Posts Tagged ‘discovered’

Nazi holocaust documents found: 6,300 files discovered behind wall of Budapest apartment

November 22nd, 2015

Carefully removing each brick, the couple eased out some 61 kilogrammes (135 pounds) of dusty papers, many with bits of plaster caked on, but all more or less intact.

With the ink still readable – thanks to a lack of air in the cavity and nicotine from the heavy-smoking former owner – the yellowed papers were given to the Budapest City Archives.

Istvan Kenyeres, head of the archives, was amazed.

“Most wartime papers are more faded or rotten than medieval documents, on bad quality paper due to the rationing,” he said.

“The content and scale of the finding is unprecedented,” he said. “It helps to fill a huge gap in the history of the Holocaust in Budapest.”

Since September, restorers at the archives have been literally ironing the papers to study them, pausing occasionally when they spot someone famous among the scrawled names.

The May 1944 Budapest census was to identify houses to serve as holding locations for Jews before moving them to a planned walled ghetto in the city’s seventh district.

Two months earlier Nazi Germany had occupied Hungary and deportations in the countryside to the gas chambers of Auschwitz began almost immediately.

The forms found in the Budapest apartment contain names of each building’s inhabitants, and whether they are Jewish or not, with total numbers of Christians and Jews marked in the corners.

“Jewish people filled in the forms honestly, they refused to believe where this might end up,” said Kenyeres.

Shortly after the census, around 200,000 Jews were moved into some 2,000 selected buildings, “Yellow Star Houses” with the Star-of-David Jewish symbol painted on the doors.

“Thanks to the Berdefys, we know that if a lot of Jews lived in a building then it likely became a Yellow Star House,” Kenyeres said.

In late 1944, they were crammed into the ghetto, where some died of starvation or were shot next to the river – a poignant memorial of abandoned iron shoes today marks the spot.

The arrival of the Russian army in January 1945 saved the rest though, and unlike the Jews from outside the city, most of Budapest’s Jewish population survived.

An estimated total of 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished in the Holocaust, most in Auschwitz.

Kenyeres said that an estimated 23,000 more documents may still be out there which would give further valuable insight into what happened in 1944 and would also be digitalised and made available to the public if they turned up.

“People should look behind their walls, you never know in Budapest what could be there.”

Inside the far-Right stronghold where Hungarian Jews fear for the future


World War Two

Czech resistance radio antenna used in Reinhard Heydrich assassination discovered

January 12th, 2015

Operating from a safe-house in Lazne Bohdanec, a small town some 60 miles east of Prague, Potucek was in charge of radio communications for the operation.

“I found the aerials last August when we were putting in electricity. Nobody had visited the attic because there had been no power in it,” said Adolf Vondrka, the owner of the former safe house. “I hesitated before making the find public. I wanted to be sure that the aerials are the short-wave aerials that were part of a transmitter from World War Two. Experts have now confirmed this.”

“Potucek made 148 broadcasts totalling 24 hours,” he added.

The radio operator was part of Silver A, a group of agents parachuted into Czechoslovakia in 1941, charged with doing the groundwork for the assassination attempt that was due to take place the following year.

Sometimes broadcasting from a quarry where he had a job as nightwatchman, Potucek had the vital task of linking the Czech resistance with MI6, the organiser of the operation.

“He managed to make contact with London and maintain communications for five months,” said Milous Cervencl, an expert on the assassination.

Broken into parts for storage, the aerials measures 40 feet and 32 feet long, and Mr Vondrka said Potucek needed at least 31 feet of antenna for his signal to reach Britain.

Following the death of Heydrich, a shocked Nazi regime instigated a savage “rat hunt” to track down anybody involved in the assassination, and exacted a bloody revenge on the Czech people.

In Prague around 10,000 people were arrested and 1,300 executed, before the hunt moved to the village of Lidice, which the Nazis, incorrectly, believed had harboured agents.

German forces rounded up and shot dead all male villagers over the age of 16 – totalling 173 – and then transported the women and children to concentration camps from which very few survived.

The village itself was razed to the ground.

The Germans soon tracked down Kubis, Gabcik and other agents to a church in Prague’s old town. Kubis died in a firefight with the SS, while the survivors took refuge in the church’s crypt.

Unable to get in without incurring losses, the Gestapo got the fire brigade to flood the Czech’s holdout. Down to their last rounds of ammunition, the agents committed suicide.

As the net closed in on Potucek, he made one last broadcast on June 26, telling London the game was up. On the run, he survived one shoot-out with the Gestapo before being shot dead by Czech police in a forest near the eastern town of Pardubice.


World War Two

German U-boat wreck discovered off North Carolina coast

October 23rd, 2014

“As we learn more about the underwater battlefield, Bluefields and U-576 will provide additional insight into a relatively little-known chapter in American history.”

Bluefields, a Nicaraguan-flagged freighter, was part of a KS-520, a 19-strong convoy of merchant ships which set sail from Norfolk, Virginia to Key West, Florida with vital cargo for the war effort.

