What a glorious day! I come to you fresh from a co-ordination meeting of the Supreme Central Library of Mitchieville Steering Committee, the Turpentine Council Select Committee on Turpentine Awareness, and the Friendship Committee of the Prune Council. In a gratifying act of solidarity, it has been decided to implement a new Privilege Token to add to the Approved List of Privilege Tokens. The new one has been created to fill the gap created by the impossibility of deserving seekers to cash in their existing Blue Privilege Tokens. Burning Montreal means no Michigan Sausage *. Instead, deserving citizens will be issued a Blue Privilege token for a venue in Toronto (the Pleasure Center, which has a fine all you can eat buffet breakfast) and a Red and White striped Privilege Token to make up for the fact the venue is Toronto, not Montreal. And what of those that still want to go to Montreal? No Michigan Sausage there, of course. Instead, a Red, White, and Black Privilege Token is now available. Burning Montreal? Burning Montreal in solidarity.
Archive for the ‘Week of Death’ Category
Big deal, so you have a key and some loose change stuck to your face and chest. It would have been way more impressive had that tire-iron The Mayor threw at you actually stuck. But did it? No, no it didn’t. It BOUNCED off your face. Ya, the amount of blood that spilled from your head was quite impressive, and the way you twitched on the ground made for good theatre; but when the only thing to stick to you afterwards are some gauze pads smothered in hospital tape, well, lady, you lost your title of Magnetic Woman.
Even after all these decades, a valiant soul remembers the almost forgotten history and story of a great leader, who loved his people, and makes a great multi-cultural icon. The valiant soul makes these videos, in honor of his hero. Socialism failed to extinguish this particular spark. Socialism has failed. quod erat demonstrandum
Day 7 of the Week of Death is here and not a moment to soon for some I’m sure. The Week of Death has covered events that have been heartbreaking and tragic but nothing so far compares to the evil depravity and sheer horror of today’s post. The perfect post on today’s topic has already been written by blogging great Skippy Stalin at Enjoy Every Sandwich and he has graciously allowed that post to be re-printed in part here today.
The Rape of Nanking, December 9, 1937
Japan’s unspeakable cruelty toward the Chinese people began with the 1931 invasion and occupation of Manchuria. Indeed, this was the first military exercise that began the long march toward the Second Wo rld War, still two years before Adolf Hitler’s assumption of power in Germany. The full-scale invasion of the world’s most populous nation waited until the fall of 1937. Within a month, the first genocide of the modern era – what has become known as “the rape of Nanking” began.
The use of the word “rape” is not an exercise in alliteration. Once the hapless Chinese military retreated from their imperial capital, the women of Nanking suffered unimaginable indignities. Women were killed in indiscriminate acts of terror and execution, but the large majority died after extended and excruciating gang-rape.
“Surviving Japanese veterans claim that the army had officially outlawed the rape of enemy women,” writes Iris Chang. But “the military policy forbidding rape only encouraged soldiers to kill their victims afterwards.” She cites one soldier’s recollection that “It would be all right if we only raped them. I shouldn’t say all right. But we always stabbed and killed them. Because dead bodies don’t talk … Perhaps when we were raping her, we looked at her as a woman, but when we killed her, we just thought of her as something like a pig.” (Chang, The Rape of Nanking, pp. 49-50). Kenzo Okamoto, another Japanese soldier, recalled: “From the time of the landing at Hangzhou Bay, we were hungry for women! Officers issued a rough rule: If you mess with a woman, kill her afterwards, but don’t use bayonets or rifle fire. The purpose of this rule was probably to disguise who did the killing. The military code with its punishment of execution was empty words. No one was ever punished. Some officers were even worse than the soldiers.” (Yin and Young, The Rape of Nanking, p. 188)
One eyewitness, Li Ke-hen, reported: “There are so many bodies on the street, victims of group rape and murder. They were all stripped naked, their breasts cut off, leaving a terrible dark brown hole; some of them were bayoneted in the abdomen, with their intestines spilling out alongside them; some had a roll of paper or a piece of wood stuffed in their vaginas” (quoted in Yin and Young, The Rape of Nanking, p. 195).
