Sunday, December 2, 2007


Photo shows Josef Terboven

JOSEF TERBOVEN, Nazi gauleiter
Born in 1898 in Essen, he was a bank clerk who moved up quickly and steadily after joining the SA. As Reich commissioner of Norway, he was among Hitler's most brutal gauleiters. He committed suicide in May 1945.

GAETANO TERRITO, Italian soldier
He was born about 1915 in Powhatan, West Virginia, to Salvatore and Francesca Territo. The parents had left Sicily to find work. Salvador was mining coal. The family moved to Denver in 1919, where the father cleaned railroad cars and the mother worked in a laundry. In 1920 Salvatore moved on, taking Gaetano and two of his three daughters. He soon returned to Sicily, where Gaetano grew up working on a farm near Enna. Francesca, abandoned, soon moved to Los Angeles. After remarrying she became an American citizen.
Growing up, Gaetano had no memories of his days in America and spoke no English. He didn’t even know he was not born in Sicily until 1939, when he needed a birth certificate to marry. Then in 1940 he received his “greetings” from the Italian army. When he appealed, saying he was an American citizen, the induction officer “sort of laughed,” Gaetano would remember later.
Barely literate, he was assigned to dig ditches for a battalion of engineers. On July 23, 1943, his unit disintegrated as the U.S. army advanced. He shed his uniform, threw down his weapon and headed home. He didn’t make it; a U.S. tank patrol picked him up outside Palermo. He ended up among 50,000 POWs, and, before long, was sent to a prison camp near Yermo, California.
After Italy surrendered in September 1943, the U.S. government offered Italian POWs in the U.S. a deal: sign up for Italian Service Units. By doing chores for the U.S. military, the POWs could enjoy special benefits in the prison camps; Gaetano was among 35,000 POWs signing up.
He wore a military uniform with “Italy” on the sleeve. He earned some money, got better food and was allowed into town, where, among other things, he could meet and dance with Italian-American women.
Many of the POWs wanted to remain in the U.S. after the war ended in spring 1945. But Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson insisted that all be repatriated. Any exception, he said, would result in a flood of applications to remain.
It was near Mother’s Day in 1945 when a relative tipped Francesca that the son she hadn’t seen in 25 years was less than 100 miles away. Finding him, she convinced him to try to remain in the U.S. She hired a lawyer to help him.
The U.S. government had learned that five of the Italian POWs had been born in the U.S. Apparently only Gaetano went to court in an effort to stay. He and his lawyer contended he was a “liberated national.” The government insisted he was a POW, an enemy belligerent.
A judge freed Gaetano on $500 bail, but matters soon turned the other way. Another judge decided he had no jurisdiction over a POW. In June 1946 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled against Gaetano on a technicality that looked like a cop-out: the court decided the U.S. and Italy were still technically at war because no formal peace treaty had yet been signed. Gaetano was deported in 1946. U.S. government spokesmen told the Wall Street Journal in 2005 that there’s no record that he ever returned to the U.S.
The Bush administration used the case as precedent for detaining some U.S. citizens as “enemy combatants” without trial. The Wall Street Journal featured the case in a long story Oct. 28, 2002.

HIDEKI TOJO, Japanese premier
America blamed him for the war in the Pacific. Beyond doubt, he was the primary villain, Japan’s equivalent to Hitler. At his trial, he proved too canny for prosecutors, repeatedly catching them up on errors of fact and contradictions. There was never any doubt, however, of the trial’s outcome. On Dec. 23, 1948, Tojo and six others were hanged at Sugamo prison. MacArthur barred photographs. It was said that he feared that photographs of the corpses would unduly upset the citizenry.

See Gertrude Stein.

ERNST UDET, German general
He was born in 1896 at Frankfurt am Main. He shot down 62 Allied planes during WWI, making him one of Germany’s top aces. As a postwar stunt flyer, he barnstormed some in the U.S. Moving up in the Luftwaffe hierarchy, he was credited with developing the Stuka. But his knowledge of long-range bombing was scant, and the Luftwaffe suffered. An easy-going man, he failed to fit into the German power structure. Becoming frustrated, he spent most of his time chit-chatting with old pals. After a major argument with Goering, he committed suicide Nov. 17, 1941. The government announced he’d been killed while testing a plane.

He socialized with top Nazis such as Albert Speer during WWII.. He lived 1876-1958.

He was born in 1904. An economist, he went into the SS, then transferred to the foreign office. Late in the war, Hitler sent him to run Hungary. There he was involved in Hitler’s “Final Solution.” On April 2, 1949, the Military Tribunal at Nuremberg sentenced him to 20 years. The U.S. high commissioner in Germany intervened, releasing him from Landsberg prison in December 1951.

