Sep 052018
 

Duncan Harley reviews Alan Stewart’s new book.

Five years in the making, Alan Stewart’s new book ‘North East Scotland At War’ will appeal to anyone even remotely interested in the history of the North-east of Scotland.
There are plenty of books out there which record the difficult years between the Chamberlain peace accord and the Soviet conquest of Berlin. Osborne’s ‘Defending Britain’ and Gordon Barclay’s ‘If Hitler Comes’ are the classics.

But this book is slightly different and there is certainly room for further historical accounts of the dark days when Hitler threatened our shores.

With a decidedly local slant, North East Scotland At War launches the reader into the minutiae of the defence of the North-east against what was, for a brief few years, perceived as the Nazi threat.

The archaeology of those distant times is laid bare and many of the official documents which record the difficult days inhabit the pages.

A ground-based Invasion never came. But preparations were firmly in in place and Alan’s finely researched history brings the day to day story of those difficult times sharply into focus.

Fougasse – developed by the Petroleum Warfare Department as an anti-tank weapon, Dragon’s Teeth and Railway Blocks feature in this book along with the stories of the stop-lines, the Home Guard roadblocks and of course that secretive plan to harry the invaders using suicide squads tasked with assassinating both their own commanders – who might betray them under torture – and German officers.

Air crashes also inhabit these pages. Alongside the enemy casualties, and they were in the hundreds, Alan details the stories behind some of the Commonwealth gravestones which litter the cemeteries of the North-east.

Training accidents accounted for many of the casualties.

A Czech fighter pilot killed when his Spitfire spiralled into the ground, an air-sea rescue crew lost in a collision with railway wagons on the perimeter of RAF Dyce Airfield and the gravestone of Flight Lieutenant Wheelock – killed attempting an emergency landing – again at Dyce – are featured.

This is one of those books which is difficult to set aside. The minutiae of the location of pill boxes and the stark reality of the bombing maps, feature alongside some difficult tales of children killed on the local sands, not by the Germans, but by the very defences intended to keep them safe.

Landmines and barbed wire were as much a hazard as air-borne bombs and machine gun bullets.

Alongside the difficult descriptions of civilian carnage, Alan has included a number of images of official documents which give a flavour of the times. In a memo marked TOP SECRET, a Colonel Geddes, commander of Aberdeen Garrison, expresses his concern regarding the vulnerability of Tullos Hill.

“I am a little uneasy” he writes, 

“about the defence of TULLOS HILL – Area 4624. This is a very commanding feature, on which the following units are located: A.B. 2 Site, Heavy A.A Bty, Detachment 319 Search-Light Regiment, RAF Wireless Installation and Royal Observer Corps Post.”

And there are literally dozens of such so-far hidden documents sprinkled throughout this account of the time when the invasion of our shores seemed such a certainty.

Profusely illustrated and replete with a plethora of new information gleaned from both local and national records, this is a local history book which I am pleased to include on my bookshelves.

North East Scotland At War – by Alan Stewart is Available from http://www.cabroaviation.co.uk/book.html at £21.99 + £3 P&P

ISBN 9781527215689
Cover image © Alan Stewart

Nov 082017
 

By Duncan Harley.

Freedom of speech is a fragile thing. Often hard won, it can be taken away at the stroke of a pen as an Aberdeenshire head teacher found to his cost in 1940.
Various Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts came into force in the early months of WW2.

Some, such as Defence Regulation 18B, provided a framework for internment of enemy aliens while others, like the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939, gave the State wide-ranging powers to prosecute the war.

Aspects of life in the UK came under State control including the “apprehension, trial and punishment of persons offending against the Regulations.” In short, anyone suspected of acting against the national interest in any way whatsoever might suffer the indignity of a pre-dawn knock at the door.

The village of Oyne was of course quite distant from the battlefields. It had narrowly escaped being bombed by a German Zeppelin in a previous conflict but in the big scheme of things Oyne was not a front-line target. Nor was it a hotbed of pro-Nazi sympathy.

This was 1940 however and a paranoid nation was smarting from the military defeat in France. Invasion loomed and an aerial bombing campaign had begun. Towns across the North east had been attacked and coastal shipping had been sunk by German planes off both Stonehaven and Peterhead.

The newspapers of the time are filled with reports of arrests for the offence of “Careless Talk.” A meter reader from Oxford was detained after alleging “we should be just as well under the Nazi’s as we are now!” A Dorset policeman was jailed for expressing similar sentiments and a Peterhead plumber was fined £5 for “careless talk on the phone.”

Headmasters appear to have been at particular risk of prosecution. Overheard warning pupils that following imminent invasion they would have to resort to eating cats and dogs, a Lanarkshire headmaster found himself before a Hamilton Magistrate and at Oyne, George Hendry the local Primary School Headmaster, received the dreaded knock on the door in the late afternoon of June 24th.

The unwelcome visitor was Detective Inspector McHardy of Aberdeen City Police and, after suitable interrogation, Hendry was arrested on matters relating to the Defence Regulations. Lurid headlines followed and public interest was aroused.

Initially there was just the one charge. This related to statements made in the Union Street grocer’s shop of Andrew Collie & Co. Witnesses alleged that Mr Hendry expressed the view that Neville Chamberlain had sold the country down the river and should be placed against a wall and shot. The King, he said, was off to Canada leaving the country “Holding the baby” and Hitler seemingly had sufficient Torpedo Boats to sink the entire British Navy.

Oyne Primary School.

