen - December 18, 2009

The entry gate to Auschwitz concentration camp, taken in July 2006. The infamous "ARBEIT MACHT FREI" message is visible.

The Auschwitz sign was stolen in the early morning of December 18, 2009. It is the first time the sign (made by Polish prisoners) has been stolen since it was erected in the early 1940s. The sign was orginally erected by the Nazis after the Auschwitz barracks were converted into a labour camp to house Polish resistance fighters in 1940. A police spokeswoman said the 5-metre (16 ft), 41-kilogram (90 lb) wrought iron sign was unscrewed on one side and torn off on the other. The missing sign was replaced by a replica, which had been created some years earlier as a temporary replacement while the original was being restored.

Such was the concern about its theft that Poland declared a state of emergency. It was found by the police, cut into three parts, in northern Poland two days later in the home of one of five men who were arrested. An unnamed overseas buyer is believed to have been involved.
The Aftonbladet newspaper (a Swedish tabloid) reported that the sign had been stolen by Polish thieves paid by and working on behalf of a Swedish right-wing extremist group hoping to use proceeds from the proposed sale of the sign to a collector of Nazi memorabilia, to finance a series of terror attacks aimed at influencing voters in upcoming Swedish Parliamentary elections.
The original sign will be welded back together and put back up after an improved security system is put in place.

"Arbeit macht frei" is a German phrase with the word-for-word meaning of "work makes free", which can be translated as "work liberates". The slogan is well-known for being placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps.

The slogan can still be seen at several sites, including over the entrance to Auschwitz I. The sign was placed there by commandant Rudolf Höss (First commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp). Höss believed that doing menial work during his own imprisonment under the Weimar Republic helped him through the experience.

It was said by The Ethical Spectacle about Höss:

He seems not to have intended it as a mockery, nor even to have intended it literally, as a false promise that those who worked to exhaustion would eventually be released, but rather as a kind of mystical declaration that self-sacrifice in the form of endless labor does in itself bring a kind of spiritual freedom.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Monday, November 30, 2009

John Demjanjuk Trial Begins in Munich, Germany - 30 November, 2009

John Demjanjuk
Demjanjuk hearing his death sentence on April 25, 1988 in Jerusalem, Israel.

John Demjanjuk (born Ivan Mykolayovych Demyanyuk, 1920, Ukraine) is a retired auto worker and former United States citizen, who gained notoriety after being accused of war crimes.

Demjanjuk migrated to the United States in 1951. He was deported to Israel in 1986 and later sentenced to death there in 1988 for war crimes, based on his identification by Israeli Holocaust survivors as "Ivan the Terrible," a notorious SS guard at the Treblinka and Sobibor extermination camps during the period 1942–1943 who committed murder and acts of extraordinarily savage violence against camp prisoners. His conviction for crimes against humanity was later overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court in 1993 due to a finding of reasonable doubt based on evidence suggesting that Demjanjuk was not "Ivan the Terrible" and had, in fact, been a guard at camps besides the one at Treblinka. After the trial he returned to Cleveland, Ohio.

Demjanjuk was put on trial again in 2001 (Cleveland ) on charges that he had served as a guard at the Sobibór and Majdanek camps in occupied Poland and at the Flossenbürg camp in Germany. His deportation was again ordered in 2005, but he remained in the United States as no country would agree to accept him. On April 2, 2009, it was announced that Demjanjuk would be deported to Germany and would face trial there on charges of accessory to 29,000 counts of murder. On April 3, 2009, a judge ordered that Demjanjuk, 89 years old, be given a temporary stay, pending a judicial decision on his newly filed (April 2) motion to reopen his deportation order, on the ground that deporting him would amount to torture under the applicable international convention. The stay was overturned on April 6.

On April 14, 2009, immigration agents began Demjanjuk's deportation, removing him from his home in a wheelchair. He was scheduled to fly to Munich from Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, but the legal order was again reversed and another stay granted by the court. On May 7, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Demjanjuk's appeal and on May 8, 2009, he was ordered to surrender to U.S. Immigration agents for deportation to Germany. On May 11, Demjanjuk left his Cleveland home by ambulance, and was taken to the airport, where he was deported by plane to Germany. He arrived there the next morning on May 12. On July 13, 2009, Demjanjuk was formally charged with 27,900 counts of acting as an accessory to murder, one for each person who died at Sobibor during the time he is accused of serving as a guard at the Nazi death camp. On 30 November 2009 Demjanjuk's trial, expected to last for several months, began in Munich.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nuremberg Trials Begin - 20 November, 1946.

Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials. Defendants in their dock. The main target of the prosecution was Hermann Göring (at the left edge on the first row of benches), considered to be the most important surviving official in the Third Reich after Hitler's death.

The Nuremberg trials were a series of military trials, or military tribunals, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany after its defeat in World War II. The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg, Germany, from 1945 to 1946, at the Palace of Justice. The first and best known of these trials was the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which tried 22 of the most important captured leaders of Nazi Germany. It was held from November 21, 1945 to October 1, 1946. The second set of trials of lesser war criminals was conducted under Control Council Law No. 10 at the US Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT); among them included the Doctors' Trial and the Judges' Trial.

The indictments were for:

- Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of crime against peace.
- Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace.
- War crimes.
- Crimes against humanity.

Most of the defendants were found guilty and the death sentences were carried out on 16 October 1946 by hanging. Others were sentenced to long jail periods and a few were acquitted.

The Nuremberg trials had a great influence on the development of international criminal law. The Conclusions of the Nuremberg trials served as models for:

- The Genocide Convention, 1948.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
- The Nuremberg Principles, 1950.
-The Convention on the Abolition of the Statute of Limitations on War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, 1968.
- The Geneva Convention on the Laws and Customs of War, 1949; its supplementary protocols, 1977.

The Nuremberg trials initiated a movement for the prompt establishment of a permanent international criminal court, eventually leading over fifty years later to the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Armenian Genocide: The Hamidian Massacres of 1894–1896

    Hamidian Massacres - Sultan Abdul Hamid II
    Contemporary political cartoon portraying Hamid as a butcher of the Armenians

    The Hamidian massacres, also referred to as the Armenian Massacres of 1894–1896, refers to the massacring of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, with estimates of the dead ranging from 80,000 to 300,000, and at least 50,000 orphans as a result. The massacres are named for Abdul Hamid II, whose efforts to reinforce the territorial integrity of the embattled Ottoman Empire reasserted Pan-Islamism as a state ideology.

    Abdul Hamid believed that the woes of the Ottoman Empire stemmed from the endless persecutions and hostilities of the Christian world. He perceived the Ottoman Armenians to be an extension of foreign hostility in the hands of the European powers.

    One of the most serious incidents occurred in Armenian-populated parts of Anatolia. Although the Ottomans had prevented other revolts in the past, the harshest measures were directed against the Armenian community. They observed no distinction between the nationalist dissidents and the Armenian population at large, and massacred them with brutal force. However, this occurred in the 1890s, at a time when the telegraph could spread news around the world and when the European powers were vastly more powerful than the weakening Ottoman state.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    Kristallnacht - November 9-10, 1938

    Kristallnacht broken shop windows
    Kristallnacht, example of physical damage

    Kristallnacht was an anti-Jewish pogrom in Nazi Germany and Austria on 9 to 10 November 1938.

    In German, Kristallnacht means crystal night or the night of broken glass, alluding to the enormous number of shop windows of Jewish-owned stores that were broken that night.

    Kristallnacht was triggered by the assassination (November 7, 1938) of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath, in Paris, by Herschel Grynszpan (17), a German-born Polish Jew, as revenge for the expulsion of 12,000 Polish-born Jews back to Poland, among them was Grynszpan's family.

    As a result, in a coordinated attack on Jewish people and their property, 99 Jews were murdered and 25,000 to 30,000 were arrested and placed in concentration camps. 267 synagogues were destroyed and thousands of homes and businesses were ransacked. This was done by the Hitler Youth, Gestapo, SS and SA. Kristallnacht also served as a pretext and a means for the wholesale confiscation of firearms from German Jews.

    Herschel Grynszpan was transferred from Paris to Berlin, in 1940, by the Nazis and probably was murdered by the Gestapo by the end of the war.

