History, Science and Biography


Don your Sherlock Holmes hat for this unsolved mystery: A MADMAN’S FINAL REVENGE, or how New York City was saved by a Uboat mutiny.


THE COMING RACE  (a Victorian novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton) and its attendant barmy mysticism would have sunk into obscurity if it hadn’t been for the First World War. At the end of the war, Germany was plunged into violent anarchy and a host of extremist politicians and cult leaders stepped into the breach and battled for power. Chief of these was the occult Thule Society – and its inner sect, the Vril Society. 

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The Vril Society was noted for it’s use of orgies to summon up occult energies – and to father a ‘master race’ of children to repopulate a devastated Germany. It is said that women in such orgies would become possessed by spirits and begin speaking in tongues. And their prophesies were treated with deadly seriousness. 

“But the darkest side of the Vril was their propensity for sacrificing young children,” says Michael Fitzgerald, author of Stormtroopers of Satan. “They would stab them in the chest and cut their throats. 

“At the height of their power in 1920s Munich, hundreds of children disappeared. Many are presumed to have been killed by the cult to summon up Vril energy. This may seem like an outlandish claim but when you consider what these people went on to do in the Third Reich, it seems almost tame.” 

Central to the Vril Society was the search for a German Messiah who would lead the Aryan’s to world domination and exterminate all other races – especially the Jews. And his rise was predicted by a spirit calling itself the “Beast of the Book of Revelation.” 

In a séance attended by the cult followers Alfred Rosenberg and Dietrich Eckart, the Beast is said to have proclaimed that a man named “Hitler” would seize the “Spear of Destiny” and lead the Aryans to power. 

And within a few weeks, a fiery young man of shabby appearance began attending Thule Society meetings. His name was Adolf Hitler. Below may be his final claim to infamy.

Neal Scroggs
Neal Scroggs, A Most Viewed Writer on World War II.

On 10 July 1945, a German submarine, U-530, a Type IXC/40 boat, appeared in the Argentine port of Plata del Mar and surrendered to the Armada de la República Argentina, an officially belligerent but Nazi-sympathetic navy, more than two months after the formal surrender of Nazi Germany and the direct order of Admiral Karl Dönitz to all u-boats at sea to surface and immediately surrender to the nearest Allied authority.

Not only were the actions of U-530’s commander a direct contravention of the surrender terms formalized on 8 May 1945 between the Allied Powers and the German government and military, but the circumstances of the last voyage of the U-530 were also very mysterious, and remain so to this day. When taken over by the Argentines, U-530 was completely devoid of ships papers — the logbook, manifest, written orders, dockyard papers, etc. The personal identity documents of the crew, their soldbuchs and ID disks, were also missing. There was virtually nothing on board to account for the movements and mission of the vessel since leaving Horten Naval Base in Norway shortly before the war ended except for the personal testimony of the commander and his crew, and they weren’t very talkative.

When asked to explain why he had not followed Admiral Dönitz’s surrender directives, Oberleutnant zur See Otto Wermuth, would only say he was under orders “from Berlin”, which could only mean direct orders from Hitler himself, since in the German submarine service in WWII there was no one with higher authority than Dönitz except Hitler as commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht.

The condition of the submarine itself was highly suspicious. The casing (the outer superstructure built over the pressure hull) and the conning tower were extremely rusty, and much of the paint was missing, having been either scraped or burned off. Her 10.5cm SK C/32 deck gun and mount were missing along with its ammunition, apparently having been jettisoned at sea. Also, there were no torpedoes or torpedo racks in her torpedo spaces fore and aft. No explanation of the vessel’s condition was offered by Wermuth or his subordinates.

After the sub and its crew were turned over to the Americans, the crew were further interrogated by ONI officers, but nothing more was learned (or more precisely, nothing more was learned that was published.) Wermuth and his men were eventually released and repatriated to Germany, because the only viable war crime charge that could be preferred against Wermuth or the crew, the postwar sinking of the Brazilian cruiser Bahia on 4 July 1945, was shown to be false. The submarine itself was sunk as a torpedo training target by USS Toro on 28 November 1947.

There are many theories offered to explain the voyage of the U-530. The most outlandish ones suggest that the sub was transporting high-ranking Nazi military and political figures, perhaps even Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun themselves, to a secret landing somewhere on the coast of Argentina or Uruguay. These speculations account for the large empty spaces fore and aft (i.e. accommodation for passengers) and her surrender to Argentina but do not account for the delay. U-530 was a schnorkel-equipped vessel and could have sustained 6 knots submerged all the way from Norway, about 48 days. U-530 was at sea 63 days after the surrender.

Another theory is both more plausible and more sinister. There is reason to believe that after the firebombing of Dresden (‎13–15 February 1945) Hitler ordered a revenge attack on the United States in the form of a nerve gas assault on New York City by submarine. By 1945 Germany had invented and stockpiled at least two nerve agents able to be deployed by explosive ordnance, Sarin and Tabun, which could have been made into shells capable of being fired by U-530’s 10.5cm deck gun. Surfacing at night in the East River would have made a catastrophic nerve gas bombardment of Manhatten and Brooklyn possible, but almost certainly suicidal. Hitler was talked out of this gas attack by his most trusted underlings, including Albert Speer, as self-defeating because it would give the Americans a justification of using its chemical warfare agents on Germany or so says the tale. However, it may be that Hitler resurrected his submarine-launched gas attack plan as a final gesture of defiance.

