Monthly Archives: April 2022
My favorite part of war history, if a person should have a favorite part, would be World War II. It was the war my dad, Allen Spencer fought in, and maybe that is why I am so interested in it and in the B-17 Flying Fortress, from which he fought and returned home. The men and women who fought in World War II are called the Greatest Generation, and maybe because my dad was a part of that, I am partial to that part of history. I find it a bit strange that while the Vietnam Memorial Fund, Inc (VVMF) was incorporated as a non-profit organization to establish a memorial to veterans of the Vietnam War, on April 27, 1979, four years after the Fall of Saigon, but the World War II Memorial didn’t open until April 29, 2004, in Washington DC. Of course, I think it was cool that it opened on my birthday, but it really was a long overdue recognition for the 16 million US men and women who served in the war. The memorial is located on 7.4 acres on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The Capitol dome can be seen to the east, and Arlington Cemetery is just across the Potomac River to the west. It really is a beautiful setting and shows the proper honor to these men and women of the Greatest Generation.
The 16 million men and women who served in the armed forces of the US are honored at the World War II Memorial, as well as the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported the war effort from home. The memorial was built using granite and bronze. It features fountains between arches to symbolize hostilities in Europe and the Far East. The arches are bordered by semicircles of pillars, one each for the states, territories, and the District of Columbia. Beyond the pool is a curved wall of 4,000 gold stars, one for every 100 Americans killed in the war. It also features an Announcement Stone that states that the memorial is to honor those “Americans who took up the struggle during the Second World War and made the sacrifices to perpetuate the gift our forefathers entrusted to us: A nation conceived in liberty and justice.”
The project was funded with more than $164 million dollars in private donations, and an additional $16 million donated by the federal government. Former Kansas Senator Bob Dole, who was severely wounded in the war, and actor Tom Hanks were among its most vocal supporters. The really sad part is that only a fraction of the 16 million Americans who actually served in the would ever see it…my dad included. While he was alive in 2004, that was not a trip he got to take before his passing in 2007. Four million World War II veterans were still living at the time the memorial was finally opened, but more than 1,100 dying every day, according to government records. I find that to be so sad.
Roger Durbin of Berkey, Ohio, who served under General George S Patton, inspired the memorial. Durbin was at a fish fry near Toledo in February 1987, when he asked US Representative Marcy Kaptur why there was no memorial on the Mall to honor World War II veterans. It was a question that should have been asked and answered long ago. Nevertheless, Kaptur, an Ohio Democrat, introduced legislation to build one, starting a process that would stumble along through 17 years of legislative, legal, and artistic entanglements. Durbin died of pancreatic cancer in 2000, without ever actually seeing his hard work come to fruition. While he didn’t live to see his project come to life, I and so many other children of World War II veterans and lost loved ones, will be forever thankful to him for finally making sure our loved ones were properly honored. The monument was formally dedicated May 29, 2004, by US President George W Bush, but I am pleased that it actually opened on my birthday in 2004. My birthday, because it was just two days after my dad’s birthday, has always been a special time that we shared. Of course, I was due and supposed to arrive on Dad’s birthday, but I’ve always said I was a little stubborn, so I held out. Nevertheless, we usually celebrated our days together, so I feel like his memorial opening on my birthday was really very cool.
Caryn became part of our family on March 1, 1975…over 47 years ago, when she married my brother, Bob!!! Little did any of us know at that time that Caryn would become such an important part of the Schulenberg family. Most of us don’t really remember too much of life without Caryn being a part of it. She has been a major part of our family for so many years now…and I would never want to imagine our family without her as a part of it.
In the early years, Caryn spent most of her time raising her two girls, my nieces, Corrie and Amy. Then, before we knew it along came her four grandchildren Chris, Shai, Caalab and Josh. All of Caryn’s grandchildren have a big place in her heart. She really enjoys being a mother and grandma…and in 2018, Caryn became a great grandma. She now has two great grandchildren and another due in October of this year. She loves the time she gets to spend with them.
