Posts Tagged ‘from’

Children Saved from the Nazis: a Hero’s Story, review: ‘a humbling story’

February 4th, 2016

The Children Saved from the Nazis: a Hero’s Story (BBC One) was an uplifting programme. Shown to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and to commemorate the death of Sir Nicholas Winton last year (at the age of 106), this was the inspiring if desperately sad story of how one man took a stand in the face of overwhelming odds and saved the lives of hundreds of Czechoslovakian children from Nazi persecution.

Nicholas Winton, seen here celebrating his 105th birthday

Visiting Prague in 1938, ahead of the German invasion, 29-year-old stockbroker Winton found himself besieged by Jewish parents begging him to take their children to safety. It was only his singular efforts and implacable refusal to be defeated by the hundreds of official doors slammed in his face that eventually led the Home Office to support his plan to transport as many of the children as possible across Europe, and convinced British families to take them in.

“The rest of the world closed its eyes, its ears, its heart and its gates,” said narrator Joe Schlesinger, 87, one of the 669 children saved by Winton – with unavoidably topical echoes.

An undated photo of Nicholas Winton with one of the children he rescued

At its most heart wringing, this was a film honouring the sacrifice and pain of parents who sent their children into the unknown to save them, while themselves facing a terrible fate. At its most hopeful, it recalled the full and productive lives lived by those rescued, and the fact that for decades Winton never spoke of, or sought any acknowledgement for, his heroic efforts.

Even his wife knew nothing of his heroics until, 40 years on, she stumbled across a trunk in the attic and the story came out – thanks largely to a feature on Esther Rantzen’s That’s Life TV show in 1988.

A humbling story, all the more powerful for this unadorned retelling.


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Incredible World War Two colour footage shows wounded marines being evacuated from the beaches of Iwo Jima

January 23rd, 2016

The vast, silent collection was shot with hand-held cameras, giving the images an eerie and life-like feel, providing a fascinating insight into army life during some of the bloodiest periods in American military history.

American marines overcame more than 20,000 Japanese Imperial Army troops in heavily fortified positions on the island of Iwo Jima in five weeks of bloody fighting in February 1945.

Only a handful of defenders survived the American capture of the island, which was a major US objective in the Pacific war given its proximity to the Japanese mainland.

But American forces suffered heavy losses at the hands of the desperate Japanese soldiers.

A tank drives onto the beach (University of South Carolina)

The video shows in fascinating detail military vehicles transporting badly injured Marines on stretchers to waiting vessels on a beach.

Jeeps carrying dozens of troops and amphibious vehicles are also shown driving through the dark sand of the volcanic island.

The never-before-seen images also show Marines at the 1968 siege of Khe Sanh in Vietnam, at Guadalcanal – the scene of another bloody Second World War battle – and in 1950 at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea.


World War Two

The Blitz: why has Hull been ommited from the BBC series?

September 12th, 2015

Anniversary of the Blitz: ‘I thought, I cannot be alive’

Laughably, it was because no suitable local celebrity could be found to guide the BBC cameras around Hull’s proud Victorian civic buildings, her 18th-century Old Town, her vast docks, and her spectacular Gothic parish church with its colossal perpendicular windows (mercifully left unscathed).

This ignores the fact that Hull has a series of brilliant and notable people connected with it – starting with Alan Johnson, the affable MP for Hull and Hessle, and continuing with actors Maureen Lipman and Sir Tom Courtenay, BBC radio luminary Jenni Murray and a raft of groovy musicians: Roland Gift from Fine Young Cannibals, Everything But the Girl, The Housemartins…

But perhaps it is just as well they didn’t find someone to do it. Because Hull has its own singular character and story which has never relied on celebrities to promote it.

It was named the 2017 City of Culture partly, the judges said, because the force of the city was not delivered via one or two famous people on a red carpet. Hull’s triumphant pitch came from a passionate desire felt by the entire city.

Secondly, Hull has other concerns. Of course the Blitz is acknowledged and respected here. There are still bomb sites in the middle of the town; walking around this morning, I passed one. But right now, the feeling and the mood here is all about the future.

With less than 500 days to go before arrival of the juggernaut that is the £18 million City of Culture, the thrill and excitement is palpable.

Arts institutions are getting ready for a new unveiling, with more than a fresh lick of paint; several are being rebuilt.

Will Hull still exist in 100 years?
Why you should visit Hull – before it’s too late

A spectacular, 365-day programme is being put together, with the partnership of not just local, national and international cultural institutions, but also every child in the city, and 4,000 volunteers.

Let other cities trot out their celebs to play out their war stories, and good luck to them. The nation will soon see that Hull has a different story to tell.

• Rosie Millard is chair of Hull City of Culture 2017


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The Blitz: why has Hull been omitted from the BBC series?

September 9th, 2015

Anniversary of the Blitz: ‘I thought, I cannot be alive’

Laughably, it was because no suitable local celebrity could be found to guide the BBC cameras around Hull’s proud Victorian civic buildings, her 18th-century Old Town, her vast docks, and her spectacular Gothic parish church with its colossal perpendicular windows (mercifully left unscathed).

