Two Nazis and a Military Analyst Walk into a Bar… (May11th)

~May 11~

On this day, May 11, 1960, four Israeli Mossad agents, with the help of Simon Wiesenthal/the Nazi Hunter, captured fugitive Nazi Adolf Eichmann who was living under the alias of Ricardo Klement in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

After his trial in Israel and the denial of his appeal, Eichmann was scheduled for execution. He refused a last meal, instead, Eichmann requested a bottle of wine, and he also refused the traditional black execution hood.  His last words were:

“Long live Germany.  Long live Argentina.  Long live Austria.  These are the three countries with which I have been most connected and which I will not forget.  I greet my wife, my family, and my friends.  I am ready.  We’ll meet again soon, as is the fate of all men.  I die believing in God.”

He was executed shortly after midnight on June 1, 1962; his body was cremated at a secret location, and his ashes were scattered in the Mediterranean Sea, outside of Israeli territorial waters by an Israeli Navy patrol boat…

And, I guess, that’s the end of the story, right?

Well, no, in my opinion, there’s more. How did Eichmann get to Argentina, how was he able to hide for so long, how was he found, and perhaps, most importantly, why was he not extradited, why was he kidnapped by one nation-state from inside another nation-state. Could you imagine the outcry if the Russian’s kidnapped an American in the US, and snuck him to Russia for trial?  Look at the situation in the UK, where Russians have assassinated and attempted to assassinate British residents twice in the past several years… if its outrageous for Russian operatives to work inside the UK, isn’t it somewhat outrageous that the Israeli Mossad operated within Argentina? Or are international norms only for the bad guys to follow? It seems, at times, that we have Double Standard in terms of expected international norms by state actors, and, additionally we don’t even always know what our government is doing.

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Take this other example: On this day, May 11, 1973, the charges against Daniel Ellsberg, for his involvement in releasing the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, were dismissed. Daniel Ellsberg, who had worked on the Pentagon Papers, officially titled Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force, had leaked/released the report to the Times. The report was a history of the United States’ political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967 and had demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration “systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress”. More specifically, the papers revealed that the U.S. had secretly enlarged the scope of its actions in the Vietnam War with the bombings of nearby Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, none of which were reported in the mainstream media.

The Pentagon Papers were announced and described on the front page of The New York Times in 1971. Ellsberg was initially charged with conspiracy, espionage, and theft of government property, because of the leaks… but on May 11, 1973, the charges were dismissed after the Watergate prosecutors discovered evidence that the Nixon White House had ordered the so-called White House Plumbers to engage in unlawful efforts to discredit Ellsberg.

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Finally, on this day, May 11, 1987, Klaus Barbie went on trial in Lyon, France, for war crimes committed during World War II. Known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” Barbie personally tortured French prisoners of the Gestapo while stationed in Lyon. After the war, United States intelligence agencies used Barbie for their anti-Marxist efforts and also helped Barbie and others escape to South America. Later, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (the West German intelligence agency) recruited Barbie. Barbie is even rumored to have helped the CIA capture Che Guevara in 1967, as well as assisting in the Bolivian coup d’état orchestrated by Luis García Meza Tejada in 1980 [I mentioned that coup briefly on the May 5th podcast of This Day Today]. After the fall of that dictatorship, Barbie no longer had the protection of the Bolivian government. In 1983, Barbie was extradited to France, not kidnapped by French intelligence agents, and he was ultimately convicted of crimes against humanity. He died of cancer in prison on September 23, 1991.

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May 11th: An Israeli operation, quite illegal from an objective point of view, to capture a Nazi; the arrest of an American who leaked to the public the truth of what the government was hiding from the American people, and the doll-faced Nazi named Barbie, who was recruited to work for the US Government as well as West Germany, even though both agencies knew him to be a war criminal.

Certainly, politics makes strange bedfellows. Yes, the enemy of my enemy, maybe my friend, but shouldn’t we have some standards? If its ok for the US to lie to the American people, to hire known war criminals, and to look the other way as Israel violates the national sovereignty of other nation-states… then, are we any better than those we criticize in the world community? Are we really the beacon on the hill, the New Jerusalem? …Or are we just another rogue state ourselves?

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And that’s what happened This Day in Today…

Remember,

Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

Thank you for listening!

A German Rabbi, Nazis, + Irish Music (May 10th)

~May 10~

On this day, May 10, 1902, Joachim Prinz was born in the Prussian province of Silesia. As a young rabbi in Berlin, Prinz was forced to confront the rise of Nazism.