Following arrest, Hendry was released on bail of £60. On Monday July 15th the curious of Aberdeenshire queued to witness what promised to be a juicy trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Mr Hendry by now faced four charges – the police had been busy.

Alongside remarks about the King and Hitler’s naval prowess, there were allegations of him spreading alarm by remarking on Britain’s unpreparedness for war.

One prosecution witness termed Hendry a fifth columnist and had ordered him out of her shop but under cross-examination admitted she had in fact been joking and considered him simply a leg-puller. Another witness told the court she had discussed the war with him on several occasions and that despite their differences, there was no bad blood between them.

Finally, the case against the Oyne headmaster boiled down to one very simple issue: the spreading of defeatist talk. In a fine piece of courtroom theatre, Mr Blades for the defence lured the manager of Collie’s grocer shop into admitting that the case would never even have been brought had he himself not spread gossip about Mr Hendry’s statements to a crowd, including a policeman, at the public bar of the Royal Athenaeum.

Sheriff Dallas had clearly heard quite enough. A verdict of Not Proven on all four charges was greeted with applause from the crowded courtroom.

George Hendry, a graduate of Aberdeen University, became Headmaster at Oyne in 1927 having previously taught in Forres.  After the trial he returned to his post until his retiral, due to ill health, in 1963. He died in 1966 age just 63.

Duncan Harley is a writer living in the Garioch and author of the soon to be published A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire: https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/the-a-z-of-curious-aberdeenshire/9780750983792/

‘Hitler’s Headmaster’ was first published in the April 2017 edition of Leopard Magazine.

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Dec 192013
 

Roger Waters2 by Duncan HarleyIs Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters an open hater of Jews or simply an opponent of injustice? – writes Duncan Harley

As a past defender of the Jewish cause, I have to wonder if there is a way forward for the lost tribe of Israel. My old pal Norman was indeed of that persuasion.
With a gentile wife, the occasional pothead, father of two and caravan owner exemplified the genre.

Not necessarily in that order of course. Mainly he was just a normal, well-adjusted resident of that mean city which we Scots call Glasgow.

Nice guy really, but after a wee drink or two, things often became intellectually rough.

I wished him well of course, but being Jewish by birth and with a “you would never even know” kind of persona, he was fated to be one of those guys you loved, but also loved to hate.

He and I got on really well until that fateful day in the August of 1992 when the question of the Holocaust arose during a so far, pleasant joint family trip to Findhorn.

There had been previous family holidays, trips down the Clyde on the SS Waverley and some very memorable picnics in those Campsie Glens. However, over a Guinness or two we fell out over that old question. Over a Guinness or two we failed to agree about that old question. Over a Guinness or two it all went bottom side up.

The problem was of course that Jewish colonisation of the Holy Land following  the Turkish domination of the Middle East, in the 300 years before 1914 and T.E. Lawrence’s attempts to unite the Arab Nations; plus, of course, the often vindictive treatment of the indigenous people of the area which is now occupied by the State of Israel. A heady mix indeed.

–          If Hitler had got his way, I wouldn’t be here.

–          What can you mean?

–          How dare you even ask.

–          Erm, not sure really. Hitler died before I was even born. My dad nearly died fighting against his airmen.

–          If Hitler had got his way, I wouldn’t be here.

–          So, if Hitler had invaded Scotland …

–          If Hitler had got his way, I wouldn’t be here.

–          Yes, I got that. But what about moving forward. I mean, the past is important and all that of course. The future might well be even more important perhaps.

–          Fuck you, you are a Jew hater.

–          Pardon me?

–          Fuck you, you have never seen your family humiliated.

–          Erm. Another pint good sir?

–          Fuck you, you have never had to suffer.

–          OK. That would be a no then …

–          Fuck you, you hate us.

–          Well I don’t hate you but I will certainly try if that will make you satisfied Norman.

In a refreshing interview this week, former Pink Floyd front man, Roger Waters, has spoken out loudly about the Palestinian cause.

Sparking fury from The Jewish Chronicle, he is reported as saying

“The Holocaust was brutal and disgusting beyond our imagination. We must never forget it. We must always remain vigilant. We must never stand by silent and indifferent to the sufferings of others, whatever their race, colour, ethnic background or religion. All human beings deserve the right to live equally under the law.”

He then proceeded to walk the talk down that thorny path of comparing the Israeli state’s treatment of the Palestinians to that of the Third Reich’s crusade against the non-Aryan races of the world.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of New York has seemingly said of Mr Waters,

“the Nazis were a genocidal regime that murdered six million Jews. That you would have the audacity to compare Jews to monsters who murdered them shows you have no decency, you have no heart, you have no soul.”

“If Rabbi Boteach can make a case for the Israel government’s policies, I look forward to hearing it. It is difficult to make arguments to defend the Israeli government’s policies, so would-be defenders often use a diversionary tactic, they routinely drag the critic into a public arena and accuse them of being an anti-Semite” replied Waters.

The debate, if that is indeed what it is, will no doubt continue.

Barack Obama has recently said

“I will continue to believe that Israel’s security is paramount.”

Many will wonder, however, if the US President is genuinely prepared to further escalate the turmoil in which the Middle East currently finds itself involved.

Many others continue to cling to the hope that the Israeli state will somehow be persuaded to substantially revise its expansionist policies and its habit of mistreating the Palestinian people, despite its seemingly deeply entrenched position.

The world is holding its breath in anticipation of a solution to the Israeli problem.