The gas attack on NYC theory explains much of the known facts about U-530’s last patrol. First, there is the absence of torpedoes and torpedo racks. Both the forward and after torpedo rooms had watertight (and therefore airtight) interior hatches and torpedo loading hatches leading to the weather deck. Without torpedos or torpedo racks these spaces could be used as chemical ammunitions handling rooms for the deck mount that would not endanger the rest of the crew spaces should there be an accident.

Secondly, it explains the absence of ship and crew documents. Wermuth and his men would rightly fear prosecution for war crimes if their participation in a gas attack scheme were ever exposed.

Thirdly, the poor physical condition of the boat can be explained as a consequence of a mutiny aboard U-530. Consider the following scenario: After putting to sea under sealed orders and having been supplied with a huge load of “special” shells for the deck gun in lieu of torpedoes, the crew discovers the true nature of their mission. Not wanting to be hanged by the Allies or to give the Americans an excuse to attack Germany in kind they hatch a mutiny plot. While running on the surface the lookouts seize Oblt.z.S. Wermuth or his first officer. They also gain control of the conning tower and foredeck hatches to prevent U-530 submerging to drown the mutineers. After gaining at least partial control of the boat the mutinous crewmen proceed to foil the gas attack plot by detaching the deck mount and throwing it overboard. Further suppose, that while laboring to jettison the deck gun or fighting with loyal crew members the mutineers somehow set fire to the weather deck, which burns off the much of the paint. This would explain the severely rusted appearance of U-530’supperworks.

With his deck gun jettisoned, Wermuth has no means to use the deadly shells stored in the torpedos spaces. Consequently, he agrees to the mutineers’ demands: He must take the u-boat to some deserted stretch of deep water where the nerve gas shells can be safely thrown overboard without significant risk of encountering a witness. Next, he must agree to destroy all documents that could be used to link the ship and its crew to the gas attack plot.

To dispose of their deadly cargo there could hardly be a better spot than the Scotia Sea.

In June and July 1945 the Scotia Sea was among the most deserted waters on the planet. June and July are winter months in the Southern Hemisphere, and in the 1940s much of the ship traffic in the Scotia Sea consisted of fishing and whaling vessels. In winter the whales are gone, and the sea is generally too rough for fishing assuming there is much fish to catch. Furthermore, the waters there are very deep — 19,000 feet and more. In other words, perfect for the mutineers’ purpose. This putative voyage to the Scotia Sea accounts fairly well for the 63 days delay in surrendering.


  1. Soldbuch (literally pay book). When a young German presented himself for active duty, he received an Erkennungsmarke (dog tag) and a Soldbuch, which was the basic identity document that the soldier or sailor would carry on his person for the rest of his active military career. The title “pay book” is somewhat misleading, because little or no pay is actually recorded in the document. Instead, the book gave the serviceman the authority to draw pay, and in fact, the original intent of the document was to allow individuals to draw pay from a unit other than their own. In practice, the Soldbuch was the identity document that most concerned active duty personnel. Inside its tan leather cover, the 24 pages contained an array of information that included the serviceman’s current and past assigned units (former units were crossed out but legible), pay rate, awards, equipment/weapons issued, clothing, Erkennungsmarke number, and some medical history.
  2. On the matter of Argentine and Urugyuan belligerence in WWII.Both countries had, and have to this day, a large German-speaking population who often celebrated their Germanic culture and expressed sympathy for Germany during the war. Both nations tried to maintain a neutral stance during the whole course of the conflict and failed. Under economic and political pressure from the United States, both Argentina and Uruguay declared war on the Axis powers, Uruguay in February 1945 and Argentina about five weeks later.
  3. The sinking of cruiser Bahia. U-530 was suspected of having destroyed the Bahia because the u-boat could have been nearby when the Brazilian warship sank on 4 July 1945. However, survivor testimony revealed that the sinking was accidental. Bahia was scheduled to escort aircraft supply ships to the Pacific. In preparation for deployment to areas where Japanese attacks could occur Bahia’s crew drilled with her AA suite by firing at a kite. One of the anti-aircraft guns aimed too low and hit one or more depth charges on the stern racks. The resultant explosion tore the stern off Bahia, which sank in three minutes.
  4. Sailing time to Argentina. My estimate of 48 days assumes a steady pace of six knots, which is about the maximum sustained speed of Type IX boat using a schnorkel. However, the actual speed would likely be faster. Though the schnorkel allowed the diesel motors to operate while submerged there was still a need to surface every two days to ventilate the breathing air which would otherwise be polluted with toxic levels of CO₂ and CO. During those ventilation runs the boat could dash ahead at her best speed of about 18 knots. U-530 was equipped with the FuMO 61 Hohentwiel radar transmitter and theFuMB 26 Tunis radar detection system. Using these sensors the vessel could operate on the surface at night with greater safety than most u-boats. Maintaining an average speed of 8 knots U-530 could reach the Scotia Sea and return as far as Plata del Mar in almost exactly 63 days.

The lesson here is how mad rulers take revenge on those driving them from power. Should we be concerned about this in the United States of 2019?

