Archive for the ‘WWII’ Category

A labyrinth of secret underground tunnels believed to have been used by the Nazis to develop a nuclear bomb has been uncovered.

The facility, which covers an area of up to 75 acres, was discovered near the town of St Georgen an der Gusen, Austria last week, it has been reported.

Excavations began on the site after researchers detected heightened levels of radiation in the area – supporting claims that the Nazis were developing nuclear weapons.

Documentary maker Andreas Sulzer, who is leading the excavations, told the Sunday Times that the site is ‘most likely the biggest secret weapons production facility of the Third Reich’.

It is believed to be connected to the B8 Bergkristall underground factory, where the Messerschmitt Me 262 – the first operational jet fighter – was built.

There are also suggestions that the complex is connected to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.

Slave labour from the camp was used to build both complexes – with as many as 320,000 inmates in the harsh underground conditions.

But while the Bergkristall site was explored by Allied and Russia after the war, the Nazis appeared to have gone through greater lengths to conceal the newly-discovered tunnels.

Its entrance was only uncovered after the excavation team, which includes historians and scientists, pieced together information in declassified intelligence documents and testimonies from witnesses.

The team is now in the process of removing layers of soil and concrete packed into the tunnels and heavy granite plates that were used to cover the entrance.

Helmets belonging to SS troops and other Nazi relics are among the items that have been uncovered so far.

The excavation was halted last week by police, who demanded the group produce a permit for conducting research on historic sites. But Mr Sulzer is confident that work will resume next month.

He told the Sunday Times: ‘Prisoners from concentration camps across Europe were handpicked for their special skills – physicists, chemists or other experts – to work on this monstrous project and we owe it to the victims to finally open the site and reveal the truth.’

The probe was triggered by a research documentary by Mr Sulzer on Hitler’s quest to build an atomic bomb.

In it, he referenced diary entries from a physicist called up to work for the Nazis. There is other evidence of scientists working for a secret project managed by SS General Hans Kammler.

Kammler, who signed off the plans for the gas chambers and crematorium at Auschwitz, was in charge of Hitler’s missile programmes.

Mr Sulzer searched archives in Germany, Moscow and America for evidence of the nuclear weapons-building project led by the SS.

He discovered that on January 2, 1944, some 272 inmates of Mauthausen were taken from the camp to St Georgen to begin the construction of secret galleries.

By November that year, 20,000 out of 40,000 slave labourers drafted in to build the tunnels had been worked to death.

After the war, Austria spent some £10million in pouring concrete into most of the tunnels.

But Sulzer and his backers believe they missed a secret section where the atomic research was conducted.

The Soviets were stationed in St Georgen until 1955 and they took all of the files on the site back with them to Moscow.

Experts are trying to discover if there is a link between St Georgen and sites in Germany proper where scientists were assembled during the Third Reich in a bid to match American efforts to build the ultimate weapon.

In June 2011, atomic waste from Hitler’s secret nuclear programme was believed to have been found in an old mine near Hanover.

More than 126,000 barrels of nuclear material lie rotting over 2,000 feet below ground in an old salt mine.

Rumour has it that the remains of nuclear scientists who worked on the Nazi programme are also there, their irradiated bodies burned in secret by S.S. men sworn to secrecy.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2888975/Vast-underground-complex-Nazis-developed-WMD-discovered-Austria.html#ixzz3Nt33ax4F
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Thanks to Jody Troupe for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

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Last year, newly published letters written by Nobel prize winner Heinrich Böll appeared to confirm that Nazi troops took crystal methamphetamines in order to stay awake and motivated, despite the desperate conditions they faced on the front line.

Now, new research has revealed that Adolf Hitler was himself a regular user of the drug, now a Class A, prized among addicts for its feeling of euphoria but feared for its mental destructiveness.

According to a 47-page wartime dossier compiled by American Military Intelligence, the Fuhrer was a famous hypochondriac and took over 74 different medications, including methamphetamines.

It claims that Hitler took the drug before his final meeting with Italian fascist leader Mussolini in July of 1943, during which he apparently ranted non-stop for two hours.

