15 March 1942

15 March 1942



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15 March 1942

March 1942

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War at Sea

German submarine U-503 sunk with all hands off Newfoundland by Lockheed PBO-1 Hudsons of US Navy squadron VP-82



›› Date difference from Mar 3, 1937 to Jan 15, 1942

The total number of days between Wednesday, March 3rd, 1937 and Thursday, January 15th, 1942 is 1,779 days.

This is equal to 4 years, 10 months, and 12 days.

This does not include the end date, so it's accurate if you're measuring your age in days, or the total days between the start and end date. But if you want the duration of an event that includes both the starting date and the ending date, then it would actually be 1,780 days.

If you're counting workdays or weekends, there are 1,271 weekdays and 508 weekend days.

If you include the end date of Jan 15, 1942 which is a Thursday, then there would be 1,272 weekdays and 508 weekend days including both the starting Wednesday and the ending Thursday.

1,779 days is equal to 254 weeks and 1 day.

The total time span from 1937-03-03 to 1942-01-15 is 42,696 hours.

You can also convert 1,779 days to 153,705,600 seconds.


Contents

1942–57: Early life Edit

Lewis Allan Reed was born on March 2, 1942, at Beth El Hospital (later Brookdale) in Brooklyn and grew up in Freeport, Long Island. [1] [nb 1] Reed was the son of Toby (née Futterman) (1920–2013) and Sidney Joseph Reed (1913–2005), an accountant. [3] His family was Jewish and his grandparents were Russian Jews who had fled antisemitism [4] his father had changed his name from Rabinowitz to Reed. [5] Reed said that although he was Jewish, his real god was rock 'n' roll. [6] [7]

Reed attended Atkinson Elementary School in Freeport and went on to Freeport Junior High School. His sister Merrill, born Margaret Reed, said that as an adolescent, he suffered panic attacks, became socially awkward and "possessed a fragile temperament" but was highly focused on things that he liked, mainly music. [8] Having learned to play the guitar from the radio, he developed an early interest in rock and roll and rhythm and blues, and during high school played in several bands. [9]

He began experimenting with drugs at the age of 16. [8]

1958-64: Early recordings and education Edit

Reed's first recording was as a member of a doo-wop three-piece group called the Jades, with Reed providing guitar accompaniment and singing backing vocals. [11] After participating at a talent show at Freeport Junior High School in early 1958, and receiving an enthusiastic response from the audience, [12] the group was given the chance to record an original single "So Blue" with the B-side "Leave Her for Me" later that year. [11] While the single didn't chart, notable saxophonist King Curtis was brought in as a session musician by the producer Bob Shad to play on both songs, [12] [11] and the single was played by a substitute DJ during the Murray the K radio show, [13] which gave Reed his first-ever airplay. [12] [11] Reed's love for playing music and his desire to play gigs brought him into confrontation with his anxious and unaccommodating parents. [8] His sister recalled that during his first year in college he was brought home one day, having had a mental breakdown, after which he remained "depressed, anxious, and socially unresponsive" for a time, and that his parents were having difficulty coping. Visiting a psychologist, Reed's parents were made to feel guilty as inadequate parents, and consented to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). [8] Reed appeared to blame his father for the treatment to which he had been subjected. [8] He wrote about the experience in his song, "Kill Your Sons" from the album Sally Can't Dance (1974). [14] Reed later recalled the experience as having been traumatic and leading to memory loss. He believed that he was treated to dispel his feelings of homosexuality. [15] After Reed's death, his sister denied the ECT treatments were intended to suppress his "homosexual urges", asserting that their parents were not homophobic but had been told by his doctors that ECT was necessary to treat Reed's mental and behavioral issues. [8]

Upon his recovery from his illness and associated treatment, Reed resumed his education at Syracuse University in 1960, [8] studying journalism, film directing, and creative writing. He was a platoon leader in ROTC he said he was later expelled from the program for holding an unloaded gun to his superior's head. [16]

In 1961, he began hosting a late-night radio program on WAER called Excursions on a Wobbly Rail. [9] Named after a song by pianist Cecil Taylor, the program typically featured doo wop, rhythm and blues, and jazz, particularly the free jazz developed in the mid-1950s. [17] Reed said that when he started out he was inspired by such musicians as Ornette Coleman, who had "always been a great influence" on him he said that his guitar on "European Son" was his way of trying to imitate the jazz saxophonist. [18] Reed's sister said that during her brother's time at Syracuse, the university authorities had tried unsuccessfully to expel him because they did not approve of his extracurricular activities. [19] At Syracuse University, he studied under poet Delmore Schwartz, who he said was "the first great person I ever met", and they became friends. He credited Schwartz with showing him how "with the simplest language imaginable, and very short, you can accomplish the most astonishing heights." [20] One of Reed's fellow students at Syracuse in the early 1960s (who also studied under Schwartz) was the musician Garland Jeffreys they remained close friends until the end of Reed's life. [21]

Jeffreys recalled Reed's time at Syracuse: "At four in the afternoon we'd all meet at [the bar] The Orange Grove. Me, Delmore and Lou. That would often be the center of the crew. And Delmore was the leader - our quiet leader." [21] While at Syracuse, Reed was also introduced to intravenous drug use for the first time, and quickly contracted hepatitis. [22] . Reed later dedicated the song "European Son", from the first Velvet Underground album, to Schwartz. [23] In 1982, Reed recorded "My House" from his album The Blue Mask as a tribute to his late mentor. He later said that his goals as a writer were "to bring the sensitivities of the novel to rock music" or to write the Great American Novel in a record album. [24] Reed met Sterling Morrison, a student at City University of New York, while the latter was visiting mutual friend, and fellow Syracuse student, Jim Tucker. Reed graduated from Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences with a B.A. cum laude in English in June 1964. [14] [25]

1964–70: Pickwick and the Velvet Underground Edit

In 1964, Reed moved to New York City to work as an in-house songwriter for Pickwick Records. He can be heard singing lead on two cuts on The Surfsiders Sing The Beach Boys Songbook. [26] For Pickwick, Reed also wrote and recorded the single "The Ostrich", a parody of popular dance songs of the time, which included lines such as "put your head on the floor and have somebody step on it". His employers felt that the song had hit potential, and assembled a supporting band to help promote the recording. The ad hoc band, called the Primitives: Reed, Welsh musician John Cale, who had recently moved to New York to study music and was playing viola in composer La Monte Young's Theatre of Eternal Music, Tony Conrad and sculptor Walter De Maria. Cale and Conrad were surprised to find that for "The Ostrich", Reed tuned each string of his guitar to the same note, which they began to call his "ostrich guitar" tuning. This technique created a drone effect similar to their experimentation in Young's avant-garde ensemble. Disappointed with Reed's performance, Cale was nevertheless impressed by Reed's early repertoire (including "Heroin"), and a partnership began to evolve. [20]

Reed and Cale (who played viola, keyboards and bass guitar) lived together on the Lower East Side, and invited Reed's college acquaintance guitarist Sterling Morrison and Cale's neighbor drummer Angus MacLise to join the band, thus forming the Velvet Underground. When the opportunity came to play their first paying gig at Summit High School in Summit, New Jersey, MacLise quit because he believed that accepting money for art was a sellout and did not want to participate in a structured gig. He was replaced on drums by Moe Tucker, the sister of Reed and Morrison's mutual friend Jim Tucker. Initially a fill in for that one show she soon became a full-time member with her drumming an integral part of the band's sound, despite Cale's initial objections. Though it had little commercial success, the band is considered one of the most influential in rock history. [27] [28] [29] Reed was the main singer and songwriter in the band. [30]

The band soon came to the attention of Andy Warhol. One of Warhol's first contributions was to integrate them into the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Warhol's associates inspired many of Reed's songs as he fell into a thriving, multifaceted artistic scene. [32] [33] Reed rarely gave an interview without paying homage to Warhol as a mentor. Warhol pushed the band to take on a chanteuse, the German former model and singer Nico. Despite his initial resistance, Reed wrote several songs for Nico to sing, and the two were briefly lovers. [34]

The Velvet Underground & Nico peaked at No. 171 on the U.S. Billboard 200. [28] Much later, Rolling Stone listed it as the 13th greatest album of all time Brian Eno once stated that although few people bought the album, most of them were inspired to form their own bands. [35] Václav Havel credited the album, which he bought while visiting the U.S., with inspiring him to become president of Czechoslovakia. [36]

By the time the band recorded White Light/White Heat, Nico had quit the band and Warhol had been fired, both against Cale's wishes. Warhol's replacement as manager was Steve Sesnick. In September 1968, Cale left the band at Reed's behest. [37] Morrison and Tucker were discomfited by Reed's tactics but continued with the band. Cale's replacement was Boston-based musician Doug Yule, who played bass guitar, keyboards and who would soon share lead vocal duties in the band with Reed. [38] The band now took on a more pop-oriented sound and acted more as a vehicle for Reed to develop his songwriting craft. [39] They released two studio albums with this line-up: 1969's The Velvet Underground and 1970's Loaded. Reed left the Velvet Underground in August 1970. [40] The band disintegrated after Morrison and Tucker departed in 1971. [41]

1970–75: Glam rock and commercial breakthrough Edit

After leaving the Velvet Underground, Reed moved to his parents' home on Long Island, and took a job at his father's tax accounting firm as a typist, by his own account earning $40 a week [42] ($267 in 2020 dollars [43] ). In 1971, he signed a recording contract with RCA Records and recorded his first solo album at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London with session musicians including Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman from the band Yes. The album, Lou Reed, contained versions of unreleased Velvet Underground songs, some of which had originally been recorded for Loaded but shelved. [nb 2] This album was overlooked by most pop music critics and did not sell well, although music critic Stephen Holden, in Rolling Stone, called it an "almost perfect album. . which embodied the spirit of the Velvets." Holden went on to compare Reed's voice with those of Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan and to praise the poetic quality of his lyrics. [44]

Reed's commercial breakthrough album, Transformer, was released in November 1972. Transformer was co-produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, and it introduced Reed to a wider audience, especially in the UK. The single "Walk on the Wild Side" was a salute to the misfits and hustlers who once surrounded Andy Warhol in the late '60s and appeared in his films. Each of the song's five verses describes a person who had been a fixture at The Factory during the mid-to-late 1960s: (1) Holly Woodlawn, (2) Candy Darling, (3) "Little Joe" Dallesandro, (4) "Sugar Plum Fairy" Joe Campbell and (5) Jackie Curtis. The song's transgressive lyrics evaded radio censorship. Though the jazzy arrangement (courtesy of bassist Herbie Flowers and saxophonist Ronnie Ross) was musically atypical for Reed, it eventually became his signature song. [45] It came about as a result of a commission to compose a soundtrack to a theatrical adaptation of Nelson Algren's novel of the same name the play failed to materialize. [46] "Walk on the Wild Side" was Reed's only entry in the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, at No. 16. [47]

Ronson's arrangements brought out new aspects of Reed's songs. "Perfect Day", for example, features delicate strings and soaring dynamics. It was rediscovered in the 1990s and allowed Reed to drop "Walk on the Wild Side" from his concerts. [48]

Bowie and Reed fell out during a late-night meeting which led to Reed hitting Bowie. Bowie had told Reed that he would have to "clean up his act" if they were to work together again. [5] [nb 3] Reed hired a local New York bar-band, the Tots, to tour in support of Transformer and spent much of 1972 and early 1973 on the road with them. Though they improved over the months, Reed (with producer Bob Ezrin's encouragement) decided to recruit a new backing band in anticipation of the upcoming Berlin album. He chose keyboardist Moogy Klingman to come up with a new five-member band on barely a week's notice. [50]

Reed married Bettye Kronstad in 1973. She later said he had been a violent drunk when on tour. [51] Berlin (July 1973) was a concept album about two speed-freaks in love in the city. The songs variously concern domestic violence ("Caroline Says I", "Caroline Says II"), drug addiction ("How Do You Think It Feels"), adultery and prostitution ("The Kids"), and suicide ("The Bed"). Reed's late 1973 European tour, featuring lead guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, mixed his Berlin material with older numbers. Response to Berlin at the time of its release was negative, with Rolling Stone pronouncing it "a disaster". [52] Reed found the poor reviews it received very frustrating. [53] Since then the album has been critically reevaluated, and in 2003 Rolling Stone included it in their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. [54] Berlin peaked at No. 7 on the UK Albums Chart. [55]

Following the commercial disappointment of Berlin, Reed befriended Steve Katz of Blood, Sweat & Tears (who was the brother of his then-manager Dennis Katz), who suggested Reed put together a "great live band" and release a live album of Velvet Underground songs. [56] Katz would come on board as producer, and the album Rock 'n' Roll Animal (February 1974) contained live performances of the Velvet Underground songs "Sweet Jane", "Heroin", "White Light/White Heat", and "Rock and Roll". Wagner's live arrangements, and Hunter's intro to "Sweet Jane" [57] which opened the album, gave Reed's songs the live rock sound he was looking for, and the album peaked at No. 45 on the Billboard 200 for 28 weeks and soon became Reed's biggest selling album. [nb 4] It went gold in 1978, with 500,000 certified sales. [58]

Sally Can't Dance which was released later that year (in August 1974), became Reed's highest-charting album in the United States, peaking at No. 10 during a 14-week stay on the Billboard 200 album chart in October 1974. [59]

In October 2019, an audio tape of publicly unknown music by Reed, based on Warhols' 1975 book, "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again", was reported to have been discovered in an archive at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [60]

1975–79: Addiction and creative work Edit

Metal Machine Music (1975) was an hour of modulated feedback and guitar effects. Described by Rolling Stone as the "tubular groaning of a galactic refrigerator", [61] many critics interpreted it as a gesture of contempt, an attempt to break his contract with RCA or to alienate his less sophisticated fans. Reed claimed that the album was a genuine artistic effort, even suggesting that quotations of classical music could be found buried in the feedback, [62] but he also said, "Well, anyone who gets to side four is dumber than I am." [63] [64] Lester Bangs declared it "genius", though also psychologically disturbing. The album, now regarded as a visionary textural guitar masterpiece by some music critics, [65] was reportedly returned to stores by the thousands and was withdrawn after a few weeks. [66] [67]

