February 13

1883 Death: Richard Wagner at 69 in Venice:

While Richard Wagner lived decades before the birth of Nazism, his influence on the National Socialist movement and especially on its leader was enormous. In a tractate, Das Judenthum in der Musik, first published in 1850 under a pseudonym in the Neue Zeitschrift fuer Musik, Wagner wrote that Jewish music is bereft of all expression, characterized by coldness and indifference, triviality and nonsense. The Jew, he claimed, has no true passion to impel him to artistic creation. The Jewish composer, according to Wagner, makes a confused heap of the forms and styles of all ages and masters. To admit a Jew into the world of art results in pernicious consequences. In Deutsche Kunst und Deutsche Politik, Wagner spoke of the "harmful influence of Jewry on the morality of the nation," adding that the subversive power of Jewry stands in contrast to the German psyche.

1905 Teddy Roosevelt discusses America's race problem:

On this day in 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt delivers a stirring speech to the New York City Republican Club.

Roosevelt had just won his second reelection, and in this speech, he discussed the country's current state of race relations and his plan for improving them. In 1905, many white Americans' attitude of superiority to other races still lingered. Much bitterness still existed between North and South and, in addition, Roosevelt's tenure in office had seen an influx of Asian immigrants in the West, which contributed to new racial tensions. In his argument for racial equality, Roosevelt used the rising tide raises all ships metaphor, stating that if morality and thrift among the colored men can be raised then those same virtues among whites, already assumed to be more advanced, would rise to an even higher degree. At the same time, he warned that the debasement of the blacks will in the end carry with it [the] debasement of the whites.

Roosevelt's solution to the race problem in 1905 was to proceed slowly toward social and economic equality. He cautioned against imposing radical changes in government policy and instead suggested a gradual adjustment in the attitudes of whites toward ethnic minorities. He referred to white Americans as the forward race, whose responsibility it was to raise the status of minorities through training the backward race[s] in industrial efficiency, political capacity and domestic morality. Thus, he claimed whites bore the burden of preserving the high civilization wrought out by its forefathers.

While Roosevelt firmly believed in the words of the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal, his administration took only a passive, long-term approach to improving civil rights. His successors in the 20th century would take the same route--it was not until Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 that government efforts to correct racial bias would be encoded into law. (History.com)

1892 Birth: Robert H. Jackson: Nuremberg prosecutor:

[He] eventually established himself as a successful lawyer in New York State. He was appointed to federal office by President Roosevelt in 1934 and first served as general counsel to the IRS. Jackson was a great defender of procedural due process and served as a Supreme Court Justice from 1941-54. He is also known as the chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials. He died on October 9, 1954. [For further information, click here.]

1910 Birth: William B. Shockley in London, author, US physicist (Nobel 1956):

Shockley became intensely interested in questions of race, intelligence and eugenics. He thought this work was important to the genetic future of the human species, and came to describe it as the most important work of his career, even though expressing such politically unpopular views risked damaging his reputation . . . . Shockley believed that the higher rate of reproduction among the less intelligent was having a dysgenic effect, and that a drop in average intelligence would ultimately lead to a decline in civilization. Shockley advocated that the scientific community should seriously investigate questions of heredity, intelligence and demographic trends, and suggest policy changes if he was proven right. Although Shockley was concerned about both black and white dysgenic effects, he found the situation among blacks more disastrous. While unskilled whites had 3.7 children on average versus an average of 2.3 children for skilled whites, Shockley found from the 1970 Census Bureau reports that unskilled blacks had 5.4 children versus 1.9 for the skilled blacks. Shockley reasoned that because intelligence (like most traits) is inherited, the black population would, over time, become much less intelligent countering all the gains that had been made by the Civil Rights movement . . . . Shockley also proposed that individuals with IQs below 100 be paid to undergo voluntary sterilization.

