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  • John 12:11 pm on October 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , war   

    When Wars Are Lost, People Commit Suicide 

    I can see how after a long war, when the final battle to save your way of life is over and all is lost, that somehow it could be more dignified to end one’s life, than to face the humiliation of defeat. To the victor go the spoils. All throughout human history, suicides occur en masse after wars are over. Let’s look at a few bizarre examples from the vault, shall we.

    April 30, 1975 – Saigon, South Vietnam

    After a 20 year battle to defeat the communist north, the South Vietnamese Army is in disarray and in retreat. The big shot leaders have all high-tailed it to the airport and are leaving the country. The war is over and soldiers are deserting.

    When Saigon finally fell to the communists in Black April, 5 generals and countless other officers, soldiers and civilians committed suicide rather than face decades of imprisonment in NVA “re-education” camps. General Le Nguyen Vy was one of them:

    Le Nguyen Vy (seated with American advisors)

    Brigadier General Vy was the last Commanding General of the 5th Division. He committed suicide rather than face the humiliation of surrendering to the enemy at the Headquaters of the 5th Division in Lai Khe on April 30, 1975.

    Some Vietnamese officers and civilians killed their entire families, then killed themselves, but only after one last family meal and prayer session together.

    An unknown South Vietnamese Officer killed himself at the base of the Soldier’s Memorial Monument in downtown Saigon. April 30, 1975.

    June 17, 1865 – Virginia, USA

    The Civil War is over. The Confederacy (of Dunces) lost. The hardcore rebels were not going to tolerate Yankee rule. Rich planter and plantation owner, Edmund Ruffin, was one of them.

    I wonder if that was the gun he used.

    On June 17, 1865, Ruffin went up to his study with a rifle and a forked stick. He paused to add to his diary a final malediction against “the perfidious Yankee people.” Then he was called away to greet visitors who had arrived at the front door. After they left, Ruffin returned to his study and wrote a final diary entry:

    And now with my latest writing and utterance, and with what will [be] near to my latest breath, I here repeat, & would willingly proclaim, my unmitigated hatred to Yankee rule—to all political, social and business connections with Yankees, & to the perfidious, malignant, & vile Yankee race.

    Immediately after writing this, Ruffin put the rifle muzzle in his mouth and used the forked stick to manipulate the trigger. The percussion cap went off without firing the rifle, and the noise alerted Ruffin’s daughter-in-law. But by the time she and his son reached his room, Ruffin had already reloaded the rifle and fired a fatal shot.

    Spring/May, 1945 – Leipzig, Germany

    World War 2 in Europe is almost over. The Allies are running all over Germany capturing cities and villages, arresting Nazis and other officials. One such city was Leipzig. The deputy mayor, his wife and daughter all killed themselves by taking poison. Thousands of Germans committed suicide in the spring of 1945, rather than face occupation and the expected abuse by their victors.

    The spoils of war… as old as mankind itself.

    Deputy Mayor Dr. Kurt Lisso, head of finances of the city of Leipzig. His wife is in the single seat, his 20-year old daughter in German red cross uniform on the sofa. They all poisoned themselves. 69th Infantry Division and 9th Armored Division closed on city. Germany, April 20, 1945. Photo: J.M. Heslop. (Army)

    Sources

    Wikipedia

    WW2 in Color. http://www.ww2incolor.com/dramatic/family-suicide.jpg.html

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  • John 10:19 am on August 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: afrika korps, , soldier, war   

    A Wounded Young Soldier in Hitler's Afrika Korps 

    These are excerpts from the Memoirs of Werner Mork, who was a young soldier in Hitler’s Afrika Korps. We often see biographies of allied soldiers on television, but what was it like to actually be a soldier in Hitler’s armed forces? How patriotic were they? How were they treated? It was such a bizarre time in history, and questions abound.

    Find out now.