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One of those events in the rise of Nazism, “The Säube-rung” also occurred on, this day, May 10, in the year 1933. German students initiated a purge of books by fire… Estimates are that upwards of 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books were burned. This “student-led” event was the culmination of efforts by the Main Office for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Union efforts a month earlier… Starting on April 8, 1933, the students union had proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit.”

All across Germany, Nazi officials as well as professors, rectors, and student leaders addressed the participants and spectators. At the book burnings, students threw the pillaged, banned books into the bonfires with an almost concert festival atmosphere that included live music, singing, “fire oaths,” and incantations. In Berlin alone, some 40,000 people gathered in the square at the State Opera to hear Joseph Goebbels deliver that famous fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels enjoined the crowd. “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner.”

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Eventually, Rabbi Prinz emigrated to the United States in 1937 and, at least personally, he escaped the rising tide of Nazism. In America, Prinz became outspoken against Nazism and was an active member of the World Zionist Organization and the World Jewish Congress… By the late 1950s, and through the 1960s, Prinz was also the President of the American Jewish Congress…

Dr. Prinz devoted much of his life in the United States to the Civil Rights movement. He saw the plight of African American and other minority groups in the context of his own experience under Hitler.

From his early days in Newark, a city with a very large minority community, he spoke from his pulpit about the disgrace of discrimination. He joined the picket lines across America protesting racial prejudice from unequal employment to segregated schools, housing, and all other areas of life.

Also, while serving as President of the American Jewish Congress, he represented the Jewish community as one of the organizers of the great August 28, 1963, March on Washington. Prinz came to the podium immediately following a stirring spiritual sung by the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and just before Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his immortal speech, “I Have a Dream.”

In his speech, Prinz argued in the face of discrimination, “the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

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Also, in the 60s, specifically on this day, May 10, 1960, Paul David Hewson was born in Dublin, Ireland. While his mother was Iris Rankin was a member of the Church of Ireland, his father was, Brendan Robert “Bob” Hewson, a Roman Catholic. Kinda like the inverse of the great song “The Orange and the Green” also known as “The Biggest Mix-Up.” “Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen My father he was orange and my mother she was green.” This dual religious parentage gave Hewson a unique perspective on The Troubles.

Hewson soon established himself as a passionate frontman for his band through his expressive vocal style and grandiose gestures and songwriting. His lyrics are known for their social and political themes, and for their religious imagery inspired by his Christian beliefs. During the early years, Hewson’s lyrics contributed to the group’s rebellious and spiritual tone. As the band matured, his lyrics became inspired more by personal experiences shared with the other members. Hewson and his band have received 22 Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Hewson is known as an Irish singer-songwriter, musician, venture capitalist, businessman, and philanthropist. More importantly, Hewson is widely known for his activism for social justice causes. He is particularly active in campaigning for Africa, for which he co-founded DATA, EDUN, the ONE Campaign, and Product Red. In pursuit of these causes, he has participated in benefit concerts and met with influential politicians including John Hume, David Trimble, Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi.

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On May 10, 1994, one of those influential politicians, Nelson Mandela, was inaugurated as South Africa’s first sub-Saharan black president… Rabbi Prinz, a man who experienced ethnoreligious bigotry… who came to the United States and stood up for African-American rights… living through the tumultuous 60s, when Paul Hewson was born… Paul Hewson, who became a social justice leader himself… using his social status to raise up issues and people of justice. One of those people, Nelson Mandela, who lived up to the promise… but also, Aung San Suu Kyi, who, at least at this point, seems to have stumbled. But who am I to judge, as I mentioned yesterday, US President John F. Kennedy once said, “No one has a right to grade a President — not even poor James Buchanan — who has not sat in his chair, examined the mail and information that came across his desk, and learned why he made decisions.”

On this day, May 10, 1902, Joachim Prinz was born in the Prussian province of Silesia. Nazism got a bit stronger on this day, May 10, 1933. But on May 10, 1960, a bright spot; Paul Hewson was born in Dublin, Ireland. And on May 10, 1994, one of those influential politicians friends of Bono, Nelson Mandela, was inaugurated as South Africa’s first sub-Saharan black president…

And that’s what happened This Day in Today…

Remember,

Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

Thank you for listening!

May the 4th Be With You

Welcome to This Day in Today,

My name is Tom Keefe, and I’m the Babbling Professor!

