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Members of the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company leave Victoria Station, London, for a tour of Holland, May 1940

Members of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet Company leave Victoria Station, London, for a tour of Holland, May 1940. Director Ninette de Valois is on the far right.

When the Germans invaded Holland on May 10, 1940, Ninette de Valois found herself trapped in The Hague. She was the director of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet Company from England. She and her 42 dancers had been on a Dutch tour. On the day of the invasion, de Valois had been sitting at a sidewalk café with two members of the dance company. It was noon. Suddenly, a stray bullet ricocheted from the pavement, passed between their heads, and crashed through the café’s plate glass window behind them. The bullet had been fired from a German plane swooping over the city square. The diners were rushed inside to safety.

That morning, some of the dancers had flocked to the rooftop of their hotel to watch German parachutists float down and land in the area around the Hague, where Queen Wilhelmina resided.  Thousands of leaflets also fluttered down from the enemy aircraft, some landing on the rooftop, that proclaimed:

Strong German troop units have surrounded the city. Resistance is of no use. Germany does not fight your country but Great Britain. In order to continue this battle the German Army has been forced to penetrate your country. The German Army protects the life and goods of every peace-loving citizen. However, the German troops will punish every deed of violence committed by the population with a death sentence.” 1

For five days, the Dutch army fought bravely, but it was no match for the German war machine. The Netherlands had a policy of neutrality and had had no recent experience of resisting outside invading forces. Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch Royal Family from the Royal House of Orange-Nassau refused to accept the Nazi offer of protection and sailed to England on the HMS Hereford sent by King George VI.

The Exiled Royals with the King and Queen of England, WWII (photo undated). From left to right: Queen Marie of Yugoslavia,Miss Benesj,Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands,Miss Raczkiewicz,King George VI of England,King Peter of Yugoslavia,King Haakon of Norway, Queen Elizabeth (The Queen mother) of England, the President of Poland, M. Raczkiewicz and Dr. Benesj, President of Tsjecho- Slovakia.

The Exiled Royals with the King and Queen of England, WWII (photo undated). From left to right: Queen Marie of Yugoslavia,Miss Benesj,Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands,Miss Raczkiewicz,King George VI of England,King Peter of Yugoslavia,King Haakon of Norway, Queen Elizabeth (The Queen mother) of England, the President of Poland, M. Raczkiewicz and Dr. Benesj, President of Tsjecho- Slovakia.

The Netherlands surrendered on May 15.

For the next seven weeks, the citizens of Holland did not resist the German occupation. They buried their dead and mourned their losses. They were shocked and demoralized. They felt abandoned by their queen.

Audrey Hepburn-Ruston, ca. 1941 (age 12)

Audrey Hepburn-Ruston, ca. 1941 (age 12)

Audrey Hepburn was eleven years old when the Germans took over her town of Arnhem, Holland:

“The first few months we didn’t quite know what had happened.”

But Queen Wilhelmina reached out to her subjects across the North Sea via newsreels and BBC radio broadcasts, revitalizing Dutch hope for Allied liberation, and condemning German aggression. She urged them to resist the moffen (German Huns). For the next five years, the radio voice of the Queen would be the main source of inspiration for the Dutch Resistance Movement.

Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard celebrate their engagement 1936. Note the white carnation in the Prince's lapel.

Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard celebrate their engagement 1936. Note the white carnation in the Prince’s lapel.

An opportunity for the Dutch citizens to protest the German occupation arrived on June 29. It was the birthday of Prince Bernhard, the Queen’s son-in-law. Since he had been a student, the Prince had worn a trademark white carnation in his lapel.

So, on June 29, the Dutch people demonstrated their loyalty to Queen and country and their defiance of Nazi rule. People participated all across the country, but the activity was strongest in Amsterdam and The Hague.

People displayed vases full of carnations in the windows of homes and stores. Women and girls wore orange skirts, orange being the national color, symbolic of the Royal House of Orange. The Dutch flag was flown. Men pinned white carnations in the buttonhole of their coats, in imitation of Prince Bernhard, a German who was anti-Nazi.  Some people rode bicycles around town all dressed in orange.

Crowds gathered at the statue of Queen Emma, Wilhelmina’s mother, in Amsterdam to lay flowers.

The Queen Emma monument is festooned with flowers on Carnation Day, 1940

The Queen Emma monument is festooned with flowers on Carnation Day, 1940

At first, only single flowers were placed on the statue’s lap. Then others arrived carrying great pots of flowers. Soon the area at the base of the statue was covered in flowers. On the nearby lawn, the letter B was formed with a clever flower arrangement. People brought cut-out pictures of the royal family and laid these beside the flowers.

A street organ began to play the national anthem. Softly at first, people began to sing. Shortly, though, more people lifted their voices in patriotic song. Emotion was running high.

Men belonging to the WA, the military arm of the Dutch Nazi organization (NSB), shoved into crowds and started fights. The WA goons wore black shirts. Many people were injured.

NSB members (Dutch Nazis or collaborators) show up at a statue of Queen Emma on Carnation Day, giving the straight arm salute.

NSB members (Dutch Nazis or collaborators) show up at a statue of Queen Emma on Carnation Day, giving the straight arm salute.

People gathered at the Queen’s residence in the Hague, the Noordeinde Palace, to lay flowers on the balcony and to sign the birthday register.  The German commander of the Wehrmacht feared a riot. He ordered German fighter planes to fly above the city, diving now and then, but not to shoot, to get the crowd to disperse.