He donated sperm to the Repository for Germinal Choice, a sperm bank founded by Robert Klark Graham in hopes of spreading humanity's best genes. The bank, called by the media the "Nobel Prize sperm bank," claimed to have three Nobel Prize-winning donors, though Shockley was the only one to publicly acknowledge his donation to the sperm bank. However, Shockley's views about the genetic superiority of whites over blacks brought the Repository for Germinal Choice notable negative publicity and discouraged other Nobel Prize winners from donating sperm.

1916 World War I: Various:

General Yudenich reaches Erzerum and breaks through its ring of forts in a 3-day battle:

Once the Russian forces broke through the Turkish lines to the south and began to attack other Turkish positions, the fall of Erzerum seemed inevitable. The Third Turkish Army began abandoning their equipment and retreating from their positions as the Russians entered the city. In total, the Russians captured more than 1,000 guns and artillery and took some 10,000 Turkish prisoners. With the capture of Erzerum, arguably the strongest and most important fortress in the Turkish empire, the Russians had gained the upper hand in the battle for control on the Caucasus front.

Erich von Falkenhayn describes the lead-up to the Battle of Verdun:

Gaede's Army Detachment pushed forward into the French lines near Obersept on the 13th of February. Everywhere the appointed objectives were reached, and the enemy suffered heavy losses. The relatively slight German losses sustained on these occasions were justified, for it is highly probable that these operations materially contributed to mask our plans. In return, it was only in the nature of things that larger operations other than the main attack already planned should be discountenanced. When the Third Army inquired whether it was still to undertake a big attack on its sector, it was informed accordingly.

1917 World War I: Mata Hari is arrested by the French:

Highly successful in Paris (among other cities), Mata Hari's attractiveness, as well as her apparent willingness to appear almost nude on the stage, made her a huge hit. She cultivated numerous lovers, including many military officers. Still unclear today are the circumstances around her alleged spying activities. It was said that while in The Hague in 1916 she was offered cash by a German consul for information obtained on her next visit to France. Indeed, Mata Hari admitted she had passed old, outdated information to a German intelligence officer when later interrogated by the French intelligence service.

Mata Hari herself claimed she had been paid to act as a French spy in Belgium (then occupied by German forces), although she had neglected to inform her French spymasters of her prior arrangement with the German consul. She was, it seemed, a double agent, if a not very successful one. It appears (the details are vague) that British intelligence picked up details of Mata Hari's arrangements with the German consul and passed these to their French counterparts . . . . Following imprisonment she was tried by a military court on 24-25 July 1917 and sentenced to death by a firing squad. The sentence was carried out on 15 October 1917 in Vincennes near Paris. She was 41.

Crown Prince Ruprecht criticizes the harsh deportation policies:

Most regrettable is the fate of the French civilian population, which, in the implementation of [Operation] Albrich, has been ordered to be moved out of the area to be vacated prior to the destruction of their towns and villages. While traveling to the Command of the Third Army, I came across several groups of these unfortunate people, who trudged, laden with bundles, to the available rows of automobiles or trains. [For further details, Click here.]

1919 Weimar: Catholic Center Party: The chairman of the deputation in the National Assembly declares that the party cannot approve of the revolutionary upheaval that has overthrown the monarchy. In time the Center party will become one of the mainstays of the Weimar Republic. (THP)

1920 World War I: League of Nations recognizes perpetual Swiss neutrality:

The League of Nations, the international organization formed at the peace conference at Versailles in the wake of World War I, recognizes the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland on this day in 1920.

Switzerland was a loose confederation of German-, French-, and Italian-speaking communities until 1878, when the French, under Napoleon Bonaparte, unified the country as the Helvetic Republic and imposed a constitution, which was enforced by French occupation troops. Bitterly resented by the Swiss people, the French occupation ended in 1803, when Napoleon agreed to a new Swiss-approved constitution and withdrew his troops. The Congress of Vienna in 1815, which would determine Europe's borders until the outbreak of World War I nearly a century later, recognized the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland.

