Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Felix A. Cizewski and the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Dachau

April 24, 2015

Unofficial Archive of the Signal Corps in Northwest Europe in WWII

wmtesttbirdwm2Felix A. Cizewski’s copy of the Dachau Liberation Edition 45th Division News, pages 1 & 3.

Click on image for more larger edition.

Public domain images from originals donated to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Seventy years ago, on April 29, 1945 after a battle with the SS guards “Task Force Sparks” liberated Dachau.

”Task Force Sparks” consisted of elements of “I” and “L” Companies, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Division supported by elements of the 191st Tank Battalion.


While the combat units were liberating Dachau, my late father, Felix A. Cizewski, was in the 45th Signal Company on the road from Schrobenhausen about 39 miles (63 kilometers) by road north of Dachau to Haimhausen, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Dachau.

Every member of the 45th Division at that time including Felix officially share the recognition as liberators by the United States Holocaust Memorial…

View original post 525 more words

FBI Director Erroneously Calls Poland A “Holocaust Accomplice”

April 20, 2015

Unofficial Archive of the Signal Corps in Northwest Europe in WWII

On April 15, 2015, FBI director James B. Comey delivered a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner entitled “Why I require FBI agents to visit the Holocaust Museum”.

While he accurately cited Nazi allied Hungary as Holocaust accomplice, he erroneously included Poland an accomplice.

I suggest that Director Comey join his agents on their training visits the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and spend time in the library to develop an accurate knowledge of the Holocaust.

Director Comey would then learn that rather than being an accomplice, Poland was the major victim of the Holocaust.


Among the reasons that  Director Comey’s error is so painful to Poland and Poles is Poland will never fully recover from the damage done by the Holocaust.

Poland will never again be a Slavic-Jewish nation.

Prior to the Holocaust, the population of Poland was about 10% Jewish and Poland was the world center…

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Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan in the Appomattox Campaign 150 Years Ago

April 10, 2015

Anson Croman, the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment, and the American Civil War

ACW5820th
Orange ellipse, lower right: Location of the 20th Michigan at Sutherland Station, Virginia in a support position for the troops that pursued and trapped Lee’s army at Appomattox. Click on map for larger image.

Public domain image from the United States Military Academy (West Point) History Department’s American Civil War Atlas


150 years ago over the night of April 2-3, 1865 Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia retreated from Richmond to link up with General Johnson’s Army of Tennessee just to south in North Carolina.

Pursuing Union troops blocked every road south so Lee’s army was forced to retreat to the west.

The IXth Corps which included the 20th Michigan supported the pursuit by protecting the Union’s southern flank. The IXth Corps was also quickly repairing the South Side Railroad to supply the pursuing troops by rail.

Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment were in a support…

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150 Years Ago the 20th Michigan Enters Petersburg

April 3, 2015

Anson Croman, the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment, and the American Civil War

By the end of March, 1865, Union and Confederate forces faced each others along 37 miles of trenches from north of Richmond to southwest of Petersburg.

The Confederates had suffered major losses in an unsuccessful attempt to break out and escape followed by an unsuccessful effort to prevent the Union forces from outflanking those trenches about eight miles southwest of Petersburg.

The few Confederates remaining in the trenches hungry and at their breaking point.

On April 2, 1865, the Union attacked seeking a breakthrough at a weak point. the IXth Corps attacked from their positions just south of the Appomattox River and east of Petersburg. Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment were in the IXth Corps. They were position north of the attack ready to provide support.

The IXth Corps captured the Confederate Fort Mahone but was blocked by the Confederates from advancing further.

However, other Union units…

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70 Years Ago Felix and the 45th Signal Company Cross the Rhine

March 24, 2015

Gorak_crossRhine1[1]

DUKW (amphibious 2½ ton truck) transporting a 105mm howitzer and men of the 158th Field Artillery Battalion, 45th Infantry Division over the Rhine. (See glossary below for meaning of DUKW.)

This may have been about the same place where the 45th Signal Company crossed and some of the DUKWs that transported them

No photos have been found of the 45th Signal Company crossing the Rhine.

Fair use of photo from the collection of Edwin Gorak

On March 25, 1945 the 45th Signal Company received a DUKW to use in the laying of communication cables across the Rhine.

Early on the morning of March 26 the construction section laid two cables across the Rhine. The telephone section crossed and established switching central on the east bank of the Rhine.

The conditions under which the men of the 45th Signal Company laid those cables were life threatening.

While the ground fighting had moved east, the Nazis were still firing artillery and rockets and launching air attacks at the Rhine crossings.

Along with the risk of drowning they also risked hypothermia, frostbite, or immersion (trench) foot. The water temperature was probably 32° F (0° C) and the March air temperature averaged about 41° F (5° C).  My late father Felix A. Cizewski would have been very aware of that as he had just returned to duty after recovering from severe frostbite 3 months earlier.

