German neo-nazi terrorism trial continues


This video says about itself:

Neo-Nazi murder trial begins in Germany

6 May 2013

Members of an alleged neo-Nazi cell in Germany have gone on trial for the murder of 10 people, mostly immigrants. The main defendant is 38-year-old Beate Zschaepe. She is accused of helping establish the National Socialist Underground. The group is allegedly responsible for a decade-long string of racially motivated murders and bombings, as well as at least 15 armed bank raids. Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull reports from Munich.

By Dietmar Henning in Germany:

German neo-Nazi trial: Why is Zschäpe silent?

28 July 2014

The judge in the trial of members of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) last week rejected a request by the main defendant, Beate Zschäpe, to dismiss her public defenders.

On July 16, Zschäpe told a police officer in the Munich Higher Regional Court that she had lost confidence in her three lawyers. She confirmed this with a nod when asked by the court’s presiding judge, Manfred Götzl.

Since the three, Wolfgang Heer, Wolfgang Stahl and Anja Sturm, are court-appointed public defenders, Zschäpe cannot fire them herself. That decision rests with the court.

Judge Götzl called on Zschäpe to give a written explanation of the circumstances pertaining to the loss of confidence, which Zschäpe then did with the help of a fourth lawyer. Last week, the judge denied her request and ordered the trial to continue.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that Zschäpe had especially criticised the fact her attorneys had not directed all the questions to witnesses that appeared to her to be important. “Her discontent had apparently been aroused by the questioning of the witness Tino Brandt the previous week,” the newspaper wrote.

As an undercover agent of the Thüringia state Office for Protection of the Constitution (the state Secret Service), Brandt established the Thüringia Homeland Security (THS), using money provided by the authorities. The THS was the precursor to the far-right NSU, which went on to kill nine people in racist-motivated crimes. It also killed a female police officer and carried out bomb attacks on immigrants.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung reported on Brandt’s testimony under the headline, “NSU Trio Received Money from the Secret Service.”

Brandt testified that as a result of a phone call from someone in the far-right milieu, he found out that the NSU trio of Beate Zschäpe, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt had gone to ground. He began to raise money for the three, initially among neo-Nazi regulars in bars and at a concert. However, the donations dried up, and Brandt turned to the authorities. He said “the state of Saxony had donated—six, seven times.”

The Leipziger Volkszeitung made clear that Brandt was referring to payments given him by the Secret Service that were meant for the NSU. The newspaper reported that the presiding judge asked whether the money was expressly meant to be passed on to the trio, and Brandt replied, “As far as I can recall, it was directly meant to be handed on.”

The undercover agent testified that he could not remember clearly the exact amount that was disbursed or the identity of the contact person to whom he passed on the funds. However, he had earlier boasted that he had received some 200,000 German marks from the Secret Service and used it to build up right-wing organisations.

The trial has been ongoing for 130 days, but the main accused, Zschäpe, has refused to testify, on advice from her lawyers exercising her right to silence. It is significant that her petition to sack her lawyers was made directly after the questioning of Brandt.

It is quite possible that Zschäpe either would like to testify or wants her attorneys to press more aggressively on the question of Secret Service collaboration with the NSU and the far-right milieu more generally. On this issue, she likely would have much to say.

It is now a matter of record that the far-right element, including the THS and the NSU, would not have been able to develop in the way that it did without the support of various branches of the secret services. The findings of three judges of the Supreme Court more than 11 years ago, which led to the termination of proceedings to ban the neo-Nazi German National Party (NPD), apply no less to the THS, NSU and the entire far-right milieu. The three judges found that the influence of state bodies on the NPD was so great that that its actions had to be “spoken of as an affair of state.”

It is now well known that the federal and state organs of the Secret Service (BfV and LvF), the Military Counter-Intelligence Service (MAD), and the Berlin State Criminal Police (LKA) had infiltrated at least 24 people into the immediate periphery of the NSU.

In April 2006, when the 21-year-old Halit Yozgat was shot in an Internet café in Kassel, Andreas Temme was present, the leader of Hesse state’s Secret Service undercover operations. A few hours earlier, he had met with one of his undercover agents, who was in the city and in contact with Thüringia.

Temme himself is no stranger to far-right views. In his home town, he was called “Little Adolf.” In searches of his house, passages from Hitler’s Mein Kampf were found.

