One of the most evil dictators of all time was Adolf Hitler. He not only wanted control of the world, but he decide that there were a number of people who had no right to live. To him, only the Aryan, or Master Race was of value. Hitler’s “Master Race” is a concept in Nazi ideology in which “the putative Nordic or Aryan races, predominant among Germans and other northern European peoples, are deemed the highest in racial hierarchy.” Hitler was obsessed with the idea of removing anyone who did not fit into that definition of the Master Race…especially the Jewish people.
Hitler was insane, and in reality, insane is not a strong enough word for it. I don’t think that most of us could conceive of the level of evil that possessed Adolf Hitler. He didn’t care who died to bring about his plan for the world. He expected sacrifice from his people, unquestioned sacrifice. Meanwhile, Hitler himself was always safely hidden away…protected from his enemies…the people who disagreed with his evil cruelty. Hitler had often said that his Third Reich would be a 1,000-year Reich. He was determined to have a legacy that would span the ages. Well, he is remembered I suppose, but with disdain.
I’m sure Hitler had several places that he hid in, but one of them, a refurbished air-raid shelter seemed to be his bunker of choice. Hitler had gone into his bunker on January 16, after deciding to remain in Berlin for the last great siege of the war. He knew he was losing, but coward that he was, had no intention of being arrested. Fifty-five feet under the chancellery, where as chancellor, he lived, was his shelter. It contained 18 small rooms and was fully self-sufficient, with its own water and electrical supply. During that time, he left only rarely (once to decorate a squadron of Hitler Youth) and spent most of his time micromanaging what was left of German defenses and entertaining such guests as Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler, and Joachim von Ribbentrop. At his side were Eva Braun and his dog, an Alsatian named Blondi.
Hitler was a coward, who put his men out on the front lines to do his evil bidding, while he hid behind the scenes, so that the opposing armies couldn’t get to him. He thought he had it all planned out. but as April 1945 came to a close, his “1,000 year Reich” was collapsing and enemy soldiers were closing in to shut him down. So, he married his long-time girlfriend, Eva Braun on April 28, 1945, and two days later they committed suicide together. He was warned by officers that the Russians were only a day or so from overtaking the chancellery. They urged him to escape to Berchtesgarden, a small town in the Bavarian Alps where Hitler owned a home, but he instead chose suicide. It is believed that both he and his wife swallowed cyanide capsules…which had been tested for their efficacy on his “beloved” dog and her pups. Then, just to be sure, he shot himself with his service pistol. The couple’s bodies were cremated in the chancellery garden by the bunker survivors, as per Hitler’s orders and it was reported later that they were partially recovered by Russian troops. Still, that didn’t prove to many that he was dead. Finally, a German court officially declared Hitler dead in 1956. Finally the world was rid of a despicable piece of garbage.
I read yesterday, that Adolf Hitler went into his underground bunker, known as the Führerbunker, with his mistress, Eva Braun on January 16, 1945. It was a coward’s move, so as not to have to face the Russians when they marched into town. He left his men to finish out the war in a losing battle, and when they wanted to surrender, they were rewarded with death. They were considered cowards, and yet Hitler made his last trip above ground on April 20, 1945, his 56th birthday. He took that opportunity, in the ruined garden of the Reich Chancellery, to award the Iron Cross to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth, and then he retreated back to the safety of his bunker. On April 28th, Hitler learned that Reichsführer, SS Heinrich Himmler, who had left Berlin on April 20th was trying to discuss surrender terms with the Western Allies through Count Folke Bernadotte. To Hitler this was treason, and he was enraged. He ordered Himmler’s arrest. He also had Hermann Fegelein, Himmler’s SS representative at Hitler’s Headquarters in Berlin, shot. Those men were doing their best to stay alive, and Hitler sat in the safety of his bunker calling them traitors and cowards. Hitler’s bunker, while not elegant by any standard, was quite comfortable. He and Eva were well protected until the day they took their own lives on April 30, 1945…one day after their April 29th marriage. Their death came by cyanide poisoning, with Hitler’s accompanied by a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. They did not want to face the possibility of a trial for the many war crimes he was responsible for.