    While the assassination of Rath served as a pretext for the attacks, Kristallnacht was part of a broader Nazi policy of antisemitism and persecution of the Jews. Kristallnacht was followed by further economic and political persecutions and is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the Final Solution, leading towards the genocide of the Holocaust.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    "Euthanasia" Program Begins in Nazi Germany - October 1939

    Nazi euthanasia propaganda poster
    Nazi euthanasia propaganda poster reads: "60,000 Reichsmarks is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the People's community during his lifetime. Comrade, that is your money too. Read 'New People', the monthly magazine of the Bureau for Race Politics of the NSDAP." (about 1938)

    Action T4 was a program, also called Euthanasia Program, in Nazi Germany spanning October 1939 until August 1941, during which physicians killed 70,273 people specified as suffering patients - judged incurably sick by critical medical examination, and long-term inmates of mental asylums who may appear incurable.

    The Nuremberg Trials found evidence that German physicians continued the extermination of patients after October 1941 and evidence that, in total, about 275,000 people were killed under T4.

    The killing methods employed lethal injections, gas chambers and cremation or simple starvation.

    The codename T4 was an abbreviation of "Tiergartenstraße 4", the address of a villa in the Berlin borough of Tiergarten which was the headquarters of the General Foundation for Welfare and Institutional Care. This villa no longer exists, but a plaque set in the pavement on Tiergartenstraße marks its location.

    It is argued by some scholars that the T4 program developed from the Nazi Party's policy of "racial hygiene", the belief that the German people needed to be "cleansed" of "racially unsound" elements, which included people with disabilities. According to this view, the euthanasia program represents an evolution in policy toward the later Holocaust of the Jews of Europe: the historian Ian Kershaw has called it "a vital step in the descent into modern barbarism"

    It may be noted however that racial hygienist ideas were far from unique to the Nazi movement. The ideas of social Darwinism were widespread in all western countries in the early 20th century, and the eugenics movement had many followers among educated people, being particularly strong in the United States. The idea of sterilising those carrying hereditary defects or exhibiting what was thought to be hereditary anti-social behaviour was widely accepted, and was put into law in the United States, Sweden, Switzerland and other countries. Between 1935 and 1975, for example, 63,000 people were sterilised on eugenic grounds in Sweden.

    long before Action T4, the Nazi regime began to implement "racial hygienist" policies as soon as it came to power. The July 1933 "Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring" prescribed compulsory sterilisation for people with a range of conditions thought to be hereditary such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, Huntington's chorea and "imbecility". Sterilisation was also mandated for chronic alcoholism and other forms of social deviance. This law was administered by the Interior Ministry under Wilhelm Frick through special Hereditary Health Courts (Erbgesundheitsgerichte), which examined the inmates of nursing homes, asylums, prisons, aged care homes and special schools to select those to be sterilised.

    It is estimated that 360,000 people were sterilised under this law between 1933 and 1939. After 1937 the acute shortage of labour in Germany arising from the crash rearmament program meant that anyone capable of work was deemed to be "useful" and was exempted from the law, and the rate of sterilisation declined.

    Hitler and his helpers were aware from the start that a program of killing large numbers of Germans with disabilities would be unpopular with the German public.

    It was impossible to keep the T4 program secret, given that thousands of doctors, nurses (including Catholic nuns) and administrators were involved in it, and given that the majority of those killed had families who were actively concerned about their welfare. Despite the strictest orders to maintain secrecy, some of the staff at the killing centres talked about what was going on there. In some cases families could tell that the causes of death notified were false, e.g. when a patient was claimed to have died of appendicitis, even though his appendix had been surgically removed some years earlier. In other cases several families in the same town would receive death certificates on the same day. In the towns where the killing centres were located, many people saw the inmates arrive in buses, saw the smoke from the crematoria chimneys, noticed that no bus-loads of inmates ever left the killing centres, and drew the correct conclusion.

    The Catholic Church, which since 1933 had pursued a policy of avoiding confrontation with the Nazi regime in the hope of preserving its core institutions intact, became increasingly unable to keep silent in the face of mounting evidence about the killing of inmates of hospitals and asylums. Leading Catholic churchmen, led by Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber of Munich, wrote privately to the government protesting against the policy. In July 1941 the Church broke its silence when a pastoral letter from the bishops was read out in all churches, declaring that it was wrong to kill (except in self-defence or in a morally justified war). This emboldened Catholics to make more outspoken protests.

    By August the protests had spread to Bavaria and Hitler himself was jeered by an angry crowd at Hof – the only time he was opposed in public during his 12 years of rule. Despite his private fury, Hitler knew that he could not afford a confrontation with the Church at a time when Germany was engaged in a life-and-death war, a belief which was reinforced by the advice of Goebbels, Martin Bormann, head of the Party Chancellery, and Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS.

    On 24 August 1941 Hitler ordered the cancellation of the T4 program, and also issued strict instructions to the Gauleiters that there were to be no further provocations of the churches for the duration of the war.

    The invasion of the Soviet Union in June had opened up new opportunities for the T4 personnel, who were soon transferred to the east to begin work on a vastly greater program of killing: the "final solution of the Jewish question". But the winding up of the T4 program did not bring the killing of people with disabilities to an end, although from the end of 1941 the killing became less systematic. But the methods reverted to those employed before the gas chambers were employed: lethal injection, or simple starvation

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    What is the Armenian Holocaust.

    The Armenian Holocaust Armenian civilians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed Turkish soldiers. Kharpert, Armenia, Ottoman Empire in April 1915. Published by the American red cross.

    The Armenian Holocaust, also known as the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Calamity, was the deliberate and systematic destruction (genocide) of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterised by the use of massacres, and the use of deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of Armenian deaths generally held to have been between 1,000,000-1,500,000. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Greeks, and some scholars consider those events to be part of the same policy of extermination.

    It is widely acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, as many Western sources point to the systematic, organized manner the killings were carried out to eliminate the Armenians.

    The date of the onset of the genocide is conventionally held to be April 24, 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Thereafter, the Ottoman military uprooted Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for hundreds of miles, depriving them of food and water, to the desert of what is now Syria. Massacres were indiscriminate of age or gender, with rape and other sexual abuse commonplace. The Armenian Genocide is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust (Jewish).

    The Republic of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide is an accurate description of the events. In recent years, it has faced repeated calls to accept the events as genocide. To date, twenty countries have officially recognized the events of the period as genocide, and most genocide scholars and historians accept this view. The majority of Armenian diaspora communities were founded as a result of the Armenian genocide.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Friday, October 9, 2009

    The National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust in Romania

    The National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust is a national event held on October 9 in Romania. It is dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust (around 300,000 Jews and Roma victims) and particularly to reflecting on Romania's role in the Holocaust. Various commemoration events and ceremonies take place throughout Romania in order to remember the Jews and Roma who died in the Holocaust.

    The establishment of the commemoration day was among the recommendations made in the Wiesel Commission report which was established by former President Ion Iliescu in October 2003 to research and create a report on the actual history of the Holocaust in Romania and make specific recommendations for educating the public on the issue.

    The first National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust was held in 2004. October 9 was chosen as a date for this event because it marks the beginning of Romanian deportations of Jews to Transnistria, in 1942.

    On October 9, 2005, the Romanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu, participated in the laying of a wreath at the Holocaust Memorial in Iaşi. The Centre for Hebrew Studies, part of the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, was also inaugurated on the same day by Ungureanu. During the inaugural National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust, the National Institute for Studying the Holocaust in Romania was also opened.

    On October 9, 2006, a ceremony took place for setting the keystone of the National Holocaust Memorial in Bucharest. The ceremony was attended by President Traian Băsescu, Foreign Minister Affairs Minister Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu, Culture Minister Adrian Iorgulescu, as well as representatives of the Romanian and international Jewish community. A commemoration march also took place through Bucharest in order to remember the Roma victims of the Holocaust and to demand greater recognition by the government of Roma Holocaust victims.

    The 5 million Euro marble and concrete memorial monument was unveiled on October 9, 2009.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Friday, October 2, 2009

    Marek Edelman (1922 – 2009), Last Leader of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Has Died

    Marek Edelman
    Marek Edelman, Warsaw University, 2005. Photographer: Mariusz Kubik

    During World War II he was one of the founders of the Jewish Combat Organization (resistance movement, which was instrumental in engineering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising). He took part in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and became its leader following the death of Mordechaj Anielewicz. He also took part in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

    After the war he remained in Poland and became a noted cardiologist. From the 1970s he collaborated with the Workers' Defence Committee and other political groups opposing the communist regime of Poland. A member of Solidarity, he took part in the Polish Round Table Talks of 1989. Following the peaceful transformations of 1989, he was a member of various centrist parties. He also authored books documenting the history of wartime resistance against the German occupation.