John Rabe, a German (and Nazi) businessman who set up a “Nanking Safety Zone” in the city’s international settlement and thereby saved thousands of Chinese lives, described in his diary the weeks of terror endured by the women of Nanjing. Though young and conventionally attractive women were most at risk, no woman was safe from vicious rape and exploitation (often filmed as souvenirs) and probable murder thereafter.
“Groups of 3 to 10 marauding soldiers would begin by traveling through the city and robbing whatever there was to steal. They would continue by raping the women and girls and killing anything and anyone that offered any resistance, attempted to run away from them or simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were girls under the age of 8 and women over the age of 70 who were raped and then, in the most brutal way possible, knocked down and beat up.” (Chang, The Rape of Nanking, p. 119.) In addition to those killed after the violation, historian David Bergamini notes that “Many immature girls were turned loose in such a manhandled condition that they died a day or two later. … Many young women were simply tied to beds as permanent fixtures accessible to any and all comers. When they became too weepy or too diseased to arouse desire, they were disposed of. In alleys and parks lay the corpses of women who had been dishonored even after death by mutilation and stuffing.” (Yin and Young, The Rape of Nanking, p. 195.)
Not all of the victims of rape were female. “Chinese men were often sodomized or forced to perform a variety of repulsive sexual acts in front of laughing Japanese soldiers,” writes Chang. “At least one Chinese man was murdered because he refused to commit necrophilia with the corpse of a woman in the snow. The Japanese also delighted in trying to coerce men who had taken lifetime vows of celibacy to engage in sexual intercourse. … The Japanese drew sadistic pleasure in forcing Chinese men to commit incest — fathers to rape their own daughters, brothers their sisters, sons their mothers … those who refused were killed on the spot.” (Chang, The Rape of Nanking, p. 95.)
And this began five years before the Holocaust in Europe. For all of their industrialized barbarity, Hitler’s Nazi war machine never approached the depths of the stomach turning depravity that the Japanese military did nothing at all to hide. In fact, as Mrs. Chang wrote, Japanese officers and enlisted men alike filmed and photographed their conquests for the amusement of their families and friends at home.
The Germans did go to some lengths to obscure their existence of their mechanized extermination camps in Eastern Europe. They were mentioned not at all in the German media during the war. This is why the Allies forced ordinary Germans to examine those camps after their liberation, to see what the government they supported had done.
Not so the Japanese media, which glorified the atrocities being committed in Nanking. In her book, Chang cites a newspaper article about a contest between two officers about which could behead the most civilians. That article was published alongside a photo of the two grinning criminals with their swords drawn. Japanese civilians on the home islands would read these stories approvingly over breakfast. Unlike the Germans, the Japanese people knew exactly what was being done in their name.
Skippy’s original post can be read in full here . His follow up post which details Japan’s failure to accept responsibility and repent for the numerous crimes against humanity it committed from 1935 – 1945 can be found here . Skippy writes posts that could easily be feature length articles in newspapers or magazines. Please take the time to read them in full.
Most of what Skippy Stalin and I learned of this horrific crime against humanity orignially came from the book “The Rape Of Nanking” by Iris Chang . Haunted by what she learned while in the course of her research on The Rape of Nanking and The Battan Death March, Iris slipped into a deep depression. Tragically, she committed suicide in late 2004 leaving a husband and two young children behind. The story of her will and perseverance has been made into a movie called “IRIS CHANG: The Rape of Nanking” and it premiering this Thursday night, December 13, at 8:00 PM on History Television in both Canada and the United States.
If you want to learn more about The rape of Nanking itself, Princeton Universtiy has an excellent online study that can be found at this link .
Week of Death grand total: 336,339 (best estimate)
Thank you for reading!
The Murder of John Lennon – December 8, 1980
I was barely eight years old the day John Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman in front of Lennon’s apartment in New York City. The picture below is of Lennon signing an autograph, the guy in the background is Chapman.