Note also the blame despots place upon their most loyal followers when the end of their regime looms. Here is an example from Hitler: “The German people has not fought heroically, it deserves to perish. It is not I who have lost the war, but the German people”.’

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“Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last?” a lesson for today’s Trump Republicans in Congress?

Consider the encounter between Rand Paul (Senator?) and Dr. Anthony Fauci–“If anyone is lying here, Senator, it is you!” July 20, 2021.
1954, June 9, the Army McCarthy Hearings

“Have you no sense of decency?” Sen. Joseph McCarthy is asked in hearing.


In a dramatic confrontation, Joseph Welch, special counsel for the U.S. Army, lashes out at Senator Joseph McCarthy during hearings on whether communism has infiltrated the U.S. armed forces. Welch’s verbal assault marked the end of McCarthy’s power during the anticommunist hysteria of the Red Scare in America.

Senator McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) experienced a meteoric rise to fame and power in the U.S. Senate when he charged in February 1950 that “hundreds” of “known communists” were in the Department of State. In the years that followed, McCarthy became the acknowledged leader of the so-called Red Scare, a time when millions of Americans became convinced that communists had infiltrated every aspect of American life. Behind closed-door hearings, McCarthy bullied, lied, and smeared his way to power, destroying many careers and lives in the process. Prior to 1953, the Republican Party tolerated his antics because his attacks were directed against the Democratic administration of Harry S. Truman. When Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the White House in 1953, however, McCarthy’s recklessness and increasingly erratic behavior became unacceptable and the senator saw his clout slowly ebbing away. In a last-ditch effort to revitalize his anticommunist crusade, McCarthy made a crucial mistake. He charged in early 1954 that the U.S. Army was “soft” on communism. As Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, McCarthy opened hearings into the Army.

Joseph N. Welch, a soft-spoken lawyer with an incisive wit and intelligence, represented the Army. During the course of weeks of hearings, Welch blunted every one of McCarthy’s charges. The senator, in turn, became increasingly enraged, bellowing “point of order, point of order,” screaming at witnesses, and declaring that one highly decorated general was a “disgrace” to his uniform. On June 9, 1954, McCarthy again became agitated at Welch’s steady destruction of each of his arguments and witnesses. In response, McCarthy charged that Frederick G. Fisher, a young associate in Welch’s law firm, had been a long-time member of an organization that was a “legal arm of the Communist Party.” Welch was stunned. As he struggled to maintain his composure, he looked at McCarthy and declared, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” It was then McCarthy’s turn to be stunned into silence, as Welch asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” The audience of citizens and newspaper and television reporters burst into wild applause. Just a week later, the hearings into the Army came to a close. McCarthy, exposed as a reckless bully, was officially condemned by the U.S. Senate for contempt against his colleagues in December 1954. During the next two-and-a-half years McCarthy spiraled into alcoholism. Still in office, he died 4 years later.

(Courtesy History.com)

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Recollections of Warren Harkey, a friend and lifelong resident of New Mexico, USA

Thought you might find this amusing.  It concern’s my father’s career.

Southern Pacific depot at Ancho New Mexico

The application under the for our future home was made under the terms of the Homestead act, which was filed 10/05/1936.  I was born in August 1937 and vaguely remember living in the back of the depot
at Ancho, New Mexico.  Remember crawling around trying to find the what was making a
dripping sound on the bottom of the icebox we had there.  Pop got ice
from the railroad cars to put in the icebox.

Don’t know when we moved to the house Pop built.  No AC power, just
kerosene lamps.  I remember watching Pop working in the office at the
depot with headphones on and typing instructions to the incoming train
which were attached to loops with a handle and the engineer slowed down
and reached out and grabbed the loop and removed the note, better known
as “orders” and pitched the loop back down.  All communication in and
out were by landline Morse code!  I wanted to learn it but never made it!

Rural Railroad Station Manager at work


Until the 1950s, train movements were coordinated primarily by telegraphed messages. Orders conveyed by the dots and dashes of Morse code directed trains to use specified routes to avoid collisions and kept dispatchers up to the minute on train locations. There were no radios, so depot telegraphers delivered the orders to train crews as written or typed messages grabbed by train drivers ( “engineers”) as the train passed the station.

Locomotive tender water tank being filled, this had to be done every 20 or 30 miles
Coal would be loaded into the tender (always directly coupled to the locomotive) at the beginning of every trip
Locomotive fireman had to shovel coal from tender into firebox continuously during a trip-he might become an engineer (train driver) after several years

All engines were steam engines, so water had to be available every few
miles.  I remember the water from Bonito lake was piped to Coyote
(between Ancho and Carrizozo) by gravity and huge steam driven pumps at
Coyote forced the water up to Ancho and Luna and I don’t remember if it
went further. Coyote had dual steam plants and dual pumps to make sure
the trains could keep going.  The steam plants were huge!, everything
was fueled by coal which came in by rail also.  Every station had water
available for the steam engines.

The pumps were manned 24 hrs/day and Uncle Elbert Brown worked there. 
Pop took us down to visit with Elbert and I got a tour of the place-very
impressive.  A large water storage facility was there also just in
case.  Just after the war, in 1945 or 6 trains switched to diesel and
hundreds were out of a job.  The water from Bonito was diverted to
Alamogordo.  Pop’s job moved to Carrizozo and he had a longer commute. 
Ancho, Luna and Coyote died🙁.

