Nazi commander Michael Karkoc, who burnt villages filled with women and children, lives in quiet Minnesota town
A top commander of a Nazi SS-led unit who lied to American immigration officials to get into the US more than 60 years ago said that he 'can't explain' his wartime service. Michael Karkoc, 94, made the remarks to a reporter who knocked on the door of his Minnesota home to ask him about accusations that he burned villages filled with women and children. After the war he concealed his work as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion and later as an officer in the SS Galician Division. In a Ukrainian-language memoir published in 1995, Karkoc states that he helped found the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion in 1943 in collaboration with the Nazis' SS intelligence agency, the SD, to fight on the side of Germany - and served as a company commander in the unit, which received orders directly from the SS, through the end of the war.
Hitler's Final Fortress Breslau 1945 by Richard Hargreaves (book review)
The siege of Breslau is mentioned often in the final diary entries of Josef Goebbels. The stand by "dear Hanke" did much to reinforce the Nazi propaganda minister`s fanaticism. Of Goebbels` fanaticism there can be no doubt. His sincerity is another matter. Karl Hanke, the brutal Nazi sent to organize the defense, had cuckolded Goebbels. Goebbels possibly regretted Hanke`s death less than he claimed. In any event, Richard Hargreaves has written a good account of a battle that turned out to have no significance in the war fighting, but in the aftermath reversed a major turning point in European history: Stalin saw to it that Poland recovered Silesia, of which Breslau is the capital.
Escape tunnel discovered at Nazi death camp Sobibor
A team of Polish and Israeli archaeologists have discovered traces of an escape tunnel at the infamous Nazi death camp at Sobibor. Lying five feet below the surface, the tunnel stretched for 32 feet from one of the barracks and under the barbwire fences surrounding the camp. Its discovery provides the first physical evidence of prisoners trying to dig their way out of a Nazi death camp. The length of the tunnel gives an indication of the ingenuity of prisoners desperate to escape a camp that claimed the lives of 250,000 in the 17 months of its operations in German-occupied Poland.
Long-lost diary of top Nazi leader Alfred Rosenberg discovered in Buffalo
400 pages from the long-lost diary of top Nazi leader Alfred Rosenberg has been discovered in the United States. Rosenberg's memos to Hitler were cited as evidence during the Nuremberg trials, and he directed the systematic Nazi looting of Jewish art, cultural and religious property throughout Europe. His diary 'complements, and in part contradicts, already known documentation.' The discovery could offer new insight into meetings Rosenberg had with Hitler and other top Nazi leaders, including Heinrich Himmler and Herman Goering. It also includes details about the German occupation of the Soviet Union, including plans for mass killings of Jews and other Eastern Europeans.
Letters allegedly written by Eva Braun talk about the last days
As the Red Army smashed into the suburbs of Berlin in April 1945, the mood of Hitler`s bride-to-be Eva Braun turned from fragile hope to black despair. Letters she is said to have written from the führerbunker reveal her growing sense of doom. The letters are published in a book called The Women of the Nazis, by Third Reich expert Anna Maria Sigmund. The writer insists the letters are genuine and were written by Eva Braun to her friend Herta Schneider. She claims the descendants of Schneider showed her the letters. She said she copied them down before they were sold on to a collector.
Top secret orders issued to naval captains involved in the D-Day landings discovered in a chest in a loft
Top secret orders issued to naval captains involved in the D-Day landings have emerged after spending decades hidden in a chest in a loft. The inch-thick document - which should have been destroyed at the end of the Normandy invasion – gives a detailed account of the navy`s role in the landings. The orders were issued to Royal Navy officers who were involved in Operation Neptune. The copy was issued to Lieutenant Alexander North Hardy, the skipper of HMS Valena. As well as charts, it contains 50 photographs, presumably taken from a submarine lying off the coast, of the enemy shoreline onto which the invasion force was to land. The book also contains details of what the fleet should do, if German patrol boats, submarines or heavy battleships were to arrive on the scene and disrupt the landings.
Photos: World War II German Dornier Do-17 bomber raised from sea
A WWII German bomber, likely the last of its kind, has been raised from the bottom of the English Channel and will be restored for display in a British museum. The Royal Air Force shot down the Dornier Do-17 twin-engine medium bomber of the German Luftwaffe on August 26, 1940, during the Battle of Britain. It was one of 1,500 built by Germany and the last known to be in existence. Germany employed more than 400 Dornier 17s during the Battle of Britain, and 200 of those were lost. Most wrecks were melted down and recycled into making planes and armaments for Britain.
