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Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz
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This is the glossary Hanns and Rudolf. This is not a non spoiler thread so any urls and/or expansive discussion can take place here regarding this book. Additionally, this is the spot to add that additional information that may contain spoilers or any helpful urls, links, etc.

This thread is not to be used for self promotion.

Hanns and Rudolf The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding by Thomas Harding Thomas Harding

Final Note: What occurred in these wars was a tragedy - so many lives lost. There were many heinous and despicable acts which should never be forgotten because they are so despicable - and these atrocities should never happen again "anywhere". The following glossary items are added for educational purposes - in preparation for the group discussion of the book Hanns and Rudolf. These specific individuals, events, battles, items, locations, etc were specifically mentioned in the book.

Please be mindful that some of the url links and even the documents themselves may be disturbing in their accounts. This was a very tragic time period in the history of the world.

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World War II

World War II (WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million people serving in military units from over 30 different countries. In a state of "total war", the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it resulted in 50 million to over 75 million fatalities. These deaths make World War II likely the deadliest conflict in human history.

The Empire of Japan aimed to dominate East Asia and was already at war with the Republic of China in 1937, but the world war is generally said to have begun on 1 September 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and Britain. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany formed the Axis alliance with Italy, conquering or subduing much of continental Europe. Following the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories between themselves of their European neighbours, including Poland. The United Kingdom and the other members of the British Commonwealth were the only major Allied forces continuing the fight against the Axis, with battles taking place in North Africa as well as the long-running Battle of the Atlantic. In June 1941, the European Axis launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, giving a start to the largest land theatre of war in history, which tied down the major part of the Axis' military forces for the rest of the war. In December 1941, Japan joined the Axis, attacked the United States and European territories in the Pacific Ocean, and quickly conquered much of the Western Pacific.

The Axis advance was stopped in 1942, after Japan lost a series of naval battles and European Axis troops were defeated in North Africa and, decisively, at Stalingrad. In 1943, with a series of German defeats in Eastern Europe, the Allied invasion of Italy, and American victories in the Pacific, the Axis lost the initiative and undertook strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded France, while the Soviet Union regained all of its territorial losses and invaded Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the United States defeated the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands.

The war in Europe ended with the capture of Berlin by Soviet and Polish troops and the subsequent German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima on 6 August, and Nagasaki on 9 August. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, and the Soviet Union having declared war on Japan by invading Manchuria, Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945, ending the war in Asia and cementing the total victory of the Allies over the Axis.

World War II altered the political alignment and social structure of the world. The United Nations (UN) was established to foster international cooperation and prevent future conflicts. The great powers that were the victors of the war—the United States, the Soviet Union, China, the United Kingdom, and France—became the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 46 years. Meanwhile, the influence of European great powers started to decline, while the decolonisation of Asia and Africa began. Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery. Political integration, especially in Europe, emerged as an effort to stabilize postwar relations and fight more effectively in the Cold War.

The War to End All Wars The American Military Experience in World War I by Edward M. Coffman by Edward M. Coffman (no photo)
The Second World War by John Keegan by John Keegan John Keegan
The Second World War by Antony Beevor by Antony Beevor Antony Beevor
The Second World War by Winston Churchill by Winston Churchill John Keegan
The Origins of the Second World War by A.J.P. Taylor by A.J.P. Taylor A.J.P. Taylor

See also the many book recommendations and discussion threads specific to WWII within The History Book Club:

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World War I

World War I (WWI) was a global war centered in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. It was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until the start of World War II in 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter. It involved all the world's great powers, which were assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the United Kingdom, France and Russia) and the Central Powers (originally the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy; Italy did not enter into the war, as Austria–Hungary had taken the offensive against the terms of the alliance). These alliances were both reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, and the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria the Central Powers. Ultimately, more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history. More than 9 million combatants were killed, largely because of technological advancements that led to enormous increases in the lethality of weapons without corresponding improvements in protection or mobility, causing both sides to resort to large-scale human wave attacks, which proved extremely costly in terms of casualties. It was the fifth-deadliest conflict in world history, subsequently paving the way for various political changes, such as revolutions in many of the nations involved.

One of the long-term causes of the war was the resurgence of imperialism in the foreign policies of the great powers of Europe. More immediately, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, on 28 June 1914 by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo triggered a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary subsequently delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia. Several alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked. Within weeks, the major powers were at war and, via their colonies, the conflict soon spread around the world.

On 28 July, the Austro-Hungarians fired the first shots of the war as preparation for the invasion of Serbia. While the Russians mobilised, the Germans invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg on the way to France, providing a casus belli for Britain's declaration of war against Germany. After the German march on Paris was brought to a halt—the so-called Miracle of the Marne—the Western Front settled into a static battle of attrition with a trench line that changed little until 1917. On the Eastern Front, the Russian army was successful against the Austro-Hungarians, but was stopped in its invasion of East Prussia by the Germans. In November the Ottoman Empire joined the war, opening up fronts in the Caucasus, Mesopotamia and the Sinai. Italy and Bulgaria went to war in 1915 and Romania in 1916. In Russia, the tsar's government collapsed in March 1917 and a subsequent revolution in November brought the Russians to terms with the Central Powers. After a 1918 German offensive along the western front, the Allies drove back the Germans in a series of successful offensives and American forces began entering the trenches. Germany, which had its own trouble with revolutionaries, agreed to an armistice on 11 November 1918. The war ended in victory for the Allies.

Events on the home fronts were as tumultuous as on the battle fronts, as the participants tried to mobilize their manpower and economic resources to fight a total war. By the end of the war, four major imperial powers—the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires—ceased to exist. The successor states of the former two lost a great amount of territory, while the latter two were dismantled entirely. The map of central Europe was redrawn into several smaller states. The League of Nations was formed in the hope of preventing another such conflict. The European nationalism spawned by the war and the breakup of empires, the repercussions of Germany's defeat and problems with the Treaty of Versailles are agreed to be factors contributing to World War II.

In the 19th century, the major European powers had gone to great lengths to maintain a balance of power throughout Europe, resulting in the existence of a complex network of political and military alliances throughout the continent by 1900. These had started in 1815, with the Holy Alliance between Prussia, Russia, and Austria. Then, in October 1873, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck negotiated the League of the Three Emperors (German: Dreikaiserbund) between the monarchs of Austria–Hungary, Russia and Germany. This agreement failed because Austria–Hungary and Russia could not agree over Balkan policy, leaving Germany and Austria–Hungary in an alliance formed in 1879, called the Dual Alliance. This was seen as a method of countering Russian influence in the Balkans as the Ottoman Empire continued to weaken. In 1882, this alliance was expanded to include Italy in what became the Triple Alliance.

After 1870, European conflict was averted largely through a carefully planned network of treaties between the German Empire and the remainder of Europe orchestrated by Bismarck. He especially worked to hold Russia at Germany's side to avoid a two-front war with France and Russia. When Wilhelm II ascended to the throne as German Emperor (Kaiser), Bismarck was compelled to retire and his system of alliances was gradually de-emphasised. For example, the Kaiser refused to renew the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia in 1890. Two years later, the Franco-Russian Alliance was signed to counteract the force of the Triple Alliance. In 1904, the United Kingdom signed a series of agreements with France, the Entente Cordiale, and in 1907, the United Kingdom and Russia signed the Anglo-Russian Convention. While these agreements did not formally ally the United Kingdom with France or Russia, they made British entry into any future conflict involving France or Russia probable, and the system of interlocking bilateral agreements became known as the Triple Entente.

German industrial and economic power had grown greatly after unification and the foundation of the Empire in 1871. From the mid-1890s on, the government of Wilhelm II used this base to devote significant economic resources for building up the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy), established by Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, in rivalry with the British Royal Navy for world naval supremacy. As a result, each nation strove to out-build the other in terms of capital ships. With the launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906, the British Empire expanded on its significant advantage over its German rival. The arms race between Britain and Germany eventually extended to the rest of Europe, with all the major powers devoting their industrial base to producing the equipment and weapons necessary for a pan-European conflict. Between 1908 and 1913, the military spending of the European powers increased by 50 percent.

Austria-Hungary precipitated the Bosnian crisis of 1908–1909 by officially annexing the former Ottoman territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which it had occupied since 1878. This angered the Kingdom of Serbia and its patron, the Pan-Slavic and Orthodox Russian Empire. Russian political manoeuvring in the region destabilised peace accords, which were already fracturing in what was known as "the powder keg of Europe".

In 1912 and 1913, the First Balkan War was fought between the Balkan League and the fracturing Ottoman Empire. The resulting Treaty of London further shrank the Ottoman Empire, creating an independent Albanian State while enlarging the territorial holdings of Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece. When Bulgaria attacked both Serbia and Greece on 16 June 1913, it lost most of Macedonia to Serbia and Greece and Southern Dobruja to Romania in the 33-day Second Balkan War, further destabilizing the region.

The Sleepwalkers How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark by Christopher Clark (no photo)
The War to End All Wars The American Military Experience in World War I by Edward M. Coffman by Edward M. Coffman (no photo)

A World Undone The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 by G.J. Meyer by G.J. Meyer G.J. Meyer
The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman by Barbara W. Tuchman Barbara W. Tuchman
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque by Erich Maria Remarque Erich Maria Remarque

See also the many book recommendations and discussion threads specific to WWI within The History Book Club:

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Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, DL, FRS, Hon. RA (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer, and an artist. He is the only British Prime Minister in history to have received the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was also the first person to be made an Honorary Citizen of the United States.

Churchill was born into an aristocratic family as the grandson of the 7th Duke of Marlborough. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a charismatic politician who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer; his mother, Jennie Jerome, was an American socialite. As a young army officer, he saw action in British India, The Sudan, and the Second Boer War. He gained fame as a war correspondent and wrote books about his campaigns.

At the forefront of politics for fifty years, he held many political and cabinet positions. Before the First World War, he served as President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary, and First Lord of the Admiralty as part of the Asquith Liberal government. During the war, he continued as First Lord of the Admiralty until the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign caused his departure from government. He then briefly resumed active army service on the Western Front as commander of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He returned to government as Minister of Munitions, Secretary of State for War, and Secretary of State for Air. After the War, Churchill served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Conservative (Baldwin) government of 1924–29, controversially returning the pound sterling in 1925 to the gold standard at its pre-war parity, a move widely seen as creating deflationary pressure on the UK economy. Also controversial was his opposition to increased home rule for India and his resistance to the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII.

Out of office and politically "in the wilderness" during the 1930s, Churchill took the lead in warning about Nazi Germany and in campaigning for rearmament. On the outbreak of the Second World War, he was again appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain on 10 May 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister. His steadfast refusal to consider defeat, surrender, or a compromise peace helped inspire British resistance, especially during the difficult early days of the War when Britain stood alone among European countries in its active opposition to Adolf Hitler. Churchill was particularly noted for his speeches and radio broadcasts, which helped inspire the British people. He led Britain as Prime Minister until victory over Nazi Germany had been secured.

After the Conservative Party lost the 1945 election, he became Leader of the Opposition to the Labour (Attlee) government. After winning the 1951 election, he again became Prime Minister, before retiring in 1955. Upon his death, Elizabeth II granted him the honour of a state funeral, which saw one of the largest assemblies of world statesmen in history.[1] Named the Greatest Briton of all time in a 2002 poll, Churchill is widely regarded as being among the most influential people in British history.

My Early Life, 1874-1904 by Winston Churchill by Winston Churchill Winston Churchill
A History of the English Speaking Peoples, 4 Vols by Winston Churchill by Winston Churchill Winston Churchill
Marlborough His Life And Times by Winston Churchill by Winston Churchill Winston Churchill
The Last Lion 1 Visions of Glory 1874-1932 by William R. Manchester by William R. Manchester William R. Manchester
Churchill The Power of Words by Winston Churchill by Winston Churchill Winston Churchill

See also the many book recommendations and discussion threads specific to Winston Churchill within The History Book Club:

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Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 in Braunau-am-Inn on the Austrian-German border. His father was a customs official. Hitler left school at 16 with no qualifications and struggled to make a living as a painter in Vienna. This was where many of his extreme political and racial ideas originated.

In 1913, he moved to Munich and, on the outbreak of World War One, enlisted in the German army, where he was wounded and decorated. In 1919, he joined the fascist German Workers' Party (DAP). He played to the resentments of right-wingers, promising extremist 'remedies' to Germany's post-war problems which he and many others blamed on Jews and Bolsheviks. By 1921 he was the unquestioned leader of what was now the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP or Nazi Party).

In 1923, Hitler attempted an unsuccessful armed uprising in Munich and was imprisoned for nine months, during which time he dictated his book 'Mein Kampf' outlining his political ideology. On his release he began to rebuild the Nazi Party and used new techniques of mass communication, backed up with violence, to get his message across. Against a background of economic depression and political turmoil, the Nazis grew stronger and in the 1932 elections became the largest party in the German parliament. In January 1933, Hitler became chancellor of a coalition government. He quickly took dictatorial powers and began to institute anti-Jewish laws. He also began the process of German militarisation and territorial expansion that would eventually lead to World War Two. He allied with Italy and later Japan to create the Axis.

Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 began World War Two. After military successes in Denmark, Norway and Western Europe, but after failing to subdue Britain in 1941, Hitler ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union. The Jewish populations of the countries conquered by the Nazis were rounded up and killed. Millions of others whom the Nazis considered racially inferior were also killed or worked to death. In December 1941, Hitler declared war on the United States. The war on the eastern front drained Germany's resources and in June 1944, the British and Americans landed in France. With Soviet troops poised to take the German capital, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin on 30 April 1945.

Adolf Hitler by John Willard Toland by John Willard Toland John Toland
The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler (World Landmark Books #47) by William L. Shirer by William L. Shirer William L. Shirer
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler by Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler
Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer by Albert Speer Albert Speer
Hitler by Ian Kershaw by Ian Kershaw Ian Kershaw

See also the discussion thread and other books specific to Adolf Hitler within The History Book Club (as part of the Second World War folder:

Also - See also the discussion folder dedicated to the Holocaust within The History Book Club:

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Kaddish (קדיש, Qaddish Aramaic: "holy"; alternate spellings, qaddish, ḳaddish) is a hymn of praises to God found in the Jewish prayer service. The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God's name. In the liturgy different versions of the Kaddish are used functionally as separators between sections of the service.

The term "Kaddish" is often used to refer specifically to "The Mourner's Kaddish", said as part of the mourning rituals in Judaism in all prayer services, as well as at funerals (other than at the grave site - see below Kaddish ahar Hakk'vurah) and memorials. When mention is made of "saying Kaddish", this unambiguously refers to the rituals of mourning. Mourners say Kaddish to show that despite the loss they still praise God.

The opening words of this prayer are inspired by Ezekiel 38:23, a vision of God becoming great in the eyes of all the nations. The central line of the Kaddish in Jewish tradition is the congregation's response: יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָּא (Yehei shmëh rabba mevarakh lealam ulalmey almaya, "May His great name be blessed for ever, and to all eternity"), a public declaration of God's greatness and eternality.[1] This response is an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew "ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד" (Blessed be His name, whose glorious kingdom is forever), which is to be found in the Jerusalem Targum (יְהֵא שְׁמֵיהּ רַבָּא מְבָרֵךְ לְעָלְמֵי עַלְמִין) (Genesis 49:2 and Deuteronomy 6:4), and is similar to the wording of Daniel 2:20.

The Mourner's, Rabbi's and Complete Kaddish end with a supplication for peace ("Oseh Shalom..."), which is in Hebrew, and is somewhat similar to the Bible Job 25:2.

Along with the Shema and Amidah, the Kaddish is one of the most important and central elements in the Jewish liturgy.

