Thursday came around quite slowly for Jinnie as she was anxious to hear more. She had seen Ethel on a couple of her visits to the residential home since the last “whist” night, but she had seemed reluctant to talk about anything other than the weather, the TV soaps and a bomb that had gone off on a Spanish beach. As she reached the flats she spotted Pandora’s little red VW in the car park so she wasn’t surprised this time to find she was already in Ethel’s flat chatting with Jimmy.
Pandora broke off her conversation, greeted her and quickly got down to talking about post-war events. She started off by warning Jinnie that some of the things she was going to talk about might shock her, but they were true and that Jinnie could put them all in great danger if she repeated anything to the wrong people. Pandora asked if Jinnie remembered Jimmy talking about growing up near Golders Green. Pandora explained that the Nazis hated the Jews, adding that was obvious from the way the media described the ones who lived in the USA. She explained that one of the first things the Nazis had done after the invasion had been to round up all the Jews who lived in the south of England and confine them into a ghetto they created in the Golders Green/Temple Fortune area. Within a few days, the Christian families who lived in the area had been moved out and were moving into the homes vacated by the Jews from Stamford Hill, Tottenham, Hampstead and Hendon, all of whom had been moved into the ghetto. For a while, the Jews had received reasonable rations, had to wear a prominent yellow star on their clothing, but were not allowed to leave the ghetto, even for work. After a few weeks a few other colour badges, pinks, reds, blues and whites, began to appear as the Gestapo rounded up other groups such as homosexuals, communists, gypsies and political opponents.
Jinnie knew the area a bit and asked what happened to the Northern Line station at Golders Green. The station was removed from the map, Pandora said, and trains just ran from Brent Cross straight through to Hampstead without stopping. But by early 1941 the Nazi’s decided that the Golders Green ghetto was a drain on resources and with the Moscow Treaty freeing up manpower they were able to press on with their “Final Solution”.
From coming to power in 1933 the Nazis had constructed concentration camps to deal with their enemies and political opponents where they could be held and forced to work for food. But what to do with those that could not work, the young, the old, the disabled and insane. Initially, they were simply shot but that was labour intensive, especially disposing of the bodies. It was suggested that it would be quicker and easier to gas the unwanted and incinerate the bodies. Tests were conducted using the exhaust from trucks to gas people loaded into the back. It worked, but it was not capable of handling the volume required. It was then decided to equip one of the concentration camps with gas chambers disguised as showers and industrial incinerators to dispose of the bodies. This went so well that it was decided to construct separate extermination camps. So the final solution was born.
The Nazis were smart enough to understand that the British people might just stand for concentration camps in their country, provided that they were merely prison camps, but extermination camps were a big no, no. The solution was to transport the ghetto residents to the continent and sort which camp to send them to there. Special tube trains ran on some nights, after the Northern Line passenger service had finished, taking people from Golders Green to London Bridge for trains to Dover. From Dover, boats took them to France where they were sorted on to trains to the various camps. In England people started to complain that some of the underground trains were in a disgusting state so to keep the secret, a story about a cleaners strike was put out, and the trains used were kept separated, in sidings at Golders Green.
The numbers in the ghetto fell rapidly with hundreds being shipped out several times a week. Eventually the SS moved in to comb through the area to find anyone in hiding. Once complete the area was demolished and cleared. As British workmen were heavily engaged in rebuilding war damage, labour was brought in from mainland Europe to build new show estates. Not slave labour, but craftsmen, the Nazis were wary of the English and Hitler had always wanted them on his side as he saw them as more equal to the German people than the people of Eastern Europe. They built wide treelined streets, lots of parks, large detached and semi-detached houses. Properties for the party elite and compliant. Hitler wanted to use the carrot not the stick to control this part of his new territories. The factories, shipyards and agriculture were better working with them and supplying the Third Reich. Trucks for the Army, Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancaster Bombers for the Luftwaffe, destroyers for the Kriegsmarine, food for the people. England’s industry had been on a war footing and was a valuable asset, not to be squandered.
The ghetto for Northern England was in Leeds. It was similar to Golders Green in that the Leyland suburb was a predominately Jewish area and was closed off with a high barbed wire fence. While smaller than the London ghetto, Leyland grew to house over 10,000 before the solution of shipping the inhabitants to mainland camps was instigated. In the case of Leyland, night time trains took the people to Hull, where there was a ready built open-air platform alongside Paragon Station. The platform had been built many years before to accommodate people travelling from the Scandinavia as immigrants to the United States. Ships brought immigrants into Princes Dock, which was in the city centre, and only a few minutes walk from the station for trains to Liverpool. It was only too easy to march the ghetto inhabitants to the docks in the dead of night and onto ships to the continent. Leyland suffered the same fate as Golders Green and became high-class accommodation for the administrative workers of the North of England Zone.