The Swiss considered preserving this neutrality essential to Switzerland's economic and political development. A new constitution, adopted in 1848, reinforced the neutrality principle by outlawing Swiss service in foreign armies or the acceptance of pensions from foreign governments. Neither the unification of Italy in 1861 nor the birth of the German empire in 1871 shook the loyalty of the nation's Italian or German population to Switzerland. With industrialization, fueled largely by hydroelectric power, and the construction of an efficient railroad network, Switzerland's economy continued to grow, spawning a thriving tourism industry by the end of the 19th century.

Though Switzerland maintained its neutrality during World War I, with German, French and Italian Swiss standing firm to preserve their country's solidarity, a costly military mobilization to protect the Swiss borders diverted most of the working population to war-related work and brought economic hardship. After the war ended, membership in the League of Nations—the international organization established at the Versailles peace conference—was narrowly approved by Swiss voters after a federal council opposed it. In February 1920, the League voted to recognize the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland. The League also established its headquarters in the Swiss city of Geneva, a tribute to the country's neutrality as well as its relative economic and political stability, which has continued to the present day. (History.com)

1927 Volkishness: Johann Walthari Woelfl—Prior of Werfenstein—begins the publication the third Ostara series with an introductory issue by himself. Between 1927 and 1931, most of one hundred projected issues are published with illustrated covers in a more luxurious format than before the war. (THP)

1934 Austria: The Socialist Party is banned by the Dollfuss government. [See: Austria: The Other Germany.]

1935 Various:

Julius Streicher is visited by Hitler at Nuremberg, and receives congratulations on the occasion of his 50th birthday: (See February 12):

Adolf Hitler spoke to his old comrade in arms and the latter's followers in words which went straight to their hearts. By way of introduction he remarked that it was a special pleasure for him to spend, on this day of honor to Julius Streicher, a short while in Nuremberg, the town of battle-steeled National Socialist solidarity, within the circle of the veteran standard-bearers of the National Socialist idea. Just as they all, during the years of misery, had unshakably believed in the victory of the Movement, so his friend and comrade in arms, Streicher, had stood faithfully at his side at all times. It had been this unshakable belief that had moved mountains. For Streicher it would surely be an inspiring thought that this 50th anniversary meant to him not only the turn of a half century, but also of a thousand years of German history. He had in Streicher a comrade of whom he could say that here in Nuremberg was a man who would never waver for a single second and who would unflinchingly stand behind him in every situation. (Voelkischer Beobachter) [See: Did Julius Streicher Deserve his Death Sentence?]

Wewelsburg Castle—which began its SS service as an SS museum and officer's college for ideological education—is placed under the direct control of Himmler's personal staff. Himmler's decision to transform the castle into an SS order-castle, comparable to Marienburg of the medieval Teutonic Knights, almost certainly came from K.M. Weisthor. (THP)

USA: Verdict and sentence in Lindbergh baby kidnap case:

[Bruno Richard] Hauptmann attended an elementary school and a trade school, becoming a carpenter at age 14 in Kamenz, Ger. He served in the German army (1917–18) during World War I. After the war he apparently drifted into burglary, being convicted of breaking and entering in 1919 and being arrested for possession of stolen goods in 1922 (he escaped before trial). Twice in 1923 he was arrested for illegal entry into the United States.

At the Lindbergh home in Hopewell, N.J., on the night of March 1, 1932, the kidnapper of the Lindbergh baby climbed by ladder into the second-story nursery and left a ransom note demanding $50,000. After various efforts at communication through newspaper advertisements, a go-between--a retired New York teacher named John F. Condon--delivered the ransom on the night of April 2 at St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City, on a promise of the return of the baby. The baby, however, had been killed shortly after the abduction; his body was found on May 12 near the Lindbergh home.

A manhunt ensued, and the serial numbers of the ransom bills (many in noticeable gold certificates) were publicized. More than two years later, on Sept. 15, 1934, Hauptmann passed one of the notes at a Bronx filling station. He was arrested, and a large stash of the ransom money (the amount is disputed but was more than $11,000) was found in his house.