    On 17 April 1998, Edelman was awarded Poland's highest decoration, the Order of the White Eagle.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    Rescue of the Danish Jews - October 1-2, 1943

    The rescue of the Danish Jews occurred during Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark during World War II. When Hitler ordered that Danish Jews be arrested and deported on 1–2 October 1943, many Danes took part in a collective effort to evacuate the roughly 8,000 Jews of Denmark by sea to nearby neutral Sweden. The rescue allowed the vast majority of Denmark's Jewish population to avoid capture by the Nazis and is considered to be one of the largest actions of collective resistance to repression in the countries occupied by Nazi Germany. As a result of the rescue and Danish intercession on behalf of the 5% of Danish Jews who were deported to Theresienstadt transit camp in Bohemia, over 99% of Denmark's Jewish population survived the Holocaust.

    The Jews were smuggled out of Denmark by transporting them by sea over the Øresund (the strait that separates the Danish island Zealand from the southern Swedish province of Scania) from Zealand to Sweden — a passage of varying time depending on the specific route and the weather, but averaging under an hour on the choppy winter sea. Some were transported in large fishing boats of up to 20 tons, but others were carried to freedom in rowboats or kayaks. The ketch Albatros was one of the ships used to smuggle Jews to Sweden. Some refugees were smuggled inside freight cars on the regular ferries between Denmark and Sweden, this route being suited for the very young or old who were too weak to endure a rough sea passage. The underground had broken into empty freight cars sealed by the Germans after inspection, helped refugees onto the cars, and then resealed the cars with forged or stolen German seals to forestall further inspection.

    Some of the refugees never made it to Sweden; a few chose to commit suicide, some were captured by the Gestapo en route to their point of embarkation, others were lost at sea when vessels of poor seaworthiness capsized, and still others were intercepted at sea by German patrol boats. However, the Danish harbour police and civil police generally cooperated with the rescue operations. During the early stages, the Gestapo was undermanned and the German army and navy were called in to reinforce the Gestapo in its effort to prevent transportation taking place; but by and large they proved less than enthusiastic in the operation and frequently turned a blind eye to escapees.

    The Danish resistance movement as a collective, rather than as individuals, have been honoured at Yad Vashem (Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority) in Israel as being part of the "Righteous Among the Nations." Also honored are a handful of Danes who were not members of the official resistance movement, and Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz - a German attache who warned the Danish Jews about their intended deportation in 1943. It is estimated that he prevented the deportation of 95% of Denmark's Jews in the resulting rescue of the Danish Jews.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Nuremberg Laws Announced in Nazi Germany - September 15, 1935

    Nuremberg Laws
    1935 chart from Nazi Germany used to explain the Nuremberg Laws

    The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were anti-Semitic laws in Nazi Germany which were introduced at the annual Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg. The laws classified people as German if four of their grandparents were of "German or kindred blood", while people were classified as Jews if they descended from three or four Jewish grandparents. A person with one or two Jewish grandparents was a Mischling, a crossbreed, of "mixed blood". The Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews of citizenship and prohibited marriage between Jews and other Germans.

    During the spring and summer of 1933, the disenchantment with how the Third Reich had developed in practice as opposed to what had been promised had led to many in the Nazi Party, especially the (Old Fighters (those who joined the Party before 1930, and who tended to be the most ardent anti-Semites in the Party), and the SA into lashing out against Germany's Jewish minority as a way of expressing their frustrations against a group that the authorities would not generally protect. A Gestapo report from the spring of 1935 stated that the rank and file of the Nazi Party would "set in motion by us from below" a solution to the "Jewish problem", "that the government would then have to follow". As a result, Nazi Party activists and SA members started a major wave of assaults, vandalism and boycotts against German Jews. A conference of ministers was held on August 20, 1935 to discuss the negative economic effects of Party actions against Jews. Adolf Hitler, the Party representative at the conference, argued that such effects would cease, once the government decided on a firm policy against the Jews.

    From Hitler's perspective, it was imperative to bring in harsh new anti-Semitic laws as a consolation prize for those Party members who were disappointed with Hitler's halt order (to stop vandalism against the Jews) of August 8, especially because Hitler had only reluctantly given the halt order for pragmatic reasons, and his sympathies were with the Party radicals.

    On the evening of September 15, two measures were announced to the Reichstag at the annual Party Rally in Nuremberg, becoming known as the Nuremberg Laws.

    The first law, The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, prohibited marriages and extramarital intercourse between Jews and Germans and also the employment of German females under forty-five in Jewish households.

    The second law, The Reich Citizenship Law, stripped persons not considered of German blood of their German citizenship.

    The measures were unanimously adopted by the Reichstag. In twelve years of Nazi rule, the Reichstag only passed four laws: the Nuremberg laws were two of them.

    The Nuremberg Laws by their general nature formalized the unofficial and particular measures taken against Jews up to 1935.

    As a result, Jews were barred from employment as lawyers, doctors or journalists, prohibited from using state hospitals and could not be educated by the state past the age of 14. Public parks, libraries and beaches were closed to Jews. War memorials were to have Jewish names expunged. Even the lottery could not award winnings to Jews.

    From September 1941 all Jewish people living within the Nazi empire, including Germany, were required to wear a yellow badge, which had been required in Poland beginning in 1939.

    The claim has been made that the Nuremberg Laws were inspired partly by the anti-miscegenation laws of the United States of America, however the principal inspiration for Nazi racial thinking was the British-German author, Houston Stewart Chamberlain who was inspired in turn by the eugenics theories of Sir Francis Galton, which were then widely practised in the British Empire.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    German Jews were ordered to wear yellow stars - September 1, 1941

    Jewish Yellow Star
    Yellow badge Star of David called Judenstern (yellow star) in German. Part of the exhibition in the Jewish Museum Westphalia, Dorsten, Germany. The wording is the German word for Jew (Jude), written in mock-Hebrew script.

    The yellow badge (or yellow patch), also referred to as a Jewish badge, was a cloth patch that Jews were ordered to sew on their outer garments in order to mark them as Jews in public. It is intended to be a badge of shame associated with antisemitism.

    The yellow badge that was compulsory in the Middle Ages was revived by the German Nazis.

    After the German invasion of Poland in 1939 there were initially different local decrees forcing Jews to wear a distinctive sign, during the General Government (a part of the territories of Poland under German military occupation during World War II).

    The requirement to wear the Star of David with the word Jude (German for Jew) inscribed was practiced for all Jews over the age of six in the Reich and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (by a decree issued on September 1, 1941 signed by Reinhard Heydrich) and was gradually introduced in other German-occupied areas, where local words were used (e.g. Juif in French, Jood in Dutch).

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Thursday, August 6, 2009

    Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - August 6 and August 9, 1945

    Victim of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
    The atomic energy released was powerful enough to burn through clothing. The dark portions of the garments this victim wore at the time of the blast were emblazoned on to the flesh as scars.

    The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuclear attacks near the end of World War II against the Empire of Japan by the United States at the executive order of U.S. President Harry S. Truman on August 6 and August 9, 1945, respectively. After six months of intense fire-bombing of 67 other Japanese cities, followed by an ultimatum which was ignored by the Shōwa regime, the nuclear weapon "Little Boy" was dropped on the city of Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945, followed on August 9 by the detonation of the "Fat Man" nuclear bomb over Nagasaki. These are to date the only attacks with nuclear weapons in the history of warfare.

    The bombs killed as many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki by the end of 1945, roughly half on the days of the bombings. Amongst these, 15–20% died from injuries or the combined effects of flash burns, trauma, and radiation burns, compounded by illness, malnutrition and radiation sickness. Since then, more have died from leukemia (231 observed) and solid cancers (334 observed) attributed to exposure to radiation released by the bombs. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians.

    Six days after the detonation over Nagasaki, on August 15, Japan announced its surrender to the Allied Powers, signing the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, officially ending the Pacific War and therefore World War II. (Germany had signed its unavoidable Instrument of Surrender on May 7, ending the war in Europe.) The bombings led, in part, to post-war Japan adopting Three Non-Nuclear Principles, forbidding that nation from nuclear armament.

    The debate over the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki concerns the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took place on August 6, 1945 and three days later on August 9, precipitating the end of World War II. The role of the bombings in Japan's surrender and the United States' ethical justification for them has been the subject of scholarly and popular debate for decades. J. Samuel Walker wrote in an April 2005 overview of recent historiography on the issue, "the controversy over the use of the bomb seems certain to continue." Walker noted that "The fundamental issue that has divided scholars over a period of nearly four decades is whether the use of the bomb was necessary to achieve victory in the war in the Pacific on terms satisfactory to the United States." (Diplomatic History 29 (2): 334)

    Support arguments: Preferable to invasion of Japan; speedy end of war saved lives; part of "total war"; Japan's leaders refused to surrender.