Kehlsteinhaus, Hitler's mountain retreat in Bavaria, is getting a $22 million makeover
The Eagle's Nest (Kehlsteinhaus - a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler) is getting a $22.5 million renovation. Hitler's former lair is now an information center, and will be expanded to some 27,000 square feet. The pricey makeover, to begin in 2015, is expected to take three years.
Hitler, Dönitz, and the Baltic Sea: The Third Reich's Last Hope, 1944-1945
In this book professor Howard D. Grier explores Hitler`s seemingly "irrational" decision to leave over a million troops in enclaves on the Baltic Coast during the final months of the war. Traditional interpretations of Hitler`s claim that this was necessary to keep the Baltic a `German lake` to train the submarine force has been dismissed as a part of his `no retreat` policy. In this well-reasoned book, however, Grier argues that this claim has validity. The decision was based on advice given Hitler by his naval commander Karl Dönitz, and looked to the imminent introduction of the Type XXI U-boot, one of Germany`s less fantastical `wonder weapons.`
Gulag survivor recalls the appalling conditions Leonid Finkelstein (11-minute audio)
Millions of people were sent to brutal labour camps in the Soviet Union during the communist rule of Joseph Stalin. Over a million prisoners died of disease, starvation, or exhaustion. Leonid Finkelstein was imprisoned in the Gulag camps for five-and-a-half years, but survived. He recounts the appalling conditions of Stalin's forced labour camps.
Nazi looted art cases remain unsolved mysteries, as standard guidelines are yet to be formed
A prominent Oskar Kokoschka painting stolen by the Nazis is now to be returned to its rightful owners. While provenance research has improved, a set of legal issues make such cases difficult to resolve. The Kokoschka painting is one of many cases of art confiscated by the Nazis from Jewish owners 1933-1945 which have recently resurfaced. The current discussion, 70 years after the end of World War II, revolves around the restitution of the works to their rightful owners. The problem is, however, that even after many legal disputes over the years, a set of standard guidelines have yet to be laid down.
WWII Myths - The German war economy was mismanaged
The idea that the Germans mismanaged their war economy is one of the most enduring myths of WWII. This idea is strange considering that everyone acknowledges the ‘economic miracles` of the period 1933-39 and of the postwar recovery. Why would the Germans do things right up to 1939 and after 1945 but mess things up in between?
Women Nurses throughout military history
Women Nurses throughout military history, short intros with links from various wars.
Highly addictive Crystal Meth kept German pilots and soldiers alert during World War II
The Wehrmacht distributed millions of Pervitin tablets to soldiers, who soon dubbed the stimulant "Panzerschokolade" ("tank chocolate"). "Alertness aid" read the packaging, to be taken "to maintain wakefulness." But "only from time to time," it warned. This particular young soldier, though, needed more of the drug, much more. He was exhausted by the war. In letters sent home, he asked his family to send more. He found just one pill was as effective for staying alert as liters of strong coffee. And when he took the drug, all his worries seemed to disappear. This 22-year-old was not just any soldier - he was Heinrich Böll, who would go on to become one of Germany's leading postwar writers and win a Nobel Prize in 1972. And the drug he asked for is now illegal - and we now know it as crystal meth.
Forgotten for decades, WWII Alaskan Natives volunteers finally get their due
More than 6,300 Alaskan Natives volunteered for the ATG, or Eskimo Scouts. They never had to fight off a full-fledged invasion, but the ATG — who served without pay — did rescue a downed pilot and secured key airfields. The unit dissolved at the end of the war. The U.S. government certainly seemed to forget about them: It took until 2000 to get the ATG recognized as veterans, then several years more for the bureaucracy to start registering them for benefits.
What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France
Americans often think of WWII as the "good war," but historian Mary Louise Roberts says her new book might make our understanding of that conflict "more truthful and more complex." The book, "What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France", tells the story of relations between American men and French women in Normandy and elsewhere. The Americans were liberators; the French were liberated. But sex created tensions and resentments that were serious, yet were utterly absent from contemporary accounts for American audiences back home. Roberts suggests that the tensions weren't entirely accidental: "Sex was fundamental to how the U.S. military framed, fought and won the war in Europe."