More Info:

The full “Former Pink Floyd” Guardian article
The Jewish Chronicle
An Avaaz petition to “Lift the siege of Gaza” 

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Jul 182013
 

In part one of his feature on the terror of summer 1940, when the Luftwaffe unloaded its murderous cargo on Aberdeen, Duncan Harley poked gentle fun at the contemporary media. This week, in part two, things get a bit more serious as Duncan explores the archives to make vivid the events of that fateful afternoon.

It’s the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Britain this year.

The battle was fought over the whole of Britain between 10 July and 31 October 1940 and was probably the first occasion in the history
of warfare where two air forces literally fought each other to the death.

According to the Royal British Legion, RAF Fighter Command destroyed 1733 German aircraft during the battle and lost 915 of its own aircraft during the summer and autumn of 1940. One sixth of UK aircrew members did not survive.

Many people of course will associate the Battle of Britain with Luftwaffe attacks on cities and airfields in the south of England. However, the reality is that the whole of the UK, including NE population centres Aberdeen, Fraserburgh and Peterhead came under intensive aerial bombardment, resulting in many civilian deaths and massive destruction of property.

There are many remnants of that era still around if you take the time to look for them. The Aberdeenshire coastline is littered with evidence of coastal defences ranging from anti-invasion pill boxes, also evident at many strategic bridges and road junctions, to the aptly named dragon’s teeth which blocked routes deemed to be vulnerable to sea-borne enemy tank landings.

Long abandoned airfields are still in evidence further north, such as RAF Dallachy, near Spey Bay, where dispersal areas and the original 1940s control tower can still be found.

Local archives list places which were bombed and machine-gunned from the air and the Trinity Cemetery and houses on Seaforth Road in Aberdeen still bear scars of these attacks. Somewhat worryingly, there are maps in existence which mark the positions of unexploded bombs, quite a few of which were almost certainly neither recovered nor made safe.

It was overcast with low cloud on 12 July 1940 in the South of England, but sunny and bright in Aberdeen. It was two days into the Battle of Britain and the Granite City had been attacked twice in the previous fortnight with considerable loss of life. Early in the war it had been assumed that

Scotland was relatively safe from aerial attack but the invasion and conquest of Norway in April 1940 changed that. Raiders could now reach the coast of Scotland easily, and often undetected, until they made landfall. Typical targets were shipyards and harbours both of which attracted the enemy to Aberdeen.

Aberdeen had always been a secondary Luftwaffe target at that stage in the war

In mid-morning on 12 July, a flight of six duck blue camouflaged Heinkel HE111H-3 light bombers took off from Stavanger Airport and made their way over the North Sea towards the Scottish coast.

Some reports suggest that the intended target was RAF Leuchars and the harbour at Broughty Ferry, with the Tay Estuary the intended landfall, but that for some reason, possibly faulty navigation or a mid-flight alteration to plans, the attack was concentrated further north.

Whatever the truth of the matter, Aberdeen had always been a secondary Luftwaffe target at that stage in the war but on that bright summer day the bombers headed up the coast in search of the city.

Bomb loads usually consisted of both high explosive and incendiary bombs when attacking cities.

The high explosive devices were dropped first to blow open buildings and allow the secondary incendiary devices to drop through the damaged roofs and start fires. But on this mission, it appears that only high explosives were carried, reinforcing the idea that RAF Leuchars had indeed been the original target with the plan of destroying the runway and disrupting fighter defences.

At 12:45, the first bombs began to fall on the Hall Russell shipyard. There was no air raid warning when the bombers approached the city from the sea. Indeed, the first anyone knew was when around sixteen high explosive bombs exploded in quick succession. The boiler shop was worst hit with around ten bombs exploding in and around it.

Many years ago, policeman’s son George Robertson told me that several dozen of his workmates had been killed while queuing to buy lunch just outside the yard. He had been a young apprentice at the time and the memory of that dreadful day haunted him for the rest of his life, ‘There were bodies everywhere,’ he recalled, ‘some minus arms and even heads, it was not a sight for any young man to see’.

It was a bloody affair indeed, and shocked the city to the core.

The bombing continued unabated with the Neptune Bar on the waterfront receiving a direct hit. In those days it had an upper floor which collapsed on to the lunchtime drinkers below, killing 40. A fragment from the bomb cut the end off the tail of the bar’s cat who went around with a shortened tail for the rest of its days.

they came under fire from machine gunners on top of the Station Hotel

Urquhart Road, Spa Street, York Street and Regent Walk received hits as did Kings College’s grounds, 32 George Street and 7 Roslin Terrace, where an unexploded bomb later had to be defused. The London boat in Waterloo Quay was also badly damaged, with loss of life.

As the raiders continued across the city they came under fire from machine gunners on top of the Station Hotel, which was then occupied by the military. No hits were reported.

During the attack one of the bombers became detached from the main group.

Three fighter aircraft from Dyce Aerodrome had been scrambled minutes after the first bombs had exploded. They were manned by pilots of Yellow Section 603 Squadron and led by Pilot Officer Caister. Seeing that the single German plane had become separated the Spitfires headed towards it with the intention of shooting it down. The bomber pilot, sensing the danger, headed out to sea only to be headed back inland by the pursuing fighters.

For around six minutes the game of cat and mouse was played out in the Aberdeen skies with hundreds on the ground watching the unfolding drama. Eventually, after receiving several bursts of machine gun fire and some ineffective shots from Torry Battery which put the pursuing fighters at some risk, the bomber burst into flames and began a slow but inevitable descent to earth.

None of the aircraft’s four man crew survived

Some at the time wondered if the pilot had tried to avoid crashing into houses in Morningside Crescent and South Anderson Drive.