The two NSU members Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt were known to the police and the secret services since the mid-1990s. In 1995, the Military Counter-Intelligence Service spoke to Mundlos to win him as an employee and informer.

In November 1997, the Thüringia state Secret Service observed Mundlos and Böhnhardt purchasing possible bomb components. Two months later, the police searched a garage rented by Zschäpe and found a functioning bomb workshop. Böhnhardt was present and was able to drive away in his car unhindered.

Subsequently, the three terrorists allegedly went to ground. The same year, the Gera state prosecutor allowed telephone recordings that Böhnhardt had made in the four weeks following the search of the bomb-making garage to be erased.

The leader of the far-right music label “Blood & Honour” in Saxony, Jan Werner, was, as early as 1998, in close contact with the three fugitives. Carsten Szczepanski, an undercover agent of the Brandenburg state Secret Service, code-named “Piato,” was active in the NPD and had been sentenced for the murder of an asylum seeker. He reported that Werner had personal contact with Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe. Werner had the job of “supplying the three fugitives with weapons,” he said.

Werner, in turn, was in telephone contact with a mobile phone registered to the Saxony state Interior Ministry, according to the Thüringia investigation report. On August 25, 1998, about seven months after the trio had gone to ground, Werner sent his contact person in the Interior Ministry a text message asking, “Hallo, what’s happening with the bums?” He inquired whether the Secret Service had procured weapons for him.

In the underground, the three fugitive terrorists were helped by the neo-Nazis André Eminger and Holger Gerlach, who are presently in the dock alongside Zschäpe, as well as the former NPD functionary Ralf Wohlleben and Carsten S.

It is on record that countless clues pointing to the whereabouts of the three terrorists were never followed up.

It is unclear to what extent other Secret Service operatives and undercover agents were in contact with the NSU terrorists between 1998 and 2011. Important undercover agents were prevented from giving evidence, and many files were withheld, redacted or shredded.

On November 4, 2011, when Mundlos and Böhnhardt supposedly committed suicide, Zschäpe disappeared for four days. On November 8, she presented herself to the Jena police. Just two hours later, the leader of the “procurement” section in the department for right-wing extremism at the federal Secret Service, Lothar Lingen, began looking through the files. (The term “procurement” refers to the gathering of information—i.e., the recruitment of undercover operatives in the far right.)

The very next day, Lingen ordered the destruction of the first file. As of July 4, 2012, the federal Secret Service alone had destroyed a total of 310 files containing thousands of documents.

It is impossible to draw a line separating the actions of the right-wing radicals and neo-Nazis, on the one hand, and the role of the state on the other.

This in no way diminishes the crimes of Böhnhardt and Mundlos, who most probably committed the murders. Zschäpe is also culpable. But there is truth in what the father of Mundlos said in court, when he asserted that without the Secret Service and its informers, his son would not have “slid into the right-wing scene.”

The role and responsibility of the state and its intelligence agencies in the crimes of the NSU are clearly not to be addressed in the Munich proceedings. “No state secrets can be made known that would undermine government activities,” Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, deputy leader of the Secret Service from 1996 and later a state secretary at the Interior Ministry, told a parliamentary committee of inquiry in 2012. Fritsche has since been promoted to Secret Service adviser in the Chancellery.

Of what state secrets was he speaking? Which fascists worked and continue to work for the Secret Service? Possibly Beate Zschäpe?

In November 2011, the Leipziger Volkszeitung wrote that Zschäpe had worked for the Secret Service in Thüringia. The indication had come from the Thüringia state Criminal Police. She had supposedly obtained information for the authorities about the right-wing scene—i.e., she worked as an undercover informant.

For this reason, she was protected by the Thüringia state Secret Service. During this time, Zschäpe had used five different aliases.

The Thüringia state Secret Service, which had generously financed Tino Brandt, disputed this presentation. It claimed that although there had been contact with Zschäpe, and her recruitment as an informant had been considered, this had not been done because of her instability and drug use. (In April of this year, a witness before the Munich court who knew Zschäpe since 1992, and who had had an affair with her for a short time, testified that alcohol and drugs had been “a red rag” for the defendant).

The fact is that in several interrogations in the summer of 1996, Zschäpe had already passed on information to the authorities about the right-wing milieu. “I want to work with the police,” she told officials in Jena on August 5, 1996. Jena was where she turned herself in 15 years later.