I remember coming home from school for lunch on the 9th and my mom and a couple of her friends were crying at the kitchen table. This was the fist time I had ever heard of John Lennon or The Beatles and recall being wholly unimpressed by either his passing or of my moms fondness for The Fab Four. Mother explained that The Beatles were the biggest band in the world when she was a girl, that she could sing all of their songs, and that she drew hundreds of pictures of them (just like Marge Simpson). Whatever.
Flash forward to high school, The Awkward Years. Some kids adopted the jock mentality, some were Goth, a bunch were stoners, and I can’t forget the metal heads. I took a more original approach, I was the lone right-wing Beatles hater at my school. In hindsight this anti-Beatles persona, carefully crafted over time, got me nowhere and eliminated about 95% of the available tail to me in high school. Even today my line “Yoko Ono is the best thing that ever happened to The Beatles” puts hopelessly romantic teenage Beatles fans into a fit of rage.
I’m still not a big fan of The Beatles and remain wholly unimpressed by aura of John Lennon. My Irish bloodlines prevent me from saying anything bad about the dead but I will say this: Lennon would have been right at home as a super celebrity in the “me 80’s”, the “alternative 90’s” and would be riding shotgun on the Environmental Express with Algore if he was with us today. This being said, John Lennon sure as hell didn’t deserve to die with four hollow point rounds in his back. Not much of a post, but even the Week of Death is bound to have one slow day. More on
Lenin Lennon: BBC Archives and The Official John Lennon Web Site .
Update: Mapmaster sums things up rather well
Week of Death total: 36,339
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the ‘Week of Death – Day 7′ finale which will be co-posted with a bonafide celebrity blogger.
PS – December 8th also happens to be my best friends birthday, Happy 36th mon ami!
Sorry for the late post but the town I live in was celebrating the Pagan-Christian holiday of Christmas tonight with a parade and my kiddies were on one of the floats. Today’s entry for the Week of Death will hardly be a surprise to anyone as this is the “date which will live in infamy”.
December 7, 1941 – Japan attacks Pearl Harbor
If all you know about Pearl Harbor (which I spell in my Canadianese “Harbour”) is what you learned from watching the dreadful movie “Pearl Harbor” a few years back then I want to set a few things straight:
1. The sole Japanese target at Pearl Harbor was not the Battleships, but the Aircraft Carriers. Battleship are big and fearsome but they are not an ideal offensive weapon. The carriers and the planes they held was the threat that Japan sought to eliminate. As the carriers were at sea then the Battleships by default became the next capital target to eliminate. Japan would pay dearly for not finding and destoying the carrier during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
2. Ships need fuel to run, had the fuel stores at Pearl been destroyed the United States Navy would have been forced to send her fleet to San Francisco for refueling. This would have added weeks on to the sailing time for the fleet and would have left the USN effectively guarding the coast till fuel stores could be replenished (this would take at least a year to do). The point – failing to find the Aircraft Carriers the primary target should have been the fuel stores (and the Dockyard that would repair the ships) at Pearl as all of the Pacific fleet ships need these fuel stores to continue operations. This was a fatal oversight in the operational planning by Japan.
3. 2,388 Americans were killed at Pearl Harbor and another 1,178 wounded. While Japan scored a major tactical at Pearl the attack must be viewed as one of the key strategic blunders of the war and is equal to Hitler’s stupid decision to invade Russia. Neither Ben Affleck or that Josh Harnett guy were harmed at any time during World War II.
4. Six Battleships were damaged or destroyed at Pearl Harbor. Of the battleships, 2 were destroyed outright, another 3 were sunk, and the sixth (USS Nevada) ran herself aground to avoid sinking and blocking the harbor. The four damaged battleships were all eventually repaired and served in combat against Japan. The United States of America declared war on Japan (and Germany) the next day. The Pacific Fleet quickly recovered and the following June trounced the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway. The surrender ceremony for Japan on September 2, 1945 was held on the deck of the Battleship USS Misouri.
Other linky links: Mitchieville’s newest blogger, Steamboat McGoo, has an excellent Pearl Harbor post at his blog ‘ Aardvarks and Asshats ’. The web contains millions of pages on this topic but I suggest starting here .