The Mystery of Kaddish by DovBer Pinson by DovBer Pinson (no photo)
Living a Year of Kaddish A Memoir by Ari Goldman by Ari Goldman (no photo)
Kaddish for Kovno Life and Death in a Lithuanian Ghetto 1941-1945 by William W. Mishell by William W. Mishell (no photo)
Jewish Views of the Afterlife by Simcha Paull Raphael by Simcha Paull Raphael (no photo)
Kaddish Women's Voices by Michal Smart by Michal Smart (no photo)

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Auschwitz concentration camp (German: Konzentrationslager Auschwitz [ˈʔaʊ̯ʃvɪt͡s] ( listen)) was a network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. It consisted of Auschwitz I (the original camp), Auschwitz II–Birkenau (a combination concentration / extermination camp), Auschwitz III–Monowitz (a labor camp to staff an IG Farben factory), and 45 satellite camps.

Auschwitz I was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941, and Auschwitz II–Birkenau went on to become a major site of the Nazi "Final Solution to the Jewish question". From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp's gas chambers from all over German-occupied Europe, where they were killed with the pesticide Zyklon B. At least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90 percent of them Jewish; approximately 1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust died at the camp. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Living conditions were brutal, and many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.

In the course of the war, the camp was staffed by 6,500 to 7,000 members of the German Schutzstaffel (SS), approximately 15 percent of whom were later convicted of war crimes. Some, including camp commandant Rudolf Höss, were executed. The Allied Powers refused to believe early reports of the atrocities at the camp, and their failure to bomb the camp or its railways remains controversial. One hundred and forty-four prisoners are known to have escaped from Auschwitz successfully, and on October 7, 1944, two Sonderkommando units—prisoners assigned to staff the gas chambers—launched a brief, unsuccessful uprising.

As Soviet troops approached Auschwitz in January 1945, most of its population was evacuated and sent on a death march. The prisoners remaining at the camp were liberated on January 27, 1945, a day now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In the following decades, survivors such as Primo Levi, Viktor Frankl, and Elie Wiesel wrote memoirs of their experiences in Auschwitz, and the camp became a dominant symbol of the Holocaust. In 1947, Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, and in 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp by Yisrael Gutman by Yisrael Gutman (no photo)
Auschwitz True Tales from a Grotesque Land by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk (no photo)
Auschwitz A Doctor's Eyewitness Account by Miklós Nyiszli by Miklós Nyiszli Miklós Nyiszli
Auschwitz A New History by Laurence Rees by Laurence Rees by Laurence Rees
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski by Tadeusz Borowski Tadeusz Borowski

See also the discussion folder dedicated to the Holocaust and other threads which are specific to Auschwitz within The History Book Club:

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Rudolf Hoss

Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss (represented in German as Höß, also sometimes spelled Hoeß, or Hoess) (25 November 1901[2][1] – 16 April 1947) was an SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel), and from 4 May 1940 to November 1943 was the commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, where it is estimated that more than a million people were killed.[3][4] Höss joined the Nazi Party in 1922 and the SS in 1934. He was hanged in 1947 following a trial in Warsaw.

The Paradox of Power A Transforming View of Leadership by Pat Williams by Pat Williams (no photo)
The Nuremberg Interviews by Leon Goldensohn by Leon Goldensohn (no photo)
Death Dealer The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz by Rudolf Höss by Rudolf Höss Rudolf Höss
The Commandant An Account by the First Commanding Officer of Auschwitz by Rudolf Hoess by Rudolf Höss Rudolf Höss
KL Auschwitz as Seen by the SS by Rudolf Höss by Rudolf Höss Rudolf Höss

See also the discussion folder dedicated to the Holocaust within The History Book Club:

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Hanns Alexander

Hanns Alexander (1917–2006) was a German Jewish refugee who tracked down and arrested the Kommandant of Auschwitz Rudolf Höss.

Born in Berlin to father Alfred Alexander and mother Henny Alexander, he grew up in Nazi Germany and in 1936 he and his family fled to England.

In 1940, he joined the Royal Pioneer Corps and in 1945 he became an interpreter for the 1 War Crimes Investigation Team at Belsen.

Later that year he became a full-time Nazi hunter who tracked down and arrested Gustav Simon and Rudolf Höss.

After the War he had a long professional career as a merchant banker at S.G. Warburg. Hanns died in London at 89 years old.

His story is featured in the book Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding.

Motherland Growing Up with the Holocaust by Rita Goldberg by Rita Goldberg (no photo)
Hanns and Rudolf The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding by Thomas Harding Thomas Harding

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The Holocaust

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. "Holocaust" is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.

During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived "racial inferiority": Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals.


In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. Most European Jews lived in countries that Nazi Germany would occupy or influence during World War II. By 1945, the Germans and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the "Final Solution," the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe. Although Jews, whom the Nazis deemed a priority danger to Germany, were the primary victims of Nazi racism, other victims included some 200,000 Roma (Gypsies). At least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled patients, mainly Germans, living in institutional settings, were murdered in the so-called Euthanasia Program.
As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe, the Germans and their collaborators persecuted and murdered millions of other people. Between two and three million Soviet prisoners of war were murdered or died of starvation, disease, neglect, or maltreatment. The Germans targeted the non-Jewish Polish intelligentsia for killing, and deported millions of Polish and Soviet civilians for forced labor in Germany or in occupied Poland, where these individuals worked and often died under deplorable conditions. From the earliest years of the Nazi regime, German authorities persecuted homosexuals and others whose behavior did not match prescribed social norms. German police officials targeted thousands of political opponents (including Communists, Socialists, and trade unionists) and religious dissidents (such as Jehovah's Witnesses). Many of these individuals died as a result of incarceration and maltreatment.


In the early years of the Nazi regime, the National Socialist government established concentration camps to detain real and imagined political and ideological opponents. Increasingly in the years before the outbreak of war, SS and police officials incarcerated Jews, Roma, and other victims of ethnic and racial hatred in these camps. To concentrate and monitor the Jewish population as well as to facilitate later deportation of the Jews, the Germans and their collaborators created ghettos, transit camps, and forced-labor camps for Jews during the war years. The German authorities also established numerous forced-labor camps, both in the so-called Greater German Reich and in German-occupied territory, for non-Jews whose labor the Germans sought to exploit.

Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) and, later, militarized battalions of Order Police officials, moved behind German lines to carry out mass-murder operations against Jews, Roma, and Soviet state and Communist Party officials. German SS and police units, supported by units of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS, murdered more than a million Jewish men, women, and children, and hundreds of thousands of others. Between 1941 and 1944, Nazi German authorities deported millions of Jews from Germany, from occupied territories, and from the countries of many of its Axis allies to ghettos and to killing centers, often called extermination camps, where they were murdered in specially developed gassing facilities.


In the final months of the war, SS guards moved camp inmates by train or on forced marches, often called “death marches,” in an attempt to prevent the Allied liberation of large numbers of prisoners. As Allied forces moved across Europe in a series of offensives against Germany, they began to encounter and liberate concentration camp prisoners, as well as prisoners en route by forced march from one camp to another. The marches continued until May 7, 1945, the day the German armed forces surrendered unconditionally to the Allies. For the western Allies, World War II officially ended in Europe on the next day, May 8 (V-E Day), while Soviet forces announced their “Victory Day” on May 9, 1945.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, many of the survivors found shelter in displaced persons (DP) camps administered by the Allied powers. Between 1948 and 1951, almost 700,000 Jews emigrated to Israel, including 136,000 Jewish displaced persons from Europe. Other Jewish DPs emigrated to the United States and other nations. The last DP camp closed in 1957. The crimes committed during the Holocaust devastated most European Jewish communities and eliminated hundreds of Jewish communities in occupied eastern Europe entirely.
(Source: This is the introduction from the United States Holocaust Museum site -

Yesterday, Today and Then Tomorrow by B.J. Woods B.J. Woods (no photo)
Holocaust by Charles Reznikoff by Charles Reznikoff (no photo)
The Holocaust and the Christian World Reflections on the Past, Challenge for the Future by Carol Rittner by Carol Rittner (no photo)
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank by Anne Frank Anne Frank
Night (The Night Trilogy, #1) by Elie Wiesel by Elie Wiesel Elie Wiesel

See also the discussion folder dedicated to the Holocaust within The History Book Club:

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Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈluˑɪtˌpɔlt ˈhɪmlɐ] ( listen); 7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Nazi Germany. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler later appointed him Commander of the Replacement (Home) Army and General Plenipotentiary for the administration of the entire Third Reich (Generalbevollmächtigter für die Verwaltung). Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and one of the persons most directly responsible for the Holocaust.

As a member of a reserve battalion during World War I, Himmler did not see active service. He studied agronomy in college, and joined the Nazi Party in 1923 and the SS in 1925. In 1929, he was appointed Reichsführer-SS by Hitler. Over the next 16 years, he developed the SS from a mere 290-man battalion into a powerful group with its own military, and, following Hitler's orders, set up and controlled the Nazi concentration camps. He was known to have good organisational skills and for selecting highly competent subordinates, such as Reinhard Heydrich in 1931. From 1943 forward, he was both Chief of German Police and Minister of the Interior, overseeing all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo (Secret State Police).

On Hitler's behalf, Himmler formed the Einsatzgruppen and built extermination camps. As facilitator and overseer of the concentration camps, Himmler directed the killing of some six million Jews, between 200,000 and 500,000 Romani people, and other victims; the total number of civilians killed by the regime is estimated at eleven to fourteen million people. Most of them were Polish and Soviet citizens.

Late in World War II, Hitler charged Himmler with the command of the Army Group Upper Rhine and the Army Group Vistula; he failed to achieve his assigned objectives and Hitler replaced him in these posts. Shortly before the end of the war, realising that the war was lost, he attempted to open peace talks with the western Allies without Hitler's knowledge. Hearing of this, Hitler dismissed him from all his posts in April 1945 and ordered his arrest. Himmler attempted to go into hiding, but was detained and then arrested by British forces once his identity became known. While in British custody, he committed suicide on 23 May 1945.

The following may be disturbing - be forewarned -
The Architect of Genocide Himmler and the Final Solution by Richard Breitman by Richard Breitman (no photo)
Anatomy of the SS State by Hans Buchheim by Hans Buchheim (no photo)
Hitler and the Final Solution by Gerald Fleming by Gerald Fleming (no photo)
The Face Of The Third Reich Portraits Of The Nazi Leadership by Joachim Fest Joachim Fest Joachim Fest
The Order of the Death's Head The Story of Hitler's SS by Heinz Höhne by Heinz Höhne (no photo)
Death Dealer The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz by Rudolf Höss by Rudolf Höss Rudolf Höss

See also the discussion folder dedicated to the Holocaust within The History Book Club:

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Hitler's Final Solution

Sign used during the anti-Jewish boycott: "Help liberate Germany from Jewish capital. Don't buy in Jewish stores." Germany, 1933.
— Stadtarchiv Nürnberg

The origin of the "Final Solution," the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jewish people, remains uncertain. What is clear is that the genocide of the Jews was the culmination of a decade of Nazi policy, under the rule of Adolf Hitler. The "Final Solution" was implemented in stages. After the Nazi party rise to power, state-enforced racism resulted in anti-Jewish legislation, boycotts, "Aryanization," and finally the "Night of Broken Glass" pogrom, all of which aimed to remove the Jews from German society. After the beginning of World War II, anti-Jewish policy evolved into a comprehensive plan to concentrate and eventually annihilate European Jewry.

The Nazis established ghettos in occupied Poland. Polish and western European Jews were deported to these ghettos. During the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, mobile killing squads (Einsatzgruppen) began killing entire Jewish communities. The methods used, mainly shooting or gas vans, were soon regarded as inefficient and as a psychological burden on the killers.

After the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, the Nazis began the systematic deportation of Jews from all over Europe to six extermination camps established in former Polish territory -- Chelmno , Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Majdanek. Extermination camps were killing centers designed to carry out genocide. About three million Jews were gassed in extermination camps.

In its entirety, the "Final Solution" consisted of gassings, shootings, random acts of terror, disease, and starvation that accounted for the deaths of about six million Jews -- two-thirds of European Jewry.

JUNE 22, 1941

German mobile killing squads, called special duty units (Einsatzgruppen), are assigned to kill Jews during the invasion of the Soviet Union. These squads follow the German army as it advances deep into Soviet territory, and carry out mass-murder operations. At first, the mobile killing squads shoot primarily Jewish men. Soon, wherever the mobile killing squads go, they shoot all Jewish men, women, and children, without regard for age or gender. By the spring of 1943, the mobile killing squads will have killed more than a million Jews and tens of thousands of partisans, Roma (Gypsies), and Soviet political officials.

DECEMBER 8, 1941

The Chelmno killing center begins operation. The Nazis later establish five other such camps: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau (part of the Auschwitz complex), and Majdanek. Victims at Chelmno are killed in gas vans (hermetically sealed trucks with engine exhaust diverted to the interior compartments). The Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka camps use carbon monoxide gas generated by stationary engines attached to gas chambers. Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the killing centers, has four large gas chambers using Zyklon B (crystalline hydrogen cyanide) as the killing agent. The gas chambers at Majdanek use both carbon monoxide and Zyklon B. Millions of Jews are killed in the gas chambers in the killing centers as part of the "Final Solution."

JANUARY 20, 1942

The Wannsee Conference, a meeting between the SS (the elite guard of the Nazi state) and German government agencies, opens in Berlin. They discuss and coordinate the implementation of the "Final Solution," which is already under way. At Wannsee, the SS estimates that the "Final Solution" will involve 11 million European Jews, including those from non-occupied countries such as Ireland, Sweden, Turkey, and Great Britain. Between the fall of 1941 and the fall of 1944, the German railways transport millions of people to their deaths in killing centers in occupied Poland.
(Source - Copyright © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC)

The Origins of the Final Solution The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942 by Christopher R. Browning by Christopher R. Browning (no photo)
Hitler and the Final Solution by Gerald Fleming by Gerald Fleming (no photo)
The Architect of Genocide Himmler and the Final Solution by Richard Breitman by Richard Breitman (no photo)
Holocaust The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews by Peter Longerich by Peter Longerich (no photo)
The Unwritten Order Hitler's Role in the Final Solution by Peter Longerich by Peter Longerich (no photo)
Murderous Medicine Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus by Naomi Baumslag by Naomi Baumslag (no photo)

See also the discussion folder dedicated to the Holocaust within The History Book Club:

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Bryan Craig Nazism

Nazi" is an abbreviation for the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), known in English as the German National Socialist Workers Party, as it existed under the control of Adolf Hitler from 1920 until the end of World War II. The party was held together primarily by populism, authoritarianism, militarism, and belief in German ethnic and cultural supremacy.

Contrary to the party name, its members were hostile to the socialist economic policies of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin and had no affinity for worker's unions. (NSDAP was socialist in the same way that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is democratic; i.e., in name only.) Nazism is generally classified as a right-wing movement because of its emphasis on nationalism and military strength, but it does not fall anywhere within the left-right spectrum as we know it today. It can best be understood as an acute political reaction to the economic hardships and death toll generated by World War I and its aftermath.

Occult Roots of Nazism Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
Hammer of the Gods The Thule Society and the Birth of Nazism by David Luhrssen by David Luhrssen (no photo)
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer by William L. Shirer William L. Shirer
Hitler's Philosophers by Yvonne Sherratt by Yvonne Sherratt (no photo)
Heidegger, Philosophy, Nazism by Julian Young by Julian Young (no photo)
Heidegger The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy in Light of the Unpublished Seminars of 1933-1935 by Emmanuel Faye by Emmanuel Faye (no photo)
Nazi Ideology by C.M. Vasey by C.M. Vasey (no photo)

See also the discussion thread and other books specific to the Nazis within The History Book Club:

message 14: by Bryan (last edited May 05, 2014 08:13AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan Craig Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

Franklin D. Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York on January 30, 1882. He was the son of James Roosevelt and Sara Delano Roosevelt. His parents and private tutors provided him with almost all his formative education. He attended Groton (1896-1900), a prestigious preparatory school in Massachusetts, and received a BA degree in history from Harvard in only three years (1900-03). Roosevelt next studied law at New York's Columbia University. When he passed the bar examination in 1907, he left school without taking a degree. For the next three years he practiced law with a prominent New York City law firm. He entered politics in 1910 and was elected to the New York State Senate as a Democrat from his traditionally Republican home district.