It is also a fact that on November 4, 2011, just one-and-a-half hours after she had blown up the flat she shared with her two accomplices, Zschäpe received a call from a mobile phone belonging to the Saxony state Interior Ministry. The ministry evidently had her number on speed dial.

If Zschäpe was an undercover informant, she cannot break her silence without putting herself in mortal danger. She would not be the first person to die under mysterious circumstances since the beginning of the trial.

British suffragette movement history discovery


This video from Britain is called Women’s Suffrage (stock footage / archival footage).

By Peter Lazenby in Brtain:

Opening the page on Rochdale’s Suffragettes

Monday 28th July 2014

Minutes from 100 years ago shed light on the movement at its heyday, writes PETER LAZENBY

Researchers in north-west England are seeking the descendants of local pioneers of the “votes for women” Suffragette movement following the discovery of historic minutes dating back more than a century.

The minutes, dating from May 1907 to November 1915, record details of the Rochdale branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union, the organisation founded in 1903 in Manchester by the Pankhursts and other campaigners for women to get the vote.

The minutes have been handed to Salford’s Working Class Movement Library.

They include a list of almost 50 members and friends who attended a “monster demonstration” on June 21 1908, when between 200,000 and 300,000 women gathered in Hyde Park supporting their campaign for votes for women.

The minutes of June 12 1913, record that a special meeting was held to “consider the matter of sending delegates to represent Rochdale at the funeral of Miss Emily Wilding Davison who laid down her life in the cause of women.”

Ms Davison, who was 40 and was a teacher before devoting herself to full-time activism for the women’s movement, was trampled to death by the “King’s horse” after stepping in front of it at the Epsom Derby on June 4 1913.

She died of her injuries four days later.

As a campaigner she had been sent to jail nine times, and was brutally force-fed 49 times while on hunger strike in prison.

Her final sacrifice drew attention to the women’s cause in Britain and around the world, and Ms Davison’s name lives on as a martyr in the struggle for votes for women.

The Rochdale group decided to send three delegates and flowers to the funeral. It took place in London on June 14 1913. Thousands of Suffragettes walked with the coffin and tens of thousands more lined the streets as the cortege passed.

After a service in Bloomsbury her coffin was taken by train to the family grave in Morpeth in Northumberland.

The Rochdale minutes have been donated to the Working Class Movement Library by two supporters of its work in collecting, cataloguing and making accessible materials recording working-class history.

Library manager Lynette Cawthra said: “I don’t know where the donors originally got them from but I think they had had them for a long time.

“But there is no direct link between them and the movement. They have been friends of the library for a long time and knew that this was a place where these treasures would be looked after, and also be accessible which is, of course, a very important part of our work.”

Ms Cawthra said the minutes showed that the meetings were not all serious business.

“Members also had picnics, tea parties, dances and socials to raise much-needed funds,” she said.

“At one tea party, attended by about 50 people, the women were presented with a tea urn by a ‘gentleman sympathiser.’

“The library is extremely grateful to the donors of this minute book, which will be added to its collection of Suffragette material which includes photos, books, the journal Votes for Women and a badge which was presented to a woman who had been imprisoned for her Suffragette activities. Everyone is welcome to come and browse what’s here.”

The library is making public the list of names of Rochdale campaigners who attended the London rally in the hope that descendants will come forward.

Ms Cawthra said: “If you spot the name of your great-gran or another family member in the list, please do contact the Library on enquiries@wcml.org.uk or (0161) 736-3601 and tell us more about them.”

The Working Class Movement Library is based at Jubilee House, 61, The Crescent, Salford M5 4WX.

Margaret Thatcher ‘knew about child abuse accusations, did nothing’


This video from Britain says about itself:

Pretty Chilling: Jimmy Savile And His “Love” For Margaret Thatcher

29 December 2012

Jimmy Savile‘s hold over Downing Street in the 80s is revealed in a series of letters in which he declares his “love” for Margaret Thatcher, according to newly released records.

Very disturbing: Jimmy, UKs posthumous “worse than Jack the Ripper“, telling the Prime Minister about his jealous “girl patients”…

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Margaret Thatcher ‘was warned of Tory child sex party claims’

Thatcher’s personal bodyguard and former detective chief inspector said he warned PM about Peter Morrison

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith

Sunday 27 July 2014

Margaret Thatcher’s personal bodyguard Barry Strevens has told of how he warned the Prime Minister of allegations that one of her top aides was involved in sex parties with under-age boys.