Week of Death total: 36,338 and still two days to go
Two tragedies have occurred in Canada on December 6. The second of these two tragedies, which resulted in the deaths of 14 Canadians, is formally recognized by the Government of Canada by the lowering of flags on all federal buildings. Countless vigils and memorials will be held across the country today. If you want to know more about this tragedy go here . This post is about the first of the two tragedies where 1950 Canadians died and another 9000 were wounded. Outside of Halifax I doubt few Canadians will remember the first tragedy today. Since they won’t, we will. – Reg
The Halifax Explosion, December 6, 1917
As two-thirds of our readers are not from Canada I’m thinking most of you have never heard of the Halifax Explosion before. This one minute vignette by historica.ca below gives a quick backgrounder:
Throughout her history the City of Halifax , Nova Scotia, has been key to the development and growth of Canada. It was hardly an accident that when the city was founded 1749 it was located where it was as the city overlooks a natural harbour called Bedford Basin that is wide, deep, and protected from the ravages of the Atlantic Ocean. With the start of World War One in 1914 the Port of Halifax became a key allied link in the supply of munitions and goods to England.
On any given day dozens upon dozens of ships both big and small, civilian and military, would sail in and out of her harbour. Just after breakfast on the morning of December 6, 1917 two ships, the Mont Blanc and Imo collided in ‘the narrows’ of Halifax Harbour and immediately started to burn. It didn’t take long for the good folks of Halifax to gather around and watch the events in the harbour. Had they known what was in the hold of the Mont Blanc they would have ran for their lives.
The French owned Mont Blanc was sailing in to Halifax after sailing from New York City. In NYC the Mont Blanc was loaded with (amongst other things) benzol, 544,000 kilograms of highly explosive picric acid, and 226,797 kilograms of TNT. After burning for approx 20 minutes the Mont Blanc exploded, instantly evaporating, with the equivalent force of 3kilotons. The explosion was the largest man-made explosion in history to that point and wouldn’t be equalled until the Los Alamos atomic tests in 1945. The City of Halifax was levelled.
The devastation was three fold. First, there was the explosion itself; Second, was the tsunami caused by the explosion; Third (from wiki):
Since the explosion occurred in the winter, the blast caused stoves, lamps and furnaces to tip or spill, spreading fires throughout the devastation, particularly in Halifax’s North End, leaving entire streets on fire. Fuel reserves were high in preparation for the winter. Many people who had survived the blast were trapped in these fires.
Some 1.32 km² (325 acres) of Halifax was destroyed, essentially leaving a 1.6 kilometre (1 mi) radius around the blast site uninhabitable. Many people who had gathered around the ship either to help or watch were amongst those killed in the blast, or were subsequently hit by the resulting tidal wave. Others who had been watching from the windows of their homes and businesses were either killed instantly or severely injured by the flying glass as their windows shattered inwards.
The human casualties are a statistical nightmare: 1950 dead, 9000 wounded, 38 people blinded from flying glass, 1600 houses destroyed – another 12000 damaged leaving 6000 Haligonian’s homeless. I just read tonight that the explosion caused more deaths in Nova Scotia than the war itself. It is hard to tell the story of something so terrible is just one post. For those interested I offer the following linky links: Wikipedia has an excellent page on the Halifax Explosion and the Archives Canada page has a wealth of photographic and newspaper material. CBC Archives has some fantastic silent film footage that was taken shortly after the disaster.
Week of Death total: 33,950 with more to come
The London Fog aka the Great Smog of 1952
No not that London Fog . It was on this day in 1952 that Londoners woke to find a cold, heavy fog had settled over the city. Like most people would, the people cranked up the heat in their homes to take the chill out of the air. Not that anything could have been done about it, but the simple act of heating their homes was to prove fatal to some 12,000 people.
“Majority of the locals used wood as fuel. However, with the city’s growth, forests were unable to meet the demands for wood. Sea-coal deposits made for a better and a cheaper alternative. Though it was abundant, it doesn’t burn efficiently. It was producing more smoke than heat.” (link)
The colder it got, the more coal was burned for heat. The combination of coal produced smoke, dense continuous fog, and a low fall sun (the sun would normally help the fog lift) formed together created a terrible black smog ( link). Visibility was near zero; birds flew into buildings, mass transit was stopped, people couldn’t even see their own feet when outside.