On March 27, the rest of the 45th Signal Company crossed the Rhine and set up the normal Command Post communications systems in Zwingenberg.

Several Nazi soldiers surrendered to members of the company.

The company reported that their trucks and other vehicles were in bad shape because of constant use. A jeep threw a rod.

I do not know in which section of the 45th Signal Company my late father Felix A. Cizewski served so I do not know if he crossed the Rhine on March 26 or 27.


Glossary:

What does DUKW mean?

D = built in 1942

U = amphibious 2½  ton truck

K = front wheel drive

W = rear wheel drive


Acknowledgements:

The detailed information about the 45th Signal Company’s crossing of the Rhine is from the March, 1945 Company History which Dave Kerr obtained from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

A discussion with free lance writer Anne Gafiuk resulted in the addition of details of the life threatening conditions under which the 45th Signal Company worked.

The details with links about DUKWs was in response to a question from Jeff Spitzer-Resnick.


Links, sources, and more information:

Felix A. Cizewski and the Central Europe Campaign


Revised: March 26, 2015

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-Ho

Dad’s Cherbourg Photos

October 22, 2014

Seventy years in 1944 Felix A. Cizewski, my late father, served in Cherbourg in Company, C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion.

Ten photos of his survived, the most from his WWII experience.

Only one has my father.
lines Felix is first on the left.
In the background of several photos are street scenes of 1944 Cherbourg.
jeep
  GI on a Jeep in front of Cherbourg building.
Two photos have a military police officer and African-American GIs.twogischerbourg1Military police officer on a motorcycle with an African-American GIs on the right.

African-Americans served in segregated support, service, supply, and construction units in Cherbourg at the same time as my father.

All GIs in the above photos have helmets.

While Cherbourg was liberated in late June, 1944, Cherbourg remained under threat of attack from Nazi bombers and rockets.


Larger versions of these and the other seven are at:

Cherbourg Photos


All photos are from the collection of Felix A. Cizewski, Co. C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion

Copyright © Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

May not be reproduced, displayed, modified or distributed without express prior written permission.


Links with sources and for more information:

The 3110th Signal Service Battalion in Normandy

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-D8

Cherbourg Memorial

October 20, 2014

In March, 1942, the Nazis with the assistance of French fascist collaborationist government began deporting Jews in France to slave labor and death camps. The first were foreign born Jews followed by Jews born in France and having French citizenship.

In February, 1943, the Nazis imposed Service du Travail Obligatoire (S.T.O.) (Compulsory Work Service). Ethnic French resident of Cherbourg were deported from their homes for slave labor in occupied France and Germany.

Cheryl A. Robinson and I visited the Cherbourg memorial to those and other victims during our 2014 trip to France for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Normandy.

DSC01341Memorial in Cherbourg to those executed, deported, resistance fighters,and hostages. (Fusillés, Deportes, Maquisards, Otages.)

2014 photo by Cheryl A. Robinson

DSC01342  Plaques on the ground with the names of the slave labor and death camps to which victims were deported.

LEFT: Ravensbrück was a concentration and slave labor camp.

RIGHT: Neuengamme was a concentration and slave labor camp.

Schandelah was a satellite slave labor camp of Neuengamme.

2014 photo by Cheryl A. Robinson

In 1944 Felix A. Cizewski, my late father, served in Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion in Cherbourg.

Links with sources and for more information:

The 3110th Signal Service Battalion in Normandy

Felix A. Cizewski WWII Cherbourg photos

Rommel’s image in popular culture

October 17, 2014

70 years ago on October 14, 1944 the Nazis forced Field Marshall Erwin Rommel to commit suicide.

In popular culture in the U.S. Rommel has a positive image.

Among the reasons are:

  • His competence as a military commander.
  • Unlike other German commanders especially on the Eastern Front, his adherence to the international standards of the treatment of POWs in North Africa from 1941 to 1943.
  • His association with the plotters of the July, 1944 attempted assassination of Hitler and coup and his statements of dissent about Nazi conduct of the war.

When his career is placed in its full context, his image is much less positive.

1933 to 1944

From the Nazis rise to power in 1933 until 1944 Rommel did nothing to oppose Nazism or to stop the Holocaust.

During those 11 years Rommel enjoyed the benefits of Nazi rule.

He failed to act in 1938 or 1939 when the Nazis were more vulnerable and would have been much easier to overthrow than in July, 1944.

For five years from 1939 until 1944, Rommel implemented the Nazi ideology of aggressive wars. Among the conquered populations were the majority of the victims of the Holocaust.

