The three major Axis powers — Germany, Japan, and Italy — committed a host of catastrophic errors during the war. But some of these miscalculations were considerably worse than others. Here are the most significant blunders made by the Axis during WWII.
Above: German soldiers fighting in Russia.
Late last year we told you about the 8 worst mistakes made by the Allies during the war. Time now to turn our attention to the most serious mistakes made by Axis planners. The list, which is ordered (somewhat) chronologically, addresses planning and strategic errors rather than operational ones.
TEL AVIV — A new monument to pay tribute to Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust who were persecuted by the Nazis for their sexual orientation has been unveiled in Tel Aviv.Workers install a memorial in Meir Park in Tel Aviv to honor gay victims of the Holocaust.
The memorial stands in front of the municipal community center established in Gan Meir (Meir Park) for the gay community in 2008, ahead of Tel Aviv’s centennial, reported the Jewish Daily Forward.
As we observe the 75th anniversary of the so-called Kristallnacht (known more appropriately as “Reichspogromnacht” in German today), I want to share a story about the “New Synagogue” in eastern Berlin that was quite obscure until recently. How obscure? In 1966 a plaque was placed on the outside of the synagogue erroneously commemorating its destruction on 9/10 November 1938. With approximately 1000 Jewish houses of worship destroyed that night, it is easy to understand the confusion. However, it is also possible that the East German regime had no interest in spreading the true story that unfolded there.
It seems that a mob had assembled at Berlin’s largest synagogue on Oranienburger Straße and proceeded to smash whatever they could get their hands on in order to provide fuel for a fire. Before the blaze could really get going, Berlin Police Lieutenant Otto Bellgardt arrived and apparently dispersed the mob at gunpoint. He then called in the fire department, which he quite likely had to convince to perform its duty.
It is easy to assume that this police officer was merely motivated by a desire to protect nearby buildings in this densely populated neighborhood. However, Bellgardt and his superior officer, Senior Lieutenant Wilhelm Krützfeld, are said to have had a history of anti-Nazi activity. Bellgardt reputedly stamped forged identity cards and warned Jewish residents of impending deportation orders. Their precinct almost certainly provided Otto Weidt (owner of a workshop that employed and protected 30 deaf and blind Jews) warnings about imminent raids. Ultimately Krützfeld covered up the full extent of Bellgardt’s synagogue-saving actions, but still received a reprimand from his superiors. He would eventually apply for early retirement, his conscience no longer allowing him to serve the Nazi regime.
The synagogue itself was immediately repaired and continued to function until April, 1940. It was among the very last Jewish institutions to be closed by the Nazis. It sustained massive damage during air raids on Berlin, especially in late 1943. After the war, the Berlin Jewish community re-constituted itself in nearby buildings. Following German reunification, a significant reconstruction project was undertaken. Today’s synagogue is nowhere near its original size, but a remarkable and inspiring sight nonetheless.
The first time I was fortunate enough to see this place, it was still located in East Germany, and in an especially run-down part of generally run-down East Berlin. Today, this is a rather upscale area of the reunited city. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the German capital.
As we remember the victims of the nightmare that became all too real 75 years ago tonight, I salute Bellgardt and Krützfeld and wish there had been a LOT more people like them in central Europe that night.
Wikipedia article on the synagogue (including a photo of the erroneous plaque, still in place as of my last visit in 2006) here.
CuriousLurker post with a great picture of this synagogue, in addition to a newer Berlin synagogue here.
Several Jewish and Christian leaders intensified criticism of the group opposed to same-sex marriage Friday for using Nazi references in their effort.
“It’s shocking and appalling and deeply unMinnesotan,” said Rabbi Michael Adam Latz, with Shir Tikvah in south Minneapolis. He accused Minnesota for Marriage of using the Bible and Torah and other religious texts to espouse their views against homosexuality.”When did you decide to use a sacred text as a weapon of mass destruction?”
A dozen religious leaders gathered at Shir Tikvah to ask the group trying to block same-sex marriage in the state to apologize and withdraw material that accused same-sex marriage advocates of using the propaganda techniques similar to Nazis during the holocaust. The group was most critical of Minnesota for Marriage for describing the issue as a diversion and a “smoke screen,” which they saw as a thinly-veiled reference to the gas chambers used in Nazi Germany.
Autumn Leva, a spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage, said the statements in question came from a separate, affiliate group.
“Minnesota for Marriage regrets that statements considered by many to be offensive appeared on the website of a separate organization, Minnesota Pastors for Marriage,” the statement read. “The aim of Minnesota for Marriage has always been to promote a civil and respectful debate about the nature of marriage.”
That’s a marked change from the day before when the group said Minnesotans United, which is pushing to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, was raising the issue in a “desperate attempt” to divert people from the fact that most Minnesotans don’t want to legalize gay marriage.