At his trial at Flemington, N.J., from Jan. 2 through Feb. 13, 1935, the chief evidence against Hauptmann was (1) the recovered money, (2) the discovery of go-between Condon’s telephone number on a closet wall in Hauptmann’s home, (3) the identification of Hauptmann by witnesses who professed seeing him near the Lindbergh home or in the cemetery, and (4) the discovery that the ladder used in the kidnapping had been mended with a missing plank from Hauptmann’s attic. Hauptmann countered that he had merely held the money for a friend, one Isidore Fisch, who had returned to Germany in 1933 and died there. Hauptmann was convicted and electrocuted in the New Jersey State Prison--to the end claiming his innocence. [For further information, click here.]

1938 Austria: From Alfred Jodl's Diary:

In the afternoon General K (Wilhelm Keitel) asks Admiral C (Canaris) and myself to come to his apartment. He tells us that the Fuehrer's order is to the effect that military pressure, by shamming military action, should be kept up until the 15th. Proposals for these deceptive maneuvers are drafted and submitted to the Fuehrer by telephone for approval.

1942 World War II: FDR to Stalin:

My attention has just been called to the fact that the Soviet Government has placed requisitions with us for supplies and munitions of a value which will exceed the billion dollars which were placed at its disposal last autumn under the Lend-Lease Act following an exchange of letters between us. Therefor, I propose that under this same Act a second billion dollars be placed at the disposal of your Government upon the same conditions as those upon which the first billion were allocated. Should you have any counter suggestions to offer with regard to the terms under which the second billion dollars should be made available you may be sure that careful and sympathetic consideration will be given them.

1942 World War II: Patrick Stanley Vaughan Heenan, Japanese spy:

[As the British were] about to abandon Singapore to the Japanese, turncoat officer: Patrick Stanley Vaughan Heenan was summarily executed at Keppel Harbour. Heenan, who had taken a long leave in Japan in 1938-39, used a wireless set to feed intelligence aiding the Japanese army's invasion of Southeast Asia. Heenan was caught on December 10, but there was little wherewithal to handle his case as the defenders' situation deteriorated desperately: less for anything Heenan had on offer than for the comprehensive weakness of the British position. He never seems to have been judicially sentenced, but he was shot by a guard chosen by lot two days before Britain surrendered Singapore. Something of an outsider to begin with, Heenan had begun taunting his guards on their impending defeat.

The particulars of Heenan's betrayal, and even his identity, were covered up until long after the war. His name was even listed on Britain's Battle of Singapore memorial.

1943 World War II: North Africa: Various:

German forces make an assault on Sidi Bou Zid:

The attack force included 200 Mark III and Mark IV medium tanks and at least a dozen heavy Tiger tanks. The American defenders were perched on hilltops, with the 168th Infantry's 2nd Battalion atop Djebel Lessouda (djebel means hill), and its 3rd Battalion across the valley on Djebel Ksiara, and three tank companies: G, H, and I of the 1st Armored Regiment's 3rd Battalion . . . on the floor of the valley between the hills.

Tunisia: General Eisenhower visits the front-line.

1944 World War II: Bombing of Berlin:

Goebbels' comment: The English press has called the series of terror attacks on the Reich capital, which has been continuing for three months with only occasional pauses, the "Battle of Berlin." They have left no doubt that the intention of the British war leadership is to destroy the Reich capital with these brutal and horrible attacks, or as they themselves say, to depopulate it, to crush the war morale of its population, and thus win on the German home front the decisive victory that our fighting soldiers have denied the Anglo-Americans thus far in this war on the front, and that our soldiers will continue to deny them in the future. There is no one in Berlin who would not know that, also no one who would not be firmly determined to resist these terrorist intentions of the enemy with the whole force of his soul and his unbroken heart, thus bringing the enemy's plan to naught by a great common effort of heroism. When we discuss this subject today outside the circles of the Berlin population, it is because it involves much more than the direct interests of the population of the Berlin. Since the middle of November of the past year, Berlin has been fighting a defensive battle.