    ******************************************************************

    Injured and Leaving Africa

    For me it was, “Adieu Africa!” But the parting was not painful, what was painful was what was to
    come next and it became very painful very quickly. My great good luck was that I was loaded into the very last aircraft to leave Derna. After us no plane got out, and no one else in the hospital could be evacuated. The Tommies quickly entered the city. All of the German and Italian solders in the city and in the hospital were taken prisoner. I was one of the very few soldiers who got to the airport and got into the air on one of the brave little JU-52’s. We took off and headed to Crete without incident. Once again my very good luck held.

    The flight in the brave little JU-52 went smoothly, something that was not necessarily the norm in these times. We crossed the Mediterranean to Crete. We landed there and sat for a very long time while it was decided if we should stay there or be sent on to Greece. Finally, we were sent on to Athens and from there by ground transport to Piraeus, the famous port. Because of the lack of beds in the wards, we new arrivals in the army hospital were placed in the ward for sexually transmitted diseases, or what in army jargon we referred to as “Ritterburg.” It wasn’t very nice there but it much better than what we would have experienced in Derna. The main thing for us was that we managed to get out of Africa; we didn’t give a damn about anything else.

    The events in Africa were also having their effects here in Greece, the clinic was overflowing.
    Competent and professional care of the sick and wounded was no longer feasible. No wonder, this was a rear echelon facility that was only used to treating ‘normal’ cases such as in the “Ritterburg” where we were situated. We could only wait and see what was going to happen to us. Rumors were rampant that we were going to be sent back to Germany. These were only rumors and for the merely ‘sick’ there was only the slightest chance of transport back to the Reich. The wounded, without question, had the first place in line and after them only the most critically ill. So we were at the mercy of only what was possible with the local medical knowledge and care.

    I was examined by a young staff physician, who was apparently on active military duty. He was not particularly interested in my jaundice, it was too ordinary a case for him to waste his time with. He was much more interested in my right arm. It was covered with countless sandflea bites and the inflammation so advanced that it was quite deformed, thick with swelling and ulcerated. It was extremely painful and I could hardly move it.

    The staff doctor studied it with great intensity then gave instructions for its care. He followed that by saying that if it did not get better in a few days, and he doubted that it would, then my right arm would have to be amputated. It would have to be a total amputation, right up to my shoulder. He gave me the impression that amputation would be the only option and that he was more or less looking forward to doing the surgery himself. It was in keeping with the motto, “Learn by doing.” Apparently in his previous practice he did not have anywhere near the opportunities for ‘learning’ as he did as a doctor in the army.

    Hearing that was a great shock, but I also felt a certain calmness rather than horror. When I looked at my arm, I too, thought that the knife was the answer to the problem. To lose an arm would not be
    good, but in the balance it would be a fair trade for not becoming a “Dead Hero.” The possible loss of
    an arm seemed better to me than a hero’s death on any of the many fronts developing in this war.

    The earlier euphoria of conquest was fading. In the short time I was with the Afrika Korps I got to
    experience and live the true horror of war. I also had the uncomfortable feeling that victory for Greater Germany was not so sure any longer, and the possibility that the war could come to a good ending was becoming more and more doubtful. I could not see victory for us on any of the many fronts we were fighting on. Such doubts were taking hold of me and my enthusiasm and confidence in victory wasdampened. Now I saw an amputation as my chance to spend the rest of the war not as “kv,” [Kriegsverwendungsfäig: Combat Capable] but as a soldier in a garrison back home.

    Obviously this was not a very good attitude. It was not very patriotic, but I was not alone, I was not the only one in the godawful world of war to think like this, even if I was still not yet totally against the war and nationalism. In spite of all of these bad thoughts there was still the idea that the loss of my entire right arm would leave me forever a cripple. How could I continue my profession [radio sales and installation] with only one arm and hand? That thought was very disturbing and I fell into a depression. The loss of an arm was not a trifle and the loss of a right arm even worse, but I could think of no way to prevent it. I railed at my fate which no longer seemed to mean well for me.

    Read the entire memoir here:  http://home.comcast.net/~dhsetzer/Mork/Halberstadt.pdf

    Source:

    Excerpts from the “Memoirs of Werner Mork”. Retrieved at the above link, 8/23/12.   