Others assumed that he had been dead at the controls, as perhaps was the rear gunner, who seemingly continued to fire his machine gun all through the final descent. Whatever the truth is, we will never know.

The end came suddenly and violently as the aircraft’s wingtip struck a tree at the foot of Anderson Drive near its junction with Ruthrieston Road. Already alight and out of control, the Heinkel smashed into the newly-built Aberdeen Ice Rink which collapsed in flames around it.

None of the aircraft’s four man crew survived, although one was reportedly found half way out of the escape hatch with his parachute harness on. A ladies shoe was also found in the wreckage, perhaps the property of a wife or girlfriend.

In true boys own rhetoric, the newspapers of the day reported on a ‘Thrilling Dog-Fight with Spitfires’ and ‘bullets rattling on our roof like a sea of hail.’

The official record of the episode reads:

“9./KG26 Heinkel He 111H-3. Sortied to attack Leuchars airfield with harbour installations at Broughty Ferry, Dundee, as alternate. Shot down by Yellow Section No. 603 Squadron (Pilot Officer J. R. Caister, Pilot Officer G. K. Gilroy and Sergeant I. K. Arber) over Aberdeen 1.10 p.m. Crashed and burned out at the skating rink in South Anderson Drive. (Ff) Lt Herbert Huck, (Bf) Gefr Georg Kerkhoff, (Bm) Uffz Paul Plischke and (Beo) Fw August Skokan all killed. Aircraft 1H+FT a write-off. This crew were buried in Graves 155, 150, 149, and 152 in the Old Churchyard at Dyce on July 16, 1940.”

I visited the German fliers’ graves today. It’s such a strangely captivating place. Who amongst us could fail to be impressed with the Pictish stones in the roofless church above the bend on the River Don with converted mill buildings on the far bank?

Unusually perhaps, their remains were not transferred to the German War Cemetery at Cannock Chase when the conflict ceased, so they lie there still, alongside two fallen comrades from a different plane crash.

The Commonwealth fliers’ graves are there too, including Canadians and South Africans. Other graves hold the remains of two Polish Air Force pilots and even an unfortunate ferry pilot from the Royal Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

Pilot Officer Caister, who was credited with the kill, force-landed near Calais three months later. He was taken prisoner and spent the rest of the war in captivity.

Sources:

Evening Express Friday July 12th 1940

Google overlay of bombing incidents in Aberdeen: https://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&vps=1&authuser=0&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=204031601317387489834.00048e01602ad2ff1d387

BBC Peoples War 1996: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/83/a2034983.shtml

Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire Archives: https://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?hl=en&gl=GB&ptab=2&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=204031601317387489834.0004d844d6bc20fcdc4f5

With grateful thanks to George Robertson (deceased)

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Aug 032012
 

Dave Watt presents the second article of a series of 3 concerning ‘strops and arguments’ in the olympics.

May joy and good fellowship reign, and in this manner, may the Olympic Torch pursue its way through ages, increasing friendly understanding among nations, for the good of a humanity always more enthusiastic, more courageous and more pure : – Baron Pierre de Coubertin – founder of the modern Olympics. Athens 1896

After some discussion in which the Germans put in a spirited bid Stockholm in Sweden was awarded the 1912 Olympiad with the unlucky Germans being promised the 1916 Games.

Stockholm introduced a series of firsts to the Olympics with the introduction of a electronic timing, a public address system and female athletes in the swimming and diving competitions with the last innovation causing an  Australian journalist to worry that the sight of women in bathing suits might incite lust amongst the spectators causing them to behave like ‘primitive blacks’.

The Swedish organisers banned boxing on humanitarian grounds but introduced the highly militaristic pentathlon in which the future megalomaniac George S Patton finished a disappointing fifth despite a diet of raw steak, salad and opium.

The usual growls and snarls began at the opening ceremony with the Finns opting out of the Russian team, the Czechs marching separately from their fellow Austro-Hungarian subject races and the Germans tramping around in formation eliciting boos and cries of ‘Prussian Militarism’ from the Swedes.

The usual racism was also on display with the US’s commendably diverse team being the subject of protests at non-white athletes ‘violating the Olympic ethos’ by having too much melanin in their skins.

Owing to World War One (having been unsuccessfully marketed as the ‘War to End Wars’ and the ‘War for Civilisation’ but eventually having to settle for the more prosaic ‘Great War’) the Berlin Olympiad didn’t materialise. The Germans consoled themselves by invading Belgium where, according to Allied propaganda, they bayoneted babies, raped nuns, shot civilians and threw poison gas around willy-nilly by way of endearing themselves to the locals.

Not surprisingly, the 1920 Olympiad, held in war-damaged Antwerp was rather low key and the Germans along with the Austrians, Turks, Bulgarians and Hungarians were all banned for picking the wrong side in the war and the Soviet Union was banned for presumably not having anyone closely related to Queen Victoria running their country.

The first five were also banned from the 1924 games as well (not that the IOC are ones to bear a grudge) but the Soviets were sportingly allowed to eventually compete in 1952 whereupon they wiped the floor with every other country in the medals haul until they returned to the wonderful paradise that is free-market capitalism in 1990.

Having participated in a four year bloodbath the few participants in Antwerp games were pretty matey all round with the US bagging most of the medals and the newly independent Finland coming second with the legendary Paavo Nurmi taking three track golds.

The 1924 Paris Olympiad.  Eh…Eric Liddell not running on a Sunday, Harold Abrahams, Chariots of Fire, men running along beach in vest and pants, blah, blah blah.