Hitler eased the pain of his final days in his bunker with nine injections of a drug called Vitamultin, too, which contained among its ingredients meth-amphetamine.

The dossier – which is the subject of a new documentary Hitler’s Hidden Drug Habit – goes on to claim that the Fuhrer became addicted to drugs after seeking the medical advice of Berlin-based Dr Morell in 1936.

He was initially prescribed a drug called Mutaflor in order to relieve the pain of his stomach cramps.

He was then prescribed Brom-Nervacit, a barbiturate, Eukodal, a morphine-based sedative, bulls’ semen to boost his testosterone, stimulants Coramine and Cardiazol, and Pervitin, an ‘alertness pill’ made with crystal meth-amphetamine.

His reliance on medication became costly, and by the end of 1943, Hitler was dependant on a mentally debilitating cocktail of uppers and downers.

“Morell was a quack and a fraud and a snake oil salesman,” Bill Panagopoulos, an American collector who discovered the dossier, said.

“He should not have been practising medicine anywhere outside a veterinary clinic.”

“Some [of the drugs] were innocuous, some not so innocuous, some poisonous. Did he develop a dependence on any of these drugs? Which of these drugs, if any, were addictive? And did he become addicted to them? I’d be interested to know what the combination of these medications would do to someone who’s otherwise in good health.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/hitler-was-a-regular-user-of-crystal-meth-american-military-intelligence-dossier-reveals-9789711.html

Towards the end of World War II, word got through that certain people in occupied territories were eating a near-starvation diet. American researchers wanted to study the effects of starvation, so they recruited volunteers – and starved them some more.

The Minnesota Starvation Experiment pretty much lived up to its name. It was an early experiment in nutrition prompted by news about the conditions in Europe during World War II. The full horror of concentration camps was still to come, but word came in that people in war-torn territories were living on severely restricted diets. Everyone knew that things were going to get worse before they got better, and concerned researched wanted to find out the effects of starvation and how to rehabilitate a severely starved person. In November of 1944, at The University of Minnesota, a study began on the effects of starvation.

When contacted years later, many of the men said the experiment was the toughest thing they had ever done, but were happy to have participated and said they would do it again.

http://io9.com/the-us-wartime-experiment-that-starved-men-more-than-1507200589

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

From a pool of 400 volunteers, 36 men were chosen. All were between 22 and 33, and all were in good health. They were told that the experiment would go through four phases. For three months, they would eat a specific number of calories, so that researchers could get them to a healthy weight and get a baseline for their diet. (They were kept active, and the diet they were given was 3,200 calories.) Once they’d gotten up to their “fighting weight,” their caloric intake was to be halved. They’d take in 1,560 calories a day, every day, and no more. They’d have a diet comparable to the food people in Europe would have available – root vegetables and starches with the occasional meat or jell-o. The goal of the diet was to make the men lose a little over two pounds a week, and twenty-five percent of their body weight in six months.

After six months, they’d go through a three-month rehabilitative phase, where they would be allowed more food. They’d be divided into many groups, with different groups given different amounts of calories, and different amounts of protein, fat, and vitamins. Finally, they’d be allowed eight weeks of eating whatever they wanted.

this time, they were kept in dormitories on campus, given regular blood tests, endurance tests, mental tests, and many other kind of tests. They were given administrative work in the lab, and allowed to attend classes at the university. Most of all, they were watched. For the tests to be successful, the researchers had to be sure that the participants weren’t cheating.

The rehabilitative diet did not remain of general interest to subsequent generations – although it did help scientists understand that people who had been starved needed to be overfed, rather than just fed, to help them rebuild their bodies. It is the effects that retain lasting fascination for scientists and for the public. At first, the participants merely complained of hunger, of an inability to concentrate, and of poor judgment. If the men didn’t lose enough weight, their rations were reduced – meaning some got more food than others. They all ate together, watching who got what. Unsurprisingly, resentment sprang up and there were a lot of fights in the dorms. Then came extreme depression. Several members were hospitalized for psychiatric problems. Some mutilated themselves. One man amputated three fingers with a hatchet, although he said later he didn’t know whether he’d done it on purpose or was just not thinking clearly. Considering he had injured his fingers once before, letting a car fall on them, the researchers thought the new injury was at least semi-deliberate, released him from the experiment and put him in psychiatric care.