Germany to pay Holocaust victims new 800 million euros compensation
Germany has agreed to pay an extra 800 million euros (£685 million) to help care for Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. It is thought about 56,000 people worldwide will benefit, one third of them in Israel. The aim is to help ensure elderly Holocaust survivors can live their final years in dignity. Germany has also agreed to widen the scope of those eligible, to include people who lived in open ghettos.
Hitler's hospital in ruins: Graffiti and peeling paint remains of a gigantic hospital which once treated Hitler
Rusty beds, vine-covered buildings and empty corridors with walls covered in graffiti and peeling paint are what remains of a gigantic hospital which once treated Adolf Hitler, after it was abandoned in the fall of East Germany. Beelitz-Heilstätten, a 60-building treatment complex southwest of the German capital, was built in the late 19th century to help rehabilitate the growing number of tuberculosis patients. During the Great War, Beelitz-Heilstätten - or Beelitz Sanatorium - was turned into a military hospital and was where a young Hitler was treated for a thigh injury acquired during the Battle of the Somme.
The Japanese harnessed air currents to create the first intercontinental weapons - balloons
Balloon bombs aimed to be the silent WWII assassins. Hitching a ride on a jet stream, these weapons from Japan could float across the Pacific Ocean to their marks in North America. In the 1940s, the Japanese were mapping out air currents, and the researchers noticed that a strong air current traveled across the Pacific at about 30,000 feet. Using that knowledge, in 1944 the Japanese military made what many experts consider the first intercontinental weapon system: explosive devices attached to paper balloons that were buoyed across the ocean by a jet stream.
Woman finds sweetheart`s Wartime Diary, 70 years later
Before Cpl. Thomas "Cotton" Jones was killed by a Japanese sniper in the South Pacific in 1944, he wrote what he called his "last life request" to anyone who might find his diary: Please give it to Laura Mae Davis, the girl he loved. Davis did get to read the diary, but not until nearly 70 years later, when she saw it in a display case at the National World War II Museum. "I didn't have any idea there was a diary in there," said the 90-year-old Mooresville, Ind., woman. She said it brought tears to her eyes.
British military chiefs: Hitler was more use alive than dead because of the blunders he was making
British military chiefs thought Hitler was more use alive than dead in the later stages of the Second World War because of the `blunders` he was making. In one telling letter to the PM`s office, General Hastings Ismay, the head of the War Cabinet Secretariat, wrote: `The chiefs of staff were unanimous that from the strictly military point of view, it was almost an advantage that Hitler should remain in control of German strategy having regard to the blunders that he has made but that on the wider point the sooner he was got out of the way the better.`
British espionage efforts in the US targeted isolationist groups and president Roosevelt's private calls
Britain's WWII spying on U.S. isolationist groups and its propaganda efforts against them were revealed in secret archives published for the first time. The declassified documents at the National Archives in London show how Churchill was sent a report on a 1940 private phone call between President Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and Joe Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to London, during which they discussed options "if Europe is overrun" by Nazi Germany. The following year, British agents in the U.S. compiled a 4-inch-thick dossier on America First, a group urging the U.S. to stay out of what was then a European war. Meanwhile, British diplomats paid for propaganda on the other side of the argument and considered funding sympathetic groups.
Harold Hayes was trapped in Nazi-occupied Albania with fellow medics and nurses
Harold Hayes was only 21 years old in November 1943 when the transport plane he and 29 other Americans were traveling in crash-landed in Nazi-occupied Albania. During their ordeal, the group of men and women traversed more than 600 miles of brutal terrain, dodged German troops, faced desperate hunger, survived blizzards, and were caught in crossfire. When they finally made it across Allied lines, they were forbidden by the military from discussing the details of the events with anyone. Now, almost 70 years later, Hayes, the only living member of the group, talks about his experiences with Cate Lineberry, author of the new book, The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines.
Love letter from Hitler to his niece has sold for £2,800 at an auction
A love letter from Hitler to his niece has sold for £2,800 at an auction in Shropshire. But five paintings by the Nazi leader expected to fetch over £24,000 failed to find a buyer at the Mullock`s sale at Ludlow Racecourse.