    Opposition arguments: Fundamentally immoral; the bombings are war crimes; state terrorism; militarily unnecessary; Nagasaki bombing unnecessary after the Hiroshima bombing; racism and dehumanization.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Saturday, July 18, 2009

    Buchenwald Concentration Camp Opens - July 16, 1937

    Buchenwald Prisoner Liberation
    Forced laborers in Buchenwald after liberation (Elie Wiesel is 2nd row from the bottom, 7th from left); April 16, 1945

    Buchenwald concentration camp was a Nazi concentration camp established near Weimar, Thuringia, Germany in July 1937, and is one of the largest and first camps on German soil.

    Camp prisoners worked primarily as forced labour in local armament factories. Inmates were Jews, Poles, political prisoners, Roma and Sinti, Jehovah's Witnesses, religious prisoners, criminals, homosexuals, and prisoners of war (POWs). Up to 1942 the majority of the political prisoners consisted of communists and Anarchists; later the proportion of other political prisoners increased considerably. Among the prisoners were also writers, doctors, artists, former nobility, and princesses. They came from countries as varied as Russia, Poland, France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Latvia, Italy, Romania and Spain. Most of the political prisoners from the occupied countries were members of the resistance.

    Between July 1938 and April 1945, some 250,000 people were incarcerated in Buchenwald by the Nazi regime, including 350 Western Allied POWs. One estimate places the number of deaths in Buchenwald at 56,000 among them 11000 Jews.

    Although Buchenwald technically was not an extermination camp, it was a site of an extraordinary number of deaths.

    A primary cause of the deaths was illness due to harsh camp conditions, with starvation, malnutrition and its consequent illnesses. Many were literally "worked to death", as inmates had only the choice between slave labour or inevitable execution. Many inmates died as a result of human experimentations or fell victim to arbitrary acts perpetrated by the SS guards. Other prisoners were simply murdered—the two primary methods of execution were shooting and hanging. At one point, the ashes of dead prisoners would be returned to their families in a sheet metal box — postage due, to be paid by the family. This practice was eventually stopped as more and more prisoners died.

    The camp was also a site of large-scale trials for vaccines against epidemic typhus in 1942 and 1943. In all 729 inmates were used as test subjects, with 280 of them dying as a result.

    Although it was highly unusual for German authorities to send Western Allied prisoners of war (POWs) to concentration camps, Buchenwald held a group of 168 aviators for about six months. These POWs were from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They all arrived at Buchenwald on April 20, 1944.

    They were subjected to the same treatment and abuse as other Buchenwald prisoners until October 1944, when a change in policy saw the aviators dispatched to Stalag Luft III, a regular prisoner-of-war camp (POW) camp; nevertheless, two airmen died at Buchenwald.

    On April 4, 1945, the U.S. 89th Infantry Division overran Ohrdruf, a subcamp of the Buchenwald. It was the first Nazi camp liberated by U.S. troops.

    Buchenwald was partially evacuated by the Germans on April 8, 1945. In the days before the arrival of the American army, thousands of the prisoners were forced to join the evacuation marches.

    The U.S. 80th Infantry Division took control of the camp on the morning of Thursday, April 12, 1945.

    Buchenwald’s first commandant was Karl Otto Koch, who ran the camp from 1937 to 1941. His second wife, Ilse Koch, became notorious as "the witch of Buchenwald" for her cruelty and brutality. Koch had a zoo built by the prisoners in the camp for the amusement of his children, with a bear pit facing the Appellplatz, the dreaded assembly square where prisoners were forced to stand motionless and silent for many hours (three times each day) while the meticulous "roll-calls" were conducted.

    Koch was eventually himself imprisoned at Buchenwald by the Nazi authorities for corruption, embezzlement, black market dealings, and his exploitation of camp workers for personal gain. He was tried and executed by the Nazis at Buchenwald in April 1945, while Ilse was sentenced to four years after the war. Her sentence was reduced to two years and she was set free. Later, she was arrested again and sentenced to life imprisonment by the post-war German authorities; she committed suicide in a Bavarian prison cell in September 1967.

    The second and last commandant of the camp was Hermann Pister (1942-1945). He was trialed in 1947 (Dachau Trials), sentenced to death and hanged in 1948.

    In October 1950, it was decreed that the camp would be demolished. The main gate, the crematorium, the hospital block, and two guard towers escaped demolition. All prisoner barracks and other buildings were razed. Foundations of some still exist and many others have been rebuilt. According to the Buchenwald Memorial website, "the combination of obliteration and preservation was dictated by a specific concept for interpreting the history of Buchenwald Concentration Camp."

    The first monument to victims was erected days after the initial liberation. Intended to be completely temporary, it was built by prisoners and was made of wood. A second monument to commemorate the dead was erected in 1958 by the GDR near the mass graves. Inside the camp, there is a living monument in the place of the first monument that is kept at skin temperature year round.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Saturday, July 4, 2009

    Burning of the Riga Great Choral Synagogue - July 4, 1941

    The burning of the Riga synagogues occurred in the first days of the German occupation of the city of Riga, the capital and largest city in the country of Latvia. A significant, although disputed number of Jews were killed, and many other anti-Semitic measures were launched at the same time, which ultimately lead to the murder of the vast majority of the Jews of Latvia.

    The Great Choral Synagogue, on Gogol street, was burned on July 4, 1941, with 300 Jews locked in the basement.

    Perkonkrusts (a Latvian fascist political party) and "other Latvian hangers-on" surrounded the building, trapped the people inside, and set it on fire.

    The burning of the synagogue was filmed by the Germans and later became part of a Wehrmacht newsreel, with the following narration: "The synagogue in Riga, which had been spared by the GPU (the Soviet secret police) commissars in their work of destruction, went up in flames a few hours later."

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Saturday, June 27, 2009

    The Iaşi Pogrom - June 27, 1941

    The Jews of Iaşi being rounded up and arrested, during the pogrom
    The Jews of Iaşi being rounded up and arrested, during the pogrom

    The Iaşi pogrom of June 27, 1941 was one of the most violent pogroms in Jewish history, launched by governmental forces in the Romanian city of Iaşi against its Jewish population, resulting in the murder of at least 13,266 Jews, according to Romanian authorities.

    During World War II, from 1939 to 1944, Romania was an ally of Nazi Germany, and echoed its anti-Semitic policies. During 1941 and 1942, thirty-two laws, thirty-one decree-laws, and seventeen government resolutions, all sharply anti-Semitic, were published in the Official Gazette.

    On June 27, 1941, Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu telephoned Col. Constantin Lupu, commander of the Iaşi garrison, telling him formally to "cleanse Iaşi of its Jewish population", though plans for the pogrom had been laid even earlier.

    Before the pogrom, rumors backed up by the state-run press, that stated that Soviet parachutists had landed outside of Iaşi, and that the Jews were working with them. In the week before the pogrom, the signs grew more ominous: houses were marked with crosses if the residents were Christian, Jewish men were forced to dig large ditches in the Jewish cemetery, and soldiers started to break into Jewish homes "searching for evidence." On June 27, the authorities officially accused the Jewish community of sabotage, and assembled the soldiers and police who would spearhead the pogrom, where they were falsely told that Jews had attacked soldiers in the streets.

    Soon, Romanian soldiers, police, and mobs started massacring Jews, at least 8,000 were killed in the initial pogrom. The Romanian authorities also arrested more than 5,000 Jews, forcing them to the train station, and shooting those who did not move quickly, and robbing them of all of their possessions. Over 100 people were stuffed into each car, and many Jews died of thirst, starvation, and suffocation aboard two trains that for eight days travelled back and forth across the countryside.