By July 1942 the Americans had set up a convoy system, backed with air support, to protect the vessels which had repeatedly fallen prey to U-Boat attacks.

U-576, skippered by Kapitanleutnant Hans-Dieter Heinkicke, had already been hit and the submarine was sailing back to Europe when it came across the convoy.

It was a chance to claim a final scalp before crossing the Atlantic and sailing home.

Despite being hit by eight depth charges U-576 fired off its torpedoes, sinking the freighter and damaging two other ships.

The submarine came under further fire and was sunk with all 45 crew on board perishing. None of those aboard the Bluefields died.

Other U-boats got far closer, in many cases within sight of land. One was said to have been near enough to Manhattan to see the lights from the skyscrapers.

And it is believed that the Germans succeeded in landing some agents on American soil, including spies who managed to set foot on Maine. According to local folklore they had learned their English from Hollywood gangster movies.

“We think there are around 52 wrecks within 40 miles of the North Carolina coast,” said Joe Hoyt, a maritime archeologist with the marine sanctuary.

The task of finding them has entailed trawling through the “after action” reports compiled by the escort vessels used to protect the convoys.

Based on this information, Mr Hoyt and his fellow researchers have spent the last five years scouring the area using sonar to track sunken vessels.

“This is not just the discovery of a single shipwreck, we have discovered an important battle site that is part of the Battle of the Atlantic,” said Mr Hoyt.

He added: “These two ships rest only a few hundred yards apart and together help us interpret and share their forgotten stories.”

John Bright, another researcher with the project, said that Americans were still unaware of the extent to which the German navy penetrated the country’s naval defences, wreaking havoc on merchant shipping.

“It some cases the U-boats could even see the lights of cars on the road,” said Mr Bright.

“The lights from the cities helped them because it would mean the U-boats could see the silhouette of the cargo ships and plot their ambush.”

July 1942 saw particularly fierce battles as the US navy bolstered the protection it offered to the convoys, with the German U-boat fleet suffering badly.

“They did what we would not call a cost-benefit analysis,” Mr Bright added.

“They moved away from the American coast and shifted to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico where the merchant shipping was less well protected.”


World War Two

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

Gas chambers discovered at Nazi death camp Sobibor

September 20th, 2014

More than 250,000 Jews were killed at the Sobibor death camp in what is now Poland. The SS leader Heinrich Himmler ordered Sobibor to be destroyed after a successful prisoner uprising in which around 300 of those being held there escaped. He ordered all traces of the camp to be removed, and the area planted with trees.

The rooms were locked with steel doors equipped with peep-holes. It took just 20 to 30 minutes to murder each group of victims.

“These finds are all that remained of those who were murdered here,” one of the archaeologists told Süddeustche Zeitung newspaper. “We will learn more from them on how the murder in the camp was carried out and what the Jews went through before they were murdered.”

There was no chance of survival for those sent to Sobibor. Unlike other concentration camps such as Auschwitz, prisoners were not kept alive to work as forced labourers: they were all sent to the gas chambers. The camp was built expressly for the purpose of carrying out the Holocaust, and the overwhelming majority of those who died there were Jewish.

Jewish slave labourers were forced to build the camp, and shot dead the moment it was completed.

Jewish prisoners led an uprising at the camp on October 14 1943, in which they killed 11 SS officers and a number of camp guards.

Some 300 of the 600 prisoners in the camp at the time escaped, but only 50 to 70 of them are believed to have survived. Others died in the minefields that surrounded the camp, or were recaptured in the days that followed.


World War Two

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

Gas chambers discovered at Nazi death camp Sobibor

September 19th, 2014

More than 250,000 Jews were killed at the Sobibor death camp in what is now Poland. The SS leader Heinrich Himmler ordered Sobibor to be destroyed after a successful prisoner uprising in which around 300 of those being held there escaped. He ordered all traces of the camp to be removed, and the area planted with trees.

The rooms were locked with steel doors equipped with peep-holes. It took just 20 to 30 minutes to murder each group of victims.

“These finds are all that remained of those who were murdered here,” one of the archaeologists told Süddeustche Zeitung newspaper. “We will learn more from them on how the murder in the camp was carried out and what the Jews went through before they were murdered.”

There was no chance of survival for those sent to Sobibor. Unlike other concentration camps such as Auschwitz, prisoners were not kept alive to work as forced labourers: they were all sent to the gas chambers. The camp was built expressly for the purpose of carrying out the Holocaust, and the overwhelming majority of those who died there were Jewish.

Jewish slave labourers were forced to build the camp, and shot dead the moment it was completed.

Jewish prisoners led an uprising at the camp on October 14 1943, in which they killed 11 SS officers and a number of camp guards.

Some 300 of the 600 prisoners in the camp at the time escaped, but only 50 to 70 of them are believed to have survived. Others died in the minefields that surrounded the camp, or were recaptured in the days that followed.


World War Two

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in WWII News | Comments Off

Archives

Categories