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Above is an oft-quoted description of the Soviet Union by Winston Churchill–does it still apply to the Russia of Vladimir Putin?

The Soviet Union Tried to Ally With Germany During WWII

Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer

Andrei Tapalaga ✒️FollowJul 19 · 5 min read

Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov talking with Gustav Hilger (center) and Adolf Hitler, Berlin, November 1940 (Source: AKG Images)

TThe Europe of 1940 witnessed the rapid victory of German troops over Western allies, much to the surprise of military observers. The fighting continued with a strong air offensive on England, a very costly form of confrontation with fuel consumption and the loss of quality aircraft. Adolf Hitler needed strategic resources and found them with the support of the Soviet Union, to be more exact, with the help of Comrade Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin.

The Soviet Union’s demands

The relations between these great powers were resolved by meetings at the highest level, and in November 1940, Commissioner Veaceslav Mikhailovich Molotov, Comrade Stalin’s right-hand man, visited Berlin. Only oil and grain should have flowed, but Adolf Hitler was shocked to learn of the Kremlin’s wishes. Moscow demanded, among other things, points of support for the Soviet fleet in the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, as well as in Thessaloniki, Greece being a coveted space by the Italian ally. Adolf Hitler had to agree with Soviet rule in Iran and communist bases in the Persian Gulf. It would have been a huge step towards achieving the ideological goal they called the ‘world revolution’ by capturing British oil reserves.

The strategic bombers would have controlled the entire Arab region and the paratroopers would have occupied everything that was essential to maintain control of communist Moscow. The BT series fast tanks would have been perfect for large space operations. Points of support on the Dalmatian coast of Yugoslavia were not forgotten, and Bulgaria had to be included in the communist world. Sofia’s entry into the communist sphere would have had a special geostrategic impact.

Germany: Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov talking with Gustav Hilger (center) and Adolf Hitler, Berlin, November 1940 (AKG Images)

The presence of Soviet troops south of the Danube would have brought the red-star tanks only 60 km from Bucharest, and the Prahova region, with the Wehrmacht’s essential refineries, was not too far away. As Romania did not have enough anti-tank weapons, the defense of the Carpatho-Danubian-Pontic country was impossible to achieve. In addition, the Soviet ground forces were approaching the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, the two straits being interesting for a future outflow of the Red Fleet into the Mediterranean. It was a perfect indirect strategy action by the Kremlin.

The hosts were shocked when they heard about Soviet bases on the coast of Denmark, in order to have access to the North Sea and, implicitly, to the Atlantic Ocean. Soviet units were allegedly introduced into territory occupied in April 1940 by German troops. No other claim by the Kremlin went down well with those in Berlin. Romania had lost, in June 1940, the territories of Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, and Herta County, following an ultimatum issued by Commissioner Molotov.

Romania caught between two powers

The Romanian army, lacking anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, was forced to withdraw without a fight and abandon the population to a new communist experiment, with deportations and exterminations. At the time, Moscow was also demanding the sovereignty of Southern Bukovina, which would have meant that the city of Suceava would have fallen beyond possible future borders.

Romanian Troops in 1940 (Source: Russia Beyond)

Adolf Hitler did not have a high degree in the military arts, but he could not help but notice the critical situation in which Romania found itself. The army of Bucharest would have had its flank uncovered and the defense of the city of Iasi would have been impossible. The capital of Romania went from 429 km starting from Chernivtsi to 358 km departing by air from Suceava. Berlin was interested in defending the oil-rich Prahova region, which was essential for the operation of the tank-aircraft binomial needed for large-scale offensive operations such as operation Barbarosa, which would follow two years later. The Soviet armies were approaching from the north and the one from the east was about 200 km away.

Secret Military summit conference at the Berghof, July 1940 (Source: World Future Fund)

Although official relations remained seemingly good and trade continued, both sides moved onto military training for supremacy in Europe and, implicitly, in the world. The German chancellor ordered the Barbarossa Plan to be drawn up, and the path of war was seen as the only solution to the problems in the socialist camp.

The reason as to why it is imperative to mention Romania so much in this agreement is due to the important role they played during the war. Despite its small army, as well as its small territory, Romania always gave everything it had towards winning the war. This includes their most valuable resource at the time, oil. As the Soviet Union had an abundance of oil at the time, they weren’t interested in Romania for this exact reason. However, Germany could not get enough oil to power its mechanic military power.

Romania was not only located in the epicenter of the Second World War but also, it had a very important geographical location, as it allowed the Axis powers from the west to move in their troops through Bessarabia into the Soviet Union.

Even if this agreement had worked, it would not have lasted for a long time, as we are talking about two of the biggest military powers of the 20th century showing their hunger for more and more power. They were deeply influenced by both fascism and communism. Germany would end up declaring war, taking over most of Europe, and starting Operation Barbarossa on the 5th of December 1941. This operation consisted of a plan to use the Blitzkrieg tactic (Lighting War) to take over the whole of the Soviet Union.

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(Thanks to Scott Goldman/Quora)

Moses never got his passport or drivers license, so we can’t be certain. Neither did White Wolf, the Chippewa Indian Chief, sometimes called by his Anglo name of John Smith.