Mr Strevens, a former detective chief inspector, told the Sun on Sunday that he passed on allegations about her loyal confidant Peter Morrison before he was promoted to the position of deputy chairman of the Conservative Party in the 1980s.

Mr Morrison, who died of a heart attack in 1995 aged 51, has since been linked to claims of sex abuse at children’s homes in north Wales.

At the time, Mr Strevens was informed of the allegations by a senior Cheshire police officer. Mr Strevens knew Mrs Thatcher was considering appointing Mr Morrison to the position of deputy chairman after Jeffrey Archer had stepped down over prostitution claims, and he requested an immediate meeting with Mrs Thatcher and her private secretary Archie Hamilton, who reportedly took notes of what was said.

“I wouldn’t say she was naïve but I would say she would not have thought people around her would be like that,” he said. “I am sure he would have given her assurances about the rumours, as otherwise she wouldn’t have given him the job.”

Explaining the nature of the rumours he had been told, Mr Strevens said: “A senior officer in Chester had told me there were rumours going around about underage boys – one aged 15 – attending sex parties at a house there belonging to Peter Morrison.

“After we returned to Number 10 I asked to go and see her immediately. It was unusual for me to do that so they would have known it was something serious. When I went in Archie Hamilton was there. I told them exactly what had been said about Peter. Archie took notes and they thanked me for coming.

“There was no proof but the officer I spoke to was certain and said local press knew a lot more. This was just after the Jeffrey Archer scandal and I knew she needed to know about it because they were deciding on the appointment of the next deputy chairman.

“I always told her things straight, as I saw them. She listened and thanked me. I assumed Archie Hamilton would have spoken to Peter Morrison following that.

“When he was appointed I assumed there had been nothing to the claims – as there was no way on Earth she would have given him the job otherwise,” he said.

Responding to the claims, Archie Hamilton told the paper that Mr Strevens had gone to Number 10 for a meeting but that he could not recall the mention of underage boys.

He said: “I remember Barry Strevens coming in and what he actually said at the time was that there were parties at Peter Morrison’s home in Cheshire and there were only men who were there.

“I don’t remember him saying they were underage. There may have been but the point he was making to her was that there were only men involved in the party.

“She listened to what he said and that was it. It was merely a party and men were there,” he said.

Home Secretary Theresa May has already announced a full-scale investigation into historical claims of child abuse at Westminster, and of an alleged paedophile ring.

Lord Tebbit has said he confronted Mr Morrison over rumours about him and young boys and that he received a flat denial, while former Tory MP Edwina Currie had previously called him a “notable pederast”.

British World War I media censorship


This video abouyt United States armed forces is called Censored letters WWI.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

First world war: how state and press kept truth off the front page

Threatening journalists with arrest seems unthinkable now

Not that unthinkable, unfortunately, see, eg, here and here.

– but that was just one of the obstacles they faced at the start of WW1

Roy Greenslade

Sunday 27 July 2014 19.00 BST

On this, the 100th anniversary of the day the first world war began, it is sobering to look back at the way that conflict was so badly reported. The catalogue of journalistic misdeeds is a matter of record: the willingness to publish propaganda as fact, the apparently tame acceptance of censorship and the failure to hold power to account. But a sweeping condemnation of the press coverage is unjust because journalists, as ever, were prevented from informing the public by three powerful forces – the government, the military and their own proprietors.

It is undeniable that newspapers began by demonising the German enemy. They published fabricated stories of German barbarism, which were accepted as fact. Although Belgian and French citizens were executed as reprisals by the German army in the early months of the war, many unverifiable stories – later dubbed “atrocity propaganda” – were wholly untrue. Editors and journalists were therefore guilty.

Censorship was a different matter. It was imposed from the opening of hostilities and, although gradually relaxed, it remained sufficiently strict to constrain reporters from obtaining information or, should they manage to get it, from publishing it. Rigid government control was exercised in conjunction with a complicit group of committed pro-war press proprietors.

The Defence of the Realm Act, enacted four days after hostilities began, gave the authorities power to stifle criticism of the war effort. One of its regulations stated: “No person shall by word of mouth or in writing spread reports likely to cause disaffection or alarm among any of His Majesty’s forces or among the civilian population.” Its aim was to prevent publication of anything that could be interpreted as undermining the morale of the British people, but it did not stifle all negative reporting. If it had done so, then Lord Northcliffe could not have campaigned so relentlessly against war minister Lord Kitchener through his newspapers, the Times and Daily Mail.