On October 14, 2018, Caryn’s faith in God was brought to life. On that day her husband Bob, my brother, suffered a heart attack. We were all very scared and thanks to Caryn’s faith in God, some very fast responders and some miracles too, Bob made a full recovery. Not that they needed it, but Bob and Caryn now realize how special they are to each other.
Through the years, and as both sets of parents aged, Caryn was the primary care giver for all four parents…hers and Bob’s. It was tough on all of us to lose them, but they are in a far better place now. Also in October 2013, when I got sick Caryn saved my life by convincing me that I had to go to the hospital.
Caryn has always enjoyed bowling. She and Bob also like to go on walks and hikes when the weather permits. Bob and Caryn enjoy traveling for their annual hiking/anniversary trip to Thermopolis and to the Black Hills. They also traveled for bowling tournaments too.
Caryn spends time focusing on her health and my brother Bob’s. Caryn always has been very aware of how important good health is for all of us, but now that she is not having to care for all of our parents and work, she has been focused on herself for once…and she has been very successful in this area! Caryn had foot surgery this past year and as you can imagine she did not let that hold her back on the things she likes to do.
In May 2019 Caryn started a new journey…retirement! She loves it. I’m sure Caryn like everyone else that is retired finds herself very busy with traveling, hiking, her great grandchildren, and of course blogging!!!! Caryn has also been able to do some traveling with her sisters to visit family.
Caryn is an amazing woman! She is one of the best sisters-in-law (I consider her my sister) that I could ever ask for. Today is Caryn’s birthday and I just want to say Happy Birthday Caryn. We all love you and appreciate you very, very much!!!!
Children, especially young children, don’t really understand what their working parents do every day, and sometimes can even feel abandoned when they are especially young. It’s not their fault. They love their parents, and all children experience some separation anxiety at some point. Once they get used to it, they are fine, of course, but those early days can be tough.
I don’t really know the motivation behind the day they call Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day, also called Take Your Child to Work Day. It is a national day that gives children in the United States a brief look at what goes on in the working world…more specifically their parent’s working world. Of course, it’s not always completely authentic, because many of the organizations set up special events for that day. I personally think it would be better to make it as real as possible for the child…if the goal was to show the child what their parent does for a living. The program was developed by the Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Foundation, which is a non-profit educational organization. As the name depicts, the day revolves around “parents taking their children to work to expose students to future job possibilities and the value of education.” Originally, it was called Take Our Daughters To Work Day, but was expanded to include boys in 2003. I think that originally, the focus was on office jobs, which were considered more for the women, and the jobs men had might have seemed unsafe for children. I suppose that is still the case, but you can’t really discriminate on those jobs either, even if taking a child on a police ride-along might be dangerous.
Take Your Child To Work Day is celebrated in over 200 countries, but in the United States, it takes place on the fourth Thursday in April every year. The most recent Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day took place on Thursday, April 23, 2020. I suppose that Covid-19 Pandemic stopped them after that and I don’t know if companies are planning them for this year or not. Take Our Daughters to Work Day originated in New York City in the summer of 1992, started by the “Ms. Foundation for Women” and its president, Marie C. Wilson, the Women’s foundation treasurer, Daren Ball, and with support from foundation founder Gloria Steinem. It really began as a part of the Women’s Liberation movement, I suppose, but today it is very different than it was then. I am definitely not a “women’s libber” kind of girl, so that idea does not appeal to me at all. The first celebration took place on April 22, 1993, and has since been celebrated usually on the fourth Thursday of April in order for the 37 million children, parents, schools in over 3.5 million workplaces across the country, in addition to participants in over 200 countries around the world, to plan ahead for the annual event. The day is generally a school day for most children in the United States, so schools are provided with literature and encouraged to promote the program. Schools are provided with materials for incorporating career exploration into classwork on the day before or after the event. In 2007 the “day” became its own separate foundation, the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work program was turned over to Carolyn McKecuen, a MacArthur Award recipient, who took effective control as its executive director before relocating to Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where it continues to this day. Gloria Steinem continues to maintain a role with the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation as a member of its board of directors.
