UK Foreign Secretary Didn't Know What The Customs Union Was. Boris Johnson, the former UK…
Millions Killed By Starvation ..
More people died of starvation during the Second World War than perished from bullets or bombs.
The major powers realised it was cheaper to starve their enemies than blitz them.
The Germans even had a phrase for it – The Hunger Plan.
In every part of the globe, millions of men, women and children simply wasted away between 1939 and 1945.
Greece lost 14% of its population to starvation, Japan, a staggering 60% of its army.
Top Nazis stuffed themselves like pigs as families in Russia sat down to a soup made out of their pet cat.
Japanese soldiers in New Guinea picked a prisoner each day to be killed and eaten.
Millions of urban, well-to-do Europeans were reduced to scrounging for squirrels and nettles in a desperate attempt to fill their stomachs.
Long before the Nazis built their first concentration camp, they had classified certain groups as ‘useless eaters’ and set about systematically starving them.
In one mental asylum, the director fed his patients nothing but turnips, knowing they would survive only three months on such a diet.
The plan was so successful it was adopted in mental hospitals around the Reich.
The Russians did something similar with those it deemed enemies of the communist state, sending them to Siberia where it was impossible to harvest anything from the frozen ground.
In Japan, the civilian population was ordered to eat snakes, rose petals and sawdust.
Only fighting men got what scraps of real food still remained.
Winston Churchill deliberately allowed millions of Indian subjects to perish in the famine of 1943 – 44.
Irritated by the pre-war movement for independence, Churchill de-prioritised relief to the sub-continent.
While the Middle East and Holland received prompt and plentiful food supplies from Britain in their hour of need, India was left to starve.
Britain, though, was uniquely lucky.
We were perhaps the only country in Europe never in danger of starving during the war, thanks to our fertile soil and continuing trade links with the rest of the world.
The Well-Fed Working Classes ..
Britain’s wartime food rationing helped break down class distinctions.
With a duke getting the same food entitlement as a docker, a truly democratic spirit started to stalk the land.
What’s more, by limiting the amount of sugar an individual was allowed to buy, while improving availability of milk and eggs, the industrial working classes ended up better fed than at any point in history.
The fact that the Government took responsibility for the health of the nation, even adding vitamins to the bread supply, paved the way for the setting up of the National Health Service.
A Princess Killed By The Nazis ..
On September 13, 1944, a beautiful Indian princess lay dead on the floor at Dachau concentration camp.
She had been brutally tortured by the Nazis then shot in the head.
Her name was Noor Inayat Khan.
The Germans knew her only as Nora Baker, a British spy.
The first female radio operator to infiltrate occupied Paris, she was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre and the George Cross.
When a bust of Noor goes up in London’s Gordon Square in 2012, it will be the first statue to an Indian woman in Britain, and the first to any Muslim.
Noor’s journey from her birthplace in Moscow to London was in many ways part of her exotic upbringing.
A descendent of Tipu Sultan – the famous 18th century ruler of South India, known as the Tiger of Mysore – she was brought up a fierce nationalist by her father, Hazrat Inayat Khan, a Sufi preacher and musician.
Inayat Khan left his hometown of Baroda in western India to take Sufism to the West.
Deeply spiritual, he gave concerts and lecture tours in America where he met Noor’s mother, Ora Ray Baker.
Soon the two moved to London where they were married, Ora taking the name of Ameena Begum.
In 1914, Inayat Khan was invited to Moscow and It was there that Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan was born.
She had the title of Pirzadi, daughter of the Pir.
Moscow at the time was rife with political discontent and Inayat Khan soon moved back to London.
The family spent the next six years in a house on Gordon Square.
But the British government was suspicious of Inayat Khan, who was a friend of Nehru and Gandhi and a strong nationalist, so the family went to France.
They began life again on the outskirts of Paris in a house called Fazal Manzil or House of Blessing.
It was here Noor spent most of her life.
Educated and genteel, she went to the Sorbonne to study child psychology.
When England declared war on Germany, Noor and her brother Vilayat decided it was a crime to stand by and watch, even though as Sufis they believed in non-violence.
They went to London to be part of the war effort.
In November 1940, Noor volunteered for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
Officers of the Special Operations Executive, Churchill’s secret army, were looking for people with language skills.
Noor – fluent in French and now a trained wireless operator – fitted the bill.
At an interview, she was told she would be sent as an agent to Paris – and shot if she was caught.
She took the job.
Over the next few months, Noor was trained as a secret agent, given arms training, taught to shoot and kill, and finally flown to Paris under the code name of Madeleine, carrying only a false passport, a clutch of French francs and a pistol.
Despite her spy network collapsing around her, Noor stayed in France for three months, until she was betrayed.
What followed in October 1943 was arrest, imprisonment in chains, torture and interrogation.
Noor bore it all.
She revealed nothing to her captors, not even her real name.
When the end came on September 13, 1944, it was not swift or painless.
All night long an SS officer kicked and tortured Noor.
Defiant till the last, she shouted “Liberte” as she went down to a bullet fired at the back of her head.
Murdered By The SS ..
The cowshed stands alone amid the fields – a small wooden barn with a neatly thatched roof.
It looks like a dozen others dotted around the countryside to the south of Dunkirk.
Yet as soon as you step inside, you realize that this particular cowshed conceals a dark and secret history.