1975's Coney Island Baby was dedicated to Reed's then-partner Rachel Humphreys, a transgender woman Reed dated and lived with for three years. [69] Humphreys also appears in the photos on the cover of Reed's 1977 "best of" album, Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed. Rock and Roll Heart was his 1976 debut for his new record label Arista, and Street Hassle (1978) was released in the midst of the punk rock scene he had helped to inspire. Reed took on a watchful, competitive and sometimes dismissive attitude towards punk. Aware that he had inspired them, he regularly attended shows at CBGB to track the artistic and commercial development of numerous punk bands, and a cover illustration and interview of Reed appeared in the first issue of Punk magazine by Legs McNeil. [70]

Throughout the 1970s, Reed was a heavy user of methamphetamine and alcohol. [51] [71]

Reed released his third live album, Live: Take No Prisoners, in 1978 some critics thought it was his "bravest work yet", while others considered it his "silliest". [68] Rolling Stone described it as "one of the funniest live albums ever recorded" and compared Reed's monologues with those of Lenny Bruce. [68] Reed felt it was his best album to date. [68] The Bells (1979) featured jazz trumpeter Don Cherry. During 1979 Reed toured extensively in Europe and throughout the United States performing a wide range of songs, including a suite of core songs from his Berlin album and the title track from The Bells featuring Chuck Hammer on guitar-synth. Around this time Reed also appeared as a record producer in Paul Simon's film One-Trick Pony. [72] From around 1979 Reed began to wean himself off drugs. [51]

1980–89: Marriage and mid-period Edit

Reed married British designer Sylvia Morales in 1980. [73] [74] Morales inspired Reed to write several songs, particularly "Think It Over" from 1980's Growing Up in Public [75] and "Heavenly Arms" from 1982's The Blue Mask. [76] After Legendary Hearts (1983) and New Sensations (1984), Reed was sufficiently reestablished as a public figure to become a spokesman for Honda scooters. [77] In the early 1980s, Reed worked with guitarists including Chuck Hammer on Growing Up in Public, and Robert Quine on The Blue Mask and Legendary Hearts.

Reed's 1984 album New Sensations marked the first time that Reed had charted within the US Top 100 since 1978's Street Hassle, and the first time that Reed had charted in the UK altogether since 1976's Coney Island Baby. Although its lead single "I Love You, Suzanne" only charted at No. 78 on the UK Singles Chart it did receive light rotation on MTV. Two more singles were released from the album: "My Red Joystick" and the Dutch-only release "High in the City" but they both failed to chart.

In 1998, The New York Times observed that in the 1970s, Reed had a distinctive persona: "Back then he was publicly gay, pretended to shoot heroin onstage, and cultivated a 'Dachau panda' look, with cropped peroxide hair and black circles painted under his eyes." [78] The newspaper wrote that in 1980, "Reed renounced druggy theatrics, even swore off intoxicants themselves, and became openly heterosexual, openly married." [78]

On September 22, 1985, Reed performed at the first Farm Aid concert in Champaign, Illinois. He performed "Doin' the Things That We Want To", "I Love You, Suzanne", "New Sensations" and "Walk on the Wild Side" as his solo set, later playing bass for Roy Orbison during his set. In June 1986, Reed released Mistrial (co-produced with bassist Fernando Saunders). To support the album, he released two music videos: "No Money Down" and "The Original Wrapper". In the same year, he joined Amnesty International's A Conspiracy of Hope short tour and was outspoken about New York City's political issues and personalities.

The 1989 album New York, which commented on crime, AIDS, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, then-President of Austria Kurt Waldheim and Pope John Paul II, became his second gold-certified work when it passed 500,000 sales in 1997. [58] Reed was nominated for a Grammy Award for best male rock vocal performance for the album. [47]

1990–99: Velvet Underground reunion and various projects Edit

Reed met John Cale for the first time in several years at Warhol's funeral in 1987. They worked together on the album Songs for Drella (April 1990), a song cycle about Warhol. [79] On the album, Reed sings of his love for his late friend, and criticizes both the doctors who were unable to save Warhol's life and Warhol's would-be assassin, Valerie Solanas. In 1990, the first Velvet Underground lineup reformed for a Fondation Cartier benefit show in France. [80] In June and July 1993, the Velvet Underground again reunited and toured Europe, including an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival plans for a North American tour were cancelled following a dispute between Reed and Cale. [81] [82]

Reed had released his sixteenth solo album, Magic and Loss, in January 1992. The album is focused on mortality, inspired by the death of two close friends from cancer. In 1994, he appeared in A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and The Who. In the same year, he and Morales were divorced. [83] In 1995, Reed made a cameo appearance in the unreleased video game Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors. If the player selects the "impossible" difficulty setting, Reed appears shortly after the game begins as an unbeatable boss who murders the player with his laser beam eyes. Reed then pops up on the screen and says to the player, "This is the impossible level, boys. Impossible doesn't mean very difficult, very difficult is winning the Nobel Prize, impossible is eating the sun." [84]

In 1996, the Velvet Underground were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the ceremony, Reed, Cale and Tucker performed a song titled "Last Night I Said Goodbye to My Friend", dedicated to Sterling Morrison, who had died the previous August. [85] In February 1996 Reed released Set the Twilight Reeling, and later that year, Reed contributed songs and music to Time Rocker, a theatrical interpretation of H. G. Wells' The Time Machine by experimental director Robert Wilson. The piece premiered in the Thalia Theater, Hamburg, and was later also shown at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. [86]

From 1992, Reed was romantically linked to avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson, and the two worked together on several recordings. They married on April 12, 2008. [87]

2000–12: Rock and ambient experimentation Edit

In February 2000, Reed worked with Robert Wilson at the Thalia Theater again, on POEtry, another production inspired by the works of a 19th-century writer, this time Edgar Allan Poe. In April 2000, Reed released Ecstasy. In January 2003, Reed released a 2-CD set, The Raven, based on POEtry. The album consists of songs written by Reed and spoken-word performances of reworked and rewritten texts of Edgar Allan Poe by actors, set to electronic music composed by Reed. It features Willem Dafoe, David Bowie, Steve Buscemi, and Ornette Coleman. [88] A single disc CD version of the album, focusing on the music, was also released. [nb 5]

In May 2000, Reed performed before Pope John Paul II at the Great Jubilee Concert in Rome. [90] In 2001, Reed made a cameo appearance in the movie adaptation of Prozac Nation. On October 6, 2001, the New York Times published a Reed poem called "Laurie Sadly Listening" in which he reflects on the September 11 attacks (also referred to as 9/11). [91] Incorrect reports of Reed's death were broadcast by numerous US radio stations in 2001, caused by a hoax email (purporting to be from Reuters) which said he had died of a drug overdose. [92] In April 2003, Reed began a world tour featuring the cellist Jane Scarpantoni and singer Anohni.

In 2003, Reed released a book of photographs, Emotions in Action. This comprised an A4-sized book called Emotions and a smaller one called Actions laid into its hard cover. In January 2006, he released a second book of photographs, Lou Reed's New York. [93] A third volume, Romanticism, was released in 2009. [5] [94]

In 2004, a Groovefinder remix of his song "Satellite of Love", called "Satellite of Love '04", was released. It peaked at No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart. [95]

In October 2006, Reed appeared at Hal Willner's Leonard Cohen tribute show "Came So Far for Beauty" in Dublin, along with Laurie Anderson, Nick Cave, Anohni, Jarvis Cocker, and Beth Orton. He played a heavy metal version of Cohen's "The Stranger Song". [96]

In December that year, Reed played a series of shows at St. Ann's Warehouse, Brooklyn, based on Berlin. Reed played with guitarist Steve Hunter, who played on the original album and Rock 'n' Roll Animal, and was joined by singers Anohni and Sharon Jones. The show was produced by Bob Ezrin, who also produced the original album, and Hal Willner. [97] The show played at the Sydney Festival in January 2007 and in Europe during June and July 2007. The album version of the concert, entitled Berlin: Live at St. Ann's Warehouse, and a live film recording of these concerts were both released in 2008. In April 2007, he released Hudson River Wind Meditations, an album of ambient meditational music. It was released on the Sounds True record label. In June 2007, he performed at the Traffic Festival 2007 in Turin, Italy, a five-day free event organized by the city. In the same month "Pale Blue Eyes" was included in the soundtrack of the French-language film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. [98] In August 2007, Reed recorded "Tranquilize" with the Killers in New York City, a duet with Brandon Flowers for the B-side/rarities album Sawdust.

On October 2 and 3, 2008, he introduced his new group, which was later named Metal Machine Trio, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex in Los Angeles. The trio featured Ulrich Krieger (saxophone) and Sarth Calhoun (electronics), and played improvised instrumental music inspired by Metal Machine Music. Recordings of the concerts were released under the title The Creation of the Universe. The trio played at New York's Gramercy Theatre in April 2009, and appeared as part of Reed's band at the 2009 Lollapalooza. [99]

Reed provided the voice of Maltazard, the villain in the 2009 Luc Besson animated/live-action feature film Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard and appeared as himself in Wim Wenders' 2008 film Palermo Shooting.

Reed played "Sweet Jane" and "White Light/White Heat" with Metallica at Madison Square Garden during the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on October 30, 2009. In 2010, Reed featured on the song "Some Kind of Nature" with virtual band Gorillaz, from their third studio album Plastic Beach. [100] [101] In October 2011, Metallica and Reed released the collaboration album Lulu. [102] It was based on the "Lulu" plays by the German playwright Frank Wedekind (1864–1918). The album received mixed and mainly negative reviews from music critics. [103] [104] Reed joked that he had no fans left. [105] The album debuted at No. 36 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 13,000 copies. [106]

In 2012, Reed collaborated with indie rock band Metric on "The Wanderlust", the tenth track on their fifth studio album Synthetica. This was to be the last original composition he worked on. [107]

Reed had suffered from hepatitis and diabetes for several years. He practiced tai chi during the last part of his life. [51] [108] He was treated with interferon but developed liver cancer. [108] In May 2013, he underwent a liver transplant at the Cleveland Clinic. [109] [110] Afterward, on his website, he wrote of feeling "bigger and stronger" than ever, but on October 27, 2013, he died from liver disease at his home in East Hampton, New York, at the age of 71. [111] He was cremated and the ashes were given to his family. [112] [113]

His widow Laurie Anderson said his last days were peaceful, and described him as a "prince and a fighter". [108] David Byrne, [114] Patti Smith, [115] David Bowie, Morrissey, Iggy Pop, Courtney Love, Lenny Kravitz, and many others also paid tribute to Reed. [116] [117] [118] Former Velvet Underground members Moe Tucker [119] and John Cale made statements on Reed's death, [120] and those from outside the music industry paid their respects such as Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. [121]

On October 27, 2013, the day of Reed's death, Pearl Jam dedicated their song "Man of the Hour" to him at their show in Baltimore and then played "I'm Waiting for the Man". [122] On the day of his death, The Killers dedicated their rendition of "Pale Blue Eyes" to Reed at the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. [123] My Morning Jacket performed a cover of "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" in California [124] while Arctic Monkeys performed "Walk on the Wild Side" in Liverpool. [125] That same night, Phish opened their show in Hartford, Connecticut with the Velvet Underground's "Rock & Roll". [126] On November 14, 2013, a three-hour public memorial was held near Lincoln Center's Paul Milstein Pool and Terrace. Billed as "New York: Lou Reed at Lincoln Center", the ceremony featured favorite Reed recordings selected by family and friends. [127] On March 14, 2014, Richard Barone and Alejandro Escovedo produced and hosted the first full-scale tribute to Lou Reed at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, with over twenty international acts performing Reed's music. [128]

Reed's estate was valued at $30 million, $20 million of which accrued after his death. He left everything to his wife and his sister. [129]

Reed's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist was announced on December 16, 2014. [130] He was inducted by Patti Smith at a ceremony in Cleveland on April 18, 2015. [131] In 2017, Lou Reed: A Life was published by the Rolling Stone critic Anthony DeCurtis. [132]

Asteroid 270553 Loureed, discovered by Maik Meyer at Palomar Observatory in 2002, was named in his honor. [133] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on June 2, 2015 ( M.P.C. 94391 ). [134] Spiders with furry bodies are known as velvet spiders and one which was recently discovered in Spain is named Loureedia, because it has a velvet body and lives underground. [135]

An archive of his letters and other personal effects was donated to The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, where it can be viewed by members of the public. [136]


Contents

Vrba was born Walter Rosenberg in Topoľčany, Czechoslovakia (part of Slovakia from 1993), one of the four children of Helena Rosenberg, née Gruenfeldová, and her husband, Elias. Vrba's mother was from Zbehy [16] his maternal grandfather, Bernat Grünfeld, an Orthodox Jew from Nitra, was killed in the Majdanek concentration camp. [17] Vrba took the name Rudolf Vrba after his escape from Auschwitz. [18]

The Rosenbergs owned a steam sawmill in Jaklovce and lived in Trnava. [19] In September 1941 the Slovak Republic (1939–1945)—a client state of Nazi Germany—passed a "Jewish Codex", similar to the Nuremberg Laws, which introduced restrictions on Jews' education, housing and travel. [20] The government set up transit camps at Nováky, Sereď and Vyhne. [21] Jews were required to wear a yellow badge and live in certain areas, and available jobs went first to non-Jews. When Vrba was excluded, at age 15, from the gymnasium (high school) in Bratislava as a result of the restrictions, he found work as a labourer and continued his studies at home, particularly chemistry, English and Russian. [22] He met his future wife, Gerta Sidonová, around this time she had also been excluded from school. [23]

Vrba wrote that he learned to live with the restrictions but rebelled when the Slovak government announced, in February 1942, that thousands of Jews were to be deported to "reservations" in German-occupied Poland. [24] [c] The deportations came at the request of Germany, which needed the labour the Slovak government paid the Germans RM 500 per Jew on the understanding that the government would lay claim to the deportees' property. [26] Around 800 of the 58,000 Slovakian Jews deported between March and October 1942 survived. [27] Vrba blamed the Slovak Jewish Council for having cooperated with the deportations. [28]