While this delightful piece of Anglocentric nostalgia was going on the Finns bagged thirteen gold, thirteen silver and five gold medals which isn’t bad for a country which has roughly the same population as Scotland but is obviously less devoted to Scotch pies and crap lager.

Needless to say, the usual deranged elements in the European press obligingly attributed the Finns success to the ‘wild mongol strain’ of their savage ancestors.

Love and international understanding reasserted itself when a Frenchman severely thrashed an enthusiastic American fan with a cane during the Franco-American rugby match and William DeHart became the first black athlete to win an individual gold amidst the usual grumblings about non-whites participating.

Having pocketed two Olympiads the French decided to outsource the Olympics to Amsterdam in the Netherlands in 1928 which saw the introduction of the five rings Olympic symbol for the first time.

The huge US team garnered most of the medals despite being managed by another megalomaniac in the shape of Douglas McArthur who kept the athletes marooned on board a liner/prison hulk from which they were only allowed ashore to compete.

The re-instated Germans, having presumably promised that they would behave much better in any future wars, performed exceptionally well with eleven gold, nine silver and nineteen bronze medals, coming second in the medals haul.

  Not surprisingly, this led to protests by impoverished and hungry people turning up bearing banners proclaiming ‘Groceries Not Games’.

After ‘some discussion’ the Olympic committee settled on Los Angeles for the 1932 Olympiad which saw the introduction of the first Olympic Village and the first major anti-Olympic protest over the games being held at all. In 1931, with a million unemployed in California and soup kitchens springing up all over the state, a massive press campaign gulled local voters into voting for huge funding for expanding and improving the Olympic facilities.

Not surprisingly, this led to protests by impoverished and hungry people turning up bearing banners proclaiming ‘Groceries Not Games’. One can sympathise with their point of view – I mean, what kind of idiots would spend millions on a pointless sports junket in the midst of a huge recession and massive poverty………..?

Thirty four nations turned up including a rather unpopular entrant in the shape of Japan which was engaged in the conquest of Manchuria at the time and attempted to hijack a a formidable Chinese sprinter resident there to run for their puppet state of Manchukuo.

The sprinter, Liu Changchun refused to run replying that “he would never betray his own nation to serve others like a horse or a cow” which is obviously not the view of the Scottish footballers in Team GB.

Predictably the US won forty-one gold medals but the surprise teams were the Italians who came second in the medals table and the Japanese who dominated the men’s swimming events.

Berlin 1936. When Germany was initially chosen to host the 1936 Olympiad it was a liberal democracy but by 1935, with the games one year off, Germany was a Nazi dictatorship with the racist Nuremberg Laws banning Jews from all aspects of civil life and attacks on their shops homes and persons becoming ever more frequent and ever more violent.

Consequently a great deal of soul-searching went on, particularly in the US, about the morality of sending a multi-racial team to the Berlin Olympics. There were campaigns for a boycott of the games both in the US and Europe while the Germans fudged the implications of their racial laws and hinted that Jewish athletes would be eligible for selection.

  From the Nazis’ point of view Brundage was the ideal choice

However, as they were banned from participating in the qualifying events as they weren’t members of German sporting clubs having been expelled early in Hitler’s reign this wasn’t very likely.

Eventually, the IOC in the US sent Avery Brundage to discuss the situation with Hitler’s ’regime. From the Nazis’ point of view Brundage was the ideal choice as his bigoted and racist views permeated the Olympics (a bit like a polluted stream running through a children’s play park) for nearly forty years.

On arriving in Germany Brundage set out the ground rules early on by proudly announcing that he was a member of several clubs that barred Jews from their membership thus indicating that he wasn’t going to be too hard to deal with.

Despite Hitler’s previous assertion that the Olympics were ‘a plot by Freemasons and Jews’ the Nazi regime was very interested in holding the games and assurances that multi-racial teams would be welcomed and treated equally were forthcoming.

This turned out to be quite genuine and black athletes like Jesse Owens and high jumper David Albritton were accommodated in the Olympic Village whereas they weren’t allowed to live on the campus where they studied at Ohio State University.

The Jewish athletes competing for Germany was more problematical when the world-rated Gretel Bergmann (classified as a full Jew by the Nuremberg laws) was told that her qualifying jumps were not of sufficient quality to allow her into the national team. As she emigrated to the US and won successive trophies there it’s a pretty fair bet that she could have qualified for the rather poor German womens high jump team if she’d jumped while carrying her week’s shopping.

A compromise was reached whereby blonde haired, green-eyed Helene Mayer, rated as only a half-Jew and resident in the US was allowed to compete as an honorary Aryan for the duration of the games where she won a silver medal.

In a little known attempt to “clean up” Berlin (which would surely endear him to the leader writers of a certain present-day local rag) , the German Ministry of the Interior authorized the chief of police to arrest all Romani/Gypsies and keep them in the Berlin-Marzahn concentration camp during the games.

Protests about the games in Britain were more subdued and Harold Abrahams, winner of the 1924 100 metres, undertook a lot of work to persuade fellow Jews in the country not to boycott the Nazi games. Presumably, he spent much of 1945 removing these particular endeavours from his CV.

Anyway, the Berlin Games went ahead with forty-nine nations competing, Germany winning 89 medals, including 33 golds and the whole event was wonderfully filmed by Leni Reifenstahl who was very pleased with her cinematic efforts until she discovered that Hitler was a Nazi in 1983.

