Saturday, March 19, 2016

Workaway in the High Desert of New Mexico

From Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve 2015, I had the pleasure of living and working in the quaint town of Roswell, New Mexico. My hostess was Karen Boehler, a local writer and animal lover.

For those of you who aren't yet familiar with Workaway and HelpX, I'll explain. Workaway and HelpX are work exchange programs where a person (the volunteer) performs several hours of work per day for the host/ess in exchange for room and board.  After signing up online, a volunteer pays a small fee to become a member ($29US for two years) and then they complete a profile about themselves. Volunteers can choose which positions to apply for based on their interests and skills set. The volunteer emails a potential host/ess and things progress from there.  Some hosts want a Skype interview, some prefer talking on the phone, and some communicate exclusively through email. Once the host and volunteer agree on a beginning work date and length of stay, the volunteer makes travel plans and ideally keeps in contact with their new employer.  Once the big day arrives, the volunteer is usually picked up at the airport, bus/train station and taken to the home/farm by the host or by another volunteer.

Many hosts give you the tour and allow you that day (and sometimes the next day) off to get rested up and settled in to your new digs.

I had a wonderful month in New Mexico working for Karen and I was able to meet a lot of different and interesting people during my stay.  There were four other Workaway volunteers that cycled in and out that month and a Couchsurfer who came by for a few nights. The weather way amazing and the skies were beautiful at night, some of the prettiest sunsets I've ever seen on the US Mainland.  The day after I left, Roswell and surrounding areas received a whopping three feet of snow - a record breaking amount in their desert history!  Glad I was on that bus to Florida!

Here are some of my photos from that wonderful experience.  Thank you Karen!

Curiosity, a rescued goat.

Karen's funky cool farm in Roswell, NM.

Aries, another rescued goat.

Ginger, the rooster.

The two adorable ducks.

Blondie, the rooster.

Me, helping offload firewood.

Milky Way, one of the two goats who were tragically killed by dogs during my stay on the farm.  RIP little guy,  

Luna, the other rescue goat who was mauled to death by dogs.  RIP young lady.
Llamas in the high desert of New Mexico
In the foreground is Nova, the young male.
His mother, Momma Llama, is in the background.
Both llamas were rescued by Karen.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Magda Goebbels Grandchildren are BMW Main Stockholders

By David de Jong  Jan 28, 2013 9:47 AM ET
Harald Quandt, Magda Goebbels' son by her first marriage, center back stands in uniform.
In the spring of 1945, Harald Quandt, a 23-year-old officer in the German Luftwaffe, was being held as a prisoner of war by Allied forces in the Libyan port city of Benghazi when he received a farewell letter from his mother, Magda Goebbels -- the wife of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

The hand-written note confirmed the devastating news he had heard weeks earlier: His mother had committed suicide with her husband on May 1, after slipping their six children cyanide capsules in Adolf Hitler’s underground bunker in Berlin.

“My dear son! By now we’ve been in the Fuehrerbunker for six days already, Daddy, your six little siblings and I, to give our national socialistic lives the only possible, honorable ending,” she wrote. “Harald, dear son, I want to give you what I learned in life: Be loyal! Loyal to yourself, loyal to the people and loyal to your country!”

Quandt was released from captivity in 1947. Seven years later, he and his half-brother Herbert -- Harald was the only remaining child from Magda Goebbels’ first marriage -- would inherit the industrial empire built by their father, Guenther Quandt, which had produced Mauser firearms and anti-aircraft missiles for the Third Reich’s war machine. Among their most valuable assets at the time was a stake in car manufacturer Daimler AG. (DAI) They bought a part of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) a few years later.

While the half-brothers passed away decades ago, their legacy has endured. Herbert’s widow, Johanna Quandt, 86, and their children Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt, have remained in the public eye as BMW’s dominant shareholders. The billionaire daughters of Harald Quandt -- Katarina Geller-Herr, 61, Gabriele Quandt, 60, Anette-Angelika May-Thies, 58, and 50-year-old Colleen-Bettina Rosenblat-Mo -- have kept a lower profile.

The four sisters inherited about 1.5 billion deutsche marks ($760 million) after the death of their mother, Inge, in 1978, according to the family’s sanctioned biography, “Die Quandts.” They manage their wealth through the Harald Quandt Holding GmbH, a Bad Homburg, Germany-based family investment company and trust named after their father. Fritz Becker, the chief executive officer of the family entities, said the siblings realized average annual returns above 7 percent from its founding in 1981 through 1996. Since then, the returns have averaged 7.6 percent.

“The family wants to stay private and that is an acceptable situation for me,” said Becker in an interview at his Bad Homburg office. “We invest our money globally and if it’s $1 billion, $500 million or $3 billion, who cares?”

Wartime Profits

Together, the four sisters -- and the two children of a deceased sibling -- share a fortune worth at least $6 billion, giving each of them a net worth of $1.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. They have never appeared individually as billionaires on an international wealth ranking.

Becker declined to provide the exact figure the holding manages for the four sisters. The siblings declined to comment for this account, said Ralf-Dieter Brunowsky, a spokesman for the family investment company, in an e-mail. He said the net worth calculation was “too high,” declining to be more specific.

The rise of the Quandt family fortune shares the same trajectory as Germany’s quest for global domination in the 20th century. It began in 1883, when Emil Quandt acquired a textile company owned by his late father-in-law. At the turn of the century, Emil passed the business to his eldest son, Guenther.

The younger Quandt saw an opportunity with the onset of war in 1914. His factories, already one of the biggest clothing manufacturers for the German state, quadrupled their weekly uniform production for the army, according to “Die Quandts.”

