Monday, December 28, 2015

Historical Reenactment: The Mountain of the Lord

The Mountain of the Lord, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  Salt Lake (1993)
This video is a reenactment of the construction and dedication of the Salt Lake Temple using the journal of Wilford Woodruff as its guide.  It indicates some of the dialogue is directly taken from the journal.  It particularly follows a stone cutter and his apprentice.  While they are diverted to working on the railway the stonecutter is injured and loses an arm.  however He continued with his work for the temple despite this.  (The movie points out that completion of the railroad was essential to the temple effort.  After rails were laid to the quarry sight, the transportation of granite blocks become much easier.  This movie portrays the covering of the temple when Johnston's army came through Salt Lake City.  It looked like nothing more than a plowed field.  The foundation had been buried.
There was a struggle when the foundation is uncovered, and they discover cracks in the foundation.  This was found to be the mortar, so it was redone without mortar.
The Salt Lake Temple was a real struggle to build, and it took 40 years to do so.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Documentary Review: Nazi Mega Weapons: V-2 Rocket Bases (2013)

This is a PBS series aired in 2013.  It described the roll of Wernher von Braun in the development of the rocket.  His initial goal was to build a rocket to assist men to get to the moon.  However his ideas were taken by the Nazis in a different direction.  A secret experimental base was established.  Then followed many failed experiments.  There were no computer generated rehearsal at this time, just trial and error, and poor visual of the results.  They finally had some positive results after a couple years, and Hitler wanted the rockets to start rolling out.  However the Allies had discovered the base, and bombing raids left this facility vulnerable.  An alternative was found in Germany.  Close enough to England for the rockets to hit, but this was an abandoned mine, so the facility would be underground.  By this time the Nazi labor resources were limited, so the construction and assembly of the rockets fell to forced labor.  The rockets still had problems.  80 percent of them would launch correctly, but then would go off in strange directions.  von Braun needed more information about the cause of the problem.  However watching the rockets in flight was very difficulty.  He finally risked his own life to get a better look, and realized the hulls of the rockets were buckling from the forces of supersonic speed.  He had to reinforce the hull.  Also the production method had caused some damage to the hull and this was changed.  
A special roof was on the launch facility, with a domed roof off of which most bombs would bounce off.  However larger bunker busting bombs were used against this facility and the launch site was no longer adequate.  Finally it was determined mobile launchers would be used.  It was only late in the war that the V-2 was finally used against England.  It had a very destructive effect.  However it was already too little too late.  Had the V-2 been in operation just six months earlier, it may have stopped D-day.  As it was, the Allies were already threatening any spot from which the rockets could be launched against England.  In all about 3000 such rockets were launched against England and Belgium.  They resulted in loss of life of about 6000 people, about two per rocket.  At a cost of billions of dollars, the program did not prove effective in terms of economic success.  Had Hitler used this money for conventional weapons, the result of the war may have been different.  However he was looking for a super weapon.
After the war, von Braun and 100 V-2 rockets were shipped to the United States.  In the States von Braun was able to work on his original goal, of landing a man on the moon.  He was instrumental in helping the U.S. land someone on the moon.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Documentary Review: Above and Beyond