In the meantime, in 1905, he had married a distant cousin, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, who was the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. The couple had six children, five of whom survived infancy: Anna (1906), James (1907), Elliott (1910), Franklin, Jr. (1914) and John (1916).

Roosevelt was reelected to the State Senate in 1912, and supported Woodrow Wilson's candidacy at the Democratic National Convention. As a reward for his support, Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1913, a position he held until 1920. He was an energetic and efficient administrator, specializing in the business side of naval administration. This experience prepared him for his future role as Commander-in-Chief during World War II. Roosevelt's popularity and success in naval affairs resulted in his being nominated for vice-president by the Democratic Party in 1920 on a ticket headed by James M. Cox of Ohio. However, popular sentiment against Wilson's plan for US participation in the League of Nations propelled Republican Warren Harding into the presidency, and Roosevelt returned to private life.

While vacationing at Campobello Island, New Brunswick in the summer of 1921, Roosevelt contracted poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis). Despite courageous efforts to overcome his crippling illness, he never regained the use of his legs. In time, he established a foundation at Warm Springs, Georgia to help other polio victims, and inspired, as well as directed, the March of Dimes program that eventually funded an effective vaccine.

With the encouragement and help of his wife, Eleanor, and political confidant, Louis Howe, Roosevelt resumed his political career. In 1924 he nominated Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York for president at the Democratic National Convention, but Smith lost the nomination to John W. Davis. In 1928 Smith became the Democratic candidate for president and arranged for Roosevelt's nomination to succeed him as governor of New York. Smith lost the election to Herbert Hoover; but Roosevelt was elected governor.

Following his reelection as governor in 1930, Roosevelt began to campaign for the presidency. While the economic depression damaged Hoover and the Republicans, Roosevelt's bold efforts to combat it in New York enhanced his reputation. In Chicago in 1932, Roosevelt won the nomination as the Democratic Party candidate for president. He broke with tradition and flew to Chicago to accept the nomination in person. He then campaigned energetically calling for government intervention in the economy to provide relief, recovery, and reform. His activist approach and personal charm helped to defeat Hoover in November 1932 by seven million votes.

By 1939, with the outbreak of war in Europe, Roosevelt was concentrating increasingly on foreign affairs. New Deal reform legislation diminished, and the ills of the Depression would not fully abate until the nation mobilized for war.

When Hitler attacked Poland in September 1939, Roosevelt stated that, although the nation was neutral, he did not expect America to remain inactive in the face of Nazi aggression. Accordingly, he tried to make American aid available to Britain, France, and China and to obtain an amendment of the Neutrality Acts which rendered such assistance difficult. He also took measures to build up the armed forces in the face of isolationist opposition.

With the fall of France in 1940, the American mood and Roosevelt's policy changed dramatically. Congress enacted a draft for military service and Roosevelt signed a "lend-lease" bill in March 1941 to enable the nation to furnish aid to nations at war with Germany and Italy. America, though a neutral in the war and still at peace, was becoming the "arsenal of democracy", as its factories began producing as they had in the years before the Depression.

The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, followed four days later by Germany's and Italy's declarations of war against the United States, brought the nation irrevocably into the war. Roosevelt exercised his powers as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, a role he actively carried out. He worked with and through his military advisers, overriding them when necessary, and took an active role in choosing the principal field commanders and in making decisions regarding wartime strategy.

He moved to create a "grand alliance" against the Axis powers through "The Declaration of the United Nations," January 1, 1942, in which all nations fighting the Axis agreed not to make a separate peace and pledged themselves to a peacekeeping organization (now the United Nations) upon victory.

He gave priority to the western European front and had General George Marshall, Chief of Staff, plan a holding operation in the Pacific and organize an expeditionary force for an invasion of Europe. The United States and its allies invaded North Africa in November 1942 and Sicily and Italy in 1943. The D-Day landings on the Normandy beaches in France, June 6, 1944, were followed by the allied invasion of Germany six months later. By April 1945 victory in Europe was certain.

The unending stress and strain of the war literally wore Roosevelt out. By early 1944 a full medical examination disclosed serious heart and circulatory problems; and although his physicians placed him on a strict regime of diet and medication, the pressures of war and domestic politics weighed heavily on him. During a vacation at Warm Springs, Georgia, on April 12, 1945, he suffered a massive stroke and died two and one-half hours later without regaining consciousness. He was 63 years old. His death came on the eve of complete military victory in Europe and within months of victory over Japan in the Pacific. President Roosevelt was buried in the Rose Garden of his estate at Hyde Park, New York.

FDR by Jean Edward Smith by Jean Edward Smith Jean Edward Smith
Commander in Chief Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants, and Their War by Eric Larrabee by Eric Larrabee (no photo)
FDR The Beckoning of Destiny 1882-1928 A History by Kenneth Sydney Davis FDR The New York Years 1928-1933 by Kenneth Sydney Davis FDR Into the Storm 1937-1940 by Kenneth Sydney Davis FDR The War President, 1940-1943 A History by Kenneth Sydney Davis by Kenneth Davis (no photo)
No Ordinary Time Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt by Doris Kearns Goodwin by Doris Kearns Goodwin Doris Kearns Goodwin
Roosevelt The Lion and the Fox, 1882-1940 by James MacGregor Burns Roosevelt The Soldier of Freedom, 1940-1945 by James MacGregor Burns by James MacGregor Burns (no photo)
(no image) FDR: The New Deal Years 1933-1937 by Kenneth S. Davis (no photo)

See also the discussion thread and other books specific to FDR within The History Book Club:

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Chapter One

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Ottoman Empire


The Ottoman Empire was an imperial state that was founded in 1299 after growing out of the break-down of several Turkish tribes. The empire then grew to include many areas in what is now present-day Europe to and it eventually became one of the largest, most powerful and longest-lasting empires in the history of the world. At its peak the Ottoman Empire included the areas of Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Hungary, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and parts of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. It had a maximum area of 7.6 million square miles (19.9 million square kilometers) in 1595 (University of Michigan). The Ottoman Empire began to decline power in the 18th century but a portion of its land became what is Turkey today.

The Ottoman Empire began in the late 1200s during the break-up of the Seljuk Turk Empire. After that empire broke up the Ottoman Turks began to take control of the other states belonging to the former empire and by the late 1400's all other Turkish dynasties were controlled by the Ottoman Turks.

In the early days of the Ottoman Empire the main goal of its leaders was expansion. The earliest phases of Ottoman expansion occurred under Osman I, Orkhan and Murad I. Bursa, one of the Ottoman Empire's earliest capitals fell in 1326. In the late 1300's several important victories gained more land for the Ottomans and Europe began to prepare for Ottoman expansion.

After some military defeats in the early 1400s the Ottomans regained their power under Muhammad I and in 1453 they captured Constantinople. The Ottoman Empire then entered its height and what is known as the Period of Great Expansion, during which time the empire came to include the lands of over ten different European and Middle Eastern states. It is believed that the Ottoman Empire was able to grow so rapidly because other countries were weak and unorganized and also because the Ottomans had advanced military organization and tactics for the time. In the 1500's the Ottoman Empire's expansion continued with the defeat of the Mamluks in Egypt and Syria in 1517, Algiers in 1518 and Hungary in 1526 and 1541. In addition, parts of Greece also fell under Ottoman control in the 1500s.

In 1535 the reign of Sulayman I began and Turkey gained more power than it had had under previous leaders. During the reign of Sulayman I, the Turkish judicial system was reorganized and Turkish culture began to grow significantly. Following Sulayman I's death the empire began to lose power when its military was defeated during the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Throughout the rest of the 1500s and into the 1600s and 1700s the Ottoman Empire began a considerable decline in power after several military defeats. In the mid-1600s the empire was restored for a short time after military victories in Persia and Venice. In 1699 the empire again began to lose territory and power subsequently.

In the 1700s the Ottoman Empire began to rapidly deteriorate following the Russo-Turkish Wars and a series of treaties during that time caused the empire to lose some of its economic independence. The Crimean War, which lasted from 1853-1856, further exhausted the struggling empire. In 1856 the independence of the Ottoman Empire was recognized by the Congress of Paris but it was still losing its strength as a European power.

In the late 1800s there were several rebellions and the Ottoman Empire continued to lose territory and political and social instability in the 1890s created international negativity toward the empire. The Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 and uprisings by Turkish nationalists further reduced the empire's territory and increased instability. Following the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire officially came to an end with the Treaty of Sevres.

Despite its collapse, the Ottoman Empire was one of the largest, longest lasting and most successful empires in the world's history. There are many reasons as to why the empire was as successful as it was but some of them include its very strong and organized military and its centralized political structure. These early, successful governments make the Ottoman Empire one of the most important in history.

Osman's Dream The History of the Ottoman Empire by Caroline Finkel by Caroline Finkel (no photo)
The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922 (New Approaches to European History) by Donald Quataert by Donald Quataert (no photo)
A Peace to End All Peace The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin by David Fromkin (no photo)
Lords of the Horizons A History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin by Jason Goodwin Jason Goodwin
Shadow of the Sultan's Realm The Destruction of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by Daniel Allen Butler by Daniel Allen Butler Daniel Allen Butler

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Mesopotamian Campaign


On 6 November 1914, a force of Indian and British infantry landed at the head of the Persian Gulf ostensibly to protect imperial oil interests, now threatened by Turkey, who had joined the Central Powers on 28 October. Oil had been discovered in the area just prior to 1914, and the sandy wastes swiftly assumed strategic importance as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company began to develop the first oilfields. Moreover, as Briton Cooper Busch has shown, Britain was anxious to preserve her established position in the Gulf, to prevent Turkish agents from stirring up trouble amongst India's Muslims, and to encourage Arab resistance to Turkish rule.

Until early 1916 the campaign was directed by the government of India, which left much of the decision-making to its own military authorities and to the C-in-C, Gen Sir John Nixon, who took over in March 1915. Both recognized that as long as they retained only a toehold in Mesopotamia the Turks were at liberty to move down the Tigris and Euphrates against them, and early successes encouraged them to believe that an advance inland would be easy. Political motives remained blurred. An inter-departmental committee in London produced a list of desiderata which included the development of ‘a possible field for Indian colonisation’, and some officials argued in favour of wide territorial annexation.

Despite the campaign's lack of clear strategic focus, its early signs were promising. Basra (which the Turks had already evacuated) was taken on 22 November, and El Qurnah, at the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates, fell on 9 December. Nixon was told to ‘retain complete control of the lower portion of Mesopotamia’—defined as the province of Basra, which he had not fully secured—and to submit plans for an advance on Baghdad. In May 1915 two British columns moved off, one following each river upstream. The 6th Indian Division under Maj Gen Charles Townshend moved up the Tigris towards Baghdad, while Maj Gen Gorringe took his 12th Indian Division to An Nasiriyah on the Euphrates, which fell on 25 July.

These easy successes encouraged Nixon to aim for Baghdad. His logistics were never robust, and it became increasingly difficult to supply the advancing troops: as his supply line grew longer, that of the Turks grew shorter. Nixon was convinced that he could take Baghdad, though Townshend disagreed. The latter's men were unused to the local climate and had begun to tire after the long advance. Despite pleas for reinforcement, 6th Division was ordered to continue along the Tigris, and took a series of river towns before reaching Kut Al Amara. The Turks evacuated their 10,000-strong garrison, and Townshend occupied Kut, just 120 miles (193 km) from Baghdad, on 28 September 1915.

Opinion on the wisdom of an advance on Baghdad remained divided. Although in October 1915 a joint War Office–Admiralty memorandum warned against the diversion of troops to a campaign ‘which cannot appreciably influence the decision as between the armies of the Allies and those of the Central Powers’, the same month the cabinet concluded that success in Mesopotamia would offset failure in Gallipoli. ‘We are therefore in need of a striking success in the east,’ it announced. ‘Unless you consider that the possibility of eventual withdrawal is against the advance … we are prepared to order it.’ Although Nixon knew that the Turks had been reinforced, he told Townshend to press on.

Townshend resumed his advance, and though he had to wait six weeks to resupply, by 22 November he was 24 miles (39 km) from Baghdad, where he attacked a strong Turkish defensive line at Ctesiphon, losing over 4,000 men, one-third of his force. Townshend had pushed his luck too far. He was without reserves, and, faced with the arrival of fresh Turkish troops, was obliged to fall back on Kut Al Amara, where he was besieged. Meanwhile, Nixon had remained 300 miles (482 km) distant in Basra, and was unable to appreciate the gravity of the situation, while the Allied evacuation from Gallipoli allowed the Turks to further reinforce their forces in Mesopotamia. Three attempts at relief failed and on 26 April 1916, his force starving and riddled with disease, Townshend surrendered 2,000 British and 6,000 Indian soldiers. The failure of the relief attempts, which had cost a further 21,000 casualties, allied to the surrender at Kut caused a storm of indignation in England.

In August 1916 Gen Sir Stanley Maude took over as C-in-C and resumed the offensive up the Tigris in December with two corps, an impressive force of 166,000. By 25 February, he had retaken Kut, and pressed on to the prize, Baghdad, which his main force entered on 11 March 1917. Now Turkish forces began to be stretched in turn, as the British successes at Gaza made demanding calls on their manpower. To secure Baghdad, Maude formed three columns, and sent them further up the Tigris, Euphrates, and Diyala rivers, with the aim of destroying the Turkish field army. Each column won a series of engagements, but Maude died of cholera on 18 November and was succeeded by Lt Gen Sir William Marshall. In January 1918, a small British force under Maj Gen Dunsterville (Dunsterforce) moved north from Baghdad in a race with the Turks to seize the Russian oilfields at Baku, some 500 miles (805 km) distant, which had been vulnerable since Russia's withdrawal from the war, following the November Russian Revolution. Dunsterforce arrived only in August, and had to withdraw the following month after Turkish attacks.

Back in Mesopotamia, the river advances continued throughout 1918, but some of the British force was withdrawn to Palestine to replace troops sent to France to repel the Ludendorff offensive. Five thousand Turkish prisoners were taken in an engagement on the Euphrates at Khan Baghdad on 26 March, and Turkish troops gradually lost their enthusiasm for fighting. In late October 1918, faced with an impending Turkish armistice, a British force under Cobbe pushed up the Tigris to seize the oilfields at Mosul, fighting their last battle with the Turks near the ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Asshur. The armistice with Turkey of 30 October brought about the surrender of Asshur (Ash Sharqat), but Cobbe moved on to occupy Mosul in early November. In 1918 Mesopotamia assumed its modern name of Iraq, under a British mandate, and imperial forces remained garrisoned there to subdue dissident tribesmen. The campaign, which had begun and ended with the seizure of oilfields, cost the British army 27,000 men, 13,000 of whom died of disease. It was indeed a sideshow, conducted without proper strategic control: the courage of the troops engaged, who fought in what were often appalling conditions, merited deeper thought on the part of their leaders.