Insisting that he would not be "deported like a calf in a wagon", he decided to join the Czechoslovak Army in exile in England and set off in a taxi for the border, aged 17, with a map, a box of matches, and the equivalent of £10 from his mother. [29] After making his way to Budapest, Hungary, he decided to return to Trnava but was arrested at the Hungarian border. [30] The Slovak authorities sent him to the Nováky transit camp he escaped briefly but was caught. An SS officer instructed that he be deported on the next transport. [31]

Majdanek Edit

Vrba was deported from Czechoslovakia on 15 June 1942 to the Majdanek concentration camp in Lublin, German-occupied Poland, [32] where he briefly encountered his older brother, Sammy. They saw each other "almost simultaneously and we raised our arms in brief salute" it was the last time he ever saw him. [33] He also encountered "kapos" for the first time: prisoners appointed as functionaries, one of whom he recognized from Trnava. Most wore green triangles, signalling their category as "career criminals": [34]

They were dressed like circus clowns . One had a green uniform jackets with gold horizontal stripes, like something a lion tamer would wear his trousers were the riding breeches of an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army and his headgear was a cross between a military cap and a priest's biretta. . I realized that here was a new elite . recruited to do the elementary dirty work with which the S.S. men did not wish to soil their hands. [34]

Vrba's head and body were shaved, and he was given a uniform, wooden shoes and a cap. Caps had to be removed whenever the SS came within three yards. Prisoners were beaten for talking or moving too slowly. At roll call each morning, prisoners who had died during the night were piled up behind the living. Vrba was given a job as a builder's labourer. [35] When a kapo asked for 400 volunteers for farm work elsewhere, Vrba signed up, looking for a chance to escape. A Czech kapo who had befriended Vrba hit him when he heard about this the kapo explained that the "farm work" was in Auschwitz. [36]

Auschwitz I Edit

On 29 June 1942, the Reich Security Head Office transferred Vrba and the other volunteers to Auschwitz I, [37] the main camp (Stammlager) in Oświęcim, a journey of over two days. Vrba considered trying to escape from the train, but the SS announced that ten men would be shot for every one who went missing. [38]

On his second day in Auschwitz, he watched as prisoners threw bodies onto a cart, stacked in piles of ten, "the head of one between the legs of another to save space". [39] The following day he and 400 other men were beaten into a cold shower in a shower room built for 30, then marched outside naked to register. He was tattooed on his left forearm as no. 44070 and given a striped tunic, trousers, cap and wooden shoes. [40] After registration, which took all day and into the evening, he was shown to his barracks, an attic in a block next to the main gate and the Arbeit macht frei sign. [41]

Young and strong, Vrba was "purchased" by a kapo, Frank, in exchange for a lemon (sought after for its vitamin C) and assigned to work in the SS food store. This gave him access to soap and water, which helped to save his life. Frank, he learned, was a kind man who would pretend to beat his prisoners when the guards were watching, although the blows always missed. [42] The camp regime was otherwise marked by its pettiness and cruelty. When Heinrich Himmler visited on 17 July 1942 (during which he watched a gassing), the inmates were told everything had to be spotless. [43] As the prison orchestra assembled by the gate for Himmler's arrival, the block senior and two others starting beating an inmate because he was missing a tunic button:

They pummelled him swiftly, frantically, trying to blot him out . and Yankel, who had forgotten to sew his buttons on, had not even the good grace to die quickly and quietly.

He screamed. It was a strong, querulous scream, ragged in the hot, still air. Then it turned suddenly to the thin, plaintive wail of abandoned bagpipes . It went on and on and on . At that moment, I think, we all hated Yankel Meisel, the little old Jew who was spoiling everything, who was causing trouble for all of us with his long, lone, futile protest. [44]

Auschwitz II Edit

"Kanada" commando Edit

In August 1942 Vrba was reassigned to the Aufräumungskommando ("clearing-up") or "Kanada" commando, in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the extermination camp, 4 km (2.5 miles) from Auschwitz I. Around 200–800 prisoners worked on the nearby Judenrampe where freight trains carrying Jews arrived, removing the dead, then sorting through the new arrivals' property. Many brought kitchen utensils and clothes for different seasons, suggesting to Vrba that they believed the stories about resettlement. [45]

It took 2–3 hours to clear out a train, by which time most new arrivals were dead. [45] Those deemed fit for work were selected for slave labour and the rest taken by truck to the gas chamber. [46] Vrba estimated that 90 percent were gassed. [47] He told Claude Lanzmann in 1978 that the process relied on speed and making sure no panic broke out, because panic meant the next transport would be delayed. [48]

[O]ur first job was to get into the wagons, get out the dead bodies—or the dying—and transport them in laufschritt, as the Germans liked to say. This means "running". Laufschritt, yeah, never walking—everything had to be done in laufschritt, immer laufen. . There was not much medical counting to see who is dead and who feigns to be dead . So they were put on the trucks and once this was finished, this was the first truck to move off, and it went straight to the crematorium ..

The whole murder machinery could work on one principle: that the people came to Auschwitz and didn't know where they were going and for what purpose. The new arrivals were supposed to be kept orderly and without panic marching into the gas chambers. Especially the panic was dangerous from women with small children. So it was important for the Nazis that none of us give some sort of message which could cause a panic . And anybody who tried to get into touch with newcomers was either clubbed to death or taken behind the wagon and shot . [49]

The new arrivals' property was taken to barracks known as Effektenlager I and II in Auschwitz I (moved to Auschwitz II after Vrba's escape). Inmates, and apparently also some of the camp administration, called the barracks Kanada I and II because they were a "land of plenty". [50] Everything was there—medicine, food, clothing, and cash—much of it repackaged by the Aufräumungskommando to be sent to Germany. [51] The Aufräumungskommando lived in Auschwitz I, block 4, until 15 January 1943 when they were transferred to block 16 in Auschwitz II, sector Ib, where Vrba lived until June 1943. [52] After he had been in Auschwitz for about five months, he fell sick with typhus his weight dropped to 42 kilos and he was delirious. At his lowest point, he was helped by Josef Farber, a Slovakian member of the camp resistance, who brought him medication and thereafter extended to him the protection of the Auschwitz underground. [53]

In early 1943 he was given the job of assistant registrar in one of the blocks he told Lanzmann that the resistance movement had manoeuvered him into the position because it gave him access to information. [54] A few weeks later, in June, he was made registrar (Blockschreiber) of block 10 in Auschwitz II, the quarantine section for men (BIIa), again because of the underground. [55] The position gave him his own room and bed, [56] and he could wear his own clothes. He was also able to speak to new arrivals who had been selected to work, and he had to write reports about the registration process, which allowed him to ask questions and take notes. [57]

Estimates of numbers killed Edit

From his room in BIIa, Vrba said he could see the trucks drive towards the gas chambers. [58] In his estimate, 10 percent of each transport was selected to work and the rest killed. [47] During his time on the Judenrampe from 18 August 1942 to 7 June 1943, he told Lanzmann in 1978, he had seen at least 200 trains arrive, each containing 1,000–5,000 people. [59] In a 1998 paper, he wrote that he had witnessed 100–300 trains arrive, each locomotive pulling 20–40 freight cars and sometimes 50–60. [45] He calculated that, between the spring of 1942 and 15 January 1944, 1.5 million had been killed. [60] According to the Vrba–Wetzler report, 1,765,000 were killed in Auschwitz between April 1942 and April 1944. [61] In 1961 Vrba swore in an affidavit for the trial of Adolf Eichmann that he believed 2.5 million had died overall in the camp, plus or minus 10 percent. [62]

Vrba's estimates are higher than those of Holocaust historians but in line with estimates from SS officers and Auschwitz survivors, including members of the Sonderkommando. Early estimates ranged from one to 6.5 million. [63] Rudolf Höss, the first Auschwitz commandant, said in 1946 that three million had died in the camp, although he revised his view. [64] In 1946 the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland estimated four million. [65] Later scholarly estimates were lower. According to Polish historian Franciszek Piper, writing in 2000, most historians place the figure at one to 1.5 million. [66] His own widely accepted estimate was that at least 1.3 million were sent to Auschwitz and at least 1,082,000 died (rounded up to 1.1 million or 85 percent), including 960,000 Jews. [67] Piper's estimate of the death toll for April 1942 to April 1944 was 450,000, [68] against Vrba's 1,765,000. [69]

Hungarian Jews Edit

According to Vrba, a kapo from Berlin by the name of Yup told him on 15 January 1944 that he was part of a group of prisoners building a new railway line to lead straight to the crematoria. Yup said he had overheard from an SS officer that a million Hungarian Jews would soon arrive and that the old ramp could not handle the numbers. A railway line leading directly to the crematoria would cut thousands of truck journeys from the old ramp. [70] In addition Vrba heard directly, courtesy of drunk SS guards, he wrote, that they would soon have Hungarian salami. When Dutch Jews arrived, they brought cheese likewise there were sardines from the French Jews, and halva and olives from the Greeks. Now it was Hungarian salami. [71]

Vrba had been thinking of escape for two years but, he wrote, he was now determined, hoping to "undermine one of the principle foundations—the secrecy of the operation". [72] A Russian captain, Dmitri Volkkov, told him he would need Russian tobacco soaked in petrol, then dried, to fool the dogs a watch to use as a compass matches to make food and salt for nutrition. [73] Vrba began studying the layout of the camps. Both Auschwitz I and II consisted of inner camps where the prisoners slept, surrounded by a six-yard-wide trench of water, then high-voltage barbed-wire fences. The area was lit at night and guarded by the SS in watch towers. When a prisoner was reported missing, the guards searched for three days and nights. The key to a successful escape would be to remain hidden just outside the inner perimeter until the search was called off. [74]

His first escape was planned for 26 January 1944 with Charles Unglick, a French Army captain, but the rendezvous did not work out Unglick tried to escape alone and was killed. The SS left his body on display for two days, seated on a stool. [75] An earlier group of escapees had been killed and mutilated with dumdum bullets, then placed in the middle of Camp D with a sign reading "We're back!" [76]

Czech family camp Edit

On 6 March 1944 Vrba heard that the Czech family camp was about to be sent to the gas chambers. [77] The group of around 5,000, including women and children, had arrived in Auschwitz in September 1943 from the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia (the Czech Republic since 1993). That they had been allowed to live in Auschwitz for six months was unusual, not least because women with children were usually killed immediately. Correspondence found after the war between Adolf Eichmann's office and the International Red Cross suggested that the Germans had set up the family camp as a model for a planned Red Cross visit to Auschwitz. [78] The group was housed in relatively good conditions in block BIIb near the main gate, although in the six months they were held there 1,000 died despite the better treatment. [79] They did not have their heads shaved, and the children were given lessons and access to better food, including milk and white bread. [80]

On 1 March, according to the Vrba–Wetzler report (5 March, according to Danuta Czech), the group was asked to write postcards to their relatives, telling them they were well and asking for parcels of provisions, and to postdate the cards to 25–27 March. [81] On 7 March, according to the report (8–9 March, according to Czech), the group of 3,791 was gassed. [82] The report stated that 11 twins had been kept alive for medical experiments. [83] On 20 December 1943, a second Czech family group of 3,000 arrived, according to the report (2,473, according to Czech). [84] Vrba assumed that this group would also be killed after six months, i.e. around 20 June 1944. [85]

Escape Edit

Vrba resolved again to escape. In Auschwitz he had encountered an acquaintance from Trnava, Alfréd Wetzler (prisoner no. 29162, then aged 26) who had arrived on 13 April 1942 and was working in the mortuary. [86] Czesław Mordowicz, who escaped from Auschwitz weeks after Vrba, said decades later that it was Wetzler who had initiated and planned the escape. [87]

According to Wetzler, writing in his book Čo Dante nevidel (1963), later published as Escape from Hell (2007), the camp underground had organized the escape, supplying information for Vrba and Wetzler to carry ("Karol" and "Val" in the book). "Otta" in Hut 18, a locksmith, had created a key for a small shed in which Vrba and others had drawn a site plan and dyed clothes. "Fero" from the central registry supplied data from the registry [88] "Filipek" (Filip Müller) in Hut 13 added the names of the SS officers working around the crematoria, a plan of the gas chambers and crematoria, his records of the transports gassed in crematoria IV and V, and the label of a Zyklon B canister. [89] "Edek" in Hut 14 smuggled out clothes for the escapees to wear, including suits from Amsterdam. [88] "Adamek", "Bolek" and Vrba had supplied socks, underpants, shirts, a razor and a torch, as well as glucose, vitamins, margarine, cigarettes and a cigarette lighter that said "made in Auschwitz". [90]

The information about the camp, including a sketch of the crematorium produced by a Russian prisoner, "Wasyl", was hidden inside two metal tubes. The tube containing the sketch was lost during the escape the second tube contained data about the transports. Vrba's account differs from Wetzel's according to Vrba, they took no notes and wrote the Vrba–Wetzler report from memory. [91] He told the historian John Conway that he had used "personal memotechnical methods" to remember the data, and that the stories about written notes had been invented because no one could explain his ability to recall so much detail. [92]

Wearing suits, overcoats, and boots, at 14:00 on Friday, 7 April 1944—the eve of Passover—the men climbed inside a hollowed-out space they had prepared in a pile of wood stacked between Auschwitz-Birkenau's inner and outer perimeter fences, in section BIII in a construction area known as "Meksyk" ("Mexico"). They sprinkled the area with Russian tobacco soaked in gasoline, as advised by Dmitri Volkov, the Russian captain. [93] Bolek and Adamek, both Polish prisoners, moved the planks back in place once they were hidden. [94]

