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The Rape Of Nanking ..
December 1937. The most notorious mass atrocity, the Rape of Nanking.

Japanese troops entered the city with orders to kill all prisoners.
A single unit in the 16th Division killed 15,000 Chinese prisoners, and just one company slaughtered 1,300.
A German diplomat reported to Berlin that “besides mass executions by machine-gun fire, other more individual methods of killing were employed as well, such as pouring gasoline over a victim and setting him afire”.
Wounded Chinese soldiers were bayoneted where they lay.
Japanese officers made prisoners kneel in rows, then practised beheading them with their samurai swords.
Every pond, stream and river was polluted with decomposing bodies.
Japanese raids used massacre and mass rape as a weapon of terror.
Japanese soldiers began by killing any young men in a village.

The Greatest Maritime Disaster In History ..
In 1941 an old German pre-war cruise ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff, loaded up with a desperate human cargo in Gdynia, near Danzig.

The ship’s peacetime complement was 1900 passengers and crew.
The manifest that day showed more than 6,000 people.
Another 2,000 people are believed to have struggled aboard during the final rush.
A Soviet submarine fired a salvo of torpedoes.
There were three devastating explosions.
The Wilhelm Gustloff listed heavily and sank 70 minutes later.

Seven thousand died in the greatest maritime disaster in history.
Far outstripping the Titanic and Lusitania.
Just 949 people survived.

A Nine-Hour Carnage ..
June 18th, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo.

The bloody battle between the 72,000 French men under the command of Napoleon, and the Duke of Wellington’s 68,000 Anglo-German-Dutch Army and Gebhard Blucher’s 90,000 Prussian soldiers.
It lasted just nine hours.
In that short time, three square miles of Belgian countryside was witness to a carnage not seen in Europe for centuries.
A carnage that cost the lives of 31,000 French men, 12,000 Anglo-German-Dutch and 8,000 Prussians.

Marine Souvenir Hunters ..
After the crushing defeats inflicted by the Japanese on the British and Americans in the months following Pearl Harbour, the tide began to turn slowly, first with the US Navy’s success in the Battle of Midway, and then the US Marine Corps taking the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomons.

A Japanese regiment under the command of Colonel Ichiki Kiyono counter-attacked through a mangrove swamp.
Under the deathly green light of illumination flares, the Marines massacred the charging Japanese.
More than 800 Japanese out of 1,000 had been killed.
Marine souvenir-hunters stripped the fly-infested bodies of anything that might be worth bartering.
One Marine called ‘Souvenirs’ went from corpse to corpse with a pair of pliers, kicked open the mouth and then removed any gold teeth.
Crocodiles soon congregated and had a feast.
The Marines, huddled in their gunpits under the tropical rain, listened to the crunching in the dark.

The Siege Of Leningrad ..
Also known as the Leningrad Blockade, is a truly tragic period in the history of the city now known as St Petersburg.
On 8 September 1941, German troops sealed off the city.
Nobody could have guessed that this siege would continue for 872 days.
Hunger soon set in.
At their lowest point, daily bread rations were 125g for children and 250g for manual workers.
And you could hardly call it bread.
Up to 40% of the flour was replaced by additives such as bran and wood cellulose.
From January to April 1942 up to 160 of the city’s inhabitants were dying every hour, too many to bury, and the corpses piled up in the cemetery.

Genghis Khan, 1162 – 1227 ..
Originally known as Temujin of the Borjigin, Genghis was born holding a clot of blood in his hand.
His father was khan of a small tribe, but he was murdered when Temujin was still very young.
The new tribal leader wanted nothing to do with Temujin’s family, so with his mother and five other children, Temujin was cast out and left to die.
From the most brutal beginning possible, Genghis survived to unite the Mongolian tribes and conquer territories as far apart as Afghanistan and northern China.
He left a mountain of skulls that remained for years in China.
Genghis Khan paved the way for his grandson Kublai to become emperor of a united China and founder of the Yuan dynasty.
In all, Genghis conquered almost four times the lands of Alexander the Great.
He is still revered in Mongolia and in parts of China.

War Reporter Killed In Action ..
Marie Colvin, The Sunday Times correspondent reported for more than 30 years from some of the world’s most dangerous places.

She cheated death in Sri Lanka in 2001, where she was hit by shrapnel while covering the bitter civil war.
She escaped with the loss of an eye.
The day before Marie and her photographer, Frenchman Remi Ochlik, died in a rocket attack in Homs, Syria in February, The Sunday Times had told her to leave the area because it was too dangerous.
But Marie, 56, had decided to stay amid scenes of terrible human carnage “to finish the story”.
Marie always bore witness to the atrocity of war and is an emblem of the futility of conflict.
( The Big Issue, 27.12.2012 )

The Rewriting Of History ..
This rewriting of history, to influence the present and the future, is what happens when revolutions take place.
In George Orwell’s 1984, the ruling socialist party proclaims: ‘Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.’

When I was growing up, we were still taught our national history as a story and as something to be proud of.
A dedicated campaign, beginning in 1960, changed all that.
Old-fashioned narrative history books were thrown away.

Confusing pamphlets full of conflicting ‘sources’ appeared, designed to suggest there was no true version of events and above all that what your parents had been taught was wrong.
I hear again and again of fragmented jumping about – children who have been taught about the Romans, the Tudors and Hitler, but very little in between.
In secondary schools, many pupils give history up at 14, though it is compulsory up to 16 in most continental nations.
This matters.

A country whose young know no history (and even the Eton-educated Prime Minister seems vague about Magna Carta and seems never to have heard of the 1689 Bill of Rights) is like a person with amnesia roaming the streets, the easy target of every sort of fraud and crook, ready to swallow the stupidest propaganda.
And so we are.

If you have ever wondered how it is that modern politicians survive and prosper when they are so obviously mediocre and incompetent, now you know why.
Hardly anyone realises how bad they are, because they know no better.
The person who knows no history remains forever a child, unable to see when he is being fooled and robbed.
( Peter Hitchens, 06.01.2013 )

My Sister Truly Is A Hero ..
Victoria Soto sacrificed her own life to protect her pupils from gunman Adam Lanza, who shot and killed 26 people at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
The selfless 27-year-old first grade teacher hid her pupils in a closet and told Lanza they were in another part of the school.
Although she was shot dead, her brave actions saved the lives of several of her young pupils.
Victoria was one of six members of staff who were killed by the crazed murderer, who shot his own mother before setting off on the killing spree.
At a vigil attended by hundreds of people, Victoria’s sister Carlee Soto said: “My sister truly is a hero”.
( The Big Issue, 27.12.2012 )

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