This day became known as Anjerdag, “Carnation Day.”

German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels is shown at the entrance to Queen Wilhelmina's residence, the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague on Carnation Day. The nonviolent protest demonstration by the Dutch citizens greatly alarmed their German occupiers. Hitler was informed and the Nazis began their crackdown on Dutch life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels (center) is shown at the entrance to Queen Wilhelmina’s residence, the Noordeinde Palace, in The Hague on Carnation Day. The nonviolent protest demonstrations by the Dutch citizens greatly alarmed their German occupiers. Hitler was informed and the Nazis began their crackdown on Dutch life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Germans were furious with this civil act of disobedience. They ordered images of the Dutch Royal Family to be removed from all public places. Street names were renamed. The Prince Bernhard Square, for example, became “Gooiplein.” The Royal Library was soon referred to as the National Library. On the first of August, the top Nazi in Holland, Reichskommissar Seyss-Inquart, announced that it was forbidden to celebrate a birthday of a member of the Dutch Royal family.

Postnote:  In early 1941, a baby girl was born to a Mr. and Mrs. Niehot of The Hague. They wanted to name their newborn baby Nelia after their midwife, Nelia Epker, but she suggested they give their child an ‘Orange‘ name. The result was announced in the newspaper in a birth advertisement: Irene Beatrix Juliana Wilhelmina Niehot.

This announcement was met with great joy. Irene and Beatrix were the young daughters of Crown Princess Juliana.

May 1940, London. Elizabeth Van Swinderen, wife of the former Dutch minister to Great Britain, points out London barrage balloons to Princess Juliana of the Netherlands. Juliana is with her children, Beatrix by her side and Irene in the baby carriage.

May 1940, London. Elizabeth Van Swinderen, wife of the former Dutch minister to Great Britain, points out London barrage balloons to Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, who is pushing the stroller. Juliana is with her children, Beatrix is by her side and Irene is in the baby carriage.

Perfect strangers sent cards, flowers, cakes and even money to the Niehot family. When the midwife Nelia Epker placed a thank-you advertisement in March 1941, listing the baby’s royal names once again, Nelia was arrested. She would not return to the Netherlands until August 1945, a survivor of Camp Ravensbrück. 2

1 Gottlief, Robert, ed. Reading Dance: A Gathering of Memoirs, Reportage, Criticism, Profiles, Interviews, and Some Uncategorizable Extras. New York: Pantheon Books, 2008.

2 Dutch Resistance Museum

 

 

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March 1933, the last picture taken of Anne, Edith, and Margot in Germany, prior to emigrating to Holland. Anne is 3 years old. They are standing in the Hauptwache square in the center of Frankfurt am Main

March 1933, the last picture taken of Anne, Edith, and Margot Frank in Germany, prior to emigrating to Holland. Anne is 3 years, 9 months old. They are standing in the Hauptwache square in the center of Frankfurt am Main

I have just finished rereading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. I was surprised to read that Anne had not been born in Amsterdam, where she hid from the Germans during World War II, but in Frankfort, Germany:

I will start by sketching in brief the story of my life. My father was 36 when he married my mother, who was then 25. My sister Margot was born in 1926 in Frankfort-on-Main, I followed on June 12, 1929, and, as we are Jewish, we emigrated to Holland in 1933….

The rest of our family, however, felt the full impact of Hitler’s anti-Jewish laws, so life was filled with anxiety.”1

Following Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, a Nazi flag is hoisted at the town hall in Frankfort, the Franks' hometown in Germany. February 1933

Following Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor, a Nazi flag is hoisted at the town hall in Frankfort, the Franks’ hometown in Germany. ca. January 31, 1933

Once Hitler was appointed Chancellor on January 30, 1933, Nazi Germany became too dangerous for the Franks, simply because they were Jewish.

The Nazis believed that Jews were subhuman and were bent on driving them out of Germany. The Nazi propaganda machine went full bore, inciting the German people to violence against the Jews, their neighbors and fellow citizens. At the helm were Joseph Goebbels, the Nazis’ main propagandist, and Julius Streicher.

Julius Streicher’s Nazi Party card was Number 2; Hitler’s was Number 7. Throughout the 1920s, Streicher had been a loyal agitator for Hitler. He published the rabid anti-Jewish newspaper Der Stürmer (“The Attacker”). He was believed to be a sexual pervert. In May 1933, Hitler made him chief of the Central Committee of the Defence against Jewish Atrocity and Boycott Agitation. That July, Streicher:

…had some Jews arrested and taken to a meadow to tear out grass with their teeth….A small squat man, his head shaven, he had a predilection for swaggering in public. He carried a whip, and used it.” 2

May 1934 issue of Der Stürmer, a weekly Nazi propaganda newspaper owned by Julius Streicher. This specific cover issue is notorious as an example of the anti-Semitic propaganda style of Der Stürmer. It invokes the infamous "blood libel against the Jews", specifically the allegation that Jews were killing German Christian children and using their blood in religious rituals. The banner across the bottom of the page, "Die Juden sind unser Ungluck,' means "The Jews are our misfortune."