The idea is that employees across the United States and around the world get to invite their own children or relatives to join them at work, but the program also encourages employees to invite children from residential programs or shelters who may not be exposed to many adults in skilled professions today. I have never worked in a company that specifically participated in Take Your Child To Work Day, but rather where I worked, at The Stengel Agency, we had an informal option to bring a child in randomly. Mydaughter, Amy Royce and granddaughter, Shai Royce both actually worked with me, and my grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen have all spent time with me when they couldn’t go to school for whatever reason, including not feeling well. They have slept under my desk, because they wanted to be by Grandma at that time, and my boss, Jim Stengel, being the wonderful man that he was, made allowances for my needs. My co-worker, Carrie Beauchamp brought her daughter, Amanda Ingram to the office, and now she is also an agent in that office, so while we didn’t have a formal program, our children and grandchildren not only spent time in the office, but actually went to work with us in the office. I hope companies continue this program, because I think it is a great program.
Some men are Boy Dads, which in no way means that they wouldn’t be good with girls. Some men are Girl Dads, which in no way means that they wouldn’t be good with boys. the truth is that any good dad can be a good dad to boys or to girls, but there is one thing that I think my sisters and I would all agree on with our dad, Allen Spencer. While he would have been a great dad to boys, his girls needed him to be our dad. Maybe a girl dad or a boy dad is just blessed with the gift of one or the other, because they have a particular way with one or the other.
Our home was filled with so much love and dad understood the needs of girls…like giving up the bathroom quickly so we could get all dolled up. He understood that when camping, the fire needed to be kept going…”to keep the bears away.” There were so many other things that Dad instinctively knew about girls and our girly ways, and he always made us feel loved, special, and safe. We were his princesses, and Dad loved all his princesses and much as he loved his queen, our mom Collene Spencer. Yes, our dad was definitely a Girl Dad, but it was we, his girls, who were blessed because he was our Girl Dad.
Dad did all the normal “dad things” that all dads do, like working hard every day to support his family, taking us on more vacations that almost any of our classmates got to go on, and I’m not bragging, just stating a fact. Dad loved to travel, and he loved this country; and he wanted his girls to be able to see as much of it as possible, because there is no greater nation on earth, except God’s chosen nation…Israel, and I think he would have loved to take us there too. For our dad, the greatest gift he could give his girls is the gift of faith in Jesus as our Savior. Faith was something he was given as a child, and I remember reading his letters home from World War II, written to his mom, Anna Spencer, in which he and his mother encouraged each other with God’s promises, given to us all in the Bible. Dad was very protective of his mom too. She was another of the women in his life who were blessed to know the love and protective nature that was always our dad, her son.
Dad went home to Heaven on December 12, 2007, and we miss him every day. There was so much more to Dad than the things he gave us or the special way we were treated, there was the love that dad gave his girls. Dad may have been blessed to be a Girl Dad, but it was really his girls who were blessed, because he was our dad. Today would have been Dad’s 98th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. Have a great party with Mom and the rest of the family. We can’t wait to see you all again. We love and miss you very much.
My grandnephew, Zack Spethman is the second child of my niece, Jenny Spethman and her husband, Steve Spethman. Zack is his older brother, Xander’s big little brother…standing several inched taller than Xander. Nevertheless, the height thing has never really been a big deal to them. They are best friends, and Zack hangs out with Xander and all Xander’s friends. Zack is so easy to get along with that for Xander he seems more like a friend, and for Xander’s friends, Zack is one of the guys.
As much as Zack likes to hang out with the guys, Zack really is a homebody. and is very comfortable in his own company. I can totally relate to that, because I am much the same. I think it comes from being a deep thinker. We tend to spend a lot of time in our own head…thinking things over, dreaming our own dreams, and planning the future. A person like that really likes, and needs, quiet time by himself. Many people don’t understand a “homebody/comfortable in his own company” kind of person, especially when, like Zack, they are also very much able to be very social…and I’ll admit that it is an unusual combination. Most people who are homebodies, are also introverts, and they really don’t want to be in social situations, but Zack is totally comfortable in either situation. He is really not an introvert at all, but rather a guy with a lot on his mind.
