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Post A Greeting from John Torok...and a Request
Created by John Eipper on 06/08/19 1:24 PM

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A Greeting from John Torok...and a Request (John Torok, USA, 06/08/19 1:24 pm)

I really enjoyed reading and learning about the work of fellow WAISer Moisés Hassan Morales! What a life so far! I hope our paths will cross one day.

I am well, working a couple jobs for survival but happy to be in Oakland and the Bay Area still, and now active through the Global Women's Strike Omni Collective (a constituent collective of omnicommons.org which is itself a descendant of Occupy Oakland) in the new Poor People's Campaign Bay Area Steering Committee) led nationally by the Reverends Liz Theoharis and William Barber II. Have been working on odds and ends of writing and other organizing projects too! Sorry to have been silent so long.

I have a request to make of any WAISers in or near Berlin. I will be there July 20 - 25, then on to Budapest for a family visit, and would be grateful for a place to sleep and shower while I visit Germany for any part or all of those dates. It has been a dream of mine since 1982, ever since I studied for then took the "A" Level in German (language and literature) at boarding school in the UK, to spend time in Berlin.

I will spend time in the Kreuzberg district which is known for its immigrant, anarchist and leftist populations, and punk rock history and alternative club scenes, as well as an earlier industrial history. I am also interested in checking out various Berlin universities as well as historical and especially archival collection resources similar to those of the Hoover Library. Lastly it will give me a chance to brush up my (not Shakespeare but) Durrenmatt too!

If the WAIS network can be called in to service to help me with the Berlin accommodations I would be most grateful. If someone there knows the city and can help guide my first explorations, that would be really fantastic.

JE comments:  Keep up the noble fight, John!  I am presently just 90 miles from Berlin (Szczecin), but we leave on Monday.  Are there any Berliner WAISers I'm not aware of?  Trust me--John Torok is a great guy to spend some time with.

An interesting historical nugget I learned today:  Every April 20th from 1942 to 1944, the Germans removed all of Stettin's anti-aircraft guns to Berlin to protect the city for Hitler's birthday.  Hence, the Allies took advantage of this "window" to obliterate Stettin.  The locals waited out the horrors in one of Europe's most extensive series of underground bunkers:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g274736-d7603376-Reviews-Szczecin_Underground_City_Trails-Szczecin_Western_Pomerania_Province_Western_Pola.html


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  • Allied Bombing of Stettin/Szczecin (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 06/10/19 11:54 PM)
    My nasty tendency to play the Bastian Contrario suggests to me that the tale of the withdrawal of anti-aircraft guns from Stettin/Szczecin to Berlin on Hitler's birthday is a load of wet green firewood that was sold to John E.  (See the comment of our estimated moderator to John Torok's post of 8 June.)

    According to my records, Stettin received bombardments from the early times of war, the worst being on 21 April 1943 and 6 January 1944.  The catastrophic one was the following 17 August when the town was completely transformed into rubble with at least 2430 deaths.The number of German deaths by bombardments is a question of opinion; see the case of Dresden where the deaths vary from 25,000 to 200,000.


    Also Danzig/Gdansk, the town for which it is said that the war, started was completely destroyed on 26 March 1945. Why, and was it worth it?


    About Szczecin there is something not well known.


    On October 1942 the Third Reich requested two Italian Battalions (initially about 2000 men) specialized in the production of smoke curtains to protect Stettin and the nearby strategic military bases of Peenemunde and nearby small islands.


    After the king's unconditional surrender of Italy, the battalions remained loyal to their ally and joined the RSI while the battalions increased to five due to the importance of the area. In the final days of the war, the Italians became infantry fighting against the British from West and the USSR from East until 3 May 1945, when the RSI flag was lowered. Other RSI battalions were fighting also from the Courland Pocket to Bordeaux, etc.


    About the ethnic cleansing of the cemeteries, it happened not only in Stettin/Szczecin but for instance also in Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia, as the expelled defeated should be also humiliated and then forgotten for good.


    About the purchase of Italian firms by foreigners:  from 1 January 2008 at least 850 have been taken over while Italy bought about 350.


    France has been extremely interested in fashion (Bulgari, Gucci, etc.) , agro-industrial (Loro Piana, Orzo Bimbo, Eridania, Galbani, Parmalat, Invernizzi, Locatelli, the last one was Nuova Castelli producing Parmigiano Reggiano and Mozzarella di Bufala cheeses, etc.), electrotechnic/Electromechanical plants and banks.


    When Italy tried to buy the shipyard of Saint Nazaire or when FCA wanted to join Renault the French government said no. This is the free market in the EU.


    Other foreigners who bought Italian firms: Spain focusing on olive oil production, China (Moto Benelli), Japan, Russia, Germany, South Africa (beer), Switzerland, Turkey (chocolate), India (steel).


    The interest in buying Italian firms, beside the economic difficulties, is due to the fact that the state makes a lot of concessions to the buyer which when has got the expertise and the money, and quite often after some time transfers the production to their home country or to another country where the labor is cheaper.


    JE comments:  I wasn't trying to say that Stettin/Szczecin was bombed only on Hitler's birthday.  According to the exhibits in the Szeczin bunkers, there were some 40 major raids, with minor ones almost daily.


    Eugenio, has the history of the Italians fighting on the Baltic ever been written?


    On a tangentially related topic, I present to you Adolf (real name), a street cat much beloved in Szczecin.  For the past five years he has lorded over the splendid Castle of the Pomeranian Dukes.

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    • Italians Fighting in the Baltic, WWII (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 06/12/19 10:03 AM)
      You may find the story of the Italian forces of the RSI including the groups abroad, in the three volumes of the Forze Armate della RSI by Nino Arena.

      There is also the four-volume Gli Ultimi in Grigio Verde by Giorgio Pisanò.


      I do not know if there is a book specifically dedicated to the five Battalions Fumogeni in Stettin. Of course there are several magazines of the ex RSI (and their heirs) that have published articles on these forces. Please note that on 9 September 1943 180,000 Italian soldiers did not try to go home but remained in the lines fighting together with their German ally, then became part of the armed forces of the RSI.


      These 180,000 men were serving on practically all fronts. They did not want to betray the Axis but at the same time they wanted to remain fighting under the Italian Flag and not the German one.


      The most interesting is the Decima Mas of Borghese, which signed a pact of alliance with Germany through Berninghaus, leader of the Kriegsmarine in Italy. On a few occasions there were threats of armed confrontations, when the forces of the RSI felt that the interests of Italy were not respected by the Germans, especially in the Northeast of Italy.


      JE comments:  This is sort of off-topic, but I observed in my father-in-law's extensive library that Polish historians are fond of the multi-volume work.  As Eugenio Battaglia shows above, the same rule applies to the Italians.  We have no such tradition in the US or the UK.  Do we Anglos have shorter attention spans, or simply less to say?


       

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