It was the Times’s war correspondent, Charles à Court Repington, who broke the story in May 1915 of the shortage of artillery ammunition. What became known as “the shells crisis” had explosive political results. It forced prime minister Herbert Asquith to form a coalition government, catapulted David Lloyd George into the post of munitions minister and was a precursor to Lloyd George replacing Asquith.

Northcliffe’s campaign against Kitchener, a national hero then held in high public regard, resulted in a revolt by a million Mail readers and several advertisers. He was quoted as saying at the time: “I mean to tell the people the truth and I don’t care what it costs.” He was vindicated once that truth emerged; sales and advertising returned.

Northcliffe was aware of having two advantages in being critical of the war effort. First, his patriotism was never in question because his papers published hysterical anti-German propaganda. Second, he was assured of support from Lloyd George, with whom he connived in order to oust Asquith. But Northcliffe was far from the only newspaper proprietor who supported the war. CP Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian, was initially opposed to it, as were his senior staff. After hostilities began, they felt compelled to back it. “Once in it,” wrote Scott, “the whole future of our nation is at stake and we have no choice but do the utmost we can to secure success.”

At the war’s outbreak, Kitchener banned reporters from the front. But two determined correspondents, the Daily Chronicle’s Philip Gibbs and the Daily Mail’s Basil Clarke, risked his wrath by defying the ban and acting as “journalistic outlaws” to report from the front line. Gibbs was arrested, warned that if he was caught again he would be shot, and sent back to England. Clarke, after reporting on the devastation in Ypres following the German bombardment, returned home after a similar warning.

Three months later, the government relented by allowing five “accredited reporters” access to the front and, over the following three years, several more journalists were also given accreditation. But censorship ensured that all sorts of facts were hidden from the readers of British newspapers. British blunders went unreported, as did German victories.

Even the bloodiest defeat in British history, at the Somme in 1916, in which 600,000 Allied troops were killed, went largely unreported. The battle’s disastrous first day was reported as a victory. The Daily Mail’s William Beach Thomas later admitted he was “deeply ashamed” of what he had written, adding: “The vulgarity of enormous headlines and the enormity of one’s own name did not lessen the shame.” Gibbs defended his actions, claiming that he was attempting to “spare the feelings of men and women, who, have sons and husbands fighting in France”. He had the gall to claim that the truth was reported about the Somme “apart from the naked realism of horrors and losses, and criticism of the facts”. After the war, both men accepted knighthoods for services to journalism. Others, like Hamilton Fyfe, previously editor of the Daily Mirror and later editor of the Daily Herald, regarded the honour as a bribe to keep quiet about the inefficiency and corruption he had witnessed.

Only later did the public learn of the high casualty toll and the horrific nature of trench warfare, such as the use of poison gas and the effects of shell shock. With these appalling conditions in mind, it was no wonder that Lloyd George confided to Scott in December 1917: “If people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know, and can’t know.” He was speaking after listening to Gibbs’s description – at a private meeting – of the reality on the western front. He conceded that the censors “wouldn’t pass the truth”.

Lloyd George was sufficiently concerned about sagging public morale in 1917 to encourage the creation of a propaganda body, the National War Aims Committee. He also offered Northcliffe a chance to join the cabinet. He refused that post, but accepted an appointment as director for propaganda at the ministry of information. So Britain’s most influential media tycoon became the war’s official propagandist. The prime minister extended his press control by appointing the newly-ennobled Daily Express and London Evening Standard owner, Lord Beaverbrook, as the first minister of information. Lloyd George used press proprietors as a private reporting service, with censored articles being passed on to the cabinet.

But self-censorship played a big role. As Gibbs wrote later: “We identified ourselves absolutely with the armies in the field. We wiped out of our minds all thought of personal scoops and all temptation to write one word which would make the task of officers and men more difficult or dangerous. There was no need of censorship of our despatches. We were our own censors.”

A fuller version of this article is published in the latest issue of the British Journalism Review.

The posters that sold World War I to the American public: here.

The U.S. confiscated half a billion dollars in private property during #WWI: here.