Zack got into a welding class this year and has really come into his own. His dad told me that it gives him a reason to go to school. He has got into welding and is really loving it. That reminds me of my dad, his great grandpa, Allen Spencer, who was also a welder. It seems to be in their blood. Zack’s cousin, Garrett Stevens also took after his grandpa and is a welder. It’s a good career move, if that’s what Zack chooses to do.
Zack and his friends, like most kids these days, like to play video games, and air soft gun hunting games. Paintball is like hand-to-hand combat, I suppose, but without the death factor. They used to use paintball guns, but I’m told it hurts some, so now they use air soft guns. Zack and his siblings, Xander, Isaac, and Aleesia have all been trained on guns and shooting. They know safety and have a healthy respect for life and the dangers of being careless with a gun. They hunt and the boys have all passed hunter safety courses (Aleesia is too young)., so even though they don’t shoot at people with a gun, the air soft gun is a fun way to do something a little different, and they love it. Today is Zack’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When my mom, Collene Spencer got married, she and my dad, Allen Spencer, for their honeymoon, moved to Superior, Wisconsin. While mom grew up in a big family, and knew how to cook, moving to a new area was a way to experience new foods. Mom was a little lonely when she first moved to Wisconsin, but when she arrived, she found her new best friend, her sister-in-law, Doris Spencer. They actually lived across the yard from each other. There wasn’t an alley between them, just a fence. It was a very cozy place for the two families, and as the kids came along, it made it easy to play without worrying about the little ones getting out into the street.
During the frequent luncheons Aunt Doris and my mom had, Mom saw that Aunt Doris was an amazing cook, and she loved many of the recipes Aunt Doris made, and so she asked for these recipes. Our whole family grew to love those dishes too which Aunt Doris continued to make for us whenever we visited in the years after we moved to Wyoming. We usually went out for dinner when we were there, but there were three recipes she made and all of us loved, and still love today. Those recipes were Stuffed Tomatoes (Aunt Doris’ special version, which I still can’t resist) and the Carrot/Chicken Salad on Lettuce with Picnic Sticks (crunchy potato sticks), the third was Chicken Noodle Casserole. It was similar to Tuna Noodle Casserole, and while I love Tuna Noodle Casserole, my sister Cheryl Masterson thinks the Chicken Noodle Casserole was way better!! Those were Aunt Doris’s recipes. She made them up or greatly improved on an old recipe she knew of.
Trips to visit Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill, were always special. They had a big house, and we had a great time. Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill always gave our parents their room. My sisters and I were never sure where they slept, but I almost think it might have been cots in the basement. Cheryl and our cousin, Pam were best friends, so Cheryl slept in Pam’s room. The rest of us slept in various places, mostly in the bus our Uncle Bill had converted into a motorhome. They could have had us stay in a motel, but they wanted us close, so we had more time to visit. The upper level of their home had been turned into a rental, and there were various renters in there, but if it was empty, we stayed there.
We often got to Superior, late at night…sometimes waking them up. It didn’t matter, because when we arrived, they would all get up and Aunt Doris would make us all a little snack before everyone settled into bed. Of course, we were probably up for quite a while before we were finally able to settle down. We laughed and talked continuously with Aunt Doris because she made everything fun!! She and Mom together just had so much fun. They were forever best friends. Aunt Doris had a beautiful home, and yet she was very tolerant of our noise and nonsense. We don’t ever remember her ever yelling at us or getting upset with us…Ever!! She loved us and she was always genuinely glad to see us. We all loved Aunt Doris so much that even after she and Uncle Bill divorced, we never felt like she was no longer our aunt. In fact, when our dad became ill in Canada, my sisters Caryl, Alena, Allyn, and I went up to be with him, our mom, and sister, Cheryl. Allyn needed a copy of her birth certificate to enter Canada (Pre-passport requirement). We needed to get on the road, so we had it sent to Aunt Doris. We got to her house at around 4:00am, and without even knocking on the door, she knew we were there. She got up and made us breakfast…a big breakfast!! Aunt Doris was and is always the same with us. She is our aunt, and we love each other. For her and for us, that has always remained the same. And it always will!! Today is Aunt Doris’ 98th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!