GUSTAV WAGNER, Nazi functionary
He was commandant of Sobibor concentration camp. The Americans arrested and erroneously released him. With the help of allies in the Vatican, he escaped to Brazil, where he lived out his life. The Brazilian government refused all extradition requests.

ROBERT WAGNER, Nazi official
He was gauleiter of Alsace-Baden. After a French military court condemned him, he was executed at Strasbourg on Aug. 14, 1946.

WINIFRED WAGNER, patron of Bayreuth Festival
She was born Winifred Williams in 1897 in England. At 18 she married Siegfried Wagner, 45, son of composer Richard Wagner. They were close friends of Adolf Hitler long before he became chancellor. Eventually Winifred was running the internationally famous Bayreuth Festival, the yearly tribute to her father-in-law's operas. After the war, she was barred from the festival. Her sons Wieland and Wolfgang took it over. In a TV interview in 1975 she spoke lovingly of Hitler.

A nephew of the queen of Holland, he was born in a family castle in 1896. As one of Himmler’s deputies, he once sent the crown princess of Bavaria to Buchenwald. He also executed Buchenwald’s notorious commandant, Karl Koch, for corruption. An American court at Dachau convicted him Aug. 14, 1947 and sentenced him to life in prison. He was released in December 1950 because of poor health, but he lived until Nov. 30, 1967.

KURT WALDHEIM, Austrian politician
He was Austrian foreign minister in 1968-70 and secretary-general of the United Nations in 1972-81. He very nearly had a third term heading the U.N.; the Chinese vetoed him 16 times before he withdrew.
Later disclosure of his Nazi background caused worldwide consternation. It turned out he’d been a staff officer with the German army in the Balkans. Among atrocities he’d been involved with was transporting countless Jews from Salonika. The Austrians, incidentally, were lax in prosecuting war criminals.

"CAPTAIN TED WALLACE," propaganda broadcaster
This was reportedly the radio name of a tall red-haired American broadcaster captured on Corregidor. He'd broadcast the "Voice of Liberty" program from Manila for the Americans. He allegedly worked thereafter at Radio Tokyo.

He was Jodl's deputy. On Oct. 27, 1948, a tribunal gave him life imprisonment. Later the sentence was reduced to 18 years. He was freed from Landsberg Prison in 1957.

WILHELM WEISS, journalist
Although battle wounds cost him his left leg during WWI, he became Germany's leading journalist. A de-Nazification court in Munich sentenced him July 15, 1949 to three years in prison, confiscated a third of his property and denied him the right to practice his profession for 10 years. He'd already served the time in internment camps. He died in 1950 while his appeal was pending.

MAXIME WEYGAND, French general
He was born in 1867 in Brussels, yet rose to the top in the French army. It was generally believed he was the illegitimate son of Belgian King Leopold II or, perhaps, even of Mexican Emperor Maximilian.
A hero of WWI, he was 73 when thrust into the leadership of the French army in May 1940, replacing General Maurice Gamelin. It was too late to do much. He then presided over the fall of the Third Republic. Marshal Petain quickly named him minister of defense in the new Vichy regime.
Weygand soon wanted out of Vichy and the cabinet; he asked to be put in charge of French armies in North Africa. In July 1941, Petain complied, also naming him governor general of Algeria. He quickly riled the Germans, who insisted that Petain fire him that November. He then retired to the south of France.
The subsequent Vichy hierarchy in North Africa was important to the Allies, who were planning to invade. Weygand’s North African post had been created for him, so he wasn’t replaced and the job was abolished.
Admiral Raymond Fenard was “delegate general,” the top administrative man in North Africa, but lacking military authority. Admiral Francois Michelier had overall military command along the North African coast. General Alfonse Juin commanded French ground and air forces in North Africa. General Auguste Nogues was “resident general” in Morocco.
The Americans, who entered the war in December 1941, wanted Weygand to lead a separatist French government, presumably in North Africa. He declined, but was asked later to become the Americans’ front man in North Africa. When he declined that, too, the Americans turned to General Giraud.
When the Germans overran Vichy in the wake of the Torch invasion, they arrested Weygand. He was interned in Schloss Itter castle in Austria. On May 5, 1945, American troops freed him, along with former premiers Edouard Daladier and Paul Reynaud, and General Gamelin.
Weygand returned to France only to be arrested as a collaborator. Although de Gaulle’s provisional government tried Petain and Laval quickly, there was no hysteric urgency in dealing with Weygand. In 1948 he was exonerated of treason charges. Testimony at the recent war crimes trials in Nuremberg helped his cause by revealing that Hitler had tried, through General Wilhelm Keitel, to arrange Weygand’s assassination. To Frenchmen, Weygand’s only crime was “losing France” in 1940, and even old enemy de Gaulle admitted Weygand had taken an impossible assignment in 1940.
He lived out his years in a Parisian apartment, writing histories, firing back at critics, attending Academy meetings and supporting ultra-right causes. He died in 1965 at age 98.