May 1934 issue of Der Stürmer, a weekly Nazi propaganda newspaper owned by Julius Streicher. This specific cover issue is notorious as an example of the anti-Semitic propaganda style of Der Stürmer. It invokes the infamous “blood libel against the Jews”, specifically the allegation that Jews were killing German Christian children and using their blood in religious rituals. The banner across the bottom of the page, “Die Juden sind unser Ungluck,’ means “The Jews are our misfortune.”

Goebbels and Streicher fomented lies about the Jews, making them the scapegoat for Germany’s poor economy and its humiliating defeat in World War I. They told the German people that the Jews were their enemies and not rightful citizens of Germany.

1933 Germany. Germans read issues of anti-Semitic propaganda newspaper, Der Stürmer, published by Nazi agitator Julius Streicher

1933 Germany. Germans read issues of anti-Semitic propaganda newspaper, Der Stürmer, published by Nazi agitator Julius Streicher

In the first few weeks of his chancellorship, Hitler gained complete control of the police force, stripping regular uniformed police of the power to defend law-abiding citizens against unreasonable search, seizure, and arrest. He expanded the notoriously brutal Gestapo, his state secret police, and unleashed them and his other thugs with full power to seek out any suspected enemies to his leadership and detain them, without trial.

February 1, 1933. One day after Hitler becomes Chancellor, the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazi paramilitary group known as "the brownshirts" round up suspected Communists.

February 1, 1933. One day after Hitler becomes Chancellor, the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazi paramilitary group known as “the brownshirts” round up suspected Communists.

Organized attacks on Jews broke out across Germany. Since the local police had no power, the Jews had no one to turn to. Then, on April 1, 1933, the first officially-sanctioned national attack on German Jewry was held. Organized by Streicher, it called for a boycott of all Jewish businesses. Armed Nazi guards were posted in front of every Jewish business, intent upon blocking all clients from entering. The businesses were marked with yellow Stars of David, and trucks drove through the streets sporting anti-Jewish signs. Windows were shattered, business owners attacked, and stores plundered.

Hitler needed a place to stash his “enemies.” Two months into his chancellorship, he built Dachau outside of Munich, the first of many concentration camps.

Anne’s father, Otto Frank, began looking for other places for his family to live. Frank said many years later:

Because so many of my German countryman were turning into hordes of nationalistic, cruel, anti-Semitic criminals, I had to face the consequences, and though this did hurt me deeply, I realized that Germany was not the world and I left my country forever.”

Through his brother-in-law, Frank was able to set up a business in Holland. By the end of 1933, his wife Edith and daughters, Anne and Margot would join him there.

1934, Amsterdam. Margot, Anne, and their mother Edith Frank on the beach with Mrs. Schneider (back)

1934, Amsterdam. Margot, Anne, and their mother Edith Frank on the beach with Mrs. Schneider (back)

They were running from Hitler, but he would catch up with them later. He was not satisfied in just driving the Franks and all Jews out of Germany. He wanted to completely annihilate them. He would hunt them down across Europe and kill them until, in April 1945, the madness finally stopped.

Between 1933 and 1939, more than half of the 550,000 Jews living in Germany had fled.

Between 1933 and 1939, more than half of the 550,000 Jews living in Germany had fled.

1. Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. New York: Doubleday, 1952.

2. Pryce-Jones. Unity Mitford: A Quest. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1976.

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Corrie’s father turned on the old table radio to warm it up. Corrie felt that the small, portable one would have worked just fine, but her father insisted on using this old one. It was to be a major broadcast, he said, and the old radio had an elaborate speaker. The prime minister of the Netherlands was to address the Dutch nation.

It was 9:15 on a Thursday night, an hour when Corrie, Father, and Corrie’s sister Betsie normally would be heading upstairs to bed. As was their custom, they had already said their prayers and read a passage from the Bible. But, this evening, they would stay up a little later.

Corrie, Betsie, and Nollie Ten Boom

Corrie, Betsie, and Nollie Ten Boom

The Ten Boom family lived above their watch shop in Haarlem in the Netherlands (Holland).

Casper Ten Boom in watch shop

Casper Ten Boom in watch shop

It was May 9, 1940. World War II was raging in Europe. The aggressive German army had invaded and occupied Poland, Norway, and Denmark. As a result, England and France had declared war on Germany. The Netherlands, however, did not and would not enter the conflict. They had declared their neutrality, the same as they had done in the first world war. Germany had respected their neutrality then and would do so again, they expected.

But every day fresh rumors reached their ears of an impending German invasion. Would Holland be drawn into the war? To calm these fears, the German Nazis repeatedly pledged goodwill to the people of the Netherlands. Many times Corrie had heard Hitler himself on the radio, promising the Dutch people that he would not invade their country.

Finally, it was 9:30, and time for the prime minister’s speech. The Ten Booms pulled their wooden, high-backed chairs closer to the radio, leaning in to listen, tense.

The parlor of the Ten Boom house in Haarlem, the Netherlands

The parlor of the Ten Boom house in Haarlem, the Netherlands

The prime minister’s voice filtered over the air waves. Tonight, it was pleasant and soothing. He told the Dutch people that there was no reason to worry. There would be no war. He knew it for a fact. He had spoken to people in high places.

In spite of the prime minister’s encouraging words, The Ten Booms were not comforted. The broadcast ended. They went upstairs to bed.

Five hours later and 37 miles south down the coast, 19 year old Diet (Deet) Eman woke up to noise outside her bedroom window. It was about 3 in the morning. It sounded as if someone was beating a rug. It was a steady, staccato sound – “pop-pop-pop” – only much faster. Deet lived in The Hague, Netherlands, where Queen Wilhelmina and her government were established.

