A German sniper on the Eastern Front smoking his pipe and hanging out.
August 10, 2011, 2:00pm / 28
August 10, 2011, 12:00pm / 219
Soviet POWs en route to German concentration camps.
Prisoners who survived transport (as shown in this photograph) to arrive at their respective camp were either shot immediately upon arrival or used as slave labor where they were worked until they simply dropped dead in quarries or fields.
Of the 9,000 prisoners sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp, only 800 were alive when US troops liberated the camp in 1945. In the notorious Dachau camp system of the 10,000 Soviet POWs who arrived in 1941, only 150 were alive by mid-1942. It has been estimated by 1944 that well over two million Soviet prisoners had been disposed of in these methods.
At the end of May 1944, there had been a total of 5.7 million Soviet soldiers in German custody. Of these, between 3.3 to 3.5 million—just over 60%—died in captivity, a casualty of the genocidal policy undertaken by the Third Reich against what Hitler had once described as the “Asiatic horde”.
August 09, 2011, 9:57pm / 26
RIP NANCY WAKE (30 August 1912 – 7 August 2011)
Ms Wake, who has died in London just before her 99th birthday, was a New Zealander brought up in Australia. She became a nurse, a journalist who interviewed Adolf Hitler, a wealthy French socialite, a British agent and a French resistance leader. She led 7,000 guerrilla fighters in battles against the Nazis in the northern Auvergne, just before the D-Day landings in 1944. On one occasion, she strangled an SS sentry with her bare hands. On another, she cycled 500 miles to replace lost codes. In June 1944, she led her fighters in an attack on the Gestapo headquarters at Montlucon in central France.
Work began earlier this month on a feature film about Nancy Wake’s life. Ms Wake, one of the models for Sebastian Faulks’ fictional heroine, Charlotte Gray, had mixed feelings about previous cinematic efforts to portray her wartime exploits, including a TV mini-series made in 1987.
“It was well-acted but in parts it was extremely stupid,” she said. “At one stage they had me cooking eggs and bacon to feed the men. For goodness’ sake, did the Allies parachute me into France to fry eggs and bacon for the men? There wasn’t an egg to be had for love nor money. Even if there had been why would I be frying it? I had men to do that sort of thing.”
Ms Wake was also furious the TV series suggested she had had a love affair with one of her fellow fighters. She was too busy killing Nazis for amorous entanglements, she said.
Even before she escaped to Britain, through Spain, in 1943 to train as a guerrilla leader, Nancy had been top of the Gestapo’s French “wanted” list. With her husband, she ran a resistance network which helped to smuggle Jews and allied airmen out of the country.
Nancy recalled later in life that her parachute had snagged in a tree. The French resistance fighter who freed her said he wished all trees bore “such beautiful fruit”. Nancy retorted: “Don’t give me that French shit.”
If I could even be a quarter of the woman she was, I’ll be happy.
August 09, 2011, 7:15pm / 35547