Kárný writes that at 20:33 on 7 April SS-Sturmbannführer Fritz Hartjenstein, the Birkenau commander, learned by teleprinter that two Jews were missing. [95] On 8 April the Gestapo at Auschwitz sent telegrams with descriptions to the Reich Security Head Office in Berlin, the SS in Oranienburg, district commanders, and others. [96] The men hid in the wood pile for three nights and throughout the fourth day. [97] Soaking wet, with strips of flannel tightened across their mouths to muffle coughing, Wetzel wrote that they lay there counting: "[N]early eighty hours. Four thousand eight hundred minutes. Two hundred and eighty-eight thousand seconds." [98] On the Sunday morning, 9 April, Adamek urinated against the pile and whistled to signal that all was well. [99] At 9 pm on 10 April, they crawled out of the wood pile. "Their circulation returns only slowly," Wetzel wrote. "They both have the sensation of ants running along in their veins, that their bodies have been transformed into big, very slowly warming ant-heaps. . The onset of weakness is so fierce that they have to support themselves on the inner edges of the panels." [100] Using a map they'd taken from "Kanada", the men headed south toward Slovakia 130 kilometres (81 mi) away, walking parallel to the Soła river. [101]

Walking to Slovakia Edit

According to Henryk Świebocki of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, local people, including members of the Polish underground who lived near the camp, did what they could to help escapees. [102] Vrba wrote that there was no organized help for them on the outside. At first the men moved only at night, eating bread they'd taken from Auschwitz and drinking water from streams. On 13 April, lost in Bielsko-Biala, they approached a farmhouse and a Polish woman took them in for a day. Feeding them bread, potato soup and ersatz coffee, she explained that most of the area had been "Germanized" and that Poles helping Jews risked death. [103]

They continued following the river every so often, a Polish woman would drop half a loaf of bread near them. They were shot at on 16 April by German gendarmes but managed to lose them. Two other Poles helped them with food and a place to stay, until they finally crossed the Polish–Slovakian border near Skalité on 21 April 1944. [104] By this time, Vrba's feet were so swollen he had had to cut off his boots and was wearing carpet slippers one of the Polish peasants had given him. [105]

A peasant family in Skalité took them in for a few days, fed and clothed them, then put them in touch with a Jewish doctor in nearby Čadca, Dr. Pollack. Vrba and Pollack had met in a transit camp in Nováky. [106] Through a contact in the Slovak Jewish Council, Pollack arranged for them to send people from Bratislava to meet the men. [107] Pollack was distressed to learn the probable fate of his parents and siblings, who had been deported from Slovakia to Auchwitz in 1942. [108]

Meeting with the Jewish Council Edit

Vrba and Wetzler spent the night in Čadca in the home of a relative of the rabbi Leo Baeck, before being taken to Žilina by train. They were met at the station by Erwin Steiner, a member of the Slovak Jewish Council (or Ústredňa Židov), and taken to the Jewish Old People's Home, where the council had offices. Over the following days, they were introduced to Ibolya Steiner, who was married to Erwin Oskar Krasniansky, an engineer and stenographer (who later took the name Oskar Isaiah Karmiel) [109] and, on 25 April, the chair of the council, Dr. Oskar Neumann, a lawyer. [110] The council was able to confirm who Vrba and Weltzer were from its deportation lists. [111] In his memoir, Wetzler described (using pseudonyms) several people who attended the first meeting: a lawyer (presumably Neumann), a factory worker, a "Madame Ibi" (Ibolya Steiner) who had been a functionary in a progressive youth organization, and the Prague correspondent of a Swiss newspaper. Neumann told them the group had been waiting two years for someone to confirm the rumours they had heard about Auschwitz. Wetzler was surprised by the naïvety of his question: "Is it so difficult to get out [of] there?" The journalist wanted to know how they had managed it, if it was so hard. Wetzler felt Vrba lean forward angrily to say something, but he grabbed his hand and Vrba drew back. [112]

Wetzler encouraged Vrba to start describing conditions in Auschwitz. "He wants to speak like a witness," Wetlzer wrote, "nothing but facts, but the terrible events sweep him along like a torrent, he relives them with his nerves, with every pore of his body, so that after an hour he is completely exhausted." [113] The group, in particular the Swiss journalist, seemed to have difficulty understanding. The journalist wondered why the International Red Cross had not intervened. "The more [Vrba] reports, the angrier and more embittered he becomes." [114] The journalist asked Vrba to tell them about "specific bestialities by the SS men". Vrba replied: "That is as if you wanted me to tell you of a specific day when there was water in the Danube." [115]

Vrba described the ramp, selection, the Sonderkommando, and the camps' internal organization the building of Auschwitz III and how Jews were being used as slave labour for Krupp, Siemens, IG Farben, and DAW and the gas chambers. [116] Wetzler gave them the data from the central registry hidden in the remaining tube, and described the high death toll among Soviet POWs, the destruction of the Czech family camp, the medical experiments, and the names of doctors involved in them. [117] He also handed over the label from the Zyklon B canister. [118] Every word, he wrote, "has the effect of a blow on the head". [119]

Neumann said the men would be brought a typewriter in the morning, and the group would meet again in three days. Hearing this, Vrba exploded: "Easy for you to say 'in three days'! But back there they are flinging people into the fire at this moment and in three days they'll kill thousands. Do something immediately!" Wetzler pulled on his arm, but Vrba continued, pointing at each one: "You, you, you'll all finish up in the gas unless something is done! Do you hear?" [120]

Writing the report Edit

The following day, Vrba began by sketching the layout of Auschwitz I and II, and the position of the ramp in relation to the camps. The report was re-written several times over three days [121] according to Wetzler, on two of those days, he and Vrba wrote until daybreak. [120] Wetzler wrote the first part, Vrba the third, and they worked on the second part together. Then they re-wrote it six times. Oskar Krasniansky translated it from Slovak into German as it was being written, with the help of Ibolya Steiner, who typed it up. The original Slovak version is lost. [121] The report in Slovak and, it seems, in German was completed by Thursday, 27 April 1944. [122]

According to Kárný, the report describes the camp "with absolute accuracy", including its construction, installations, security, the prisoner number system, the categories of prisoner, the diet and accommodation, as well as the gassings, shootings and injections. It provides details known only to prisoners, including that discharge forms were filled out for prisoners who were gassed, indicating that death rates in the camp were actively falsified. Although presented by two men, it was clearly the product of many prisoners, including the Sonderkommando working in the gas chambers. [123] It contains sketches of the gas chambers and states that there were four crematoria, each of which contained a gas chamber and furnace room. [124] The report estimated the total capacity of the gas chambers to be 6,000 daily. [125]

[T]he unfortunate victims are brought into hall (B) where they are told to undress. To complete the fiction that they are going to bathe, each person receives a towel and a small piece of soap issued by two men clad in white coats. They are then crowded into the gas chamber (C) in such numbers that there is, of course, only standing room. To compress this crowd into the narrow space, shots are often fired to induce those already at the far end to huddle still closer together. When everybody is inside, the heavy doors are closed. Then there is a short pause, presumably to allow the room temperature to rise to a certain level, after which SS men with gas masks climb on the roof, open the traps, and shake down a preparation in powder form out of tin cans labeled 'CYKLON' 'For use against vermin', which is manufactured by a Hamburg concern. It is presumed that this is a 'CYANIDE' mixture of some sort which turns into gas at a certain temperature. After three minutes everyone in the chamber is dead. [126]

In a sworn deposition for the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961, Vrba said that he and Wetzler had obtained the information about the gas chambers and crematoria from Sonderkommando Filip Müller and his colleagues who worked there. Müller confirmed this in his Eyewitness Auschwitz (1979). [127] Auschwitz scholar Robert Jan van Pelt wrote in 2002 that the description contains errors, but that given the circumstances, including the men's lack of architectural training, "one would become suspicious if it did not contain errors". [128]

Rosin and Mordowicz escape Edit

The Jewish Council found an apartment for Vrba and Wetzler in Liptovský Svätý Mikuláš, Slovakia, where the men kept a copy of the Vrba–Wetzler report, in Slovak, hidden behind a picture of the Virgin Mary. They made clandestine copies with the help of a friend, Josef Weiss of the Bratislava Office for the Prevention of Venereal Disease, and handed them out to Jews in Slovakia with contacts in Hungary, for translation into Hungarian. [129]

According to historian Zoltán Tibori Szabó, the report was first published in Geneva in May 1944, in German, by Abraham Silberschein of the World Jewish Congress as Tatsachenbericht über Auschwitz und Birkenau, dated 17 May 1944. [130] Florian Manoliu of the Romanian Legation in Bern took the report to Switzerland and gave it to George Mantello, a Jewish businessman from Transylvania, who was working as the first secretary of the El Salvador consulate in Geneva. It was thanks to Mantello that the report received, in the Swiss press, its first wide coverage. [131]

Arnošt Rosin (prisoner no. 29858) and Czesław Mordowicz (prisoner no. 84216) escaped from Auschwitz on 27 May 1944 and arrived in Slovakia on 6 June, the day of the Normandy landings. Hearing about the invasion of Normandy and believing the war was over, they got drunk to celebrate, using dollars they had smuggled out of Auschwitz. They were promptly arrested for violating the currency laws, and spent eight days in prison before the Jewish Council paid their fines. [132]

Rosin and Mordowicz were interviewed, on 17 June, by Oskar Krasniansky, the engineer who had translated the Vrba–Wetzler report into German. They told him that, between 15 and 27 May 1944, 100,000 Hungarian Jews had arrived at Auschwitz II-Birkenau and that most had been killed on arrival. [133] Vrba concluded from this that the Hungarian Jewish Council had not informed its Jewish communities about the Vrba–Wetzler report. [134] The seven-page Rosin-Mordowicz report was combined with the longer Vrba–Wetzler report and a third report, known as the Polish Major's report (written by Jerzy Tabeau, who had escaped from Auchwitz in November 1943), to become the Auschwitz Protocols. [135]

According to David Kranzler, Mantello asked the Swiss-Hungarian Students' League to make 50 mimeographed copies of the Vrba–Wetzler report and the two shorter Auschwitz reports, which by 23 June 1944 he had distributed to the Swiss government and Jewish groups. [136] On or around 19 June Richard Lichtheim of the Jewish Agency in Geneva, who had received a copy of the report from Mantello, cabled the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem to say they knew "what has happened and where it has happened" and that 12,000 Jews were being deported from Budapest daily. He also reported the Vrba–Wetzler figure that 90 per cent of Jews arriving at Auschwitz II were being killed. [137]

The Swiss students made thousands of copies, which were passed to other students and MPs. [136] At least 383 articles about Auschwitz appeared in the Swiss press between 23 June and 11 July 1944. [138] According to Michael Fleming, that figure "exceeds the number of articles published about the Holocaust during the entire war in The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Manchester Guardian and the whole of the British popular press". [139]

Importance of dates Edit

The dates on which the report was distributed became a matter of importance within Holocaust historiography. According to Randolph L. Braham, Jewish leaders were slow to distribute the report, fearful of causing panic. [140] Braham asks: "Why did the Jewish leaders in Hungary, Slovakia, Switzerland and elsewhere fail to distribute and publicize the Auschwitz Reports immediately after they had received copies in late April or early May 1944?" [141] Vrba alleged that lives were lost because of this. In particular he blamed Rudolf Kastner of the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee. [142] The committee had organized safe passage for Jews into Hungary before the German invasion. [143] The Slovakian Jewish Council handed Kastner the report at the end of April or by 3 May 1944 at the latest. [140]

Reverend József Éliás, head of the Good Shepherd Mission in Hungary, said he received the report from Géza Soós, a member of the Hungarian Independence Movement, a resistance group. [144] Yehuda Bauer believes that Kastner or Otto Komoly, leader of the Aid and Rescue Committee, gave Soós the report. [145] Éliás's secretary, Mária Székely, translated it into Hungarian and prepared six copies, which made their way to Hungarian and church officials, including Miklós Horthy's daughter-in-law, Countess Ilona Edelsheim-Gyulai. [146] Braham writes that this distribution occurred before 15 May. [147]

Kastner's reasons for not distributing the report further are unknown. According to Braham, "Hungarian Jewish leaders were still busy translating and duplicating the Reports on June 14–16, and did not distribute them till the second half of June. [They] almost completely ignored the Reports in their postwar memoirs and statements." [148] Vrba argued until the end of his life that Rudolf Kastner withheld the report in order not to jeopardize negotiations between the Aid and Rescue Committee and Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer in charge of the transport of Jews out of Hungary. As the Vrba–Wetzler report was being written, Eichmann had proposed to the Committee in Budapest that the SS trade up to one million Hungarian Jews for 10,000 trucks and other goods from the Western Allies. The proposal came to nothing, but Kastner collected donations to pay the SS to allow over 1,600 Jews to leave Budapest for Switzerland on what became known as the Kastner train. In Vrba's view, Kastner suppressed the report in order not to alienate the SS. [149]

The Hungarian biologist George Klein worked as a secretary for the Hungarian Jewish Council in Síp Street, Budapest, when he was a teenager. In late May or early June 1944, his boss, Dr. Zoltán Kohn, showed him a carbon copy of the Vrba–Wetzler report in Hungarian and said he should tell only close family and friends. [150] Klein had heard Jews mention the term Vernichtungslager (extermination camp), but it had seemed like a myth. "I immediately believed the report because it made sense," he wrote in 2011. " . The dry, factual, nearly scientific language, the dates, the numbers, the maps and the logic of the narrative coalesced into a solid and inexorable structure." [151] Klein told his uncle, who asked how Klein could believe such nonsense: "I and others in the building in Síp Street must have lost our minds under the pressure." It was the same with other relatives and friends: middle-aged men with property and family did not believe it, while the younger ones wanted to act. In October that year, when the time came for Klein to board a train to Auschwitz, he ran instead. [152]

News coverage Edit

Details from the Vrba–Wetzler report began to appear elsewhere in the media. On 4 June 1944 the New York Times reported on the "cold-blooded murder" of Hungary's Jews. [153] On 16 June the Jewish Chronicle in London ran a story by Isaac Gruenbaum of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem with the headline "Bomb death camps" the writer had clearly seen the Vrba–Wetzler report. [154] Also on 16 June the BBC World Service reported in Germany, on its women's programme at noon, the murder in March of the Czech family camp and the second Czech group the Vrba–Wetzler report said would be killed around 20 June. [155] The broadcast alluded to the Vrba–Wetzler report:

In London, there is a highly precise report on the mass murder in Birkenau. All of those responsible for this mass murder, from those who give the orders through their intermediaries and down to those who carry out the orders, will be held responsible. [156]

A 22-line story on page five of the New York Times, "Czechs report massacre", reported on 20 June that 7,000 Jews had been "dragged to gas chambers in the notorious German concentration camps at Birkenau and Oświęcim [Auschwitz]". [157] Walter Garrett, the Swiss correspondent of the Exchange Telegraph, a British news agency, sent four dispatches to London on 24 June with details from the report received from George Mantello, including Vrba's estimate that 1,715,000 Jews had been murdered. [158] As a result of his reporting, at least 383 articles about Auschwitz appeared over the following 18 days, including a 66-page report in Geneva, Les camps d'extermination. [159]

On 26 June the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that 100,000 Hungarian Jews had been executed in gas chambers in Auschwitz. The BBC repeated this on the same day but omitted the name of the camp. [160] The following day, as a result of the information from Walter Garrett, the Manchester Guardian published two articles. The first said that Polish Jews were being gassed in Auschwitz and the second: "Information that the Germans systematically exterminating Hungarian Jews has lately become more substantial." The report mentioned the arrival "of many thousands of Jews . at the concentration camp at Oswiecim". [161] On 28 June the newspaper reported that 100,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to Poland and gassed, but without mentioning Auschwitz. [162]

Daniel Brigham, the New York Times correspondent in Geneva, published a story on 3 July, "Inquiry Confirms Nazi Death Camps", with the subtitle "1,715,000 Jews Said to Have Been Put to Death by the Germans up to April 15", and on 6 July a second, "Two Death Camps Places of Horror German Establishments for Mass Killings of Jews Described by Swiss". [163] According to Fleming, the BBC Home Service mentioned Auschwitz as an extermination camp for the first time on 7 July 1944. It said that over "four hundred thousand Hungarian Jews [had been] sent to the concentration camp at Oświęcim" and that most were killed in gas chambers it added that the camp was the largest concentration camp in Poland and that gas chambers had been installed in 1942 that could kill 6,000 people a day. Fleming writes that the report was the last of nine on the 9 pm news. [164]

Meetings with Martilotti and Weissmandl Edit

At the request of the Slovakian Jewish Council, [165] Vrba and Czesław Mordowicz (one of the 27 May escapees), along with a translator and Oskar Krasniasnky, met Vatican Swiss legate Monsignor Mario Martilotti at the Svätý Jur monastery on 20 June 1944. [166] Martilotti had seen the report and questioned the men about it for five hours. [167] Mordowicz was irritated by Vrba during this meeting. In an interview in the 1990s for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, he said Vrba, 19 at the time, had behaved cynically and childishly at one point he appeared to mock the way Martilotti was cutting his cigar. Mordowicz feared that the behaviour would make their information less credible. To maintain Martilotti's attention, he told him that Catholics and priests were being murdered along with the Jews. Martilotti reportedly fainted, shouting "Mein Gott! Mein Gott!" [168] Five days later, Pope Pius XII sent a telegram appealing to Miklós Horthy. [169]

Also at the Jewish Council's request, Vrba and Mordowicz met Michael Dov Weissmandl, an Orthodox rabbi and one of the leaders of the Bratislava Working Group, at his yeshiva in the centre of Bratislava. Vrba writes that Weissmandl was clearly well informed and had seen the Vrba–Wetzler report. He had also seen, as Vrba found out after the war, the Polish major's report about Auschwitz. [170] Weissmandl asked what could be done. Vrba explained: "The only thing to do is to explain . that they should not board the trains . ". [171] He also suggested bombing the railway lines into Birkenau. [172] (Weissmandl had already suggested this, on 16 May 1944, in a message to the American Orthodox Jewish Rescue committee.) [173] Vrba wrote about the incongruity of visiting Weissmandl at his yeshiva, which he assumed was under the protection of the Slovak government and the Germans. "The visibility of yeshiva life in the center of Bratislava, less than 150 miles south of Auschwitz, was in my eyes a typical piece of Goebbels–inspired activity . There—before the eyes of the world—the pupils of Rabbi Weissmandel could study the rules of Jewish ethics while their own sisters and mothers were being murdered and burned in Birkenau." [172]

Deportations halted Edit

Several appeals were made to Horthy, including by the Spanish, Swiss and Turkish governments, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gustaf V of Sweden, the International Committee of the Red Cross and, on 25 June 1944, Pope Pius XII. [174] The Pope's telegram did not mention Jews: "We are being beseeched in various quarters to do everything in our power that, in this noble and chivalrous nation, the sufferings, already so heavy, endured by a large number of unfortunate people, because of their nationality or race, may not be extended and aggravated." [139]

John Clifford Norton, a British diplomat in Bern, cabled the British government on 27 June with suggestions for action, which included bombing government buildings in Budapest. On 2 July American and British forces did bomb Budapest, killing 500 [175] and dropping leaflets warning that those responsible for the deportations would be held to account. [176] Horthy ordered an end to the mass deportations on 6 July, "deeply impressed by Allied successes in Normandy", according to Randolph Braham, [177] and anxious to exert his sovereignty over the Germans in the face of threats of a pro-German coup. [13] According to Raul Hilberg, Horthy may also have been worried about information cabled by the Allies in Bern to their governments at the request of the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee, informing them of the deportations. The cables were intercepted by the Hungarian government, which may have feared that its own members would be held responsible for the murders. [178]

War Refugee Board publication Edit

The Vrba–Wetzler report received widespread coverage in the United States and elsewhere when, after many months delay, John Pehle of the US War Refugee Board issued a 25,000-word press release on 25 November 1944, [d] along with a full version of the report and a preface calling it "entirely credible". [180] Entitled The Extermination Camps of Auschwitz (Oświęcim) and Birkenau in Upper Silesia, the release included the 33-page Vrba–Wetzler report a six-page report from Arnost Rosin and Czesław Mordowicz, who escaped from Auschwitz on 27 May 1944 and the 19-page Polish major's report, written in December 1943 by Polish escapee Jerzy Tabeau. [1] Jointly the three reports came to be known as the Auschwitz Protocols. [181]

The Washington Times Herald said the press release was "the first American official stamp of truth to the myriad of eyewitness stories of the mass massacres in Poland", [182] while the New York Herald Tribune called the Protocols "the most shocking document ever issued by a United States government agency". [4] Pehle passed a copy to Yank magazine, an American armed-forces publication, but the story, by Sergeant Richard Paul, was turned down as "too Semitic" the magazine did not want to publish it, they said, because of "latent antisemitism in the Army". [183] In June 1944 Pehle had urged John J. McCloy, US assistant secretary of war, to bomb Auschwitz, but McCloy had said it was "impracticable". After the publication of the Protocols, he tried again. McCloy replied that the camp could not be reached by bombers stationed in France, Italy or the UK, which meant that heavy bombers would have to fly to Auschwitz, a journey of 2,000 miles, without an escort. McCloy told him: "The positive solution to this problem is the earliest possible victory over Germany." [184]

Resistance activities Edit

After dictating the report in April 1944, Vrba and Wetzler stayed in Liptovský Mikuláš for six weeks, and continued to make and distribute copies of the report with the help of a friend, Joseph Weiss. Weiss worked for the Office for Prevention of Venereal Diseases in Bratislava and allowed copies to be made in the office. [185] The Jewish Council gave Vrba papers in the name of Rudolf Vrba, showing Aryan ancestry going back three generations, [18] and supported him financially with 200 Slovak crowns per week, equivalent to an average worker's salary Vrba wrote that it was "sufficient to sustain me underground in Bratislava". [186] On 29 August 1944 the Slovak Army rose up against the Nazis and the reestablishment of Czechoslovakia was announced. Vrba joined the Slovak partisans in September 1944 and was later awarded the Czechoslovak Medal of Bravery. [187] [188]

Auschwitz was liberated by the 60th Army of the 1st Ukrainian Front (part of the Red Army) on 27 January 1945 1,200 prisoners were found in the main camp and 5,800 in Birkenau. The SS had tried to destroy the evidence, but the Red Army found what was left of four crematoria, as well as 5,525 pairs of women's shoes, 38,000 pairs of men's, 348,820 men's suits, 836,225 items of women's clothing, large numbers of carpets, utensils, toothbrushes, eyeglasses and dentures, and seven tons of hair. [189]

Marriage and education Edit

In 1945 Vrba met up with a childhood friend, Gerta Sidonová from Trnava. They both wanted to study for degrees, so they took courses set up by Czechoslovakia's Department of Education for those who had missed out on schooling because of the Nazis. They moved after that to Prague, where they married in 1947 Sidonová took the surname Vrbová, the female version of Vrba. She graduated in medicine, then went into research. [190] In 1949 Vrba obtained a degree in chemistry (Ing. Chem.) from the Czech Technical University in Prague, which earned him a postgraduate fellowship from the Ministry of Education, and in 1951 he received his doctorate (Dr. Tech. Sc.) for a thesis entitled "On the metabolism of butyric acid". [191] [192] The couple had two daughters: Helena (1952–1982) [193] and Zuzana (b. 1954). [194] Vrba undertook post-doctoral research at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, where he received his C.Sc. in 1956. From 1953 to 1958 he worked for Charles University Medical School in Prague. [191] His marriage ended around this time. [195]

Defection to Israel, move to England Edit

With the marriage over and Czechoslovakia ruled by a Soviet Union-dominated socialist government, Vrba and Vrbová both defected, he to Israel and she to England with the children. Vrbová had fallen in love with an Englishman and was able to defect after being invited to an academic conference in Poland. Unable to obtain visas for her children, she returned illegally to Czechoslovakia and walked her children back over the mountains to Poland. From there they flew to Denmark with forged papers, then to London. [196]

In 1957 Vrba became aware, when he read Gerald Reitlinger's The Final Solution (1953), that the Vrba–Wetzler report had been distributed and had saved lives he had heard something about this in or around 1951, but Reitlinger's book was the first confirmation. [197] The following year he received an invitation to an international conference in Israel, and while there, he defected. [188] For the next two years, he worked at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. [198] [191] He later said that he had been unable to continue living in Israel because the same men who had, in his view, betrayed the Jewish community in Hungary were now in positions of power there. [188] In 1960 he moved to England, where he worked for two years in the Neuropsychiatric Research Unit in Carshalton, Surrey, and seven years for the Medical Research Council. [199] He became a British subject by naturalization on 4 August 1966. [200]

Trial of Adolf Eichmann Edit

On 11 May 1960 Adolf Eichmann was captured by the Mossad in Buenos Aires and taken to Jerusalem to stand trial. (He was sentenced to death in December 1961.) Vrba was not called to testify because the Israeli Attorney General had apparently wanted to save the expense. [201] Because Auschwitz was in the news, Vrba contacted the Daily Herald in London, [202] and one of their reporters, Alan Bestic, wrote up his story, which was published in five installments over one week, beginning on 27 February 1961 with the headline "I Warned the World of Eichmann's Murders." [202] In July 1961 Vrba submitted an affidavit to the Israeli Embassy in London, stating that, in his view, 2.5 million had died in Auschwitz, plus or minus 10 percent. [203]

Trial of Robert Mulka, book publication Edit

Vrba testified against Robert Mulka of the SS at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, telling the court that he had seen Mulka on the Judenrampe at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The court found that Vrba "made an excellent and intelligent impression" and would have been particularly observant at the time because he was planning to escape. It ruled that Mulka had indeed been on the ramp, and sentenced him to 14 years in prison. [204]

Following the Herald articles, Bestic helped to write Vrba's memoir, I Cannot Forgive (1963), also published as Factory of Death (1964). Bestic's writing style was criticized reviewing the book, Mervyn Jones wrote in 1964 that it has the flavour of "the juicy bit on page 63". [205] Erich Kulka criticized the book in 1985 for minimizing the role played by the other three escapees (Wetzler, Mordowicz and Rosin) Kulka also disagreed with Vrba regarding his criticism of Zionists, the Slovak Jewish Council, and Israel's first president. [206] The book was published in German (1964), French (1988), Dutch (1996), Czech (1998) and Hebrew (1998). [191] [207] It was republished in English in 1989 as 44070: The Conspiracy of the Twentieth Century and in 2002 as I Escaped from Auschwitz. [208]

Move to Canada, Claude Lanzmann interview Edit

Vrba moved to Canada in 1967, where he worked for the Medical Research Council of Canada from 1967 to 1973, [191] becoming a Canadian citizen in 1972. From 1973 to 1975 he was a research fellow at Harvard Medical School, where he met his second wife, Robin Vrba, [209] originally from Fall River, Massachusetts. [210] They married in 1975 and returned to Vancouver, where she became a real-estate agent and he an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of British Columbia. He worked there until the early 1990s, publishing over 50 research papers on brain chemistry, diabetes, and cancer. [209]

Claude Lanzmann interviewed Vrba in November 1978, in New York's Central Park, for Lanzmann's nine-and-a-half-hour documentary on the Holocaust, Shoah (1985) the interview is available on the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHHM). [211] The film was first shown in October 1985 at the Cinema Studio in New York. [212] A quote from Vrba's interview is inscribed on a USHMM exhibit:

Constantly, people from the heart of Europe were disappearing, and they were arriving to the same place with the same ignorance of the fate of the previous transport. I knew . that within a couple of hours after they arrived there, ninety percent would be gassed. [213]

Trial of Ernst Zündel Edit

Vrba testified in January 1985, along with Raul Hilberg, at the seven-week trial in Toronto of the German Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel. [214] Zündel's lawyer, Doug Christie, tried to undermine Vrba (and three other survivors) by requesting ever more detailed descriptions, then presenting any discrepancy as significant. According to Lawrence Douglas, when Vrba said he had watched bodies burn in a pit, Christie asked how deep the pit had been when Vrba described an SS officer climbing onto the roof of a gas chamber, Christie asked about the height and angle. [215] When Vrba told Christie he was not willing to discuss his book unless the jury had read it, the judge reminded him not to give orders. [216]