This is a very intriguing movie about the Israeli air force.  When Israel was granted the right to move to Palestine, they still had to win the right from the surrounding Arab nations.  War was inevitable.  Those in Israel were outnumbered and out armed on all sides.  At that time Israel was without large arms, and had no air force.  It was felt that if they could establish an air presence maybe they could even up the odds some.  To do so they were facing two obstacles.  They needed pilots and they needed plans and support equipment.  The United States had put a moratorium against selling arms to the Middle East, including Israel.  However this didn't preclude former WWII pilots from being recruited and being able to fight in the war.  Paul Reubens talks of his father being recruited.  That his father volunteered because he believed in the cause.  Other American Jewish pilots also joined the effort.  There were many mothballed planes in the United States.  Many of these were sold to Panamanian Airlines (one of the Israeli's had a relationship with the president.)  These planes were actually a fake airline, but this scheme allowed them to get the planes out of the United States.  The planes went to Panama, and from their to Czechoslovakia.  This was about the only country that would allow the Israeli's access in and out as they had declared neutrality in the conflict.  They were also needing American dollars and they were available because of many American donations to this cause.  Here many of the Israeli pilots were trained.  These planes were instrumental in carrying needed cargo, war and civilian to Israel.  They were able to get four old planes to Israel,  old German type planes, and this was they start of the Israel Air Force.  They had brought them inside the cargo planes, so they were a surprise to everyone.  These small planes had outdated technology.  Even so, with the Egyptians rolling toward Tel Aviv, these  planes attacked the advancing tank column.  The inflicted enough damage that the Egyptians stopped their advance and went into defensive mode.  One of the planes and the pilot were lost due to malfunction.  The three remaining planes were able to do the same against the Jordanians.  Consequently the advance against Israel was stopped.
However the small air force was still not enough to turn the tide.
During times of truce, the Israeli's would reinforce better than the Arabs.  Consequently the air force ways always becoming more robust and better able to defend Israel.  They were able to smuggle planes out which afforded planes bombing Cairo.  Israel was the first to get a credible bomber force.  The Israelis were also able to win the air war by catching many Arab planes on the ground, and destroying more in the air.  The air force also was able to help supply many of the outlying communities which were cut off from supplies by land.  Many makeshift runways were made.  Many communities were saved from starvation in this manner.
The Israeli Air Force was not without its tragedies.  Many of the deceased pilots were foreign volunteers, including some form the United States.  Many of the older planes were replaced by Spitfires which were bought from Czechoslovakia.  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Documentary: Nazi Mega Weapons: U-boat Hangar

One of the largest construction projects ever undertaken was the building of the submarine hangar in France at the sea port of --.  This in truth was three projects, each more astounding than the one before.  At first the Nazis used existing equipment to dry dock he submarines.  This was effective in get the submarines out of the water for repair, but left them vulnerable to air attach as there was no protection.  The Nazis constructed two large hangars where the boats could be stored.  These were made of thick concrete.  They also had rounded roofs so bombs would bounce off.  However these large hangars were yet too small to accommodate the larger U-boats.  A large project was undertaken.  Hangars K-1 and K-2 were build.  The foundation. Was too soft, even with driving steal beams into the earth for a foundation.  This limited the weight and the strength of he protecting ceiling.  These two hangars required transfer from one to the other with a delicate mechanism, and vulnerability to Allied aircraft.  An even larger bunker was needed.  This time the dug to bedrock for an even stronger foundation.  The roof was essentially nine feet twice, with a layer of air between two thick concret roofs.  A special bunker buster bomb call a "tall boy" was used.  This bomb destroyed the first roof where it hit, but did nothing to the second layer.  Since the hangar could not be destroyed, the Allies bombed the town.  They destroyed the town, but not the hangar and the submarines where still protected when in port.  Finally the plan shifted to killing the submarines at sea.  With better technology, and cracking the enigma code, the Allies were able to destroy the U-boats at sea.  They attacked them with planes, destroyers and destroyer escorts.  The hangar was impenetrable, and did not surrender until two days after the surrender of Germany.  However the Allies did win the battle for the Atlantic.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Documentary: Nazi Mega Weapons: Atlantic Wall

The first section of the Atlantic Wall was built as an offensive weapon; across the channel from England, where the large canon could reach England, and did in fact destroy homes and kill people.  However when the war shifted to Russia, Hitler forgot the Atlantic coast for a time.  When the United States joined the war theAtlantic coast now seemed vulnerable.  In earnest Hitler began construction of a 3000 mile wall.  Many of the first large emplacements were essentially battleships on land with large canon turrets set in concrete.  However the Germans were running out of resources.  Only half of the wall was completed.  General Rommel took charge, any many more defensive measures were added, machine gun pill boxes, mines and obstacles were added.  hitler assumed the attack would occur at a hardened port, where earlier raids had taken place. However these raids taught the Allies that these areas were too heavily fortified.
On D-day the defenses were formidable, but fell in about three hours.  The Germans were spread too thin, and their ammunition was depleted after three hours.  Even so 10,000 allies lost their lives.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Documentary Review: Hitler's Death: The Final Report: Operation Myth

