Friday, September 30, 2011

70 Years Ago today 30/09/41

Hamburg: The RAF launches a nighttime raid with 100 bombers.

Russia: As the Wehrmacht onslaught Eastward continues the 2nd Panzer Army under Heinz Guderian attack the Russian towns of Orel and Bryansk.

Leningrad: German forces have been stopped 7 miles from the city. General Zhukov has arrived to organise the defence of the city which ultimately results in the longest and most devastating siege situation of the war.

Kiev: On this day 70 years ago 33,771 Jews were murdered in a ravine outside the Ukrainian capital, now under Nazi occupation. A decision was made by the military governor, Major-General Kurt Eberhard, the Police Commander for Army Group South SS-Obergruppenf├╝hrer Friedrich Jeckeln, and the Einsatzgruppe C Commander Otto Rasch to kill all the Jews of Kiev. In two days (29 Sep - 30) the Jews, who thought they were being resettled were taken to a ravine on the outskirts of the city at a place called Babi Yar and executed by machine gunning. It is thought that the inefficient method of annihilation at Babi Yar which was so costly in terms of manpower and ammunition was one of the reasons the Nazi leadership decided to pursue a more cost effective final solution to the Jewish problem. This of course would take the form of the gas chamber.

A monument to the Babi Yar massacre outside Kiev which occurred 70 years ago today. It was the worst single mass execution of Jewish men, women and children during the holocaust.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Photo of the Day

Sorry for the lack of posts folks. Like all of us these days I am just quite busy with work and personal stuff and am finding it difficult to make time for posts. I will endeavor to be more efficient with my time. Anyhow, my latest photo sees me meeting controversial Presidential candidate David Norris just after the match in Croke Park last Sunday week. He is not my candidate, but moments after the Dublin victory I could have met Jack the Ripper and I would have given him a hug and a kiss.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dublin V Kerry, Croke Park and Civil War

Dublin Captain Bryan Cullen lifts the Sam McGuire Cup after Dublin beat Kerry by 1:12 to 1:11 to become All Ireland Champions. President Mary MacAlese and Taoiseach Enda Kenny are behind him.

On Sunday I was in Croke Park to to watch the final of the most sought after competition in Irish sport, the All Ireland Gaelic Football Final. It was a privilege to be there to witness such a great Irish sporting occasion. The atmosphere was electric, the enviroment friendly and the match was possibly the best I was ever at. I have been a fanatic supporter of the Dublin football team since I was ten and Sundays result was one of my most joyous moments in sport. This is not a sporting blog. But Gubu World readers will know that while I love many sports, I particularly enjoy analysing when sport interacts with politics. We see this in many sports such as Rugby where for many years the South African team were the subject of anti Apartheid boycotts. In fact South Africa's national Rugby team remains controversial post Apartheid because of the ANC's very unwise policy of requiring a quota of black players. Irish Rugby too has its issues as our national team is a 32 county United Ireland team making it a rare entity that appears to bring Irish nationalists and Ulster Protestants together. The Olympics and International soccer have likewise seen many political controversies. There was the American boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which was followed by a Soviet refusal to attend the 1984 games in Los Angelas. The soccer controversies are endless but perhaps the most notable was the "Soccer War" in 1969 when Honduras and El Salvador engaged in a four day war after a particularly bruising World Cup qualifying match which was followed by violent riots. And my favourite sport Gaelic Football has controversies of its own. The Gaelic Athletic Association has its roots in Irish Nationalism and during the War of Independence its headquarters at Croke Park was the scene of a massacre in 1920 when British forces killed 14 civilians during a match. For many years the GAA forbid the playing of foreign games (soccer and rugby) at Croke Park for nationalist reasons. When the ban was overturned in 2007 and the British Rugby team were set to play in the stadium, many objected to the pre match playing of the British National anthem at the same scene of the 1920 killings. However, political controversy involving the GAA is not confined to our relations with Britain.