1945 World War II: Various:

At the afternoon situation conference in the Fuehrerbunker—the first since the Germans received the text of the Yalta Communique—the anger of Hitler's generals over Himmler's command of Army Group Vistula boils over. Himmler, answering General Guderian's demand that a counter-attack immediately be launched against Rokossovsy, meekly stammers that it simply can't be done as he needs more fuel and supplies.

Guderian explodes: We can't wait until the last can of petrol and the last shell has been issued! By that time the Russians will be too strong!

Hitler snaps back: I will not allow you to accuse me of procrastination!

Guderian: I'm not accusing you of anything. I'm simply saying that there's no use in waiting until the last load of supplies has been issued - and the favorable moment to attack has been lost.

Hitler: I just told you that I won't allow you to accuse me of procrastinating!

Guderian: I want General Wenck at Army Group Vistula as Chief of Staff. Otherwise there is no guarantee that the attack will be successful. (Glaring at Himmler) The man can't do it. How could he do it?

Hitler: The Reichsfuehrer is man enough to lead the attack on his own.

Guderian: The Reichsfuehrer doesn't have the experience or the right staff to lead the attack without help. The presence of General Wenck is absolutely necessary.

Hitler: How dare you criticise the Reichsfuehrer! I won't have you criticize him!

Guderian: I must insist that General Wenck be transferred to the staff of Army Group Vistula to lead the operation properly.

The argument goes on for hours as most of the conference participants slip out of the room one by one. Finally, with only Hitler, Guderian, Himmler, Wenck and their adjutants remaining in the room, Hitler suddenly relents. Stopping in front of Himmler's chair he declares:

Well, Himmler, General Wenck is going to Army Group Vistula tonight, to take over as Chief of Staff. (Turning to Guderian and flashing his most charming smile) Now let us please continue with the conference. Today, Colonel-General, the General Staff has won a battle. (Read, Guderian)

From Speer's IMT testimony:

Among the military leaders there were many who, each in his own sphere, told Hitler quite clearly what the situation was. Many commanders of army groups, for instance, made it clear to him how catastrophic developments were, and there were often fierce arguments during the discussions on the situation. Men like Guderian and Jodl, for instance, often talked openly about their sectors in my presence, and Hitler could see quite well what the general situation was like. But I never observed that those who were actually responsible in the group around Hitler, ever went to him and said, "The war is lost." Nor did I ever see these people who had responsibility endeavor to unite in undertaking some joint step with Hitler. I did not attempt it for my part either, except once or twice, because it would have been useless, since at this stage, Hitler had so intimidated his closest associates that they no longer had any wills of their own.

[See: The Last Days of the Third Reich.]

Dresden Firestorm (February 13-15):

1,300 heavy bombers drop over 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices in four raids on the city of Dresden. Estimates vary widely, but recent scholarship has determined that somewhere between 24,000 and 40,000 civilians perished in the resulting firestorm. Himmler is informed of the first raid by the Dresden Police Chief on the 14th and writes to SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Alvesleben in Dresden: 'The attacks were obviously very severe, but every first air raid always gives the impression that the town has been destroyed. Take all necessary steps at once . . . . All the best.' Alvesleben reiterates the vast extent and horrific effect of the raid in a subsequent communications to Himmler, and requests permission to move SS headquarters elsewhere. On the 15th the Reichsfuehrer gives him permission to move only as far as the suburbs, saying: 'Any further would make a rotten impression. Now is the time for iron steadfastness and immediate action to restore order. Set me a good example of calm and nerve!' When Goebbels hears of the devastation at Dresden, he demands that Hitler shoot '10,000 or more English and American POWs' as a reprisal, one for every German citizen killed in the air raids. Keitel, Jodl, Doenitz, and even Ribbentrop advise against the idea, and Hitler reluctantly decides against it. (Read)

Eye-witness account of a child in Dresden:

About 9:30 PM the alarm was given. We children knew that sound and got up and dressed quickly, to hurry downstairs into our cellar which we used as an air raid shelter. My older sister and I carried my baby twin sisters, my mother carried a little suitcase and the bottles with milk for our babies. On the radio we heard with great horror the news: "Attention, a great air raid will come over our town!" This news I will never forget. Some minutes later we heard a horrible noise — the bombers. There were nonstop explosions. Our cellar was filled with fire and smoke and was damaged, the lights went out and wounded people shouted dreadfully. In great fear we struggled to leave this cellar.