Weapons Production

After Germany’s surrender four years later, Quandt put the company’s wartime profits to use. In 1922, he bought a majority stake in Accumulatoren-Fabrik AG (AFA), a Hagen-based battery manufacturer. Six years later, he took over Berlin-Karlsruher Industriewerken AG (BKIW), a Berlin-based manufacturer that made sewing machines and silverware. The factory, once one of Germany’s largest weapon producers, had been forced to retool as part of the country’s disarmament agreement.

“The Quandts' business grew in the Kaiserreich, it grew during the Weimar Republic, it grew during the Second World War and it grew strongly after the war,” Rudiger Jungbluth, author of “Die Quandts,” said in an interview at a Bavarian restaurant in Hamburg last November.

Nazi Connections

In 1918, Guenther Quandt’s first wife died of the Spanish flu, leaving him a widower with two young sons, Hellmut and Herbert. He married Magda Ritschel in 1921, and the couple’s only son, Harald, was born later that year. Hellmut died in 1927, from complications related to appendicitis.

Quandt and Magda divorced in 1929. Two years later, she married Joseph Goebbels, a member of the German parliament who also held a doctorate degree in drama and served as head of propaganda for Germany’s growing Nazi party. After the Nazis took power in 1933, their leader, Adolf Hitler, appointed Goebbels as the Third Reich’s propaganda minister. Hitler was the best man at the couple’s wedding.

Guenther Quandt joined the party that same year. His factories became key suppliers to the German war effort, even though his relationship with Goebbels had become increasingly strained.

“There was constant rivalry,” said Bonn-based history professor Joachim Scholtyseck, author of a family-commissioned study about their involvement with the Third Reich, in a telephone interview. “It didn’t matter that Goebbels didn’t like him. It didn’t have any influence on Quandt’s ability to make money.”

Forced Labor

In 1937, he earned the title of Wehrwirtschaftsfuehrer, the name given to members of an elite group of businessmen who were deemed beneficial to the production of war materials for the Third Reich. During the war, Quandt’s AFA manufactured batteries for U-Boat submarines and V-2 rocket launchers. His BKIW --which had been renamed Deutsche Waffen-und Munitionsfabriken AG in 1936 -- produced Mauser firearms, ammunition and anti-aircraft missiles.

“He was one of the leading industrialists in the Third Reich and the Second World War,” Scholtyseck said. “He always kept a very low profile.”

From 1940 to 1945, the Quandt family factories were staffed with more than 50,000 forced civilian laborers, prisoners of war and concentration camp workers, according to Scholtyseck’s 1,183-page study. The report was commissioned by the family in 2007 after German television aired the documentary “The Silence of the Quandts,” a critical look at their wartime activities.

Released in September 2011, the study also found that Quandt appropriated assets from Jewish company owners and that his son Herbert had planned building an AFA factory in which slave laborers would be deployed.

Army Volunteer

“Guenther Quandt didn’t have a Nazi-kind of thinking,” said Jungbluth, the family biographer. “He was looking for any opportunity to expand his personal empire.”

Quandt’s youngest son, Harald, lived with his mother, Goebbels and six half-siblings. In 1939, he joined the German army after the country’s invasion of Poland, volunteering for the army’s paratrooper unit one year later.

During the war, Harald was deployed in Greece, France and Russia, before being shot and captured in Italy in 1944, and taken to the British Army-run POW camp in Benghazi where he received his mother’s farewell letter.

His stepfather also sent him a goodbye note.

“It’s likely that you’ll be the only one to remain who can continue the tradition of our family,” wrote Goebbels, who served as Chancellor of Germany for one day following Hitler’s suicide on April 30, 1945.

Denazification Hearings

After the war, Guenther Quandt served in an internment camp in Moosburg an der Isar for more than a year, before being judged a “Mitlaeufer” -- a Nazi follower who wasn’t formally involved in the regime’s crimes -- in denazification hearings in 1948. No repercussions followed.

“He was lucky that he wasn’t as prominent as someone like Flick or Krupp,” said Scholtyseck, referring to the German industrialists Friedrich Flick and Alfried Krupp, who were sentenced to prison terms at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

Guenther died in 1954 while vacationing in Cairo, leaving his business empire equally in the hands of his two surviving sons, Harald and Herbert. Most notably, the assets included ownership of AFA and Deutsche Waffen-und Munitionsfabriken -- renamed Industrie-Werke Karlsruhe AG after the war -- and stakes in Daimler-Benz and potash miner Wintershall AG.

Sovereign Wealth

Herbert managed the stakes in the battery, car and potash firm, while Harald oversaw the interests in the industrial companies, according to Jungbluth’s biography.

Over the next decade, the brothers increased their stake in Daimler; Herbert saved BMW from collapse in the 1960s after becoming its largest shareholder and backing the development of new models.

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Harald died in 1967, at age 45, in an airplane crash outside Turin, Italy. The relationship between his widow, Inge, and Herbert deteriorated after his death. Negotiations to settle the estate by separating assets commenced in 1970.

The most valuable asset that the Harald Quandt heirs received was four-fifths of a 14 percent stake in Daimler, according to the biography. In 1974, the entire stake was sold to the Kuwait Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, for about 1 billion deutsche marks, according to a Daimler-Benz publication from 1986 celebrating its centennial.

Inge Quandt, who suffered from depression, died of a heart attack on Christmas Eve 1978. Her new husband, Hans-Hilman von Halem, shot himself in the head two days later. The five orphaned daughters, two of them teenagers, were left to split the family fortune.