Some 4000 people would die in the 5 days that the fog hung over London. Reports have it that public health officials didn’t realize there was a problem until the supply of coffins in the city couldn’t meet the public demand. In the weeks after the fog another 8000 people would die to bronchial infections and pneumonia. Most significantly for Mitchieville readers is that out of this disaster the modern environmental moment was formed. A rather inconvenient truth, eh?
Week of Death total: 32,000 and counting.
Tomorrow: A tragedy Canada may never forget.
The Day The Music Died
This isn’t a post about the latin guy who sang ‘La Bamba’ or The Big Bopper. Nor is this a post about Elvis, Jimmy Hendrix, Hank Williams Jr., Mama Cass or John Lennon. These music deaths, while somewhat tragic in their own way, can’t compare to the tragedy of December 4, 1980 as this was the day that THE GREATEST BAND IN THE HISTORY OF ROCK AND ROLL formally announced that it was breaking up. A simply worded press release stated that Led Zeppelin would be no more.
A few months earlier Zeppelin drummer John Henry Bonham died as only a drummer should – passing out after a Herculean drinking binge and then choking to death on his own vomit. The tight knit foursome, despite what out brother blogger Skippy Stalin may think, created the GREATEST MUSIC IN THE HISTORY OF ROCK AND ROLL. Their relationship was symbiotic and without one of them, musically, they couldn’t survive (I’ll post more about the greatness of Zeppelin in a few days).
I’m not the only one with mixed emotions when it comes to the legacy of Led Zeppelin, but I have always respected the fact Zeppelin has resisted the urge to stage bogus comeback or reunion tours (see: The Who), no matter how much I would loved to have seen them in concert myself. Things have a way of working out though. For the reunion show 6 nights from now Bonham’s son Jason, a professional drummer in his own right, will take to the stage with his fathers band mates. It may not be the real Led Zeppelin but it is close as we will ever get and for this one night Zeppelin will fly again. I envy the 20 000 Zep fans who’ll get to see the show.
It should also be mention that on this day in 1993, Frank Zappa, one of music’s creative giants passed away. It’s kind of hard to explain Frank Zappa if you don’t already know who he is. The YouTube clip below is a small peek at the genius that was Zappa.
Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, and The Week of Death – you only get one chance in life to write a post that goes like this.
“Tis the season to be jolly” I don’t think so. It occurred to me some time ago that the first week of December has to be histories deadliest week of the year. A couple years later and here I am with a soapbox to stand on, so over the next seven days I am going to prove to you that the first week of December is without a doubt “The Week of Death”.
Union Carbide Disaster, Bhopal, India, December 3, 1984
Arguably the biggest industrial disaster in history, in the early hours December 3, 1984 the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal India released 40 tons of toxic gas into the air after water was mixed with the methyl isocyante the plant was manufacturing. As a series of fail-safe’s and warning systems had either been intentionally by-passed or poorly maintained there was little warning for the citizens of Bhopal of the unfolding disaster.
Tragically, the main alarms did go off to warn the citizens of Bhopal but were shut off as not to panic the populace. (see links here and here )
While the numbers have never been totally agreed upon, between 3000 and 5000 people died, with another some 500 000 people exposed to the toxic fumes. It is believed that to date some 20 000 people have died as a result of this disaster. Union Carbide maintains that the cause of the disaster was sabotage however no one single person has ever been held accountable for the tragedy. The company was ordered to pay $470M in settlements plus tens of millions in clean-up and environmental costs throughout the years.
This disaster really hit home for me as at the time my family was living in the beautiful Central Alberta town of Anhydrous Ammonia Plant being built by, you guessed it, Union Carbide. The image at the top of this post haunted my dreams for weeks as did the nightmares I had of Red Deer and Innisfail falling victim to the same sort of disaster. Mom finally got me to relax by telling me that this could never happen as my dad would never allow Joffre to built if it was that dangerous (and 23 years later nothing has happened there so I guess this is proof that mom is always right).
See you tomorrow night with another post for Mitchieville’s “Week of Death”.