Monthly Archives: May 2011

World War II Vets Tell Their Stories

The World in Flames:  A World War II Sourcebook, published by Oxford University Press, 2010, recounts tales of heroism, torture and deception from around the globe between 1939-1945.

Article by Moni Basu  for CNN, May 28, 2011:

Roland Marbaugh wrote 509 pages of his tales of war — from the swampy Solomon Islands in World War II to the frozen Chosin Reservoir in Korea.

His son typed them all up on an electric typewriter in the 1980s but unpublished, Marbaugh’s stories remained largely in his mind. Until now.

Marbaugh’s story will soon be among 600 others on Witness to War, a virtual library of Americans in combat. When his testimony is posted in a few days, viewers will be able to hear the former Marine captain, now a spry 91, recount harrowing tales with photographic precision.

Some things never dulled in Marbaugh’s memory. Like how fellow Marine “Wee Willie Wilson” killed 19 Japanese in their foxholes on the Pacific island of Bougainville and was awarded a prestigious Naval Cross for his “valiant fighting spirit.”

“He had 20 rounds of ammunition; killed 19 Japanese. Willy was a show-off,” Marbaugh said of his fellow Marine. “We don’t know how he got in their bunker. He never told me.”

Marbaugh might have never gotten a chance to recount his stories had it not been for Atlanta entrepreneur Tom Beaty, the founder of Witness to War.

Beaty’s own interest in combat tales developed rather unusually.

He didn’t come from a military family. Nor did he grow up like Marbaugh’s children, listening to war stories from daddy. He didn’t even like history lessons in school, in which he learned about the sweeping nature of war — dates and names, but nothing that gave a boy a clear idea of what it was like to be there.

What I learned in high school was the high-level view of things, not the horror of delivering freedom. Our mission is simple — to preserve, honor and educate.
–Tom Beaty, founder of Witness to War

Then, when he was 11, Beaty’s mother gave him a pictorial history of World War II. He flipped through the pages and stared at each photograph. What was it like to be there? What did war smell like? How did it feel to be wounded or watch someone die?

He earned a degree in military history at the University of North Carolina and more than anything, he wanted other Americans to appreciate the view from the foxhole as much as he did.

Later in Atlanta, he began attending World War II roundtable meetings. Someone, he realized, needed to capture the veterans’ stories for posterity.

He bought a camera and recording equipment and launched Witness to War in 2002. Outside of his business consulting job, Beaty spent his own money and time interviewing soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen. It was a labor of love and a project that married his personal interest with a desire to give back to those who had sacrificed.

War at Home: A soldier’s war on two fronts

Today, it’s a searchable archive of 600 such accounts. Beaty hopes to grow the virtual library by at least a thousand more tales in two years. Eventually, he’d like to see it all in the Library of Congress.

He knows he’s racing against time with World War II veterans, many in their 90s, like Marbaugh, or even older. They are dying off at the rate of 1,000 per day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and taking their stories to cold graves.

“Every time a veteran dies, a library burns,” Beaty said in his suburban Atlanta office.

“What I learned in high school was the high-level view of things, not the horror of delivering freedom,” he said. “Our mission is simple — to preserve, honor and educate.”

Imagine, he said, if the stories of Revolutionary War or Civil War veterans had been captured on video.

Beaty used to do all the interviews himself. Now he has an assistant and hopes one day to be able to deploy a team of interviewers to record veterans’ stories.

He has interviewed Medal of Honor recipients whose experiences are well known. But it’s those who have rarely spoken who interest Beaty the most. And sometimes, it’s his curiosity that leads him to them.

When Beaty was visiting his father’s grave in Union County, North Carolina, he noticed a dual grave with two headstones.

The father had passed away, but there was only a birth date for the son. It was an unusual name: Arch de Castrique.

Beaty looked up de Castrique and ended up eating breakfast at McDonald’s with him, listening to stories about Japanese soldiers and their combat tactics and agreed to tell them on camera. Shortly afterwards, de Castrique developed Alzheimer’s and could no longer recall his experiences. Eventually, the disease took his life.

But his story lives on because of Beaty’s project.

Sometimes, the interviews are emotional, filled with painful pauses and tears. Others are cathartic, as it was for Glenn Gooch, who fought with the 4th Infantry in World War II.