This ignores the fact that Hull has a series of brilliant and notable people connected with it – starting with Alan Johnson, the affable MP for Hull and Hessle, and continuing with actors Maureen Lipman and Sir Tom Courtenay, BBC radio luminary Jenni Murray and a raft of groovy musicians: Roland Gift from Fine Young Cannibals, Everything But the Girl, The Housemartins…

But perhaps it is just as well they didn’t find someone to do it. Because Hull has its own singular character and story which has never relied on celebrities to promote it.

It was named the 2017 City of Culture partly, the judges said, because the force of the city was not delivered via one or two famous people on a red carpet. Hull’s triumphant pitch came from a passionate desire felt by the entire city.

Secondly, Hull has other concerns. Of course the Blitz is acknowledged and respected here. There are still bomb sites in the middle of the town; walking around this morning, I passed one. But right now, the feeling and the mood here is all about the future.

With less than 500 days to go before arrival of the juggernaut that is the £18 million City of Culture, the thrill and excitement is palpable.

Arts institutions are getting ready for a new unveiling, with more than a fresh lick of paint; several are being rebuilt.

Will Hull still exist in 100 years?
Why you should visit Hull – before it’s too late

A spectacular, 365-day programme is being put together, with the partnership of not just local, national and international cultural institutions, but also every child in the city, and 4,000 volunteers.

Let other cities trot out their celebs to play out their war stories, and good luck to them. The nation will soon see that Hull has a different story to tell.

• Rosie Millard is chair of Hull City of Culture 2017


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Battle of Britain chapel saved from closure by Biggin Hill Airport

January 6th, 2015

Biggin Hill Airport has said it is able to make up the shortfall of £50,000 per year to cover the running costs of the St George’s Chapel of Remembrance on the site of the former RAF station at Biggin Hill, in Kent.

Will Curtis, managing director of Biggin Hill Airport, said the chapel was of “significant national importance.

He said it remembered the brave pilots, engineers and ground crews who gave their lives for the freedom that we now enjoy – and that must never be forgotten.

“We want to properly secure the future of this historic chapel, which is in keeping with its role of playing an active part in the local community as an important heritage site,” he added.

“We will consult with the Ministry of Defence and the London Borough of Bromley as to how we can best achieve this goal.”


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Dunkirk: from Disaster to Deliverance, Testimonies of the Last Survivors by Sinclair McKay, review: 'a new angle'

December 2nd, 2014

McKay’s narrative suggests that it took a cocktail of events to overcome such conflicting views to bring the nation together. He viagra canadian pharmacy cites Churchill’s passionate speeches as one of the crucial ingredients, but he also includes in his list the man in the street’s realisation that the Army had been saved thanks to a remarkable victory masterminded by the Navy.

Arguably the knowledge that ordinary citizens in their little ships had participated played its part, as did the fact that most British families had a friend or relation in the Army whose life had been in jeopardy. Whatever the true causes, McKay describes the spontaneous exhibition of public spiritedness, as more or less the whole country turned out to treat men who had left the French beaches in the depths of despair as though they were conquering heroes.

McKay’s novel way of analysing the crisis makes for interesting reading. However, such an approach has its dangers. When writing my own book on Dunkirk, I quickly realised that octogenarian survivors often had unreliable memories and did not necessarily have interesting stories to tell. Readers thirsting for vivid accounts of events on the beaches may be disappointed by the rather undramatic testimony of most of McKay’s survivors.

Neither does he always contextualise what they tell him. No one would begrudge his quotation of accounts containing incorrect statements about the Dunkirk weather if they were juxtaposed with more reliable data. McKay’s failure here might lead some to wonder whether he has been misled by the very myth he sets out to explore.

However, such minor quibbles do nothing to diminish the value of his central thesis. This is a worthy addition to the Dunkirk literature. Indeed, McKay’s approach may well play an influential role in how more conventional history books are written in future.

The 75th anniversary edition of Hugh Sebag-Montefiore’s Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man is published next year by Penguin

352pp, Aurum, Telegraph offer price: £15 (PLUS £1.95 p&p) (RRP £20, ebook £10.44). Call 0844 871 1515 or see books.telegraph.co.uk


World War Two

Gang rips medals from army veteran on his way to Remembrance Sunday service

November 11th, 2014

Mr Gill had been walking through Lund Park, Keighley, as he has done for years, at 9.15am on Sunday when the attack happened.

He was wearing his khaki beret, navy blue blazer, maroon and grey striped tie – all three of which bore the regimental badge and the motto ‘Victory Favours the Brave’, with a poppy pinned to his chest and the United Nations Cyprus and Northern Ireland medals on his right lapel.

Mr Gill only recently returned home from hospital following an operation to fit stents in his heart and he is currently on 13 tablets a day for his condition.