Christie argued that Vrba's knowledge of the gas chambers was secondhand. [217] According to Vrba's deposition for Adolf Eichmann's trial in 1961, [203] he obtained information about the gas chambers from Sonderkommando Filip Müller and others who worked there, something that Müller confirmed in 1979. [127] Christie asked whether he had seen anyone gassed. Vrba replied that he had watched people being taken into the buildings and had seen SS officers throw in gas canisters after them: "Therefore, I concluded it was not a kitchen or a bakery, but it was a gas chamber. It is possible they are still there or that there is a tunnel and they are now in China. Otherwise, they were gassed." [218] The trial ended with Zündel's conviction for knowingly publishing false material about the Holocaust. [219] [214] In R v Zundel (1992), the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Zundel's appeal on free-speech grounds. [220]

Meeting with George Klein Edit

In 1987 the Swedish–Hungarian biochemist George Klein travelled to Vancouver to thank Vrba he had read the Vrba–Wetzler report in 1944 as a teenager in Budapest and escaped because of it. He wrote about the meeting in an essay, "The Ultimate Fear of the Traveler Returning from Hell", for his book Pietà (1992). [221] The traveller's ultimate fear, English scholar Elana Gomel wrote in 2003, was that he had seen Hell but would not be believed in this case, the traveller knows something that "cannot be put into any human language". [222]

Despite the significant influence Vrba had on Klein's life, Klein's first sight of Vrba was the latter's interview in Shoah in 1985. He disagreed with Vrba's allegations about Kastner Klein had seen Kastner at work in the Jewish Council offices in Budapest, where Klein had worked as a secretary, and he viewed Kastner as a hero. He told Vrba how he had tried himself, in the spring of 1944, to convince others in Budapest of the Vrba–Wetzler report's veracity, but no one had believed him, which inclined him to the view that Vrba was wrong to argue that the Jews would have acted had they known about the death camps. Vrba said that Klein's experience illustrated his point: distributing the report via informal channels had lent it no authority. [223]

Klein asked Vrba how he could function in the pleasant, provincial atmosphere of the University of British Columbia, where no one had any concept of what he had been through. Vrba told him about a colleague who had seen him in Lanzmann's film and asked whether what the film had discussed was true. Vrba replied: "I do not know. I was only an actor reciting my lines." "How strange," the colleague replied. "I didn't know that you were an actor. Why did they say that film was made without any actors?" [224] Klein wrote:

Only now did I understand that this was the same man who lay quiet and motionless for three days in the hollow pile of lumber while Auschwitz was on maximum alert, only a few yards from the armed SS men and their dogs combing the area so thoroughly. If he could do that, then he certainly could also don the mask of a professor and manage everyday conversation with his colleagues in Vancouver, Canada, that paradise land that is never fully appreciated by its own citizens, a people without the slightest notion of the planet Auschwitz. [225]

Death Edit

Vrba's fellow escapee, Alfréd Wetzler, died in Bratislava, Slovakia, on 8 February 1988. Wetzler was the author of Escape From Hell: The True Story of the Auschwitz Protocol (2007), first published as Čo Dante nevidel (lit. "What Dante didn't see", 1963) under the pseudonym Jozef Lánik.

Vrba died of cancer, aged 81, on 27 March 2006 in hospital in Vancouver. [209] He was survived by his first wife, Gerta Vrbová his second wife, Robin Vrba his daughter, Zuza Vrbová Jackson and his grandchildren, Hannah and Jan. [188] [199] [209] He was pre-deceased by his elder daughter, Dr. Helena Vrbová, who died in 1982 in Papua New Guinea during a malaria research project. [193] Robin Vrba made a gift of Vrba's papers to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in New York. [226]

Documentaries, books, annual walk Edit

Several documentaries have told Vrba's story, including Genocide (1973), directed by Michael Darlow for ITV in the UK Auschwitz and the Allies (1982), directed by Rex Bloomstein and Martin Gilbert for the BBC and Claude Lanzmann's Shoah. Vrba was also featured in Witness to Auschwitz (1990), directed by Robin Taylor for the CBC in Canada Auschwitz: The Great Escape (2007) for the UK's Channel Five and Escape From Auschwitz (2008) for PBS in the United States. George Klein, the Hungarian-Swedish biologist who read the Vrba–Wetzler report in Budapest as a teenager, and who escaped rather than board a train to Auschwitz, wrote about Vrba in his book Pietà (MIT Press, 1992). [221]

In 2001 Mary Robinson, then United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Vaclav Havel, then President of the Czech Republic, established the "Rudy Vrba Award" for films in the "right to know" category about unknown heroes. [199] [227] In 2014 the Vrba–Weztler Memorial began organizing an annual 130-km, five-day walk from the "Mexico" section of Auschwitz, where the men hid for three days, to Žilina, Slovakia, following the route they took. [228] In January 2020 a PBS film Secrets of the Dead: Bombing Auschwitz presented a reconstruction of Vrba's escape, with David Moorst as Vrba and Michael Fox as Wetzler. [229]

Scholarship Edit

Vrba's place in Holocaust historiography was the focus of Ruth Linn's Escaping Auschwitz: A Culture of Forgetting (Cornell University Press, 2004). The Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies at the City University of New York held an academic conference in April 2011 to discuss the Vrba–Wetzler and other Auschwitz reports, resulting in a book, The Auschwitz Reports and the Holocaust in Hungary (Columbia University Press, 2011), edited by Randolph L. Braham and William vanden Heuvel. [226] In 2014 the British historian Michael Fleming reappraised the impact of the Vrba–Wetzler report in Auschwitz, the Allies and Censorship of the Holocaust (Cambridge University Press, 2014). [230]

Awards Edit

The University of Haifa awarded Vrba an honorary doctorate in 1998 at the instigation of Ruth Linn, [207] with support from Yehuda Bauer. [231] For having fought during the Slovak National Uprising, Vrba was awarded the Czechoslovak Medal for Bravery, the Order of Slovak National Insurrection (Class 2), and the Medal of Honor of Czechoslovak Partisans. [232] In 2007 he received the Order of the White Double Cross, 1st class, from the Slovak government. [233]

British historian Martin Gilbert supported an unsuccessful campaign in 1992 to have Vrba awarded the Order of Canada. The campaign was supported by Irwin Cotler, the former Attorney General of Canada, who at the time was a professor of law at McGill University. [e] Similarly, Bauer proposed unsuccessfully that Vrba be awarded an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University. [231]

About Hungarian Jews Edit

Vrba stated that warning the Hungarian community was one of the motives for his escape. His statement to that effect was first published on 27 February 1961, in the first installment of a five-article series about Vrba by a journalist, Alan Bestic, for the Daily Herald in England. In the second installment the next day, Vrba described having overheard the SS say they were looking forward to Hungarian salami, a reference to the provisions Hungarian Jews were likely to carry. [235] Vrba said that in January 1944 a kapo had told him the Germans were building a new railway line to bring the Jews of Hungary directly into Auschwitz II. [236]

The Czech historian Miroslav Kárný noted that there is no mention of Hungarian Jews in the Vrba–Wetzler report. [237] Randolph L. Braham also questioned Vrba's later recollections. [238] The Vrba–Wetzler report said only that Greek Jews were expected: "When we left on April 7, 1944 we heard that large convoys of Greek Jews were expected." [239] It also said: "Work is now proceeding on a still larger compound which is to be added later on to the already existing camp. The purpose of this extensive planning is not known to us." [240]

In 1946 Dr. Oskar Neumann, head of the Jewish Council in Slovakia, whose interviews with Vrba and Wetzler in April 1944 helped to form the Vrba–Wetzler report, wrote in his memoir Im Schatten des Todes (published in 1956) [241] that the men had indeed mentioned Hungarian salami to him during the interviews: "These chaps did also report that recently an enormous construction activity had been initiated in the camp and very recently the SS often spoke about looking forward to the arrival of Hungarian salami." [f] Vrba wrote that the original Slovak version of the Vrba–Wetzler report, some of which he wrote by hand, may have referred to the imminent Hungarian deportations. That version of the report did not survive it was the German translation that was copied. Vrba had argued strongly for the inclusion of the Hungarian deportations, he wrote, but he recalled Oskar Krasniansky, who translated the report into German, saying that only actual deaths should be recorded, not speculation. He could not recall which argument prevailed. [245] Alfred Wetzler's memoirs, Escape from Hell (2007), also say that he and Vrba told the Slovakian Jewish Council about the new ramp, the expectation of half a million Hungarian Jews, and the mention of Hungarian salami. [246]

Attorney-General v. Gruenwald Edit

It was a source of distress to Vrba for the rest of his life that the Vrba–Wetzler report had not been distributed widely until June–July 1944, weeks after his escape in April. Between 15 May and 7 July 1944, 437,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz, most killed on arrival. [247] In his view, the deportees boarded the trains in the belief they were being sent to some kind of Jewish reservation. [248]

Arguing that the deportees would have fought or run had they known the truth, or at least that panic would have slowed the transports, Vrba alleged that Rudolf Kastner of the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee (who had a copy of the Vrba–Wetzler report by 3 May 1944 at the latest) had held back the report to avoid jeopardizing complex, and mostly futile, negotiations with Adolf Eichmann and other SS officers to exchange Jews for money and goods. [249] In taking part in these negotiations, Vrba argued, the SS was simply placating the Jewish leadership to avoid rebellion within the community. [250]

In I Cannot Forgive (1963), Vrba drew attention to the 1954 trial in Jerusalem of Malchiel Gruenwald, a Hungarian Jew living in Israel. [251] In 1952 Gruenwald accused Rudolf Kastner, who had become a civil servant in Israel, of having collaborated with the SS so that he could escape from Hungary with a select few, including his family. [252] Kastner had bribed the SS to allow over 1,600 Jews to leave Hungary for Switzerland on the Kastner train in June 1944, and he had testified on behalf of leading SS officers, including Kurt Becher, at the Nuremberg trials. [g]

Vrba agreed with Gruenwald's criticism of Kastner. In Attorney-General of the Government of Israel v. Malchiel Gruenwald, the Israeli government sued Gruenwald for libel on Kastner's behalf. In June 1955, Judge Benjamin Halevi decided mostly in Gruenwald's favour, ruling that Kastner had "sold his soul to the devil". [254] "Masses of ghetto Jews boarded the deportation trains in total obedience," Halevi wrote, "ignorant of the real destination and trusting the false declaration that they were being transferred to work camps in Hungary." The Kastner train had been a pay-off, the judge said, and the protection of certain Jews had been "an inseparable part of the maneuvers in the 'psychological war' to destroy the Jews". Kastner was assassinated in Tel Aviv in March 1957 the verdict was partly overturned by the Supreme Court of Israel in 1958. [255]

Criticism of Jewish Councils Edit

In addition to blaming Kastner and the Hungarian Aid and Rescue Committee for having failed to distribute the Vrba–Wetzler report, Vrba criticized the Slovakian Jewish Council for having failed to resist the deportation of Jews from Slovakia in 1942. When he was deported from Slovakia to the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland in June that year, the Jewish Council had known, he alleged, that Jews were being killed in Poland, but they did nothing to warn the community and even assisted by drawing up lists of names. [256] He referred to Jewish leaders in Slovakia and Hungary as "quislings" who were essential to the smooth running of the deportations: "The creation of Quislings, voluntary or otherwise, was, in fact, an important feature of Nazi policy" in every occupied country, in his view. [257]

The Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer argued that while the Council knew that being sent to Poland meant severe danger for Jews, at that stage they did not know about the Final Solution [256] It is true, Bauer wrote, that Jewish Council members, under Karol Hochberg, head of the council's "department for special tasks", had worked with the SS, offering secretarial and technical help to draw up lists of Jews to be deported (lists supplied by the Slovak government). But other members of the Jewish Council warned Jews to flee and later formed a resistance, the Working Group, which in December 1943 took over the Jewish Council, with Oskar Neumann (the lawyer who helped to organize the Vrba–Wetzler report) as its leader. [258] Vrba did not accept Bauer's distinctions. [257]

Responses Edit

Vrba's position that the Jewish leadership in Hungary and Slovakia betrayed their communities was supported by the Anglo-Canadian historian John S. Conway, a colleague of his at the University of British Columbia, who from 1979 wrote a series of papers in defence of Vrba's views. [259] In 1996 Vrba repeated the allegations in an article, "Die mißachtete Warnung: Betrachtungen über den Auschwitz-Bericht von 1944" ("The warning that was ignored: Considerations of an Auschwitz report from 1944") in Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, [260] to which the Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer responded in 1997 in the same journal. [261] Bauer responded to Conway in 2006. [262]

In Bauer's opinion, Vrba's "wild attacks on Kastner and on the Slovak underground are all a-historical and simply wrong from the start", although he acknowledged that many survivors share Vrba's view. [231] By the time the Vrba–Wetzler report had been prepared, Bauer argued, it was too late for anything to alter the Nazis' deportation plans. [263] Bauer expressed the view that Hungarian Jews knew about the mass murder in Poland even if they did not know the particulars and if they had seen the Vrba–Wetzler report, they would have been forced onto the trains anyway. [264] In response, Vrba alleged that Bauer was one of the Israeli historians who, in defence of the Israeli establishment, had downplayed Vrba's place in Holocaust historiography. [265]

The British historian Michael Fleming argued in 2014 against the view that Hungarian Jews had sufficient access to information. After the German invasion of Hungary in March 1944, the British government's Political Warfare Executive (PWE) directed the BBC's Hungarian Service to run Allied warnings to the Hungarian government that "racial persecution will be regarded as a war crime". [266] But on 13 April the PWE decided against broadcasting warnings directly to Hungarian Jews on the grounds that it would "cause unnecessary alarm" and that "they must in any case be only too well-informed of the measures that may be taken against them". [267] [h] Fleming writes that this was a mistake: the Germans had tricked the Jewish community into thinking they were being sent to Poland to work. [267] The first mention of extermination camps in the PWE's directives to the BBC's Hungarian Service came on 8 June 1944. [270]