Gooch told Beaty how he had come across dead Americans during his first combat experience in France, some with their throats slit. It was meant to scare the living.

Or another time, when he fired his M1 rifle at a German soldier close up in the dark.

“I can see it just as plain today as I did that night. Shooting at him so much until his body, his hips, in that area, looked like it was on fire.”

All the while Gooch speaks, his eyes never meet Beaty’s camera. It was the first time he had talked about his combat memories publicly.

Beaty is constantly on a search for more stories. He contacted Marbaugh after he read an account of the 17 days of brutal battle in North Korea’s Chosin Reservoir on its 60th anniversary.

The Marines were encircled by Chinese troops. They fought for their lives. Beaty said he was struck by the accounts of hand-to-hand combat with Chinese troops.

Marbaugh said many of his fellow Marines froze to death as they were forced to retreat south. When the Chinese charged down a hill, he gave the orders: a bayonet or a bullet.

“We had to do what we had to do,” he said. “Not too proud of it.”

Marbaugh, then a captain, started off with 500 men under him. After Chosin, he was left with 75.

The temperatures fell to 16 below. The dead were covered up and left to freeze.

Marbaugh said “Tootsie Rolls” was the code name for ammunition. But somebody who loaded up the ammo for airdrops thought the Marines wanted candy. So with every case of ammo came the sweet stuff.

“You could do nothing with food or water,” he said, referring to the frigid weather. “But you could put a Tootsie Roll under your arm. It would get warm and soft.”

Marbaugh also told Beaty a harrowing tale of napalm, when there were hundreds of Chinese soldiers coming their way and the Air Force stepped in to save the surrounded Marines.

There were four planes — one to spot and three to attack.

“The second plane dropped his napalm but not the third or fourth. At the same time Marines from all sides opened up with mortars and heavy machine guns.

“Why didn’t you drop?” the second pilot asked the others.

“There was no target left,” they replied.

“We had massacred them,” Marbaugh said.

Marbaugh was honored to be able to share his stories. “I’m glad they picked me,” he said.

Beaty looked at Marbaugh and his son and thought about all the lifelines that were stopped by war, all the families that never were because a man died on the battlefield. He said he felt a need to make the connection between the sacrifices that were made and the freedoms that Americans enjoy.

He was thankful for men like Marbaugh, who survived to tell. They were warriors who became walking libraries.


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Blackbeard’s Anchor Recovered off North Carolina Coast

Article by Martha Waggoner for Associated Press, May 27, 2011:

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (AP) – Archaeologists recovered the first anchor from what’s believed to be the wreck of the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship off the North Carolina coast Friday, a move that might change plans about how to save the rest of the almost 300-year-old artifacts from the central part of the ship.

Divers had planned to recover the second-largest artifact on what’s believed to be the Queen Anne’s Revenge but discovered it was too well-attached to other items in the ballast pile, said project director Mark Wilde-Ramsing. Instead they pulled up another anchor that is the third-largest artifact and likely was the typical anchor for the ship.

Apparently, pirates had everyday anchors and special anchors just most people have everyday dishes and good china.

“That’s a big ship to be putting that out to stop it,” Wilde-Ramsing said admiringly as a pulley system of straps and men holding ropes moved the anchor from a boat to the back of truck. It’s the first large anchor that divers have retrieved; they earlier brought up a small, grapnel anchor.

The anchor is 11 feet, 4 inches long with arms that are 7 feet, 7 inches across. It was covered with concretion _ a mixture of shells, sand and other debris attracted by the leaching wrought iron _ and a few sea squirts. Its weight was estimated at 2,500 to 3,000 pounds.

The anchor’s size is typical for a ship the size of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, while the two other anchors probably were used in emergencies, such as storms, Wilde-Ramsing said.

Archaeologists had planned to remove the second-largest anchor, which is 13 feet long with arms that are 8 feet across, from the top of the ballast pile. But it was too well-attached, so instead the divers went in from the side to retrieve the everyday anchor. That means that future dives may involve going in from the side of the shipwreck rather than the top, he said.

Divers will work four days next week, when they’ll decide how to proceed.

State officials hope the anchor and other artifacts will attract tourists. The largest exhibit of artifacts from the shipwreck, which was discovered in 1996, will be shown starting June 11 at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Wilde-Ramsing has said the team hopes to recover all the artifacts by the end of 2013.