Family Meetings

The estate’s trustees had started overseeing the daughters’ money in 1974. An active investment approach commenced with the founding of the family investment company in 1981.

“It’s different if you work for a family than a corporation,” said Becker. “You can really invest instead of fulfilling regulation requirements.”

According to “Die Quandts,” the siblings try to get together a few times a year to discuss their investments. Gabriele Quandt lives in Munich. After earning a master’s degree in business administration at Insead in Fontainebleau, France, she married German publishing heir Florian Langenscheidt, with whom she had two sons. The couple divorced in 2008.

Katarina Geller-Herr owns Gestuet Waeldershausen, an equestrian center in Homberg (Ohm), Germany. She sponsored Lars Nieberg, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in show jumping.

Jewish Conversion

Colleen-Bettina Rosenblat-Mo is a jewelry designer who runs a studio and showroom in Hamburg. She converted to Judaism in New York at age 24. Her first marriage was to Michael Rosenblat, a German-Jewish businessman, whose father survived a concentration camp. The couple divorced in 1997. She remarried Frode Mo, a Norwegian journalist.

“We live with both religions and also celebrate Christmas,” Rosenblat-Mo said in “Die Quandts.”

Anette-Angelika May-Thies lives in Hamburg, according to the Harald Quandt Holding shareholders list filed with the German federal trade registry. Her first marriage was to Axel May, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) international adviser for private banking, who managed the family’s investments for about 25 years.

The siblings are also majority owners and investors in five financial services companies, all of which pay dividends, according to Becker. The firms were founded to manage the sisters’ wealth and subsequently opened up to third parties.

Private Equity

The six companies combined manage $18 billion in assets, according to the family investment company’s website. Becker said the majority of the money controlled by these firms is invested for third parties. One-fifth of the family fortune is managed by trustees for the two children of the youngest Quandt sibling, Patricia Halterman, who died in July 2005, four days before turning 38. Her townhouse on the Upper East Side of New York City sold for $37.5 million in 2008.

Auda International LP serves as the sisters’ New York-based private-equity unit. It manages almost $5 billion and was founded as their U.S. office in 1989, said Becker. Real Estate Capital Partners LP started the same year and has invested about $9 billion in real estate, according to its website. Both companies are owned through HQFS LP, an offshore entity based in the Cayman Islands.

Family Fortunes

In Bad Homburg, HQ Trust GmbH serves as a investment management company for about 30 families with fortunes ranging from 50 million euros to 500 million euros. Equita Management GmbH invests in small and mid-cap companies in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. HQ Advisor GmbH provides accounting and controlling services.

Only one sister, Gabriele, carries the family name, and none are active in the day-to-day business of the family office, said Becker.

Their uncle, Herbert Quandt, died in 1982. His fortune was divided between six children from three different marriages. BMW, his most valuable asset, was inherited by his third wife Johanna Quandt and their children, Stefan Quandt, 46, and Susanne Klatten, 50. The three billionaires hold 46.7 percent of the Munich-based car producer, according to the company’s 2011 annual report.

After Scholtyseck’s study was published in 2011, cousins Gabriele and Stefan Quandt acknowledged their family’s ties and involvement with the Third Reich in an interview with Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper.

‘Sad Truth’

“Magda killed her six children in the Fuehrerbunker. Our father loved his half-siblings very much. And when, like me, you have something like this in your family history, you think: It can’t be any worse,” Gabriele Quandt said in the interview. “It’s a sad truth that forced laborers died in Quandt companies,” said Stefan.

The acknowledgment didn’t prompt a public distancing from the men that made their family Germany’s richest. The families’ offices in Bad Homburg are named after Guenther and Harald Quandt, and the Herbert Quandt media prize of 50,000 euros is awarded annually to German journalists.

“They have to live with the name. It’s part of the history,” said Scholtyseck. “It will be a constant reminder of dictatorship and the challenges that families have to face.”

To contact the reporter on this story: David De Jong in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew G. Miller at

Thursday, May 1, 2014

G is for Goebbels: Nazi Sex Scandals

by Tammy Petry
Blogging From A to Z April Challenge
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."  
~Joseph Goebbels 

I tend to write about socially taboo topics that others find interesting but really don't want in their browser history. I can only image what people would think if I suddenly went missing and the authorities searched my laptop for clues.  I'm not kidding, there's a bizarre assortment of shit in my browser history, everything from Hitler +incest + sexual fetishes,  Goebbels + affair + three way,  Himmler, Goering, and Rommel, lethal untraceable poisons; The Luke Bryan "Don't Drop That Thun Thun Thun" video; a video of the Horst Wessel song.; the current price per gram of gold, cocaine, and weed; plus tons of cat videos.  Everything but the cat videos is research, but try explaining THAT to the boys in blue (whom I LOVE, btw). No, seriously, I do!

All smartass comments are entirely my own and are provided free of charge.
(Limited time offer.  Restrictions may apply.  Void in dry counties.)

International Disclaimer:  The information contained in this blog post, including words, photos, and videos, are strictly for educational and informational purposes only. I do not espouse, condone, or promote anything related to Hitler, Nazis, the Third Reich, National-Socialism, Fascism, or other related -isms.  If this content is illegal to view in your country - don't blame me! You're here now aren't you?

If you're wondering why the majority of my "30 Days of WWII" posts pertain to the Nazis,  it's because I love exploring the dark side of history.  I like to find out what makes monsters tick, who their lovers were, and discover the various types of backgrounds they emerged from.  For example, how does someone who has a loving family, who makes homemade ice cream and plays catch with their children, who appears "normal"  to the rest of the does that person leave home, go to work, and proceed to murder innocent men, women and children by the thousands every day?  How does that person sleep at night?  How does that person face him or her self in the mirror each day?  How do they eat when thousands are starving just yards away?