Contrary to popular belief about the Berlin Olympics Hitler did not actually snub Jesse Owens. Hitler had greeted all the winning German athletes on the first day with a handshake and some Fuhrerly chit-chat but was told by the Olympic Committee that he either had to personally greet all of the winning athletes or none of them and he chose the latter course.

Consequently we can excuse Adolf from that particular breach of good manners – however, on the down side, there is just that little matter of fifty million war dead.

 

Feb 232012
 

UTG Debate – Unearthing the hidden truths between the lines, or…

More puerile crap musing as to why the City Gardens Project will be the greatest thing to hit Aberdeen since the third one went in against Bayern Munich.

Dave Watt and an Italian gentleman muse on some more even-handed, totally neutral articles on the UTG debate from our two august local newspapers, The Depressing Journal and The Evening Suppository.

Col. Gaddafi was a supporter of UTG
A document has been found in a secret box in his Tripoli palace in which Col Gaddafi revealed his support for Union Terrace Gardens. The Colonel’s note admits that he did not want UTG dug up as he had a secret storehouse of Nazi gold which he used to finance the Miners’ Strike in 1983/4 buried under the grass just across from HMT.

– The Depressing Journal 02/02/12

Travellers support unchanged UTG as future camping ground
Joe the gypsy and his family have declared their support for UTG as they intend to have summer camps there for the next ten years. Joe said today,

“UTG is a great camping place and it’s only a short hop from there to the DSS where I and my family can make fraudulent benefit claims by day and roast small babies stolen from Aberdeen citizens over open fires by night”. 

– Evening Suppository 22/02/12

Indian and Aussie Tourist Boards worried about City Gardens Project
A spokesman for the Indian Tourist Board in Delhi expressed the Indian government’s worries that the completed City Gardens Project would draw tourists away from the Taj Mahal to the Granite City. Tourism Director Lal Singh said yesterday,

“This is a very worrying development indeed. If this goes ahead it will be the eighth wonder of the world, and who’s going to pay thousands of rupees to visit the Taj Mahal when something concrete built by Stewartie Milne Sahib is on offer.”

The Sydney Bridge’s Press Officer was rather more blunt, however, saying,

“Stone the crows, mate. It’s not bad enough that you whingeing Poms get off stealing our Ashes last year but now you’re going to build something that will make Sydney Harbour Bridge look like the Sheilas’ toilets in Wollamaloo. It’s enough to make a man give up ill-treating Abos and complaining about immigration all day long”. 

– The Depressing Journal 22/02/12

Dead rise ruse to praise Gardens raise
Legendary dead Aberdonians have been queuing up at dozens of reliable, scientific and not in the least bit hooky séances across the NE to endorse the City Gardens Project, the ES can exclusively reveal. Local medium, the mysterious, yet oddly familiar, Madame Ina Wood has found that local spooks are unanimous in their support for the cement vanity project. She said that famous Japanese, Kung Fu mannie Thomas Glover explained to her,

“I’m Thomas Glover and I’m dead now, but I look forward to my eternal spirit flitting hither and thither like a divine zephyr around the concrete gardens that will totally put Aberdeen on the map as it wasn’t on one before apparently.”

Long dead architect Scott Sutherland said,

“Jings I wish I’d built something half as good as the City Gardens Project. It’s going to look wonderful, and not at all be a hideous concrete abortion. I can’t wait to tell Bernini and Frank Lloyd Wright all about it at our next Jenga evening.”

Early photographer George Washington Wilson added,

“I took photos of Union Terrace in the nineteenth century and I only wish these hideous gardens had never existed. If there had been nothing there to photograph, I may have been able to follow my original dream of taking lots of photos of naked ladies for bongo mags. My spirit shall haunt the development like a bad smell.”

Madame Ina Wood told the ES,

“Cross my palm with silver dearie – about £50m should do – the spirits don’t lie. This is all absolutely true, and not a pile of hooey designed to fool the gullible. I’ll stake my hoop earrings and bizarre sideburns on it”. 

– Evening Suppository 23/02/12

Nostradamus predicted City Gardens Project
A recent study revealed that the seer Nostradamus predicted the rise of the City Gardens Project in Les Prophecies (1555) where he stated,

“A mighty stone mountain shall arise in the north like a phoenix from a deep valley frequented by ne’er-do-wells and assorted rascals in a city made of granite. The rising of this stone shall herald a Golden Age for the city. Poverty and want shall be a thing of the past and by God and Sweet Sunny Jesus, will those jammy Jock bastards be coining it in? I should f**king say so. Shekels galore, more funny black stuff than you can shake a stick at and four straight European Cup wins for the local calcio team added to a seventeen-nil home win over some recently impoverished followers of William of Orange. Go for it, you hairy kneed Caledonian caber tossers”.

– The Depressing Journal 23/02/12

City Gardens Project means absolutely phenomenal number of jobs and money for everybody
A recent study by the totally neutral Vote For The City Gardens Or We’ll Come Round To Your House, Rape Your Dog And Scatter Your Garbage Group has discovered that the City Gardens Project will actually generate jobs for around nine billion people. A spokesperson for the group told us that there was a slightly worrying shortfall with less than eight billion people on the planet at present but it was hoped that some sort of shift system might be introduced allowing people to breed during working hours.

The same study showed that the knock-on effect of this huge project would encourage tourists from all over the Solar System to visit Aberdeen with many hotels in the Granite City receiving bookings from Mars, Venus and Mercury already. With this increase in tourism plus the work situation the group also estimated that each household in Aberdeen would be £17m better off once the Project was completed.