And the timing of the recovery of the anchor couldn’t be better for North Carolina officials, trying to increase tourism interest in the shipwreck. The Disney film “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” starring Johnny Depp was released earlier this month and features both Blackbeard and the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

The only remaining parts of the ship _ the wooden hull structure, ribs and a plank _ are at the bottom of the pile, protected by ballast that kept the ship upright. Six cannon and three other anchors are also in the pile.

Wendy Welsh, field conservator and QAR lab manager, and archaeologist Chris Southerly dived in the Atlantic to hook up the anchor for its lift to the ocean surface. “It lifted great,” said Welsh, who has worked with the project for nine years. “I didn’t think I’d see this day so soon.”

Southerly compared the retrieval to the child’s game of Pick-Up-Sticks, where players toss plastic sticks on a hard surface and then remove them one at a time without disturbing the ones underneath. “It’s really satisfying that I’ve had privilege of seeing it,” he said.

In 1717, Blackbeard captured a French slave ship and renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge. Blackbeard, whose real name was widely believed to be Edward Teach or Thatch, settled in Bath and received a governor’s pardon. Volunteers with the Royal Navy killed him in Ocracoke Inlet in November 1718, five months after the ship thought to be Queen Anne’s Revenge sank.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, has already yielded more than 250,000 artifacts.

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The Atrocities at Srebrenica

Article from CNN, written in 2006 by Graham Jones:

t is now remembered as the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

In a five-day orgy of slaughter at Srebrenica in July 1995, up to 8,000 Muslims were systematically exterminated in what was described at the U.N. war crimes tribunal as “the triumph of evil.”

Former Bosnian Serb commander-in-chief General Ratko Mladic, who is accused of direct involvement in the genocide at Srebrenica, was arrested on Thursday after more than 15 years on the run.

In 1995, Srebrenica was designated a U.N. “safe area.”

A judge at The Hague tribunal was later to describe what happened there as “truly scenes from hell written on the darkest pages of human history.”

Thousands of Bosnian Muslims had sought refuge in the spa town of Srebrenica in 1995 as the Bosnian Serb army marched towards them.

They were protected by just 100 lightly equipped Dutch peacekeepers — who proved no match for the advancing, heavily-armed Serb army.

Denied reinforcements, the Dutch were forced to stand aside while Serb troops intent on “ethnic cleansing” did their worst — the peacekeepers even witnessing the summary execution of civilians.

In the days before the onslaught, 30,000 Muslims fleeing the advancing Serb army were crammed into the town. Within days there was not one Muslim left.

A great number fled — only for many of them to be wiped out in Serb ambushes — but the men who stayed fared the worst.

Thousands of men and boys as young as 10 were rounded up and murdered. Those who tried to hide in their homes were, according to evidence at the trial of Serb General Radislav Krstic at The Hague in March 2000, “hunted down like dogs and slaughtered.”

Serbian TV footage shows women and children being separated from the men and put on buses.

In a sickening show of “reassurance” Mladic — now on the war crimes tribunal’s most wanted list — told the women everyone would be taken out by bus out and safely reunited.

When the cameras were turned off the real face of the Serb army emerged as the slaughter began.

More than 60 truckloads of refugees were taken from Srebrenica to execution sites where they were bound, blindfolded, and shot with automatic rifles.

Some of the executions were carried out at night under arc lights. Industrial bulldozers then pushed the bodies into mass graves.

Some were buried alive, a French policeman who collected evidence from Bosnian Muslims, Jean-Rene Ruez, told The Hague tribunal in 1996.

He gave evidence that Bosnian Serb forces had killed and tortured refugees at will. Streets were littered with corpses, he said, and rivers were red with blood. Many people committed suicide to avoid having their noses, lips and ears chopped off, he said.

Among other lurid accounts of mass murder, Ruez cited cases of adults being forced to kill their children or watching as soldiers ended the young lives.

“One soldier approached a woman in the middle of a crowd,” he said. “Her child was crying. The soldier asked why the child was crying and she explained that he was hungry. The soldier made a comment like, ‘He won’t be hungry anymore.’ He slit the child’s throat in front of everybody.”

Later it was revealed that Mladic had been able to press on unhindered by issuing ultimatums to the U.N. protection force.