These are the creators of one of the darkest times in modern history.

Now, on to Goebbels. 

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called, "The Goebbels Experiment".  The entire narrative of the film is read from Dr. Joseph Goebbels' own extensive diary, which he kept from 1924 to 1945.  Rare and never before seen footage accompanies his entries which are beautifully read by Kenneth Branagh . Amazingly, this diary survived WWII and post-war plundering and destruction that took place in Berlin for many years afterward.  It's a provocative peek inside the tortured mind of the Third Reich's Minister of Propaganda.  (Can you believe that was his real job title?  Why not say, "Professional Bullshitter"?!) 

I consider myself to be an avid war historian, but I still learned many new things about Goebbels from watching this film.

The Goebbels Experiment
Narrated by Kenneth Branagh
The Man Behind Hitler
A Rare and Chilling Glimpse Into a Brilliant but Toxic Mind
Live Inside the Monster's Head
Joseph Goebbels WWII Third Reich Propaganda Minister for Hitler

What the Critics are Saying:

"Live inside the monster's head… visceral, powerful" - The New York Post

"A fascinating, veritable self-portrait, masterfully culled from a trove of archival materials"

- Los Angeles Times

"Weirdly enthralling." - Boston Globe

"Eloquent. Brilliantly edited." - LA Weekly

"A cautionary reminder that equal access to the machinery of ideas may be society's most critical goal." - The New York Times

"Informative and illuminating." - Christian Science Monitor

Here are the highlights I found to be most interesting:
  1. Goebbels had a physical deformity of his foot.  Surgery was performed during his youth (almost 100 years ago!) but it was botched.  This caused him to wear a cumbersome orthopedic foot/leg brace for the rest of his life.  They might as well have painted a big bullseye target on ole Joe because he was teased and ridiculed without mercy.  It also deemed him a less-than-worthy German soldier and was denied his place in the ranks during WWI.
  2. His oldest son was not his biological child.  His wife, Magda, was a divorcee who brought the boy into their marriage. (Unlucky him.  Don't feel too badly for him though, he turned out to become filthy rich in post-WWII Germany.) Being an ardent and loyal fascist, Magda popped out six more little Nazis for the glory of the Reich.
  3. Hitler was one of the witnesses for Joseph's marriage to Magda. (This was definitely a very bad omen.)
  4. Joseph Goebbels--ADULTERER!  He had a torrid, heartbreaking, earth-shattering love affair after he wed Magda. As you will read later on in the post, things got...interesting.  I won't ruin it for you, you'll just have to keep reading. Anyway, Magda finally got fed up.  She went running to Hitler to put an end to the whole mess. (Damn, I sure wouldn't want to get THAT phone call...just say'n.)The ideal Aryan was tall, blonde, blue-eyed, and in top physical shape.  Goebbels was none of these. (Neither was Hitler for that matter, but I digress. Is it just me, or do you get the impression that the Third Reich was composed mainly of men with some variation on the "Woe-Is-Me" complex?)
Rare color photo of Hitler and Goebbels enjoying a lighthearted moment of laughter.
Goebbels was a frequent guest at Hitler's mountain retreat, Berchtesgaten.
Here is the Goebbels wedding photo.  Note Adolph in the background.

Joeseph and Magda Goebbels wedding photo.  Note Adolph Hitler in the background.
He was a witness to their nuptials.
Joseph and Magda Goebbels with their children.
Here is the fantastically fascist Goebbels family. All of the children, except Harald, were poisoned by Magda Goebbels inside the Berlin Fuhrer Bunker. Harald is the one in the Luftwaffe uniform and is Magda's son from her first marriage. He survived the war, became a very wealthy industrialist - he was one of the richest men in post-war Germany. Something pertaining to BMW...?

Magda also (allegedly) had affairs (including one with Joseph's deputy Karl Hanke) and there is evidence that at some point they agreed to an open marriage.  (I am far from a prude.  If Joseph and Magda agreed to have an open marriage, so be it.  Whatever floats your boat.  Let your Freak Flag fly baby.  However, if either of them was under the impression they had a traditional marital arrangement going on, then shame, shame, shame on them both.)

Karl Hanke, Deputy to Joseph Goebbels and alleged lover of Magda Goebbels.
Definitely an improvement, IMHO.
I had NO idea Joseph Goebbels had an affair. The icing on this multi-tiered Cake of Adultery is this: Magda confided all the sordid details to none other than their good pal Adolph. She asked him to step in and put a stop to Joseph's wandering ... affections. Eventually, Hitler did just that. (Shit just got real in Deutschland!)

Mrs. Goebbels does not look pleased.
Congratulations, you've made it to the really good shit.

Here is a photo of The Mistress, Leda Baarova:

Lida Baarova, mistress of Joseph Goebbels.
Version One:

 By Peter Conradi, October 31, 2000

They met at a party in 1934, the year before her first German film "Barcarole" made her a household name in Germany. Lida Baarová certainly suited Goebbels, who became obsessed with her. "He told me he loved me time and again," she recalled 60 years later, "and I felt his eyes burning into my back every time we were in the same room together." The Fuhrer too, she vouchsafed, was given to staring mutely in her direction; indeed, when he visited her film studio he seemed to her to be mesmerized. Shortly afterwards he invited her to tea.