He said: “I was walking to the cenotaph in the centre of town for Remembrance Sunday, the same route I have taken every year for as long as I can recall.

“I’d stopped in Lund Park to look at the embers of a fire which had been lit near a sign when out of nowhere I was grabbed or hit from behind.

“My beret was knocked off my head and I stumbled to the ground. I tried to stay on my feet because I didn’t know what would happen if I went to ground.

“I had not seen the gang of about six to eight Asian lads before this and I think they had been hiding in bushes.

“I had not seen or heard them or done anything to intimidate them. They were laughing and joking and speaking in a foreign language, not in English, so I don’t know what they were saying.

“I was shaken and couldn’t understand what was happening. They had taken my beret as a trophy and they were tearing it at like a pack of dogs with a piece of meat. They thought it was funny.”

Mr Gill said that the gang “ran off laughing and joking” out of the park near the bowling green, before he realised his medals were also missing.

“My poppy had been ragged at but they had not managed to steal that,” he said.

“My lip was cut and I was shaken. I can only think I was targeted because of what I was wearing because it was not a mugging or robbery, because I had £200 in cash on me and they didn’t take that or ask for money.”

Mr Gill, who lives alone about 200 yards from the Lund Park gates, said the gang were aged 16-17 years old and he did not recognise any of them.

He dusted himself down and continued his walk to the cenotaph for the 11am act of remembrance.

“There I met my nephew and I told him what had happened and he told me to report it to the police. I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it, but I thought I should report it to prevent anybody else being harmed,” said Mr Gill, who attends monthly regimental meetings at the local Territorial Army Centre.

“After the Remembrance Sunday service I got home at noon and went straight to bed, I was that upset.”

Mr Gill joined up in 1966 and rose from Private to Sergeant until he left following 18 years’ service.

He then got a job in security. He served in Cyprus, Hong Kong, Japan, Gibraltar, Malaysia, and Northern Ireland, where he lost comrades.

He has lived near Lund Park for 60 years and has seen its gradual decline.

“It really has deteriorated. It used to have tennis courts and people played football there, the duck pond has gone and fires are being lit. The bowling green and pavilion have high security fencing to protect them from vandalism,” said Mr Gill.

“I used to have no fears about walking through the park, but I am now reluctant to use it – but if I don’t continue to go in they have won, haven’t they?”

Mr Gill said some of the gang were wearing hoodies, but because of the suddenness and shock of the attack he could not describe them in any better detail.

“I want my medals back, I was proud to earn them and wear them. I also want my beret back, but I think that has probably been torn to bits,” he said.

Inspector Sue Sanderson, who leads the Keighley Area Neighbourhood Team, said: “We would appeal to anyone who saw a group of Asian youths acting suspiciously in the park at around the time of this incident, or anyone who may have seen them leaving the park afterwards.

“We believe there would have been other people around at the time, perhaps also making their way to the Remembrance Day service.”

The police are treating the crime as a robbery, and Insp Sanderson added that although Mr Gill was not injured, “the victim is understandably shaken by the loss of his beret and his medals”.

Edited by Melanie Hall.


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Berlin Wall anniversary: photographs from the symbolic rise and fall of the Iron Curtain

November 7th, 2014

November 9, 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Here, we take a look through some of the best photographs from the rise and fall of the ‘Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart’

West Berlin citizens continuing their vigil atop the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on November 10 1989

Picture: Reuters


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Nazi ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign stolen from gate at Dachau concentration camp

November 2nd, 2014

She said a private security service supervises the site but officials had decided against surveillance of the former camp with video cameras because they didn’t want to turn it into a “maximum-security unit.”

That decision may now have to be reviewed, she added.

Police have not yet identified any suspects, but neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers have targeted concentration camps in the past, stealing soil and other artefacts.

In 2009 a sign containing the same notorious words was briefly stolen from the entrance to the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp in Poland. It was recovered three days later.

The theft drew worldwide condemnation, particularly from Israel and Jewish groups.

Anders Hoegstroem, one of the men who confessed to the theft, was a Swedish neo-Nazi leader. He was jailed for 32 months after striking a plea bargain with Polish authorities.

Dachau, near Munich in Germany, was the first concentration camp set up by the Nazis in 1933. More than 40,000 prisoners died there before it was liberated by US forces on April 29, 1945.

Angela Merkel became the first German chancellor to visit the former concentration camp in August last year, where she expressed “shame” at the crimes of the Nazi regime.


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‘British Schindler’ Sir Nicholas Winton honoured for saving children from Nazi death camps

October 29th, 2014

Following the German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938, Winton arranged transport for 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia through Germany to Britain ahead of the outbreak of World War II.

The first transport left on 14 March 1939, the day before the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, according to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

A final train load of 250 children, due to depart on 3 September 1939, was prevented from leaving when Poland was invaded.

The children were taken by train to foster families in England who were willing to put up the then-huge sum of 50 pounds sterling and had agreed to look after them until they were 17.

Sir Nicholas was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.


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