    In the midst of brutality, there were also notable exceptions. In the town of Roman, there was Viorica Agarici, chairman of the local Red Cross during World War II and one of the 54 Romanian Righteous Among the Nations commemorated by the Israeli people at Yad Vashem. On the night of 2 July 1941, after caring for the Romanian Army wounded coming from the Russian front, she overheard people moaning from a train transporting Jewish survivors of the Iaşi pogrom. Taking advantage of her position, she asked and received permission to give food and water to those unfortunate passengers. Her actions were strongly condemned by the community of Roman and she had to move to Bucharest.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Thursday, June 25, 2009

    Death Toll of the Holocaust

    General Victims and Death Toll of the Holocaust
    Jews5.9 million
    Soviet POWs2–3 million
    Ethnic Poles1.8–2 million
    Jehovah's Witnesses2,500–5,000

    The Annihilation of the Jewish Population of Europe by Country
    CountryEstimated Pre-War Jewish populationEstimated Jewish population annihilatedPercent killed
    Baltic countries253,000228,00090
    Germany & Austria240,000210,00090
    Bohemia & Moravia90,00080,00089
    Byelorussian SSR375,000245,00065
    Ukrainian SSR1,500,000900,00060
    Russian SFSR975,000107,00011

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    Nazis liquidate Lidice (a Czech village) in retaliation for Heydrich's death - June 10, 1942

    Memorial to the murdered children of Lidice
    Memorial to the murdered children of Lidice

    Lidice is a village in the Czech Republic north-west of Prague. As part of Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, it was completely destroyed by German forces in reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich during World War II. On June 10, 1942, all 192 men over 16 years of age from the village were murdered on the spot by the Germans in a much publicised atrocity. The rest of the population were sent to Nazi concentration camps where many women and nearly all the children were killed.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Shooting - June 10, 2009

    President Barack Obama places a flower at a memorial at Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp, June 5, 2009. With the President are German chancellor Angela Merkel, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, and camp survivor Bertrand Herz.

    On June 10, 2009, a lone gunman shot a museum security guard, Stephen Tyrone Johns who later died of his injuries at the hospital. The alleged shooter, having been shot by security staff, was identified as 88-year old James von Brunn, a white supremacist with a well-known criminal history.

    Several news agencies have noted the timing of the June 10 shooting at the museum that came shortly after Obama's June 5 visit to and speech at the Buchenwald concentration camp, Germay, and that may have set off the shooter.

    Von Brunn, a white supremacist and Holocaust denier, has written many antisemitic essays, created an antisemitic website called The Holy Western Empire, and is the author of a 1999 self published book, Kill the Best Gentiles, which praises Adolf Hitler and denies the Holocaust.

    Von Brunn was born on July 11, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri. He served in the United States Navy for 14 years, and was a commanding officer of PT boat 159 during World War II in the Pacific Theater, receiving a commendation and three battle stars. He enrolled in Washington University in St. Louis in 1938 and received his Bachelor of Science in journalism in 1943.

    During his time at the university, von Brunn was said to have been president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter and a varsity football player. Von Brunn had worked as an advertising executive and producer in New York City for 20 years. In the late 1960s he moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland where he continued to do advertising work and began painting.

    Von Brunn's arrest history dates back at least as far as the 1960s. In 1968, he received a six-month jail sentence in Maryland for fighting with a sheriff during an incident at the county jail. He had earlier been arrested for driving under the influence following an altercation at a local restaurant.

    Von Brunn was arrested in 1981 for attempted kidnapping and hostage-taking, of members of the Federal Reserve Board, after approaching the Federal Reserve's Eccles Building armed with a revolver, knife, and sawed-off shotgun. He reportedly complained of "high interest rates" during the incident and was disarmed without any shots being fired, after threatening a security guard with a .38 caliber pistol. He reportedly claimed he had a bomb, which was found to be only a device designed to look like a bomb. He was convicted in 1983 for burglary, assault, weapons charges, and attempted kidnapping. Von Brunn's sentence was completed by September 15, 1989, having served six and a half years in prison.

    Von Brunn was a member of the now-defunct American Friends of the British National Party, a group that raised funds in the United States for the far right and whites-only British National Party (BNP).

    In a statement, von Brunn's son, Erik, expressed sorrow and horror about the shooting, and said his father's "beliefs have been a constant source of verbal and mental abuse my family has had to suffer with for many years. His views consumed him, and in doing so, not only destroyed his life, but destroyed our family and ruined our lives as well." The younger von Brunn, who is 32, said that he did not know his father until he was nearly 11 years old, after he completed his prison term for the Federal Reserve incident.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Thursday, June 4, 2009

    Death Camps

    Majdanek crematorium
    Majdanek crematorium

    Death camps, or extermination camps, were built by Nazi Germany during World War II for the systematic killing of millions of people in what has become known as The Holocaust. During World War II, under the orders of Heinrich Himmler, extermination camps were built during a later phase of the program of annihilation. Victims’ corpses were usually cremated or buried in mass graves. The groups the Nazis sought to exterminate in these camps were primarily the Jews of Europe, Eastern Europeans, as well as Roma (Gypsies). The majority of prisoners brought to extermination camps were not expected to survive more than a few hours beyond arrival.

    Nazi-German extermination camps are different than concentration camps such as Dachau and Belsen, which were mostly intended as places of incarceration and forced labor for a variety of “enemies of the state”—the Nazi label for people they deemed undesirable. In the early years of the Holocaust, the Jews were primarily sent to concentration camps, but from 1942 onward they were mostly deported to the extermination camps.

    Most accounts of the Holocaust recognize six German Nazi extermination camps, all located in occupied Poland:

    Auschwitz II (Auschwitz-Birkenau) (1,100,000 killed)
    Treblinka (700,000 killed)
    Bełżec (434,500 killes)
    Sobibór (167,000 killed)
    Chełmno (152,000 killed)
    Majdanek (78,000)

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    The Final Solution and the Wannsee Conference

    The Final Solution and the Wannsee Conference In a February 26, 1942, letter to German diplomat Martin Luther, Reinhard Heydrich follows up on the Wannsee Conference by asking Luther for administrative assistance in the implementation of the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.

    The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of its systematic genocide against European Jewry during World War II, resulting in the final, most deadly phase of the Holocaust (Shoah). Heinrich Himmler was the chief architect of the plan, and the German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler termed it: "the final solution of the Jewish question".

    Mass killings of about one million Jews occurred before the plans of the Final Solution were fully implemented in 1942, but it was only with the decision to eradicate the entire Jewish population that the extermination camps were built and industrialized mass slaughter of Jews began in earnest. This decision to systematically kill the Jews of Europe was made by the time of, or at the Wannsee conference, which took place in Berlin, in the Wannsee Villa on January 20, 1942. The conference was chaired by Reinhard Heydrich. He was acting under the authority given to him by Reichsmarshall Goring in a letter dated July 31, 1941. Goring instructed Heydrich to settle "...the solution of the Jewish problem..." During the conference, there was a discussion held by the group of German Nazi officials how best to handle the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question". A surviving copy of the minutes of this meeting was found by the Allies in 1947, too late to serve as evidence during the first Nuremberg Trials.

    By the summer of 1942, Operation Reinhard (the code name given to the Nazi plan to murder Polish Jews, and marked the beginning of the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, the use of extermination camps.) began the systematic extermination of the Jews, although hundreds of thousands already had been killed by death squads and in mass pogroms.

    The Wannsee Conference, mentioned above, was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich had been appointed as the chief executor of the "Final solution to the Jewish question", and to obtain their full support. In the course of the meeting, Heydrich presented a plan, presumably approved by Adolf Hitler, for the deportation of the Jewish population of Europe to German-occupied areas in eastern Europe, and the use of the Jews fit for labour on road-building projects, in the course of which they would eventually die, the surviving remnant to be annihilated after completion of the projects. The plan was never carried out as conceived, as it was predicated on the continued occupation of Polish and Soviet lands then under German control. Instead, as Soviet forces gradually pushed back the German lines, most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe were sent to extermination or concentration camps, or killed where they lived. As a result of the efforts of historian Joseph Wulf, the Wannsee House, where the conference was held, is now a Holocaust Memorial.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Sunday, May 31, 2009

    The Nazi Party

    The Parteiadler (party eagle),  the Nazi party symbol
    The National Socialist German Workers' Party (abbreviated NSDAP from German), commonly known in English, in short, as the Nazi Party, It was a political party in Germany between 1919 and 1945. It was known as the German Workers' Party (DAP) before the name was changed in 1920. Hitler joined the DAP in September 1919.

    The party's last leader, Adolf Hitler, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by president Paul von Hindenburg in 1933. Hitler rapidly established a totalitarian regime known as the Third Reich.

    Nazi ideology stressed the failure of democracy, failure of capitalism, racial purity of the German people, and persecuted those it perceived either as race enemies or those defined as "life unworthy of living". This included Jews, Slavs, and Roma along with homosexuals, the mentally disabled, communists and others. To carry out these beliefs, the party and the German state which it controlled organized the systematic murder of approximately six million Jews and five million other people from the aforementioned and other groups, in what has become known as the Holocaust.

    The Nazis' strongest appeal was to the lower middle-class – farmers, public servants, teachers, small businessmen – who had suffered most from the inflation of the 1920s and who feared Bolshevism more than anything else. The small business class were receptive to Hitler's anti-Semitism, since they blamed Jewish big business for their economic problems.