Pandora’s next tale was of the war in the east. She explained that Hitler didn’t want the residents of the conquered lands or the millions of prisoners his armies had taken. What he wanted was the grain belt of the Ukraine and the Russian oil fields. As the Germans advanced across the Ukrainian plain many of the peasants farmers had retreated in front of them. The Red Army conducted a scorched earth policy as they retreated. Wherever possible they burnt fields and properties, blew up bridges and railway lines and removed factories to the east. The engineering divisions followed up the Panzers and the mechanised infantry divisions with the aim of fixing the infrastructure, in particular the railways, to get supplies and reinforcements to the front. For the basic work, the Germans had a bottomless pool of slave labour from the captured Russian Soldiers.
Where possible, if peasants and crops were remaining on their farms, they were encouraged to continue farming as the crops were needed. The peasants could remain until the fighting was over and it was safe to move pure breed Germans onto the land. They could then become the necessary cheap labour. Behind the engineers came the special SS units. It was their job to clean up. They searched out politicians, officials, communist commissars and of course German Army deserters, who were shot out of hand. However, the majority of Soviet prisoners of war were put on trains back to the camps in Germany and Poland for processing, where many were just starved to death. In total, the Germans are estimated to have killed around 12 million Jews, Russians, political opponents, homosexuals, Roma, mental patients, disabled and anyone else they took exception too.
The Germans wanted the farms back in production for the 1942 harvest, so it was a rush to get German farmers to take over the land before the spring planting season. Many small farms were combined into large ones under a German overseer. But it was too big a task to complete in a single season, so it was the spring of 1943 before the take over was completed. Over the years the farms had become more and more efficient as German industry manufactured bigger and better farm machinery until the Ukraine became the principle grain production area of the Third Reich.
After the Treaty of Moscow Hitler had achieved his aims and decided that a long period of consolidation was required. He ruled most of Europe and had alliances with Italy, Finland and Spain. He respected the neutrality of Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal and Ireland. He had signed an armistice to end the war with The United Kingdom and its Empire. He had an unwritten agreement with Turkey who were now a buffer state. He had become a big player on the world stage. The other major players the Japanese and China were involved in a war on the other side of the world, the United States was happy to dominate the Americas and had joined in a loose arrangement with Canada as the North American Alliance. But Canada was close to the British Empire which was still loyal to King George. Churchill was still in charge in Scotland and the parts of Wales that were of no use to Hitler. King George had set up court in Canada from where he still nominally led the Empire. The British Government controlled the Royal Navy, what elements of the RAF had escaped the invasion and the armies of British Empire which still held much of the Middle East, India and North Africa.
The years passed and King George V had died in 1952. He had been succeeded by his daughter Queen Elizabeth who continued to rule the Empire from Vancouver. In the armistice talks, the Germans terms had initially included taking the Royal Navy but the 1000 odd ships of the numerous fleets were scattered all over the world and it soon became obvious that even if they were ordered to surrender to Germany there was no chance of them complying. Churchill’s representatives had explained that the Royal Navy would hand over command to Canada, Australia, South Africa, in fact anyone that wasn’t part of the Third Reich. In the end, it was agreed that a halt to hostilities would have to suffice, as the Germans really needed to free up their forces for the coming Operation Barbarossa. Consequently, the Royal Navy escaped Hitler’s clutches and were now operating out of bases on the east and west coast of Canada, a number of West Indian islands, Simonstown in South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, India, Ceylon, Kenya, Nigeria and Cyprus. In Scotland, they still had use of the Faslane, Rosyth and Clyde bases. Where the Germans had been more successful was in the acquisition of much of the RAF and the aircraft factories of Bristol and the Midlands. To them this was a greater prize than the Royal Navy who weren’t needed for Barbarossa, their non-interference was all that was required and that had been agreed. Many of the heavy bombers had departed for Canada but the fighters lacked the range and orders had gone out too late to destroy many of them, however the German advance had just been too swift. The Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mosquitoes and what was left of the bombers were quickly absorbed into the Luftwaffe and departed for the Eastern Front.