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: Day 58. Col. Pokrovsky's Presentation on Criminal Violation of the Laws and Customs of War in the Treatment of Prisoners of War:

Now, Your Honors, I have come to the end of my presentation. In concluding the presentation of documentary evidence regarding the aggression of the fascist conspirators against the Soviet Union, may I ask the Tribunal's permission to sum up briefly as follows:

1. The criminal intent of attacking the U.S.S.R. for the purpose of plundering the Soviet Union and exploiting its riches for purposes of further German aggression was conceived by the fascist conspirators long before the actual launching of the attack.

2. The military preparations for the attack on the Soviet Union were conducted by the fascist criminals for at least a year and embraced not only Germany, but also satellite countries, particularly Romania, Finland, and Hungary.

3. The execution of the criminal designs of the fascist aggression consisting of the extermination of the peaceful population, the plunder of the Soviet Union, and the wresting of its territories, was planned long before the attack on the Soviet Union.

Fortunately for an nations in the world, the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, the Soviet people, and their Red Army completely overthrew all the fiendish plans of the fascist aggressors. The Red Army not only withstood and stopped the fascist aggression; but, together with the armies of its allies, brought Hitler Germany to complete catastrophe and the fascist war criminals to the dock.

I thus end my presentation, Your Honors. [For the full text of today's proceedings, Click here.]

1960 Nuclear weapons: France explodes its first atomic bomb.

1969 Newly elected President Richard Nixon establishes a Space Task Force to define America's long term goals in space. NASA administrator Thomas O. Paine, presidential science advisor Lee A. DuBridge, and Air Force Secretary Robert C. Seamans are appointed members, with Vice President Spiro Agnew as chairman. Thomas O. Paine doesn't think much of Nixon's choice of Agnew, saying of the VP: "His principal interest [in the space program] was in playing golf with the astronauts." [See: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.]

1970: Albert Speer writes to the Federal Archives:

Unfortunately, my friend Dr Rudolf Wolters has responded negatively about the Chronik  . . . . I'm sorry not to have been more successful in this matter: but hopefully, future historians will find the material that does exist in the Federal Archives valuable enough as it stands. (Sereny) See: January 1, 10, 12, 22.

From Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth by Gitta Sereny:

Wolters had made a will in which he left his papers to the Federal Archives in Koblenz, with access restricted to researchers approved by his son Fritz, as his executor . . . . But in October 1982, the year after Speer's death, Wolters changed his mind and handed over the first six volumes of the original Chronik, followed a few months later, shortly before his death, by his correspondence with Speer. In July, 1983, Marion Riesser, whom Wolters had named his literary executor, offered the Federal Archives the balance if the Wolters collection, including the 'corrected' version of the Chronik. "I thought it was essential that they should have it," she said. She had been from the start very critical of Wolter's actions about the Chronik. "He started to work on it in 1964," she said. I told him, "You shouldn't cross things out—it isn't right. You are falsifying history." But he said the Chronik was his creation: he was the author of it and as such had the right to do with it as he wished. And I think he got legal advice on it too."

At Speer's Nuremberg trial, his organization's (and his) involvement with this aspect of the persecution of the Jews never came up . . . . Annemarie Kemp . . . while remembering perfectly well the Jewish flats in Berlin, thought too much had been made of the episode late . . . . "Speer's responsibilities by then were enormous," she said to me in 1986. "This matter like many others would have been delegated; after all, he was particularly good at that; delegating. On the other hand, I don't think he would ever have realized that there was a moral aspect to this transfer of umpteen-thousand apartments. If he had noticed it, what he would probably have done is get rid of that particular assignment as being too troublesome, potentially embarrassing. He never looked to take on things which were likely to create problems for him. After all," she shrugged, "what he wanted was success." [For further details, Click here.]

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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