When God Made Hell The British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the Creation of Iraq 1914-1921 by Charles Townshend by Charles Townshend (no photo)
Tigris Gunboats The Forgotten War in Iraq 1914-1917 by Wilfred Nunn by Wilfred Nunn (no photo)
Iraq in World War I From Ottoman Rule to British Conquest by Mohammad Gholi Majd by Mohammad Gholi Majd (no photo)
Battles on the Tigris The Mesopotamian Campaign of the First World War by Ron Wilcox by Ron Wilcox (no photo)
From Basra To Baghdad The British Campaign In Mesopotamia 1914-18 by Alan Wakefield by Alan Wakefield (no photo)
The First Iraq War 1914-1918 Britain's Mesopotamian Campaign by A.J. Barker by A.J. Barker (no photo)

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Siege of Kut



The First Battle of Kut, begun on 5 April 1916, marked the final British attempt to relieve the Turkish siege of Sir Charles Townshend's beleaguered 10,000 troops garrisoned at Kut. Its failure sealed the fate of Townshend's force which, at last out of supplies, surrendered unconditionally to Turkish commander Khalil Pasha on 29 April 1916.

In charge of the operation to conduct the relief was the newly arrived (and resolutely unpopular) British commander George Gorringe who took over from the recalled Sir Fenton Aylmer.

Gorringe's force was boosted by the recent arrival of Sir Frederick Maude's 13th Division. This brought his available strength up to around 30,000, a figure matched by Khalil's decision to draft up reserves from nearby Baghdad.

Gorringe decided to open the attack by sending Maude's men against the Hanna Defile once again, in spite of the earlier failure in storming the same position in January 1916. In the interim however Khalil had taken the opportunity of establishing two deep trench lines at Fallahiyeh and at Sannaiyat.

Attacking at dawn on 5 April Maude was surprised to discover the Turkish first line unoccupied. He therefore regrouped preparatory for a frontal assault upon Fallahiyeh that same evening. Fallahiyeh was duly taken following an advance across mud-soaked terrain, but at heavy cost.

Meanwhile a secondary attack along the other bank of the Tigris River encountered relatively light opposition. With Fallahiyeh secured reserve forces were set in place in readiness for a follow-up attack against Sannaiyat the next morning. Despite these early promising British successes casualties were nevertheless uncomfortably high: 2,000 on the first day alone.

Progress was much more difficult to come by on the following morning. Attack after attack upon Sannaiyat was repulsed over succeeding days. 1,200 British casualties were incurred alone on 6 April, with additional losses suffered the next day and on 9 April.

Frustrated in his attacks against Sannaiyat General Gorringe resolved therefore to switch the focus of his main attack to the other bank, against the Turk-held Bait Asia position. Heavy rainfall however hindered Gorringe's advance. Nevertheless forward Turk positions fell on 15 April with Bait Asia itself falling on 17 April at relatively light cost.

Khalil launched a determined counter-attack with 10,000 troops overnight against Bait Asia's Anglo-Indian forces but was ultimately thrown back. Khalil's force suffered a high percentage of casualties: 4,000; however the British loss of 1,600 troops made further progress along the bank virtually impossible.

Despite the absence of around 5,000 reserves en route to Gorringe from the British HQ at Basra, General Gorringe nevertheless launched a final attempt on 22 April, switching his focus back again to Sannaiyat.

Weakly composed however - the attack consisted of a single brigade preceded by the usual artillery bombardment (which as ever warned the Turks of impending attack) - it was repulsed after Khalil first evacuated his first two lines and then counter-attacked in force. A further 1,300 British casualties were suffered in this latest setback, bringing the overall total during relief operations to 23,000.

British surrender in Kut to Khalil Pasha, 1916No further attempts at relief were made save for a final, desperate effort to send supplies through to Kut via an armoured supply ship, the Julnar (which also failed).

Accordingly Sir Charles Townshend, having consulted with higher authority, surrendered unconditionally on 29 April 1916 having failed to purchase parole for his 10,000 men with a £1 million offer.

It was the greatest humiliation to have befallen the British army in its history. For the Turks - and for Germany - it proved a significant morale booster, and undoubtedly weakened British influence in the Middle East.

In the wake of what was perceived in London as a calamity Maude replaced General Gorringe as commander of the so-called Tigris Corps in July 1916, marking a shift in control from India to Britain. The following month he was given responsibility for the entire front.

He immediately set about reorganising and re-supplying British and Indian forces in the region. He rapidly established a reputation as the most successful commander - of either side - operating on the Mesopotamian Front.

The fall of Kut in late April 1916, when British commander Sir Charles Townshend surrendered his garrison of approximately 10,000 men to the besieging Turk force under Khalil Pasha, brought about a reorganisation of both Turk and British forces in the area.

Khalil took the opportunity to pull back his extended line by some 15km, a decision taken with a potential attack through Persia in mind (which in the event never came to pass on account of renewed British success along the River Tigris).

Meanwhile the shock of the loss of the Kut-al-Amara garrison - considered by many the greatest humiliation ever to befall the British Army - had prompted the British government in London to revise its view of the Mesopotamian Front.

Until the fall of Kut the War Office in London had acquiesced in the Indian administration's management of military affairs in Mesopotamia, even though the latter's policy of an aggressive "forward defence" had caused unease among ministers in London (notably Sir William Robertson). Now, with Khalil's unequivocal victory - and the consequent serious damage to British prestige in the Middle East - London determined to take over handling of the campaign in the region.

This resulted in the recall of the unpopular George Gorringe in the wake of his failure to relieve Townshend (although by the time of his appointment it was already arguably too late to relieve the Kut garrison). In his place was appointed the relatively junior Sir Frederick Maude, who eventually came to be recognised as the war's most successful commander operating on the Mesopotamian Front (of all sides).

Maude was appointed commander of the so-called Tigris Corps in July 1916 and, the following month, of the entire front. He immediately set about reorganising and re-supplying British and Indian forces in the region.

British strength in the region was reinforced by an influx of Anglo-Indian troops, although sickness continued to claim an inordinate number of casualties until Maude finally revamped the British system of medical supplies, virtually non-existent to that point.

Sir William Robertson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff in LondonBy October 1916 Maude had 150,000 troops under his command, of which around half were serving on the front lines. He was determined to launch a renewed offensive against Kut before the arrival of the winter floods common to the region.

Maude's plans were not however unknown to the local Turkish commander, Karabekir Bey. Overwhelmingly outnumbered by some three-to-one he nevertheless set about reinforcing Turkish trench positions; his calls for reinforcement were however unheeded by Khalil.

Along with improvements to the British system of medical supplies great progress was made in improving transport mechanisms, a constant failing to that point. Satisfied that British preparations were approaching completion Maude requested - and after a pause was granted - permission from London for an advance upon Baghdad.

Thus the British attack was eventually launched on the night of 13/14 December 1916 on both banks of the River Tigris. Approximately 50,000 men, organised in two corps, were involved in the advance.

Progress was slow however, if sure, on account of heavy rain and an overriding concern to minimise casualties (one of London's most insistent demands to Maude). It took a full two months to clear the west bank of resistance below Kut, and included the capture of the fortified Khadairi Bend on 29 January 1917.

Crossing the Shumran bend on 17 February 1917 to the right of Turk forces, Maude launched an attack on both flanks. Karabekir Bey, overwhelmed, authorised a skilfully-managed retreat from Kut a week later on 24 February, heavily pursued by a flotilla of naval gunboats (bringing about an action at Nahr-al-Kalek), although British cavalry was unable to provide assistance while placed under fire from well-sited machine guns.

Additional difficulties were faced by the retreating Turks in fighting off repeated attacks by local Marsh Arabs, who attacked both sides at every opportunity.

The success of the British advance (which petered out on 27 February, some 100km beyond Kut at Aziziyeh) persuaded Khalil to postpone and then abandon his plans for a Turkish sweep through Persia; he also recalled a corps fighting against Russian forces in western Persia to boost his own strength.

Buoyed by his success in re-taking Kut, Maude barely paused before pushing on with the advance to Baghdad, which fell to the British the following month.

Kut 1916 Courage and Failure in Iraq by Patrick Crowley by Patrick Crowley (no photo)
Death of an Army - The Siege of Kut 1915-1916 by Ronald Millar by Ronald Millar (no photo)
The Siege of Kut-Al-Amara At War in Mesopotamia, 1915-1916 by Nikolas Gardner by Nikolas Gardner (no photo)
Ordered to Die A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War by Edward J. Erickson by Edward J. Erickson (no photo)

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Central Powers


The Allies described the wartime military alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire as the 'Central Powers'. The name referred to the geographical location of the two original members of the alliance, Germany and Austria-Hungary, in central Europe. The Ottoman Empire joined the alliance in November 1914 and the last member of the quartet, the Kingdom of Bulgaria, entered the war on the side of the Central Powers in October 1915.

As well as providing the alliance with its name, the geographical position of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires also gave the Central Powers at least one very important strategic advantage over the Allies they were fighting. It was much easier for the Germans and Austro-Hungarians to move troops, equipment and supplies from one battle front to another because they could do much of this on their domestic railway networks.

For example, the Germans could move 10 infantry divisions from the Eastern Front to the Western Front via a relatively straightforward journey across Germany. It was no more difficult for the Austro-Hungarians to move five infantry divisions from the Eastern Front to the Italian Front, or to the Salonika Front in the Balkans.

Compare this situation with the difficulties faced by the Allies in moving men, equipment and supplies from one battle front to another. This usually involved long circuitous routes across or around multiple countries, each with different rail networks and logistical procedures. It was also likely to require transport by sea, which posed its own set of risks, notably from German and Austrian submarines. So while it could take two or three weeks to transport a British Army unit and its equipment from the United Kingdom to the Salonika Front, the Austro-Hungarians, and the Germans if need be, could move reinforcements there in less than a week.

The military term for this strategic advantage of the Central Powers is 'operating on interior lines'. It was used to most dramatic effect in early 1918, when the rapid transfer of large numbers of German divisions from the Eastern Front to the Western Front enabled the great German spring offensive in the west.

Ring of Steel Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I by Alexander Watson by Alexander Watson (no photo)
The First World War Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918 by Holger H. Herwig by Holger H. Herwig (no photo)
Victory Must Be Ours Germany in the Great War, 1914-1918 by Laurence Moyer by Laurence Moyer (no photo)
Ordered to Die A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War by Edward J. Erickson by Edward J. Erickson (no photo)
The Ottoman Road to War in 1914 The Ottoman Empire and the First World War by Mustafa Aksakal by Mustafa Aksakal (no photo)
The Central Powers in the Adriatic, 1914-1918 War in a Narrow Sea by Charles W. Koburger Jr. by Charles W. Koburger Jr. (no photo)
The Berlin-Baghdad Express The Ottoman Empire and Germany's Bid for World Power by Sean McMeekin by Sean McMeekin (no photo)
A Mad Catastrophe The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire by Geoffrey Wawro by Geoffrey Wawro Geoffrey Wawro

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British Lee-Enfield Rifle


The Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) affectionately known as the "SMELLIE."
Starting life as the No 1 Mk 1 and finishing as the No 1 Mk VI, it was used all over the world in two World Wars. Most probably the finest bolt action battle rifle ever produced, it was easily capable of 15 rounds a minute of accurate fire in the hands of a trained soldier. However, a Small Arms School Corps QMSI managed a rate of 37 rds a minute in the 1930's.

Britain declared war on the 4th Aug 1914. By mid August the Belgians were no more than an irritating hitch to the German advance. Only one intact force stood in the way of the Germans - the BEF. The first shots that the British fired were at Malpaquet, the Germans were pulled up short near Mons as the withering rifle fire of the British caused them heavy casualties.

2 days later on the 25 August 1914 at Le Cateau the story of Mons was repeated only on a bloodier scale. Once again the Germans attacked in tightly bunched waves and again they were met with rifle fire so intense that they thought the British were equipped with machine guns. At the end of the day 3 British Divisions fell back with the loss 7,812 men and 38 field guns. Some 2000 of which became POW's.

By September 1st 1914 the forward elements of the German Army were a mere 30 miles from Paris. The BEF had earned the title 'Contemptible Little Army' from the Kaiser, and the reputation of the SMLE rifle was born.

An account from Lt R A Macleod 80th Bty XV Bde RFA stated:
"Our Infantry were splendid they had only scratchings in the ground made with their entrenching tools, which didn't give much cover, but they stuck it out and returned a good rate of fire. The German Infantry fired from the hip as they advanced but their fire was very inaccurate."

What was conclusively proved in 1914 was the awful power of the SMLE in skilled hands. From the Boer War the Army had worked unceasingly to achieve a standard of speed and accuracy of rifle fire never before considered possible in any Army. The battles of Mons, The Marne and First Ypres showed how successful the training had been.

In a sense the first few months of the Great War represented the high¬water mark for the SMLE as an infantry weapon, since time and skilled instructors necessary to achieve such standards were just not available thereafter.

Trench warfare saw the return of many weapons thought to be obsolete; mortars, grenades being amongst them but above all was the rise in importance of the machine gun which was soon to rule the battlefield.

This said, what is not stated is that the main reason for the Army placing such an emphasis on rapid rifle fire between the Boer War and the start of the First World War was that the Treasury would not unduly fund machine guns so the army had to place ever more stress on rapid musketry as a substitute for machine gun fire. Also a lot of the armies hierarchy still believed that cavalry and bayonet charges were still the way wars should be fought.

Whilst it has been often accepted that the Short Magazine Lee Enfield is inferior to the Mauser System, particularly as regards the strength of the action and accuracy, it is most likely one of the most "soldier proof" rifles ever designed. It was also preferred for it's reliability under the most adverse conditions, as well as it's speed of operation. In 1912, trials conducted at Hythe against the German Service rifle, it was found that about 14 - 15 rounds a minute could be fired from the Mauser, compared with 28 for the SMLE.
(Source: http://www.leeenfieldrifleassociation...)

Rifles An Illustrated History of Their Impact by David Westwood by David Westwood (no photo)
British Enfield Rifles, Vol. 4, the Pattern 1914 and U.S. Model 1917 Enfield Rifles by Charles R. Stratton by Charles R. Stratton (no photo)
Raising Churchill's Army The British Army and the War Against Germany 1919-1945 by David French by David French (no photo)
The Lee-Enfield Rifle by Martin Pegler by Martin Pegler Martin Pegler

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Baden Baden, Germany

Baden-Baden is a spa town in the German state of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany (district capital is the city of Karlsruhe). It is located in the northern foothills of the Black Forest, on the banks of the Oos River in close proximity to France and Switzerland

The German word, Baden, translates as "bathing, to bathe or baths". The springs of Baden-Baden were known to the Romans under Roman emperor Hadrian. The bath-conscious Caracalla, once came here to ease his arthritic aches. Baden was also known as Aurelia Aquensis, in honour of Aurelius Severus, during whose reign Baden would seem to have been well known. Fragments of its ancient sculptures are still to be seen and in 1847, the well preserved remains of Roman vapour baths were discovered just below the New Castle.

The town was named "Baden" (without the repetition) in the Middle Ages. The town fell into ruin but reappeared in 1112 as the seat (until 1705) of the Margraviate of Baden. From the 14th century to the end of the 17th, Baden-Baden was the residence of the margraves of Baden, to whom Baden-Baden gave its name. The margraves first dwelled in the old castle, the ruins of which still occupy the summit above the town, but, in 1479, they moved to the new castle, which is situated on the hillside nearer to the town. During the Thirty Years' War and the Nine Years' War, Baden-Baden suffered severely from the various combatants, especially from the French, who pillaged it in 1643 and left it in ashes in 1689. The margrave Louis William, popularly known as Türkenlouis, moved to Rastatt in 1706.