He was born in 1908 in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire; his area is now the Ukraine. On May 5, 1945, when liberated from Mauthausen concentration camp, he weighed less than 100 pounds. He made a profession of tracking down war criminals, locating 1,100 of them, from Adolf Eichmann to the Gestapo agent who arrested Ann Frank. He died Sept. 19, 2005 while sleeping in his home in Vienna. He was 96.

KAISER WILHELM II, former German emperor
Although a relic from the past–he was born in 1859–“Kaiser Willy” remained a minor factor in WWII. He’d become kaiser, or emperor, of Germany in 1888. Generally considered foolish rather than evil, he’s usually blamed for starting WWI, which killed 14.6 million people. As that war was winding down in 1918, he fled to Holland, where he was granted asylum.
On June 4, 1919 the victorious Allied “Supreme Council” in Paris recommended trying him as a war criminal. Article 27 of the Treaty of Versailles even “arraigned” him for “a supreme offense against international morality and the sanctity of treaties.” In January 1920 the Allies asked for his extradition. The Dutch refused, and did so repeatedly. He lived out his days in the castle of Doorn.
In granting asylum, the Dutch asked him only to promise to refrain from political activity. He kept that promise faithfully.
In 1931 he told grandson Louis Ferdinand that Hitler was an up-and-coming leader who personified German energy. But, the old man added, he didn't know if Hitler would succeed or even if his beliefs were acceptable.
Sons August Wilhelm and Oskar joined Nazi activities. The former kaiser wouldn't let Crown Prince Wilhelm run for German president against Paul von Hindenburg in 1932. Nor would Hitler let Willy return to Germany. In 1933 Willy and Hermann Goering signed an agreement providing a healthy income for Willy and his sons, as long as they didn't criticize the Third Reich.
Ex-Kaiser Wilhelm was horrified when the Nazis began persecuting Jewish citizens in 1938. “For the first time,” he said, “I am ashamed to be a German.”
In November 1939 it seemed that Hitler's armies might invade Holland. European royalty and politicians wondered if he should be relocated to Denmark or Sweden. Winston Churchill, on May 10, 1940--the day he became British prime minister–conferred with Lord Halifax about the former kaiser. They took the matter to King George VI, who agreed to let bygones be bygones: the ex-Kaiser would be accepted into England "with consideration and dignity."
The offer of asylum was made very quietly, and just as quietly Willy politely declined. He remained in Holland, and the very next month he sent congratulations to Hitler for capturing Paris.
He died June 4, 1941. Hitler offered a state funeral in Berlin but Wilhelm had forbidden that. If he couldn't go home alive, he wouldn't go back dead. As he wished, he was buried in a mausoleum on Doorn. The pastor of Berlin Cathedral conducted the funeral. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris was there, and Artur Seyss-Inquart, the Nazi commissioner in Holland, represented Hitler. The Wehrmacht provided a battalion of honor.
Hitler’s propaganda minister, Josef Goebbels, had specified in 1933 that Willy's obit would appear under a "single-column headline on the lower half of the front page." It was so, throughout Germany.

DUKE OF WINDSOR, former British king
After he abdicated in December 1936, he often consorted with Nazis, sometimes giving them vital information. He wed Wallis Warfield Simpson in 1937 at a French chateau that Charles Bedeaux owned. Many critics believe Hitler would have put the Duke back on the British throne had the Germans conquered England. He died in Paris in 1972 at age 77.