– The Depressing Journal 24/02/12

Pro-UTG groups to establish labour camps for opponents
Reports have reached the Evening Suppository that supporters of the City Gardens Project have been subjected to threats and intimidation by shadowy figures in trenchcoats at three in the morning brandishing voting forms.

Speaking in stock ludicrous 1960’s movie German accents they have announced:

“Zat for you, Scottische schweinhund, ze Union Terrace Gartens debate is ofer” and “Ve haf vays of making you vote nein”.

If their demands have not been immediately agreed to by the unfortunate victims they have been threatened further,

“Perhaps your family und household pets vould benefit from ein kleine holiday in ‘ze camps’”.

– Evening Suppository 24/02/12

Nov 242011
 

Deliberately resisting the attraction of the undoubtedly arcane and twisted plots of this year’s Broons annual, David Innes evaluates Maggie Craig’s take on exciting revolutionary times on Clydeside a century ago.

When Lenin appointed John MacLean, perhaps Red Clydeside’s most-revered socialist son, Soviet Consul for Scotland in 1918, the reputation of Glasgow and its industrial satellite towns as the most likely crucible of any UK workers’ revolution was sealed.

In the aftermath of Bloody Friday in January 1919, the militia, backed up by tanks was in George Square, the Riot Act had been read to an assembly of tens of thousands of working people and Scotland’s own socialist revolution seemed inevitable.

When The Clyde Ran Red faithfully documents these tumultuous events which took place in what must have been life-enhancing times, but Maggie Craig achieves much more than re-documenting tales and phenomena well-known to historians and socialists.

In what might be regarded as a primer for the more in-depth and heavy duty histories and biographies listed in her book’s bibliography, she chronicles forty years of the people’s history through the experiences of those closely involved and those affected by events which showed that change was possible if the determination of the people was present and stout, resolute leadership given.

Not only are the iconic heroes of the struggle – Maxton, Muirhead, Kirkwood, Shinwell, Johnston and others – celebrated for their unstinting efforts as leaders in the battle for liberty, equality and fraternity, the lesser-known local heroes of rent strikes and trade disputes are also lauded. The little victories against oppression and exploitation, the author illustrates, are just as vital in changing lives as headline-grabbing larger scale changes.

There is obvious pride in her own Clydeside roots as Craig relates the day-to-day realities of struggles, defeats and wins for working people, describing the Singer dispute, the building, moth-balling and eventual launch of Cunard’s Queen Mary and the Nazis’ terrifying and murderous Clydebank Blitz in 1941.

Whilst these histories are well-known, the author brings new life to their re-telling from the perspective of residents, citizens and workers directly involved and affected.

Craig’s previous form as a novelist, with seven previous publications in this genre, is obvious and welcome as When The Clyde Ran Red is an immensely-readable social history of headily-exciting times and fiery, determined human spirit.

When The Clyde Ran Red
Maggie Craig
Mainstream Publishing
http://www.rbooks.co.uk/product.aspx?id=1845967356

Nov 082011
 

With Remembrance Sunday approaching fast and the wearing of a poppy being de rigueur for every stuffed shirt and empty suit on TV, Voice’s Dave Watt thinks about 11 November.  

11 November falls on a Friday this year, so the dead will have to wait until Sunday to be remembered, as the powers that be don’t seem to think that remembering them on the actual Armistice Day would be convenient.
I mean, businesses might lose a whole two minutes profit and think what a disaster that would be for our thriving economy. After all, big business interests shovel money into party funds and one and a quarter million dead servicemen and women don’t. So, balls to them.

Armistice Day on 11 November was originally meant to signal the end of The War to End Wars, back in a time when that phrase wouldn’t bring forth a cynical snigger.

In fact, on my grandfather’s medals, hanging in a frame in my hallway, it refers to The Great War For Civilisation which shows that there were politicians in the 1920s capable of coming out with the same kind of drivel as George W Bush did with his ludicrous War on Terror ten years ago.

Presumably, at some time in the future there will be a War For Straight Bananas or a War For Fashionable Sandals or something equally weird.

Hopefully, this year will not feature such irretrievable tat as the Royal British Legion inviting The Saturdays to frolic half-naked in a sea of poppies or getting the judges on X Factor to wear grotesque poppy fashion items – two tasteless frolics which inspired ex-SAS soldier Ben Griffin to describe them as ‘stunts to trivialise, normalise and satirise war’. Griffin, in fact, went on to state that remembrance has been turned into ‘a month long drum roll of support for current wars’, a point of view it is increasingly difficult to disagree with.

My grandfather joined up in 1914 in the surge of patriotism engendered by Germany illegally invading Belgium; my uncle joined up in 1939 when Hitler illegally subjugated Poland. Presumably, if Tony Blair had been Prime Minister in 1914, we’d have joined in the illegal invasion and attacked tiny Belgium as we did with impoverished third world Afghanistan, not one of whose citizens had previously done us the slightest harm.

Then again, if Tony had been in charge in 1939 he’d surely have produced some shoddy dossiers to our gullible Parliament showing how those dastardly Poles were all set to attack peace-loving Nazi Germany and that they had weapons of mass destruction concealed in Cracow and Gdansk which could be deployed within 45 minutes.

Yes, if good old Tony had been on the case then, we could nowadays watch Wellington bombers joining the Stukas strafing the women and kids in Warsaw on World at War on Yesterday – with a suitably solemn voice-over courtesy of Laurence Olivier. God, wouldn’t that make us just so proud of ourselves?

No, the bottom line is that we’re not the Good Guys helping the Underdog against the Bully any more. We’re something quite different now.

