Remembering History: Hitler becomes Fuhrer with Von Hindenbergs death

Chancellor Hitler and President Von Hindenberg at Garrison Church, Potsdam
March 1933
Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S38324 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

With the death of German president, Paul van Hindenberg on August 2, 1934, Adolf Hitler would become the undisputed leader of Nazi Germany. Hitler had been appointed Chancellor by Hindenberg in January 1933.  Hitler and the Nazi Party channeled discontent with the post-war Weimar government. In the July 1932 elections the Nazi Party got 232 seats with the Communists coming in second. Hindenberg declined to appoint Hitler chancellor instead preferring General Kurt von Schleicher who tried negotiating with dissident factions within the Nazi Party. The next elections in November saw the Communists gain more seats while the Nazis lost seats.

Ironically the Communists gaining seats just made the case for ardent Nazis, prominent German businessman, and the conservative National People’s Party to ally and convince Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as Chancellor. Hindenburg did not like Hitler and Hitler had disdain for the old general. Once in place, Hitler asked Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag. This allowed the Nazis and the National People’s Party to become the majority. It allowed for the passage of the Enabling Act, which allowed the Nazis to rule by decree for the next four years. Hitler and the Nazi Party swiftly enacted measures to take full control of Germany by severely curtailing individual liberties, freedom of the press and of course, and dismissing Jews from all public offices. Elections from that point on became mere rubber stamps for the Nazi Party and there was nothing to stop Hitler.

There was only one obstacle for Hitler. Hindenberg could dismiss him from office and would command the support of the German Army. So, Hitler always treated Hindenberg with great deference and respect until he passed away. With the death of Hindenberg, Hitler became Fuhrer (leader) and the German military all took an oath of allegiance to the new commander-in-chief. And the last remnants of the old democratic government were dismantled and absorbed into the new Nazi state.

Titanic Belfast Reopens; RMS Titanic Discussion continues on salvage

Titanic’s £200m Treasure Trove Exposed As Experts Pin Hopes On Tiny Robot Probe Of Wreck (Express, 30 Jul 2020)

The UK Department for Transport says the treaty means the British and US governments have the power to grant or deny licences to enter the ship and remove items, and that unauthorised activity will be punishable by large fines. But RMS Titanic Inc has reportedly argued the new treaty has “no teeth” in US law, and has filed a notice of intent to retrieve items from the ship at the US district court in eastern Virginia. They announced this week that it has developed a special robot to reach in through a deck house roof and extract the Marconi without the need to cut into the wreck. The company has partnered on the project with Guernsey-based deepwater specialists Magellan Limited.

Titanic Belfast Reopens With Free Admission For NHS Health Workers (News Letter 31 Jul 2020)

Judith Owens, chief executive of Titanic Belfast said: “We are absolutely delighted to open our doors again. Welcoming visitors, telling stories and creating experiences is what we do best. Now more than ever, we need the support of our city and Northern Ireland, and we’ve been working away behind the scenes to ensure that those who come to visit have a truly memorable Titanic experience. “For us, home is where the heart is and this has never been more apparent. As one of Belfast’s iconic symbols, we are always keen to play our part and reflect the city’s spirit. This is our way of saying thank you to our local heroes for their hard work and bravery.

Defeat of the Spanish Armada (Philip James de Loutherbourg, 1796)
Public Domain

Remembering History: England Defeats Spanish Armada

On July 29, 1688 naval forces of England and Spain engaged in an 8-hour furious battle off the coast of France that determined the fate of both countries control of the seas. Spain had created the armada to not only gain control of the English Channel but also to land an invasion force in England. England since the early 1580s had been conducting raids against Spanish commerce and had supported Dutch rebels in Spanish Netherlands. The other reason was to restore Catholicism that had been outlawed since the reign of King Henry VIII

The invasion fleet was authorized by King Philip II and was completed in 1587 but delayed by a raid by Sir Francis Drake on the Armada’s supplies. It did not depart until May 19, 1588. The fleet consisted of 130 ships under the command of the Duke of Medina-Sidonia. It had 2,500 guns, 8,000 seamen, and 20,000 soldiers. The Spanish ships though were slower than their English counterparts and lighter armed as well despite their guns. Their tactic was to force boarding when their ships were close enough. They believed with the superior numbers of Spanish infantry they could overwhelm the English ships.

The English were commanded by Charles Howard, 2nd Baron Howard of Effingham. Like his counterpart, he was an admiral with not much sea experience but proved to be the better leader. His second in command was Sir Francis Drake. The English fleet was at its height 200 ships but in the actual combat was at most 100. Only 40 were warships and the rest smaller but they were armed with heavy artillery that were able to fire at longer ranges without having to get close to the enemy to be effective. The English strategy was to bombard their enemy from a distance and not give them the opportunity to get close and possibly board their ships (which had smaller number of soldiers aboard than the Spanish had).