My grandnephew, Bowen Parmely is the only boy among the four children of his parents, Ashley and Eric Parmely. Bowen was the third child, and when he was born, Ashley and Eric found out, in no uncertain terms, just how different little boys are from little girls. Bowen is full of energy and, well…zing!! He lights up a room with his smile and laughter, and he is a delight to his parents, but he isn’t above picking on his sisters, Reagan, Hattie, and little Maeve. Just give him a reason…or don’t!! He really doesn’t need a reason, he is a boy, after all.
Bowen likes everything his daddy and his grandpa like. Working on tractors, however, that is top notch for Bowen. Eric has a big tractor, and Bowen would like nothing more than to be on that tractor all day long. His Aunt Brenda Schulenberg even found him a quilt that has tractors all over it last year. Talk about a happy boy. He loved it. Bowen is a farm boy, with all the trimmings. His family raises horses, cows, goats, chickens, turkeys, pigs, cats, and dogs… and speaking of dogs, Bowen’s parents have let each of the kids get their own dog…when they turn 7 years old. That means that Bowen’s older sisters, Reagan and Hattie each have their own dog, that is also their responsibility, and Bowen can’t wait until he is old enough to have his own dog too. Unfortunately for Bowen, that day won’t come for two more years. Until then, he will have to settle for the family dogs.
Bowen really loves all the animals, but he loves the babies the best. On a farm, with a lot of animals, there are always babies coming, and that is ok with Bowen. It is something he shares with his mom. Ashley would have tons of babies too…human and animal. The mothering instinct is very strong in Ashley, and she loves to teach their kids about the animals, life, and how to grow both. The Parmely house is always filled with love, laughter, kids, and animals. When we go out there for family dinners, once a month, it is sure to be fun filled. The kids have a playroom/classroom off of the kitchen (Ashley homeschools the kids, but they did preschool at the Montessori School which is where Bowen currently goes), so we can observe all the fun, as well as the occasional “turkey at the window” visits. All the kids are very entertaining, but watching Bowen, so full of energy, bouncing around the room on his bouncy horse is always super fun. Today is Bowen’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Bowen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Vasa is a beautiful Swedish warship built between 1626 and 1628. For a warship, the ship was anything but plain. It was a very ornate, which is odd for a warship…at least as we see them today. The ship was built on the orders of the King of Sweden Gustavus Adolphus as part of the military expansion he initiated in a war with Poland-Lithuania, which took place between 1621–1629. Vasa was constructed at the navy yard in Stockholm under a contract with private entrepreneurs in 1626–1627. The ship was armed primarily with bronze cannon cast in Stockholm specifically for the ship. The king had her richly decorated as a symbol of his ambitions for Sweden and for himself. When she was done…she was not only stunningly beautiful, but she was also one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. All that was great, but Vasa was also dangerously unstable, with too much weight in the upper structure of the hull. That fact didn’t faze the king, who despite the lack of stability, of which he was informed, ordered Vasa to sea.
Vasa’s maiden voyage was an exciting moment for everyone in the area. On August 10, 1628, she set sail from the Stockholm navy yard and after encountering a wind that was barely stronger than a breeze, she sank after sailing roughly 1,400 yards. Seriously, that has to be the shortest maiden voyage on record…for all time. Vasa quickly fell into obscurity after most of her valuable bronze cannon were salvaged in the 17th century, which is odd, because they knew where she was and if they were able to pull the cannon up, why would they not take anything else. Nevertheless, she sat there until she was once again located in the late 1950s in a busy shipping area in Stockholm harbor. Amazingly, the ship was salvaged with a largely intact hull in 1961. She was temporarily housed in a museum called Wasavarvet (“The Vasa Shipyard”) until 1988, when she was moved permanently to the Vasa Museum in the Royal National City Park in Stockholm. Today, the ship is one of Sweden’s most popular tourist attractions. Since her recovery and placement in 1961, over 35 million visitors have seen the ship. Vasa has become a widely recognized symbol of the Swedish Empire…something I’m not sure I would like if I were the king, because while she is beautiful, she is unstable, and what leader would want “a lack of stability” to be part of their nation’s symbol.