    The Nazi Party might never have come to power had it not been for the Great Depression and its effects on Germany. By 1930 the German economy was beset with mass unemployment and widespread business failures. The SPD and the KPD parties were bitterly divided and unable to formulate an effective solution; this gave the Nazis their opportunity, and Hitler's message, blaming the crisis on the Jewish financiers and the Bolsheviks resonated with wide sections of the electorate. At the September 1930 Reichstag elections the Nazis won 18.3% of the vote and became the second-largest party in the Reichstag after the SPD. After two more successful election campaigns, in which the Nazi party scored 37.4% and 33.1% respectively, Hitler was nominated as Chancellor on 30 January 1933.

    1933–39 saw the gradual fusion of the Nazi Party and the German state, as the party arrogated more and more power to itself at the expense of professional civil servants. This led to increasing inefficiency and confusion in administration, which was compounded by Hitler’s deliberate policy of preventing any of his underlings accumulating too much power, and of dividing responsibility among a plethora of state and party bureaucracies, many of which had overlapping functions. This administrative muddle later had severe consequences. Many party officials also lapsed rapidly into corruption, taking their lead from Göring, who looted and plundered both state property and wealth appropriated from the Jews. By the mid-1930s the party as an institution was increasingly unpopular with the German public, although this did not affect the personal standing of Hitler, who maintained a powerful hold over the great majority of the German people until at least 1943.

    In June 1934, Hitler, using the SS and Gestapo under Himmler's command, staged a coup against the SA (a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party), having Röhm, its leader, and about 700 others killed.

    The effect of the purge of the SA was to redirect the energies of the Nazi Party away from social issues and towards racial enemies, namely the Jews, whose civil, economic and political rights were steadily restricted, culminating in the passage of the Nuremberg Laws of September 1935, which stripped them of their citizenship and banned marriage and sexual relations between Jews and "Aryans". After a lull in anti-Semitic agitation during 1936 and 1937 (partly because of the 1936 Olympic Games), the Nazis returned to the attack in November 1938, launching the pogrom known as Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass"), in which at least 100 Jews were killed and 30,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps, and thousands of Jewish homes, businesses, synagogues and community facilities were attacked and burned. This satisfied the party radicals for a while, but the regional party bosses remained a persistent lobby for more radical action against the Jews, until they were finally deported to their deaths in 1942, 1943, 1944, and most poignantly in Spring of 1945—days before Liberation.

    By 1945 the Nazi Party and the Nazi state were inseparable. When the German armies surrendered to the Allies in May 1945 and the German state ceased to exist, the Nazi Party, despite its 8.5 million nominal members and its nation-wide organisational structure, also ceased to exist. And it was also clear that a Nazi Party without Hitler had no basis for existence. Its most fanatical members either killed themselves, fled Germany or were arrested. The rank-and-file burned their party cards and sought to blend back into German society. The Nazi Party was banned by the Allied occupation authorities and an extensive process of denazification was carried out to remove former Nazis from the administration, judiciary, universities, schools and press of occupied Germany. There was virtually no resistance or attempt to organize a Nazi underground. By the time normal political life resumed in western Germany in 1949, Nazism was effectively extinct. In eastern Germany, the new Communist authorities took their vengeance on any former high-ranking Nazis that they could find, and the survival of any kind of Nazi movement was out of the question.

    Since 1949 there have been attempts to organise ultra-nationalist parties in Germany, but none of these parties was overtly Nazi or tried to use the symbols and slogans of the Nazi Party.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Reinhard Heydrich is mortally wounded by Czech Assassins - May 27, 1942

    A Nazi stamp memorializing the death of Reinhard Heydrich
    A Nazi stamp memorializing the death of Reinhard Heydrich

    Reinhard Heydrich (1904 – 1942) was the chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including the Gestapo, SD and Kripo Nazi police agencies) and Deputy Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. Adolf Hitler considered him a possible successor. Heydrich chaired the 1942 Wannsee Conference, which discussed plans for the deportation and extermination of all Jews in German-occupied territory. He was attacked, by assassins sent by the Czechoslovak government in exile in London and the British SOE, in Prague on 27 May 1942 and died over a week later from complications arising from his injuries.

    Heydrich was one of the main architects of the Holocaust during the first years of the war, answering only to, and taking orders only from Hitler and Himmler in all matters that pertained to the deportation, imprisonment, and extermination of Jews.

    During Kristallnacht, November 1938, he sent a telegram to various SD and Gestapo offices, helping to coordinate the program with the SS, the SD, the Gestapo, the Order Police, the Nazi party, and even the fire departments. It talks about permitting arson and destruction of Jewish businesses and synagogues, and orders the taking of all "archival material" out of Jewish community centers and synagogues. The telegram also ordered that "as many Jews - particularly affluent Jews -- are to be arrested in all districts as can be accommodated in existing detention facilities. . . . Immediately after the arrests have been carried out, the appropriate concentration camps should be contacted to place the Jews into camps as quickly as possible".

    After Kristallnacht, Göring assigned him as head of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration. In this position, he worked tirelessly both to coordinate various initiatives for the Final Solution, and to assert SS dominance over Jewish policy.

    He was involved in several mass deportations. On Oct 10, 1941, he was the senior officer at a meeting in Prague that discussed evacuating 50,000 Jewish people from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (mostly in the modern day Czech Republic) to ghettos in Minsk and Riga. Also discussed was the taking of 5,000 Jewish people "in the next few weeks" from Prague and handing them over to the Einsatzgruppen commanders Nebe and Rasch. The creation of ghettos in the Protectorate was also discussed, which would eventually result in the construction of Theresienstadt, where 33,000 people would eventually die, and tens of thousands more would pass through on their way to death in the East.

    In 1941 Himmler named Heydrich as "responsible for implementing" the forced movement of 60,000 Jewish people from Germany and Czechoslovakia to the Lodz (Litzmannstadt) Ghetto in Poland.

    Most famously in this respect, on 20 January 1942, Heydrich chaired the Wannsee Conference, at which he presented to the heads of a number of German Government departments a plan for the deportation and transporting of 11 million Jewish people from every country in Europe to be worked to death or outright killed in the East.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Pope Pius XII and The Holocaust

    Hitler's Pope
    The cover of Hitler's Pope, showing Nuncio Pacelli (Pope Pius XII) leaving the residence of President Hindenburg in 1927

    The relations between Pope Pius XII and Judaism have long been controversial, with some scholars arguing that he kept silent during the Holocaust, while others have argued that he saved thousands if not tens or hundreds of thousands of Jews.

    Much of the controversy surrounding Pius XII derives from an inscription at Yad Vashem stating that his record was controversial because he negotiated a concordat with the Nazis, maintained Vatican neutrality during the war and took no initiatives to save Jews.

    In 1999, John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope criticized Pius for not doing enough, or speaking out enough, against the Holocaust. Cornwell argued that Pius's entire career as the nuncio to Germany, cardinal secretary of state, and pope was characterized by a desire to increase and centralize the power of the Papacy, and that he subordinated opposition to the Nazis to that goal. He further argues that Pius was anti-Semitic and that this stance prevented him from caring about the European Jews.

    Cornwell traces early anti-Semitic tendencies in Pius XII and points to his collaboration with fascist leaders as starting with the concordat with Mussolini known as the Lateran Treaty and followed by the concordat with Hitler known as the Reichskonkordat.

    However, five years after the publication of Hitler's Pope, Cornwell stated: "I would now argue, in the light of the debates and evidence following Hitler's Pope, that Pius XII had so little scope of action that it is impossible to judge the motives for his silence during the war, while Rome was under the heel of Mussolini and later occupied by Germany".

    The author has been praised for attempting to bring into the open the debate on the Catholic Church's relationship with the Nazis, but also accused of making unsubstantiated claims and ignoring positive evidence.

    Most recently, Rabbi David Dalin's The Myth of Hitler's Pope argues that critics of Pius are liberal Catholics and ex-Catholics who "exploit the tragedy of the Jewish people during the Holocaust to foster their own political agenda of forcing changes on the Catholic Church today" and that Pius XII was actually responsible for saving the lives of many thousands of Jews. And to his opinion, Yad Vashem should honor Pope Pius XII as a "Righteous Gentile", and documents that Pius was praised by all the leading Jews of his day for his role in saving more Jews than Oskar Schindler.