It was suggested the U.N. high command had promised to stop air strikes against the Serb army in return for the release of 370 U.N. soldiers held prisoner — and Mladic took this as the green light to attack Srebrenica.

The Commander of the Dutch U.N. troops, Col. Thomas Karremans, told The Hague tribunal in 1996 that he had first requested NATO air strikes when Mladic’s troops began their assault on July 6, but that the request was not granted until July 11 when Srebrenica fell. By then, Karremans said, it “was too late and too little.”

Karremans said a long Serb blockade before the attack had left the lightly armed Dutch battalion desperately short of food and fuel, but requests for fresh supplies went unheeded.

In 1999 the U.N. admitted its error in expecting 100 Dutch troops to deter the Bosnian Serb army.

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Austrian Town Finally Revokes Hitler’s Honorary Citizenship

Story from The Daily Mail, May 26, 2011:

The Austrian town where incest monster Josef Fritzl lived has revoked the honorary citizenship of Adolf Hitler.

The town council of Amstetten, 95 miles from Vienna, approved the motion in a bid to banish its ties to the Nazis ahead of its 900-year anniversary.

It comes just three weeks after the council approved plans to tear down Fritzl’s house of horrors.

Mayor Herbert Katzengruber said the decision to declare the title ‘null and void’ was approved by a large majority in the chamber.

But it followed an emotional debate where two council members of the right-wing Freedom Party abstained.

They contended that the vote was unnecessary because the title ended with Hitler’s death in 1945.

The debate was started by Green Party councillor Raphael Lueger, who said a town historian had revealed the honorary citizenship in 1996.

Hitler, an Austrian, visited Amstetten in 1939 and was granted the title, Mr Lueger said.

Other senior Nazis were also given honorary citizenship in Amstetten, as elsewhere in Austria, he claimed.

There is a long-standing public debate in Austria about the extent to which local people were victims or accomplices of Nazism.

The country was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938.

A poll on the 70-year anniversary of Hitler’s takeover showed 60 percent of Austrians were weary of talk about the Nazi past and wanted an end to it.

Amstetten shot to notoriety in 2008 when police revealed Josef Fritzl had imprisoned his daughter in a cellar under his house there for 24 years and fathered seven children with her.

His house, on Ybbsstrasse, became a world-wide symbol of evil after the revelations.

Planning officials at Amstetten City Hall approved an application to pull down the house in a secret closed session earlier this month. Fritzl is serving a life sentence for the crimes.

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Red Cross and Vatican Helped Thousands of Nazis Escape

Article by Dalya Alberge in The Guardian, May 25, 2011:

The Red Cross and the Vatican both helped thousands of Nazi war criminals and collaborators to escape after the second world war, according to a book that pulls together evidence from unpublished documents.

The Red Cross has previously acknowledged that its efforts to help refugees were used by Nazis because administrators were overwhelmed, but the research suggests the numbers were much higher than thought.

Gerald Steinacher, a research fellow at Harvard University, was given access to thousands of internal documents in the archives of theInternational Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The documents include Red Cross travel documents issued mistakenly to Nazis in the postwar chaos.

They throw light on how and why mass murderers such as Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele and Klaus Barbie and thousands of others evaded capture by the allies.

By comparing lists of wanted war criminals to travel documents, Steinacher says Britain and Canada alone inadvertently took in around 8,000 former Waffen-SS members in 1947, many on the basis of valid documents issued mistakenly.

The documents – which are discussed in Steinacher’s book Nazis on the Run: How Hitler’s henchmen fled justice – offer a significant insight into Vatican thinking, particularly, because its own archives beyond 1939 are still closed. The Vatican has consistently refused to comment.

Steinacher believes the Vatican’s help was based on a hoped-for revival of European Christianity and dread of the Soviet Union. But through the Vatican Refugee Commission, war criminals were knowingly provided with false identities.

The Red Cross, overwhelmed by millions of refugees, relied substantially on Vatican references and the often cursory Allied military checks in issuing travel papers, known as 10.100s.

It believed it was primarily helping innocent refugees although correspondence between Red Cross delegations in Genoa, Rome and Geneva shows it was aware Nazis were getting through.

“Although the ICRC has publicly apologised, its action went well beyond helping a few people,” said Steinacher.

