Posts Tagged ‘really’

Adolf Hitler really did have only one ball, according to new medical report

December 23rd, 2015

• Spanish dictator Franco ‘only had one testicle’

On November 12, 1923, Hitler had to undergo the indignity of a medical examination on his arrival at Landsberg prison.

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, left, with his second-in-command Hermann Göring

The records of that examination were long thought lost, until they surfaced at an auction in 2010.

They were promptly confiscated by the Bavarian government and have only now been properly studied.

Dr Josef Steiner Brin, the prison’s medical officer’s notes record “Adolf Hitler, artist, recently writer” as “healthy and strong” but suffering from “right-side cryptorchidism”.

• Adolf Hitler took ‘primitive Viagra’ to have sex with Eva Braun, claims new book

Cryptorchidism is when the testicle fails to descend properly.

“The testicle was probably stunted,” Prof Fleischman said.

The new findings appear to contradict claims that Hitler lost a testicle to a shrapnel injury in the First World War.

In an account that was only discovered in 2008, Franciszek Pawlar, a Polish priest and amateur historian, claimed a German army medic who treated Hitler after the incident told him about the injury.

They also appear to contradict the account of Hitler’s childhood doctor, Eduard Bloch, who told American interrogators in 1943 the Fuhrer’s genitals were “completely normal”.

In very rare cases, cryptorchidism can develop later in life.

A practising Jew, Dr Bloch stayed in Austria under Hitler’s personal protection until 1940, when he emigrated to the US.

The Soviet autopsy carried out on Hitler’s remains in the Fuhrerbunker after the fall of Berlin found that one testicle was completely missing — although, curiously, it recorded the left testicle as absent.

If Hitler did have an undescended testicle, it could explain why he had no children, as it is often linked to reduced fertility.

It would not necessarily have affected the Fuhrer’s sex life, as there is not generally a link to impotence.

The popular song emerged in 1939 and is thought to have been written by a publicist for the British Council, which was tasked with helping build propaganda that would damage the Nazis.

The commonly-recalled version is an adaptation of the original, which ran: “Göring has only got one ball, Hitler’s [are] so very small, Himmler’s so very similar, And Goebbels has no balls at all.”

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‘I thought anti-Semitism would be a thing of the past. Naïve really’

January 24th, 2015

We were put in prison until I was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. I had to take my clothes off, my head was shaved and a number was tattooed on to my left arm. Having my head shaved was almost more traumatic because you were really reduced to a nobody. I happened to mention to the prisoner who was registering me that I played the cello. She looked at me and said, “This is fantastic. Stand aside. You will be saved.” If I had just been one of the crowd I probably wouldn’t be sitting here.

Alma Rosé was the conductor of the camp orchestra, and Gustav Mahler’s niece. Our job was to stand at the main gate and play marches as the prisoners marched out in the morning and again in the evening when they came back. [The camp was surrounded by factories where the prisoners worked.] Every Sunday we did a concert in the camp.

It is impossible to convey fully what life was like in Auschwitz. My experience was different because I was in the orchestra. But we all knew it was an extermination camp. The smell, the smoke is unmistakable. And it was burning non-stop. The system in Auschwitz was very clever. You rarely had much to do with the Germans because they delegated the power to prisoners. It was a system of fear.

We had to keep our shoes clean. The ground was a sort of yellow clay and the minute it rained or snowed this was impossible. There were endless roll-calls. Even when people had dysentery they would be made to stand outside, five deep in the freezing cold, in agony.

The girl who had registered me when I arrived had asked for my shoes and I had given them to her. They were black pigskin with red laces and big pompoms. The same girl was wearing my shoes when my sister arrived. My sister asked where she got them and she told her they belonged to someone in the orchestra. Auschwitz was huge and we might never have found each other otherwise.

In 1944 we were transferred to Bergen-Belsen. More and more people arrived and it was totally chaotic. The people in charge didn’t know what to do with us, so the best thing was to do nothing and let us die. We were surrounded by corpses. It was winter and we didn’t have proper clothes, but when it got warmer the bodies started to decay.

We were liberated on 15 April 1945. We didn’t have anywhere to go. I never thought about going home. I was full of hatred for the Germans. Anyway, home was in Poland by then. What would I find there? Another language spoken, nobody from my family, no friends, nothing.

We reached England in March 1946. Nobody asked us about our experience. People just didn’t know how to deal with it. What do you say to someone who has survived a concentration camp?

My sister and I thought we would change the world, that anti-Semitism would be a thing of the past. Naïve really. It took me nearly half a century to return to Germany. I’m often asked about forgiveness. But you can’t forgive the unforgivable.