    In 1999, in an attempt to address some of this controversy, a group of three Catholic and three Jewish scholars was appointed by the Holy See. Disagreements between members resulted in a discontinuation of the Commission in 2001 on friendly terms.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Monday, May 25, 2009

    Himmler Presents a Memorandum to Hitler on Treatment of Ethnic Groups and Jews in the East - May 25, 1940

    In a top-secret memorandum, "The Treatment of Racial Aliens in the East", dated May 25, 1940, Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, wrote to Hitler: "We need to divide Poland's many different ethnic groups up into as many parts and splinter groups as possible".

    Himmler also called for expelling the entire Jewish population of Europe into Africa and reducing the remainer of the Polish population to a leaderless laboring class.

    Hitler called Himmler's memo "good and correct".

    Hitler’s remark led to the Himmler-Greiser (Arthur Greiser was responsible for organizing the Holocaust in Poland) viewpoint triumphing as German policy for Poland.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Sunday, May 24, 2009

    What is Mein Kampf?

    First edition of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf
    First edition of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf, July 1925. An exhibit of the German Historical Museum in Berlin

    Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is a book by Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926. Mein Kampf is 694 pages long.

    Hitler began the dictation of the book while imprisoned after his failed revolution in Munich in November 1923.

    In Mein Kampf, Hitler uses the main thesis of "the Jewish peril," which speaks of an alleged Jewish conspiracy to gain world leadership. The narrative describes the process by which he became increasingly anti-Semitic and militaristic, especially during his years in Vienna, Austria. Yet, the deeper origins of his anti-semitism remain a mystery. He speaks of not having met a Jew until he arrived in Vienna, and that at first his attitude was liberal and tolerant. When he first encountered the anti-semitic press, he says, he dismissed it as unworthy of serious consideration. A little later and quite suddenly, it seems, he accepted the same anti-semitic views whole-heartedly, which became crucial in his program of national reconstruction. Becoming acquainted with Zionism, which he calls a "great movement," is what Hitler claims coalesced his view that one cannot be both a German and a Jew.

    In Mein Kampf Hitler also announces his hatred of what he believed to be the world's twin evils: Communism and Judaism. The new territory that Germany needed to obtain would properly nurture the "historic destiny" of the German people; this goal explains why Hitler invaded Europe, both East and West, before he launched his attack against Russia. Blaming Germany’s chief woes on the parliament of the Weimar Republic, he announces that he wants to completely destroy the parliamentary system.

    Hitler predicts the stages of Germany’s political emergence on the world scene: in the first stage, Germany would, through a program of massive re-armament, overthrow the shackles of the Treaty of Versailles and form alliances with the British Empire and Fascist Italy. The second stage would feature wars against France and her allies in Eastern Europe by the combined forces of Germany, Britain and Italy. The third and final stage would be a war to destroy what Hitler saw as the "Judeo-Bolshevik" regime in the Soviet Union that would give Germany the necessary Lebensraum (living space). Here Hitler outlines his stage-by-stage plan for his new world order.

    Mein Kampf was translated into English and other Europoean languages.

    Although Hitler originally wrote this book mostly for the followers of national socialism, it grew in popularity. From the royalties, Hitler was able to afford a Mercedes while still imprisoned. Moreover, he accumulated a tax debt of 405,500 Reichsmark (8 million USD today, or £4m UK Pounds Sterling) from the sale of about 240,000 copies by the time he became chancellor in 1933 (at which time his debt was waived).

    After Hitler's rise to power, the book gained enormous popularity and for all intents and purposes became the Nazi Bible. Despite rumors to the contrary, new evidence suggests that it was actually in high demand in libraries and often reviewed and quoted in other publications. Hitler had made about 1.2 m Reichsmarks from the income of his book in 1933, when the average annual income of a teacher was about 4,800 Mark. During Hitler's years in power, the book was given free to every newlywed couple and every soldier fighting at the front. By the end of the war, about 10 million copies of the book had been sold or distributed in Germany.

    In The Second World War Winston Churchill felt that after Hitler's ascension to power no other book deserved more intensive scrutiny than Mein Kampf, and called the book "the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message." (Winston Churchill: The Second World War. Volume 1, Houghton Mifflin Books 1986, S. 50.)

    The book's publication is prohibited and restricted in most European countries but in some cases is available for research purposes. Most German libraries carry heavily commented and excerpted versions of Mein Kampf.

    After the Natzi party's poor showing in the 1928 elections, Hitler believed the reason for loss was that the public did not fully understand his ideas. He retired to Munich to dictate a sequel to Mein Kampf which focused on foreign policy, expanded on the ideas of Mein Kampf and suggested that around 1980, a final struggle would take place for world domination between the United States and the combined forces of Greater Germany and the British Empire. Only two copies of the 200-page manuscript were originally made, and only one of these has ever been made public.

    Some historians argue that the passage stating that "if only 12,000–15,000 Jews were gassed, then the sacrifice of millions of soldiers would not have been in vain," proves quite clearly that Hitler had a master plan for the genocide of the Jewish people all along.

    Others deny this assertion, noting that the passage does not call for the destruction of the entire Jewish people and note that although Mein Kampf is suffused with an extreme anti-Semitism, it is the only time in the entire book that Hitler ever explicitly refers to the murder of Jews. Given that Mein Kampf is 694 pages long, is to much too make out of one sentence. Beyond that, some historians have claimed although Hitler was clearly obsessed with anti-Semitism, his degree of anti-Semitic hatred contained in Mein Kampf is no better or worse than that contained in the writings and speeches of earlier volkisch leaders such as Wilhelm Marr, Georg Ritter von Schönerer, Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Karl Lueger, all of whom routinely called Jews a "disease" and "vermin." Nevertheless, Hitler cites all of them as an inspiration in Mein Kampf.

    Mein Kampf was significant in 1925 because it was an open source for the presentation of Hitler's ideas about the state of the world. The book is significant in our time because a retrospective review of the text reveals the crystallization of Hitler's decision to completely exterminate the Jewish race. While historians diverge on the exact date Hitler decided to exterminate the Jewish people, few place the decision before the mid 1930s. First published in 1925, Mein Kampf shows the ideas that crafted Hitler's historical grievances and ambitions for creating a new world order.ources, historians such as Professor Gunnar Heinsohn demonstrate that Hitler's plan for the Jews and Aryans alike was not confined to a racial conception but rather an ideological one. It was the propagation of "Jewish ideas" that Hitler targeted for extermination with relation to the destruction of their community and race. (Gunnar Heinsohn, “What Makes the Holocaust a Uniquely Unique Genocide,” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 2, no. 3 (2000): 413)

    Nearing the end of his reign, Hitler made such ideas clear in a correspondence with Martin Bormann on February 3, 1945:

    “We use the term Jewish race merely for reasons of linguistic convenience, for in the real sense of the word, and from a genetic point of view, there is no Jewish race. [...] The Jewish race is above all a community of the spirit. Spiritual race is of a more solid and more durable kind than natural race.”

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Saturday, May 23, 2009

    Heinrich Himmler Commits Suicide - May 23, 1945

    Heinrich Himmler seven years old
    Heinrich Himmler in 1907, seven years old

    Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (1900 – 1945) was the head of SS and interior minister, from 1943, of the Nazi regime. He was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany. He oversaw all police and security forces, including the Gestapo.

    As overseer of concentration camps, extermination camps, and Einsatzgruppen (task forces, often used as killing squads), Himmler coordinated the killing of millions of Jews, between 200,000 and 500,000 Roma, many prisoners of war, and possibly another three to four million Poles, communists, or other groups whom the Nazis deemed unworthy to live or simply 'in the way', which included homosexuals, those with physical and mental disabilities and members of the Confessing Church. Shortly before the end of the war, he offered to surrender to the Allies if he were spared from prosecution. After being arrested by British forces, he committed suicide before he could be questioned.

    Himmler has been named Greatest Mass Murderer of All Time by German news magazine Der Spiegel.

    After the Night of the Long Knives (1934), the SS organized and administered Germany’s regime of concentration camps and, after 1941, the extermination camps in Poland. The SS, through its intelligence arm, the Security Service (SD), dealt with Jews, Gypsies, communists and those persons of any other cultural, racial, political or religious affiliation deemed by the Nazis to be either Untermensch (sub-human) or in opposition to the regime, and placing them in concentration camps. Himmler opened the first of these camps at Dachau on 22 March 1933. He was the main architect of the Holocaust, using elements of mysticism and a fanatical belief in the racist Nazi ideology to justify the murder of millions of victims. Himmler had similar plans for the Poles.

    On 4 October 1943, Himmler referred explicitly to the extermination of the Jewish people during a secret SS meeting in the city of Poznań (Posen).