Randolph L. Braham, a specialist in the Holocaust in Hungary, agreed that Hungarian Jewish leaders did not keep the Jewish communities informed or take "any meaningful precautionary measures" to deal with the consequences of a German invasion. He called this "one of the great tragedies of the era". [i] Nevertheless, it remains true, he argued, that by the time the Vrba–Wetzler report was available, the Jews of Hungary were in a helpless state: "marked, hermetically isolated, and expropriated". In northeastern Hungary and Carpatho-Ruthenia, the women, children and elderly were living in crowded ghettos, in unsanitary conditions and with little food, while the younger men were in military service in Serbia and the Ukraine. There was nothing they could have done to resist, he wrote, even if they had known about the report. [272]

Vrba was criticized in 2001 in a collection of articles in Hebrew, Leadership under Duress: The Working Group in Slovakia, 1942–1944, by a group of Israeli activists and historians, including Bauer, with ties to the Slovak community. The introduction, written by a survivor, refers to the "bunch of mockers, pseudo-historians and historians" who argue that the Bratislava Working Group collaborated with the SS, a "baseless" allegation that ignores the constraints under which the Jews in Slovakia and Hungary were living. Vrba (referred to as "Peter Vrba") is described as "the head of these mockers", although the introduction makes clear that his heroism is "beyond doubt". It concludes: "We, Czechoslovakian descendants, who personally experienced [the war] cannot remain silent in face of these false accusations." [273]

Vrba's place in Holocaust historiography Edit

In Vrba's view, Israeli historians tried to erase his name from Holocaust historiography because of his views about Kastner and the Hungarian and Slovak Jewish Councils, some of whom went on to hold prominent positions in Israel. When Ruth Linn first tried to visit Vrba in British Columbia, he practically "chased her out of his office", according to Uri Dromi in Haaretz, saying he had no interest in "your state of the Judenrats and Kastners". [207]

Linn wrote in her book about Vrba, Escaping Auschwitz: A Culture of Forgetting (2004), that Vrba's and Wetzler's names had been omitted from Hebrew textbooks or their contribution minimized: standard histories refer to the escape by "two young Slovak Jews", "two chaps", and "two young men", and represent them as emissaries of the Polish underground in Auschwitz. [274] Dr. Oskar Neumann of the Slovak Jewish Council referred to them in his memoir as "these chaps" Oskar Krasniansky, who translated the Vrba–Wetzler report into German, mentioned them only as "two young people" in his deposition for the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961. There was also a tendency to refer to the Vrba–Wetzler report as the Auschwitz Protocols, which is a combination of the Vrba–Wetzler and two other reports. The 1990 edition of the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, published by Yad Vashem in Israel, did name Vrba and Wetzler, but in the 2001 edition they are "two Jewish prisoners". [275]

Vrba's memoir was not translated into Hebrew until 1998, 35 years after its publication in English. As of that year, there was no English or Hebrew version of the Vrba–Wetzler report at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, an issue the museum attributed to lack of funding. There was a Hungarian translation, but it did not note the names of its authors and, Linn wrote, could be found only in a file that dealt with Rudolf Kastner. [276] Linn herself, born and raised in Israel and schooled at the prestigious Hebrew Reali School, first learned about Vrba when she watched Claude Lanzmann's film Shoah (1985). [277] In 1998 she polled 594 students at the University of Haifa, either third-year undergraduates or first-year graduate students 98 percent said that no one had ever escaped from Auschwitz, and the remainder did not know the escapees' names. [278] This failure to acknowledge Vrba has played into the hands of Holocaust deniers, who have tried to undermine his testimony about the gas chambers. [279] [207]

In 2005 Uri Dromi of the Israel Democracy Institute responded that there were at least four Israeli books on the Holocaust that mention Vrba, and that Wetzler's testimony is recounted at length in Livia Rothkirchen's Hurban yahadut Slovakia ("The Destruction of Slovak Jewry"), published by Yad Vashem in 1961. [207]

Holocaust Edit

  • (1998). "Science and the Holocaust", Focus, University of Haifa (edited version of Vrba's speech when he received his honorary doctorate).
    • (1997). "The Preparations for the Holocaust In Hungary: An Eyewitness Account", in Randolph L. Braham, Attila Pok (eds.). The Holocaust in Hungary. Fifty years later. New York: Columbia University Press, 227–285.
    • (1998). "The Preparations for the Holocaust In Hungary: An Eyewitness Account", in Randolph L. Braham, Attila Pok (eds.). The Holocaust in Hungary. Fifty years later. New York: Columbia University Press, 227–285.
    • (1964) with Alan Bestic. Factory of Death. London: Transworld Publishers.
    • (1989) with Alan Bestic. 44070: The Conspiracy of the Twentieth Century. Bellingham, WA: Star & Cross Publishing House.
    • (2002). I Escaped from Auschwitz. London: Robson Books.

    Academic research Edit

    • (1975) with E. Alpert K. J. Isselbacher. "Carcinoembryonic antigen: evidence for multiple antigenic determinants and isoantigens". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 72(11), November 1975, 4602–4606. 53843PMC388771
    • (1974) with A. Winter L. N. Epps. "Assimilation of glucose carbon in vivo by salivary gland and tumor". American Journal of Physiology, 226(6), June 1974, 1424–1427.
    • (1972) with A. Winter. "Movement of (U- 14 C)glucose carbon into and subsequent release from lipids and high-molecular-weight constituents of rat brain, liver, and heart in vivo". Canadian Journal of Biochemistry, 50(1), January 1972, 91–105. 5059675
    • (1970) with Wendy Cannon. "Molecular weights and metabolism of rat brain proteins". Biochemical Journal, 116(4), February 1970, 745–753. 5435499PMC1185420
    • (1968) with Wendy Cannon. "Gel filtration of [U-14C]glucose-labelled high-speed supernatants of rat brains". Journal of Biochemistry, 109(3), September 1968, 30P. 5685853PMC1186863
    • (1967). "Assimilation of glucose carbon in subcellular rat brain particles in vivo and the problems of axoplasmic flow". Journal of Biochemistry, 105(3), December 1967, 927–936. 16742567PMC1198409
    • (1966). "Effects of insulin-induced hypoglycaemia on the fate of glucose carbon atoms in the mouse". Journal of Biochemistry, 99(2), May 1966, 367–380. 5944244PMC265005
    • (1964). "Utilization of glucose carbon in vivo in the mouse". Nature, 202, 18 April 1964, 247–249. 14167775
    • (1963) with H. S. Bachelard J. Krawcynski. "Interrelationship between glucose utilization of brain and heart". Nature, 197, 2 March 1963, 869–870. 13998012
    • (1962) with H. S. Bachelard, et al. "Effect of reserpine on the heart". The Lancet, 2(7269), 22 December 1962, 1330–1331. 13965902
    • (1962) with M. K. Gaitonde D. Richter. "The conversion of the glucose carbon into protein in the brain and other organs of the rat". Journal of Neurochemistry, 9(5), September 1962, 465–475. doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.1962.tb04199.x13998013
    • (1962). "Glucose metabolism in rat brain in vivo". Nature, 195 (4842), August 1962, 663–665. doi:10.1038/195663a013926895
    • (1961) with Kunjlata Kothary. "The release of ammonia from rat brain proteins during acid hydrolysis". Journal of Neurochemistry, 8(1), October 1961, 65–71. doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.1961.tb13527.x
    • (1959) with Jaroslava Folbergrova. "Observations on endogenous metabolism in brain in vitro and in vivo". Journal of Neurochemistry 4(4), October 1959, 338–349. doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.1959.tb13215.x
    • (1958) with Jaroslava Folbergrova. "Endogenous Metabolism in Brain Cortex Slices". Nature, 182, 26 July 1958, 237–238. doi:10.1038/182237a0
    • (1957) with Jaroslava Folbergrova V. Kanturek. "Ammonia Formation in Brain Cortex Slices". Nature, 179(4557), March 1957, 470–471. doi:10.1038/179470a013577795
    • (1956). "On the participation of ammonia in cerebral metabolism and function". Review of Czechoslovak Medicine, 3(2), 81–106. 13466187
    • (1955). "Significance of glutamic acid in metabolic processes in the rat brain during physical exercise". Nature, 176(4496), 31 December 1955, 1258–1261. 13321878
    • (1955). "A source of ammonia and changes of protein structure in the rat brain during physical exertion". Nature, 176(4472), 16 July 1955, 117–118. 13244627
    • (1955). "Effect of physical stress on metabolic function of the brain. III. Formation of ammonia and structure of proteins in the brain". Chekhoslovatskaia Fiziologila., 4(4), 397–408 (in German). 13330105
    • (1954) with Arnošt Kleinzeller Jiři Málek. Manometrické metody a jejich použití v biologii a biochemii. Prague: Státní Zdravotnické Nakladatelství ("State Health Publishing").

    Notes Edit

    1. ^ The British historian Michael Fleming tracked over 40 pieces of source data from November 1942 to early July 1944 about the Jews in Auschwitz, which produced 50 distinct pieces of distributed data, such as news reports. [5]

    Braham (2011): "[F]rom May 15 through July 9 [1944], close to 440,000 of the Jews of Hungary were deported to Auschwitz–Birkenau, where most of them were murdered soon after their arrival. By July 9, when Horthy's decision to halt the deportations took effect and Raoul Wallenberg arrived on his rescue mission, all of Hungary (with the notable exception of Budapest) had become judenrein." [15]

    Raul Hilberg ("The Development of Holocaust Research", 2004): "Take another taboo: Jewish Councils. In Israel, a publisher in Tel Aviv had in his possession a memoir, four hundred pages long, written by Oskar Neumann [Im Schatten des Todes]. The only such memoir that exists—to my knowledge—of one of the chiefs of the Slovak Judenrat, the Ústredňa Židov. That book was published in German. It was published in Hebrew. But never in English. English-language publishers refused the request to translate and publish this book. [244] </ref>

    Citations Edit

    1. ^ abcŚwiebocki 2002, 24–42, 169–274.
    2. ^Hilberg 2003b, 1213.
    3. ^ Ritchie, Méabh (22 January 2015). "The man who revealed the horror of Auschwitz to the world". The Daily Telegraph.

    "Rudolf Vrba Memorial Lecture 2014", University of British Columbia, 21 March 2014.

    For Krasniansky preparing it in German and Steiner typing it up, also see Braham 2016b, 961, citing "Statement by Krasznyansky. The Hebrew University. The Institute of Contemporary Jewry. Oral History Division, Catalog No. 3, 1970, p. 120, No. 410 S.E., Protocol in Czech, pp. 10 and 13."

    Crider, John (26 November 1944). "U.S. Board Bares Atrocity Details Told by Witnesses at Polish Camps". The New York Times, 1.

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      Just a little history, the 1942 train wreck

      A crack Seaboard passenger train, speeding Southward at more than 50 miles per hour, plowed into a Staudt’s Bakery truck near Wake Forest yesterday morning and instantly killed the driver, Merrill M. Reynolds, of 201 Ashe Avenue. (Near Wake Forest means it happened at the Brick Street crossing in the Royal Cotton Mill village which was a separate town.)

      The train, No. 191, “The New York-Florida Limited,” ripped the truck into two parts and strewed wreckage for 2,900 feet before steel parts of the truck, caught under the pilot wheels of the locomotive, capsized it in the middle of Wake Forest. Two cars left the tracks. A bread box was hurled 100 feet from the crossing at the Royal Cotton Mills and landed on top of a telephone pole. At the scene of the derailment, rails were twisted into “S’s” and a cross tie was thrust through the floor of an express car. It was the sixth grade crossing fatality near Wake Forest in the last 10 years and opened a new year for highway slaughter in Wake County.

      C.L. Byrd of Raleigh, engineer, and E.D. Crossin of Norlina, Negro fireman, remained on the engine until it over turned. They escaped injury by closing steam valves and clinging to the upper side of the engine cab.

      More than 500 feet of twisted tracks were repaired by 4:45 yesterday afternoon, a little over seven hours after the accident. Passengers on the train, a few of whom received light scratches, were taken back to Henderson and routed southward on a branch line to Apex.

      Reynolds was killed by gashes in his head before he was pulled from the burning cab of his truck, which had been knocked about 50 feet down the tracks from the crossing. The train hit the center of the truck and carried part of the wreckage all the way into Wake Forest. It stopped just a few inches from Hardwicke’s Pharmacy, which in 1928 was rammed in a similar accident. (The engine was on its side within inches of the three-story brick building now occupied by Sweeties candy shop.)

      (The following information was added later. Until the Underpass was built in 1937 Wait Avenue crossed the two tracks at the top of the hill and ended at the entrance to the college campus. The entrance was relocated after the Underpass was complete.)

      Wake Forest grade crossings have a grim history. In the 1928 accident in which the drug store was smashed, Charlie Lyman of near Wake Forest was killed. In 1931, John Caddell Jr. and Robert Garner, both of Wake Forest, were killed when a train crashed into a school bus. Cecil Warren of Wake Forest was killed in a crash in 1936 and Grofton Carter of Walnut Grove in 1937.

      (Added by the editor.) In 1938 Benjamin Thomas Hicks was killed at the Walnut Avenue crossing (now closed) because Hicks, who was deaf, was watching three or four low-flying airplanes and did not hear the train approaching. Hicks had built most of the houses in the mill village, several along North Main Street and was called in to solve the question of how to build the dome in the Wake Forest Baptist Church.

      1938 was Benjamin Thomas Hicks killed at Walnut Avenue crossing.

      A beloved nursery school teacher (Readers, please help me with the name.) was killed at the East Sycamore crossing, now closed. Young Jamie King was struck and killed while trying to cross the switching area just south of the Underpass when one of his feet was caught. The last fatality occurred in the 1980s when a man was killed trying to cross at East Holding Avenue.

      Comments

      I feel this type of story is very interesting about the past history of wake forest and look forward to more stories like this.


      The Mystery of Christmas Island, March 1942

      The Christmas Island (135 sq km) is a lonely mountainous island in the Indian Ocean, south of Java Island (Indonesia) and it was incorporated into the Strait Settlements in 1900. It was important due to large deposits of phosphate of lime, which is worked by a British firm whose employees form the entire population on the island of 1,000 (circa 1935). Today is the territory of Australia and it has approximately 2000 inhabitants, most of them being of Chinese origin.