Just looking at the picture, I’d say that his tombstone is probably right.

White Wolf had eight wives, fought many battles with the Lakota/Sioux Indians and remembered the War of 1812. At the age of 116, he got hit by a locomotive; that would normally be the ticket to the Other Side, but White Wolf had a full recovery in three weeks. And living in Minnesota, he would occasionally encounter bears on his long treks to no place in particular. When they got in attack mode, standing high on their rear paws, White Wolf would point his cane at the predator and give it a stern warning to go away; at the age of 138, he couldn’t be bothered.

RIP John Smith, also known as White Wolf, also known as Kaa-be-naag-wii-wlss

I believe you.

Was healthy outdoor living his secret? Notice the ancient Mississipian culture symbol, the swastika,

appropriated by a certain criminal gang in Germany in 1920. Below is another version of this symbol, with

eagle associations and imagery. Referred to as the Feathered Serpent symbol.

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Destruction of the Great Alexandrian Library

Three theories exist regarding destruction of the greatest repository of knowledge up to that time, the Great Alexandrian Library.

Theory 1 is that a Christian mob attacked and burned the library and its contents, along with its female Chief Librarian on the grounds that its contents included information about witchcraft.

Theory 2 is that the same earthquake which brought down the Alexandrian Lighthouse also destroyed the Library.

Below is another take on the same subject, which the reader might find interesting.

Rendering of what the library interior may have looked like
What the Great Fire of Alexandria might have looked like

lius Ceasar set fire to his own ships in the harbor of Alexandria during a siege against Ptolemy XIV- Cleopatra’s brother. He was trying to clear the wharf and block Ptolemy’s own ships, when the fire spread to the docks and surrounding buildings. Scholars believe that the part of the library that caught fire was a warehouse containing excess texts, not the library itself. If it was damaged at all, it was quickly repaired or rebuilt. Strabo writes about visiting it, and Plutarch wrote about a gift given to Cleopatra (by Mark Antony) of 200,000 scrolls from the library. And whether or not Plutarch’s account was accurate or propaganda against Mark, it couldn’t have been claimed either way if the library had already been destroyed.

The Serapeum of Alexandria: a wing of the great library.

So, then- what was it that completely destroyed the library?

Budget cuts, mostly. Yeah, you heard me right.

In the beginning, the library had been stocked with nearly every text the Ptolemaic Dynasty could get their hands on. (And they were really wealthy at the time). They also kept a lot of scholars there, people who could live without paying room, board, or taxes, and were given a salary as long as they gave lectures, taught a few classes, and copied a text or two. Archimedes is said to have invented his famous screw there.

And Eratosthenes came weirdly close to determining the exact circumference of the earth. He also determined that there were 365 days in a year. (366 every 4th year)

A picture depicting Eratosthenes’ method.

After Ptolemy VII was murdered, Ptolemy VIII set out to punish everyone who supported the guy. Which meant a lot of the library’s inhabitants. Most were driven out.

The library was already partly neglected by the time Julius Caesar came around. His fire didn’t help, certainly. Those scholars who had been ejected from Alexandria went elsewhere and built new libraries, and while the Library of Alexandria dwindled, other places flourished. Alexandria had other, smaller libraries built around the city, and there’s speculation that some of the scrolls from the Great Library were used to stock them.

In 272 AD, the Emperor Aurelian fought to recapture the city from the Palmyrene queen Zenobia, and destroyed the Great Library’s section of the city in the process. If it was still standing then, it was certainly destroyed in the process. The 297 siege by Emperor Diocletian would’ve certainly destroyed the rest. Julius Caesar was not the (main) reason for the Library of Alexandria’s destruction.

Whatever the reason for destruction of the Great Alexandrian Library, the result was the irreplaceable loss of records of mankind’s recorded heritage up to that time. Destruction of the Great Libraries of Baghdad by Genghis Khan and episodes of bookburnings and murders of scholars and scientists since continue–as in the “Cultural Revolution” in China, the Cambodian genocide, destruction of Mayan, Aztec and Inca libraries and, of course, the Holocaust.

You would think humanity could do better than that.

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The Aftermath of War, from a German soldier who helped the Resistance and postwar refugees

German Kurt Henke had lived part of his childhood in Norway. On February 16th 1945, 10 days after his arrival in Denmark, he started passing information to the local Danish resistance group, who called him “The Norwegian”. He succcesfully prevented the Gestapo in destroying a resistance weapons depot and workshop and arresting the resistance members.
Being able to speak German and Norwegian/Danish, he worked as an enterpreter between the Wehrmacht and the towns people.
Post-war he was allowed to stay in Denmark, and he worked for the Danish Brigade’s occupation forces in Germany. He married a German refugee woman in Denmark and settled in Germany, but he still visited Denmark to go fishing with his old friends.

Thanks to our Norwegian brothers who gave Kurt Henke a good upbringing!

Granted, Denmark was not the most dangerous “frontline”, but if he had been found passing warnings to the resistance, he would have have been a dead man.

Sabotaged railway that Kurt Henke was to protect (unknown date).

The following contains disturbing details about the German refugees that died in Denmark post-WWII:

German soldier who in 1945 was stationed in Skanderborg, where he helped the Danish resistance movement.