It is said that the order to sail was the result of a combination of factors. The king, who was leading the army in Poland at the time of her maiden voyage, was impatient to see her take up her station as flagship of the reserve squadron at Älvsnabben in the Stockholm Archipelago, being the biggest one. Unfortunately, the king’s subordinates lacked the political courage to openly discuss the ship’s problems or to push to have the maiden voyage postponed. Of course, there was an inquiry by the Swedish Privy Council to find out who was responsible for the disaster. Nevertheless, in the end, no one was punished.
When the recovery crew went in to bring Vasa and her contents to the surface once again in 1961, they found thousands of artifacts, among them many items of clothing, weapons, cannon, tools, coins, cutlery, food, drink and six of the ten sails. Marine archaeologists also found the remains of at least 15 people in and around Vasa’s hull. The artifacts and the ship herself have provided scholars with invaluable insights into details of naval warfare, shipbuilding techniques, and everyday life in early 17th-century Sweden. Without question, Vasa is the world’s best preserved 17th century ship. The wreck of Vasa continually undergoes monitoring and further research on how to preserve her.
My aunt, Deloris “Dee” Johnson was always so sweet and kind. She loved to laugh, and to make people laugh. She and my mom, Collene Spencer were sisters, and they were close. I think it was probably because they were so much alike. Both of them tried to bring happiness into the day of those around them. If that meant they acted silly, then they acted silly. They were really both “crowd pleasers,” but my mom was the younger of the two, so she learned it from her older sister, I’m sure.
Aunt Dee was one of the kindest people you would ever want to meet. She never said a harsh word to anyone, and even her voice had a soothing way about it. Her tone was soft and soothing, and she had a smile to match. Aunt Dee loved to show her siblings new things. Once she and my mom got into a big coat, and let the wind take them for a ride…well, a run, but it made them feel free as birds. Aunt Dee was always taking the kids out for adventures. She loved the outdoors and had a great imagination, so she could entertain the younger children, and the adventures were always lots of fun. Aunt Dee taught her younger siblings how to dance, a dance she learned in school, and she also bought the family a piano. I don’t know if any of them learned to play it, but the grandkids sure enjoyed pounding on it whenever we were there.
Aunt Dee and my mom got together at our house quite often as adults, and we all loved it when she came over. It was such a treat to have her visit. She never got annoyed with us, Mom’s five rambunctious daughters…whether we were at our house, or at hers. I remember spending the night at her house at least once. I was supposed to be spending the night with my cousin Elmer, but while I didn’t realize it, that was not really proper, so I had to sleep with my cousin Darla. While I loved Darla too, she was not the one I had intended to spend the night with. Oh well…the mind of a child. Aunt Dee didn’t say I couldn’t stay, she just explained that girls and boys didn’t sleep in the same bed. So, I could stay, but in Darla’s bed. It all worked out, and we had a great time, as I recall. Nevertheless, it was an event that I have never forgotten. Just like my sweet Aunt Dee is someone I will never forget, and I can’t wait to see again. Today would have been Aunt Dee’s 91st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Dee. We love and miss you very much.
After years of being oppressed, starved, beaten, murdered, and used for experimentation, the Jewish people decided that it was their right to avenge their dead. The Nuremburg Trials were supposed to do all that, but so many of the Nazis had fled the country to escape the sentences they deserved, and once out of the country, it was almost impossible to get them back to face those sentences. In the late 1940s, under Juan Domingo Peron’s leadership (October 17, 1945 to July 1, 1974), the government secretly allowed entry of a number of war criminals fleeing Europe after Nazi Germany’s collapse, as part of the infamous ratlines. The number of Nazi fugitives that fled to Argentina surpassed 300, and included notorious war criminals such as Erich Priebke, Martin Bormann, Joseph Mengele, Eduard Roschmann, Josef Schwammberger, Walter Kutschmann, Otto Skorzeny and Holocaust administrator Adolf Eichmann, among others. In May 1960, Eichmann was kidnapped in Argentina by the Israeli Mossad and brought to trial in Israel. He was executed in 1962. At the time, Argentina condemned the Israeli government for abducting Eichmann, leading to a diplomatic spat between the nations.