She arrived at the wheel of her BMW, which (as she remembered) Hitler seemed to consider too liberated. On this occasion, however, he found his tongue to the extent of telling her that she reminded him of Geri Raubel, whom he encouragingly explained, had committed suicide on his account. (That's an impressive pick-up line if I ever heard one!) Another time, Hitler told her that she should become a citizen of the Reich: "You could do well for yourself," he promised. But Lida Baarová remained immune to these blandishments, telling him that she preferred to remain a Czech. The tea invitations ceased.

Dr Goebbels's fires, however, burned ever fiercer. He only lived three doors down from the house on Lake Wannsee which Lida Baarová shared with Gustav Froehlich, her co-star in Barcarole. Though Lida Baarová always emphasised the innocence of her relations with Goebbels - "why would I be interested in a 36-year-old father of five when I was a 20-year-old beautiful woman with men falling at my feet?" - somehow Froehlich was never convinced.

Lake Wannsee, Berlin Germany
Hermann Goring placed a wiretap on Lida Baarová's telephone, and enjoyed spreading scandalous stories about her and Goebbels in the highest Nazi circles. Himmler also liked to tell how there were lines of women waiting to swear how Goebbels had coerced them: "I've turned the choicest statements over to the Fuhrer." Goebbels himself felt the necessity to tell his wife Magda about his infatuation. Magda complained to Emmy Goring that her husband was "the devil incarnate". But she did not stop there, inviting Lida Baarová round to accuse her to her face of having an affair with her husband. "Don't worry," Lida Baarová returned, "I'm not interested in him."

Heinrich Himmler and Adolph Hitler
Rare color photograph

Hermann Goering in all his glory.
Whatever you do, do NOT click on this image and view it full size!
(Hint: Eye Bleach Required)
Magda Goebbels was no more convinced than Gustav Froehlich had been, and in 1938 complained about her husband to the Fuhrer, who ordered Goebbels never to see Lida Baarová again. Goebbels's lust was strong, but his devotion to the Fuhrer still stronger. He sighed as a lover; he obeyed as a Propaganda Minister.

Meanwhile, the jealous Gustav Froehlich was rumoured to have struck Goebbels in the face, and challenged him to a duel. Hitler, furious at the scandal, banned Lida Baarová's films and expelled her from Berlin. Wisely, she escaped to Prague.

Version Two:
By Peter Conradi

"THEIRS was one of the most dramatic and dangerous love affairs of the Third Reich. A glamorous Czech actress who became Josef Goebbels's mistress and fled Germany after his wife denounced them to Hitler has described her turbulent relationship with the Nazi propaganda chief for the first time.

In her autobiography, The Sweet Bitterness of My Life, to be published posthumously in Germany next month, Lida Baarova writes of life in the Nazi upper echelons, where elegantly dressed ministers mingled with the film world elite.

The actress, who died alone in poverty in November aged 86, reveals that Goebbels's wife, Magda, proposed a ménage à trois to save her marriage but Hitler ordered an end to the two-year affair on the grounds that it could damage the Nazis' image as guardians of traditional family values.

It was Hitler who first fell for Baarova, (HOLY SHIT!) then 20, during a visit in 1934 to a film set in Berlin. Three days later she was summoned to tea at the chancellery. He said she reminded him of somebody both "beautiful and tragic" in his life. To her horror, she later realized this was Hitler's former lover and half-niece, Angela Raubal, who was found dead in her Munich flat in 1931, aged 23, after shooting herself in the heart with a pistol.

Adolph Hitler and Geli Raubal
Several more meetings followed, despite the protests of Gustav Fröhlich, a jealous actor with whom Baarova was living. But the Führer did not press himself on her.

She and Goebbels first met in 1936 during the Berlin Olympics in the city's opulent Schwanenwerder suburb, where Goebbels had rented a villa near Fröhlich's. Baarova was attracted immediately.

"His voice seemed to go straight into me," she said. "I felt a light tingling in my back, as if his words were trying to stroke my body." (Insert Awkward Sexual Reference Here.)

Here's Goebbels giving a few speeches.  This clip is just under 2:00 minutes.  I'd advise wearing earphones for this one.  He's rather enthusiastic (translation: fucking loud). This is probably NOT the thing to blast from your computer speakers, particularly if you reside in a culturally diverse urban area.  Those of you in the American South don't have to worry quite as much. 

(.... Not for ONE second do I tingle.  Anywhere. I (thankfully) feel nothing stroking my body.  And I'm DAMN SURE not wanting ANY part of ole Joe going in me - straight, sideways, or any other way.
However, I reluctantly admit that the man was made to talk.  He's in love with the sound of his own voice.  However vain that may be, I believe he earned his right to crow a little.  Passionate.  He's a very passionate speaker.)


There were other meetings on Goebbels's yacht Baldur, and he invited her to hear him speak at a Nazi congress. He promised to touch his face with a white handkerchief during the speech as a sign of his devotion. (Awww, isn't that just too sweet?)

Panicking, Baarova decided to leave town. But as her train waited at the station, a messenger arrived with roses and the minister's picture. "He was a master of the hunt, whom no-body and nothing could escape," she said. (Okay, this would be a great opportunity to insert crude humor but I shall refrain.)

For months Goebbels pursued her relentlessly, inviting her for trips in his chauffeur-driven limousine or visits to his log cabin on the shores of Lake Lanke outside Berlin.

Although their relationship was platonic for a long time, she tried to hide it from Fröhlich. When Goebbels rang he left messages as Herr Müller and hung up if the actor answered. One winter evening in the cabin, however, before a blazing fire he kissed her for the first time, saying: "I have never in my life been so in-flamed with love for a woman."