     

     
  • John 9:20 am on August 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ancient, assassination, roman history, war   

    One Man’s Famous Last Stand in Ancient Rome 

    Sempronius Densus was a centurion in the Praetorian Guard in the 1st century. He was bodyguard to the deputy emperor, and is remembered by history for his courage and loyalty in singlehandedly defending his charge from scores of armed assassins, while all his comrades deserted or switched sides.

    You Shall Not Pass!

    Sempronius Densus was a grizzled old war veteran who took his job as a Roman Imperial Guard very seriously. So he wasn’t about to run when he saw a few thousand mutinous Roman soldiers marching on the palace preparing to execute the Emperor. It’s important to keep in mind that Densus had no particular loyalties to the Emperor Galba. He just knew that his job description called for him to put his life on the line to save the son of a bitch, and he didn’t fuck around when he was on the job. So Densus walked towards the mob, brandishing his Centurion Whacking Stick–a short cudgel that Roman officers used to administer back-breaking corporal punishment to out-of-line soldiers–and ordered the advancing men to stop.

    On January 10, 69, the emperor Galba chose a man to become his deputy and heir. One of Galba’s advisors had led Marcus Otho to expect to be appointed to this office, but instead Galba chose one Piso Licinianus. This unexpected choice led Otho to conspire to assassinate both of them and seize power.

    On January 15 Otho struck. Galba and Piso were being carried on litters through the street when they were accosted by a large company of renegade Praetorians in Otho’s employ. The Praetorians were supposed to be the personal bodyguard of the emperor, but now they intended his death. Of all the soldiers present, only Sempronius Densus stood firm, while his colleagues either joined in the murder or melted away. While Piso fled to seek a safe hiding place, Sempronius bought him time to escape, first remonstrating with the assassins and then fighting them to the death.

    At this point sources differ slightly. According to Plutarch, Sempronius gave his life defending both Galba and Piso:

    No man resisted or offered to stand up in his defence, save one only, a centurion, Sempronius Densus, the single man among so many thousands that the sun beheld that day act worthily of the Roman empire, who, though he had never received any favour from Galba, yet out of bravery and allegiance endeavoured to defend the litter. First, lifting up his switch of vine, with which the centurions correct the soldiers when disorderly, he called aloud to the aggressors, charging them not to touch their emperor. And when they came upon him hand-to-hand, he drew his sword, and made a defence for a long time, until at last he was cut under the knees and brought to the ground.

    After Sempronius finally fell, the assassins surrounded Galba and killed him.

    Tacitus however describes Galba’s death as occurring first in the order of events, followed by the centurion’s last stand, in which Sempronius uses a pugio, or long dagger.

    Dio Cassius simply relates:

    Sempronius Densus, a centurion, defended him as long as he could, and finally, when he could accomplish nothing, let himself be slain over Galba’s body.

    However, all of the sources agree on what happened next. While most of the assassins hacked Galba’s corpse to pieces and paraded his severed head on a pole, two of them sought out Piso, who had taken refuge in the Temple of Vesta. They dragged him outside and killed him at the door.

    Around 120 people later claimed credit for killing Galba and Piso, hoping that Otho would reward them. However, in April that year Otho was deposed byVitellius, who replaced him as emperor. Vitellius found the list of their names and ordered them all executed. He also disbanded the Praetorian Guard (although the Guard was reinstated by the next emperor, Vespasian).

    Although ultimately unsuccessful, Sempronius Densus’s last stand is recorded by historians as being the only heroic act done in Rome that day. “This is why I have recorded his name, for he is most worthy of being mentioned.” — Dio Cassius.

    Sources:

    Wikipedia

    Cracked.com. http://www.cracked.com/article/197_the-7-most-badass-last-stands-in-history-battle/

     
  • John 7:58 am on July 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: organized crime, saigon, , war   

    Showdown between South Vietnam and the Gangsters 

    The showdown began at siesta time on a warm, summery day in April, 1955. Premier Ngo Dinh Diem was sitting down to a late lunch at Freedom Palace when nine 81-mm. mortar shells thumped down around the grounds, killing a civilian and wounding a couple of soldiers. The Premier rushed to the phone. “The palace is being shelled,” he told French Commissioner-General Paul Ely, his voice disrupted on the line by adjacent explosions.

