Second World War

From the ghetto to the village green

By Gabrielle Jaffe, August 27, 2009

On 1 September 1939, as His Majesty’s armed forces made their final preparations for war, another section of the population was also getting ready to mobilise. Under a government scheme, a 735,000-strong army of schoolchildren was to be sent from the soon-to-be-bombed cities, industrial towns and ports to the safety of the British countryside.

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Second World War outbreak: 70th anniversary

August 27, 2009

The Second World War began on September 1 1939, with the German attack on Poland. Two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany.

There had been many forshadowings of those grim September days, and what it would mean to the Jews. On January 30 1939, six years to the day after the Nazi party came to power in Germany, Hitler told a crowd of his keenest supporters that if war came, “the result will not be the bolshevisation of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe”.

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Nazi killer gets life in jail — 65 years late

By Toby Axelrod, Berlin, August 13, 2009

A Munich court has sentenced a former German Wehrmacht lieutenant to spend the rest of his life in jail for ordering the killings of Italian villagers in June 1944. Josef Scheungraber, 90, was found guilty of ten of the 14 murders with which he had been charged.

He had been living for decades in a town outside Munich, where he served on the town council.

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How the baroness got her silver back

By Marcus Dysch, August 13, 2009

It was smuggled out of the Nazis’ grasp and hidden in a secret drawer in a small Krakow flat for more than 60 years, but a set of silver cutlery finally took pride of place in the home of a British baroness this week.

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Demjanjuk formally charged with 27,900 counts

By Jessica Elgot, July 13, 2009

German prosecutors have formally charged John Demjanjuk with 27,900 counts of being an accessory to murder.

The date of the trial of the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, 89, has not yet been confirmed.

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Demjanjuk is 'fit to stand trial'

By Jessica Elgot, July 3, 2009

The suspected war criminal, John Demjanjuk, has been declared fit enough to stand trial in Germany, despite his family's pleas that he is too frail.

Demjanjuk, 89, was deported in May from his home in the US to stand trial in Munich, where he is currently in hospital with gout.

But after a medical check-up, doctors declared him fit to face trial by the German court for his alledged war crimes, even though his family insist he is too ill to cope with the trial.

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No Hitlers on the heritage railway, thanks

July 2, 2009

Organisers of a World War Two-themed weekend have banned participants from wearing swastikas, Nazi uniforms and dressing up as Hitler.

Visitors to the Severn Valley Railway event, run on 16 miles of railways through Worcestershire and Shropshire this weekend and last, were told to wear non-offensive clothing.

Promotional flyers said: “The wartime period does have difficult memories for many who were closely involved. We therefore ask you that you give some thought to the costume that you choose.

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The last hurrah

By Leon Symons, May 27, 2009

A group of World War II evacuees who spent the war at the same school will be holding a reunion on September 1 — and it could be the last time they meet.

The group, who were at Dame Alice Owen boys’ school in Islington, were evacuated on September 1, 1939, two days before Britain declared war on Germany.

They were taken to the town of Bedford and Bedford Modern School, where they have held a reunion on that day every decade since 1979.

One of the organisers, David Bernstein, who lives in Croydon, has helped write a book about the group, most of whom are now in their 80s.

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Smile Hitler. The Nazis invade trainspotters’ day out

By Simon Rocker, May 27, 2009

Organisers of a Second World War re-enactment event have apologised after some participants breached its dress code and sported swastikas.

Men in German military uniforms were seen displaying the Nazi emblems at the East Lancashire Light Railway’s annual “wartime weekend” in Bury.

But Andy Coward, the railway’s general manager, said that such insignia were off-limits and people would have been asked to remove them if they had been spotted.

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Max Block helped Iranian Jewish family gain UK asylum

By Keren David, May 21, 2009

Seventy-five years after arriving in England as a refugee from Nazi Germany, Max Block has helped an Iranian Jewish family gain asylum in the UK.

The Sinaei family have been helped by the entire Liverpool Jewish community as they struggled to survive without state aid when their application for asylum was turned down.

They fled Iran after their land was seized, their home demolished and a grandmother’s funeral was disrupted, with security guards destroying the coffin and kicking the corpse.

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