They met whenever he could get away from his wife. Baarova recalled his mood swings dramatically. Sometimes he amused her with Hitler impressions, at others he expressed doubts about Nazi ideology. (HOLY SHIT!)

Rumors of their relationship spread after Goebbels bailed out one of Baarova's films. Then Fröhlich arrived home to find them on the road to the villa. He berated Goebbels and left Baarova soon afterwards.

His impertinence did not go unpunished. Goebbels later took revenge by removing his exemption from military service and sending him to war. (HOLY SHIT! Note to self: PISSING OFF A HIGH-RANKING NAZI is a VERY bad idea.)

In the autumn of 1938, however, Goebbels had telephoned Baarova, saying he had confessed to his wife, and wanted the two women to meet. Magda Goebbels was distraught when they were introduced, and suggested sharing her husband. (HOLY SHIT!)

"I am the mother of his children, I am only interested in this house in which we live," she said. "What happens outside does not concern me. But you must promise me one thing: you must not have a child by him."

Goebbels appeared with gifts of jewelry for both women as if to cement the love triangle. But Magda told Hitler and Goebbels was summoned to the Führer. "My wife is a devil," he told Baarova.

Early the next morning he rang again, weeping. Hitler had refused his request for a divorce and forbidden him to see her. "I love you, Liduschka," he said. "I cannot live without you."

The propaganda machine swung into gear. Newspapers published pictures of the Goebbels family, and Goebbels rehabilitated himself with Hitler by orchestrating Kristallnacht, (NICE.) an orgy of violence in November 1938 when Jewish property across Germany was destroyed.

Baarova was called to a police station and told she was barred from appearing in films or plays and even from attending social functions. She was pursued by the Gestapo, who organised hecklers to shout "Whore", when she defiantly attended the premiere of her film, Der Spieler (The Player). 

Baarova returned to Prague, disobeying an order from Hitler's adjutant to remain in Germany. She was on a Nazi blacklist, however, and it became more difficult for her to work. In 1942 she moved to Italy and resumed her career.

She saw Goebbels one last time at the 1942 Venice film festival. He ignored her. "He must have recognized me, but he did not make a single movement," she said. "He was always the master of self-control."

In 1945 Baarova was arrested by the Americans and briefly imprisoned for collaboration. Goebbels and his wife stayed with Hitler in his bunker, taking their own lives and those of their six children on May 1 as the Russians swept into Berlin."
The Goebbels Clan

Saturday, April 19, 2014

L is for Leni Riefenstahl: Triumph of the Will

by Tammy Petry

Blogging From A to Z April Challenge
For my non-American readers, I realize a lot of this stuff may be classified as "illegal" in certain countries.  After a bit of research, I discovered that a simple disclaimer might allow legal viewing of this content for citizens of most countries.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is for historical/educational purposes only.

"Shortly after he came to power Hitler called me to see him and explained that he wanted a film about a Party Congress, and wanted me to make it. My first reaction was to say that I did not know anything about the way such a thing worked or the organization of the Party, so that I would obviously photograph all the wrong things and please nobody - even supposing that I could make a documentary, which I had never yet done. Hitler said that this was exactly why he wanted me to do it: because anyone who knew all about the relative importance of the various people and groups and so on might make a film that would be pedantically accurate, but this was not what he wanted. He wanted a film showing the Congress through a non-expert eye, selecting just what was most artistically satisfying - in terms of spectacle, I suppose you might say. He wanted a film which would move, appeal to, impress an audience which was not necessarily interested in politics."
— Leni Riefenstahl

Leni Riefenstahl
Triumph of the Will (German: Triumph des Willens) is a 1935 film made by Leni Riefenstahl. It chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Nazi supporters. The film contains excerpts from speeches given by Nazi leaders at the Congress, including portions of speeches by Adolf Hitler, Rudolf Hess, and Julius Streicher, interspersed with footage of massed Sturmabteilung and Schutzstaffel troops, and public reaction.
Hitler commissioned the film and served as an unofficial executive producer; his name appears in the opening titles. The film's overriding theme is the return of Germany as a great power, with Hitler as the leader who will bring glory to the nation. Because the film was made after the 1934 Night of the Long Knives, many prominent SA members are absent, having been murdered in that purge.

Triumph of the Will was released in 1935 and became a prominent example of propaganda in film history. 

Riefenstahl's techniques—such as moving cameras, aerial photography, the use of long focus lenses to create a distorted perspective, and the revolutionary approach to the use of music and cinematography—have earned Triumph of the Will recognition as one of the greatest films in history. 

Riefenstahl won several awards, not only in Germany but also in the United States, France, Sweden, and other countries. The film was popular in the Third Reich, and has continued to influence movies, documentaries, and commercials to this day. However, it is banned from showing in Germany owing to its support for Nazism and its numerous portrayals of the swastika.

Triumph of the Will
"Triumph des Willens"
1935 German Film Poster

The film begins with a prologue, the only commentary in the film. It consists of the following text, shown sequentially, against a grey background:

[On 5 September 1934]
[20 years after the outbreak of the World War]
[16 years after the beginning of German suffering]
[19 months after the beginning of the German rebirth]
[Adolf Hitler flew again to Nuremberg to review the columns of his faithful followers]

The film opens with shots of the clouds above the city, and then moves through the clouds to float above the assembling masses below, with the intention of portraying beauty and majesty of the scene. The cruciform shadow of Hitler's plane is visible as it passes over the tiny figures marching below, accompanied by an orchestral arrangement of the Horst-Wessel-Lied.