In 1939 among the earliest victims of the Holocaust were Polish Jewish officers and enlisted personnel executed when captured by Germans.

During the Polish campaign Rommel was commander of Hitler’s bodyguards (the Führer escort headquarters) as Hitler toured the Polish front.

From that position Rommel had to have been aware of the murder of Polish Jewish POWs.

During the 1940 Battle of France, troops under Rommel’s command motivated by the Nazi’s racial ideology executed captured French Senegalese troops.

French Senegalese soldiers 1940: Senegalese soldiers preparing to defend France against the Nazis.

Public domain image from Tales of War, page 239.

French Senegalese soldiers
1944: French children with their Senegalese liberator.

Public domain image from Amére patrie, devoir de mémoire et de vérité

Cemetery gate carvingCarving on the gate of the French military cemetery in Chasselay with Senegalese soldiers massacred by Nazi troops including some under Rommel’s command.

The cemetery is designed in the traditional Senegalese burial grounds.

Fair use of image from by Petra Pulles at Tata Chasselay France – A WW2 Cemetery on French soil for massacred Senegalese troops

From 1941 to 1943 in North Africa Rommel reportedly refused to implement Nazi orders to execute Jewish and other categories of POWs. Many Jewish soldiers were serving in the British and Polish forces in North Africa.

That is further confirmation of the depth of Rommel’s knowledge of Nazi criminality.

While Rommel may have prohibited the execution of Jewish POWs at the front, no evidence exists that he did anything to stop the Nazis behind the front from rounding up of Sephardic Jews in Nazi occupied parts of North Africa for deportation to slave labor and death camps.

In 1943 when Rommel was given command of Normandy, he used slave labor to construct fortifications.

Stopping the Holocaust or protecting ethnic Germans?

By July, 1944, Rommel recognized that Germany was militarily defeated. Germany no longer had the military capacity to defend its borders.

To continue the war meant that the Soviets would overrun Germany.

Was Rommel’s 1944 dissent motivated by his concern for the potential sufferings of ethnic Germans at the hands of Soviet troops or to stop genocide?

July, 1944 status of the Holocaust

By July, 1944, most of Nazi Holocaust murders had already occurred.

The July 1944 assassination and coup attempts were much too late to save most victims.

Rommel’s role in the attempted coup and assassination

Rommel may not have supported assassination or a coup.

He may have hinted that after others killed Hitler and overthrew the Nazis he would be available to serve in the post-Nazi government and armed forces.

He may have looked the other way while members of his staff planned the coup and assassination. He refrained from alerting the Nazis of the plots to what if anything he knew.

As his troops were being defeated in Normandy he said to his superiors including Hitler that the time had come to negotiate an end to the war.

On July, 17, 1944 Rommel suffered a serious brain injury when British aircraft attacked his car near the Normandy front.

That injury seemed to have decreased his inhibitions on speech.

His comments became less guarded, more frequent, explicit, and strident.

On July 22, 1944, a coup and assassination Hitler were attempted. Both failed.

On October 14, 1944. the Nazis force Rommel to choose between torture, a show trial followed by an execution, and violent retaliation against his family or suicide.

To shield his family from retaliation, Rommel chose to execute himself by committing suicide.

My amateur historian’s assessment of Rommel’s legacy

  • 11 years of personally benefiting from the Nazi’s policies.
  • 5 years of waging the Nazi’s wars of aggression during which the majority of the Holocaust victims were captured.
  • Being present in Poland when Polish Jewish POWs were executed.
  • Being in command of troops who executed French Senegalese POWs.
  • Use of slave labor to construct Normandy fortifications.
  • After D-Day in 1944, stating that the Allies and Soviets had militarily defeated Germany and that Germany should end the war.
  • Doing nothing to increase the chances of the success of the July, 1944 assassination and coup attempts.
  • Dissent motivated more to protect ethnic Germans from the Soviets than to stop genocide.

3110th Signal Service Battalion and Rommel

From February to July, 1944, the 3110th Signal Service Battalion, my late father Felix A. Cizewski’s unit, and Rommel faced each other across the English Channel (La Manche in French).

Rommel was preparing to continue the Nazi occupation of France and the 3110th was building communications infrastructure to facilitate the supplies to the forces preparing to liberate France.
________________________________________
Links with sources and for more information:

(French) le maréchal erwin rommel se suicide le 14 octobre 1944: Site where I learned of the 1940 massacre of French Senegalese POWs by troops under Rommel’s command.