Steinacher says the documents indicate that the Red Cross, mostly in Rome or Genoa, issued at least 120,000 of the 10.100s, and that 90% of ex-Nazis fled via Italy, mostly to Spain, and North and South America – notably Argentina.

Former SS members often mixed with genuine refugees and presented themselves as stateless ethnic Germans to gain transit papers. Jews trying to get to Palestine via Italy were sometimes smuggled over the border with escaping Nazis.

Steinacher says that individual Red Cross delegations issued war criminals with 10.100s “out of sympathy for individuals … political attitude, or simply because they were overburdened”. Stolen documents were also used to whisk Nazis to safety. He said: “They were really in a dilemma. It was difficult. It wanted to get rid of the job. Nobody wanted to do it.”

The Red Cross refused to comment directly on Steinacher’s findings but the organisation says on its website: “The ICRC has previously deplored the fact that Eichmann and other Nazi criminals misused its travel documents to cover their tracks.”

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Georgia Says Russia Committed Genocide in 19th Century

Article by Ellen Barry for NYTimes, May 20, 2011:

TBILISI, Georgia — The Georgian Parliament voted Friday to recognize the 19th-century killings and deportations of ethnic Circassians by czarist Russia as genocide, a move that is likely to inflame tensions between the two countries.

Moscow is extraordinarily sensitive to any anti-Russian movements in the North Caucasus, a region on Russia’s southern border where it has been battling insurgents since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The declaration may also strengthen calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, which the Circassians consider part of their homeland.

Relations between Georgia and Russia have remained hostile since a brief war in 2008, and Georgia recently made an effort to build ties with restive Caucasian ethnic groups in Russia. Last year, Georgia dropped visa requirements for residents of the North Caucasus, and it started First Caucasus News, a Russian-language satellite channel.

Friday’s vote was Georgia’s most assertive move yet, and lawmakers hailed the decision as historic. No other country has recognized the killing of Circassians as genocide.

“This is Caucasian solidarity, a centuries-old tradition — much greater than Russia and the Russian empire,” said Guram Chakhvadze, a member of Parliament from the National Democratic Party. “I want to tell my Circassian friends that this is a first step, and I hope they will not lose hope.”

When they were driven from Russia, hundreds of thousands of Circassians scattered to Turkey, Syria, Jordan and the United States, where they assimilated and have lived for four or five generations. Some of their descendants have made attempts to return to their ancestral lands, an extraordinary challenge for those without Russian citizenship.

The Georgian resolution says that the Russian empire planned and carried out the ethnic cleansing of Circassians, ultimately displacing 90 percent of them. It also says that czarist Russia artificially spread hunger and disease with the goal of annihilating the Circassians, and that it then resettled other ethnic groups in their land.

The statement passed on a vote of 95 to 0. Only one lawmaker spoke against it in debate, arguing that the resolution risked offending Georgia’s ethnic Armenians, who have never won Georgia’s support for the recognition of genocide against Armenians under theOttoman Empire. Members of the opposition Christian Democratic Movement abstained from voting. “Qualifying all of this as a genocide, especially when it will have very complicated, deep and long-lasting implications for our country’s national security, is unacceptable for us,” said Nikoloz Laliashvili, a Christian Democrat.

Russian analysts said the resolution risked setting off conflict over both the Sochi Olympics and the demands of the Circassian diaspora for a return to ancestral lands. Konstantin I. Kosachev, the chief of the international affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of Parliament, said Georgia had political reasons for supporting the Circassians.

He said the Georgian lawmakers “were not moved” by the fate of the Circassians, but were pursuing “personal political goals.”

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Brain Illness Could Have Affected Stalin’s Actions

Article by Shaun Walker for The Independent, April 22, 2011:

It’s one of the great questions of history, and indeed philosophy: what does it take to create a Hitler or a Stalin? What circumstances does it require to produce such evil? Newly released diaries from one of Joseph Stalin’s personal doctors suggest that, in Stalin’s case, illness could have helped to contribute to the paranoia and ruthlessness of his rule over the Soviet Union.

Alexander Myasnikov was one of the doctors called to Stalin’s deathbed when the dictator fell ill in 1953, and, in diaries that have been kept secret up to now, he claims that Stalin suffered from a brain illness that could have impaired his decision-making.

