George Duncan’s Historical Facts of World War II is a treasure chest for WWII history buffs. Much has been written about the world’s second global war. Many know about the Big Events and the Big Names. Duncan’s website fleshes out some of the in-between facts that most have never heard about. Below are a few excerpts.
ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT: On March 13, 1943, General Henning von Tresckow and his ADC, Fabian von Schlabrendorf, placed a bomb on board Hitler’s plane after his visit to the Russian front. Disguised as two gift wrapped bottles of Cointreau liquor, they were intended as a gift for General Helmuth Stieff at Hitler’s HQ. When news of Hitler’s safe arrival reached the plotters, Schlabrendorf immediately flew to the HQ and retrieved the package and exchanged it for two genuine bottles. It was found that the detonator became defective in the high altitude cold air. From September 1938 to July 1944, there were seventeen major assassination attempts plotted against the German Führer.
BRITISH DOUBLE AGENTS: In January, 1942, Britain had a total of 19 German spies working as double agents. These had been ‘turned’ under threat of execution and agreed to work against their homeland. Others, who were of the more fanatical type, were hanged at Wandsworth Prison. Among the 19 were two Norwegians, John Helge and Tor Glad who were put ashore at Crovie, near Banff in the north of Scotland in April, 1941. Codenamed Mutt and Jeff, they had no intention of spying for Germany where they were trained. Soon after landing they gave themselves up to the Scottish police. Jeff (Tor Glad), who failed to convince the authorities that he was genuine, was interred on the Isle of Man. Mutt (John Helge) was put to work as a double agent, feeding the Germans false information. He ended up in a British army unit attached to an American regiment disarming German troops still in Norway. Jeff (Tor Glad) was put on trial as a German spy when he returned to Norway but after a discreet word from London’s MI5 he was set free.
I. G. FARBEN: This German company built its own camp next to the main Auschwitz camp. Called I. G. Farben, Auschwitz, it was built to produce synthetic rubber and in 1943, produced 118,600 tons. At least 50,000 prisoners died during its construction from starvation and exposure to the cold. In its foundations lie the bodies of many prisoners who were buried where they fell in the wet cement. British POWs in the camp were forced to work building the camp during their 14 months imprisonment. As the Russians approached they were given the choice of marching East towards the Russian lines or west towards the Allied Lines 700 kilometers away. All chose to march west. The gas, Zyklon B, (used to gas prisoners) was produced by I. G. Farben’s subsidiary company ‘Degesch’. After the war, Degesch’s five directors were acquitted by German judges at the Frankfurt Trial because they decided that the accused could not have known what the specially ordered gas was actually for. [Read more…]