Kurt Henke was an interpreter for the German Security Police in Skanderborg and Århus. With his life in extreme danger he passed on the information he as an interpreter received, to the resistance movement via an intermediary and thereby saved several resistance fighters from arrest. Furthermore, he prevented the Gestapo from carrying out reprisals against Brigadir Nielsen’s mechanic’s workshop, Banegårdsvej 23 in Skanderborg, where the resistance movement had stored weapons.

Kurt Henke was born in 1914 in Berlin. In the years 1924 to 1939 he was in family care in Norway with several long stays, where he went to school in Tromsø.

I dec. In 1939, he was called up for service at Siemens, which manufactured parts for airplanes. In late 1943, he was drafted into the army and deployed to Poland.

Later he was transferred to Ers as a member of Und Ausbildungsbataillon O 292 (effort and training battalion) in Rostock. The letter O referred to that it consisted of people with ear disorders from deafness to total deafness in one ear.

On February 6, 1945, the battalion, which consisted of 550 men, was relocated to Skanderborg. The task was to secure the railway line Skanderborg – Hørning, Skanderborg – Hylke against sabotage.

The soldiers were accommodated at Skanderborg Kommuneskole, Hylke Forsamlingshus, Vrold Forsamlingshus, Forsamlingshotellet and Håndværkerforeningen.

When Kurt Henke spoke both German and Norwegian / Danish, he got the job as an interpreter in the dialogue between the armed forces and the population and the city management.

The “Norwegian”, as he was called, gradually developed a good relationship with many people in Skanderborg, and based on his pacifist attitude to life, he opposed the occupying power. He contacted the local Danish resistance movement as early as 16 February 1945, and he was associated with it until it was abolished on 15 July 1945.

At the capitulation (the term for Germany’s surrender), Kurt Henke was given permission to stay in the city at the request of the city leader of the resistance movement, Munch Carlsen, and the air defense chief. The Danish air defense chief offered him the place as an office assistant at the refugee camp “Sølund”, where he was to act as an intermediary between the air defense chief and the German refugees.

Later, Kurt Henke got a job as an interpreter at the Danish Brigade in Germany, where he worked until 1948.

Excerpts from Gefreiter Kurt Henke’s memoirs:

The strange thing was that after the capitulation, we had a whole lot of children here at Sølund who died. It was because of the milk. The doctor said to the mothers: “You must not give the children the milk”. They got a daily ration of half a liter, as far as I remember, and the mothers got a quarter of a liter. But the mothers were so crazy that they also gave the quarter liter to the child.

But the doctor said that the only way to save the children was that they did not get any fats, because they were not used to it. The nutrition they had received as Germany’s forces collapsed might have consisted of dry bread and perhaps some coffee substitute, but no fats. I myself was completely sick of the milk. I first started drinking milk again a few years ago. But then the refugees came. It was also a problem.

It was a fucking job, it was, because I was the one who had to requisition schools, youth centers and everything around here in the city, receive refugees at the train station. There was a whole train, probably from Copenhagen, with a couple of hundred refugees. And then I say to the general “Where should I send them, all those people”? And then he said: “Henke, difficulties are too much to overcome!” (Difficulties exist to be overcome). “Well, what should I do?” “Yes,” he said, “make a big pit, throw everything in there!” (“Yes,” he said, “dig a big hole and throw them all in there!”).

It was also a kind of solution. But then I got hold of the different schools, but it was difficult. We used the gym at the private school down here. We got bunk beds, I dont know where we picked them up. There were three beds on top of each other, and it had to be taken into account, an old lady could not be put in the upper bed. It was nonsense. I was actually a nanny for all of them. I organized a library and some musical instruments.

They got sick in the head if they just had to sit at school and “pick their nose” all day! With the money I got from the German Consulate in Aarhus, I drove around to different cities and bought coffins.

Because we had a whole lot of dead here at school, children, and out on Sølund later. No matter what size! I had to be happy with every single coffin I could get until the mayor said: “Now you have to stop buying coffins, because we also need someone ourselves”. So we had to save on the coffins.

So we did it in the way that I put the corpses in the coffin – there were many children – and then we drove them to Aarhus. Then we put the coffins in place, and the family – mostly the mother and maybe siblings were there – but then they were not buried after the ceremony while the relatives were there. We said they would be buried later.

The reason was that when the family was gone, we opened the coffin, you see, and just poured them into the ground, for we were going to use the box for someone else. Eventually we had to bury them in cement bags and that sort of thing. There was a mother who lost two children in 24 hours.

I only had a single coffin that was too small. The parents were going to Aarhus. We had to transport the children out to the morgue in the cots on a trailer. But because of the rough roads the bottom fell out of the beds and the children lay there crosswise. There was lots of old coke dust in the barn where the children lived and the kids were full of it.

They looked absolutely awful. I could not allow the parents to look at the children, I was so startled. I had to unplug the car, and then I said to the driver, “Drive! The parents must not get out of the carriage ”. And he gave it gas and drove away, and I stood alone with that cart. Then I had to clean the kids, and what was I supposed to do? I had to take a water hose and rinse them off, clean it out of their eyes. It looked so ugly you understand.