    This is something that is easily said: "The Jewish people will be exterminated",
    says every Party member, "this is very obvious, it is in our program —
    elimination of the Jews, extermination, a small matter."
    Himmler was arrested by the Btitish army on 22 May 1945 and in captivity was soon recognized. Himmler was scheduled to stand trial with other German leaders as a war criminal at Nuremberg, but committed suicide in Lüneburg by potassium cyanide capsule before interrogation could begin. Several attempts to revive Himmler were unsuccessful. Shortly afterwards, Himmler’s body was buried in an unmarked grave on the Lüneburg Heath. The precise location of Himmler’s grave remains unknown.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    What is Yad Vashem?

    Yad Vashem Hall ofNames
    The Hall of Names containing Pages of Testimony commemorating the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

    Yad Vashem (Hebrew: Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority) is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust established in 1953. The origin of the name Yad Vashem is from a Biblical verse: "And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (memorial=Yad, name=Vashem) that shall not be cut off." (Isaiah, chapter 56, verse 5).

    Located at the foot of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem is a 45-acre (180,000 m2) complex containing the Holocaust History Museum, memorial sites, such as the Children's Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance, The Museum of Holocaust Art, sculptures, outdoor commemorative sites such as the Valley of the Communities, a synagogue, archives, a research institute, library, publishing house and an educational center, The International School for Holocaust Studies. Non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust, at personal risk, are honored by Yad Vashem as "Righteous Among the Nations."

    The new Holocaust History Museum, opened in March 2005, was built as a prism-like triangular structure. It is 180 meters long, in the form of a spike, which cuts directly through the mountainside. Its stark walls are made of reinforced concrete, and it covers an area of over 4,200 square meters, most of which is underground. At the uppermost edge of the shaft is a skylight, protruding through the mountain edge.

    The new Holocaust History Museum, opened in March 2005, was built as a prism-like triangular structure. It is 180 meters long, in the form of a spike, which cuts directly through the mountainside. Its stark walls are made of reinforced concrete, and it covers an area of over 4,200 square meters, most of which is underground. At the uppermost edge of the shaft is a skylight, protruding through the mountain edge.

    There are 10 exhibition halls, each devoted to a different chapter in the history of the Holocaust. Unlike the exhibition in the old museum, which was primarily composed of photographs, the new exhibition is a multi-media presentation that incorporates survivor testimonies as well as personal artifacts donated to Yad Vashem by Holocaust survivors, the families of those who perished, Holocaust museums and memorial sites around the world. The exhibits are set up chronologically, with the testimonies and artifacts accentuating the individual stories used to highlight the historical narrative throughout the museum.

    The museum is designed so the visitor begins above underground, proceeds to the lowest underground point in the center of the museum, and then slowly walks upwards towards the exit. The exit from the main part of the museum is onto a balcony overlooking a stunning view of Jerusalem, the visitor stepping from a dark corridor into direct sunlight.

    Main goals and objectives of the Yad Vashem institute are education, documentation, commemoration, research and publications and Righteous Among the Nations.

    Yad Vashem is the second most visited tourist site in Israel, after the Western Wall, with over one million visitors during 2007.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    First Concentration Camp Prisoners Arrive at Auschwitz-Birkenau - May 20, 1940

    Auschwitz Crematorium Memorial
    Interior of the crematorium of Auschwitz I. This facility was much smaller than those of Auschwitz II.

    Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest of Nazi Germany's concentration camps and extermination camps, established in Nazi German occupied Poland. The camp took its german name from the nearby Polish town of Oświęcim. Birkenau, the German translation of pol. Brzezinka (birch tree), refers to a small village nearby.

    The three main camps were Auschwitz I, II, and III. Auschwitz I, the original concentration camp, served as the administrative center for the whole complex, and was the site of the deaths of roughly 70,000 people, mostly ethnic Poles and Soviet prisoners of war. Auschwitz II (Birkenau) was an extermination camp, and was the site of the deaths of at least 960,000 Jews, 75,000 Poles, and some 19,000 Roma (Gypsies). Birkenau was the largest of all the Nazi extermination camps. Auschwitz III (Monowitz) served as a labor camp for the Buna-Werke factory of the IG Farben concern.

    Like all German concentration camps, the Auschwitz camps were operated by the Nazi party's paramilitary arm, the SS. The first commandants of the camp was Rudolf Höß. Höß provided a detailed description of the camp's workings during his interrogations after the war and in his autobiography. He was hanged on April 16, 1947 in front of the entrance to the crematorium of Auschwitz I.

    Prisoners were transported from all over German-occupied Europe by rail, arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau in daily convoys. Arrivals at the complex were separated into two main groups - those marked for immediate extermination, and those to be registered as prisoners. The first group, about three-quarters of the total, went to the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau within a few hours; they included all children, all women with children, all the elderly, and all those who appeared on brief and superficial inspection by an SS doctor not to be fully fit. SS personnel told the victims that they were to take a shower and undergo delousing. The victims would undress in an outer chamber and walk into the gas chamber, which was disguised as a shower facility, complete with dummy shower heads. After the doors were shut, SS men would dump in the cyanide pellets via holes in the roof or windows on the side. In the Auschwitz Birkenau camp more than 20,000 people could be gassed and cremated each day. At Birkenau, the Nazis used a cyanide gas produced from Zyklon B pellets, which were manufactured by two companies who had acquired licensing rights to the patent held by IG Farben. The two companies were Tesch & Stabenow, of Hamburg, who supplied two tons of the crystals each month, and Degesch, of Dessau, who produced three-quarters of a ton. The bills of lading were produced at Nuremberg.

    Those deemed fit to work were used as slave labor at industrial factories for such companies as IG Farben and Krupp. At the Auschwitz complex 405,000 prisoners were recorded as slaves between 1940 and 1945. Of these about 340,000 perished through executions, beatings, starvation, and sickness.

    Sonderkommandos yanked gold teeth from the corpses of gas chamber victims; the gold was melted down and sent back to the Third Reich. The belongings of the arrivals, both those gassed and those admitted to the camp, were seized by the SS. They were sorted in an area of the camp called "Canada". Many of the SS at the camp enriched themselves by pilfering the confiscated property of the Jews. The name "Canada" was very cynically chosen. In Poland it was used as an expression used when viewing, for example, a valuable and fine gift. The expression came from the time when Polish emigrants were sending gifts home from Canada.

    Nazi doctors at Auschwitz performed a wide variety of "experiments" on helpless prisoners. SS doctors tested the efficacy of X-rays as a sterilization device by administering large doses to female prisoners. Prof. Dr. Carl Clauberg injected chemicals into women's uteruses in an effort to glue them shut. Bayer, then a subsidiary of IG Farben, bought prisoners to use as guinea pigs for testing new drugs.

    The most infamous doctor at Auschwitz was Josef Mengele, who was also known as the “Angel of Death”. Particularly interested in "research" on identical twins, Mengele performed cruel experiments on them, such as inducing diseases in one twin of a pair and killing the other when the first died to perform comparative autopsies. He also took a special interest in dwarves, injecting twins, dwarves and other prisoners with gangrene to "study" the effects.

    Starting in May 1944, there was a growing campaign to persuade the Allies to bomb Auschwitz or the railway lines leading to it. At one point Winston Churchill ordered that such a plan be prepared, but he was told that bombing the camp would most likely kill prisoners without disrupting the killing operation, and that bombing the railway lines was not technically feasible.sss Later several nearby military targets were bombed. One bomb accidentally fell into the camp and killed some prisoners. The debate over what could have been done, or what should have been attempted even if success was unlikely, has continued heatedly ever since.

    The last selection took place on October 30, 1944. The next month, Heinrich Himmler ordered the crematoria destroyed before the Red Army reached the camp. The gas chambers of Birkenau were blown up by the SS in January 1945 in an attempt to hide the German crimes from the advancing Soviet troops. On January 20, the SS command sent orders to murder all the prisoners remaining in the camp, but in the chaos of the Nazi retreat the order was never carried out. On January 17, 1945 Nazi personnel started to evacuate the facility; nearly 60,000 prisoners, most of those remaining, were forced on a death march to the camp toward Wodzisław Śląski (German: Loslau).

    On January 27, 1945 Soviet troops enter the Auschwitz camp complex and liberate approximately 7,000 prisoners remaining in the camp.

    In 1947, in remembrance of the victims, Poland founded a museum at the site of the first two camps. By 1994, some 22 million visitors—700,000 annually—had passed through the iron gate crowned with the motto "Arbeit macht frei". The anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945 is celebrated on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Holocaust Memorial Day in the United Kingdom, and other similar memorial days in various countries.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)