The Civil War
The Irish Civil War (1922-23) is a conflict which I have developed something of an obsession with in recent times. It is a conflict that has been under explored by most historians. But given Sundays final between Dublin and kerry which Dublin won in such glorious fashion, I thought I would post something on the ugly events which occurred in Co Kerry in March/April 1923, just as the war was coming to a close. When the war broke out in June 1922 between the Pro and Anti Treaty factions of the IRA, it did not take the new National "Free State" Army long to dislodge the IRA from the major towns and cities of the country. When this happened much of the IRA dispersed but a minority remained on to conduct a guerrilla war against the new government and its army. Perhaps the most effective fighting unit in the Free State Army was the Dublin Guards, a battalion whose officer corps was made up of former men from Michael Collins' ruthless "squad" and other pro treaty IRA men from the Dublin Brigade. In the Spring of 1923 the Dublin Guards found themselves occupying Co Kerry after landing late the previous year on the southern coast. Many of the officers in the Dubin Guards had been ruthless assassins during the war against the British. And after the civil war commenced, they continued to be ruthless against their former comrades, particularly after the death of their beloved leader Michael Collins. On occasions when the anti treaty IRA succeeded in inflicting heavy casualties on the Free State Army in Kerry, the Dublin Guards would retaliate. The most notorious incident occurred in a little known place called Ballyseedy, just outside Tralee.

The Ballyseedy Massacare
On March 6th 1923 a detailed and complicated plot by the anti treaty IRA in Kerry came to fruition when five Free State Soldiers were killed by a booby trap bomb in the townland of Knocknagoshel. The intended target of the bomb was a Kerryman, and Free State Officer who had joined the Dublin Guards because of a personal grudge he had against the IRA who had mistreated his family. This officer's knowledge of the area and the local IRA proved vital for the National Army, so much so that the IRA hatched a quite extraordinary plot to kill him which culminated in the knocknagoshel landmine. However, another man killed that day included an officer from Dublin who had been a prominent member of the pre truce IRA and a squad member. His comrades were outraged by his death. The following day nine IRA prisoners were taken from a barracks in Tralee and brought out to Ballyseedy crossroads by men from the Dublin Guards. At gunpoint they were tied to a landmine and it was detonated. The Free State soldiers claimed that they were making the prisoners dismantle an IRA barricade which was booby trapped when it exploded. This was a lie. Amazingly, one man survived the massacre. His name was Stephen Fuller. He was blown free of the barricade and landed in a nearby stream. Although badly wounded he managed to escape in the darkness. So grim was the scene, that the Free State soldiers placed the body parts of the 8 victims into 9 coffins, not realising that one man had escaped. Stephen Fuller lived to tell the tale. In later life he became a Fianna Fail TD (member of parliament). He died in 1984. Whether the Ballyseedy massacre was orchestrated by the Army High Command, the Government or simply by members of the Dublin Guards acting on their own has never been firmly established. It was however not the only atrocity committed by the Free State Army in Kerry before the wars end in May 1923.