During the Second Congress of Rastatt (1797–1799), Baden-Baden was rediscovered as a spa town. The popularity of the city as a spa dates from the early 19th century, when the Prussian queen visited the site to improve her health. During the 19th century, the town rose to become a meeting place for celebrities, who were attracted by the hot springs as well as by the famous Baden-Baden Casino, the luxury hotels, the horse races, and the gardens of the Lichtentaler Allee. Clients included Queen Victoria, Wilhelm I, Napoleon III, Berlioz, Brahms, Turgenev, and Dostoyevsky. Baden-Baden is a setting in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (though the city is given a different name), as well as for Turgenev's novel Smoke. Baden-Baden at that time nicknamed the European summer capital and reached its zenith under Napoleon III during the 1850s and 1860s. The Russian writer, Dostoevsky, wrote The Gambler while compulsively gambling at the Baden-Baden Casino. Johannes Brahms' local residence, the Brahmshaus, can still be visited today.

In 1931, the town of Baden-Baden was officially given its double name, which is the short form for "Baden in Baden" (i.e., Baden in the state of Baden). This was already in common use to distinguish the town from Baden bei Wien ("Baden near Vienna") and Baden, Switzerland.

In both World Wars, the town escaped destruction. After World War II, Baden-Baden became the headquarters of the French occupation forces in Germany.

Under the supervision of the French Air Force, a military airfield was constructed at Söllingen between the Black Forest and the Rhine River, 15 kilometres (9 miles) west of Baden-Baden; the runway and associated facilities were completed in June 1952. In 1953, units of the Royal Canadian Air Force were accommodated at the base later known as CFB Baden-Soellingen. In the 1990s, the base was converted into a civil airport, the Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport (as part of Baden Airpark), which is now the second-largest airport in Baden-Württemberg by number of passengers.

Regarding reference in Hanns and Rudolf - Rodolf Hoss was born in Baden Baden, Germany.

More: (sort of an interesting url which explains the name and some of the reasons for it) (shows the Black Forest, the funicular railroad in Baden, the landscape, the Merkur (the local mountain) and the Trinkhalle) (Obama and Merkel)
Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp by Yisrael Gutman by Yisrael Gutman (no photo)
Summer in Baden-Baden by Leonid Tsypkin by Leonid Tsypkin (no photo)
Note: this is sort of a docu-novel but considered a masterpiece
Historical Dictionary of the Napoleonic Era by George Nafziger by George Nafziger (no photo)

The Face Of The Third Reich Portraits Of The Nazi Leadership by Joachim Fest by Joachim Fest Joachim Fest
Death Dealer The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz by Rudolf Höss by Rudolf Höss Rudolf Höss

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Here is the Hoss family house on the outskirts of Baden, Baden (1900 - 1906)

*Rudolf Hoss was born in Baden, Baden on November 25, 1901.

(Source: Baden-Baden State Archive)

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Hejaz Railway


Hejaz Railway, Turkish Hicaz Demiryolu, railroad between Damascus, Syria, and Medina (now in Saudi Arabia), one of the principal railroads of the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

Its main line was constructed in 1900–08, ostensibly to facilitate pilgrimages to the Muslims’ holy places in Arabia but in fact also to strengthen Ottoman control over the most distant provinces of the empire. The main line, built by a multiracial labour force mainly under the supervision of a German engineer, traversed 820 miles (1,320 km) of difficult country and was completed in only eight years. It ran from Damascus southward to Darʿā (Deraa) and thence over Transjordan via Az-Zarqāʾ, Al-Qaṭrānah, and Maʿān into northwestern Arabia, and inland via Dhāt al-Ḥajj and Al-ʿUlā to Medina. The major branch line, 100 miles (160 km) long, from Darʿā to Haifa on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine, was completed in 1905.

Even before World War I (1914–18) the Bedouins of the adjacent desert areas attacked the railway, which challenged their control over the pilgrims’ route to the holy places from the north. When the Arabs of the Hejaz revolted against Turkish rule in 1916, the track between Maʿān and Medina was put out of operation by Arab raids, largely inspired by the British military strategist T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). After the war the operative sections of the track were taken over by the Syrian, Palestinian, and Transjordanian governments. The section of the railway running from Maʿān, Jordan, to Medina was heavily damaged and was abandoned after 1917; plans to restore the line in the 1960s were not fulfilled.

In the late 20th century the northern portion of the Hejaz Railway (also called the Hejaz-Jordan Railway) between Amman, Jordan, and Damascus was in use and carried mostly freight. To the south, between Amman and Wādī al-Abyaḍ, the rail line was only partly in operational condition and was not being used. From Wādī al-Abyaḍ via Maʿān to Batṇ al-Ghūl the southern continuation of the Hejaz Railway was also in use, as was the relatively new rail line (owned by the Aqaba Railway Corporation) between Batṇ al-Ghūl and Al-ʿAqabah, which opened in 1975. Phosphates from the mines at Wādī al-Abyaḍ and nearby Al Ḥasā were transported by rail to the port of Al-ʿAqabah on the Red Sea.

The Hejaz Railway and the Ottoman Empire Modernity, Industrialisation and Ottoman Decline by Murat Ozyuksel by Murat Ozyuksel (no photo)
The Hejaz Railway by James Nicholson by James Nicholson (no photo)
The Hejaz Railway The Construction of a New Hope by M. Metin Hulagu by M. Metin Hulagu (no photo)
Allenby and British Strategy in the Middle East, 1917-1919 by Matthew Hughes by Matthew Hughes (no photo)
The Berlin-Baghdad Express The Ottoman Empire and Germany's Bid for World Power by Sean McMeekin by Sean McMeekin (no photo)
Engines of War How Wars Were Won & Lost on the Railways by Christian Wolmar by Christian Wolmar Christian Wolmar

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Funicular Railway (Baden Baden and generally speaking)

The Merkurbergbahn is a funicular railway in the town of Baden-Baden in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The line climbs Mount Merkur, the location of the Observation Tower Baden-Baden Merkur.

The line opened in 1913 and closed in 1967. It was reopened on the 27th April 1979.

The funicular has the following technical parameters:

Length: 1,192 metres (3,911 ft)
Height: 370 metres (1,214 ft)
Maximum steepness: 54%
Cars: 2
Capacity: 30 passengers per car
Track gauge: 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in)
Traction: Electricity
Control: Automatic

(no image)Funicular Railways by John Woodhams (no photo)
Funicular Railways Defunct Funicular Railways, Peak Tram, Water-Powered Funicular Railways, List of Funicular Railways, Wellington Cable by Books LLC by Books LLC (no photo)
Engineering the City How Infrastructure Works by Matthys Levy by Matthys Levy (no photo)
Trains by Chris Oxlade by Chris Oxlade (no photo)
The Iron Road An Illustrated History of the Railroad by Christian Wolmar by Christian Wolmar Christian Wolmar

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Feldmutze (field cap)

Note: M43 feldmütze (above)

Note: The three additional styles of field cap can be seen in this photo; the "M42" Feldmütze at far left, the "M43" Einheitsfeldmütze on the man beside him, and the two men at right wear the early pattern Feldmütze. Also of note is the mix of piped and unpiped collars, as well as the field grey slip on devices on the shoulder straps, which identify the wearer's unit. The two field caps at right are lacking the waffenfarbe soutache and the shirts appear to be a lighter color than the standard issue mouse grey shirt.

This cap, often referred to as either an "M34" or "M38" by collectors, was introduced in 1934, and by 1939 had undergone minor variations. The hat was boat shaped, with flaps on the sides that could be turned down - though they were not full fold downs like the Bergmütze or Einheitsfeldmütze and offered only limited protection to the wearer.

This type of cap was quite boxy in appearance, and despite regulations forbidding it, individual soldiers often sewed the material in the crown closed, giving the cap a more tapered appearance.

Waffen-SS EM/NCO Fieldcap M43


Note: You can see that were many variations of style depending upon the year.

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Queen Victoria

Victoria was born at Kensington Palace, London, on 24 May 1819. She was the only daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, fourth son of George III. Her father died shortly after her birth and she became heir to the throne because the three uncles who were ahead of her in succession - George IV, Frederick Duke of York, and William IV - had no legitimate children who survived.

Warmhearted and lively, Victoria had a gift for drawing and painting; educated by a governess at home, she was a natural diarist and kept a regular journal throughout her life. On William IV's death in 1837, she became Queen at the age of 18.

Queen Victoria is associated with Britain's great age of industrial expansion, economic progress and, especially, empire. At her death, it was said, Britain had a worldwide empire on which the sun never set.

In the early part of her reign, she was influenced by two men: her first Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, and her husband, Prince Albert, whom she married in 1840. Both men taught her much about how to be a ruler in a 'constitutional monarchy' where the monarch had very few powers but could use much influence.

Albert took an active interest in the arts, science, trade and industry; the project for which he is best remembered was the Great Exhibition of 1851, the profits from which helped to establish the South Kensington museums complex in London.

Her marriage to Prince Albert brought nine children between 1840 and 1857. Most of her children married into other Royal families of Europe.

Edward VII (born 1841), married Alexandra, daughter of Christian IX of Denmark. Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (born 1844) married Marie of Russia. Arthur, Duke of Connaught (born 1850) married Louise Margaret of Prussia. Leopold, Duke of Albany (born 1853) married Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont.

Victoria, Princess Royal (born 1840) married Friedrich III, German Emperor. Alice (born 1843) married Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. Helena (born 1846) married Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. Louise (born 1848) married John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll. Beatrice (born 1857) married Henry of Battenberg.

Victoria bought Osborne House (later presented to the nation by Edward VII) on the Isle of Wight as a family home in 1845, and Albert bought Balmoral in 1852.

Victoria was deeply attached to her husband and she sank into depression after he died, aged 42, in 1861. She had lost a devoted husband and her principal trusted adviser in affairs of state. For the rest of her reign she wore black.

Until the late 1860s she rarely appeared in public; although she never neglected her official Correspondence, and continued to give audiences to her ministers and official visitors, she was reluctant to resume a full public life.

She was persuaded to open Parliament in person in 1866 and 1867, but she was widely criticised for living in seclusion and quite a strong republican movement developed.

Seven attempts were made on Victoria's life, between 1840 and 1882 - her courageous attitude towards these attacks greatly strengthened her popularity.

With time, the private urgings of her family and the flattering attention of Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister in 1868 and from 1874 to 1880, the Queen gradually resumed her public duties.

In foreign policy, the Queen's influence during the middle years of her reign was generally used to support peace and reconciliation. In 1864, Victoria pressed her ministers not to intervene in the Prussia-Austria-Denmark war, and her letter to the German Emperor (whose son had married her daughter) in 1875 helped to avert a second Franco-German war.

On the Eastern Question in the 1870s - the issue of Britain's policy towards the declining Turkish Empire in Europe - Victoria (unlike Gladstone) believed that Britain, while pressing for necessary reforms, ought to uphold Turkish hegemony as a bulwark of stability against Russia, and maintain bi-partisanship at a time when Britain could be involved in war.

Victoria's popularity grew with the increasing imperial sentiment from the 1870s onwards. After the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the government of India was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown with the position of Governor General upgraded to Viceroy, and in 1877 Victoria became Empress of India under the Royal Titles Act passed by Disraeli's government.

During Victoria's long reign, direct political power moved away from the sovereign. A series of Acts broadened the social and economic base of the electorate.

These acts included the Second Reform Act of 1867; the introduction of the secret ballot in 1872, which made it impossible to pressurise voters by bribery or intimidation; and the Representation of the Peoples Act of 1884 - all householders and lodgers in accommodation worth at least £10 a year, and occupiers of land worth £10 a year, were entitled to vote.

Despite this decline in the Sovereign's power, Victoria showed that a monarch who had a high level of prestige and who was prepared to master the details of political life could exert an important influence.

This was demonstrated by her mediation between the Commons and the Lords, during the acrimonious passing of the Irish Church Disestablishment Act of 1869 and the 1884 Reform Act.

It was during Victoria's reign that the modern idea of the constitutional monarch, whose role was to remain above political parties, began to evolve. But Victoria herself was not always non-partisan and she took the opportunity to give her opinions, sometimes very forcefully, in private.

After the Second Reform Act of 1867, and the growth of the two-party (Liberal and Conservative) system, the Queen's room for manoeuvre decreased. Her freedom to choose which individual should occupy the premiership was increasingly restricted.

In 1880, she tried, unsuccessfully, to stop William Gladstone - whom she disliked as much as she admired Disraeli and whose policies she distrusted - from becoming Prime Minister. She much preferred the Marquess of Hartington, another statesman from the Liberal party which had just won the general election. She did not get her way.

She was a very strong supporter of Empire, which brought her closer both to Disraeli and to the Marquess of Salisbury, her last Prime Minister.

Although conservative in some respects - like many at the time she opposed giving women the vote - on social issues, she tended to favour measures to improve the lot of the poor, such as the Royal Commission on housing. She also supported many charities involved in education, hospitals and other areas.

Victoria and her family travelled and were seen on an unprecedented scale, thanks to transport improvements and other technical changes such as the spread of newspapers and the invention of photography. Victoria was the first reigning monarch to use trains - she made her first train journey in 1842.

In her later years, she almost became the symbol of the British Empire. Both the Golden (1887) and the Diamond (1897) Jubilees, held to celebrate the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the queen's accession, were marked with great displays and public ceremonies. On both occasions, Colonial Conferences attended by the Prime Ministers of the self-governing colonies were held.

Despite her advanced age, Victoria continued her duties to the end - including an official visit to Dublin in 1900. The Boer War in South Africa overshadowed the end of her reign. As in the Crimean War nearly half a century earlier, Victoria reviewed her troops and visited hospitals; she remained undaunted by British reverses during the campaign: 'We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist.'

Victoria died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, on 22 January 1901 after a reign which lasted almost 64 years, the longest in British history.

She was buried at Windsor beside Prince Albert, in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum, which she had built for their final resting place. Above the Mausoleum door are inscribed Victoria's words: 'farewell best beloved, here at last I shall rest with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise again'.

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Queen Victoria (continued)

Queen Victoria (British History in Perspective) by Walter L. Arnstein by Walter L. Arnstein (no photo)
The Young Victoria by Alison Plowden by Alison Plowden (no photo)
Becoming Victoria by Lynne Vallone by Lynne Vallone (no photo)
Queen Victoria at Home by Michael De-la-Noy by Michael De-la-Noy (no photo)
Serving Victoria Life in the Royal Household by Kate Hubbard by Kate Hubbard (no photo)
Victoria & Abdul The True Story Of The Queen's Closest Confidant by Shrabani Basu by Shrabani Basu (no photo)
Twilight of Splendor The Court of Queen Victoria During Her Diamond Jubilee Year by Greg King by Greg King (no photo)
John Brown by Raymond Lamont-Brown by Raymond Lamont-Brown (no photo)
The Letters Of Queen Victoria A Selection From Her Majesty by Queen Victoria by Queen Victoria (no photo)
Dear and Honoured Lady by Queen Victoria by Queen Victoria (no photo)
Censoring Queen Victoria A Story of Royal Correspondence and the Creation of an Icon by Yvonne Ward by Yvonne Ward (no photo)
Our Highland Home Victoria and Albert in Scotland by Jeanne Cannizzo by Jeanne Cannizzo (no photo)
Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera by Michael Nelson by Michael Nelson (no photo)
Queen Victoria A Life of Contradictions by Matthew Dennison by Matthew Dennison (no photo)
The Coburgs of Europe by Arturo E. Beéche by Arturo E. Beéche (no photo)
Albert A Life by Jules Stewart by Jules Stewart (no photo)
Queen Victoria's Family A Century of Photographs by Charlotte Zeepvat by Charlotte Zeepvat (no photo)
Uncrowned King The Life of Prince Albert by Stanley Weintraub by Stanley Weintraub (no photo)
Queen Victoria A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert by Lytton Strachey Lytton Strachey
Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey by Lytton Strachey Lytton Strachey
Queen Victoria Fifty Golden Years ; Incidents in the Queen's Reign by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
Queen Victoria by Elizabeth Longford by Elizabeth Longford Elizabeth Longford
Queen Victoria A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert by Christopher Hibbert Christopher Hibbert
Henry and Mary Ponsonby Life at the Court of Queen Victoria by William Kuhn by William Kuhn William Kuhn
Becoming Queen Victoria The Tragic Death of Princess Charlotte and the Unexpected Rise of Britain's Greatest Monarch by Kate Williams by Kate Williams Kate Williams
We Two Victoria and Albert Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gillian Gill by Gillian Gill Gillian Gill

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Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was born October 30, 1821, in Moscow's Hospital for the Poor. He was the second of seven children born to a former army surgeon, who was murdered in 1839 when his own serfs poured vodka down his throat until he died.