United States embassy diplomats flee Libya


This 26 July 2014 video is called BREAKING NEWS – US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes in Tripoli.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

US evacuates Tripoli embassy as rival militias push Libya towards war

Memories revived of Benghazi assault in which American ambassador died as last-minute ceasefire talks collapse

Chris Stephen in Tripoli

Saturday 26 July 2014 18.04 BST

The US embassy in Tripoli staged a dramatic evacuation in the early hours of Saturday, with other embassies debating whether to follow suit as Libya hovers on the brink of full-scale war. Efforts by diplomats and prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni to engineer a last-minute ceasefire between warring militias have collapsed and the capital echoes to the sound of artillery and rockets.

Fighting is also continuing in the eastern city of Benghazi, part of a nation-wide struggle between an Islamist-led alliance and fragmented opposition.

In Tripoli, thousands are fleeing their homes under a rain of rocket, tank and mortar fire. “They phoned us to tell us to get out,” said Huda, a resident in the south-western Tripoli district of Seraj. “They told us: you have seen how the airport looks, this will be your district too.”

There are no accurate casualty figures because different militias take their wounded to their own hospitals, but estimates claim that more than 100 have died in two weeks of fighting. The health ministry said it had lost contact with its hospitals.

Tripoli’s airport is a smashed ruin after two weeks of attacks on it by a militia from Misrata against another from Zintan, which has held it since the 2011 Arab spring uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. In that uprising, Misrata, 120 miles west of Tripoli and Zintan, 90 miles south, were allies, forming the two most powerful militias which liberated the capital, backed by Nato bombing. Now they are at war.

Misratan brigades are determined to capture the airport, a valuable strategic asset. But the bombardment has reduced much of it to rubble. The main building is wrecked, the control tower holed and on the scorched tarmac are the remains of 21 planes – much of Libya’s small commercial fleet. Three volunteer pilots flew surviving jets to Malta last week.

They may not be back for a long time. International authorities have ordered Libyan airspace to be closed on Monday and there is a last-minute scramble by foreigners and Libyans to get out. Many are streaming towards the Tunisian border crossing, with Egypt having already closed its own frontier after 21 of its border guards were killed in an ambush.

The US embassy found itself in the middle of the battle, its position close to the airport road marking the frontline between the two sides. For two weeks its staff hunkered down in concrete bunkers, protected by 90 heavily armed marines. Two rockets landed outside the walls, but the embassy compound itself took no hits. Each night drones and an Orion surveillance aircraft flew low over the city.

Ambassador Deborah Jones tweeted that there were no armed drones. But armed jets linger off the coast, with an aircraft carrier stationed over the horizon and back-up Marines deployed in Sicily.

On Friday, after consultations with Washington, the order was given to pull out. Through the early hours, the sky echoed with the sounds of planes leaving. Memories are still fresh of the fate of the last ambassador, Chris Stevens, who died along with three staff when the US consulate in Benghazi was stormed by a militia two years ago. London has said nonessential staff have been evacuated and a final decision is expected to be taken by EU embassies on whether to evacuate over the next few days.

The Americans leave a city on edge. Petrol shortages have left the streets mostly empty, but on Friday night thousands gathered for a peace rally in the central Algiers Square. Amid elegant Italian-era buildings and palm trees, they chanted “Libya Hoara!” (Libya Free!) and called for all sides to stop fighting.

“This is not what I fought the revolution for,” said Mohammed, a student who joined the rebels during the 2011 uprising. “We fought for peace, and instead we get this.”

In truth, the fighting never went away. The former general national congress, instead of disarming the revolutionary militias funded them and gave them official status. In June a new parliament, the House of Representatives, was elected and is due to start work next month in Benghazi, triggering a jostling for position among the militias that threatens all-out war.

“I have been saying it all along: it has to get worse before it gets better,” said Sami Zaptia, editor of the Libya Herald newspaper. The question all Libyans are asking is how much worse it will get.

Dutch government: Dutch people, leave Libya.

Britain, Germany, France and Netherlands issue warnings after gunmen fire on armoured vehicle evacuating UK diplomats: here.

The Obama administration closed the US embassy in Libya Saturday and evacuated the staff in a military convoy, in a further humiliation for American imperialism in a country which was devastated by the US-NATO war in 2011: here.