Then came weakness. When one man cheated on the diet, the researchers demanded the rest of the men go everywhere with a buddy. Years later one of the participants said he was grateful for the buddy system, since he could no longer open heavy doors by himself. The men lost their hair, became dizzy, felt cold all the time, and their muscles ached. Many dropped out of classes. Scientists noted that their resting heart rate and breath rate also fell. The starving body was trying to use up as few calories as possible. For a while, they were allowed gum. They chewed up to forty packs every day until the researchers disallowed gum chewing.

They became obsessed with what food they did have, holding it in their mouths and trying to stretch out mealtimes. On man said that what bothered him more than anything was the fact that food became the central point in his life. He no longer cared about anything but food. He watched movies for the eating scenes, and read magazines for the food ads. Another man said he had begun hating people who were able to go home and have a good dinner. Food became their curse and obsession. This was unsurprising, as a good portion of the men overshot the projected goal of a twenty-five percent loss of body weight. Many men were down to 99 or 100 pounds.

During the three-month rehabilitation period, different groups of men were supposed to receive different amounts of food. Researchers quickly scrapped that idea after the lower-calorie-diet men didn’t show signs of recovery. Some even lost weight after their calorie intake was increased. The lack of calories had caused some of the men’s legs to swell with water, and a calorie infusion allowed them to shed the excess liquid. Despite the sincere efforts of the researchers, almost no men felt recovered after just three months. On the day they were allowed to eat again, quite a few overate and got sick. One had his stomach pumped. Even getting back to their earlier weight didn’t help. They packed on the pounds well beyond that. Some said they couldn’t stop obsessively eating for a year. There was never “enough” food for them.

Today, the results of the Minnesota Starvation Study are mostly of note to people who study eating disorders. Many of the behaviors the starving men displayed, such as diluting food with water to make it look more filling, or overchewing their food to stretch out mealtimes, are also displayed by people suffering from anorexia. The men’s subsequent relentless feeding is similar to binge-eating. Although they made themselves sick physically, they couldn’t get enough food to make them feel satisfied.

redskin

A leader of the Navajo Code Talkers who appeared at a Washington Redskins home football game said Wednesday the team name is a symbol of loyalty and courage — not a slur as asserted by critics who want it changed.

Roy Hawthorne, 87, of Lupton, Ariz., was one of four Code Talkers honored for their service in World War II during the Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Hawthorne, vice president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, said the group’s trip was paid for by the Redskins. The four men met briefly with team owner Dan Snyder but did not discuss the name, Hawthorne said.

Still, he said he would endorse the name if asked, and the televised appearance in which three of the Indians wore Redskins jackets spoke for itself.

“We didn’t have that in mind but that is undoubtedly what we did do,” Hawthorne said when asked if he was intending to send a statement with the appearance. “My opinion is that’s a name that not only the team should keep, but that’s a name that’s American.”

Monday night’s brief, on-field ceremony came as some Indians and civil rights leaders wage a “Change the Mascot” campaign that targets the term redskins as a racial epithet.

The Navajos’ appearance drew heated comments from both sides on social media, including assertions that the Code Talkers were being used as props in a public relations stunt meant to deflect criticism over the name.

Jacqueline Pata, head of the National Congress of American Indians, called the appearance “a political play rather than a heartfelt recognition of the Code Talkers.”

Pata, a member of the Tlingit Tribe of Alaska, said she reveres the Code Talkers for the work they have done but added that people often fail to recognize that the origins of the term redskin date to a period when Indians faced efforts to annihilate their culture.

“We were outlawed during that same period the mascot was created from practicing our own religion and our own cultures,” she said. “That term is associated with getting rid of the Indians.”