Bettine Le Beau, 82, was a ‘hidden child’ during the Holocaust. She was in a concentration camp in France with her mother and brother before being hidden on a farm for three years

Le Beau: ‘My mother told me, “All your life you’re going to be lucky.” I believed it.’ (THOM ATKINSON)

My war started in 1940 when the Germans marched into Belgium. I was eight. My father was a furrier and was in London on business. My mother told him to stay put and said she would go to Paris with me and my brother. From there we would get to England.

The Gare du Midi in Brussels was chock-a-block with people because everybody wanted to get out. We couldn’t get on a train, so my mother asked a taxi driver to take us to Paris. The roads were full of people walking. They had left their suitcases by the side of the road because they couldn’t carry them and they knew life was more important.

We arrived in Paris and went to stay with friends of my father’s. To try to make it exciting for me, my mother told me I was very lucky to see Paris. When the Germans arrived in Paris we moved to a village near Bordeaux. Then we were taken to an internment camp. Until then I kept thinking, “I’m going to see my daddy.” I didn’t realise what was happening.

The camp was terrible. It was the first time in my life I saw men crying. My whole outlook on life changed. We were moved to a concentration camp where the men, women and children were separated. Inside our barracks there were about 30 children. We slept on a sack with straw in it.

Kids are very resilient. We used to find games to play, we used to tell stories, make friends. We weren’t worried like the grown-ups. My mother had told me when I was about three or four, “You are a very lucky girl and all your life you’re going to be lucky.” It was very clever because I believed it.

One night a volunteer from one of the organisations helping children to escape smuggled herself into the camp. She said, “I can take out 10 children tonight.” A lot of mothers said no, but my mother said, “You can take them both but, if I ever get out of here, I want to know how to contact them.”The first night away I wet the bed from the trauma and I was so ashamed. I had lice, so they put powder on my head and tied a scarf around it.

In 1942 it was the Final Solution and the organisations knew they had to close the children’s homes or the Germans would come and take them. The OSE [Oeuvre des Secours aux Enfants] sent us to a chalet on the border with Switzerland and every week 10 children would be smuggled across. Finally it was the turn of my brother and me, but the week we were supposed to go the Germans caught the guide and killed him.

They found a farmer who would take two girls. But first they took me into a room and told me my surname was no longer Fallek. I had a new identity: I was French, my father was a prisoner of war and my mother was dead. “Whoever is nice to you,” they said, “even if you think they’re wonderful, stick to this.” The farmer and his wife were wonderfully kind and I was there for three years.

At the end of the war my brother found me and we went to our mother. She had been in concentration camps in France. She never told me anything that had happened to her and she didn’t want to know what happened to me.

We went to Paris, to the family we had first stayed with. Their two boys, whose beds we had slept in, had been sent to Auschwitz. The mother was crying. We eventually arrived in London, where my father had a house by now. But in the time he had been in London he had met someone else and had another child. My mother was devastated.

My experience made me want to be positive all the time. Be positive and it works. My mother said I was lucky and that’s what I believed.

Eve Kugler, 83, was born in Germany. She was separated from her parents and lived in a children’s home for displaced Jewish children until she was evacuated to America

Kugler: ‘I used to look at my parents as ordinary. But they were very special’ (THOM ATKINSON)

In 1933 I was two, living in a mid-sized German city, where my father had a business. The situation for Jewish people hugely deteriorated in the next five years. Jews were assaulted, arrested, and my father’s business began to decline. People didn’t want to trade with him.

On 9 November 1938 – Kristallnacht – Nazis came barging into our apartment in the middle of the night and trashed it. My sister Ruth and I were standing at the door of our room watching. My father was taken to Buchenwald, but with a forged visa he was able to leave for Paris (at that point, if you could produce a visa for a person in Dachau or Buchenwald, they could leave). My mother, two sisters and I were evicted, so my mother took us to live with her father in Leipzig and she stayed behind.

In June 1939 we flew to Paris on another forged visa. My father had rented a room in a boarding-house for the five of us with an outside toilet. When war broke out the French arrested my father as a German national and put him in a concentration camp. My mother was now destitute with three children, so Ruth and I went to a home for displaced Jewish children run by OSE.

My story is one of constant separation: my grandfather was arrested at the end of October, then my father disappeared, came back, and disappeared again. Then we were separated from our mother and sister. But I don’t remember anything because you can’t be selective in what you choose to forget. I’ve just wiped out everything that happened in those years.

When the Nazis reached Paris, OSE put us in a home near Limoges. My mother, who had stayed behind with my sister Lea, eventually arrived. Incredibly, my father was let out of the camp and we were all reunited at the children’s home. The American state department had issued visas for a couple of hundred Jewish children in concentration camps, but it wasn’t possible to get the children out of them, so they gave the visas to children’s homes.