As the Spanish Armada made its way, it would be harassed by English ships that bombarded them at a distance negating Spanish attempts to board. The Armada anchored near Calais, France on 27 July. The Spanish forces on land were in Flanders and would take time to get down to Calais. However, since there was no safe port and enemy Dutch and English ships patrolled the coastal shallows, it meant those troops had no safe way to get to the Armada.

Around midnight on 29 July, the English sent 8 fire ships into the anchored Spanish fleet. The Spanish were forced to quickly scatter to avoid the fire ships. This meant the Armada formation was now broken making them easier targets for the English to attack. They closed to effective range and attacked. Surprising to the English, the return fire was mostly small arms. It turns out most of the heavy cannons had not been mounted. And those that were did not have properly trained crews on how to reload. Three Spanish ships were sunk or driven ashore. Other ships were battered and moved away. The English also were low on ammunition, so they had to drop back and follow the Spanish fleet.

The Spanish fleet had to flee north and around Scotland and from there head back to Spain. The English fleet turned back for resupply. It was a long road back to Spain for the Armada. Autumn had arrived and gales in the North Atlantic made passage tough. Ships were lost to bad weather, navigational errors, foundered near Ireland, and possibly battle damage as well. Only 60 of the 130 survived with an estimated loss of 15,000 men. The English losses were much smaller with fewer men wounded or killed in battle. It appears most of the deaths that came later were due to disease (possibly scurvy). Damages to the English ships were negligible.

Significance

With the defeat of the Spanish Armada, England was made safe from invasion. The Dutch rebels the English backed in Spanish Netherlands were saved as well. Spain up to that point had been considered to be the greatest European power, so it was a major blow to their prestige that would have ramifications down the road for them. Also, it heralded a major change for naval battles. This was the first major naval gun battle where the combatants fought at a distance rather than closing and boarding. Warships that could move quickly and had artillery that fire at long range would become the norm on the seas from that point on. England would now become a major world power. Spain still was in the game for several decades (the English were not successful either in trying their own invasion) and was still a major colonial power. England and Spain formally ended their conflict in 1604. Spain however would eventually go into decline as England and other European powers would successfully expand into Asia and establish their own colonies and trade routes.

(Note: All dates are given are for the Gregorian calendar, which was adopted by England in 1750. At the time of the battle, the Julian calendar was in effect.)

Sources

REMEMBERING LOU GEHRIG

Baseball card of Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees
Public Domain

On July 4, 1939 before a crowd of 60,000 a unique event occurred in the history of baseball.  Lou Gehrig, whose impressive numbers had become the stuff of legends, was being honored. He was given many awards and spoken highly by all those who spoke before the crowd. Gehrig was awed by all the attention he was receiving. The crowd wanted him to speak and he did. What he said went down in baseball history. Regrettably only a small amount as actually recorded but the full speech was reported in the newspapers and later accounts.

“For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

“When you look around, wouldn’t you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such a fine looking men as they’re standing in uniform in this ballpark today? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

“When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

“So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”

Lou Gehrig would pass away in June 1941 a young 37 years of age due to complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is incurable neuromuscular disease where progressive muscle weakness results causing paralysis. The brain loses the ability to control muscle movement so the muscle weaken and deteriorate. His wife Eleanor, who never remarried, spent the rest of her life supporting ALS research.  Columbia University, where he attended for a while, has The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center to continue to research and ways to treat this terrible disease. His number, 4, was retired by the Yankees in 1939.

Below is the official recording and commentary from the Smithsonian Channel. The second is from Ken Burns Baseball documentary but uses the speech from  the movie Pride of the Yankees with Gary Cooper playing Lou Gehrig. It is a great movie and worth getting on dvd. This final scene with the farewell speech ranks as one of the top movie lines most remembered of all time.

Titanic news for 25 Jul: Belfast titanic re-opening, RMS Titanic sets date for salvage

Baltic Man’s Huge Titanic Replica Breaks World Record For Largest Amber Sculpture Ever (The First News, 20 Jul 2020)

A Baltic craftsman has broken the Guinness World Record for the largest amber sculpture ever made. Tomasz O?dziejewski from the village of Szutowo on the Baltic coast, spent a month building a massive 1.5-metre-long replica of the Titanic ship. Working around the clock to meet the Guinness World Record attempt regulations, O?dziejewski, who has worked with amber for 32 years, spent 12 to 14 hours a day to complete his biggest work of art. Measuring exactly 1.532 meters long and  36.7 tall, the ship which costs a cool EUR 11,000, was made without any additional metal frames or reinforcements.