If you were wondering what happened to my uncle and grandfather in their wars, my uncle died in Normandy in 1944 after fighting in North Africa, Italy and Sicily. My grandfather survived four years in the trenches but was wounded and mustard-gassed in 1918. The mustard gas steadily and horribly eroded his lungs over the years and he eventually died in 1955 aged 56, so the War for Civilisation got him in the end.

I also had a relative on board HMS Hood when the Bismarck sank her in the Denmark Straits in May 1941. He was not one of the three survivors.

It’s interesting to think that if my three relations had survived wars and lived until now that their reward from a grateful country would be to have some pampered ex-public schoolboy Tories and Lib Dems cutting their fuel allowances by £100 this winter.

I’ll have my own two minutes silence for my relations and all the rest – the ones who came back and the ones who didn’t.

On Friday.

Photo Credits –
Row Of Crosses © Mediaonela | Dreamstime.com  
Poppy At Newe July 2011 © Elaine Andrews

Oct 132011
 

As conversations go, our own Suzanne Kelly found her recent discussions with former Robert Gordon University Principal Dr David Kennedy fascinating. As always, conversations lead to discussion of inter-connected events. Here, in a further interview extract, Dr Kennedy talks frankly about how personal and societal standards, values and morality have changed and how individual actions have affected and influenced matters, perhaps unintentionally, on a much larger scale.

We had been discussing land use and EU farming bureaucracy, and how, for many farmers, European subsidies had made them rich.
See: Aberdeen Voice article  ‘Dr David Kennedy On Land Use And Farming’ )

Dr Kennedy is in no doubt that elected politicians have much to answer for, on numerous issues in addition to agricultural policy.

“It‘s a bizarre state of affairs. These are supposed to be highly-intelligent people elected to represent us. The sad truth is, as one old friend used to say, ‘they are just filling their own pooches’. And that’s absolutely true. Some investigative journalist did the work on MPs’ expenses and when her work was made public, we saw the full extent of their greed. The MPs’ expenses scandal was an absolute disgrace, but that is nothing compared to what is happening in Brussels.

“Morality is fast disappearing for some reason or another. There is a lack of integrity and it now seems that it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are making money. Trump boasted on his website of brutality, toughness and greed. Are these behaviours we all really value?

“Why do humans behave in this way? Well, it’s a long story involving conditioning the human brain. This began in a scientific way early in the last century, not by Joseph Goebbels as we are encouraged to believe, but by an American named Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, who could, fairly, be called the father of advertising, propaganda, and public relations. He knew how to play on the pleasure and pain centres of the brain. Goebbels was an avid pupil of Bernays.

“Brainwashing didn’t begin with the wicked Chinese, or the godless Communists, or even the evil Nazis. It began in America, where it has been perfected over the years, and we are all subjected to it. Trump is simply one example of The Big Lie. Anyone who analyses the mainstream media will readily see how words are used, not to inform, enlighten and clarify, but to mislead, confuse and confound. And it is all done to amass wealth”.

“There has been a massive cultural change. I’m 80 or so, and I look at changes such as wealth-creation, sustainability, satisfying our needs and the problem of waste. The thing is, in about the last 30 years the speed of technological change has been bewildering. Sixty years ago an Edinburgh academic, Professor CH Waddington, looking at the future, predicted that, given the rate of change in the accumulation of knowledge, it would eventually be impossible to keep up with all the changes. I think what he said has come to pass.”

Pressed for an example, Kennedy continued.

“Take micro-electronics. When I was a young man you learnt about thermionic valves and their use in radios. A few years earlier, radios were powered by accumulators that seemed to weigh a ton. Electrical engineers who were brought up on thermionic valves, then had to learn about transistors, and the technology of valves was forgotten. Transistor radios were very much smaller and easily carried around. Noise pollution increased. A new technology had to be learned, which lasted for about 10 years before being replaced by the silicon chip. Things are getting even smaller.”

There are serious issues with the UK’s higher education system – tuition fees, devalued degrees, an imbalance in the areas of tertiary learning where we can’t all be Media Studies graduates, poor employment prospects and very grim student loan burdens. What, I asked, are Dr Kennedy’s views on where these problems came from? Where does he think we are heading, and what can be done about it?

Again, the issues of personal morality and values were raised.

“I think it is fairly easy to see where the problems come from. They arise from economics. Mrs Thatcher radically changed the basis of economic life in Britain famously claiming, ‘There is no alternative’.

“This assertion has been accepted by all the major political parties and involved rolling back the state, decrying collective activities while promoting individualism, standing on one’s own two feet. Since then, we have seen the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. This is another example of Trump’s mantra, ’greed is good’.

“So, education is no longer thought of as being for the greater good of society. Health is no longer thought of as a basic necessity, best provided by an all-inclusive system. Caring for the elderly through a comprehensive system of pensions paid for whilst one is healthy and working is now too great a burden.

“Instead, leave it to the individual and let the market decide what should be provided, and for whom. This is completely against the 1940s wisdom of William Beveridge and the subsequent foundation of the welfare state. And, of course, the same attitude prevails when it comes to protecting the environment – nothing must be allowed to stop the onward march of progress”.

More from this fascinating conversation will appear in future issues of Voice.

Image Credits:
 Pound Man © Chrisharvey | Dreamstime.com
Calculator and Money © Timothy Nichols | Dreamstime.com 

Sep 232011
 

Dave Watt asks Voice readers the question …..

Which one would you let watch your pet deer while you were on holiday?

 

a)   Adolf Hitler – Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (Above)

b)   Aileen Malone – Liberal Democrat (Opposite)