Following a boarding school education in Moscow with his older brother Mikhail, Fyodor was admitted to the Academy of Military Engineers in St. Petersburg in 1838. He completed his studies in 1843, graduating as a lieutenant, but was quickly convinced that he preferred a career in writing to being mired in the bureaucratic Russian military. In 1844 he published a translation of Balzac's Eugenie Grandet, and he followed this two years later with his first original published work, Poor Folk, a widely-acclaimed short novel championed by the influential critic Vissarion Belinsky.

His works over the next three years were not as well accepted. The "literary lights" whose acquaintance he had made started to treat him with contempt and mockery. Under the influence of Belinsky, Dostoevsky turned to a materialist atheism. In 1847, he broke with Belinsky's group to join the socialist Petrashevsky group, a secret society of liberal utopians, where he associated himself with the most radical element.

On April 23, 1849, Dostoevsky was arrested with other members of the Petrashevsky circle and was sentenced to death. He was placed in solitary confinement in the Petropavlovsky Fortress for eight months. During this time, Tsar Nikolai I changed his sentence but ordered that this change only be announced at the last minute. On December 22, Dostoevsky and his fellow prisoners were led through all the initial steps of execution, and several of them were already tied to posts awaiting their deaths when the reprieve was sounded.

Dostoevsky's sentence of eight years' hard labor in a Siberian prison was reduced to four, followed by another four years of compulsory military service. During the latter, he married the widow Marya Dmitrievna Isaeva, with whom he returned to St. Petersburg in 1859.
Dostoevsky's harrowing near-execution and his terrible years of imprisonment made an indelible impression on him, converting him to a lifelong intense spirituality. These beliefs formed the basis for his great novels.

After his release, Dostoevsky published a few short works, including "Memoirs from the House of the Dead" (1860-1861), which was based on his prison experiences, in the journal Time, which he had co-founded with his brother Mikhail. In 1862, he made his first trip abroad, to England, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. While abroad, he had an affair with Apollinaria Suslova, a young and attractive student whom Dostoevsky considered an intellectual equal. He also made observations on Western society that fueled his rejection of Western philosophies as models for Russian society.

In 1863, Time was banned, so Fyodor and Mikhail founded another magazine, Epoch, which in 1864 published the complex Notes from Underground, generally considered the preface to Dostoevsky's great novels.

In that same year, both Marya Dmitrievna and Fyodor's beloved brother Mikhail died, leaving Dostoevsky saddled with debts and dependents. Apollinaria Suslova declined a marriage proposal, and in an attempt to win money through gambling, Dostoevsky mired himself further in debt. With creditors at his heels and with debts of around 43,000 rubles, Dostoevsky escaped abroad with 175 rubles in his pocket and a "slave contract" with bookseller F. T. Stellovsky. This agreement stipulated that if Dostoevsky did not produce a new novel by November 1, 1866, all rights to Dostoevsky's past and future works would revert to Stellovsky.

Time passed, and Dostoevsky, preoccupied with a longer, serialized novel, did no work on the book he had promised Stellovsky until at last, on the advice of friends, he hired the young Anna Grigorievna Snitkin as his stenographer. He dictated The Gambler to her, and the manuscript was delivered to Stellovsky on the very day their agreement was to expire. Through November, Dostoevsky completed the longer novel Crime and Punishment, which was published that year to immediate and abundant success. Fyodor proposed to Anna, and they soon were wed on February 15, 1867.

This second marriage brought Dostoevsky professional and emotional stability. Anna tolerated his compulsive gambling, managed his career, and nursed him through depression and epilepsy. His great works, notably The Idiot (1868), Demons (1871-1872, also known as The Devils or mistranslated as The Possessed), and The Brothers Karamazov, were all written in this last phase of his life.

Despite this relative success, the Dostoevskys were dogged by the massive debts left by Mikhail's death and Fyodor's gambling until about 1873. At this point, Anna became his publisher and he (according to his wife) gave up gambling. Their newfound financial stability enabled the Dostoevskys to purchase the house they had been renting in 1876, and between 1877 and 1880, Dostoevsky worked on The Brothers Karamazov, regarded by many as the apex of his career. During these last years of his life, he enjoyed prominence in his public life as well as his literary career.

Fyodor Dostoevsky died on January 28, 1881, of complications related to his epilepsy. At the funeral procession in St. Petersburg, his coffin was followed by thirty to forty thousand people. His epitaph reads, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit," which is the quotation Dostoevsky chose for the preface of The Brothers Karamazov.

Dostoevsky is one of the first writers to explore the ideas of psychoanalysis in his works. His religious ideas are still relevant in theological debate. He also is one of the seminal creators of the ideas of existentialism. Despite his varying success during his lifetime, today Dostoevsky is considered to be one of the preeminent Russian novelists—indeed, one of the preeminent novelists—of all time

Dostoevsky His Life and Work by Konstantin Mochulsky by Konstantin Mochulsky (no photo)
Dostoevsky by Richard Freeborn by Richard Freeborn (no photo)
Dostoevsky the Thinker by James P. Scanlan by James Scanlan (no photo)
Dostoevsky A Writer in His Time by Joseph Frank by Joseph Frank Joseph Frank
Dostoevsky The Years of Ordeal, 1850-1859 by Joseph Frank by Joseph Frank Joseph Frank

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Iron Cross


Germany gave many different types of awards to recognize acts of bravery, courage and valor. Among them are daggers, swords, war badges and even metal shields. These medals were not standard issue, instead different medals were used by the respective organizations of the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine. They could be earned by various ways, from being involved in a successful mission, to having completed a certain number of mission, to acts of bravery, or to have been wounded or killed in action. In the event of death, the medal will be presented to the next of kin. A number of decorations were also designed to recognize service rather than valor.

The Iron Cross in its various classes was a standard medal awarded to all organizations of the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine. Despite the prestige of this medal, it was very widely awarded having about 6 million recipients throughout wartime. The Iron Cross awarded during the second world war had 1939 imprinted in the center, which is the year of its reintroduction. The Iron Cross was awarded to recognize acts of bravery.

The Iron Cross comes in two grades, Second Class and First Class. The Iron Cross First Class could only be awarded to one who had previously receive the Iron Cross Second Class. Hence, the First Class was more restricted and more highly prized. Both the medals looked very similar and were worn on the same position on the lower left side of the uniform. When the Iron Cross First Class was awarded, the Iron Cross Second Class was signified with a small ribbon attached to a button.

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a highly distinguished medal recognizing acts of valor within the German armed forces. Unlike the Iron Cross, it was worn on the neck with a striped black, white and red ribbon attached. First awarded on September 30th, 1939, approximately 7361 of these awards were presented during the war, of which 43 were awarded to foreigners.

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves was introduced on June 3rd, 1940 to further recognize acts of courage. As with the preceding medals, the Oak Leaves could only be awarded to one who had earlier receive the Knight's Cross. A fan of three silver oak leaves decorated the Knight's Cross, just above the clip on the medallion. In all, 890 had been awarded during the second world war. Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves

A highly prestigious medal, it was introduced on July 15, 1941 to further recognize Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves recipients for further acts of valor which was beyond the call of duty. A pair of swords crossed at 40 degrees was added below the oak leaves. Only 160 of these had been awarded, a further testament of the honor attached to this medal.

Introduced the same time with the Oak Leaves and Swords, many consider the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds to be the highest award that can be earned during the war. A set of diamonds inlaid on the Oak Leaves and Swords was added. Awarded only to the most highly decorated and heroic figures of the armed forces, only 27 servicemen had receive this award, one of which was General Field Marshall Erwin Rommel.

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds was of the highest recognition, Hitler intended to limit this award to 12 of the most distinguished servicemen in the entire German armed forces after the war ended, assuming an axis victory. As the Third Reich collapsed, an exception was made and only one award was ever presented.

The only Golden Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds holder was Hans Ulrich Rudel of the Luftwaffe. A Stuka dive bomber pilot, Rudel destroyed 518 Russian tanks (that's five Russian tank corps), 150 flak and artillery positions, 700 trucks, sunk the Russian battleship Marat, a Russian cruiser, a Russian Destroyer, 70 Russian landing craft, and hundreds of other targets (bridges, railways, bunkers). He also heavily damaged another Russian battleship, the October Revolution. Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions, of which 400 were in a Focke-Wulf 190, claimed 11 air victories and was shot down 32 times.

World War II German Battle Insignia by Gordon Williamson by Gordon Williamson (no photo)
The Face of Courage The 98 Men Who Received the Knight's Cross and the Close-Combat Clasp in Gold (Stackpole Military History) by Florian Berger by Florian Berger (no photo)
German Combat Awards 1935-1945 by Alan Beadle by Alan Beadle (no photo)
The First World War in 100 Objects The Story of the Great War Told Through the Objects that Shaped It by Gary Sheffield by Gary Sheffield (no photo)
Gurps WWII Iron Cross by Gene Seabolt by Gene Seabolt (no photo)
The First World War in 100 Objects by Peter Doyle by Peter Doyle Peter Doyle

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Currently non-fiction Book of the Month for May in Waterstones, HANNS AND RUDOLF, Thomas Harding’s highly acclaimed debut work of history has just been optioned at auction by The Ink Factory. The company’s co-founder Simon Cornwell agreed the deal with film agents Nick Marston and Camilla Young at Curtis Brown, acting on behalf of Patrick Walsh at Conville & Walsh.

Based in London and Los Angeles, The Ink Factory won the film rights in a competitive auction and are in talks with Sir Ronald Harwood, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of THE PIANIST and THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, to translate the book to screen. Sir Ronald Harwood is represented by Judy Daish.

HANNS AND RUDOLF tells the twin lives from childhood of Rudolf Höss and Hanns Alexander, respectively the Kommandant of Auschwitz and a young Jewish soldier who, after the war, tracked down and arrested Höss where he was hiding on a farm in Northern Germany.

HANNS AND RUDOLF was first published in 2013 in hardback by William Heinemann, and shortlisted for the biography section of the Costa prize. Published by Windmill in paperback on the 1st of May 2014, HANNS AND RUDOLF has sold into ten foreign languages and to Simon & Schuster in the States and to Anansi in Canada.

In the UK the hardback of HANNS AND RUDOLF went to No 5 in the Sunday Times hardback bestseller list, whilst in Italy it went to No 1 and in Israel to No 3. Further translation editions are being published throughout this year.

World-wide the review coverage has been extraordinarily good, ranging from John le Carré’s “A gripping thriller, an unspeakable crime, an essential history” to Ben MacIntyre’s “remarkable….meticulously researched and deeply felt” to James Holland’s “This is a stunning book….both chilling and deeply disturbing” to Max Hastings’s “Thomas Harding… has uncovered a remarkable story… This is a remarkable book, which deserves a wide readership” and Cynthia Ozick’s “In this electrifying account Thomas Harding commemorates (and for the tired revivifies) a ringing biblical injunction: Justice, justice, shalt thou pursue”.

The Ink Factory, which enjoys a unique relationship with celebrated novelist, John le Carré, is currently in production on OUR KIND OF TRAITOR, a major new film adaptation of the author’s work. This year will see the release of the company’s first production, A MOST WANTED MAN starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, with a number of film and television projects from various writers in advanced development.

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Hanns and Rudolf is Waterstones Book of the Month

The UK's largest book retailer has selected Hanns and Rudolf as their non-fiction book of the month for May.

Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award Hanns and Rudolf tells the story of two German men whose lives crossed in an shocking way.

Hanns, the son of a prosperous family, fled Berlin in the 1930s for London. Rudolf, farmer and soldier, became the Kommandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. After the Second World War a British War Crimes Investigation is assembled to hunt down senior Nazi officials. Hanns is lead investigator, his most elusive target, Rudolf.

Thomas Harding also wrote a blog for the Waterstones website:

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Iron Half Moon


The Ottoman War Medal (Turkish: Harp Madalyasi), better known as the Gallipoli Star, or the Iron Crescent (from German Eiserner Halbmond, in allusion to the Iron Cross) was a military decoration of the Ottoman Empire which was instituted by the Sultan Mehmed Reshad V on 1 March 1915 for gallantry in battle. This decoration was awarded for the duration of World War I to Ottoman and other Central Powers troops, primarily in Ottoman areas of engagement.

The award includes a badge, ribbon and campaign bar.

The medal, made of nickel-plated brass, has a vaulted star-shaped badge, 56 mm across the diagonal span of the arms. The tips of the star are capped by ball finials and enclosed in a raised silver edge with the field in red lacquer or enamel. A raised crescent, open at the top, encircles the center of the badge. Inside the crescent is the tughra or cipher of the decoration's creator, Sultan Mehmed Reshad V, over the date 1333 AH (AD 1915). The reverse is flat, unadorned and has a straight pin.

Along with the badge came a ribbon with red and white stripes. The dimensions of the ribbon for combatants are: red 2.5 mm; white, 5 mm.; red, 29 mm.; white, 5 mm.; red 2.5 mm. For non-combatant awardees, the colors are reversed.

The campaign bar is a right-pointing parabola of white at 56mm in length and 7mm in height. In the field is red Arabic script denoting the specific campaign:

Chanakkale/Chanak (Gallipoli) Gaza Kanal Kut-al-Amara Sanatorium
When in formal dress, the badge was worn at the center, below the right breast pocket. Wear of the badge was exclusive; in everyday wear was substituted by the ribbon. The ribbon was worn from the second hole in the tunic button.

For Austrian and German awardees (usually members of the Asienkorps), the award took lower precedence to their own Iron Cross 2nd class, and the ribbon of the Iron Crescent was placed beneath that of the Iron Cross.

The ribbon could also be fashioned into a chest ribband for placement on a ribbon bar when in undress.

The campaign bar was usually not worn.

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First Transjordan attack on Amman (Battle of Jorday) 1918


The Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) spent the first three months of 1918 consolidating its hold on southern Judea and extending its reach across the lower Jordan Valley in preparation for a large-scale offensive against the Ottoman forces in Palestine.

In February and early March 1918 the EEF carried out a series of local attacks, capturing Jericho in the Jordan Valley and establishing a new front line on the coastal plain north of the River Auja. This provided a springboard for further operations by British and Anzac forces, not only in the Jordan Valley but into the Moab Mountains to the east and, potentially, towards the city of Amman and the strategically important Hejaz railway.

In March the EEF’s commander, Lieutenant-General Edmund Allenby, ordered a large-scale raid on Amman via the town of Es Salt, which sat astride the only metalled road running up from the Jordan Valley through the Moab Mountains. The raiding force was made up of the 60th (London) Division, the Anzac Mounted Division and the Imperial Camel Corps (ICC) Brigade. It was named ‘Shea’s Force’ after the commander of 60th Division.

Shea’s Force had four major tasks: crossing the River Jordan; capturing Es Salt; crossing the Moab Mountains; capturing Amman and destroying the Hejaz railway facilities there. Allenby did not intend to hold Amman. The troops were to stay there only as long as it took to destroy the railway station, a tunnel and a number of bridges. Shea’s Force was then to withdraw to the Jordan Valley, although a strong garrison would be detached to hold Es Salt.

