You are browsing the archive for 2019 January 07.

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Why 90 Percent of Danish Jews Survived the Holocaust

January 7, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

A Danish ambulance driver huddled over a Copenhagen phone book, circling Jewish names. As soon as he’d heard the news—that all of Denmark’s Jews would be deported by the , were boarded by Gestapo patrols. Others sailed with gas obtained by careful rationing in towns like Elsinore, where the “Elsinore Sewing Club,” a resistance unit, helped a few hundred Jews make the crossing.

The rescues weren’t always successful. In Gilleleje, a small fishing town, hundreds of refugees were cared for by locals. But when the Gestapo arrived, a collaborator betrayed a group of Jews hiding in the town church’s attic. Eighty Jews were arrested. Others never got word of the upcoming deportations or were too old or incapacitated to seek help. About 500 Danish Jews were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto.

Still, it was the most successful action of its kind during the Holocaust. Some 7,200 Danish Jews were ferried to Sweden, and of the 500 who were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto, only 51 did not survive the Holocaust.

The rescue seemed miraculous, but some factors did lead to its success. Werner Best, the German who had been placed in charge of Denmark, apparently tipped off some Jews to the upcoming action and subtly undermined the Nazis’ attempts to stop the Danes from helping Danish Jews. And Denmark was one of the only places in Europe that had successfully integrated its Jewish population. Though there was anti-Semitism in Denmark before and after the Holocaust, the Nazis’ war on Jews was largely viewed as a war against Denmark itself.

After the war, most Danes refused to take credit for their resistance work, which many had conducted under false names. Ordinary people who never considered themselves part of the Danish Resistance passed along messages, gathered food, gave hiding places or guarded the possessions of those who left until they returned home from the war.

The rescue of Denmark’s Jews was an extraordinary feat—one that wouldn’t have been possible without ordinary people.

…read more


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When Truckers Shut Down America to Protest Oil Prices—and Became Folk Heroes

January 7, 2019 in History

By Joseph A. Williams

The strike started when one driver, mad as hell about the OPEC oil crisis, turned off his engine and got on his CB radio.

At 10:00 p.m. on December 3, 1973, a 37-year old trucker from Overland Park, Kansas named J.W. Edwards stopped his rig suddenly in the middle of Interstate I-80 near Blakeslee, Pennsylvania and picked up his CB radio microphone. The insurrection he was about to start, using his now-famous handle “River Rat,” would give America’s independent truckers their first national voice and, along the way, elevate them to folk-hero status.

Edwards was beyond frustrated and scared for his livelihood. His job hauling meat from the Midwest to New York had become an agonizing slog because an oil embargo—levied by the Middle Eastern petroleum-producing cartel OPEC against the United States for its support of Israel—had dramatically jacked up diesel fuel prices. With rationing imposed, he was stopping at every virtually filling station along his route. Worse still, the federal government was considering a national maximum speed limit of 55 m.p.h. For long-haul drivers, time lost meant money lost, and oil geopolitics had made Edwards’s $12,000-a-year job even more precarious. Near Blakeslee, his tank reached empty. Out of fuel, but full of frustration that truckers were the forgotten little guys in the global fossil-fuel wars, Edwards decided, on the spot, to take to his CB and make some noise.

1977 CB radio.

In the 1970s, truck drivers commonly used Citizens Band (CB) radio to alert their fellow big-rig drivers to traffic conditions, choice fueling spots and lurking police traps. Without proper FCC radio licenses and reluctant to announce their real names over the airwaves, truckers assumed fanciful “handles” and developed colorful slang. They called diesel fuel motion lotion. They dubbed toll booths cash registers. Police became bears: Smokey bears for state troopers who wore campaign hats like Smokey the Bear, bears in the air for police helicopters. Feeding the bears meant paying for a ticket—something more truckers were doing due to new speed restrictions. The OPEC embargo accelerated the CB’s popularity, mostly because it allowed drivers to share places to find motion lotion.

The protest goes national

As other truckers stopped to help Edwards, he broadcast via CB that he was blocking the interstate to protest high gas prices, limited fuel supply and the proposed speed limit. Instantly, he found sympathy. One trucker stated, “If a man is going to …read more


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Viking Men Buried Themselves With Stallions and Ate the Mares

January 7, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

There are a lot of mysteries surrounding Viking graves, and a recent discovery has raised a new one: Why did Icelandic Vikings kill male horses in their prime and bury them with middle-aged men? And why, it seems, were these Vikings more inclined to eat female horses?