This documentary is based on interviews conducted by the Russians of those closest to Hitler.  This included his valet and his chauffeur.  The interviews included torture, and every means to make sure the story being told was true.  It included stories before the actual suicide, and instructions to burn his body so it could not be abused by the Russians or put on display.
In the end the Russians made a propaganda film showing that Hitler murdered Eva Braun and then couldn't shoot himself so also took a cyanide capsule.  The driver was accused of shooting him in the head to give a more heroic interpretation to his death.
The conclusion however was that Hitler died in the bunker with his new wife.  Their bodies were then burned.  Hitler's skull was collected in a couple of pieces.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

German Advent

German Advent is a religious celebration leading up to Christmas Day or the coming of the Christ Child.  A Christmas wreath is set up each year with four candles, to represent each of the four weeks before Christmas.  The wreath was important in traditional German homes as the Christmas Tree was not set up until Christmas Eve.  The wreath would give the smell of Christmas in the meantime.
The fourth Sunday before Christmas families and friends would gather to light the first candle.  Each week they would light one more candle.  After lighting the candle traditional Christmas songs would be sung.  Originally Advent was a more somber affair, with participants committing to give up something to the Christ Child, similar to lent.  The traditions have changed in favor of the advent calendar.  Originally these would have windows which opened to different scenes or symbols of Christmas.  Today the most popular Advent calendar opens up to a piece of chocolate, again in the shape of Christmas symbols.  German Advent

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Documentary Review: Hitler's G.I. Death Camp

This movie, presented by The National Geographic Channel tells a forgotten story of a Nazi Concentration Camp and Americans POWs being sent there.  They were taken captive at the Battle of the Bulge, and were not treated as normal prisoners.  They were taken to Camp Berga, a camp which participated in the Jewish Holocaust.  The Nazis identified Jewish prisoners whenever they could.  Those identified (which wasn't too difficult as this information was on their dog tags) were placed in the concentration side of the camp.  Also those who appeared Jewish, or had Jewish names just to make sure.  At Camp Berga they were turned into slaves.  They were part of a general Nazi Party campaign to over work and under feed prisoners until they would die.  This camp had a very high death rate.  The men were forced to work digging tunnels, which were to become a Nazi factory for synthetic fuel.  Every on was beaten, more than once.  Dysentery was rampant.  Many of the G.I.s resisted the forced labor movement by creating accidents.  In this accidents equipment would be destroyed.  The beating would be general to make sure the beat whoever may have been responsible.
Even as the Americans moved closer to the camp; the Nazis took the prisoners on a forced march.  This was in two groups, the Jewish civilian prisoners, and the G.I. prisoners, who were behind the first group.  Many died during the march.  An overcrowded cart was provided for some of those who could not keep up.  It was so overcrowded, daily some would suffocate in the cart.  Others who could not keep up were just shot.  There was a steep climb, and when the G.I.s came upon the location it was strewn with bodies of the civilian group who could not make it to the top.  Finally, the Nazi guards took off as the American soldiers were catching up to them.  Those who survived were rescued by an American tank company.  The men all had lice, were half of their normal weight, and many had illness and injuries because of their ordeal.  It is amazing anyone survived such treatment.  In this instance, the Jewish Holocaust filtered onto American G.I.s who were prisoners of war.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Documentary Review: The Seven Dwarfs of Auschwitz

This documentary is presented by Smithsonian Channel and is narrated by Warwick Davis.  Davis talks about his desire to find out more of the Ovitz family, and the seven dwarf entertainers from the family.  It mentions that the
Ovitz family is about the only family to survive in tack from Auschwitz.  However I wasn't sure if this meant just the dwarfs or the entire family.  Their father was a dwarf, but their two mothers were not dwarfs, and there were a three non dwarf siblings.  They were from Eastern Europe, Rosavlea, Romania in the Transylvania area.  They became entertainers, because this was an industry that would accept little people.   Many dwarfs became part of freak shows; however the Ovitz family were regular profession entertainers.  They played musical instruments.  They were also accomplished actors.  They stood out from other acts of the time, and when they went on tour many came to see them.  They performed in Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia.  They became an act of short people, rather than short performers.
However the Ovitz family was caught in the Nazi obsession with anyone who was different.  Not only were the Jewish, but also dwarfs.  When they arrived at Auschwitz, they would have been marked for death, but Dr. Josef Mengele, the "Doctor of Death" took an interest in them, and chose them for experimentation.  They were subject to many strange experiments.  They were subject to strange experimentation and torture, which preserved themselves for some months.  However 100 dwarfs were killed at Auschwitz.  Their ability to entertain would preserve them beyond this, as the Nazis also had a fascination with fine entertainment.  5000 people were being killed and burn daily.  They were released when Auschwitz was liberated in January 1945, which was eight months after they had arrived.  Mengele fled with most of the other officers of Auschwitz.  They survived but carried the nightmare with them.  They returned to entertaining after the war.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Hitler's Hidden Drug Habit: Secret History