Diet Eman was 19 years old when the Germans invaded the Netherlands.

Diet Eman was 19 years old when the Germans invaded the Netherlands

“This is crazy!” She thought. “Some idiot is beating rugs right now, and it’s pitch dark outside.” It’s true it was Friday morning and Friday was the day of the week that Dutch women typically beat rugs. But who would beat rugs at three in the morning?

What Diet heard was the first sound of the war. The Germans had invaded the Netherlands. The skies were filled with German parachutists falling. German Stukas dive-bombed the airfield, wiping out the Dutch biplanes. Diet’s sister’s fiancé, part of the weak Dutch army, was killed that day in the German bombing.

German parachutists attack the Netherlands May 10-14, 1940

German parachutists attack the Netherlands May 10-14, 1940

The Dutch people had been caught off guard. So many times they had readied for invasion only to discover it was a false alarm. Over time, they had grown complacent, caught in the net of Nazi lies and deception.

Some of the invading German soldiers crossed the border and parachuted from planes in disguise. They wore Dutch, French, and Belgian military uniforms and carried machine guns. Their disguises allowed them to roam freely behind the Dutch lines. It was Hitler’s idea to deceive and infiltrate the enemy; the Dutch army would be confused and not know who to shoot, the French and the Belgians being their allies. Dutch Nazis met them upon arrival and aided their sabotage activities. Other German soldiers dressed up as nuns, bicyclists, priests, peasants, and schoolboys in order to move undetected among the Dutch population. They seized key strongholds like water controls and bridges to pave the way for the German infantry.

Peace talks were underway when the Germans went ahead and ruthlessly bombed Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This was the message: If the Netherlands doesn't surrender, we will do what we did to Rotterdam to every one of the Dutch cities until you surrender.

Peace talks were underway when the Germans went ahead and ruthlessly bombed Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This was the message: If the Netherlands doesn’t surrender, we will do what we did to Rotterdam to every one of the Dutch cities until you surrender.

The German blitzkrieg crushed the Dutch defenses in five days, allowing the Germans to turn their attention then to invading France. On May 14, 1940, the Netherlands surrendered and the German occupation began in earnest. Germans moved swiftly to prepare Dutch airbases to send missiles to destroy England.

With the May 1940 occupation of Holland, Germany is poised to attack England.

With the May 1940 occupation of Holland, Germany is poised to attack England.

Queen Wilhelmina broadcasts over the BBC to her people in the Netherlands during WWII.
However, Queen Wilhelmina had foiled the Nazi plot to kidnap her and escaped, by boat, to England, where she set up a government in exile. Thanks to the BBC radio network, she was able to speak to her people for the next five years over the radio, urging them to resist the Germans.

It was revealed that the Nazis who had been trained to capture her – but had failed – had taken lessons in how to correctly address royalty. After capturing her, the plan went, a German general would come calling, a bouquet of flowers in hand, and attempt to persuade her to call off all resistance activity.

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George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death. He was the last Emperor of India, and the first Head of the Commonwealth.

George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death. He was the last Emperor of India, and the first Head of the Commonwealth.

It was Christmas, 1939, and Great Britain was at war with Nazi Germany. Like his father before him, King George VI would continue the holiday tradition of addressing the British Empire in a live radio message. That year, he would broadcast from the royal country house at Sandringham, where he and his family would spend Christmas.

The Royal Residence at Sandringham, England

The Royal Residence at Sandringham, England

King George VI and his family leave Buckingham Palace, 1939, to spend Christmas at their country house at Sandringham. Pictured are the King and his wife Queen Elizabeth, daughters Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Princess Elizabeth would become Queen Elizabeth upon the death of her father in 1952.

King George VI and his family leave Buckingham Palace, 1939, to spend Christmas at their country house at Sandringham. Pictured are the King and his wife Queen Elizabeth, daughters Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Princess Elizabeth would become Queen Elizabeth upon the death of her father in 1952.

You will remember that King George VI was not a man comfortable with public speaking. His struggle to overcome a debilitating speech impediment – a stutter – was immortalized in the 2011 American Academy Award-winning film for Best Picture, “The King’s Speech.” A shy, nervous man, a heavy smoker and drinker (it would kill him at 56), King George VI would have preferred to have remained the Duke of York, living a quiet, out-of-the-public eye life with his sturdy wife and two rosy-cheeked daughters.

British Royal Princesses Elizabeth (l.) and Margaret Rose. February 1939, 7 months before the outbreak of WWII

British Royal Princesses Elizabeth (l.) and Margaret Rose. This photo was taken in February 1939, seven months before the outbreak of WWII.

King George VI – born Albert, called Bertie - never wanted to be king. He wasn’t supposed to be king. He was only king because his brother David had abdicated the throne in 1936 and he, Bertie, was next in line. Nevertheless, unwillingness aside, this unlikely monarch would rise to the occasion and be the very king the British people so sorely needed in a time of great trouble.

It was December 25, 1939, the day of the broadcast. Dressed in the uniform of the Admiral of the Fleet, the tall and too thin sovereign approached the table where two radio microphones were set up, taking his seat.

King George VI addresses his people on September 19, 1939, at the outbreak of WWII.

King George VI addresses his people on September 19, 1939, at the outbreak of WWII.