In what was proving to be a crumbling empire, Hitler’s death camp soldiers knew they too, were in trouble, the day after he went underground. On January 17, 1945, the Russians were approaching Auschwitz. The decision was made to evacuate most of its population and send them on a death march. It was the largest and the most notorious of the death marches. Just nine days before the Soviets arrived at the death camp at Auschwitz, the SS marched nearly 60,000 prisoners out of the camp toward Loslau, 39 miles away. There, they were put on freight trains to other camps. Approximately 15,000 prisoners died on the way, which is why it was called a death march. Loslau recorded a freezing -4°F and lower at the time the prisoners were arriving. Residents tried to help the prisoners, and many prisoners regained freedom between Auschwitz and Loslau, as the residents helped them escape. The prisoners who were left at the camp were liberated on January 27, 1945, which is a day now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In years after the Holocaust, survivors, such as Primo Levi, Viktor Frankl, and Elie Wiesel, wrote memoirs of their experiences in Auschwitz, and the camp became a dominant symbol of the Holocaust. In 1947, Poland founded the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, and in 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Over the years, people have trained dogs to perform many tasks that were too dangerous for their human counterparts…knowing that the very act of doing their duty would likely cost the dog its life. I think many of us would be sickened by the things these loyal animals went through, but I suppose that in the eyes of their trainers, they were heroes. During World War II, Joseph Stalin approved the use of “canine killers” to fight against German tanks. I think that in most ground wars, the tank is probably the most dreaded weapon there is. In many ways, it is like fighting a robot…it’s almost impossible to kill. The tanks could go right into the middle of the battle, and in fact, right over the people in front of them. They could also shoot from a distance. They were a major weapon against the ground troops. Stalin wanted a weapon to use against them, and decided that the dogs were just the right weapon.
The dogs, usually Alsatians, called “Hundminen” or “dog mines” were trained by the Russians to run under German tanks, at which point the bomb strapped to their backs would explode, destroying the tank…and the dog too, of course. The dogs were going to be their secret weapon, but there was just one problem, at least with the first batch of Kamikaze Dog trainees. The dogs had been trained with Soviet tanks, not German ones. Soviet and German tanks used different types of fuel, and some of the dogs sniffed out the fuel they were used to and trotted off to blow up the tanks used by the very military that trained them. I’m sure that must have been quite a shock to their trainers. The dogs were initially trained to transport explosives to tanks, armored vehicles and other various targets, and then retreat before the bomb exploded, but when that didn’t work well, the routine was replaced by impact detonation, which resulted in the dog’s death. The training began in 1930, and whether they were useful or not the dogs were used in battle. Kamikaze Dogs started to be used less and less from 1942 onwards, though there were Kamikaze Dogs that continued to be trained until 1996.
I find myself feeling horrified by the picture this practice paints. Dogs are usually very loyal, and all they want to do is please their master. They trust their master, or in this case, their trainer, only to be rewarded with death. I’m sure that the Russians eventually got the dogs to the point where they recognized the right targets, or the practice wouldn’t have continued until about 1990. The Soviets have said that about 300 tanks had been destroyed by Kamikaze Dogs, but that number has been questioned by many. Most people think the number was probably made up by the Soviet government in an effort to justify the program, and particularly to justify killing so many dogs with so few results. What a horrible practice.
Imagine being in a country where being afraid is a crime. I’m sure you are wondering how that is possible…in any country, but I assure you, it is. That was the case on this day, July 27, 1943 in Russia. Joseph Stalin was the premier and dictator of Russia at that time in history, and Adolf Hitler was the dictator of Germany. The Germans were advancing into Russian territory, and Stalin was determined to stop them, no matter the cost.
Hitler had become quite bold because of the early successes against Russia in his goal of taking Leningrad and Stalingrad. The attack on Stalingrad proved, however, that the Russians had superior manpower and it was an enormous drain on German resources and troop strength. The Germans were repulsed by a fierce Soviet fighting force, that had been reinforced with more men and materials. Hitler made the decision to turn his sights to Leningrad.
Stalin needed to make sure his force wouldn’t back down…no matter what happened. The motivation to stand their ground needed to apply to both officers and civilians alike, or he was sure that Leningrad would be lost. That was when Stalin decided to put order number 227 into effect. So, what was order number 227? The order declared, “Panic makers and cowards must be liquidated on the spot. Not one step backward without orders from higher headquarters! Commanders…who abandon a position without an order from higher headquarters are traitors to the Fatherland.” Basically the order said that no one…not one person would be a coward. The order became known as the “not one step backward” order. The military personnel, as well as civilians were forced to fight for their city.
I think I can understand what Stalin was doing, but it seems such a drastic measure to take. Still, while some people might fight the enemy to the end, others might decide that their city wasn’t worth their life. If the penalty for backing off was instant liquidation, then standing and fighting became the only way to have a chance at life. In my opinion, that as far as ways to gain loyalty goes, this was not the best of plans, but then forced loyalty seldom is. Still, one must never underestimate the love a patriot feels for their country. The “not one step backward” order was virtually unnecessary, in that on the day the order was issued, the Russian peasants and other supporters in the Leningrad region killed a German official, Adolf Beck, whose job was to send agricultural products from occupied Russia to Germany and to German troops. The Russian patriots also set fire to the granaries and barns in which the stash of agricultural products was stored before transport. A partisan pamphlet issued an order of its own: “Russians! Destroy the German landowners. Drive the Germans from the land of the Soviets!” I guess Stalin had misjudged his peoples’ loyalty.