Snyder has called the team name and mascot a “badge of honor.” The name dates to the team’s first years in Boston in the 1930s and has survived numerous outside efforts to change it. The team has been in the Washington, D.C., area since 1937.

Redskins Senior Vice President Tony Wyllie said there was no truth to suggestions that the Code Talkers were used to bolster the team’s resistance to a new name.

“They’re American heroes, and they deserved recognition,” he said.

Also attending Monday’s game were Code Talkers President Peter MacDonald Sr., George Willie Sr. and George James Sr.

The Navajo Code Talkers used codes derived from their native language to shield military communications from interception by Japanese troops. Hawthorne said there are now about 30 surviving Code Talkers.

The trip to Washington was the second this month for Hawthorne, who last week joined Code Talkers from other tribes who received Congressional Gold Medals for the role they played in World War I and World War II. Members of the Navajo were recognized in 2000.

The Navajo are perhaps the best known of the Code Talkers, but the Defense Department says the program began in 1918 and at its peak included more than 400 Indians who used 33 dialects to make their codes indecipherable.

http://news.yahoo.com/code-talker-says-redskins-name-not-derogatory-172147791–spt.html

Thanks to Pete Cuomo for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

1. Buford, Wyoming
1 -  Buford
Formerly sporting a bustling population of two, Buford now only has a single resident.

2. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
2 - garbage
The Patch is a basically immobile, gigantic mass of trash out in the middle of the Pacific. Most estimates put its size—composed entirely of plastic bottles, chemical sludge, and basically any other kind of debris you can imagine—larger than the state of Texas. You’d probably rather go to Texas.

3. Alnwick Poison Garden, England
3 - posion gardcen
The Alnwick Poison Garden is pretty much what you’d think it is: a garden full of plants that can kill you (among many other things). Some of the plants are so dangerous that they have to be kept behind bars. It’s not exactly your typical stroll through a botanical garden.

4. Ramree Island, Burma
4 - bur,a
Ramree Island may be in the beautiful Burma, but nothing about this place is beautiful. It’s actually just a giant swamp full of thousands of saltwater crocodiles—which are the deadliest in the world—plus mosquitos loaded with malaria, oh, and venomous scorpions. Also, there was a six-week long battle here during WWII, in which only twenty Japanese soliders survived… out of 1000. And most were killed by the wildlife.

5. The Zone of Alienation, Ukraine
5 - ukraine
Although you probably wouldn’t want to vacation in Pripyat either, the Zone of Alienation is the 19-mile decommissioned perimeter surrounding the grounds of the Chernobyl incident. It’s administered by a branch of government specifically so that no-one is allowed into it, but there are a few hundred residents who refused to move. What’s wrong with those people? You probably don’t want to know

6. Ilha de Queimada Grande, Brazil
6 - brazil
Sorry to tell you this, but Ilha de Queimada Grande isn’t a fantastical island getaway. It’s actually an island full of thousands of snakes. Its name literally means, “Snake Island.” It has the highest concentration of snakes in the world, with 1-5 golden lanceheads per square meter—oh, and they’re very poisonous: when designs were drawn up to build a plantation on the island, all the scouts were killed.

7. St. Helena
7 - st helena
If you somehow end up in the same place where Napoleon was imprisoned and spent his final days, things are probably going wrong. Oh yeah, and there’s no functioning airport, either. The only way you can get on or off the island is via container ships from South Africa. Which only come every few months.

8. Izu Island, Japan
8 - japan
The Izus are a group of volcanic islands located off the southern coast of Japan’s Honshu island. They’re technically part of Tokyo, except because they’re extremely volcanic, the air constantly smells of sulfur and residents have been evacuated twice—in 1953 and 2000—because of “dangerously high levels of gas.” Although allowed back in 2005, inhabitants are now required to carry gas masks on their person at all times.

9. Mud Volcanoes of Azerbaijan
9 - mud volcano
Sure, mud volcanoes aren’t nearly as dangerous as their cousins of the magmatic variety, but when they do actually erupt, it’s not exactly a pretty sight. In 2001, a new island grew out of the Caspian Sea, due to an increase in volcanic activity—right nearby where hundreds of these bad boys are. Generally, they go off every twenty years, and when they do, they shoot flames “hundreds of meters into the sky” and deposit tons of mud into the immediate area.

