On this day: Magdeburg in Ruins

This image of the German city of Magdeburg was taken on the 29th of May, 1952, seven years after the end of the Second World War.

Trapped behind the Iron Curtain, as the city was occupied by the Soviets at the end of the war (and the region turned into East Germany), very few of the city’s pre-war buildings were ever restored. Many were left in their bombed state or simply abandoned for years before being pulled down.

Source

Magdeburg, Blick auf die zerstörte Altstadt

Advertisements

On this day: Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses

The 24th of April, 1933 is considered to be the day Nazi Germany began their persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as it is the date the Bible Student headquarters in Magdeburg were seized by police. This came only a few months after Adolf Hitler came to power.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Below is a Nazi renouncement document.

If Jehovah's Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Nazi renouncement document.

From 1935 onwards, many people who kept their religion were sent to concentration camps.

The persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues today, with Russia outlawing the religion only days ago.

On this day: the premiere of Metropolis

metropolispostermetropolis-is-a-1927-german-expressionist-epic-science-fiction-drama-film-directed-by-fritz-lang-he-and-his-wife-thea-von-harbou-wrote-the-silent-film-which-starred-gustav-frohlich

Iconic futuristic German film Metropolis premiered on the 10th of January, 1927.

Filmed in 1925 but set in the year 2026, the film is set in a city with ruling elites and poor workers living beneath them.

the-new-tower-of-babel-fredersens-headquarters-in-metropolis-a-screenshot-from-the-film-metropolis-1927

The film’s New Tower of Babel. X

Containing ground-breaking special effects, the film’s initial budget was 1.5 million reichsmarks, but increased to 5.1 million. Stories of the director forcing long working hours in difficult conditions on the actors (including 500 children) emerged from the set.

Metropolis regularly makes film critics’ lists of history’s greatest movies.

On this day: the birth of “Axis Sally”

mildred-gillars-american-nazi-collaborator-axis-sally-propaganda

American woman Mildred Gillars, nicknamed “Axis Sally” for the prominent role she played broadcasting Nazi propaganda during World War Two, was born on the 29th of November, 1900.

Born in Maine, but moving to Ohio as a child, Gillars moved to Germany to study in 1934, and then later obtained work as an English teacher in Berlin.

mildred-gillars-axis-sally-as-a-young-actress-in-the-1920s-nazi-collaborator-american-history-propaganda

As a young actress in America in the 1920s. X

By 1940, she was working as an announcer for Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft: German State Radio.

Along with an Italian-American woman by the name of Rita Zucca, who performed the same work for Mussolini in Fascist Italy, she was dubbed “Axis Sally” for her anti-American propaganda that was broadcast to US troops once her home country joined the war.

Gillars’ broadcasts told stories of wives and sweethearts at home who cheated with other men while the troops were away, and spread defeatist propaganda to try and destroy American morale.

At the end of the war “Wanted” posters for Gillars were put up around Berlin. Once she was found and arrested in 1946 she was returned to the United States, where she was put on trial for treason.

axis-sally-to-go-to-trial-september-25-1948-the-new-york-times-new-york-september-25-1948

The New York Times announces that Mildred Gillars is to stand trial for treason. X

She was eventually convicted of treason for a broadcast titled Vision Of Invasion, and spent twelve years in prison before being released on parole.

an-unidentified-fbi-agents-escorts-mildred-gillars-as-she-arrives-for-her-treason-trial-in-washington-d-c-in-1949

The FBI escorts Gillars to her trial in 1949. X

Gillars went on to live in a convent and work as a schoolteacher, before dying of cancer in 1988.

Her fellow “Sally”, Rita Zucca, spent nine months in an Italian prison, and – having given up her American citizenship – was barred from the United States.

On this day: Prisoners of War

This image, taken on the 25th of November, 1918, shows German prisoners of war working in the marble quarries of Marquise, Pas-de-Calais, France.

From the Imperial War Museum

the_german_prisoners_in_the_allied_captivity_1914-1918_q9702german-prisoners-working-in-the-marble-quarries-at-marquise-25th-november-1918

On this day: the birth of Strongheart

Strongheart, a German Shepherd, was born on the 1st of October, 1917. Originally trained as a police dog for Germany in World War One, he went on to become a movie star.

In 1921 X

Strongheart, a German Shepherd, was born on the 1st of October, 1917. Originally trained as a police dog for Germany in World War One, he went on to become a movie star in America.

Originally named Etzel von Oeringen, his owner fell into poverty at the end of the war and sent him to the United States in 1920, where he was renamed at the suggestion of a studio.

Promotional still for the 1922 film Brawn of the North, featuring Strongheart and Irene Rich

Brawn of the North

Strongheart’s film credits include 1921’s The Silent Call and 1922’s Brawn of the North.

His last film was 1927’s The Return of Boston Blackie.

Strongheart-Book-1926-FCFront cover the the 1926 book Strongheart; The Story of a Wonder Dog.

As the star of a book in 1926.

The dog was accidentally burnt by studio lights, which caused him to develop a tumour. He died in June 1929.