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  On this day, May 4, 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued the papal bull which divided the so-called New World between Spain and Portugal along the Line of Demarcation. Yes, that Pope Alexander VI… the Pope’s whose birth name was Rodrigo Borgia, an Aragonese from Valencia, meaning he was Spanish… that whole Ferdinand and Isabella/Castile and Aragon thingy… the Pope who drew the line on the map was a national of one of the two parties… what would we call that today? Conflict of interest maybe? And that’s skipping over the absurd assumption of terra nullis, the idea that the lands did not belong to anyone because, you know, the people living there weren’t European-Christians. In 1992, the Australian Supreme Court overturned terra nullis in the landmark case Mabo v Queensland (1992); indigenous people worldwide celebrated the decision and have implored governments in the Americas, in particular, to follow suit (see what I did there?) even if it is symbolic more than practical. So this Line of Demarcation, it had a few renditions, but it is essentially the same as the late, and more famous Treaty of Tordesillas.

Here’s one more, not sure if we call it ignorance or irony… can we call it ignorant irony? Anyway, here’s one more for ya, this line essentially drew a line in the Atlantic and said Spain gets west of the line (that’s why so much of the Western Hemisphere speaks Spanish, and Portugal got East of that line, essentially eastern Brasil; I always thought Portugal got the short end of the deal (though not as short as the indigenous peoples and the non-Spanish/Portuguese nations), but later I realized that Portugal had a see-empire that included the Canaries, the Azores, the Madeira, ports along the African coast, parts of India, particularly Goa, etc., etc, and with Portugal’s naval supremacy at the time, this sea-empire was contiguous by water… Perhaps the Borgia Pope did Europe a favor by taming the Portuguese Empire, but of course, Borgia was still, by modern standards, biased and his decision restrained Portugal while at the same time ushered in the rise of Spain is a way.

Finally, for whatever positive or nefarious spin we put to the story, the Line of Demarcation was only legally significant for about 24 years…at least in Europe… there is still the legal significance of terra nullis, but let’s go back to Europe in 1493: The Spanish Catholic Pope drew a line and granted extraterritorial gains to the Catholic Joint Kingdoms of Aragon and Castile and the Catholic Kingdom of Portugal. Hmmm… I think I see a pattern here? Something about the word, “Catholic”? Man, if I were a Catholic monarch from one of the other European countries, I’d be ticked! But, I mean, the Pope said so, right?  Play interlude music for 24 years…But wait! What’s that guy doing? He’s got a hammer and nails, huh! He just nailed a list, a long list, to the doors of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg! I guess we don’t have to listen to the Pope anymore… and if the Dutch, English, and Swedes aren’t going to listen anymore, then the French Catholics aren’t going to sit idly by and respect Pope Alexander VI’s Line of Demarcation which had divided the so-called New World between Spain and Portugal, issued on this day, May 4, 1493.

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On this day, May 4, 1938, Carl von Ossietzky was born in Berlin, Nazi Germany. Von Ossietzky (October 3, 1889 – May 4, 1938) was a German. He was convicted of high treason and espionage in 1931 after publishing details of Germany’s violation of the Treaty of Versailles by rebuilding an air force, the predecessor of the Luftwaffe, and training pilots in the Soviet Union. As a result, Carl was awarded the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in exposing the clandestine German re-armament, but the German press was not allowed to mention it, and a government decree forbade German citizens from accepting future Nobel Prizes. In May 1936, Carl was transferred from a prison camp to the Westend Hospital in Berlin-Charlottenburg because of his tuberculosis, but under Gestapo surveillance. He later died in the Nordend Hospital in Berlin-Pankow, while still in police custody of tuberculosis and from the after-effects of the abuse he suffered in the concentration camps.

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Seven years later, on this day, May 4, 1945, the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg, Germany, was liberated by the British Army. The Neuengamme camp was established in 1938 near Hamburg, Germany. From 1938 to 1945, an estimated 106,000 prisoners were held at Neuengamme and at its subcamps. 14,000 perished in the main camp, 12,800 in the subcamps and 16,100 during the last weeks of the war on evacuation marches or due to Allied bombing. The verified death toll is 42,900. One of the most notable prisoners to perish in the camp was Fritz Pfeffer, a German dentist and Jewish refugee who hid with Anne Frank during the Nazi Occupation of the Netherlands. In Anne’s diary, Pfeffer was given the pseudonym Albert Dussel, and is probably more famous by that pseudonym.

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Finally, on this day, May 4, 1977, Star Wars, surprisingly was NOT released. Believe it or not, it was release three weeks later on May 25, 1977.

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That’s all for today’s segment of This Day in Today, and remember,

Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.