Archaeologists studied more than 350 Viking graves in Iceland and found that about 150 contained horse teeth or bones. The remains are over 1,000 years old, so not all of them were well-preserved enough for archaeologists to determine the horse’s sex. Still, they were able to test 19 horses’ DNA, and found that only one was a female horse, or mare. The other 18 were all male horses, or stallions (unless any were castrated, then they’d be “geldings”).

This skewed gender ratio mirrors another curiosity about Icelandic Viking graves—most of the people in them are male, too.

“It is striking that we find almost exclusively middle-aged men in the graves on Iceland,” said Albína Hulda Pálsdottir, a PhD student at the University of Oslo in Norway who co-authored a recent paper about the horses in the Journal of Archaeological Sciences, according to a university statement.

“There are almost no infants or children, and very few women,” she continued. “We don’t know how the rest of the population was buried. Perhaps they were laid in swamps or lakes, or sunk in the sea.”

A small piece of canine from a horse found in a Viking grave in Sturluflat, Iceland with enough DNA to determine the horse’s gender.

The archaeologists did find three other mares outside of the ceremonial graves, and concluded from their bone fragments that Vikings likely butchered them for food. In contrast, the remains of the horses found in the graves bear signs of ceremonial killing.

“If a horse skull has a fracture on the forehead, it is very clear that it was slaughtered with a hit on the forehead,” Pálsdottir said. “There are also a few cases where the horse has been beheaded, meaning the head has been separated from the rest of the body.”

The archaeologists note that none of the horses in the graves died of natural causes. Rather, Vikings killed them in the prime of their lives in order to bury them with older, dead men. This could be a way of conveying an important man’s status, or perhaps preparing him for the afterlife.

“Today, we think of death …read more


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Enforce the Monroe Doctrine on Russian Moves in Latin America

January 7, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Russia and the United States seem determined to provoke each
other by adopting highly intrusive policies in the opposing
country’s geopolitical neighborhood. The latest incident is
Moscow’s decision to send two nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela to
show support for Nicolas Maduro’s leftist regime. Russian
defense minister Sergei Shoigu said during a meeting with his
Venezuelan counterpart Vladimir Padrino Lopez that Russia would
continue to send military aircraft and warships to visit Venezuela
as part of continuing bilateral military cooperation.

Not surprisingly, Washington is unhappy about Moscow’s
move. The Trump administration increasingly is concerned about the
Maduro regime’s ugly authoritarianism, the meltdown of the
Venezuelan economy and the massive refugee flow it has created, and
the mounting tensions between Caracas and several neighbors,
especially Colombia . Even before the latest
episodes of turbulence, Barack Obama’s administration
declared Venezuela to be a national security
threat to the United States. The last thing U.S. officials want to
see is Russia fishing in such troubled political waters.

The Trump administration
needs to adopt a firmer policy toward Moscow’s intrusions into
Latin America.

Russia’s cooperation with Venezuela has grown markedly
since tensions between Moscow and Washington flared in 2008 over
Russia’s war with Georgia. A Russian general even spoke of
the possibility of his country acquiring a military base in
Venezuela. While civilian leaders in both Caracas and Moscow
disavowed such intentions, Russian naval forces soon conducted joint maneuvers with Venezuelan
units, and there was a proliferation of arms sales. In 2012, the
Venezuelan government announced a $4 billion “loan” from
Russia to purchase tanks, air-defense missiles, and other hardware.
The bilateral political and security relationship has grown
steadily closer since then.

There are multiple signs of greater Russian activism throughout Latin
over the past few years. Moscow has revitalized its
political and military ties with Cuba’s communist government.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the new, non-communist
Russia markedly reduced both its political and economic support to
Havana. But Vladimir Putin’s government has reversed that
policy, and Moscow is once again a major backer. In addition, the
Kremlin is far more active in promoting ties with Brazil, Argentina
and other major Latin American countries. And those initiatives are
not confined to economics and diplomacy; they have a military dimension as well.

Washington’s failure to enforce the Monroe Doctrine during
the Cold War when the Soviet Union made Cuba into a client state
and military outpost has not encouraged respect for that doctrine
in the post-Cold War era. The Trump administration needs to adopt a
firmer policy toward …read more

Source: OP-EDS