Pandora continued to explain that before Hitler had invaded Poland he had wanted a pact with Great Britain as he considered them Germanic. Hence once the armistice was signed he treated occupied England far better than many of the newly acquired territories. Of course, he had used the SS and Gestapo to round up as many of the names on his blacklist as possible and they had all been shipped off to the continent never to return. The Army and Airforce personnel had been disarmed and much of their equipment shipped out for use on the Russian fronts. After a short internment, the ordinary foot soldiers and NCO’s were returned to civilian life. In truth, they were needed in the factories and the fields as Hitler was careful with his use of Eastern European slave labour in his new territories of England and South Wales. Of course, the Army and RAF Officers went to camps on the continent. However, the junior officers were detained in prisoner of war camps while the senior officers went to ‘special’ camps never to be seen again. After about six months the Germans had begun raising the extra divisions needed to reinforce the Eastern Front. The decision was made to recruit soldiers from those British forces released back to civilian life and to use junior officer volunteers from the PoW camps with senior German officers. It was fairly easy to raise the divisions and the beauty of this approach was that the troops had nearly all seen active service. Most junior officers volunteered as they were promised to be freed back to civilian life once the war in the east was won.
It had been suggested to both Jimmy and Bert by their employers that it would be to their advantage to volunteer for the British Wehrmacht divisions. Bert was quickly back working on Mosquitoes, but he never left England. He was seconded to a group who were readying aircraft fresh off the production lines for the Luftwaffe pilots to collect them. Jimmy was back driving supply trucks. Again he didn’t go to the front. He was sent to France and spent much of his time picking up food from factories and moving it to warehouses where ration packs were being assembled or taking the ration packs to railheads.
The Germans kept their word, after the Treaty of Moscow the British divisions were stood down and Jimmy was returned to England where he returned to his job working as a driver for a transport company. Bert was headhunted by Lufthansa who were setting up regular passenger services between England and Germany. His skills with the new aircraft avionics had clearly come to their notice.
At the end of the evening, Pandora once again suggested a drink at the Black Horse. Of course, Jinnie jumped at the suggestion and soon they were enjoying their shandy. Pandora asked Jinnie if she had heard about that day’s bomb on the Spanish beach. When she said she had, Pandora went on to explain that had killed 19 German tourists. Jinnie said it was lucky that no English had been killed. To which Pandora said the English were never in danger as they were never the target. Jinnie was intrigued, how did Pandora know? Pandora said that as a journalist you hear things and the Spanish Resistance had no disagreement with the English. It wasn’t the English that had taken over Spain, they were both in the same boat, ruled by Germans. This was the first Jinnie had heard of the Spanish resistance and Pandora said she wasn’t surprised as the censors would never let that be published or broadcast. They had to give out the news of a bomb as there were large numbers of English tourists in the area but who it killed and how many was always suppressed. Jinnie picked up on that and asked what did she mean, “always suppressed”?
Pandora explained that it wasn’t the first bomb, it was part of a campaign and was probably about number 15. Only those that occurred where English were around were reported here, but nearly 150 Germans had been killed in Spain since it had merged in with the Third Reich. She went on to say that similar things were happening in most of the new territories, bombs on French beaches, senior Germans being shot in Poland and Italy, bridges being blown up in the Ukraine and a power station being blown up outside Munich. Did Jinnie remember the death of Mussolini that led to Italy being pressed into joining the Third Reich? Pandora said that was the Resistance moving to take over the Government of Italy by assassinating the Leader. They had planted a bomb in his official car and it was not a crash caused by a drunken chauffeur as the story put out at the time said. The Germans had moved troops in quickly to snuff out the uprising and decided that it was safer to have Italy under direct rule.
Jinnie was amazed that things like that could be kept secret and said she was glad that things like that didn’t happen in England. Pandora laughed and said but it does. Did she remember that train accident at Peterborough a couple of months ago? Well, it was a bomb on the tracks not a points failure as the radio and the papers said. The pleasure boat that sunk in the Thames, another bomb not a drunken captain. The ceiling that collapsed in the Liverpool cinema, yet another bomb. All the work of the resistance. Jinnie just didn’t know what to think. Her head was swimming and it wasn’t alcohol. She had so many questions, but before she could ask Pandora drained her drink and said, “Come on, it’s time to go, I’ll explain about the resistance next week.”
In Chapter 5 – Pandora explains about the Resistance.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file