A link to the pastors’ group remained atop Minnesota for Marriage’s website Friday afternoon.
Minnesota for Marriage’s affiliate is urging pastors to preach against same-sex marriage this weekend. The group prepared a “sermon starter” help religious leaders touch on key arguments against same-sex marriage.
The material tries to debunk a body of medical and scientific research that shows gay and lesbian people are born that way.
In 1985, Stanley Kubrick was handed a book on the survival of jazz in Nazi-occupied Europe. A snapshot of a Luftwaffe officer casually posing among black, Gypsy, and Jewish musicians outside a Paris nightclub caught his eye. It looked like something out of Dr. Strangelove, he said. He’d long wanted to bring World War II to the screen, and perhaps this photograph offered a way in.
“Stanley’s famous saying was that it was easier to fall in love than find a good story,” says Tony Frewin, Kubrick’s longtime assistant (and, for the purpose of disclosure, an editor-at-large at my former magazine, Stop Smiling). “He was limitlessly interested in anything to do with Nazis and desperately wanted to make a film on the subject.”
Kubrick has long been associated with creating arresting visions of warfare. When it was announced this month that Steven Spielberg will produce Kubrick’s screenplay Napoleon as a television miniseries, the initial speculation was largely about how the ambitious battle scenes, originally conceived to maximize tens of thousands of extras, will be achieved.
However, it’s Kubrick’s interest in jazz-loving Nazis that represents his most fascinating unrealized war film. The book that Kubrick was handed, and one he considered adapting soon after wrapping Full Metal Jacket, was Swing Under the Nazis, published in 1985 and written by Mike Zwerin, a trombonist from Queens who had performed with Miles Davis and Eric Dolphy before turning to journalism.
A Greek criminal prosecutor has launched an investigation after a report on Channel 4 News showed a member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party threatening to turn immigrants into soap.
The investigation was opened after the Greek anti-racist crime unit referred the news report to the criminal prosecutor.
The film - which was broadcast on Channel 4 News on 5 March - was shot by Konstantinos Georgousis, with the full knowledge of the members, after spending a month filming far-right Golden Dawn party on the streets of Athens.
In the film, Alexandros Plomaritis, a 44-year-old who ran for parliament for the party in last year’s election, said: “We are ready to open the ovens. We will turn them into soap … to wash cars and pavements. We will make lamps from their skin.”
Continue reading at Channel 4.
Full video including commentary below.
A moving reflection from the youngest survivor of Schindler’s List, Leon Leyson, who recently passed away at the age of 83. The speech took place on May of 2008 at UCSD.
Holocaust survivor Leon Leyson reflects on his incredible luck that put him on the infamous “Schindler’s List,” sparing him from a disastrous fate in Nazi Germany.
Leon Leyson dies at 83; youngest survivor on Schindler’s List
Leyson was one of the 1,100 Jews saved from the Nazis by German industrialist Oskar Schindler. He taught school in Huntington Park for 39 years and shared his survival story with others.
By Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times
January 13, 2013, 8:29 p.m.
Among the 1,100 Jews saved from the Nazis by German industrialist Oskar Schindler was an emaciated 13-year-old boy named Leon Leyson, who had to stand on a box to reach the machinery in the Krakow factory where Schindler sheltered him and his family.
Leon Leyson (Bill Aron/LATimes)
The boy Schindler called “Little Leyson” survived the Holocaust to start life over in Los Angeles. He taught high school in Huntington Park for 39 years, rarely mentioning to anyone the pain and perils he experienced during the war that claimed the lives of 6 million Jews.
Then came the celebrated 1993 movie “Schindler’s List,” which ignited public interest in the stories of Holocaust survivors. Coaxed into breaking five decades of near-silence on the subject, Leyson — the youngest member of the group rescued by Schindler — embarked on a public speaking career that took him across the United States and Canada to share his story about coming of age during the Nazis’ brutal reign.
Naomi Wolf has for many years now been claiming that a fascist coup in America is imminent. Most recently in The Guardian she alleged, with no substantiation, that the U.S. government and big American banks are conspiring to impose a “totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent.” Many of her arguments rely on what she styles as rigorous historical research and analysis of current events. But if you compare her characterizations of the historical sources and current news accounts that she cites with the sources themselves, it is possible to discern a pattern of egregious misstatements and errors in her political writing.
Skeptics have been raising serious questions about her books and articles since Caryn James called The Beauty Myth (1991) “a sloppily researched polemic” in her otherwise generally favorable New York Times review. Most recently, Wolf’s book Vagina: A New Biography has been roundly criticized for overly creative interpretations of scientific research — most pointedly by the scientists she herself cites. But it is when she ventures into matters of politics, history, law, and society that her failures become most apparent.