    “I can’t understand you,” said the Frenchman. “The palace is being shelled?”

    ***********************************************************
    The Battle for Saigon was a month-long battle between the Vietnamese National Army of the State of Vietnam (later to become the Army of the Republic of Vietnam of the Republic of Vietnam) and the private army of the Binh Xuyen organised crime syndicate. At the time, the Binh Xuyen was licensed with controlling the national police by Emperor Bảo Đại, and Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem issued an ultimatum for them to surrender and come under state control. The battle started on April 27, 1955 and the VNA had largely crushed the Binh Xuyen within a week. Fighting was mostly concentrated in the inner city Chinese business district of Cholon. The densely crowded area saw some 500-1000 deaths and up to 20,000 civilians made homeless in the cross-fire. In the end, the Binh Xuyen were decisively defeated, their army disbanded and their vice operations collapsed.

    South Vietnamese soldier takes cover

    On the midnight of 29–30 March, explosions rocked Saigon as the Binh Xuyen responded to Diem’s removal of its police chief. 200 Binh Xuyen troops launched an attack on VNA headquarters. The clashes were inconclusive, with the VNA suffering six deaths to their opponents’ 10, but by sunrise, the bodies of civilians littered the sidewalk.

    Soldiers congratulated by civilians

    The final battle between Diem’s VNA and the Binh Xuyen began on April 27 at mid-day. After initial small arms fire and mortar exchanges, the VNA resorted to the heaviest artillery in its arsenal. This coincided with growing calls from within the Eisenhower administration to oust him, who believed that he was unable to subdue the Binh Xuyen and unify the country. By evening, a large part of the inner city was engulfed with street to street fighting. By the morning of April 28, multiple explosions and house to house combat had driven thousands of civilians onto the streets. A square mile of the city, around the densely populated inner city Chinese district of Cholon where the Binh Xuyen had a stronghold, became a free fire zone. Artillery and mortars levelled the poor districts of the city, killing five hundred civilians and leaving twenty thousand homeless. Observers described that fighting from both sides as lacking strategy and relying on brute force attrition tactics. One of the few manoeuvres that were considered tactical was an attempt by the VNA to cut off Binh Xuyen reinforcements by demolishing the bridge across the Saigon-Cholon canal. This was made moot when the Binh Xuyen threw pontoon bridges across the canal. It appeared that the conflict would be determined by the side which was able to absorb the greater number of losses. Approximately 300 combatants were killed in the first day of fighting.

    On the morning of April 28, John Foster Dulles, the US Secretary of State phoned J. Lawton Collins to suspend moves aimed at replacing Diem. Eisenhower had determined that these were to be put on hold pending the outcome of the VNA operation. Collins and Dulles clashed in the National Security Council meeting, with Collins vehemently calling for Diem to be removed. Collins continued to argue that the attempt to destroy the Binh Xuyen by force would produce a civil war. The NSC endorsed Dulles’ position.

    Victory Parade. The Gangsters are defeated.

    After 48 hours of combat, the VNA began to gain the upper hand. Le Grande Monde, previously Bay Vien‘s largest gambling establishment, and temporarily serving as a Binh Xuyen citadel, was overrun by Diem’s paratroopers after a struggle which caused heavy losses on both sides. The VNA then stormed one of the Binh Xuyen’s most heavily fortified strongholds, the Petrus Ky High School in Cholon. By the time Collins had arrived back in South Vietnam on May 2, the battle was almost won. The Binh Xuyen forces were broken and in retreat and their command posts were levelled. Bay Vien’s headquarters was battered and his tigers, pythons and crocodiles inside had been killed by mortar attacks and shelling.

    Bay Vien escaped to Paris to live out his life on the profits of his criminal ventures, and the VNA pursued the Binh Xuyen remnants into the Mekong Delta near the Cambodian border.

    Jubilant crowds gathered outside Diem’s residence shouting “Da Dao Bao Dai” (meaning “Down with Bao Dai”).

    Sources:

    Wikipedia & Time Magazine

     

     

     

     
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