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

Recovery Expedition to Titanic Sets Target Departure Date for 2021 (PR Newswire, 22 Jul 2020)

After lengthy review and expert consultation, the organization has developed a multi-phase, dual ROV, non-evasive method to safely excavate and investigate the Marconi Radio. This new tooling and methodology will allow us to expose the key components in their current resting state and determine if safe extraction and recovery is possible. This unique dual ROV ladder deployment system on the Titan manipulators will allow non-evasive entry to areas of interest without wreck disturbance. Each ROV will be equipped with their respective tooling to first dredge and clean the area for a thorough investigation. Components approved safe for extraction will be gently removed using both ROV’s and collected to salvage baskets for safe recovery to the surface. The organization has also released additional imagery of the custom deep-sea tools that will be used to recover the Marconi.

 

Titanic Belfast (side view)
Image:Prioryman (Wikipedia)

Titanic Reopening… But It’ll Be A Long Way Back For The Tourism Attraction (Irish News, 22 Jul 2020)

And before the facility shut on March 18 as the pandemic took hold, it was still generating around £1 million a week in spend. But with no major corporate events planned for the rest of this year, visitor numbers being restricted, and international or cruise tourists virtually non-existent, income will be a mere fraction of what it has been used to. However, chief executive Judith Owens insists ambition is as big as ever – and is appealing to the home market to lend its support. She said: “Since opening in 2012 we’ve not only became a key economic driver for Northern Ireland, but the symbol of it and its spirit.

 

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TITANIC NEWS: DEBATE ON RETRIEVING MARCONI RADIO CONTINUES

Collapsible lifeboat D photographed by passenger on Carpathia on the morning of 15 April 1912.
Public Domain(Wikipedia)

Titanic: The Battle Over Doomed Ship’s ‘Voice’ Between Descendants And Salvagers (Daily Express, 16 Jul 2020)

“With all due deference to the families, and I don’t want to sound cruel in saying this, Titanic does not belong to us, it does not belong to our generation, it has an enduring attraction among the world,” says Parks, who disagrees with the grave site designation. He maintains he has never seen bodies down there and says he knows of no other shipwreck “given as much consideration as Titanic” internationally. “We actually have a responsibility to salvage what we can for future generations when this wreck ­ultimately degrades back to its natural state and nature, which it’s doing now and it’s an unstoppable process,” he says. Don Lynch, historian for the Titanic Historical Society and ­official ­historian on the 1997 Titanic movie, disagrees. He describes RMST’s earliest ­salvage operations as “a mess” when items were allegedly not documented properly and divers were “grabbing things”.

Recovering the Titanic’s Radio Could Signal a Disaster for Underwater Cultural Heritage (Gizmodo, 1 4 Jul 2020)

This recovery for profit is directly at odds with the ethics of modern archaeological practice. It also raises questions about legal protection for shipwrecks such as the Titanic and how we choose to value our shared cultural heritage.

Titanic Hotel Liverpool Reopens Its Doors (Urbanista, 7 July 2020)

Titanic Hotel Liverpool is delighted to announce it has reopened its doors for hotel stays & dining, having laid out a number of plans for an enhanced cleaning regime, named A New Clean. 

Titanic’s Most Interesting Survivor (Goodmenproject.com, 5 Jul 2020)

The survivor in question was a man by the name of Charles Joughin— a tiny man of just 5? 3½”. A career sailor, Joughin first went to sea at the tender age of eleven, eventually ending up on the Titanic as the Chief Baker, overseeing a staff of thirteen others.Taking the initiative, he mustered his staff of thirteen and — reasoning that if lifeboats were needed then those lifeboats would need provisions — he raided the Titanic’s pantry of all the spare bread he could find. He and his staff ferried the bread up to the deck where each lifeboat was equipped with its own supply.

Happy 4th of July! (Observed)

A collection of public domain images of the American Revolutionary War, together in a montage.

Each year we celebrate the 4th of July (also known as Independence Day) by watching parades, grilling food, and watching baseball. We celebrate it because in 1776 leaders took a brave and radical course of action by declaring independence from the premiere power of the day—Great Britain.

This was no small thing to do. The British were powerful and would respond by trying to crush the rebellion. Every person who signed the document knew their very lives were at stake. And some did pay a price when they were captured. The War for Independence was not easy and faced great obstacles. It was no sure thing at all the rebellion would succeed. It did succeed only because of the determination of those fighting to be free of British rule. They wanted to govern themselves and not serve a country that did not respond to their grievances. The American War for Independence would inspire others to do the same.

But why did they rebel? The Declaration of Independence lays out the case to the world. This is not a snippet but the complete document. Forgetting history though has consequences. Not long ago, a survey of young people educated through high school and college were asked what the Declaration of Independence was. Some thought it was The Communist Manifesto (1848). While that document has had an impact as well, the difference could not be more striking.