There was a financial incentive for Argentina to accept these war criminals, and they needed to provide a safe haven for them. Wealthy Germans and Argentine businessmen of German descent were willing to pay the way for escaping Nazis. The initial plan of the fleeing Nazis was to regroup, lay low for a while, and then come back with a vengeance. The Holocaust years had been very profitable for the Nazis. Nazi leaders had plundered untold millions from the Jews they murdered and some of that money accompanied them to Argentina…meaning the Argentine economy was helped by the war criminals…another incentive to help them hide out.
Some of the smarter Nazi officers and collaborators saw the writing on the wall as early as 1943 and began hiding gold, money, valuables, paintings, and more. They often moved their plunder to Switzerland. Ante Pavelic and his cabal of close advisors had several chests full of gold, jewelry, and art they had stolen from their Jewish and Serbian victims. These riches eased their passage to Argentina considerably. Disappearing, even in 1945 was not an easy matter, but if one had money, it was far more possible. The war criminals even paid off British officers to let them through Allied lines…a treasonous act for which those British officers should have also been prosecuted and hung. Sometimes the corruption in government and military entities, even those who are supposed to be on the side of good, is absolutely astounding.
After the World War II, and the release of the surviving Jews, the Nuremburg Trials convicted these evil monsters, but many of them were gone before their sentence could be carried out. Enter the Nokmim, a group of Jewish men, also referred to as The Avengers or the Jewish Avengers. These men were a Jewish partisan militia, formed by Abba Kovner and his lieutenants Vitka Kempner and Rozka Korczak from the surviving remnants of the United Partisan Organization (Fareynikte Partizaner Organizatsye), which operated in Lithuania under Soviet command. Elements of the Nokmim collaborated with veterans of the Jewish brigade in British Palestine to form a new organization called Nakam, a group of assassins that targeted Nazi war criminals with the aim of avenging the Holocaust. The name comes from the phrase (Dam Yehudi Nakam – “Jewish Blood Will Be Avenged”) (the acronym DIN means “judgement”).
The Nakam (“vengeance”) Group was the most extremist group. They numbered around 60 Jews who were former Partisans, as well as other Jews who survived the Holocaust. This group was not about to let these men get away with all the atrocities they put their Jewish captives through, and then just walk away without punishment…not if they could help it. The group arrived in Germany after the war in order to conduct more complicated and fatal vengeance operations. Their ultimate purpose was to carry out an operation that would cause a broad international response…a warning, if you will, to anyone who might consider trying to harm Jews again, as the Nazis had. They needed to show the world that they would never be treated in such a way again. They would fight back…every time. Notables among the Hanakam group were Abba Kovner, Yitzhak Avidav, and Bezalel Michaeli. The group attempted a couple of mass poisonings, the first of the water supplies of Munich, Berlin, Weimar, Nuremberg and Hamburg, which failed when the poison had to be thrown overboard on a ship when Kovner was discovered to be carrying forges documents. The other attempt was with 3,000 loaves of bread painted with diluted arsenic, headed for 15,000 German POWs from the Langwasser internment camp near Nuremberg. The camp was under US authority. On April 23, 1946, it was reported that 2,283 German prisoners of war had fallen ill from poisoning, with 207 hospitalized and seriously ill. According to Harmatz, 300 to 400 Germans died. He said this “was nothing compared with what we really wanted to do.” A 2016 report by the Associated Press countered that the operation ultimately caused no known deaths, despite documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Archives and Records Administration stating the arsenic found in the bakery was enough to kill approximately 60,000 persons. Apparently, the arsenic was spread too thin to be lethal.
It’s hard to say just how much information is correct and how much is incorrect. I suppose it depends on who is reporting, and how accurately they want to report what they have. Propaganda in any war runs rampant, so we will likely never know. Records can and do go missing, especially when someone wants to disprove their enemies. Whether so many people died by poisoning or not, the Nokmim and the spin-off Nakam brought vengeance on many of the Nazis who would have escaped justice without them.