World War I, fiction and reality


This video is called Trench warfare at its worst – Battle of Somme 1916.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Untold stories of the war

Jeremy Paxman, Michael Morpurgo, Pat Barker and other writers tell some of the surprising and heart-rending stories still emerging from the conflict

Saturday 26 July 2014

Jeremy Paxman

For much of the first world war the official Royal Navy fleet included a battleship that was quietly rusting at the bottom of the sea.

In 1914, the British navy was the greatest seagoing force in the world. HMS Audacious joined the fleet the previous year, a new, state-of-the-art battleship with 10 13½in guns, 16 smaller guns and a crew of 900.

On 27 October 1914, the Audacious emerged from the fleet’s deep-water anchorage in Lough Swilly for gunnery drills off the coast of Donegal. Just before 9am the crew heard a low thud. A sublieutenant Spragge, who was having a bath at the time, thought it was the signal to start firing. It was not: the ship had struck a mine – almost certainly laid by a German passenger liner that had just passed through the area – and the British battleship had been holed. The captain attempted to take Audacious back into Lough Swilly, hoping to beach the ship for repairs. But, with the engine room flooded, it soon became unmanoeuvrable. As the great battleship settled further and further into the water the crew began to be evacuated to other ships.

One British warship after another attempted to give the Audacious a tow. All failed. At this point the luxurious liner the Olympic (a sister ship of the Titanic) appeared on the scene, nearing the end of a crossing from New York to Britain. The liner evacuated the remainder of the crew and attached a line to the Audacious. This rope broke and it was clear that the pride of the Royal Navy would have to be abandoned. At about 9pm, survivors on the Olympic heard a tremendous explosion aboard the Audacious and she sank beneath the waves. The wealthy passengers on the Olympic gave the rescued sailors their spare clothes. They later disembarked in dancing slippers, evening waistcoats and top hats.

At the highest levels of government the decision was taken that the public were not to be told about the catastrophe. The Olympic was detained and its radio silenced. One of its richest passengers, the American steel magnate Charles Schwab, who was on his way to London to try to secure a lucrative munitions contract, was allowed off the ship, having given a strict promise of silence. British passengers disembarking later in Belfast blithely told reporters they’d had “a marvellous passage”.

To maintain the lie, the Admiralty redistributed the crew of the Audacious around other vessels in the navy, while the battleship remained on the official complement of the Royal Navy throughout the war. It was only on 14 November 1918 that the government admitted that their prize battleship had spent almost all the war on the seabed.

• Jeremy Paxman’s Great Britain’s Great War is published by Viking. …

Sebastian Faulks

A hundred years ago, the Great War destroyed Europe’s claim to be the most civilised continent in the world and seemed to make a mockery of terms such as “the Renaissance” and “the Enlightenment“. Three empires were lost. Our grandfathers killed 10 million soldiers and 7 million civilians; they introduced the idea of genocide as a political solution – and 20th-century Europe proved eager to embrace it. It did not feel like that to the soldiers at the time. They responded in a traditional way – by forming close bonds with those next to them. It was dangerous to make a best friend because you might need a new one tomorrow. But that didn’t stop them.

Jack Dorgan, a sergeant in the 7th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers had a German shell drop in among him and his friends during the attack in St Julien on 26 April 1915. In the aftermath, he discovered bodies lying a few yards from the shell-hole. “All I could see when I got up to them was their thigh bones,” he recalls on a recording in the archive of the Imperial War Museum. “I will always remember their white thigh bones, the rest of their legs were gone.”

One of those wounded, a Private Bob Young, was conscious right to the end. Jack Dorgan lay down beside Young and asked if there was anything he could do for him. Dorgan recalled: “He said: ‘Straighten my legs, Jack’, but he had no legs. I touched the bones and that satisfied him. Then he said, ‘Get my wife’s photograph out of my breast pocket.’ I took the photograph out and put it in his hands. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t lift a hand, he couldn’t lift a finger, but somehow he held his wife’s photograph on his chest. And that’s how Bob Young died.”

There were millions of Bob Youngs. It has fallen to later generations to try to interpret the disaster that befell – then shaped – our world.

• Sebastian Faulks is the co-editor with Hope Wolf of A Broken World: Letters, Diaries and Memories of the Great War (Hutchinson). …

Richard J Evans

On 5 January 1919, almost two months after the end of the war, a curious ceremony took place in a small colonial settlement on the eastern coast of New Guinea. A column of about 20 native soldiers emerged from the jungle, headed by a German officer in the full-dress uniform of the Prussian army, and made its way over to a waiting detachment of Australian troops to surrender in what must have been the final act of the first world war.