Declaration of Independence (1819) by John Trumbull (1756-1843).
Public Domain

The American Revolution brought forth a constitutional republic that guarantees citizens many rights. It also limited the powers of government to protect those citizens. Governments inspired by the Communist Manifesto and its supportive writings resulted in Communist dictatorships. These dictatorships cared not for liberty but were oppressive regimes that imprisoned anyone who disagreed with their policies, seized all lands reducing farmers to serfs, and banned any religious activity that did not conform to state policies. These regimes brutalized their citizens in the name of the “revolution” while the American War for Independence was fought for citizens to have power to govern themselves.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


Remembering History: France Surrenders to Germany

Hitler (hand on side) and German high-ranked nazis and officers staring at WWI French marshall Maréchal Foch’s memorial statue before entering the railway carriage in order to start the negotiations for the 1940 armistice at Rethondes in the Compiègne forest, France. The armistice will only be signed the next day (June 22), Hitler being absent, by General Keitel on the German side and by General Huntziger on the French side. Screenshot taken from the 1943 United States Army propaganda film Divide and Conquer (Why We Fight #3) directed by Frank Capra and partially based on news archives, animations, restaged scenes and captured propaganda material from both sides.
Public Domain

Earlier this week was an anniversary, and not a happy one, for France.  On 21 June 1940 near Compiègne and in the same railway car Germany surrendered in 1918, France officially surrendered to Nazi Germany. For Adolf Hitler and his fellow Nazi leaders, this erased the shame of 1918 and the imposition of the Versailles Treaty. Hitler sat in the same chair that Marshal Ferdinand Foch had sat in 1918 to accept the German surrender in World War I.

France at the outset of the war was considered to have the best professional army in continental Europe. Aside from trained soldiers, they had tanks and heavy artillery. And, of course, the famous Maginot Line. This was a series of fortifications near the German border meant to deter an invasion force. The hills and woods of the Ardennes were considered impenetrable in the north but there was a caveat as General Philippe Petain noted. You had to destroy the invasion force before it exited that area. France and Germany had officially been at war since 3 Sep 1939 when France, allied with England, offered support to the Polish government.

French forces briefly entered the Saar on 7 September but withdrew after meeting a very thin line of German defense on the undermanned Siegfried line. With most of its forces concentrated in Poland at the time, Germany did not have the capacity to stand up to France’s 98 divisions and tanks that were being c0mmitted. However French hesitation and wanting to avoid total war had them withdraw forces starting on 17 September and done a month later. It began a time called the Phoney War where both Germany and France were armed and ready but nothing was happening. Hitler had hoped he could make peace with England and France but that was not to be.

On 10 May 1940, Germany attacked France. German armoured units made a push through the Ardennes, and then through the Somme valley to surround the allied units in Belgium. British, Belgian and French forces were pushed to the sea. British forces were evacuated at Dunkirk, which is an exciting tale of its own.  During the six-week campaign Germany conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands. German troops marched unopposed into Paris on 14 June. By 18 June with the collapse of both the French government (which had fled) and the military, negotiations began between French and German military officers.

At the meeting on 21 June, Hitler read the preamble and like Marshal Foch left to leave Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht to handle the details. There were several objectives that the Germans wanted and got. They wanted French North Africa and the French Navy out of the war. Also, they wanted to deny the British use of French territories since they could not possibly defend them. Occupied France was 3/5ths of the country which included the key ports on the French Channel and Atlantic and to the Spanish border. The Free Zone was administered by a newly formed French government in Vichy with Marshal Petain as its president.

Map of Vichy France
Rostislav Botev

Vichy France, as it became known, was authoritarian and reversed the policies of previous administrations. The media became tightly controlled, anti-Semitism was propagated, and labour unions put under strict controls. Vichy France kept French territories and the navy under French rather than German control. With the German army elsewhere, unoccupied France was generally free from military control. However due to its neutrality forbidden to assist nations at war with Germany. Despite it being unoccupied, Vichy had to conform to German policies including identifying foreign nationals, deporting stateless persons, and of course assisting Germans in locating and ultimately deporting French Jews to murdered in the death camps.

Aftermath

Three days after the signing of the treaty, the armistice site was destroyed on Hitler’s orders. The railway car was sent to Germany as a trophy of war. A monument depicting the French victory over the Germans was destroyed. The only thing left standing was the large statue of Marshal Foch. Hitler ordered it left there to stare out over a wasteland. The railway carriage would later be destroyed by the SS in 1945.

An exact copy of the original railway car was made. French manufacturer Wagons-Lits donated a car from the same series to the Armistice Musuem (in Compiègne) in 1950. Identical and was part of Foch’s private train during the 1918 signing. Remains of the original car were dug up using German POW’s. The railway car is parked beside the display of those remains.

Commentary on Titanic news and other related items.