Taking a few deep breaths, he began to speak, slowly yet solidly. Measuring his words carefully, he spoke from the heart:

“A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle we shall remain undaunted.”

Toward the end of his nine-minute broadcast, he said:

“I feel that we may all find a message of encouragement in the lines which, in my closing words, I would like to say to you:”

He then read from a poem given to him by his 13-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth,

I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’”*

He finished by saying,

“May that Almighty Hand guide and uphold us all.”

For a king not known for compelling speeches, this one would be a landmark. It united King and Country in common cause and inspired the people to hold fast. After all, at this point in history, no one knew that the Allies would triumph. Britain was to face five more years of war and brutal bombing by Hitler before the day of liberation would arrive. The end of 1939 was a shaky time and great leadership by King, Queen, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill would hold Britain steady against the Nazi aggressors.

Queen Elizabeth and King George VI of Great Britain stop at Vallence Road, Stepney, in the East End, London, to examine the debris following an air raid in the Second World War. October 4, 1945

Queen Elizabeth and King George VI of Great Britain stop at Vallence Road, Stepney, in the East End, London, to examine the debris following an air raid in the Second World War. October 4, 1945

King George VI pins a Distinguished Service Medal on Chief Petty Officer C.L.Baldwin in December 1939.

King George VI pins a Distinguished Service Medal on Chief Petty Officer C.L.Baldwin in December 1939.

Listen to the last four minutes of the King’s Christmas 1939 message here:

For more about the British Royal Family on this blog, click here.

Click here for the full text of the King’s 1939 Christmas Message plus The REAL austerity Christmas: How a nation gripped by fear kept calm and carried  on three months after outbreak of war in 1939

*“The Gate of the Year,” by Minnie Haskins (1908)

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Jackie Kennedy

In 1966, multimillionaire Robert David Lion Gardiner invited Jackie Kennedy to visit him on to his private islet, Gardiners Island, off the coast of Long Island. Gardiners Island had been in Gardiner’s family for four centuries and was one of the largest privately-owned islands in the world.

Eunice Bailey Oakes Gardiner and Robert David Lion Gardiner

Gardiner arranged a dinner party for Jackie which was attended by both Gardiner and wife, the former British model Eunice Bailey Oakes, and several others.

After dinner, the guests retired to the lavish wood-paneled den, where coffee and cognac were served. According to Gardiner, he watched as Jackie took out a cigarette and looked around for a light. A gold cigarette lighter belonging to Eunice lay on a  nearby table. Jackie picked it up and used it to light her cigarette. Then, inexplicably, she slipped the lighter into her evening bag.

Gardiner was aghast. Jackie Kennedy had deliberately stolen his wife’s lighter.

Gardiner didn’t know what to do. Several uncomfortable minutes later, he went over to his humidor and took out a cigar. Turning to the roomful of guests, he asked:

Have any of you seen my wife’s gold cigarette lighter?” 

Getting no response, he addressed his most distinguished guest:

Did you, Mrs. Kennedy? I believe you were the last one to use it.”

Jackie shrugged, replying in her little girl voice:  

I have no idea where it went. ”

The lighter was never returned to its owner. Gardiner was furious and retaliated by spreading stories accusing Jackie of kleptomania.

Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis, June 5, 1969, at Kennedy Airport, New York. The couple had been married less than a year.

The gossip reached the Greek ears of Aristotle Onassis, Jackie’s husband from 1968-75, who sent Gardiner a check for $5,000, along with a note threatening legal action for slander. Jackie had admitted to Ari that she had accidentally placed the lighter in her purse that evening at Gardiner’s but had, since then, simply lost track of it.

At some point, though, the missing lighter “resurfaced.” After Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s death in 1994, the lighter was auctioned off at Sotheby’s in New York as part of her multi-million-dollar estate.

Source: Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story. New York: Atria, 2009.

Readers, for more posts on Jackie Kennedy on this blog, click here.

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Center, Prince Albert of Monaco and his fiancé Charlene Wittstock pose with the band The Eagles, performing in Monaco to celebrate the wedding of Albert and Charlene. June 30, 2011.

Prince Albert of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock of South Africa are scheduled to wed today in Monte Carlo despite revelations in the French Press earlier in the week that the never-before-married Prince Albert, 53, may have fathered a third love child. Upon learning of the Le Monde article, Miss Wittstock, 20 years Albert’s junior, reportedly tried to flee the tiny Riviera principality.

As reported in The Daily Mail, “the couple’s lawyers have furiously denied a rift, while police have claimed that Miss Wittstock even

had her passport confiscated at the Nice airport to stop her getting on a flight.” 

Despite this hiccup, the wedding is going ahead as planned. The engaged couple put on a happy show of unity last night as they attended a concert by The Eagles. The free show was held at Monaco’s stadium and attracted thousands of fans from the principality and neighboring areas.

The wedding nuptials include a civil ceremony today and a Catholic Church ceremony tomorrow. 

In this June 2011 photo for Vogue magazine, Charlene Wittstock shows off her impressive physique. She was a South African Olympic swimmer who will become Princess Charlene of Monaco on Friday, July 1, 2011, when she weds Prince Albert of Monaco. Prince Albert is the son of the late Grace Kelly, American film actress, and Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

Charlene Wittstock stands on a precipice in Monaco.
To see a gallery of Charlene Wittstock photos at the Daily Beast, click here.  

