So, if a plane crashes and they find the crash site but are unable to recover the bodies for whatever reason, I don’t usually consider those people to be missing, even by my quite generous definition. After all, their fate and the location of their remains is known.
But today, I added five people whose case fit those parameters: plane crash, wreckage found. I decided I could just about wedge the case within the Charley Project’s case requirements because, after the crash site was initially located, it vanished again. It moved.
I doubt that happens all that often, but this was in Alaska, the Land That Eats People.
A small plane carrying four Polish tourists and their pilot was on an aerial tour of Denali National Park when it hit the side of the mountain. This was at 11,000-foot elevation, on an unstable field of ice and snow. When park rangers found the site a few days later, the plane was embedded in snow right on the side of a cliff, as you can see in the photo accompanying this article. The fact that it’s gone now is not terribly surprising: shifting/melting ice and snow, wind, etc.
So anyway, the victims are now up on my site: the pilot, Craig Layson, from Michigan, and the four passengers: Janusz Intek, Maria Libacka, Kazimierz Miernik and Robert Sieniawski, all of them Poles. Rest In Peace. The mountain is their grave.
I’ve got an Executed Today entry up, first in awhile: Karol Kot, the Vampire of Krakow, a young Polish man who tried very hard to be a serial killer but didn’t quite make it. Perhaps he should have studied those anatomy textbooks better.
He was executed by the Communist government of Poland on this day fifty years ago.
Karolina Juszczykowska (how does one pronounce that?), an otherwise unremarkable middle-aged kitchen lady, was executed 70 years ago today for hiding Jews in her apartment in Tomaschow, Poland.
My latest Executed Today: Charlotte Rebhun, executed in Berlin during the dying days of the Third Reich. Although it’s not what she was executed for — in fact no one knows now what her “crime” was — Charlotte hid Jews and saved at least one Jewish person’s life, that of a baby named Barbara. Barbara was adopted by a Jewish family after the war and grew up in Israel. She’s searching for her biological relatives now, but it’s hard because she doesn’t even know who her birth parents were. But if it weren’t for Charlotte Rebhun, Barbara would not be alive today.
This is, I think, probably one of the saddest Executed Today entries I have had the privilege of writing.
…in a single post of mine on Executed Today. It’s another Holocaust one; you know that’s my specialty. All of them were Polish Jews, and hanged in pairs: two from the Sosnowiec Ghetto and two from the Bedzin Ghetto.
The father and son who died in Sosnowiec 71 years ago today have a cameo in Maus, Art Spiegelman’s famous graphic novel about the his father’s journey through the Holocaust. I read Maus for school over ten years ago, but I’ve just about forgotten it. I ought to pick it up again.
I wrote to the woman whose book was the principal source for the info in today’s entry. I told her about the entry, and also told her about an upcoming one that will cite her book as a source and quote from it. Speaking as the administrator as the Charley Project, thank-you notes mean a lot to me. I get them from family members, police officers, and sometimes even just random people who stumble across my site. I get two or three a week on average, I guess. (These communications far outnumber the critical emails I get or the emails from crazy people, but I don’t write about the thank-yous much because it sounds like I’m bragging or just out for my own glory or something, and I don’t think the thank yous are nearly as interesting to write about.) It boosts my spirits to know that my efforts are appreciated and I’m making a positive difference in the world. This isn’t the first time I’ve contacted a scholar to thank them for helping my Executed Today research; I figure they deserve to know they’re appreciated, too.
Also on executed on this day in 1942: Sergeant Anton Schmid, a German soldier who helped save Jews in Lithuania and was later honored as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. He saved hundreds of lives at the cost of his own. My Executed Today entry for him was posted two years ago.
Yesterday: Phillip Coleman in 1943, the last man hanged in Montana. He was executed for a vicious robbery-and-murder spree that left three people dead. Someone who knew more about the case than I said in the comments section that Coleman confessed 23 additional murders, but the confession has been lost and it isn’t known whether what he said was accurate or not.
Today: Meir Berliner and ten others at the Treblinka Extermination Camp in 1942. Berliner, a Jewish prisoner at the camp whose entire family had been gassed, murdered an officer in an act of suicidal revenge. He was killed for it, along with ten other inmates (and 150 more the next day) in the spirit of collective responsibility. But in an indirect a result of Berliner’s actions, a year later the inmates were able to launch a revolt and mass escape from the camp.
Executed today in 1942, commemorated by me: Irene Nemirovsky, a famous Jewish-Catholic Ukrainian-French author who was gassed in Auschwitz in spite of her conversion to Christianity.
I had thought of including Jakub Lemberg on the list of two days ago, but decided against it since he was about to be profiled on Executed Today. When Lemberg was ordered to turn over ten Jews to be hanged, he instead produced himself, his wife and their kids. It was Hans Biebow who had them killed.
In 1947, after Biebow was himself hung for war crimes, a Jewish survivor of the Lodz Ghetto (which Biebow had been in charge of) performed the autopsy. Grinning all the while, I’m sure.
Sixty years ago today, five Jews were executed in the town of Sokal, Poland. (Now part of Ukraine.)
An aside: as I noted in the Executed Today entry, the diarist Moshe Maltz who was my source for the entry had his baby daughter killed by Nazis. The story of the baby’s death is worth telling as well: His wife and the baby were hiding in an attic during an Aktion while Nazis and Jewish policemen searched for hidden Jews. A Nazi sent a Jewish policeman up to the attic, who found them, but he came back down and lied and said there was no one there. At this point the baby cried out and the Nazi heard it and sent the Jewish policeman back up to get it. He told Moshe’s wife, “Look, I feel sorry for you, and I’ll let you go, but I’ve got to take that baby, he’s heard it already. You can go with it, or stay. I can say I found the baby abandoned up here.” And Moshe’s wife gave him the baby, and stayed, and lived. Moshe wrote that she had initially wanted to go with the baby, but decided to remain because she had another child to think about.
I wonder how many mothers would have had the courage — or was it cowardice — to remain in the attic. I wonder what decision I would have made, if I had been in her place. I wonder what Moshe thought of it all. He didn’t say.