And then it is also a different feeling if you see an adult human being lying there as dead than you see a child. It’s so cruel. The last one I buried, it went pretty solemnly until I was about to wrap the little one. I do not remember if it was a girl or a boy, but ….. he was at least 20 cm taller than the coffin. So the only option was to pull his legs up so high he could be there. It was the last one I buried.

But then I have also experienced some fun things at Sølund. We also had a wedding. One day a woman came and said: “Tell me, Henke, is it possible that we can get married here in Skanderborg?” I did not know. I went to the mayor and said, “Is it possible for German refugees to get married here?” “Yes, why not?” He said. The groom was a hairdresser. “Did they have papers?” “Yes,” they had. And then they got married here at City Hall. The mayor is coming, he was a nice guy, he was gracious, he was a human being. Strict on the one hand, absolutely sovereign and strict, but he was a human being. Then he gets into his car after they had been married and returned with a large layer cake.

And then you can say: A layer cake, it’s nothing! But then one must understand that people who have not seen layer cake for 5-6 years, whipped cream, a cake that tastes great. At home, (in rationed wartime Germany) they were given 20 grams of butter or margarine. Here they get a whole layer cake! It is like the dear God coming from heaven. And the people of the resistance movement – they were completely unique.

They made sure that the soldiers from the occupying forces (German soldiers imprisoned in Denmark or left behind when Germany surrendered) got their food every day from Skanderborg – all the way down to the border! We drove two trucks with bread and sausage and horse ham. Of course it was not first quality, that is clear, but they got food at least. We picked up people who had bad legs and could not walk anymore, and drove them to the next station … It was strange conditions, but that was it …, why should we shoot at each other? It’s no use. Why should we be unfriends? The ordinary German soldier would be a thousand times better off at home as a prewar civilian than a day in Skanderborg. It is true. You can not blame the ordinary soldier …

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Gravity as a thought experiment

17th century science at Isaac Newton’s “laboratory”. An innovative use of a keyhole, don’ t you think?

Isaac Newton, Professor at Trinity College, London, fled London to escape the twin catastrophies of a recurrent Bubonic Plague outbreak and the later “Fire of London”. Both of which occurred during a 2 year period, 1665-66, during which a third of London’s population died.

To occupy himself during his self-imposed “lockdown”, he compiled his reflections on gravity and related physical phenomena, in a classic work entitled: PRINCIPIA, the foundation of modern physics.

Gravity and light were key parts of his research interests and speculations. It was two centuries and a fraction later that Albert Einstein proposed that both light and gravity were “wave” phenomena and that both were “bent” as they moved through space. Light had been observed to bend and break up into primary colors and wavelengths long before, but gravity was, and is, a continuing mystery in many aspects, even to Einstein.

(Update on gravity reflection: Do Mirrors for Gravitational Waves Exist?; https://arxiv.org/abs/0903.0661, a report from Cornell University, U.S.A.)

Suppose, during the Covid 19 imposed lockdown, we could focus on phenomena such as gravity, and engage in thought experiments which sometimes lead to breakthroughs in science and understanding of our world.

Like most of us, I’m afraid that human nature during this 2020 pandemic and related political opportunism and disfunction have clouded our minds to the point that distraction would be helpful.

Here Goes:

Suppose that, instead of the usual energy hogging metal boxes we move ourselves around in, we used gravity to gently lift our metal boxes off the surface just enough to eliminate the need for wheels or tracks.

Many of you will recognize that this describes an already studied method of doing this, known as “magnetic levitation”. However, this technology requires enormous amounts of electrical energy and infrastructure to implement and operate, so seems to have receded into the archive of brilliant but impractical schemes. Battery-electric vehicles and gyroscopic power systems have their own well-known obstacles to overcome, and neither can function without specific infrastructure and abundant fixed energy suppliers.

All that would be needed for gravity fueled levitation is a means, attached to the “metal box, something like car with no wheels or engine” which needed to be moved around, to reflect the energy already existing between the box and the earth–up to now securing the box to the earth–back to the earth such that the box is lifted sufficiently to enable frictionless movement.

Too advanced for its time, the Aerocar was the model for cars 20+ years later, a creation of Germany’s most innovative aviation pioneer

The beauty of harnessing gravity via reflection/deflection is that, exactly as the gravity field between heavy masses and light ones automatically adjusts to whatever the “metal box” earlier mentioned weighs, sufficient spacing to achieve frictionless travel would depend on how it was focussed rather than a need for external power input. Remember Newton’s determination that, absent air resistance, light bodies fall at the same speed as heavy ones.

Of course, any human inside the box would have in mind a destination, rather than some random amusement ride which could turn into something truly terrifying.

Frictionless movement over a level surface could be enabled by nothing more than, say, the cooling fan or turbine used to displace heat from onboard air conditioning for passengers, for example. Of course, some sort of battery or power source would be needed, since vehicle AC compressors typically require 3 to 5 horsepower to operate. Some type of vane or rudder system would be needed to provide directional control as well.

Braking and wind effects on a frictionless land vehicle would be significant engineering challenges once the forward motion systems are sorted out, but if we were able to harness gravity to lift such a vehicle, perhaps we could use the same force to maintain direction despite wind effects and control momentum (braking).

Most urban travel, except for cities like Pittsburg and San Francisco, is typically on fairly level ground. Hills would obviously be a challenge for frictionless vehicles, so summoning up imaginative solutions for that problem would be additional brain teasers.