The nuptials at Monte Carlo may rival the British royal wedding in lavishness and excess. While newlyweds William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are unable to attend the festivities because they are currently in Canada on a North American tour, the guest list is still expected to be impressive. Shrouded in secrecy, it is rumored to include crowned heads of Europe, politicians, and glitterati such as international supermodel Naomi Campbell, German haute couture designer Karl LagerfeldFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, First Lady Carla Bruni.

Musician and former model Carla Bruni is expecting her second child, her first with Sarkozy.

The June 2011 issue of French magazine Elle features First Lady of France Carla Bruni Sarkozy with her growing pregnancy bump. Carla Bruni is a former model, and has graced the cover of Elle many times.

Before she was the First Lady of France: Carla Bruni models a designer bikini and pearl-rimmed sunglasses.

READERS: For more on Lisa’s History Room about Carla Bruni, click here  

 

In the photo above, Prince Albert’s mother, Princess Grace of Monaco, is shown climbing the stairs of the Princely Palace in Monaco, ca. 1960. Princess Grace is the Hollywood actress Grace Kelly who gave up her film career to marry Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, in 1956. Together they raised three children: Caroline, Princess of Hanover, Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and Princess Stéphanie of Monaco.

Readers: For more on Lisa’s History Room about Princess Grace, click here.

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The Crowned Romanovs, Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna, 1896 image

On May 26, 1896, the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II was held in Moscow. Four days later, the traditional public festival was to be held at a field five miles north of the city. At the invitation of the new tsar, every Russian was welcome.  As Tsar Nicholas II was the absolute ruler of 1/6 of the earth and more than 120 million people, many people were expected. (3) All were promised free food, beer, gifts, and entertainment.  The tsar himself was to appear at the central pavillion to watch the parade and greet his people.

The Khodynka Program of Events

Khodynka Field was the site selected for the popular celebration because it was the only place large enough to contain the expected crowd. However, Khodynka Field was not a natural fairground; it was a training ground for troops of the Moscow garrison. The field was crisscrossed by a network of shallow trenches used for moving troops and artillery and pitted with holes. Therefore, in preparation for the festival, wooden stalls, reviewing stands, and entertainment stages had to be built as well as bridges to span the enormous ditches. Barricades – really just skimpy wooden railings – protected the site from the crowds.

Khodynka Field is being prepared for the May 26, 1896, post coronation celebration for Russian Tsar Nicholas II.

Thrilled by the coronation and excited by the prospect of the carnival to be held at Khodynka Field, the people were “stirred up and restive.” (1) The night before, thousands thronged to the area and camped out in the open, waiting for dawn, when the turnstiles would open and they could enter the fairgrounds. As the group waited, a rumor began to spread

that there would not be enough gifts or food to go around. They had been promised sausage, bread rolls, sweets, nuts, gingerbread and a precious keepsake – a pink enamel mug bearing the arms of the city of Moscow and the words “In memory of the Holy Coronation,” all wrapped together in a colored kerchief stamped with the tsar and tsarina’s pictures.” (1)

More and more people came. There was much jostling and crowding. “The crush was so great a bullet could not have slipped through.” (2) Over the course of the night, made anxious by rumors of shortages, people pushed toward the barricades that guarded the entrance to the fairground in order to be the first in line when the gates opened.

It was sometime just before dawn when the barricades fell. The crowd surged forward, stampeding onto the meadow, rushing toward the food stalls. The patrol of 100 mounted Cossacks could not even begin to control the “mass of people half a million strong.” Khodynka Field, with its open trenches, became a deathtrap:

People by the thousands fell in a ditch and ended standing literally on their heads at the bottom. Others fell straight after them and more, and more….” (1)

Others, knocked down in the pandemonium, were trampled to death or mutilated by the incessant forward motion of the crowd. In minutes, Khodynka Field resembled a  battlefield, strewn with carnage. People were fainting,  gasping for air, vomiting, writhing, screaming, bleeding, lying dead or dying. Thousands were wounded, over 1300 were dead.

Trampled bodies cover Khodynka Field prior to the post-coronation celebration of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, May 30, 1896.

Russians standing in the Khodynka Field in the aftermath of the riot that killed over 1300 Russians, May 30, 1896.

By 10:30 a.m., Tsar Nicholas II was told of the Khodynka catastrophe. He was shocked and sorrowful. Out of respect to the victims, his first inclination was to cancel the day’s activities which included not only his appearance at the Khodynka Field but a ball at the French embassy. But he gave into his advisors, his uncles, and kept to the official schedule.  After all, France was Russia’s only European ally, he was reminded, and Russia could not afford to offend France. Besides, to adorn the ball, the French government had gone to great lengths, sending priceless tapestries and treasures of silver plate from Paris and Versaillles, along with 100,000 roses from the south of France. (3)

So the day went forward as planned. Bodies were carted off from the Khodynka Field where the tsar made his traditional appearance as if nothing had happened.

The celebration at Khodynka Field, parades and all, went on, despite the morning's carnage.

The French “ball was opened by the Majesties dancing a quadrille,” said the Minister of Finance.

The "Coronation Cup" given away at the Khodynka Field post-coronation celebration for Tsar Nicholas II. It has come to be known as the "Cup of Sorrows," commemorating the tragedy of 1300 people trampled to death that day in May of 1896.