      Despite its size, was considered strategically important because its geographical position made it, a key point for observation of sea traffic between India and Australia. And with plans already prepared by the Imperial Japanese Navy for operations in the Indian Ocean, its occupation attained even greater significance.

      At the beginning of March, 1942, the Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery Detachment on Christmas Island consisted of 1 British Officer (Captain Leonard W.T. Williams), 4 British N.C.O's (Sergeants Cross and Giles, Gunners Tait and Thurgood) and 27 Indian soldiers. Captain Williams was in command and, in view of the military situation at that time, was also in administrative charge of the island with Mr. T.P. Cromwell, the District Officer, as adviser. There was in addition Sikh policemen and some European civilians on the island at the time.

      When a passing Japanese naval force shelled the island on 7th March, 1942, it was decided that any attempt at serious resistance was purposeless and the white flag was raised. The Japanese, however, did not land on this occasion, but nevertheless, on Captain William's orders the 6-inch gun manned by the detachment was dismantled and all small arms were withdrawn and locked up in the guardroom of the fort together with other weapons collected from the Sikh policemen and civilian residents. The keys of the guardroom were entrusted to the No.1 of the Watch, a duty performed alternately by the two most senior Indian N.C.O's, Hav. Meher Ali and Nk. Ghulam Qadir.

      On 9th March, 1942, Captain Williams ordered the Union Jack to be re-hoisted in place of the white flag and the 6-inch gun was reassembled at the same time the small arms and ammunition remained locked up in the guardroom.

      On the night of 10th March, 1942, Captain Leonard Williams and the four British N.C.O's held a party to which several European residents were invited. The party ended at about 23.30 hours. In the early hours of the following morning Captain Williams and the four British N.C.O's were attacked without warning as they lay asleep in their quarters. All five were killed there and then, their bodies were thrown down a passage, used for the disposal of rubbish, into the sea. Afterwards all Europeans on the island, including the district officer, who governed it, were lined up by the Indians and told they were going to be shot. But after a long discussion between the district officer and the leaders of the mutineers the executions were postponed and the Europeans were confined under armed guard in the district officer's house.

      Upon completion of the occupation of Java, Imperial General Headquarters, issued orders on 14 March directing Commander-in-Chief, Combined Fleet, to occupy the island. In turn, the 2nd Southern Expeditionary Fleet organized an occupation force under command of Rear-Admiral Shoji Nishimura, Commander of the 4th Destroyer Squadron, consisting of light cruisers Natori and Naka, the 9th Destroyer Division (destroyers Asagumo, Natsugumo, Minegumo, Yamagumo), a detachment of 20 men from 21st Special Base Force, who were to serve as an occupation force, and two transport ships for carrying of phosphate. This force departed Bantam Bay, Java Island, at 1900 on 29 March 1942. Two days later, on the 31st March 1942 at 0945, landed on the island about 850 Japanese officers and enlisted men of the 21st and 24th Special Base Forces and 102nd Construction Unit and occupied the island. The landing was unopposed as the British-Indian garrison indicated its intention of surrendering by hoisting a white flag at the first sight of the invasion force.

      The island was rich with phospahates, but it was too small and rocky to built a port or an airstrip on it. Early in April 1942 a Japanese light cruiser Natori returned to Christmas Island to gather up the troops and the remaining ships. All elements, with the exception of the twenty-men garrison detachment had returned to Bantam Bay by 3 April 1942. All that the Japanese had gained was was the phosphate rock which was loaded on the transport ships.

      After the war 7 mutineers were traced and prosecuted by the Military Court in Singapore, and in 1947 five were sentenced to death. However, when the governments of India and Pakistan made representations against the sentences, the men were given penal servitude for life.


      Order of battle for Japanese Army
      Christmas Island ("X" Operation)
      Guard Force
      Transport Group consisted of two transport ships Kimishima Maru (5,193t) and Kumagawa Maru (6,774t), carrying 850 officers and enlisted men of the 21st and 24th Special Base Forces and 102nd Construction Unit.
      They were escorted by:
      • Destroyer Squadron 4
      light cruiser Naka
      • 16th Cruiser Division
      cruisers- Nagara, Natori
      • 9th Destroyer Division, first section
      destroyers- Natsugumo, Minegumo
      • 22nd Destroyer Division
      destroyers- Satsuki, Minazuki, Fumitsuki, Nagatsuki (escort for cruiser Naka)
      • Patrol Boat Squadron 1
      patrol boats- P-34, P-36
      Main Unit
      • 16th Destroyer Division, second section
      destroyers- Amatsukaze, Hatsukaze
      • Fuel Group
      tanker Akebono Maru (10,182t)


      Click here for short biography of Captain Leonard W.T. Williams:



      Note Amatsukaze was originally intended to be unattached unit, but added to Hatsukaze when it became clear she would be sitting at Tandjong Priok (port of Batavia).

      Note The information is taken from official British Records taken at the trial of seven of the mutineers in Singapore after the war.


      On the Cultural Front

      From New International, Vol. VIII No. 2, March 1942, p.㺢.
      Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

      James T. Farrell, in the January–February issue of Partisan Review, wrote:

      “Many lines of cultural life are now coalescing. Just as the government is becoming the main customer for the products of heavy industry, it is also becoming, more and more, a major employee of intellectuals, artists and writers. (Parenthetically and apropos of the managerial revolution, it is clear that to date the only trust that the government had really been able to control is ‘the brain trust.’) Because of the economic plight of writers, government institutions, political movements, and commerce provide many of them with the sole means of making a living. Thus the New Deal, Hollywood, the Stalinist movement play such important rôles in the cultural life of America. The result of this tendency has been restrictions on artistic production and on thought. Now, with the world crisis becoming more increasingly severe, an ideology to justify this process is in a state of formation. Even the sordid purchase and misuse of talent will be justified, not as an unpleasant necessity, but as something good, progressive, a means of furthering culture.”


      How social media spread a historical lie

      Earlier this month, a hashtag made its way across Twitter: “#triggeraliberalin4words.”

      Kambree Kawahine Koa, whose bio identifies her as a “political news contributor,” scored big with her offering, which garnered almost 10,000 likes and close to 1,000 replies. “The Democrats created KKK,” she tweeted over a photo of a Klan march captioned: “This photo was taken at the 1924 Democratic Convention. It was known as the ‘Klanbake’ (just in case you want to Google it).”

      The only problem? There was no Klan march at the 1924 Democratic convention — the photo was actually taken in Wisconsin — nor was the convention ever actually known as the “Klanbake.”

      The convention was indeed infamous for taking 103 ballots and more than two weeks to nominate a presidential candidate, John W. Davis. Delegates wrangled over a host of contentious issues, the Klan among them.

      But it has more recently become ground zero in an online campaign to misrepresent the Democratic Party’s history as uniquely tainted by racism. The noxious nickname — “The Klanbake” — has become, however misguidedly, an online shorthand used to sum up everything the right hates about the Democrats, most especially hypocrisy. (“#klanbake. That is all,” read one recent tweet in response to the suggestion that contemporary gun owners are overwhelmingly white.)

      The truth about the complicated racial legacies of both parties — and the Klan’s influence on them in 1924 — has been perniciously contorted by activists deploying digital tricks, abetted (often unwittingly) by good-faith actors such as academics, journalists and volunteer Wikipedia editors. What’s left is a fake historical “fact” that has been “verified” by powerful digital properties such as Google, Facebook, Wikipedia and various online publishers without being true. Which reflects one actual truth: Now, not only can partisans and malicious actors manufacture fake news, but they can falsify history as well.

      A Quick Refresher on 1924

      The original Ku Klux Klan was founded after the Civil War to terrorize the formerly enslaved and push back against efforts to create a multiracial America. What historians call the Second Ku Klux Klan launched in 1915 and reached the apex of its power in the mid-1920s, when it exerted deep cultural and political influence around the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights nonprofit that tracks hate groups, estimates that the Klan had up to 4 million active members in the United States at its apex, about 5 percent of the adult population.

      Klansmen were influential inside both major parties, pushing racism, nativism, Prohibition and especially anti-Catholicism. In the South, Jim Crow-supporting Democrats made a natural fit for the KKK. But in Midwestern industrial towns full of immigrant Catholics and Jews who voted Democratic, the Klan took root largely among Republicans. The Klan was Democratic in Oregon and Republican in Indiana — two of its biggest strongholds. By the end of the decade, the organization, whose membership remained semi-secret, claimed 11 governors, 16 senators and as many as 75 congressmen —roughly split between Republicans and Democrats.


      15 March 1942 - History

      The greatest forced migration in American history was getting under way today.

      Along the entire Pacific Coast, and from the southern half of Arizona, some 120,000 enemy aliens and American- born Japanese were moving, or preparing to move, to areas in which the threat of possible espionage, sabotage or fifth column activities would be minimized.

      None of the Japanese had actual orders to get out of the coastal military area designated yesterday by Lieut. Gen. John L. DeWitt, Western defense and Fourth Army commander, but all had his warning that eventually they must go.

      Before deadlines are set for clearing of the area— twice as large as Japan itself— there is much to be done by the Army and by governmental agencies co- operating with it in working out a program that will call for the least possible economic confusion.

      Thomas C. Clark, alien control co-ordinator, said in Los Angeles he hoped Japanese might be removed from coast prohibited areas within 60 days, but that “we are not going to push them around.”

      “We are going to give these people a fair chance to dispose of their properties at proper prices,” Mr. Clark said. “It has come to our attention that many Japanese farmers have been stampeded into selling their properties for little or nothing.”

      Sixty- five chapters of the Japanese- American Citizens League, which claims a membership of 20,000 American- born Japanese, will hold meetings soon in 300 communities “to discuss methods by which they can correlate their energies and co-operate extensively in the evacuation process.”

      Mike Masaoka, national field secretary of the league, said its members “realize that it was the necessity of military expediency which forced the Army to order the eventual evacuation of all Japanese,” and that he “assumed” the classification of Americans of Japanese lineage “in the same category as enemy aliens was impelled by the motives of military necessity and that no racial discrimination was implied.”

      Among those who must move, after the Army swings into its plan for progressive clearing of the 2000- mile- long military area (Japanese and Japanese- Americans will be affected first) are more that 400 University of California students— 315 American- born Japanese, 11 alien Japanese, 75 Germans and six Italians.

      General DeWitt gave no indication when the first deadline for Japanese in the coastal area would be set.

      There was continued action, however, against “Class 1” persons listed in General DeWitt’s announcement of the military area. This class includes persons definitely suspected of sabotage and espionage, of which several thousand already have been taken into custody by the FBI on presidential warrants accusing them of being potentially dangerous aliens.

      Among the most important arrests during the past 24 hours was that of George Nakamura, an alien Japanese living close to the Santa Cruz shoreline. In his possession FBI agents and police said they found 69 crates of powerful fireworks of the signal type— rockets, flares and torches. The San Francisco News
      March 4, 1942


      The Naval History Of Turkey

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      1. Creasy, Don Quixote (Motteux’s translation), Book IX, Chap. 12

      3. This saga is brilliantly narrated by Stanley Lane- Poole in The Story of the Barbary Corsairs. Not only did the cruisers of the Barbary States continue to prey on the coasts and commerce of the Christian peoples of the Mediterranean but they carried their depredations into the Atlantic as far as Ireland, Denmark, and even Iceland. The land and harbor defenses of the chief pirate cities were immensely strong and both fortifications and war fleets were largely built and maintained by the labor and skill of thousands of Christian captives and renegades. Their squadrons avoided combat with fleets of war whenever possible, though fighting like demons when forced to do battle. Their weakness lay in the fact that their warships were built for the operations of piracy and not for combat with ships-of-the-line. Though the Christian nations came to despair of ever exterminating these pests, it was often demonstrated that they were unable to resist any strong, resolute naval attack. The Spaniards, even after the defeat of their “Invincible Armada” and other terrible naval defeats at the hands of England and Holland, succeeded in 1608 in destroying nearly the whole pirate fleet of Tunis. The great English Admiral Blake so overawed the Algerines by an imposing naval demonstration in 1655 that they surrendered all their English captives to him. Later, when the Tunisians refused to meet his demands, he sailed into their harbor, burned their fleet, and silenced their batteries with the fire of his ships. The Dutch Admiral De Ruyter, the French Admiral De Beaufort, and the Venetians on various occasions brought the Barbary corsairs to terms. During most of the time, however, all of the Christian nations, not excepting England, descended to the expedient of buying immunity from the pirates by paying blackmail. This disgraceful and needless state of affairs was prolonged by the commercial rivalry of the European nations well into the nineteenth century. The resolute action of the United States through their heroic infant navy in 1803 and 1815 pointed the way to the nations of Europe, which speedily forced the Barbary States by force of arms and by treaty to renounce piracy and piratical tribute. France conquered the chief pirate lair, Algiers, in 1830, and later occupied Tunis. The entire Barbary coast fell under European dominion, and Moslem piracy, which for more than a millennium was the greatest scourge of the Mediterranean, ceased to exist.

      4. An observant American traveller who visited Constantinople in the early nineties of last century reported as follows: “We passed among the iron clads of the Turkish navy, beautiful looking vessels. . .. Here they lie at anchor, year in and year out, safe from attack, a navy in name only.’’—Charles McCormick Reeve, How We Went and What We Saw, page 349. I remember reading an apparently authentic article several years before the first World War telling how the crews of Turkish warships anchored in the Bosporus had filled in part of their decks with dirt and were growing cabbages on them!

      5.In the first Balkan War the Turkish cruiser Hamidie did succeed in escaping through the Greek blockade of the Dardanelles and engaged in a destructive raid on enemy shipping in the Aegean and Adriatic, thereby raising Turkish morale.

      6. The cruisers Goehen and Breslau, which flew the Turkish flag during the first World War, menaced the Russian command of the Black Sea and rendered important services to the Central Powers. However, since they were German built and entirely manned by German officers and crews, their exploits can hardly be classed as belonging to the Turkish navy.

      Digital Proceedings content made possible by a gift from CAPT Roger Ekman, USN (Ret.)