This documentary is more a treatise and the relationship between Dr. Theodor Morell and Adolf Hitler.  Dr. Morell became the personal physician to Hitler after he treated his stomach ailments which had long bothered Hitler.  Much of the information is from Morell's diary and other documents.  Morell was often in photographs with Hitler, often at his side.  He gave hitler many medicines, through injection and pill over the next few years to treat several different issues from stomach issues, nasal issues, anxiety, inability to sleep and what appears to be Parkinson's towards the end.  There is also indication that Hitler had a bad heart towards the end of the war, but the heart was fine a few years earlier.  It also mentions that Dr. Morell gave Hitler methamphetamine during the last stages of the war to help with anxiety issues.  This would have been a major dosage, and there were at lease nine injections.  Morell was in the Fuhrer bunker with HItler towards the end of the war, but was allowed to leave just a few days before the reported death of Hitler.  He was able to escape war-torn Berlin, but died a couple years after the war.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Science and the Swastika: The Deadly Experiment

This is a very disturbing documentary.  It starts talking about how the medical profession was a part of the holocaust.  Medical doctors directed who would die, and who was fit to work.  They declared many children needed to die, and sent them to the gas chambers.  In fact, they were involved in devising the method of death, and practiced how to keep people calm.  One approach was to have a medical vehicle at the gate so people brought to the gas chambers would be reassured.  I guess you don't believe that medical people can do such evil things; but they can.  A jewish doctor confronted them about the Hippocratic Oath.  The doctor responded that the Jewish people were a cancer, and they were just cutting out a cancer.  However the killing was not limited to just Jews.  It also included gypsies, those who were mentally ill, those who were using doctor beds which were needed for the wounded, and many more.
Some of the most evil things done were the experiments performed on people in the name of science.  One of these was the development of ways to make women infertile.  They would inject concoctions into the cervix of women, which would cause them to become infected.  Some died, and others were rendered infertile.  Other inhuman experiments were performed on twins, not always identical, and in fact sometimes close siblings snuck into the experiments.  Some of these people stayed alive.  Dr. Josef Mengele was the doctor villain who conducted these experiments.  They would involve infecting one twin with disease or other trauma, and then killing both twins and comparing the results.  Other times only one twin would did, and the other would survive.  Dr. Mengele also conducted experiments in Siamese twins.  Who would have perfectly healthy twins sewn together so he could watch what would happen.  Often his work also involved harvesting organs for experiments and for research hospitals.  Sometimes he would have to kill people to be able to harvest their organs.
This is pure evil.  Not all of these doctors paid for their crimes; although some did.  Dr. Mengele fled to South America, and was not found.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Mormon Launch Comet: 1846

Inscription. First known sail launch to ascend San Joaquin River from San Francisco landed here autumn 1846. Carried 20 Mormon pioneers who founded New Hope agricultural project on the Stanislaus. Yoke of oxen and span of mules driven from Marsh’s Landing (Antioch) by two men who followed crude map drawn by Merritt the trapper. Two years later Doak and Bonsell operated here the first ferry on the San Joaquin River.

IN 1846 the pioneers from the Ship Brooklyn hoped to establish and inland colony.  This site became known as New Hope.  However the first needed to transport their equipment to this site.  This Plaque is about a half mile from the actual landing site.  The picture below is taken from the train bridge and shows the actual slough were the Comet landed.  The San Joaquin River continues to the right.  The slough is called Whithall Slough.  In addition to the oxen the hauled a plow, and a mill on the launch, and then overland for about a mile until the reached their final destination on the Stanislaus River, just before the confluence.  