Its flimsy walls are covered with wreaths, crosses and faded photographs – testimony to the fact that this was the site of one of the most horrific massacres of the Second World War.
On May 28, 1940, as the British Expeditionary Force was being plucked to safety from the beaches of nearby Dunkirk, some 80 British prisoners-of-war were murdered here by the SS.
The evacuation of Dunkirk was the most extraordinary rescue mission of the war.
The Royal Navy, assisted by hundreds of privately owned vessels, managed to ferry home some 340,000 British and Allied soldiers who had been encircled by advancing German forces.
The men of the 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, the Cheshire Regiment and the Royal Artillery were sitting ducks for the SS infantrymen speeding north to Dunkirk.
The German army were advancing rapidly, but they were brought to a complete halt by this small band of British soldiers.
The men battled against the crack division of SS men until they had exhausted their weaponry.
Only then did they surrender.
The men assumed that they would be treated according to the rules of the Geneva Convention.
Instead, they were taken to a remote spot known as La Plaine Au Bois, and were forced inside a barn.
Seconds later, all hell broke loose.
One of the SS men pulled a stick grenade from his boot and lobbed it into the barn.
It exploded instantly, killing many of the prisoners and maiming the rest.
A second grenade was followed by a third, turning the barn into a slaughterhouse.
But there were still some men alive – so the SS men began pulling them outside in batches of five and shooting them.
8.7 Million Boys Joined The Hitler Youth ..
In June 1923, you could get 1,800 marks for one U.S. dollar.
By August, you could get a million marks for one U.S. dollar.
By 1931, there were six million unemployed in Germany.
Then the Nazis came to power.
The vast majority of German boys joined the Hitler Youth.
Hitler’s scheme was to mould each child into an unquestioning automaton, free of ties to anything but Nazism and anyone but himself.
They would be daily reminded that they were the chosen ones, unlike their weak and indecisive parents.
Each of the 8.7 million children who joined swore this oath: “In the presence of the Blood Banner, I swear to devote all my powers and my strength to the saviour of our Reich, Adolf Hitler. I am willing and ready to give up my life for him, so help me God.”
One Of The Most Brutal Architects Of The Nazi Regime ..
On a bright morning in May 1942, two men waited anxiously on a sharp bend in a road in Prague.
Although it was warm, one was carrying an overcoat over his arm.
That was because it concealed a sub-machine gun.
The other man was clutching a briefcase containing two bombs.
At 10:20, a large, open-top Mercedes appeared.
In the back seat sat a 38-year-old man wearing the uniform of an SS General.
With a long, prominent nose, blond hair and cold blue eyes, he looked the very model of Hitler’s supposed ‘master race’.
His name was Reinhard Heydrich, and he was one of the most brutal architects of the Nazi regime.
The waiting men were Czech secret agents sent from London.
As the Mercedes slowed to negotiate the bend, one of them leaped out in front of it and aimed his gun at Heydrich.
But instead of unleashing a fatal volley, the gun jammed.
Heydrich ordered his driver to stop, and drew out his pistol.
It was a foolish mistake because it gave the second agent an opportunity to hurl his two bombs.
Although neither scored a direct hit, the force of the explosion was enough to rupture Heydrich’s diaphragm, and for his spleen to be lacerated by shrapnel and horsehair from the car’s upholstery.
Heydrich survived the explosion, but contracted septicaemia from an infection in his wounds.
He slipped into a coma and died on June 4.
When his death was reported by the BBC the following day, the author Thomas Mann described Heydrich as ‘Hitler’s hangman’.
The Battle Of Britain 1940 ..
The only major battle in WW2 fought exclusively between air forces, the Battle of Britain took place over southern England between July and October 1940 as the German Luftwaffe attempted to destroy the RAF and enable a German invasion.
Although a handful of airfields were temporarily put out of action, the German attack failed to achieve its aim.
By September, Fighter Command had more aircraft and pilots than it had at the beginning while the Luftwaffe was finding it difficult to replace its losses, many of the British pilots who were shot down parachuted to safety and could be back in the cockpit in a matter of hours.
In September, the Luftwaffe redirected its attacks to London and major ports but this resulted in heavy losses, including 80 aircraft on September 15, a day celebrated afterwards as Battle of Britain Day.
In mid-September the invasion was cancelled.
German losses totalled 1,733 aircraft, British losses 915.
The Dam Busters 1943 ..
On the night of May 16, 1943, a handful of RAF Lancaster bombers attacked the main dams in the Ruhr-Rhineland industrial area.
The operation was one of the most remarkable pieces of precision bombing carried out during the war.
The brainchild of maverick designer Barnes Wallis, Operation Chastise was undertaken by a specially trained squadron, No617, led by Wing-Commander Guy Gibson.
Air Marshal Harris, head of Bomber Command, was not keen on the proposed attack, but was finally persuaded that the unique ‘bouncing bomb’ created by Wallis should be tried.
The Lancasters set off to attack the Mohne with five aircraft, one of which was then lost.
The dam was successfully breached and the surviving aircraft then flew to the Eder dam, which was also breached.
Formation two lost four out of five aircraft and although the remaining plane hit the Sorpe dam, its earth construction absorbed the shock and did not give way.
Out of 19 bombers, 11 were lost.
The attack caused flooding over 70 square miles and killed 1,650 people but did not significantly damage industrial production.