It would be stretching things a bit much to suggest that such incidents have created any lasting hostility between Dublin and kerry people. After all the Irish Civil War was not geographical. There were plenty of Kerrymen in the Free State Army and Dublin men in the anti treaty IRA. But it is true to state that many of the older generation in Kerry would have had memories of not so pleasant Dublin men in uniforms with distinct accents that probably seemed almost as foreign as the British. And believe it of not, the 1923 All Ireland Final was also between Dublin and Kerry. The GAA made a huge effort after the Civil War to heal the wounds of the Civil War. In fact, for the 1923 final (which Dublin won, again) the Kerry GAA board insisted that the team consist of men who had been both pro and ant treaty. However, the tension must have been palpable in Croke Park that September day, considering there were many Kerrymen still in prison, including some players and that the Dublin team had some individuals who had been members of the Dublin Guards and had seen action in Kerry. Of course I would bet that %95 of the people who were in Croke Park on Sunday last would be unaware of the Ballyseedy massacare. But perhaps not in the 1970's when the great Dublin and Kerry teams met in 6 All Ireland finals. Back then there were a lot more people around who had fresh memories of this dark and largely forgotten episode in our history. Hostility between Dublin and Kerry in those days was likely more genuine. But let us not dwell too much on this. Part of the marvellous aspect of Sundays match was the sportsman like nature of the Kerry team and their fans, several of whom congratulated me as I was leaving the stadium. Furthermore one can't help be heartened at the stories of lasting friendship between the players that met so often during the 70's many of whom had sons playing on Sunday. It was simply a wonderful day that I will never forget. A touching moment also occurred at half time when members of the New York Fire Department received a standing ovation from the 82,500 people attending the match. Of course, nothing could match the cheer that was heard when Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton came up to take the last minute long range free kick which gave the capital their first All Ireland victory in 16 years. Lets have a look shall we !

Friday, September 16, 2011

If Obama hates Israel

In the wake of recent worrying events in Cairo where it looked like Israel and Egypt's 32 year peace treaty might be coming to an end, the Daily Dish asks a very important question, If Barack Obama hated Israel, why would he do this ?. Below is a clip of a speech by
former Director of the Mossad Efraim Halevy who articulately explains how the anti semetic President, the Commander in Jew hating Chief himself Barack HUSSEIN Obama came to the rescue of several Israeli diplomats who were under siege at the Israeli embassy in Cairo last week.

Obama's hatred of Israel is of course a work of fiction. But since last weeks congressional election in which the seat vacated by disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner in the staunchly Democratic New York's 9th District was taken by a Republican, many commentators have been writing about how Jewish American have finally woken up to Obama's hostility to Israel. The 9th Congressional District has a large Jewish population, much of it Orthodox, leading many to speculate that Obama is losing the Jewish vote because of his Israel policies. Obama may be losing the Jewish vote due to Israel, but if he is, it is because of image and perception, not reality. In addition to the above instance in Cairo, the Obama administration has also approved more military aid to Israel than any other President. So I ask again, if Obama hates Israel, why would he do this?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

70 Years Ago Today 14/09/41

Occupied Europe: Hitler's order that all Jews in German occupied Europe wear a yellow Star of David comes into effect.

Tehran: Following a joint Soviet British invasion of Iran, Reza Khan Pahlevi, the pro German Shah (king) has been forced to abdicate. He is replaced on this day by his 22 year old son Mohammad Reza who will rule Iran (almost uninterrupted) until the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Northern Russia: After the British Carrier Argus arrived at Archangel on September 10th with two squadrons of Hurricanes the RAF have begun operation on Russian soil for the first time since they were sent to Russia in 1919 in an attempt to strangle Communism in its cradle. Now however, the communists and the British are fighting on the same side against the Nazis. The British pilots will mostly be training the Red Air Force in use of the British planes. The Red Army is desperate for superior air power as the Nazis continue their ferocious onslaught into the Soviet Union.

British and Soviet pilots sit and chat next to a Hurricane, whilst awaiting the inevitable order to scramble. Not the Red Army guard.

Photo of the Day

I spotted this replica of Rodney and Del Boys famous van behind a petrol station in Co Cavan. Great for parties I should think.