 The plaque had been vandalized, and was removed and repaired.  It has been restored this year after about a four year time away.  It is good to have it back.  It is close to the entrance to the Moss Landing State park launch area.
 The plaque also documents the first ferry over the San Joaquin at Moss Landing.

 Looking from the walkway towards Whithall Slough (east) but the freeway bridges over the river block your view.  The railway bridge is about a half mile up river and Whithall Slough just beyond that.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Newscast: Hidden Nazi bunker discovered deep in Argentinian jungle

The Bunker is identified as being nazi because of the china discovered their with the German label as well as German coins.  This story adds more credence to the documentary about Hitler being seen in Argentina.

Documentary Review: Revealed: Hitler in Argentina

Here is testimony from several persons that Hitler was seen in Argentina after WWII.  It also gives a connection with a couple who ran a hotel in Argentina.  I loved listening to the Argentine Spanish in this short piece.  It again makes a compelling case that Hitler survived the war.

Documentary Review: Did Hitler Really Die by Suicide?

This documentary is sort of interesting.  It does not document that people saw Hitler in Argentina.  Instead it tries to focus on the story of Hitler's suicide and debunk the traditional story.  They examine the skull which was gathered by the Russians and said to be Hitler's.  Turns out that through DNA and visual review the skull is determined to be that of a woman.  The bones were gathered only after the body of Hitler had been burned.  Maybe the bones could have been those of his mistress?  The skull did have a bullet hole in it.
Also they try to debunk the stories of the eye witnesses who say they heard a gun shot.  There was a generator next to the room where the suicide took place, and the other rooms where people would have been were on a different level.  They contend no one could have heard a shot.
If you care to watch the movie and draw your own conclusion.  If Hitler lived, this would be terrible news.  You hope he got something for the evil he inflicted upon the world.

Documentary Review: Secrets of the Third Reich: The Ghost of U-513

I don't see how this film is included under the title of "Secrets of the Third Reich" as there are no secrets here.  However the film does look at the war against submarines off the coast of Brazil.  Brazil was a major supplier of rubber for the Allies during the war, and Brazil actually was one of the Allies.  This submarine had scored six kills off the coast of Brazil.  It submarine was caught on the surface, and sunk by an airplane.  46 men died and there were seven survivors, including the Captain.
A Brazilian industrialist heard of the sinking, and decided to find the boat.  It was discovered in 2011.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Documentary Review: Hitler's Family: In the Shadow of the Dictator (2006)

This is an interesting documentary, because generally not much is known about Hitler's family.  This was by design.  Hitler for the most part wanted the public to only see him.  I had heard rumors Hitler was part Jewish.  However such is not the case.  However, Hitler worried someone might discover he had Jewish blood.  This was on of his greatest fears.  However, there was mental illness in Hitler's family.  His second cousin became a victim of Hitler's euthanasia program for person with mental illness.  His younger sister, Paula, wanted to marry a doctor who was on of those charged with killing mentally ill patients.  Rather than allow the marriage, Hitler had the doctor shipped to the Easter Front where he was captured and died as a POW.  Hitler had three nephews.  Of one he was proud.  Heinz served in the war, and went missing in Russia.  His nephew William (both Heinz and William were from his brother Alois, by two different wives; he was married to both at the same time.) was in England before the war, but returned to Germany to take part in the advantages of your uncle being dictator.  He was an uncouth youth, who used vulgar language with women.  He didn't like work, but threatened his uncle to expose the family secrets if he wasn't provided for.  His uncle complied.  Hitler must of thought William had information about Jewish heritage, but William was talking about the bigamy of his father.  His half-sister Angela used the influence afforded by her relationship to take over the properties of others, who then had to flea.  Another nephew fled with his mother to the United States before the war.  He was used in anti Hitler propaganda, and joined the military.  However, after the war the name Hitler was not an advantage, so he changed his name several times, and his children keep their identity hidden.  Lastly Hitler's niece, Geli, under the control of her uncle (and a rumored incestuous affair) committed suicide.  The suicide was blamed on Hitler.  However there is no real evidence of an illicit relationship.
Quite the family.