My speculation on the “ascent” (hill) challenge is to imagine that harnessed gravity to lift “metal boxes” to enable frictionless movement could possibly be finessed to enable ascent of such a frictionless body, since ascent is a similar challenge to gravity with an added horizontal component.

Have you forgotten about pandemics and politics yet?

How about a final word from Professor Newton:

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it underpins all that’s worth knowing, especially science

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HOW RUSSIA SAVED THE UNITED STATES (nothing to do with Putin, of course)

“…Who was our friend when the world was our foe?”

Never question Russian resolve. If you’re ever in a fight you’d better hope you’ve got them on your side.

The Imperial Russian fleet in New York harbor, October 1863, Harper’s Weekly

In 1863 the United States was being torn apart by a great Civil War. It would take more American life than any other war before or since; more would die in the Civil War than in the First and Second World Wars combined.

With the issue still in the balance, Britain and France conspired (as great powers do) for political advantage. In their perception, a divided America would strengthen Anglo-French power. But a unified America might one day wield greater power than all of Europe combined. Before the future was taken by the upstart young nation, they would seize the moment and destroy a potential rival.

Paris and London plotted intervention on the side of the Confederacy. They claimed to be moved by purely “humanitarian” motives. Enough blood has been shed, they declared; the wiser, older European powers, masters of civilization, would put an end to the barbaric bloodletting. In fact, claimed motives were cynical and false. Great nations do not go to war out of charitable instinct.

They saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. France could recover territories lost in the Louisiana Purchase. England knew that, without access to the port of New Orleans, the North could not long survive economically. A bankrupt Union might even reverse the outcome of the American Revolution, and England would (at the very least) enlist a new ally in the Confederacy. Both England and France tried to enlist the Russian Empire in their ploy. The Russian reply was unexpected and immediate.

The Czar rejected Anglo-French overtures. A capable and intelligent man, he did not trust the British any more than he did the French. Countering their cynical scheme, Czar Alexander mobilized the formidable Russian Navy. In America’s weakest moment, it came to her aid:

On September 24, 1863, the Russian Baltic fleet began to arrive in New York harbor. On October 12, the Russian Far East fleet began to arrive in San Francisco. …The Russian admirals had been told that, if the US and Russia were to find themselves at war with Britain and France, the Russian ships should place themselves under Lincoln’s command and operate in synergy with the US Navy against the common enemies.

Coming on the heels of the bloody Union reverse at Chickamauga, news of the Russian fleet unleashed an immense wave of euphoria in the North. It was this moment that inspired the verses of Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of the most popular writers in America, for the 1871 friendship visit of the Russian Grand Duke Alexis:

“Bleak are our shores with the blasts of December,
Fettered and chill is the rivulet’s flow;
Thrilling and warm are the hearts that remember,
Who was our friend when the world was our foe.
Fires of the North in eternal communion,
Blend your broad flashes with evening’s bright star;
God bless the Empire that loves the Great Union;
Strength to her people! Long life to the Czar!”

The Russian Brig Merkury in battle (Tkachenko, Mikhail Stepanovich)

When an attack on San Francisco by the Confederate cruiser Shenandoah appeared imminent, the Russian admiral ordered his ships to defend the city, by any means necessary. With no Union warships on the scene, Russia was ready to fight for the vulnerable United States.

Could a divided United States of America have successfully fought the British, and the French, and the Confederacy, and won? It seems unlikely. But for our Russian friends we might not be here to ask the question. Luckily, Lincoln never had to find out. As Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles put it: “…God bless the Russians.”

Kenneth Bourne’s Britain and the Balance of Power in North America, 1815-1908
Jones (The Union in Peril; The Crisis Over British Intervention in the Civil War)

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Plagues (or pandemics, a more modern term) with a reflection by Marcus Aurelius. Does he speak to us in 2020?


Destruction of empire

Although the Antonine Plague would have little influence over the arts or Roman culture, its social and political effects have left an indelible mark on the pages of history. With it, the plague brought the death knell of the Roman Empire, and would herald in a time of constant upheaval, betrayal, and—some would argue—insanity at the hands of a capricious dictator.
But, perhaps what we should also remember is the effect the plague had on Roman society. Amid the terror and confusion, Romans gave in to believing falsehoods, behaving badly, and acting without true understanding and honour.
Marcus’ thoughts had been plagued by another pestilence, and according to his writings in the Meditations, he was deeply troubled by what he observed. His beloved Rome was descending into chaos, wanton acts, denying fact in favour of fiction, and choosing lies over truth and justice. Perhaps we have something to learn from the following reflection of his,
“Real good luck would be to abandon life without ever encountering dishonesty, or hypocrisy, or self-indulgence, or pride. But the ‘next best voyage’ is to die when you’ve had enough. Or are you determined to lie down with evil? Hasn’t experience even taught you that—to avoid it like the plague? Because it is a plague—a mental cancer—worse than anything caused by tainted air or an unhealthy climate. Disease like that can only threaten your life; this one attacks your humanity.” Meditations, IX.2
    Marcus died in 180 CE, likely of the plague mentioned which started in 165 CE and claimed 2000 Romans a day. Smallpox was the likely cause.
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