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 11th 2001, My Memories

The anniversary of September 11th 2001 brought back a lot of memories for everybody. Like most people, over the last week I watched several documentaries that brought me right back to the paralysing shock I felt ten years ago at seeing people jump 1000 feet to their deaths. On that day, I was a second year International Relations student in the American College Dublin. I was also the President of the Student Union. I was sitting on my own in the Student Union office when my father phoned me on my mobile to remind me that I had to come home early to babysit my brothers kids, as my other brother was graduating from university that day and most of the family were attending the ceremony. He then asked me if I was aware of what was happening in New York. Despite the fact that it was about 2pm (nearly two hours since the attacks began), I had heard nothing. He told me that two planes had been flown into the World Trade Center. I asked him if it was Islamic terrorism. He said he didn't know. I left the office immediately and walked the short distance to the common room in the residency where most of the American students lived. In the common room I found scores of students crowded around the TV watching reruns of the towers collapsing. Some sat in silence, some were crying and others were frantically trying to contact relatives. I chatted with friends as we speculated on what we thought was going down. Could it be a global attack on Americans? Should we be concerned? Shortly after I walked the five hundred meters from Mount Street to the Oscar Wilde House on the Corner of Merrion Square where the main buildings of the American College are located. I went into the deans office to discuss the situation. The dean, a New Yorker himself, and I discussed the situation and it was suggested that it may be wise to cancels all lectures for the remainder of the day. It was decided that it would be unnecessary to do this so at this point I simply went of to my first class of the new semester which was interestingly, US Post War Foreign Policy. Not surprisingly, all we talked about was what we had seen and heard on the news.

After class, I took a taxi back to Castleknock to fulfill my babysitting duties. On route, the female taxi driver and I talked about what was going on. I remember she told me her brother lived and worked in New Jersy. She hadn't phoned to enquire if everything was alright as she thought this would be excessively pannicky. When I reached home I found a note from my mother asking me to expect a call from a close family friend of ours whose daughter and husband lived in New York. My mother had been enquiring about them both but there was particular concern for the husband as he was an NYPD officer. We found out that night that he was fine as he was not working that day but naturally he was to have some harrowing stories from working at Ground Zero. At home that evening I spent many hours glued to the TV, just as many millions were doing all over the globe. I think I know what some of my readers are thinking at this stage. I am about to go into how 9/11 changed me, how I began to understand the evil of Islamic extremism and how this was the first step in me becoming a more conservative supporter of US Foreign Policy. Not so, in fact that night, in conversations with friends I remember talking about Hiroshima, Vietnam, the Gulf War and Iraqi sanctions as I lazily engaged in the left wing anti American version of history. At one stage, I think I even brought America's treatment of its native Indian population into the equation. For me, my conversion did not come for another three years, following a detailed study into Iranian suppression of political youth movements. But on that day itself, I think I was more consumed by the drama of it all, rather than the tragedy. Over the coming days however, the tragic and sombre reality began to replace any juvenile excitement I had as the numbers of dead became clear. In addition there were the several Irish killed on 9/11. The story of the Clifford family from Cork being perhaps the most tragic of any killed that day. I think the most dominant impression I had that day and in the following weeks was that sometimes in life, fact is stranger than fiction. I realised that almost anything can happen. To hope or assume that something will never happen does not make it so. For example, if Israel and the western world were to back down in the face of Islamic anger, (something which many argue would lead to world peace) it would be wrong to just hope or assume that Israel would not be wiped off the map, and that Europe would not be the next target. That is how 9/11 most affects my political thinking to this day. Below is a clip from last Friday's Late Late Show as Cork man Ron Clifford describes his experience on the moring of 9/11. Note: the Italian woman he describes helping does not survive her injuries.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Exhibition in Dublin

Notices left at Ground Zero by relatives of victims of 9/11.

Apologies for the abscence folks. I have been busy with work and personal stuff recently, plus my lap top broke down so I have been offline for the last ten days. But I assure you there will be a feast feast of blogging on Gubu World over the next week. Earlier today I visited the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks. The museum was hosting a photographic exhibition of the 9/11 atrocity. The exhibition was organised by Paul McCormick, a Donegal native and former NYPD officer who saw first hand the horrors of that day. McCormick, who is now living in Dublin, should be commended big time for bringing this experience to Dublin. The exhibition will be running for another two weeks. I would ecommend it to anyone.

Messages written in the dust in the vicinity og Ground Zero.

Officer McCormick, several days after the atrocity.

A very powerful message from President Kennedy