Eighty years ago the Germans vandalize their own past in Naples

 MGH Archive K 123/VI,4. Image: MGH


The US-British landing force at Salerno broke out of its beachhead and moved north to take Naples.   Given Italy's change in status this could be classed as a liberation. A few days before the allies arrived the population had risen in revolt. The Germans took revenge by burning the contents of the university library of Naples, one of Europe's oldest. 50,000 books including many irreplaceable manuscripts were destroyed including papers of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily, who was revered as a great figure in German history. This act of vandalism was doubly perverse in view of Goering's - lunatic - order to the garrison evacuating Sicily a few weeks before to remove Federick's sarcophagus from Palermo cathedral.

The island of Kos which had been occupied by the British  in one of Churchill's more foolish gambits after Italy surrendered was retaken by the Germans.  Churchill had seen this as part of an assault on the 'soft under-belly of Europe' which would persuade Turkey to join the allies. The Dodecanese just off the Turkish coast was beyond long-range allied air cover and naval resources were already over-stretched. Some 1,500 British troops were lost for no result whatever. Worse, the larger garrison on Leros which had been occupied at the same time was left in place.

The Danish authorities were alerted to German intentions to deport the country's Jews to extermination camps. Practically the entire community, some 7,500, were successfully evacuated across the narrow Oresund strait to Sweden. The Germans declared Denmark Judenrein (free of Jews) albeit not as they had hoped.

In a speech to Gauleiter at Poznan Himmler was entirely direct in stating that the extermination of Jews was to include women and children.  He claimed the risk should not be taken that a future generation of Jews should avenge itself on Germany