P.G. WODEHOUSE, writer
He was a well-known writer who broadcast for the Nazis. His reasons for doing so remain murky and controversial.
Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was born in Guilford, England, in 1881. He wrote more than 90 books, many short stories, some film scripts and even many songs. He’s best known as the creator of Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves. Wodehouse and his wife lived in Le Touquet, France, in the 1930s. In 1940 German armies overran it. He was interned in a series of prison camps and prisons, including Loos Prison. Released June 21, 1941, he was sent to Berlin, where he was placed in the Adlon Hotel. There he wrote and made five broadcasts from Berlin to America. The U.S. wasn’t at war yet, but the programs were later beamed to Britain.
These broadcasts described his experiences as British Civilian Prisoner No. 796. Listeners interpreted them in vastly different ways. Some said they heard only anti-Nazi humor, so subtle that it passed over the heads of many dullards. Other friends called the broadcasts merely naive and bumbling. Writers A.A. Milne and George Orwell were among his staunchest defenders.
Critics claimed they heard Nazi propaganda. Some even wanted him tried for treason. Cassandra of the Daily Mirror and Duff Cooper of the Minister of Information called him a “quisling” and “elderly playboy.” Quinton Hogg accused him of “trading with the enemy, if not treason.”
Meanwhile, Wodehouse, imperturbably, wrote Money in the Bank.
When the bombing of Berlin began in 1943, Wodehouse and his wife were allowed to move to Paris. Then in 1947 they moved to the U.S. He didn’t escape trouble even there. IRS filed claims, resulting in a 2 1/2-year dispute. He became an American citizen in 1955. He died Feb. 14, 1975. The controversy lingers. In 1999 it was reported that he’d been on the Nazi payroll.

Born in 1888, he became “the Tiger of Malaya” in 1941-42. He also made sure British prisoners at Singapore were treated decently. The High Command bet he could fend off the U.S. invasion of the Philippines in 1944. He landed two weeks ahead of the Americans. After a tenacious fight, he led his men into the mountains, holding out until the end of the war. Despite an adept defense, a military tribunal in Manila had him hanged in 1946 as a war criminal.
The case against him wasn’t strong. In January 1971 the New York Times published a story suggesting that U.S. General William C. Westmoreland, former commander in Viet Nam, was as guilty of war crimes as Yamashita was. The newspaper quoted General Telford Taylor, a professor at Columbia who’d been on the Nuremberg prosecution team, as saying that, using the criteria in the Yamashita case, Westmoreland “could be found guilty.”

RITA LOUISA ZUCCI, propaganda broadcaster
She was a daughter of a New York restaurateur who broadcast for the Italians. She was tried quickly and in September 1945 sentenced to four years and five months in prison.

German POWs in the U.S. sometimes escaped. Americans sometimes helped them. Usually those Americans were of Germanic origin or in love with a prisoner. Oddly, there was no real law against aiding escaped POWs until April 30, 1945, just as the war was ending.
Arnold Krammer wrote an interesting book called Nazi Prisoners of War. He tells about Max Stephen of Detroit, convicted of harboring Lt. Hans Peter Krug, a Luftwaffe pilot who'd escaped a camp at Bowmanville, Ontario, in spring 1942. Stephan was sentenced to hang until a commutation left him with life imprisonment.
Pvt. Dale H. Maple was convicted of helping two prisoners escape from Camp Hale in Colorado. He'd been kicked out of Harvard's ROTC program for his Nazi sentiments. He was 23 when arrested Feb. 19, 1944. The FBI claimed to have known for years that he was a Nazi, but didn't address the question of why anyone would let him guard prisoners. Five other guards and three WACs were implicated. Everyone except Maple got light sentences; he was sentenced to hang. FDR commuted this to life, and he eventually got out after 10 years and became a successful insurance man in California.
In an odd case, the FBI arrested two Afrika Korps veterans in Watrous, New Mexico. They’d escaped from Camp Trinidad in Colorado. They had with them photos of themselves with three women who turned out to be Nisei internees. The women, originally from Inglewood, Calif., had been relocated to Granada Internment Center in Apache, Colorado.
When the women were tried for aiding escapees, the unchivalrous POWs testified against them. The government did reduce the charges to conspiracy to commit treason, rather than treason, and the women got two years and $10,000 fines.
Joseph Ottman, a New York subway employee, was an Austrian-born naturalized American citizen. He was 43 when arraigned May 26, 1946, for harboring two German escapees. He was convicted, but the war was over; no one was too worked up about the case. He served a year in prison.
Mrs. Fannie Welvaert, who had three GI sons, fell in love with Horst Becker, a POW detailed to work at the hospital where she worked, Lovell General at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. She got off with probation because Becker hadn't escaped until Sept. 13, 1945, after the war ended. Some scriptwriter probably worked the scenario into a soap opera at some time or other.
It’s unclear whatever happened to Horst Becker, but, in closing, we’ll take note of Heinz Becker. An interesting fellow, he was born in Berlin during WWI. His family moved to South America, then he spent WWII in the most unlikely of places: playing first base for, among other U.S. baseball teams, the Chicago Cubs. Other players liked to mimic his German-Latin-U.S. accent.

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