Outward appearances aside, both the tsar and tsarina were deeply affected by the events at Khodynka. They visited the wounded in the hospitals. They paid for the burial of the dead. From the Tsar’s private purse, each victim’s family was remunerated. But no act of kindness could erase the terrible event from the Russian national consciousness. Many felt that the Khodynka Field Massacre was an omen that the reign of Tsar Nicholas II would not be a happy one. The tsar earned the nickname “Bloody Nicholas.”

Russian Empress Alexandra with her firstborn, daughter Olga, in 1896.

Secretly, throughout those long and difficult days, Empress Alexandra, the tsarina,  had been expecting a child, her second after Olga. After the Khodynka tragedy, the Empress was greatly distressed and suffered a miscarriage.  The lost baby was a boy, who, had he lived, would have become the male heir in line for the Russian throne, the boy everyone was clamoring for Alexandra to give birth to.

1897 photo of Russian Revolutionary Leon Trotsky, born Lew Dawidowich Bronstein

Shortly after Khodynka, Leon Trotsky began his Marxist political activity against Imperial Russia.  Bread and circuses would not longer pacify the tsar’s people. The revolution had begun.

 (1) Erickson, Carolly. Alexandra: The Last Tsarina. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001.

(2) Radzinsky, Edward. The Last Tsar: The Life and Death of Nicholas II. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

(3) Massie, Robert K. Nicholas and Alexandra. New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1967.

Readers: For more on the Russian Royal Family, click here.

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(See previous post, “Arnold Schwarzenegger: I Have a Love Child.”)

ABC News has reported that Mildred Patricia Baena — who the network says worked as a housekeeper for the family of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver — is the mother of the former California governor’s fifth child, a son. The boy, Joseph, who is 14, is the spitting image of Schwarzenegger, down to his signature grin.

Former Schwarzenegger housekeeper Mildred Baena, 47, poses with her son in a photo from her MySpace page. The son is purported to be Arnold Schwarzenegger's out-of wedlock child who was born on Oct. 2, 1997, five days after Arnold's wife, Maria Shriver, gave birth to his son, Christopher.

Compare the two faces of Arnold and his son.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as a young bodybuilder

Mildred "Patty" Baena's son, fathered by Arnold Schwarzenegger

See TMZ for the latest on this developing story.

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Carla Bruni proudly parades her growing bump as she makes her way into the launch event for her foundation to combat illiteracy at Centre Pompidou modern art museum, also known as Beaubourg, in Paris (May 17, 2011)

It was confirmed today that France‘s First Lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy is pregnant, possibly with twins due in October. Speaking to German newspaper Bild, her father-in-law, Pal Sarkozy, 82, said, ‘I’m glad to be having a grandchild.’ He went on to say that neither his son, French President Nicolas Sarkozy nor his daughter-in-law Bruni

 ‘want to know the sex the child, but I’m sure it’s a girl who’ll be as beautiful as Carla’.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy poses with then girlfriend Carla Bruni at the Giza pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 30, 2007. They would wed on Feb. 2, 2008, having known one another for only 9 weeks.

President Sarkozy, 55, – ‘Sarko’ – has three sons, Pierre, 26, and Jean, 24, from his first marriage to Marie-Dominique Culioli, and Louis, 14, with his second wife, Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz. Bruni, 43, is already a mother to Aurelien, born in 2001. His father was her then lover, the Paris philosopher Raphael Enthoven.

The announcement ends weeks of speculation that Bruni is expecting.

Source: The Daily Mail

Read more about Carla Bruni here.

 

 

 

 

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Arnold Schwarzenegger

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, 63, admits fathering a child with a member of his household staff. For over 20 years, the unnamed woman worked for Arnold and his wife, Maria Shriver, and just recently left her job.  

Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger during happier times.

Although the event happened over 10 years ago, Arnold just revealed it to Maria, 55, earlier this year, leading to the couple’s split. The couple have four children together, ages 14, 18, 20 and 21.

Read more at The Daily Mail

Readers, read more about Arnold on this blog: “Arnold Schwarzenegger: Master of All He Surveys.”

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The Statue of Liberty still stands in New York Harbor as the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center burn on September 11, 2001. Lest we forget. We were attacked.

"The Falling Man": A man jumps from one of the Twin Towers attacked in New York City on 9/11 by al Qaeda terrorists under the leadership of Osama bin Laden. Although the jumper's identity is uncertain, he is believed to be Jonathan Briley. Briley worked on the top floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center. It was there, in the restaurant, that he decided to jump. He was an asthmatic and knew he would not survive when smoke began to pour into the restaurant. Approximately 200 jumped or fell to their deaths that fateful September morning.

For those who gave their lives then, on Sept. 11, 2011, and for those who fight against terrorism we weep and pray and thank God for America.

It bears repeating, for those who have forgotten and for those who never knew: Bin Laden called for his followers and for all Muslims in the world to kill Americans. Here a translated excerpt of bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa:

On that basis, and in compliance with God’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims:

The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, “and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,” and “fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God.”

This is in addition to the words of Almighty God: “And why should ye not fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? — women and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord, rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will help!’”

We — with God’s help — call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan’s U.S. troops and the devil’s supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson.”

Source: PBS

Readers: For more on the death of bin Laden, click here.