Two days before they were due to leave, two children got sick and lost their health clearance. We were the only ones able to go at such short notice – my parents were there, so could sign the papers. They argued the whole night, my mother saying, “They can’t go, they’re too little, it’s too far.” My father said, “But that’s the point.” In the end they decided Ruth and I could go but that Lea was too little. Even after the war I had the guilt of survivors.

I survived because somebody else could not go. I have no idea who those two children were, nor if they survived. I was 10 when we sailed for America but I have no memory of boarding the ship or the two-week journey.

During the war I was in three different foster homes in New York. I was miserable, but I felt I always had to be good and not make trouble. I was sure that my parents must be dead.

In fact, my parents survived the concentration camps and my little sister Lea was hidden by the Resistance. In 1941 we were reunited in America.

I used to look at my parents as very ordinary people. When they settled in New York, they lived lives that were not very special. But they were obviously extremely special. We were an entire nuclear family who survived. We were very lucky.

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Foyle’s War, final episode review: Is this really goodbye?

January 19th, 2015

We all like to see a great series go out with a bang, and Sunday night’s episode of Foyle’s War (ITV) certainly finished on a big one. But I’m not at all sure that – if I hadn’t been forewarned by last week’s sudden announcement by ITV – I would even have realised this was supposed to the swansong of one of British television’s best loved characters.

Far from it. With a plot packing in an audacious assassination attempt, postwar black-marketeering, Soviet spymasters, a scandal within the Security Service and a conspiracy to falsely incriminate a member of parliament – this felt more like a series at the height of its powers rather than an invitation to bid farewell to dear old Christopher Foyle, that most decent and understated wartime copper who latterly morphed so successfully into MI5’s only reliable chap in the Cold War’s early days.

As such, for ITV to let the axe fall on the series at this particular point seems remarkably bone-headed. Foyle’s War has, since its debut in 2002, been a firm audience favourite (recent episodes pulled in around five million viewers, or a 20 per cent audience share).

Famously, viewer protest pulled the show back from the brink of cancellation twice before. Such fanaticism can be attributed largely to a unique charm of character and performance – not only in Foyle himself, brought brilliantly to life by Michael Kitchen’s muted, charismatic acting style. Honeysuckle Weeks, too, as his impeccably mannered sidekick and driver, Sam Stewart, is another unobtrusive yet magnetic presence; her home life (Foyle doesn’t really have one) offering a window onto the times. Even her departure last night, forced by pregnancy, felt more like a momentary obstacle than a conclusive end.

For viewers inclined to hark back to a Britain united against a common foe, the series’ wartime setting had been a huge attraction. Yet Foyle’s seamless transition to the tensions of the burgeoning Cold War era cleverly maintained the hunkered down attitude while introducing us to an intriguing new era when enemies were still all around, yet no one (not even MI5) knew precisely who or where they were.

Not everything about Foyle’s War was great. The two-hour format that invited some to curl up for an absorbing night in, was for others off-puttingly slow and old hat. And if the reward was a feature-filmish sense of involvement and high production values that lavished attention on costume and period detail (not always accurately, as evidenced by many an incensed reader post on the Telegraph website), Foyle’s unhurried investigative style meant the pace rarely picked up above the stately.

Still the series had a renewed vigour of late. For many – myself included – Foyle’s bleak Cold War escapades rekindled a flagging interest. Creator Anthony Horowitz’s decision to root the postwar stories in real life cases brought new grit and relevance, exploring the early nuclear arms race and resurgent anti-semitism in recent episodes. This episode juggled wartime and postwar eras, echoing a scandal in which young British agents were sent to certain death in occupied Europe by a Special Operations Executive unwilling to admit its network had been compromised, while a subplot involving spivs and police corruption kept bringing us back to 1946. Around this was spun the mystery of an attempt on the life of former SOE bigwig Hilda Pierce (Ellie Haddington), who survived – thanks to Foyle – long enough to inflict her own brand of explosive summary justice upon her weaselly former SOE boss.

As an episode ending it certainly had a grim satisfaction. But for Foyle himself, the closing scenes had nothing of the finale about them. Quite the opposite. The determined set of his jaw, his lingering final glance towards enigmatic Elizabeth Addis (Hermione Gulliford) spoke, if anything, of many adventures to come.

Given this series’ history of resurrections, it doesn’t seem too great a stretch to hope that some day we’ll enjoy more of them.

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What Hitler’s sex life was really like

October 15th, 2014

Yet inevitably it is their sex life that has filled tomes, because in sex, we believe, a person’s deepest essence is revealed. Rumours of homosexuality had dogged Hitler since the early Twenties, repeated in Munich newspapers and bolstered by his close relationship with Ernst Röhm, the homosexual head of the Sturmabteilung, the Nazi Party militia.