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/AVvBxP

spitfire-3_2412152b

Matt Queenan, 83, believes there could be well-preserved Spitfires lying in crates dug deep into the ground, potentially underneath houses.

He claims he is one of a team of workmen who buried them in 1950, greasing them up and encasing them in boxes under instructions from the War Office.

He has now spoken of the secret mission for the first time in public, after 36 of the iconic planes were found in Burma. The aircraft, discovered by aviation enthusiast David Cundall, are expected to soon be repatriated 67 years after being “lost”.

One of the Spitfires is due to go on display in Birmingham shortly.

Mr Queenan, a former bareknuckle boxer, said: “You don’t need to go all the way to Burma to find Spitfires. There are plenty buried here in Birmingham.”

He claims the operation was carried out in a hangar in Castle Bromwich, near to where the aircraft were built during the Second World War.

After being told to bury them by War Office official Harry Bramwell, the labourers “covered them in greased” before they were “boxed up”, he alleges.

A spokesman for the RAF museum conceded the claims could not be ruled out, while the Ministry of Defence said it was “highly improbable”.

Mr Queenan said: “It was December. We got picked up by Harry Bramwell from outside the Labour Exchange in the city centre.

“We covered the planes in grease and they were boxed up. We were told they were going to be buried.

“I think they were buried nearby, close to the Chester Road, but I don’t know where.

“There could be houses over them or anything now because it was all fields in them days.”

A spokeswoman for the RAF Museum, in London, said Mr Queenan’s claims could not be ruled out.

“It is possible, but we just do not know,” she said. “Many of them would have been disposed of in the local area through scrapyards. The RAF didn’t keep records once they had been handed over to someone else to take care of.

“It’s unlikely, but it could have happened.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “It is highly improbable Spitfires were buried in Birmingham in the 1950s. We have no evidence of it.”

Earlier this year, 62-year-old David Cundall found 36 Spitfires in Burma, after spending 15 years and more than £10,000 searching.

“They were just buried there in transport crates,” Mr Cundall said. “They were waxed, wrapped in greased paper and their joints tarred. They will be in near perfect condition.”

The aircraft will be returned to Britain after Prime Minister David Cameron intervened in favour of their repatriation.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/9732585/Is-there-a-squadron-of-Spitfires-buried-in-Birmingham.html

Secrets from World War II may have been found in a coded message attached to the skeleton of a carrier pigeon found in an English chimney.

The bird was found when David Martin in Bletchingly, Surrey, was renovating his fireplace.

Martin told the BBC that he began “pulling it down, pulling it down…then the pigeon bones began appearing one by one by one. Down came the leg with the red capsule on with a message inside.”

Martin called the discovery unbelievable and his wife was so delighted with the 70-year-old surprise she said it was like “Christmas.”

Theories suggest the bird was making its way from behind enemy lines, perhaps from Nazi occupied France during the D Day invasions heading toward Bletchley Park which was Britain’s main decryption establishment during World War II.

Others say the bird likely got lost, disorientated in bad weather or was simply exhausted after its trip across the English Channel and landed in the Martin’s chimney.

More than 250,000 carrier pigeons were used in World War II. They were called the National Pigeon Service and were relied on heavily to transport secret messages.

During the war the Dickin Medal, which is the highest possible animal’s decoration for valor, was awarded to 32 pigeons, including the United States Army Pigeon Service’s G.I. Joe and the Irish pigeon Paddy.

Government code breakers are working to read the message found in Martin’s chimney.

Colin Hill from the Bletchley Park pigeon exhibition told BBC, “I thought no way on earth can I work this one out.”

They have determined so far that the message is from a Sgt. W. Stott and that it was written 70 years ago.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/wwii-carrier-pigeon-finally-delivers-secret-message-161220880–abc-news-topstories.html

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.