“The major atherosclerosis in the brain, which we found at the autopsy, should raise the question of how much this illness – which had clearly been developing over a number of years – affected Stalin’s health, his character and his actions,” Dr Myasnikov wrote in his diaries, excerpts of which were published for the first time in the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets yesterday. “Stalin may have lost his sense of good and bad, healthy and dangerous, permissible and impermissible, friend and enemy. Character traits can become exaggerated, so that a suspicious person becomes paranoid,” the doctor wrote.

In what could be another fascinating insight into the inner world of Stalin, purported excerpts from the secret diaries of Lavrentiy Beria, one of the most unpleasant and bloodthirsty members of Stalin’s inner circle, also surfaced this week. The Beria diaries, excerpts of which appeared in Komsomolskaya Pravda, are to be released by a controversial publishing house that has previously published books whitewashing Stalin-era crimes, and there is no independent verification yet that they are genuine. If they are, they would prove invaluable to historians as an insight into the warped mind of Beria as well as into the inner workings of the Soviet hierarchy.

The diaries refer to Stalin by his revolutionary nickname “Koba” and are filled with coarse language and swearing. The entries start in 1938, when Stalin called on Beria to leave his native Georgia and travel to Moscow to work as the deputy to Nikolai Yezhov, head of the feared NKVD secret police and known as “the bloodthirsty dwarf”. The NKVD had just conducted the “Great Purge”, when hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens had been shot.

Yezhov himself was shot in 1940 and Beria took over his position as head of the NKVD, becoming one of Stalin’s most trusted lieutenants. He was also known as a sexual deviant, frequently trawling the streets of Moscow and picking out women who would be taken back to his mansion and raped.

The alleged diaries occasionally show a softer side to Beria, expressing regret about the life he had ended up leading. “I like nature, and fishing, but when is there time for that now?” he wrote during the height of the Second World War, in 1943.

Beria’s diaries, if genuine, also shed new light on events during the Second World War. When in August 1942 Winston Churchill travelled to Moscow to meet Stalin, the allies were suspicious of each other, and Beria claims he advised Stalin that the best way to win concessions from the British Prime Minister would be to get him drunk.

After the visit, Beria wrote: “These are not funny times, but we have all had a laugh. Koba told me that my advice about Churchill came in handy. Churchill agreed, got completely drunk and lost the plot. Koba told us about it and laughed… Afterwards, he said: ‘It’s good when you know the weaknesses of your enemy in advance.'”

On the evening of 10 May 1945, the day after Soviet troops celebrated victory, Beria notes that Stalin started crying. “Again we spent the evening with Koba… He was even softer, and he even had to brush away a tear.”

Stalin died in 1953, and Beria was arrested shortly afterwards and shot, before the Soviet Union began a gradual retreat from the bloody excesses of the Stalin period. “I would suggest that the cruelty and suspicion of Stalin, his fear of enemies… was created to a large extent by atherosclerosis of the cerebral arteries,” Dr Myasnikov wrote in his diaries. “The country was being run, in effect, by a sick man.”

Striking notes: Extracts from the diaries

Alexander Myasnikov

* “I would suggest that the cruelty and suspicion of Stalin, his fear of enemies… was created to a large extent by atherosclerosis of the cerebral arteries. The country was being run, in effect, by a sick man.”

* “Death was expected at any moment. Finally it came, at 9.50pm on 5 March… Party leaders quietly filed into the room, as well as Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana, son Vasily and security detail. Everyone stood without moving in ceremonial silence, for a long time. I don’t even know how long – maybe half an hour or more.”

Lavrenty Beria

* “I remember the picnics Koba [Stalin] and I had in the mid-1930s. He with his big moustache, and me all young and thin, in a shirt with an open collar, chopping wood for the fire. And fresh trout. It was good back then.”

* “Today I saw tears in Koba’s eyes for the first time. I told him about Stalingrad, about how people are fighting. When I reach that point, I just swear a lot and feel better. But he tries to keep it together, and what about his heart? He couldn’t hold it in.”

* “[Churchill] got completely drunk and lost the plot. Koba told us about it and laughed… Afterwards, he said: ‘It’s good when you know the weaknesses of your enemy in advance.'”

For more on WWII from personal perspectives, see The World in Flames:  A World War II Sourcebook, published by Oxford University Press, 2010

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