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(L.) Bin Laden's Fifth Wife, 29 year old Amal Ahmed bin Laden shown with picture of husband, Osama bin Laden

By the time Osama bin Laden was killed, he was down to only one of his five wives: Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah, the youngest and his rumored favorite. By the time he moved into his Pakistan mansion, bin Laden had divorced one of his wives and three others had moved to Syria, according to ABC News, but 29 year-old Amal had remained with him. She had been given to him as a gift when she was still a teenager, and eventually had three children with bin Laden—a daughter and two sons, who lived with them in the compound.

On the night of the raid, Amal was in the bedroom with bin Laden, and apparently reacted with fury to the Navy SEALs who had come to kill her husband. “She rushed one of the U.S. assaulters and was shot in the leg, but not killed,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Fatah was treated for her wounds and is in custody in Pakistan, officials said.

Sources: ABC News, The Daily Beast

Readers: For more coverage of the killing of bin Laden, click here.

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“Most Wanted Terrorist Dead

Bin Laden Killed in U.S. ‘Targeted Operation’”

05/02/11

U.S. President Barack announces that the enemy of the American people, al Qaeda terrorist Osama bin Laden, has been killed. May 1, 2011

The mastermind of the attacks on September 11, 2001 that killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children has been killed.

President Barack Obama made the announcement late Sunday evening, May 1, in a televised address to the world. He said he had been briefed by the intelligence community last August that bin Laden was in hiding “within a compound deep inside of Pakistan.” Over the intervening months, intelligence agencies worked to confirm the intelligence. Then last week, President Obama determined there was enough intelligence to take action.

Bin Laden was on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list as well as the State Department’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.

Osama Bin Laden, murderer of innocents (1957-2011), issued a fatwa against America and Americans in 1997.

“Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan,” the President said from the East Room of the White House:

A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”

Well before the events of 9/11, bin Laden had openly declared war on the U.S. and was committed to killing innocents. His al-Qaeda group was responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The attacks killed over 200 people. Bin Laden was indicted for his role in planning the attacks and added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in 1999.

Intelligence agencies quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by bin Laden’s terrorist organization, and in October 2001, his name was added to the U.S. Department of State’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.

“Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome,” President Obama said. “The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.”

The FBI updated its files to show that Public Enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden, is dead. The White House used the code name "Geronimo" for bin Laden.

Source: FBI

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Shortly before the U.S. presidential election on October 29, 2004, Arab television network Al Jazeera broadcast an 18-minute video tape of Osama bin Laden, addressed to citizens of the United States. According to the English translation distributed by the BBC and other media outlets, he tells viewers he personally directed the 19 hijackers behind the 9/11 attack on the U.S. Bin Laden claimed he was inspired to destroy the World Trade Center after watching the destruction of towers in Lebanon by Israel during the 1982 Lebanon War.

 

Al Qaeda terrorist Osama bin Laden, 2001, responsible for countless deaths of innocents, is now dead. (1957-2011)

 

Provided by the Dept of Defense, this map shows the location of the compound in Abbottabad where Osama Bin Laden was killed. (U.S. Department of Defense)

 

With heavy cloud rolling in over the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan, conditions were perfect for the raid to take out Osama bin Laden after ten years on the run. The previous night, the operation had been cancelled because the weather was clear and the U.S. aircraft would have been spotted from a distance. 

But at approximately 3:30 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 2, 2011,  the sleeping citizens were awoken by the clatter of four military helicopters thought to be two Black Hawks and two Chinooks

Task Force 1-508th members on Chinook helicopter, Afghanistan

 

Black Hawk helicopter

 

They contained more than 100 elite commandos who had been training intensively for days at their airbase, Bagram in Afghanistan, using a detailed mock-up of Bin Laden’s hideaway constructed by the CIA. After dummy runs on April 7 and April 13, they flew to the Tarbela Ghazi airbase in north-west Pakistan, which the CIA has permission to use. 

From there they swooped into Abbottabad, skimming over the tops of houses in the darkness with their lights off. 

Bin Laden's Hideout in Pakistan

 

As soon as they realised what was happening, Bin Laden’s guards opened fire from the rooftop with rocket-propelled grenades and apparently managed to shoot down one of the Black Hawks. 

Torn off tail section of destroyed Black Hawk next to wall of bin Laden's Pakistan compound

 

Burned-out wreckage of what remains of the downed American Black Hawk helicopter in bin Laden's Pakistan compound

 

As terrified townsfolk emerged from their homes to see what was going on, Pashto-speaking CIA agents told them to go back in and shut the doors. 

Two dozen U.S. Navy Seals – special forces – wearing night-vision goggles dropped into the high-walled compound by sliding down ropes from Chinooks. 

Chinook helicopter

 

See a detailed map of the ambush and read more at the Daily Mail (UK).

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(CBS/AP) Updated at 8:05 a.m. Eastern, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden, the long-time figurehead of the al Qaeda terrorist network, has been buried at sea after being killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan.

U.S. officials told CBS News that bin Laden’s body would be handled in accordance with Muslim traditions, which include strict rules on burial taking place within 24 hours after death.

Sources confirmed to CBS News national security correspondent David Martin that his body was released into the sea from a U.S. Navy vessel on Monday, likely into the Indian Ocean.

Bin Laden was a Saudi national, but officials tell CBS News that the Kingdom was unwilling to have his remains repatriated.

He was killed in a U.S. raid launched early Monday in the relatively-well-heeled town of Abbottabad, near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

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