Vanguard WWII Profile picture
Oct 12 10 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
British (and my favourite) Ralph Vaughan Williams was born on this day in 1872. He served during WW1, and prior to WW2 helped German Jews escape persecution via the Dorking Refugee Society, then in WW2 worked for the Committee for the Release of Interned Alien Musicians. 1/10 Image
Vaughan Williams was no stranger to the misery that war could bring. Born in 1872, he had served on the Western Front near Vimy Ridge with the 2/4th London Field Ambulance, then in Salonika before returning to France as an artillery Lt. in 1918. 2/10
In late 1936 he had learned from composer and political activist Alan Bush of the plight of fellow musicologist, Dr. Gerhard Pinthus who had been arrested in 1933 and since held in concentration camps. 3/10 Image
Vaughan Williams sent the letter to Pinthus' mother in late Jan 1937 and the Gestapo later informed her that they were willing to release her son -now held at Dachau- as long as he left Germany permanently. 4/10 Image
In early 1937, Vaughn Williams joined forces with another famous Dorking resident, the novelist E.M. Forster (A Room with a View) and they set up the Dorking and District Refugee Committee to provide help to refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. 5/10 Image
The Society provided assistance to many Czech Sudeten refugees, but also to Kindertransport Jewish children fleeing persecution, such as Sir Erich Reich who passed away last year. 6/10
Refugees were faced with a new threat once war came - this time from the British government. Internment camps and tribunals were set up to house German and Austrian 'enemy aliens' - ostensibly Nazi sympaphisers - but the net was cast further afield, catching many refugees. 7/10 Image
Vaughan Williams and other personalities protested these measures but they were to fall on deaf ears - that is until the sinking of the internment ship SS Arandora Star on 2 July 1940 as she was carrying over 7,000 deported refugees to Canada. 8/10 Image
The swell of public opinion following the sinking forced the Government's hand and it created a White Paper listing 18 categories of internees deemed safe to release and who could contribute to matters of national interest. 9/10
Vaughan Williams continued to fight for the release of other musician refugees who didn't fall under the 18 categories -sometimes failing- but among those he helped, like Norbert Brainin and Siegmund Nissel, they went on to have great musical careers after the war. 10/10 Image

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More from @Vanguard_WW2

Sep 20
The mysterious end of Joachim Peiper in France, Bastille Day, 1976.
Following yesterday's post on SS war criminal Joachim Peiper and his role in the burning and massacre of the Italian village of Boves. Here is a thread on his life and end after the war. 1/8 Image
After the war, Peiper was put on trial at Dachau with the main accusation concerning his war crimes during the Malmedy Massacre carried out by men of Kampfgruppe Peiper during the Battle of the Bulge. 2/8 Image
The trial began on 16 May 1946 and lasted for two months. He was found guilty and sentenced to death but, after numerous appeals, this was eventually reduced to 35 years in prison. He was released in 1956. 3/8
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Sep 8
#OTD in 1943, General Eisenhower publically announced the surrender of Italy to the Allies. The Armistice of Cassible had been signed 5 days earlier, but this day would have terrible consequences for a community living across the other side of the Alps in France. 1/4 Image
In late 1942, the Vichy authorities had designated the mountain town of Saint-Martin-Vésubie as an accommodation centre for non-French Jews. 300 families thus settled there and were allowed to live as normally as was possible under supervision of Italian troops. 2/4
With the surrender, German troops were sent to occupy the former Italian area of occupation in France. Aloïs Brunner lost no time in heading to southern France and rounding up Jews who had, up to that point in time, been allowed to live relatively normal lives in the area. 3/4 Image
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Aug 25
🇫🇷🇺🇸 Day 7 Liberation of Paris, Friday 25 Aug 1944. The bulk of the French 2nd AD (2e DB) enters Paris via the Porte d'Italie at around 9 am. The 12th Inf Rgt, US 4th Inf Division also enters the capital, a unit that had landed at Utah Beach on 6 June. 1/6 Image
Other 2e DB units arrive via Versailles. At around midday, the ultimatum presented to von Choltitz by Colonel Billotte is rejected and German tanks are engaged. A Panther is destroyed on Place de la Concorde. 2/6
At the other end of the Champs Elysées, French infantry are engaged against German troops near the Arc de Triomphe, as well as other locations where the Germans have created strongpoints. 3/6 Image
Read 6 tweets
Aug 24
Brutality in defeat
With German forces withdrawing in France and Paris on the cusp of liberation, the Nazis continue their brutal treatment of the civilian population. On 24 August 1944, the village of Buchères near Troyes was to experience a day of horror. 1/ Image
The previous evening, FFI fighters set up a barricade in the village to hinder German units retreating from US forces approaching Troyes. On the morning of the 24th, a small German convoy was fired upon and withdrew. 2/ Image
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Aug 23
🇫🇷 Day 5 Liberation of Paris, Wednesday, 23 August 1944. Parisians listen with stupefaction as the BBC in London prematurely announces that the capital has been liberated by its own population. Heavy fighting is still taking place throughout the capital. 1/8
After having been given the go ahead to advance on Paris, the French 2nd AD (2e DB) is now in Rambouillet southwest of Paris and will push on tomorrow in tactical groups along two axis. 2/8 Image
Is Paris burning? Was Von Choltitz, commander of GrossParis really the 'good' German who saved Paris from Hitler's order to destroy the city? 3/8 Image
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Aug 23
🇫🇷 A hell of a birthday
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Madeleine was born in the Somme department in 1924 to school teacher parents - her father had been badly wounded during the Great War. She began showing an interest in resisting the German occupier during the miners strikes of 1941. 2/7 Image
Suffering from a lung condition, she spent time in a sanatorium before joining the Resistance in 1942. On 23 July 1944, as part of a FTP group, she shot and killed a German officer on the Pont de Solferino before making off on her bicycle... 3/7 Image
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