With Es Salt occupied, Ottoman forces would be locked out of the southern Jordan Valley and unable to threaten Allenby’s right flank in future operations. Destroying the Hejaz railway link to the Ottoman garrisons in Arabia would assist the Arab Revolt there and also sow doubt in the minds of his counterparts as to the likely direction of the next British offensive – inland or along the coast. Allenby knew that the Arab Northern Army was raiding the Hejaz railway between Ma’an and Amman. If Es Salt was taken, direct links between the two armies could well be established. This was an ambitious plan, but arguably worth the risk.

The raid began on the night of 21 March 1918 with attempts to establish two bridgeheads on the Ottoman-controlled east bank of the Jordan River: for the 60th Division at Ghoraniyeh and for the Anzac Mounted Division at Hijla.

From the outset luck and the elements turned against Shea’s Force. Recent heavy rains made the crossing difficult and time-consuming, and it took two days to get the bulk of the troops across to the east bank. As Shea’s Force began to advance into the Moab Mountains the unseasonal heavy rain returned, turning the metalled road (and the dirt tracks being used by some of the raiding units) into a quagmire. Es Salt was taken on the evening of 25 March, but the raid was already badly behind schedule. The hard slog over muddy broken ground in the cold and rain exhausted the men and their mounts, particularly the camels.

Two days later, still in miserable conditions, the Anzac Mounted Division and the ICC Brigade reached the outskirts of Amman. By now the headquarters of the Ottoman Fourth Army knew what was happening and had reinforced the garrison there. For the next four days the Anzac troopers and cameleers, reinforced by an infantry brigade from the 60th Division, repeatedly attacked the city.

Although several outlying key positions were taken – notably Hill 3039, which was captured by the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and the 4th Battalion, Imperial Camel Corps – the raiders failed to capture Amman itself. On the evening of 30 March, with ammunition and supplies running low and Ottoman counter-attacks gaining in strength, Shea’s Force broke off its attack and began to withdraw over the mountains. The original intention of holding Es Salt was abandoned; the troops were instead ordered to defend the Ghoraniyeh bridgehead on the east bank of the Jordan. The New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade went into reserve and bivouacked near Jericho.

The raid had cost the attackers 1348 casualties. It was the first real defeat suffered by the EEF since the Second Battle of Gaza. The Ottoman Turks tried to exploit the situation on 11 April by mounting a major attack on the Ghoraniyeh bridgehead, but they were beaten off with heavy losses.

Allenby still hoped to seize Es Salt. He ordered Major-General Chauvel, commander of the Desert Mounted Corps, to make another raid across the Jordan with this as the prime objective. The force available to Chauvel was essentially Shea’s Force plus the Australian Mounted Division. Though his objective was much more limited, the Ottoman troops were now on the alert and had improved their defences in this sector.

The attack began on 30 April and at first went well. Es Salt fell to the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade that evening. The next day, however, strong Ottoman counter-attacks, and the failure of promised local Arab tribal support to materialise, forced the British and Anzac troopers back in many places and left the Australian Light Horsemen at Es Salt in a dangerously vulnerable position. Despite two more days of fighting the approaches to Es Salt could not be secured and on 3–4 May the town was evacuated. Next day Chauvel’s force retired across the Jordan, having suffered more than 1600 casualties.

The Last Crusade The Palestine Campaign in the First World War by Anthony Bruce byAnthony Bruce(no photo)
Ordered to Die A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War by Edward J. Erickson by Edward J. Erickson (no photo)
Devils on Horses In the words of the Anzacs in the Middle East 1916-18 by Terry Kinloch by Terry Kinloch (no photo)
Hell in the Holy Land World War I in the Middle East by David R. Woodward by David R. Woodward (no photo)
The Egyptian Expeditionary Force in World War I A History of the British-Led Campaigns in Egypt, Palestine and Syria by Michael J. Mortlock by Michael J. Mortlock (no photo)

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Brian Stoddart | 6 comments Thanks for the post. About 4 years or so ago, I attended the ANZAC Day service in Amman, up at the old Roman fortress high above the city. It was among the most moving of such cermeonies I have been at, and the site evoked all the memories and imagery of this campaign run by Kiwis and Aussies a very long way from home

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Interesting, Brian, I would like to visit the region myself. Were there any veterans there?

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Black Forest


Black Forest, German Schwarzwald, mountain region, Baden-Württemberg Land (state), southwestern Germany, source of the Danube and Neckar rivers. It occupies an area of 2,320 square miles (6,009 square km) and extends toward the northeast for about 100 miles (160 km) from Säckingen on the Upper Rhine River (at the Swiss border) to Durlach (east of Karlsruhe). Its width varies from 10 to 25 miles. Structurally and topographically, it forms the counterpart of the Vosges, which lies west of the Rhine valley. The Black Forest drops abruptly to the Rhine plain but slopes more gently toward the Neckar and Nagold valleys to the east.

It is mainly a granite highland with rounded summits, although its northern part comprises forested sandstone, and it is bordered to the south by a narrow band of lower and more fertile limestone. Divided into two parts by the deep Kinzig valley, its highest summits—Feldberg (4,897 feet [1,493 metres]), Herzogenhorn, and Blössling—are to the south. Its northern half has an average height of 2,000 feet.

The raw climate of the higher districts supports only hardy grains, but the valleys are mild with good pastureland. Oak and beech woods clothe the lower slopes, while the extensive fir forests, which gave the range its name, climb to 4,000 feet. Traditional economic activities—such as lumbering, woodworking, and the manufacture of watches, clocks, and musical instruments—continue. Newer manufactures include electronic equipment and precision machinery. Tourism and winter sports are also prominent, and there are many mineral springs and spas, such as Baden-Baden and Wildbad. Principal cities are Freiburg im Breisgau, Offenburg, Rastatt, and Lahr.

First to the Rhine The 6th Army Group in World War II by Harry Yeide by Harry Yeide (no photo)
Crossing the Rhine Breaking into Nazi Germany 1944 and 1945-The Greatest Airborne Battles in History by Lloyd Clark by Lloyd Clark (no photo)
A Rough Passage, Volume I Memories of Empire by K. J. Barnes A Rough Passage, Volume II Memories of Empire by K. J. Barnes by K. J. Barnes (no photo)
The Battle For The Rhine, 1944 by Robin Neillands by Robin Neillands Robin Neillands

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Brian Stoddart | 6 comments Hi Jerome

No veterans there regrettably, but a good show by the Oz ambassadors etc

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Napoleon III


After the death of the Duke of Reichstadt, son and heir of Napoleon I, in 1832, his nephew Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, an artillery officer, attempted to topple the July Monarchy in Strasbourg (1830) and then Boulogne (1840). Imprisoned in perpetuity in Ham fortress, he escaped (1846). Back in Paris when the Second Republic was proclaimed on the 25th of February 1848, he was elected First President of the Republic for a period of four years on the 10th of December 1848. But as the constitution did not allow him another term of office, a new constitution was imposed by his coup d'etat on the 2nd of December 1851, which endorsed him as President of the Republic for ten years.

The Second Empire was proclaimed on the 2nd of December 1852. The heir to Napoléon I, Napoleon III believed in Caesarian democracy. The Prefect provides the structure of the regime, and the forces or order and the Church are the foundations. Nevertheless, the Second Empire mapped out the new industrial landscape in France. The railway network extended throughout the mainland France and Haussmann transformed the face of Paris. The colonial empire was strengthened and the Suez Canal begun.

But, after a period of success, the foreign policy of Napoleon III encountered difficulties. Weakened, he made the regime more liberal. But the renewed popularity of the Empire was wiped out by his decision to declare war on Bismarck. Having lost Alsace-Lorraine, Napoleon III gave himself up as a prisoner at Sedan on the 2nd of September 1870. The Third Republic was proclaimed in Paris on the 4th of September on his fall from power.

Napoleon III by James F. McMillan by James F. McMillan (no photo)
Napoleon III A Life by Fenton Bresler by Fenton Bresler (no photo)
Kaiser Napoleon III. by Rudolph Gottschall by Rudolph Gottschall (no photo)
Napoleon III and His Regime An Extravaganza by David Baguley by David Baguley (no photo)
Napoleon III by Albert L Guerard by Albert L Guerard (no photo)

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Johannes Brahms


Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist who wrote symphonies, concerti, chamber music, piano works, and choral compositions.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, on May 7, 1833, Brahms was the great master of symphonic and sonata style in the second half of the 19th century. He can be viewed as the protagonist of the Classical tradition of Joseph Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Widely considered one the 19th century's greatest composers and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic era, Johannes Brahms was born May 7, 1833, in Hamburg, Germany.

He was the second of Johanna Henrika Christiane Nissen and Johann Jakob Brahms' three children. Music was introduced to his life at an early age. His father was a double bassist in the Hamburg Philharmonic Society, and the young Brahms began playing piano at the age of seven.

By the time he was a teenager, Brahms was already an accomplished musician, and he used his talent to earn money at local inns, in brothels and along the city's docks to ease his family's often tight financial conditions.

In 1853 Brahms was introduced to the renowned German composer and music critic Robert Schumann. The two men quickly grew close, with Schumann seeing in his younger friend great hope for the future of music. He dubbed Brahms a genius and praised the "young eagle" publicly in a famous article. The kind words quickly made the young composer a known entity in the music world.

But this music world was also at a crossroads. Modernist composers like Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, the leading faces of the "New German School" rebuked the more traditional sounds of Schumann. Theirs was a sound predicated on organic structure and harmonic freedom, drawing from literature for its inspiration.

For Schumann and eventually Brahms, this new sound was sheer indulgence and negated the genius of composers like Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.

In 1854 Schumann fell ill. In a sign of his close friendship with his mentor and his family, Brahms assisted Schumann's wife, Clara, with the management of her household affairs. Music historians believe that Brahms soon fell in love with Clara, though she doesn't seem to have reciprocated his admiration. Even after Schumann's death in 1856, the two remained solely friends.

Over the next several years, Brahms held several different posts, including conductor of a women's choir in Hamburg, which he was appointed to in 1859. He also continued to write his own music. His output included "String Sextet in B-flat Major" and "Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor."

In the early 1860s Brahms made his first visit to Vienna, and in 1863 he was named director of the Singakademie, a choral group, where he concentrated on historical and modern a cappella works.

Brahms, for the most part, enjoyed steady success in Vienna. By the early 1870s he was principal conductor of the Society of Friends of Music. He also directed the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for three seasons.

His own work continued as well. In 1868, following the death of his mother, he finished "A German Requiem," a composition based on Biblical texts and often cited as one of the most important pieces of choral music created in the 19th century. The multi-layered piece brings together mixed chorus, solo voices and a complete orchestra.

Brahms' contributions covered light ground too. His compositions from this period included waltzes and two volumes of "Hungarian Dances" for piano duet.

Brahms by Malcolm MacDonald by Malcolm MacDonald (no photo)
Brahms by Hans A. Neunzig by Hans A. Neunzig (no photo)
Brahms His Life and Work by Karl Geiringer by Karl Geiringer (no photo)
Brahms Biographical, Documentary and Analytical Studies by Robert Pascall by Robert Pascall (no photo)
Johannes Brahms A Biography by Jan Swafford by Jan Swafford Jan Swafford

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Brian Stoddart | 6 comments No veterans but a good representation of locals and Kiwis, great atmosphere and a strong sense of history

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Lourdes, France is a bustling Pyrenees village, best known for famous Virgin Mary sightings, that is central to several other great cities and attractions. Lourdes is second only to Paris in the number of hotel rooms available in a single city in France.
Lourdes, France is also the second most popular tourism city in all of France, attracting five million pilgrims annually from throughout the globe to the cave where a peasant girl had several Virgin Mary sightings.

Although Lourdes' spiritual atmosphere is tainted by numerous shops selling tacky religious trinkets (think framed, velvet Jesus art and hot pink plastic rosaries), even an athiest could appreciate the splendor of the enormous Basilica of the Rosary. It was built in response to the hoardes that began to descend on the city after the Virgin Mary sightings, and is an amazing example of architecture.

The city is also in a prime location. The Pyrenees are steps away to the south, and Spain is close by. It is the perfect destination for the adventure traveler, with numerous outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and more close by. The Pyrenean cities of Pau and Tarbes are a few minutes away. The charming small spa village of Argeles-Gazost is about a 15-minute drive away, and it also features a casino.

In 1858, Lourdes went from being a small village in the Pyrenees to a global attraction. This was when the peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, had a life-altering visit to a cave with her siblings to gather wood. According to accounts, "Lifting her head, she saw, in the crevice of the rock, a young girl, surrounded by light, who looked at her and smiled."

This was the first of eighteen visions Bernadette claims to have had of the Virgin Mary. Bernadette eventually became a nun in Nevers. Today, the cave is just at the base of the basilica. Streams of believers, many in wheelchairs or even rolled in on gurneys, swarm the cave where Bernadette had her visions for a taste of the water from the spring there and with hopes for a miracle.

Lourdes by Rosa Matteucci by Rosa Matteucci (no photo)
Woman and the Dragon Apparitions of Mary by David Michael Lindsey by David Michael Lindsey (no photo)
Lourdes by Johannes Jorgensen by Johannes Jorgensen (no photo)
Lourdes (Three Cities Trilogy, #1) by Émile Zola by Émile Zola Émile Zola
Lourdes by Robert Hugh Benson by Robert Hugh Benson Robert Hugh Benson

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Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Austria in Sarajevo


The murder of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo is accepted by historians as the immediate cause of World War One though serious trouble - long term causes - had been brewing for sometime.

On June 28th 1914, the heir to the Austrian Empire, Franz Ferdinand, was visiting Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia.

Bosnia was in the very south-east corner of the Austrian empire and some people there wanted to be independent from Austria and set up their own state which could run itself.

Franz Ferdinand had been warned that his visit could provoke trouble but he ignored this advice and visited Sarajevo regardless. As was common at the time, he travelled in an open topped car.

There had been trouble at the start of his royal tour of Sarajevo when another car in his entourage was hit by a grenade and an Austrian officer had been injured. Clearly, Sarajevo was a dangerous place to be.

However, Franz Ferdinand wanted to demonstrate that his family was in control of Sarajevo and to have stopped the tour would have been seen as a sign of weakness by those who did not want Bosnia and Sarajevo ruled by the Austrians.

Franz ordered that his route through Sarajevo be changed at the last minute as he wanted to see the injured officer in hospital. Unfortunately, his driver did not fully understand his instructions and got lost.

Stopping to check where he was, the driver attempted to reverse out on to the main street. By bad luck, he stopped right by a man called Gavrilo Princip. He was a member of the Black Hand Gang which wanted to rid Bosnia of Austrian rule. He had also been behind the grenade throwing and was now trying to disguise himself among the many people who lined the streets fearing the police might arrest him. Not believing his luck, Princip pulled out the revolver he had on him and shot Franz and his wife. Both died as a result.

There was also a photographer at the scene and he captured scenes that were printed throughout the world.

Serbia was blamed by Austria for this murder. Serbia was near to Bosnia and it had encouraged the Black Hand Gang and given the gang weapons. What did Serbia want out of this? She hoped that both herself and Bosnia would unite to form a new Balkan state.

Austria decided that Serbia must be punished and planned to invade her. Serbia called on her old friend Russia to help her. Now the alliance/entente came in to play. One country from each was involved on opposite sides. The situation could only get worse.

Serbia would have been easy for Austria to crush. Russia was a different issue. She had a huge army and Austria would not have coped with a Austro-Russian war. Austria called on Germany for help. The German government agreed to this and their response provoked the French government.

However, unknown to anybody other than the German government, the German army had created a plan called the Schlieffen Plan. Schlieffen was a senior German army officer and he believed that the German army was superior to any army in Europe but that it could not fight a war on two fronts - France and Russia.