In her bestselling book The End of America, Wolf does not merely shoehorn her evidence to fit her theses — she completely twists its meaning and ignores its context. Many of her most outrageous distortions have mostly gone unnoticed as she has works to segue from feminist analyst to left-wing political Cassandra in the international conversation.
In a new documentary film, director Florin Iepan confronts Romania’s leaders over their ongoing silence about the country’s role in the Holocaust. But in a place where war criminals are still lauded as national heroes, his aim of getting them to acknowledge the past remains a daunting task.
“Hello, Mr. President,” filmmaker Florin Iepan shouts. “I would like to introduce you to somebody.” The man he is speaking to is Romania’s former President Emil Constantinescu, who was in office from 1996 to 2000. He’s wearing an elegant white suit and leaving a conference room. “I know what this is about,” he says reluctantly. “But I have already expressed my regrets publicly.”
“But perhaps you can say something to this man personally,” Iepan says. “He came from Odessa just for this.” Constantinescu looks at the old man with sympathy and then quickly turns away. “Perhaps another time,” he says.
The man is 87-year-old Michail Zaslawski, the sole survivor of one of the biggest crimes committed by Romania during World War II — the Odessa, Ukraine massacre of Oct. 22-24, 1941. In this short stretch of time, the Romanian army, which was occupying the area as an ally of Nazi Germany, rounded up some 23,000 Jews from around the city and killed them, shooting many and burning others alive in warehouses. Soldiers lobbed grenades at people who tried to flee.
Zaslawski’s parents, three sisters and brother — his entire family — were murdered. The massacre was in reprisal for a bomb attack by Soviets on the Romanian military headquarters, and was personally ordered by the then pro-fascist dictator Ion Antonescu.
The scene where former Romanian President Constantinescu declines to express his sympathies or even offer his hand to Zaslawski for his loss took place in Bucharest in October 2011, around the time of the 70th anniversary of the massacre. It is one among many such moments in Iepan’s documentary film “Odessa,” which explores how Romania’s political and intellectual elite refuse to address their country’s involvement in the Holocaust, not to mention engage in a public debate about who was responsible and how it ought to be remembered.
The religious right faction of the GOP never tires of selling fear and loathing. They persistently pimp paranoia and bile because if there’s not an ultimate evil and we aren’t all doomed, why the hell would you do what they say? Since we are in one of those tail wags the dog periods where the Tea party Evangelists and Paleolibertarian Galtiopaths are setting 100 percent of the GOP agenda, let me tell you what you should really fear.
You should fear the anti science crowd taking over congress and the courts - if you wanted to really stultify the economy and place us far behind our competitors that would be your first step. You would put superstition in charge of science and environmental policy. If you put medieval mindsets in charge of women’s health, then we will return the whole country to the red state problem of excessive out of wedlock teen pregnancy and excessive abortion and excessive infant mortality. Finally, if we allow people who believe their fundamentalist faith’s apocalyptic visions too deeply to set our foreign policy then we will war without end because war debt is the best debt to saddle future generations with since there won’t be future generations in their views.
So here we have the latest fear bomb from Ralph Reed, he goes Godwin against our President and then labels him communist. The religious right can’t decide whether Obama is Hitler, Stalin, or Muslim, but they just know that he must be one or more of those… oh, and they want you to send them money…. or else…
A mailer blasted out by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a nonprofit group spending millions of dollars to mobilize evangelical voters this November to help Mitt Romney’s campaign, compares President Barack Obama’s policies to the threat posed by Nazi Germany and Japan during World War II. It also says that Obama has “Communist beliefs.” A copy of this so-called “Voter Registration Confirmation Survey” was obtained by Mother Jones after it was sent to the home of a registered Republican voter.
The Faith and Freedom Coalition is the brainchild of Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition who was once hailed as “the right hand of God” and who is now tasked with getting out the evangelical vote for Romney. In the mid-2000s, Reed was ensnared in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Reed was a longtime friend of Abramoff’s, and he took payments from Abramoff to lobby against certain American Indian casinos. Reed once ran a religious-themed anti-gambling campaign at the behest of an Abramoff-connected Native American tribe to try to prevent another tribe from opening a competitor casino. His current efforts for Romney are something of a political rehabilitation for Reed.
Reed is Romney’s best hope for rallying evangelical voters. The religious right is a sizable voting bloc: 26 percent of the electorate in 2008. Reed was credited with propelling the evangelical vote in the 2004 for George W. Bush and helping Bush beat Democratic Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). And Romney needs Reed’s kind of help. During the GOP primary, evangelicals tended to prefer Romney’s opponents Newt Gingrich and especially Rick Santorum, and over the summer, enthusiasm among evangelicals for Romney was noticeably lacking.