Napoleon and Hitler were born 129 years apart, came to power 129 years apart, declared war on Russia 129 years apart, and were defeated 129 years apart.
Friday, May 29, 2015
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Friday, May 15, 2015
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Today is the anniversary of the day the SS St. Louis set sail from Germany in 1939, with 937 passengers aboard. I will give a synopsis here, but for the whole story, see the movie "Voyage of the Damned".
The St. Louis set sail from Hamburg to Cuba on May 13, 1939 under command of Captain Gustav Schröder. Upon the ship's arrival in Cuba, the Cuban government, headed by President Federico Laredo Brú, refused to accept the foreign refugees. Passengers had previously purchased legal visas, but on May 5, 1939, four months before World War II began, Havana abandoned its former pragmatic immigration policy and visas issued before May 5 were invalidated retroactively. None of the passengers were aware that the Cuban government had retroactively invalidated their landing permits.
The journey to Cuba was a joyous affair. Crew members treated the passengers well—Captain Schröder insisted on this. Elegantly clad stewards served foods that by 1939 had been rationed in Germany; there was a full-time nursemaid to care for small children when their parents sat to eat. There were dances and concerts, and the captain allowed passengers to hold Friday evening religious services in the dining room and even permitted them to throw a tablecloth over a plaster bust of Hitler that sat there. Children were given swimming lessons in the on-deck pool.
The ship dropped anchor at 4 A.M. on May 27 at the far end of the Havana harbor and was denied entry to the usual docking areas. The next six days on the harbor were tumultuous times. It was finally announced that passengers arriving on the ship would only be allowed to enter if they had official Cuban visas. Thus, only 22 non-Jewish passengers were allowed to disembark on Cuban shores. After long negotiations, the remaining 915 passengers (mostly Jewish) were forced to return to Europe.
Prohibited from landing in Cuba, Captain Schröder took the ship and its passengers to Florida. America not only refused their entry but even fired a warning shot to keep them away from Florida's shores. ]Legally the refugees could not enter the United States on tourist visas, as they had no return addresses. The U.S. had passed the Immigration Act of 1924 that restricted numbers of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe.
As the St. Louis was turned away from the United States, a group of academics and clergy in Canada tried to persuade the nation's Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, to provide sanctuary to the ship's passengers, as it was only two days from Halifax, Nova Scotia. But, Canadian immigration officials and cabinet ministers hostile to Jewish immigration persuaded the Prime Minister on June 9 not to intervene.
As the situation of the vessel deteriorated, Captain Schröder personally negotiated and schemed to find them a safe haven. At one point he formulated plans to wreck the ship on the British coast to force the passengers to be taken as refugees. He refused to return the ship to Germany until all the passengers had been given entry to some other country. US officials worked with Britain and European nations to find refuge for the travelers in Europe. The ship returned to Europe, docking at Antwerp, Belgium, on June 17, 1939.
The United Kingdom agreed to take 288 of the passengers, who disembarked and traveled to the UK by other steamers. After much negotiation by Schröder, the remaining 619 passengers were allowed to disembark at Antwerp; 224 were accepted by France, 214 by Belgium, and 181 by the Netherlands. Without any passengers, the ship returned to Hamburg. The following year, after the Nazi German invasions of Belgium and France in May 1940, all the Jews in those countries were again at risk.
Research estimates that 254 of them were killed.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
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Thursday, May 7, 2015
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Sheriff's office rug with 'In Dog We Trust' typo sells for nearly $10,000
The Pinellas County Sheriff's office ordered a new rug,which turned up last week with a typo. The large green rug with the black and yellow Pinellas County Sheriff's Office logo included the phrase "In Dog We Trust" within one of its crests.
It was supposed to read "In God We Trust."
The Sheriff's Office said rug manufacturer, American Floor Mats, would replace it
That could have been the end of the story except Sheriff Bob Gualtieri had an idea.
He decided to auction off the unique item -- the "doggone rug," as he called it -- and donate the proceeds to a local rescue.
"The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office will not sweep anything under the rug," the department said when it put up the item.
Jane Sidwell is the founder of Canine Estates Inc. She figured her shelter would net a few hundred bucks from the sale.
"I knew that the sheriff's office paid $500 for it," she told CNN affiliate Bay News 9 . "So I thought well, that's great. We'll get $500. But we had no idea it would escalate into what it has."
Eighty three bids later, the rug was sold -- for a whopping $9,650!
The money will go mainly toward vet bills, Sidwell said. Last year, the shelter adopted out 186 dogs.
"A lot of these dogs just come in in absolute terrible shape," she told the affiliate.