There is good reason to believe that he did have repressed homosexual tendencies, yet the dictator’s interest in women is also well-attested. He would invite actresses back to his apartment for “private performances”. One actress, Renata Müller, spread rumours about Hitler’s alleged proclivity for self-abasement, with suggestions that he knelt at her feet and asked her to kick him. When she fell to her death from a window in 1937, many questioned the verdict of suicide.

Even more eye-catching was the secret 1943 report from America’s Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of the CIA) which labelled Hitler an “impotent coprophile”. Based on claims from Otto Strasser, one of Hitler’s opponents in the Party, it alleged that the dictator forced his niece Geli to urinate and defecate on him. While it is hard to separate reality from politically inspired propaganda, Hitler’s obsession with the unfortunate Geli was probably the deepest of his life, and her suicide in his apartment brought him close to breakdown. Geli, like Eva, did not threaten him intellectually. “There is surely nothing finer than to educate a young thing for oneself,” he opined. “A lass of 18 or 20 years old is as pliable as wax.”

It is impossible to peer behind the bedroom door, but Amis’s speculation that Hitler was “sexually a void”, because of his obsession with hygiene, is contradicted by observers at the time, who suggest that Hitler and Eva did share a bed as a couple. They had interconnecting bedrooms at the Berghof and Hitler’s valet, Heinz Linge, attests that they would go to bed together.

Evidence suggests that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun did share a bed as a couple

While Hitler’s maid, Pauline Kohler, wrote that “Hitler is not strongly sexed”, Eva Braun’s correspondence reveals nothing unusual – certainly not along the lines of fully clothed sex – except that once war had broken out, Hitler was unable to get interested. She used to show her friends a 1938 photograph of Neville Chamberlain on a sofa in Hitler’s Munich flat, saying: “If only he knew what goings-on that sofa has seen!”

It would be surprising, as Amis says, that such a warped psychology as Hitler’s could ever be “a considerate and energetic lover”. Yet, once I began to write about the Nazi wives, I realised that the ability of mass murderers to compartmentalise their lives is one of their most disturbing aspects.

A new documentary about Himmler’s home life, called The Decent One, by the acclaimed filmmaker Vanessa Lapa, focuses on the tender personal letters between Himmler and his wife Marga, largely about their daughter Puppi, even as he perpetrated daily atrocities. It raises the same questions as Thomas Harding’s book Hanns and Rudolf, about the private life of Rudolf Höss, the Auschwitz commandant, whose children played just yards away from the camp, oblivious of the horrors occurring there.

Looking at the women who loved the Nazis is not prurient. It matters because viewing the Nazi leaders on the human scale – as fathers, lovers and husbands – is what makes their activities more repellent than ever.

Jane Thynne’s new novel A War of Flowers is published by Simon & Schuster on November 20

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Can Hamas rocket attacks on Israel really be compared to the Blitz?

July 25th, 2014

A building falls during World War II, London (Rex)

The Blitz was launched in September 1940 following the failure of the Luftwaffe to destroy the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain. Wave after wave of German bombers – up to 40,000 sorties were flown – defied British defences to drop 35,000 tons of explosives, including 18,800 tons of high explosives plus incendiaries and parachute bombs.

King George Vi visits a wreckage in Bristol where there had been severe bomb damage, December 1940 (Rex)

Later in the war, as many as 9,000 V1s and 1,000 V2s hit Britain as the German army retreated following the Normandy invasion.

Number of deaths

Three Israeli citizens have been killed and more than a dozen injured in the attacks, while 32 troops have died in the military operation targeting Hamas.

Palestinian’s sit on a building damaged by Israeli bombardment in the Jabalia district of the northern Gaza Strip (Eyevine)

The death toll in Gaza has risen to 746, according to local sources.

During the German wartime campaign on Britain an estimated 40,000 died and 90,000 suffered serious injuries. About 2 million homes were destroyed.


The Hamas arsenal has five variants of rockets and missiles. Its basic weapon is the Qassam rocket with a range of less than ten miles but it also has a large stockpile of the 122mm Katyushas which boast a range of up to 30 miles. The introduction of the M-75 and M0302 missiles means Hamas boast offensive weapons with a longer range of up to 100 miles and a much greater explosive impact.

An Israeli 155mm cannon fires a shell toward Gaza Strip at an army deployment area in southern Israel near the border with Gaza (Rex)

Towards the end of the war the German high command authorised attacks using the newly developed V1 and V2 rockets both capable of carrying one ton of high explosive. Between June 1944 and March 1945 the so-called “Hitler’s revenge” weapon killed 8,938 people.

Who are Hamas? In 60 seconds

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