70 Years Ago, in Nazi Germany

Seventy years ago today, 200 + Allied airmen tried to break out of a German prison camp. Only 3 made it home. 77 made it out, and seventy were recaptured. But the shocking thing, then and now, is that 50 were murdered by the Gestapo.

While it is by no means a documentary, they made a little move about it.


I can’t speak for you but, tonight in my house, a toast of Scotch will be drunk to those 50 brave men.

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Shutdown Theater Day 8

The Shutdown Theater of Fascism continues.


From Ace

“Gestapo” is their word, not mine.

Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1. For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.

The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.

“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.

The seniors quickly filed back onboard and the bus went to the Old Faithful Inn, the park’s premier lodge located adjacent to the park’s most famous site, Old Faithful geyser. That was as close as they could get to the famous site —barricades were erected around Old Faithful, and the seniors were locked inside the hotel, where armed rangers stayed at the door.

Continue reading Yellowstone Park Rangers Use “Gestapo” Tactics to Harrass Seniors on Tour Bus.

And this from the Washington Times, also via Ace

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Times, that read in part: “The President made it clear that there should be no disruption in pay and allowances for the men and women serving in uniform and their families. Contrary to this assertion … the Department of Defense, through careless legal interpretation, is now mistakenly denying payments of Death Gratuity and other benefits to the families of those who make the ultimate sacrifice. Since DoD has determined that it cannot provide this benefit, I am at a loss about why DoD did not take a more active role in notifying Congress and insisting that changes in law occur immediately.”
Republicans in Congress announced they’re drafting legislation to immediately restore the payment to families and hope it could be put to a vote as early as Wednesday.

This is America?


English: Flossenbürg concentration camp: court...

English: Flossenbürg concentration camp: courtyard of Arrestblock (jail block), site of numerous executions in 1944/45 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Today 69 years ago a group of very brave ,and unlucky men tried to change the course of history. That is the background of Operation Walküre (Valkyrie). In truth, the plan comes off as having elements of (very black) slapstick comedy about it. That doesn’t change the fact that these men (mostly but a few women as well) gave their lives to try to remove Hitler. You are free to believe they did this in the name of the honor of the German soldier, or to get an easier peace, or to save Germany from the Russians, or a half-dozen other reasons, or all of them, I don’t think it matters.


They tried and they failed, and then they died, horribly for the most part.



Who were they, that were implicated? Most were, and are anonymous, and innocent, most likely since at least 7000 people were arrested and nearly 5000 executed.


Here are some you may have heard of:



I found this list here, on Wikipedia., and there are many, many, more.


But the thing that really struck me in reading over the list is this. Two other things died in the furious aftermath of the plot.


This was the end of the old Prussian/German Great General Staff. One can argue about its efficacy as a war fighting construct but one thing is beyond doubt, it carried the institutional honor of the German Army going back to at least the Napoleonic War.


The other thing that died was the old Prussian/German aristocracy, just look at the number of names in that list with the aristocratic von in their names. That prefix in most accounts goes back to returning knights of the Order of St. John Hospitaller who conquered a goodly part of Prussia and Poland to find a place to settle down. We’ve talked before about how the Nazis and the Soviets between them wiped out the Polish nobility, so there was little left.


It would be a fair assessment, I think, to say that World Wars I and II killed of all of the traditional leadership in Europe, with the sole exception of what was left in Britain. France pretty much killed theirs off in the terror. Maybe that’s part of the reason for Europe’s lack of leadership anymore. They haven’t figured out how yet.


It might also be a fair assessment that we Americans are in truth the last representatives of the ‘Old Europe’ because we managed to avoid some of the killing fields that so wounded Europe.



Yom Kippur: Leo Baeck, Berlin, 1935



Yom Kippur began last evening at sundown, and I ran across a prayer written by a German Rabbi in 1935. It is a powerful prayer for his people in what was becoming a very troubled time. It is also a good prayer for us in these days when our religion like Judaism seems to be under attack.


Jews begin the observance of Yom Kippur tonight at Kol Nidre services. Last year a Christian friend asked to join us at our service. She pointed out to me in our prayer book an adaptation of the prayercomposed by the progressive German Rabbi Leo Baeck for delivery in German synagogues during the Kol Nidre service on October 10, 1935. It is a prayer that, to say the least, remains timely tonight:

At this hour the whole House of Israel stands before its God, the God of Justice and the God of Mercy. We shall examine our ways before Him. We shall examine what we have done and what we have failed to do; we shall examine where we have gone and where we have failed to go. Wherever we have sinned we will confess it: We will say “we have sinned” and we will pray with the will to repentance before the Lord and we will pray: “Lord forgive us!”

We stand before our God and with the same courage with which we have acknowledged our sins, the sins of the individual and the sins of the community, shall we express our abhorrence of the lie directed against us, and the slander of our faith and its expressions: this slander is far below us. We believe in our faith and our future. Who brought the world the secret of the Lord Everlasting, of the Lord Who is One? Who brought the world understanding for a life of purity, for the purity of the family? Who brought the world respect for Man made in the image of God? Who brought the world the commandment of justice, of social thought? In all these the spirit of the Prophets of Israel, the Revelation of God to the Jewish People had a part.

It sprang from our Judaism, and continues to grow in it. All the slander drops away when it is cast against these facts.

We stand before our God: Our strength is in Him. In Him is the truth and the dignity of our history. In Him is the source of our survival through every change, our firm stand in all our trials. Our history is the history of spiritual greatness, spiritual dignity.

We turn to it when attack and insult are directed against us, when need and suffering press in upon us. The Lord led our fathers from generation to generation. He will continue to lead us and our children through our days.

We stand before our God; we draw strength from His Commandments, which we obey. We bow down before Him, and we stand upright before Men. Him we serve, and remain steadfast in all the changes around us. We put our faith in Him in humility and our way ahead is clear, we see our future….

At the time the prayer was written and disseminated, Baeck was president of the Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland, the official representative body of the Jews in Germany. The Gestapo discovered the text of the prayer and arrested Baeck. In Days of Sorrow and Pain, his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Baeck, Leonard Baker writes that Gestapo officials showed up at some Yom Kippur services, especially in Berlin: “No count was ever made of how many rabbis read the prayer at the service; many did, so many that it was almost an act of collective defiance on the part of the German rabbinate.” (First posted last year.)


Leo Baeck, Berlin, 1935 | Power Line.



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