The officer was Captain Hermann Detzner, an engineer and surveyor, and he had an extraordinary tale to tell. When the war broke out in August 1914 he had been mapping the border between the British protectorate of Papua, occupying the south-eastern quarter of the island, and the German colony of Kaiser-Wilhelmsland, occupying the north-eastern quarter. The German part of the island formed part of the kaiser’s possessions in the Pacific, gained during the colonial scrambles of the late 19th century. At the beginning of the war Germany’s Pacific territories were overrun by Australian and Japanese forces – Japan was an ally of Britain during the war – and their governors and commanders surrendered virtually without a shot being fired.

Not so Detzner. Receiving an order from invading Australian forces to surrender on 11 November 1914, he decided to keep the German flag flying and marched away from the border eastwards on to the Huon peninsula. Here, according to Detzner’s memoir Four Years Among the Cannibals, published after the war, they made a German flag from dyed loincloths and marched through the jungle singing patriotic German songs such as “The Watch on the Rhine” to keep their spirits up. By this time the Australian troops on the island were under orders to shoot him on sight. His second-in-command was captured, and Detzner himself, a small, wiry man, fell ill, weighing only 40 kilos when he surrendered. Nevertheless, his memoirs became a bestseller in Germany, calling to mind the lost days of Germany’s overseas empire and its achievements, which Detzner claimed in his case included the discovery of many new species of flora and fauna previously unknown to science.

Unfortunately, however, his claims were eventually revealed to be false. According to the Australian forces on the island, he had not roamed the jungle at all: he had been staying all the time in a German Lutheran missionary compound, retreating to the hills only when they drew near. He was a civilian, not a soldier, and he undertook no military action during the entire war. His scientific claims were discredited by other German explorers, who pointed out that they were frequently plagiarised from their own work, or, where this was not the case, pure invention. In 1933 he was forced to issue a retraction and apology, and he retired into private life, dying in 1970 at the age of 88. His tale is a reminder of the fact that the Great War was fought not just in the mud of Flanders but in many locations all across the globe.

• Richard J Evans’s Altered Pasts: Counterfactuals in History is published by Little, Brown. …

Douglas Newton

When many people think of Britain’s decision to go to war in 1914, fatalism descends. They mutter that there was no alternative. They imagine that Britain did all it could to avert heading to conflict. It was a response to German aggression against Belgium; Britain stood up for democracy.

This tale scarcely matches the evidence. Britain’s war-makers forced the pace, “jockeyed” the Cabinet, blindsided parliament, and rushed to a premature decision – before Belgium’s invasion.

First, Britain’s decision-makers frogmarched events. They did very little to restrain Russia or France. Britain itself was provocative; on 28 July, the fleet was ordered to “War Stations”, before news of a Balkan war. The following day its “Warning Telegram” was sent across the empire, two days before the comparable German proclamation.

Second, the interventionist minority in Asquith’s Cabinet “jockeyed” the neutralist majority. The naval moves, the shunning of all negotiations on neutrality, the army mobilisation, and the calling out of the Naval Reserve, were all decisions taken by the Asquith clique – between meetings of the Cabinet.

Third, cheerleaders for war were active in London. Influential men, in government and the press, linked with the French and Russian embassies, campaigned for Britain’s instant intervention – for the sake of Russia and France, irrespective of Belgium.

Fourth, democracy was sidestepped. Parliament learned almost nothing of British policy until Monday 3 August. The leaders fostered the impression that any war for Britain would be naval only. Asquith sought to squash all parliamentary debate. On 6 August, the government gave MPs the famous “White Paper”, amending various diplomatic cables to hide Russia’s pressure for war. Effectively “bounced”, the parliament backed war.

Finally, Britain’s choice for war was made on Sunday 2 August, when Cabinet authorised Grey to pledge naval assistance to France – before the Belgian disaster. This pledge almost wrecked the Cabinet. So appalled were neutralist ministers at their own government’s haste that four resigned. Nowhere else did this happen in Europe.

The demand for neutrality was never a demand that Britain should simply walk away if Germany invaded Belgium. It was a demand for a credible active neutral diplomacy during the crisis. That might have averted war.

• Douglas Newton’s The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain’s Rush to War, 1914 is published by Verso.