However, he calculated that the vast Russian army would take 6 weeks to get itself organised - called mobilisation - and that in that time, the Germans could attack the French, beat them and then send their army across Europe to fight the Russians. The German High Command accepted this plan. But it had one problem. It relied on what the French or Russians did and the actions of one would provoke a German response and not the other way round. In other words, the Germans had to react to a situation as opposed to controlling it.

When France called up her army, Germany had no choice but to carry out the Schlieffen Plan. This plan involved an attack on France via Belgium.

Britain had given Belgium a guarantee in 1839 that if anybody attacked her, Britain would attack the attacker.

Therefore, within weeks of the murder at Sarajevo, five out of the six countries that had signed the two treaties were on the verge of war.

On August 4th, 1914, Germany invaded Belgium. Britain declared war on Germany. France and Russia supported Britain. Austria supported Germany. Only Italy did not get involved - yet.

Every country concerned was convinced that the war would last only from August to Christmas 1914. No-one envisaged the horrors of trench warfare.

The Assassination of the Archduke Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance that Changed the World by Greg King by Greg King (no photo)
July 1914 Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin by Sean McMeekin (no photo)
The Month That Changed the World July 1914 by Gordon Martel by Gordon Martel (no photo)
The Assassination Of Archduke Ferdinand (Days Of Change) by Valerie Bodden by Valerie Bodden Valerie Bodden
The Trigger Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War by Tim Butcher by Tim Butcher Tim Butcher

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Rudolf Hoss in his own words at the Nuremberg Trials:

Source: Youtube

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Daughter of Auschwitz commandant speaks

The daughter of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess speaks to Newsnight in her first broadcast interview.

Source: Youtube

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Chapter Two

Kaiser Wilhelm II

Wilhelm II or William II (27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941) was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe. Crowned in 1888, he dismissed the Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, in 1890 and launched Germany on a bellicose "New Course" in foreign affairs that culminated in his support for Austria-Hungary in the crisis of July 1914 that led to World War I. Bombastic and impetuous, he sometimes made tactless pronouncements on sensitive topics without consulting his ministers, culminating in a disastrous Daily Telegraph interview that cost him most of his power in 1908. His generals dictated policy during World War I with little regard for the civilian government. An ineffective war leader, he lost the support of the army, abdicated in November 1918, and fled to exile in the Netherlands.

Wilhelm was born on 27 January 1859 at the Crown Prince's Palace in Berlin to Prince Frederick William of Prussia (the future Frederick III) and his wife, Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom. He was the first grandchild of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, but more importantly, as the first son of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Wilhelm was (from 1861) the second in the line of succession to Prussia, and also, after 1871, to the German Empire, which, according to the constitution of the German Empire, was ruled by the Prussian King. He was related to many royal figures across Europe, and as war loomed in 1914, Wilhelm was on friendly terms with his cousins the Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and King George V of the United Kingdom. He often tried to bully his royal relatives.

The German Emperor Wilhelm I died in Berlin on 9 March 1888, and Prince Wilhelm's father was proclaimed Emperor as Frederick III. He was already suffering from an incurable throat cancer and spent all 99 days of his reign fighting the disease before dying. On 15 June of that same year, his 29-year-old son succeeded him as German Emperor and King of Prussia. Although in his youth he had been a great admirer of Otto von Bismarck, Wilhelm's characteristic impatience soon brought him into conflict with the "Iron Chancellor", the dominant figure in the foundation of his empire. The new Emperor opposed Bismarck's careful foreign policy, preferring vigorous and rapid expansion to protect Germany's "place in the sun." Furthermore, the young Emperor had come to the throne with the determination that he was going to rule as well as reign, unlike his grandfather, who had largely been content to leave day-to-day administration to Bismarck. Early conflicts between Wilhelm II and his chancellor soon poisoned the relationship between the two men. Bismarck believed that Wilhelm was a lightweight who could be dominated, and he showed scant respect for Wilhelm's policies in the late 1880s. The final split between monarch and statesman occurred soon after an attempt by Bismarck to implement a far-reaching anti-Socialist law in early 1890.

Bismarck resigned at Wilhelm II's insistence in 1890, at the age of 75, to be succeeded as Chancellor of Germany and Minister-President of Prussia by Leo von Caprivi, who in turn was replaced by Chlodwig, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, in 1894. Following the dismissal of Hohenlohe in 1900, Wilhelm appointed the man whom he regarded as "his own Bismarck", Bernhard von Bülow. In foreign policy Bismarck had achieved a fragile balance of interests between Germany, France and Russia—peace was at hand and Bismarck tried to keep it that way despite growing popular sentiment against Britain (regarding colonies) and especially against Russia. With Bismarck's dismissal the Russians now expected a reversal of policy in Berlin, so they quickly came to terms with France, beginning the process that by 1914 largely isolated Germany.

Nothing Wilhelm II did in the international arena was of more influence than his decision to pursue a policy of massive naval construction. A powerful navy was Wilhelm's pet project. He had inherited from his mother a love of the British Royal Navy, which was at that time the world's largest. He once confided to his uncle, Edward VII, that his dream was to have a "fleet of my own some day". Wilhelm's frustration over his fleet's poor showing at the Fleet Review at his grandmother Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, combined with his inability to exert German influence in South Africa following the dispatch of the Kruger telegram, led to Wilhelm taking definitive steps toward the construction of a fleet to rival that of his British cousins. Wilhelm was fortunate to be able to call on the services of the dynamic naval officer Alfred von Tirpitz, whom he appointed to the head of the Imperial Naval Office in 1897.

Wilhelm's role in wartime was of ever-decreasing power as he increasingly handled awards ceremonies and honorific duties. The high command continued with its strategy even when it was clear that the Schlieffen plan had failed. By 1916 the Empire had effectively become a military dictatorship under the control of Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff. Increasingly cut off from reality and the political decision-making process, Wilhelm vacillated between defeatism and dreams of victory, depending upon the fortunes of his armies. Nevertheless, Wilhelm still retained the ultimate authority in matters of political appointment, and it was only after his consent had been gained that major changes to the high command could be effected.

Wilhelm was at the Imperial Army headquarters in Spa, Belgium, when the uprisings in Berlin and other centres took him by surprise in late 1918. Mutiny among the ranks of his beloved Kaiserliche Marine, the imperial navy, profoundly shocked him. After the outbreak of the German Revolution, Wilhelm could not make up his mind whether or not to abdicate. Up to that point, he was confident that even if he were obliged to vacate the German throne, he would still retain the Prussian kingship. The unreality of this belief was revealed when, in the hope of preserving the monarchy in the face of growing revolutionary unrest, Chancellor Prince Max of Baden announced Wilhelm's abdication of both titles on 9 November 1918. Prince Max himself was forced to resign later the same day, when it became clear that only Friedrich Ebert, leader of the SPD could effectively exert control. Wilhelm consented to the abdication only after Ludendorff's replacement, General Wilhelm Groener, had informed him that the officers and men of the army would march back in good order under Paul von Hindenburg's command, but would certainly not fight for Wilhelm's throne on the home front. The monarchy's last and strongest support had been broken, and finally even Hindenburg, himself a lifelong royalist, was obliged, with some embarrassment, to advise the Emperor to give up the crown.

Wilhelm II died of a pulmonary embolus in Doorn, Netherlands on 3 June 1941 aged 82, just weeks before the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

The Last Kaiser The Life of Wilhelm II by Giles MacDonogh by Giles MacDonogh (no photo)
Kaiser Wilhem II Germany's Last Emperor by John Van der Kiste by John Van der Kiste (no photo)
The Kaiser and His Court Wilhelm II and the Government of Germany by John C.G. Röhl by John C.G. Röhl (no photo)

Kaiser Wilhelm II (Profiles in Power Series) by Christopher Munro Clark by Christopher Munro Clark (no photo)
The Burden Of Guilt How Germany Shattered The Last Days Of Peace, Summer 1914 by Daniel Allen Butler by Daniel Allen Butler Daniel Allen Butler

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Friedrich Ebert

Friedrich Ebert was born in Heidelburg in February 1871 and died in February 1925. Ebert was Weimar Germany's first president and was instrumental in introducing Weimar's constitution which was to play an important part in the downfall of the Weimar Republic.

Ebert had a relatively humble beginning as he worked as a saddler before becoming a journalist. Ebert got involved with trade unionism and as a natural progression, moved to politics. Ebert became a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), becoming its secretary-general in 1905. He was elected to the Reichstag in 1912 and became the leader of the Social Democratic Party in 1913.

As with many Germans, Ebert supported Germany's involvement in World War One and near the end of the war, Ebert was invited to join a coalition government lead by Prince Max von Baden. However, Ebert's support for Germany's participation in the war, caused a spilt in the SDP. Two factions split: one was to become the Communist Party of Germany while the other titled itself the Independent Social Democratic Party. Both were virulently anti-war.

Ebert's reputation meant that he was asked by Max von Baden to take control of the coalition government in November 1918 and immediately showed his hand when he allied himself to the military and to the Freikorps in an effort to overturn the Spartacist movement in the so-called German Revolution. Ebert became associated with the brutality used by both, though especially by the Freikorps, in crushing both the Spartacists and an attempt to impose a Soviet in Bavaria.

Such was the fear of communism and what had occurred in Russia, that most Germans were content to turn a blind eye to what was done in the name of the government. These events also showed that Ebert was willing to use a strong hand against anybody who threatened the stability of Germany. The loss of face Ebert experienced by having to leave the capital Berlin and move to the safer city of Weimar during the 'revolution', may explain why he treated those who fought against his government with such harshness.

In January 1919, elections were held in Germany. The coalition which Ebert lead got 85% support

On February 11th, 1919, Ebert was elected president of the Weimar Republic - a position he held until his death in 1925. In this time he had to contend with the shame many Germans felt at losing the war, the humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles, the economic plight Germany was in, the invasion of the Ruhr and the devastating impact of hyperinflation. From 1920 on (the year of Weimar's first parliament), Ebert lost support amongst the people. This was directly related to the Versailles Treaty which many Germans believed was simply a non-military way of destroying Germany. Few understood that the government had little other choice but to sign Versailles.

Ebert died at the relatively young age of 54. Many believe that the judgment of a German court - which ruled that Ebert had committed high treason during the war - contributed to his premature death.

Dispatches from the Weimar Republic Versailles and German Facism by Morgan Philips Price by Morgan Philips Price (no photo)
Friedrich Ebert Germany Makers of the Modern World by Harry Harmer by Harry Harmer (no photo)
Unfortunately, the remainder of the books are all in German

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Some Jewish holidays and religious terminology/items

Rosh Hashanah

A shofar, symbol of the Rosh Hashanah holiday

Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: ראש השנה‎, literally "head [of] the year") is the Jewish New Year. The Biblical name for this holiday is called Yom Teruah (Hebrew: יום תרועה‎, literally "day [of] shouting/raising a noise") or the Feast of Trumpets according to the correct biblical calendar of the 1st and 2nd temple period, not Rosh Hashanah. It is the first of the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora'im ("Days of Awe") which usually occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere. Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration, which begins on the first day of Tishrei. The day is believed to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of humanity's role in God's world. Rosh Hashanah customs include sounding the shofar (a hollowed-out ram's horn) and eating symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey to evoke a "sweet new year".
(Source: Wikipedia_

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri. The holiday is instituted at Leviticus 23:26 et seq.

The name "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement," and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year. In Days of Awe, I mentioned the "books" in which G-d inscribes all of our names. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these books is sealed. This day is, essentially, your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.

As I noted in Days of Awe, Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible. That must all be done before Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed on that day. It is well-known that you are supposed to refrain from eating and drinking (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete, 25-hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The Talmud also specifies additional restrictions that are less well-known: washing and bathing, anointing one's body (with cosmetics, deodorants, etc.), wearing leather shoes (Orthodox Jews routinely wear canvas sneakers under their dress clothes on Yom Kippur), and engaging in sexual relations are all prohibited on Yom Kippur.

As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of nine and women in childbirth (from the time labor begins until three days after birth) are not permitted to fast, even if they want to. Older children and women from the third to the seventh day after childbirth are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel the need to do so. People with other illnesses should consult a physician and a rabbi for advice.

Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in prayer. In Orthodox synagogues, services begin early in the morning (8 or 9 AM) and continue until about 3 PM. People then usually go home for an afternoon nap and return around 5 or 6 PM for the afternoon and evening services, which continue until nightfall. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar. See Rosh Hashanah for more about the shofar and its characteristic blasts.

It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Is. 1:18). Some people wear a kittel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.
(Source: Wikipedia)

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Some Jewish holidays and religious terminology/items

Shabbat Service

Shabbat Candles

Shabbat (Hebrew: שַׁבָּת‎, "rest" or "cessation") or Shabbos (Yiddish: שאבּעס) (English: Sabbath) is the Jewish day of rest and seventh day of the week, on which religious Jews remember the Biblical creation of the heavens and the earth in six days and the Exodus of the Hebrews, and look forward to a future Messianic Age. Shabbat observance entails refraining from work activities, often with great rigor, and engaging in restful activities to honor the day. The traditional Jewish position is that unbroken seventh-day Shabbat originated among the Jewish people, as their first and most sacred institution, though some suggest other origins. Variations upon Shabbat are widespread in Judaism and, with adaptations, throughout the Abrahamic and many other religions.

According to halakha, Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night.[1] Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles and reciting a blessing. Traditionally, three festive meals are eaten: in the evening, in the morning, and late in the afternoon. The evening dinner typically begins with kiddush and another blessing recited over two loaves of challah. Shabbat is closed the following evening with a havdalah blessing. Shabbat is a festive day when Jews exercise their freedom from the regular labors of everyday life. It offers an opportunity to contemplate the spiritual aspects of life and to spend time with family.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Torah (Sefir Torah)

Sefir Torah

A Sefer Torah (Hebrew: ספר תורה‎; plural: ספרי תורה Sifrei Torah ; "Book(s) of Torah" or "Torah scroll(s)") is a handwritten copy of the Torah, the holiest book within Judaism. It must meet extremely strict standards of production. The Torah scroll is mainly used in the ritual of Torah reading during Jewish services. At other times, it is stored in the holiest spot within a synagogue, the Aron Kodesh ("Holy Ark"), which is usually an ornate curtained-off cabinet or section of the synagogue built along the wall that most closely faces Jerusalem, the direction Jews face when praying.

The text of the Torah is also commonly printed and bound in book form for non-ritual functions. Then it is known as a Chumash ("five-part", for the five books of Moses), and is often accompanied by commentaries or translations.


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Some Jewish holidays and religious terminology/items

Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah or better Simḥath Torah (also Simkhes Toreh, Hebrew: שִׂמְחַת תּוֹרָה, lit., "Rejoicing of/[with the] Torah") is a Jewish holiday that celebrates and marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle. Simhat Torah is a component of the Biblical Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret ("Eighth Day of Assembly"), which follows immediately after the festival of Sukkot in the month of Tishrei (occurring in mid-September to early October on the Gregorian calendar).

The main celebration of Simhat Torah takes place in the synagogue during evening and morning services. In Orthodox as well as many Conservative congregations, this is the only time of year on which the Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark and read at night. In the morning, the last parashah of Deuteronomy and the first parashah of Genesis are read in the synagogue. On each occasion, when the ark is opened, the worshippers leave their seats to dance and sing with the Torah scrolls in a joyous celebration that can last for several hours.

The morning service is also uniquely characterized by the calling up of each male member (in some Orthodox, and in the majority of non-Orthodox congregations, male and female members) of the congregation for an aliyah There is also a special aliyah for all the children (under 13 or 12 for boys and girls).
(Source: Wikipedia)


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