For Historical/Educational Purposes Only.

Upon arriving at the Nuremberg airport, Hitler and other Nazi leaders emerge from his plane to thunderous applause and a cheering crowd. He is then driven into Nuremberg, through equally enthusiastic people, to his hotel where a night rally is later held.

1934 Night Rally
Albert Speers' "Cathedral of Light"

Riefenstahl had the difficult task of condensing an estimated 61 hours of film into two hours. She labored to complete the film as fast as she could, going so far as to sleep in the editing room filled with hundreds of thousands of feet of film footage.

Triumph of the Will is sometimes seen as an example of Nazi political religion. The primary religion in Germany before the Second World War was Christianity. With the primary sects being Roman Catholic and Protestant, the Christian views in this movie are clearly meant to allow the movie to better connect with the intended audience.

Triumph of the Will has many scenes that blur the distinction between the Nazi Party, the German state, and the German people. Germans in peasant farmers' costumes and other traditional clothing greet Hitler in some scenes.

"The Party is Hitler - and Hitler is Germany just as Germany is Hitler!
— Rudolf Hess

In the closing speech of Triumph of the Will, Hitler enters the room from the back, appearing to emerge from the people. After a one sentence introduction, he tells his faithful Nazis how the German nation has subordinated itself to the Nazi Party because its leaders are mostly of Germans. He promises that the new state that the Nazis have created will endure for thousands of years. Hitler says that the youth will carry on after the old have weakened. They close with a chant, "Hitler is the Party, Hitler." The camera focuses on the large Swastika above Hitler and the film ends with the images of this Swastika imposed on Nazis marching in a few columns.

I purchased a DVD copy of this film many years ago and I'm happy to have it in my eclectic collection.  It is free to view on YouTube as well.

Here is the full version of Triumph of the Will, complete with 60-second introductory overture.  The screen is black for the first minute so don't think it's a bad link or video.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

H is for Schicklgruber?

Adolph's father, Alois, was not born with the last name Hitler.
He actually changed it to Hitler in 1877, many years before Adolph was born.
What might the most evil man in history have been named if not for this change?
Heil Schicklgruber?????
1837Birth of Alois Schicklgruber, Adolf's father, as the illegitimate son of Maria Anna Schicklgruber and - ?
1842Marriage of Alois' mother to Johann Georg Hiedler.
1847Death of Maria Anna Hiedler.
1850Alois Schicklgruber apprenticed to a bootmaker in Vienna, Austria.
1855Alois Schicklgruber given employment by Board of Inland Revenue.
1857Johann George Heidler, Alois' stepfather, dies.
1873Alois Schicklgruber marries Anna Glassl (no children).
1876Alois Schicklgruber's name changed to Hitler.
1880Alois divorced by his wife on grounds of adultery with Franziska Matzelsberger.
1882Franziska Matzelsberger bears Alois a son, also given the name of Alois.
1883Death of Alois' first wife, Alois marries Franziska Matzelsberger, Angela Hitler born.
1884Death of Alois' second wife.
1885Alois' third marriage with Klara Pölzl, granddaughter of Johann Nepomuk Hiedler, brother of Alois' deceased stepfather.
1889Adolf Hitler born, the fourth child of his father's third wife, at Braunau, Austria,

Blogging From A to Z April 2014 Challenge
H is for  Schicklgruber Hitler
Hitler.  Six letters of the alphabet, when combined, initiates a response from nearly every person in the world today.  I'm sure some people may be upset with me for blogging about about him, saying things like,
  • "Hitler does not deserve any further discussion" or
  • "Hitler is evil incarnate so why on earth would you want to write about him?" 
  • And my personal favorite, "You're a racist, antisemitic Nazi bitch!"
I've heard all of these and many more. Comments like these are born in:
  • Blind acceptance of values instilled by parents and grandparents.
  • Lack of exposure to belief systems different from their own/Isolation
  • Fear of learning new ideals that makes them "different" from their friends and family.
In light of these statements, I want to begin this post with a personal disclaimer.
  1. I am an avid historian, not a Nazi.
  2. I enjoy discovering little-known facts about historical people without regard to their actions and beliefs. 
  3. I find a wide variety of people fascinating, again, without regard to their politics or actions.
  4. I have a sense of humor.  Highly inappropriate most days but damn, lighten up.  Yes, Hitler was a rotten bastard but I still laugh at the memes.
  5. I don't give a shit about the opinion of others but I'm damn sure not putting up with asinine comments on my blog.
  6. My blog, my rules.
If you are unable to view things from a perspective other than your own, this may not be the blog for you.  

If you have a close-minded attitude and enjoy forcing your morals, ethics, politics, or faith onto others because you "just know you're right" and the rest of the world is "wrong", this blog is not for you either.

Here is the door.

Here is the door for everyone with a close-minded attitude.
Those who shove their personal belief systems onto others can use this door too.
my g+ plus
20 Things You Didn't Know About Hitler
The worst man in human history would be celebrating his 124th birthday this Saturday, April 20th. The only thing you should care about on that day is lighting one up to your health and to his death, but we thought it would be interesting to put together 20 things you didn’t know about Hitler. Other than the obvious that he was a royal prick, but you already knew that.

Hitler Only Had One Testicle
Tis true. The Furor was not so mighty where it mattered. He lost one of his boys in WWI after suffering an injury to his abdomen and groin. And here you thought Lance Armstrong was the worst person you knew with one ball.
Pocket Pool: Single Style
Adolph Hitler casually leans back on a tree wearing traditional German clothing.

