This Week in #WW2 – Death of a Nazi and a Collaborator

IF I ONLY HAD A TIME MACHINE

THIS WEEK IN WORLD WAR II

The Death of a Nazi and a Collaborator

A year apart on October 15th, a Nazi and a Nazi collaborator both met their death. One by firing squad and one by his own hand.

On October 15, 1945, Pierre Laval, the puppet leader of Nazi-occupied Vichy France, is executed by firing squad for treason against France.

Pierre Laval, 1931 Pierre Laval, 1931

Originally he had pacifist tendencies but he shifted to the right in the 1930s.  He had been the minister of foreign affairs and twice as the French premier.  With his anti-communist ideologies, he delayed the Soviet-Franco pact of 1935 and sought to align France with Fascist Italy.  He had no desire to declare war on Germany so he encouraged the antiwar faction in the French government.  With the German invasion of France in 1940, he used his political influence to force an armistice with Germany.  When…

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The Strangest Battle of WWII: When Americans and Germans Fought the SS Together

Originally posted on War History Online.

M4-Sherman_tank-European_theatre

Adolf Hitler killed himself on April 30, 1945. Germany’s war to advance its empire across Europe and beyond was coming to an end. A unique story, however, has emerged just days after Hitler committed suicide in a book by Stephen Harding called ‘The Last Battle’.

As most of Germany and German-occupied territory became overrun with Allied or Red Army troops advancing to Berlin, three US tanks from the 23rd Tank Battalion of the  US 12th Armored Division were making their way through Austria towards Schloss Itter.  The castle was, and still is, a medieval castle built in the 1200s and sits high on a hilltop near the small village of Itter in Austria’s North Tyrol region.

The Nazis had been holding many important French prisoners at Castle Itter, and the Allies had planned the operation to liberate the castle and its prisoners. Among them were ex-French prime ministers Paul Reynaud and Eduard Daladier and former French commanders-in-chief Generals Maxime Weygand and Paul Gamelin, the dailybeast.com reports.

The very model of a Wehrmacht officer… In this photo, newly contributed by Sepp Gangl’s son, Norbert, the man who would later help Jack Lee defend Castle Itter is seen during a rare happy moment in 1944, probably just before the Allied landings at Normandy (Source: Facebook)

In this photo, newly contributed by Sepp Gangl’s son, Norbert, the man who would later help Jack Lee defend Castle Itter is seen during a rare happy moment in 1944, probably just before the Allied landings at Normandy (Source: Facebook)

In addition, Jean Borotra, a former tennis champion, and Francois de La Rocque, both of whom were part of the Vichy France government, and notoriously pro-Nazi, had been imprisoned at the castle. Harding explains the complicated politics of the time, and that while they had been part of the pro-Nazi government, they had also supported the Allies via the French resistance, which explains why…

via The Strangest Battle of WWII: When Americans and Germans Fought the SS Together.

Sheltering Jews in SW France During World War II

Life on La Lune

Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, which had its place in protecting Jews Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, some of whose inhabitants played a role in protecting Jews

Today, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops. The unspeakable horror of these places has been described in memoirs and contemporary film footage. But very few survivors remain and it is beyond our imagination today to conceive of how it must have been.

The deportation of Jews – and other “undesirables” – from France is a deplorable page in the country’s history. However, amidst the bleakness, there were glimmers of virtue and it’s those I want to focus on.

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