(French)  Le Tata sénégalais


In depth historical background and context: An occasional feature of my family history blog.
________________________________________
Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-BD

Revised: October 18, 2012

Paris in the winter of 1944: Felix A. Cizewski suffers frostbite

March 11, 2013
Paris in the winter of 1944 by Lee Miller

Lee Miller photo of Paris, winter 1944.
Fair use of photo © Lee Miller Archives 2013. All rights reserved

During the winter of  1944 my late father, Felix A. Cizewski served in Paris. He was in Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion, Army Service Forces.  Company C was the battalion’s Open Wire Repair Section with pole and wire responsibilities including construction and maintenance.

That meant my father was working outside in the harsh 1944 winter. Lee Miller’s photo above illustrates the conditions in which Felix worked.

By December 10, 1944, Felix had suffered severe frostbite to his hands and feet and was hospitalized in Paris.

My father told my sister that when he was in the hospital among those whose care prevented amputation was a POW German doctor.

My father recovered enough that in January, 1945 he was reassigned to the 45th Signal Company, 45th Infantry Division for the rest of the war.

My father never fully recovered. He suffered for the rest of his life from the frostbite, possibly Raynaud’s Syndrome. He was never formally diagnosed and was discouraged from pursuing a disability claim for that and other lingering health problems that may also have been service related.


Author Alex Kershaw recently shared this photo on his Facebook Page. Alex Kershaw most recent work, The Liberator, is about Col. Felix Sparks of the 45th Infantry Division, the division in which my late father served. Alex Kershaw’s next book will be about Paris in WWII.


For more information:

Felix A. Cizewski & World War II (Signal Corps, Europe, 1942 to 1945

Anti-Semitic Polish cardinal dies

January 25, 2013

Polish Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Glemp died on January 23, 2013.

The New York Times’ report on his death reviewed his history of anti-Semitism.

What he did and said caused great harm to relations between Slavic and Jewish Poles and between Poles and the world community. That damage lingers to this day.

Both the tiny Polish Jewish community that survived WWII and the Holocaust and the Jewish community worldwide needed thoughtfulness, compassion,  and  support from Polish leaders.

Instead he continued to make anti-Semitic statements and engage in antisemitic behavior. On issues that required the most sensitive of words, he repeatedly chose harsh anti-Semitic language.

He harmed efforts for post-WWII reconciliation between Slavic and Jewish Poles.

He disgraced the memory and service of the great number of Poles who paid with their lives fighting the Nazis and rescuing their Jewish friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens of Poland from the Nazis.

His anti-Semitism adds to the confusion that lingers to this day that because the Nazi death camps were geographically located in Poland, they were “Polish” rather than forcibly  imposed on conquered Poland by the Nazi occupiers.

In order to help ensure that his anti-Semitism is forever attached to his legacy I am sharing  The New York Times account of it:

Cardinal Glemp was repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism, notably for his 1989 remarks resisting an agreement to move a Carmelite convent from Auschwitz, where millions of Jews were killed by the Nazis. After Jews complained, the Vatican agreed in 1987 to put the convent in a nearby interfaith center. But as a deadline passed and Jews staged protests, the cardinal went on the offensive, saying:

“Do you, esteemed Jews, not see that your pronouncements against the nuns offend the feelings of all Poles, and our sovereignty, which has been achieved with such difficulty? Your power lies in the mass media that are easily at your disposal in many countries. Let them not serve to spread anti-Polish feeling.” He added, “Dear Jews, do not talk with us from the position of a people raised above all others, and do not dictate conditions that are impossible to fulfill.”

The ensuing firestorm reignited old controversies in a largely rural land where the prewar Jewish population of 3.5 million had dwindled to a few thousand. But the cardinal did not back down until the Vatican reaffirmed the pope’s determination to move the convent. The issue resurfaced in 1991, when Cardinal Glemp, touring the United States, encountered more protests and told Jewish leaders that he regretted the pain his statements had caused.

In 1997, Cardinal Glemp belatedly rebuked a rabidly anti-Semitic radio station, Radio Maryja, and the Rev. Tadeusz Rydzyk, who mingled daily outpourings of hate with prayer. The cardinal acted only after Vatican hints and a prosecutor’s slander charges.

In 2001, Cardinal Glemp was again accused of anti-Semitism when he refused to accompany President Kwasniewski to the village of Jedwabne to apologize for the 1941 massacre of 1,600 Jews, most of them burned alive in a barn by Polish neighbors. The cardinal disavowed “ostentatious penance” in advance, and said, “I prefer not to have politicians impose on the Church the way it is to fulfill its act of contrition for the crimes committed by certain groups of people.”

From Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Poland Is Dead at 83 By ROBERT D. McFADDEN, The New York Times, January 23, 2013


Previous related posts:

Warsaw Ghetto prisoners liberated during second Warsaw Uprising

Documentary “Jews in the Warsaw Rising 1944″

67th Anniversary of the liberation of Dachau


For more information:

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Virginia Holocaust Museum


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