Hitler Whistled A Lot, And By A Lot I Mean Entire Songs And Classical Compositions At All Times

Great. So he was that annoying guy who whistled all the time, too. Just another reason to invent a time machine solely to go back and punch him square in his one-balled d*ck.
He Maybe Had Some Jew In Him

Well wouldn't that be ironic? Hitler’s father, Alois, was registered as an illegitimate child with no father when born in 1837 and to this day Hitler’s paternal grandfather is unknown. Alois’ mother, Maria Schicklgruber, is known to have worked in the home of a wealthy Jew, so there is some chance, however small, that a son in that household got Hitler’s grandmother pregnant. Speculation of his sketchy background is increased as Hitler went to extreme measures to attempt to hide his family lineage.

He Wasn't Even German
I know, to most people who know some sort of history this isn't a surprise but to many it’s shocking to know that Hitler wasn't even born in Germany as he’s Austrian. That would be like some Canadian coming down thinking he was hot sh*t and trying to dominate the good ol’ US of A. Not happening in this country.
He Was A Compulsive Farter
Extreme gastrointestinal issues made Hitler the last person you would ever want in your faulty elevator.
Hitler Loved Animals
It's possible that his only truly compassionate feelings were for dogs and other animals. He loved his German Shepherd, Blondi, so much he killed her with cyanide just to make sure it worked before using for himself and the Mrs. Classy guy.
He Injected Himself With Bull Semen To Use Like Viagra
Hey, don't knock it till you try it. Apparently, he needed something to keep up with and satisfy the younger Eva Braun. That something was the jizz of a young bull. There's really not much else for me to say here.  Moving on...
He Never Learned To Drive
Makes sense. I mean, why waste your time learning how to drive when you're busy murdering millions of innocent people?
Hitler LOVED The Circus
Why you ask? Was it the cute animals? The clowns? The freak shows? None of the above. As it was officially quoted: “He takes real pleasure in the idea that underpaid performers are risking their lives to please him.”
Hitler Liked His Niece So Much It Drove Her To Suicide
And by liked, I mean like-liked or batshit ex-boyfriend in love with his biological niece. He kept his half-sister’s daughter locked away in an apartment, which she referred to as her “Gilded Cage.” He wanted to completely control every aspect of her life and forbid her to leave. It was rumored they had a sexual relationship before she decided to bite the bullet. Literally.
Hitler’s first love was Jewish
Hitler was only 16 when he fell in love with a Jewish girl named Stefanie Isak. There are many records which are of the belief that Hitler was extremely obsessed with this girl, and often thought of killing himself, as well as her, for love. Common theme in these facts: Don’t fall in love with or be loved by Hitler. It doesn't have a fairytale ending.
hitler phone
Adolph Hitler smiling and talking on the phone.
Hitler says, "Nein, you hang up first."
Hitler meme.
Hitler Invented Blow-Up Dolls
Well, Guten Tag, Führer ! Actually it was more of the idea he invented, but still the man deserves some credit. Hitler was against his men getting physically or emotionally involved with foreign women so he conjured up the idea of blow-up dolls. He actually expected his men to fulfill their needs and be satisfied with plastic bodied dolls.
Hitler Was A Fan Of Golden Showers And The Cleveland Steamer
Many historians cited in their records that Hitler was a man of bizarre sexual desires. He specifically liked being defecated and urinated on in the bedroom. I can only assume the term Mississippi Bow Tie had to be changed to the Berlin Noose to meet specific Nazi regulations.
He Regularly Ate Up To Two Pounds Of Chocolate In A Day
Talk about a sweet tooth. Hitler regularly ate up an obscene amount of chocolate a day, in addition to pastries and hot chocolate with copious amounts of whipped cream. He generally took his tea with seven teaspoons of sugar, and was even witnessed Hitler adding spoonfuls of sugar to a glass of red wine. Nothing better than a good ol’ fashioned sugar rush tapped off with relaxing Golden Shower later.

Adolph Hitler in suit and tie with serious expression.
Hitler Meme
Gets rejected from art school...
Starts World War.

Hitler Was An Adequate Painter And It Was His Lifelong Dream To Be An Artist
But unfortunately all those art schools in Vienna in which he applied to only accept people based on “talent.” Hitler became extremely pissed off at the man because nobody would give him a chance to follow his dreams and thus became rabidly obsessed with eliminating Jews from the Earth. Makes sense.
He Would Never Be Seen Naked
If every male over the age of 80 has no issues whatsoever from being in a health club locker room sporting their sac in plain view for hours on end while they attempt to put on their shoes then it’s surprising that Hitler refused to undress for every doctor’s examination he had.
Hitler Was A Devout Vegetarian
After the death of his love (his niece), Hitler witnessed the autopsy and became so disgusted he renounced meat forever. Not sure how watching a human autopsy would make one think of food, but that’s why I will never willingly watch a human autopsy.
He Was Also Aroused By Being Abused And Watching Human Suffering
Hitler supposedly begged to be kicked repeatedly by one woman and is said to have had his guards videotape the torture of Jewish people for his own home-viewing pleasure. The man makes Jeffrey Dahmer seem like Mother Theresa.
He probably had Parkinson’s Disease
Or at least most historians think so. The constant shaking in Hitler’s later known footage would put Michael J. Fox to shame.
Hitler Hated Aftershave Or Any Product That Would Improve His Scent
Because who would want to clear up that delightful smell of feces after you force a woman to sh*t on your face? I know I wouldn’t.
So there you have it, 20 random facts about one of history's most controversial leaders.

And you thought you had problems…