Sorry for the lack of posts lately. My new job has been taking up a lot of my time and energy. I will try to be more active.
Navy dog Judy earned her Dickin Medal after suffering harsh Japanese treatment as the only official canine prisoner of war during World War II. The English Pointer also helped save the crew of gunboat HMS Grasshopper by finding water after the stricken boat was marooned on an Indonesian island in 1942.
Japanese soldiers, who had conquered the country, eventually captured the men – who took Judy with them into Gloergoer PoW camp in Medan. Brutal guards regularly beat her and threatened to kill her. But she bought her life by providing the camp commandant with puppies.
Judy helped raise morale among the men and, in particular, struck up a touching friendship with Leading Airfcraftman Frank Williams.
He smuggled her aboard a Japanese prisoner transport ship, which was torpedoed and sank en route to Singapore in 1944. She was able to swim to safety – saving men as she did by providing debris to keep them afloat - and after a few days was reunited with Frank at another POW camp.
When the war ended in 1945, Judy, who was born in Shanghai in 1937, was taken to Britain and a year later she was awarded the Dickin Medal.
She died from a tumor at age 13 in 1950, two years after beginning a new adventure with Frank in East Africa.
"On the last Sunday of April 1945, the first Allied soldier, an American scout of Polish descent, came through the gate of the main Dachau camp. The few Nazis in the tower watched apprehensively. They were no longer there as guards; they had been ordered to stay on merely to complete the formalities of surrender. The upper ranks had already fled, to blend in among the German civilian population. The young American’s first impression, later detailed in an interview, was one of `glaring chaos,’ thousands of ragged skeletons, in the yard, in the trees, waving little rags, climbing over one another, hysterical, completely out of control The scout went back for support and returned with a small detatchment. The flags of many Allied nations had suddenly appeared. Apparently the prisoners had been secretly piecing them together over the months, from tatters and patches and strips of cloth. One prisoner, a Polish priest, exuberantly kissed an officer, learning later to his glee that she was Marguerite Higgins, of the New York `Herald Tribune,’ the first American war correspondent to report on Dachau. A military chaplain came forward and asked that all who could do so join him in a prayer of thanksgiving.
Soon the advance scouts were joined by other Allied soldiers and one of the German guards came forward to surrender with what he believed would be the usual military protocol. He emerged in full regalia, wearing all his decorations. He had only recently been billeted to Dachau from the Russian front. He saluted and barked `Heil Hitler.’ An American officer looked down and around at mounds of rotting corpses, at thousands of prisoners shrouded in their own filth. He hesitated only a moment, then spat in the Nazi’s face, snapping `Schweinehund,’ before ordering him taken away. Moments later a shot rang out and the American officer was informed that there was no further need for protocol.
Some of the Nazis were rounded up and summarily executed along with the guard dogs. Two of the most notorious prison guards had been stripped naked before the Americans arrived to prevent them from slipping away unnoticed. They, too, were cut down. General Eisenhower sent a laconic communique from headquarters: `Our forces liberated and mopped up the infamous concentration camp at Dachau. Approximately 32,000 prisoners were liberated; 300 SS camp guards were quickly neutralized.’
During the next few days as the burials went forward, the sick and the dying were transferred to hospital facilities, makeshift as they had to be, and food was carefully distributed. `Prescribed’ might be the better word, for the starving had to adjust their food intake with medical discipline. Only then did the American command turn to review the files that the Germans, with characteristic meticulousness, had maintained.
The full record of the pseudo-medical experimentations came to light. Prisoners had been used as laboratory animals, without the humane restrictions placed on vivisection. Hannah Arendt suggested that `the camp was itself a vast laboratory in which the Nazis proved that there is no limit to human depravity.’ For it was remembered that these experiments were not planned or conducted by identifiable psychopaths. They were performed or supervised by professional scientists, trained in what had been once considered peerless universities and medical schools. Reverend Franklin Littell called them `technically competent barbarians.’ Indeed the procedures had the full approval and cooperation of Berlin’s Institute of Hygiene.”
Source: Sachar, Abram L. The Redemption of the Unwanted. New York: St. Martin’s/Marek, 1983.
Bochnia massacre: On December 18th, 1939, a group of 52 civilians were executed by the occupying German army in Poland. The massacre was carried out against the international law prohibiting the assignment of mass responsibility for the actions of individuals.
The massacre was the result of an attempt to overtake the German police office by two members of the White Eagle resistance group. Jarosław Krzyszkowski and Fryderyk Piątkowski carried out the mission on December 16th, which resulted in the death of two members of the German police. Both Krzyszkowski and Piątkowski were gravely wounded and captured by the Germans the next day. They were hung on a lamp post near the police station, where they remained for two days.
On December 17th a group of SS officers arrived in Bochnia. The next day, in retaliation for the actions of the two members of the White Eagle resistance, 23 random civilians were arrested. A group of 29 others who had been arrested previously for minor offenses against the occupying forces, or without any charges, were rounded up as well. All 52, with their arms raised in the air, were escorted by armed SS members to a nearby hill, where they were executed. They were buried in two mass graves, along with the bodies of Krzyszkowski and Piątkowski. Jewish citizens from nearby were forced to dig the graves prior to execution.
Following WWII, the Allied forces found a photo album among the belongings of an arrested German officer. The album contained 24 photographs of the massacre, and was titled “Sühne für Bochnia 18 XII 1939” (Punishment for Bochnia, December 18th, 1939). The album can be found at the Institute of National Remembrance: Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation. (source)
Nazi terror reached new heights for the non-Jewish population of Warsaw in the winter of 1943-4. People were seized at random in the streets and executed on the spot; between October and February some 270 to 300 men and women were publicly hanged or shot each week — the kind of atrocities the French commemorate in Tulle and Oradour were, in Warsaw, a part of daily life. ‘On my way to Leszno Church today,’ Julian Kulski, a young soldier of the Home Army, recorded on 11 February 1944, ‘I saw a crowd of people standing in front of the Wall. They were gazing at something above the Wall, on the Ghetto side of it. As I got closer, I could see for myself — hanged from the upper-storey balconies of what had been an apartment house were the bodies of twenty-two of our Freedom Fighters.’ Kulski, at any rate, took them for Freedom Fighters.
From: Gregor Dallas, 1945: The War That Never Ended