Connect with us







When the 2nd World War broke out in 1939, the Prime Minister of Great Britain was Neville Chamberlain, the President of the United States, was polio-stricken Franklin D Roosevelt, and the French President was Francois Daladier.

Hitler successfully bluffed the western leaders and Russia, by signing a Peace Agreement known as the Munich Agreement. By this the Allies were lulled into a state of complacency while Hitler was stealthily building up his war machinery. The factories of Alfred Krupp were working at breakneck speed and had the western leaders caught unawares when Hitler decided to invade Europe. After signing the Munich Agreement , Neville Chamberlain went home and was bragging about ushering peace. He was a good man, but lacked intelligence.

On Sept. 1, 1939, German armies commonly known as the Nazi, poured across the Polish frontier and converged on Warsaw, from the North, South and the West.

In 1941, the House of Commons decided that enough is enough and brought in Winston Churchill as Britain’s wartime Prime Minister. Unlike most other Prime Ministers Churchill, born in Marlborough House, was a proud man of noble birth being related to Royalty. He was very conscious of his lineage, being the son of Lord Randolph Churchill. He schooled at Eton and though he was not university educated, he possessed intelligence in great measure and is now considered the most intelligent military strategist of the 20th century.

He kept up the morale of the forces and the British people with his electrifying speeches. When Germany’s air force – Luftwaffe – attempted to blow up London, and was prevented by the courageous Royal Air Force, he thanked the RAF pilots with the stirring words, “never in the field of human conflict, has so much been owed by so many, to so few”.

When the War ended, Churchill was still the PM of the UK. President Roosevelt died and Harry Truman succeeded him. The Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces was Dwight Eisenhower. The Commander of the British Forces was Field Marshal (later Viscount) Montgomery and the Commander of the Russian Forces was Marshal Zhukov.

Hitler enlisted the assistance of 68 highly intelligent non-military persons to plan his strategy. These men were chosen for their intelligence even more than their loyalty to him. They, with their intelligent planning, nearly conquered the whole world! It is well known that war is too serious a business to be left in the hands of the Generals alone. The main countries that joined Hitler were called the Axis Powers. They were Hitler’s Germany, Emperor Hirohito’s Japan and Mussolini’s Italy. The Japanese Forces were as ruthless as the Germans.

In 1941, without any military provocation, the Japanese Air Force attacked Pearl Harbour, destroying a large number of ships belonging to the US Navy and killing thousands of Americans. They were all taken unawares. This was exactly what Sir Winston was waiting for. For all his pleadings, the US had not come out openly against the Axis Forces and it was only after the unprovoked attack on their Navy that the US joined the Allies in the war. The Japanese did not spare even Ceylon, then a colony of the UK. They dropped bombs, but thankfully could not cause much damage.

On April 29, 1945, one of the last pieces of news to reach Hitler’s bunker from the outside world came in. it was that his fellow fascist dictator and partner in aggression Mussolini, and his mistress Clara Petacci, had been caught by Italian partisans on April 27 while trying to escape to Switzerland, and executed two days later. On May Day, Benito Mussolini and his mistress were buried in a paupers plot! In such a macabre climax of degradation the man known as “Il Duce”, and fascism, passed into history.

Shortly after receiving the news of Mussolini’s end Hitler began to make final plans for his own death. He had his favourite Alsatian dog Blondi poisoned and the two other dogs in the household shot. Erik Kempka his driver who was in charge of the chancellery garage, received an order to deliver 200 liters of gasoline in jerrycans . Hitler and Eva Braun (who he had married only two days before) retired to their room in the bunker. Revolver shots were heard. The body of Hitler was found sprawled on the sofa. He had shot himself in the mouth. At his side lay Eva, who had not used her revolver. She had swallowed poison.

On May 4, 1945, the German High Command surrendered to Field Marshall Montgomery. Japanese Emperor Hirohito decreed that despite the surrender of the German Forces, the Japanese Forces should fight to the last man. These forces were as ruthless as the Germans. Peace was not to dawn though Germany had unconditionally surrendered. The US, though now in possession of the atom bomb, was not going to use it if Japan too surrendered. But because of the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbour, they decided to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki causing hitherto unheard and unseen devastation. The pilot who dropped the bombs was Captain Tibetts who flew the “Enola Grey”. Utter misery and destruction were brought on the Japanese people due to the egoistic action of Emperor Hirohito, who also should have been tried for war crimes. Captain Tibetts died only about five years ago, aged 93.


24 War Criminals were indicted by the Allies. The charges were for:

Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace; war crimes; and crimes against humanity.


The War Criminals charged were

1. Martin Bormann – successor to Rudolf Hess as Nazi party secy. He was sentenced to death in absentia.

2. Karl Doenitz – an admiral and initiator of the U-boat campaign, and nominated by Hitler as his successor. He was sentenced to 10 years.

3. Hans Frank – ruler of occupied Poland. Sentenced to death.

4. Wilhelm Frick – Hitler’s minister of the interior. Sentenced to death.

5. Hans Friche – popular commentator and head of Nazi propaganda. He was acquitted.

6. Walter Funk – Hitler’s minister of economics. Sentenced to life imprisonment.

7. Hermann Goering – commander of the german air force, the Luftwaffe. Sentenced to death, but cheated the hangman by biting the cyanide pill and committing suicide.

8. Rudolf Hess – Hitler’s deputy. Sentenced to life imprisonment.

9. Alfred Jodel – sentenced to death, but was posthumously exonerated by a denazification court.

10. Ernst Karltenbrunner – commander of many concentration camps. Sentenced to death.




11. Wilhelm Keitel – sentenced to death.

12. Gustav Krupp – nazi industrialist who churned out war machinery. Was found to be medically unfit for trial.

13. Neurath – minister of foreign affairs who succeeded Ribbentrop, later protector of Bohemia. Sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

14. Franz Von Papen – acquitted at Nuremberg but re- classified as a criminal in 1947 by a German Denazification Court.

15. Eric Raeder – life imprisonment.

16. Joachim Von Ribbentrop – nazi foreign minister. Sentenced to death.

17. Alfred Rosenberg – racial theory ideologist. Sentenced to death.

18. Fritz Sauckel – plenipotentiary of the Nazi slave program. Sentenced to death.

19. Hjalmar Schacht – pre war president of the Reichsbank. Was acquitted.

20. Baldur Von Shirach – gauliter of Vienna. Sentenced to 20 years.

21. Arthur Seyss-Inquart – gauliter of Holland. Sentenced to death.

22. Albert Speer – Hitler’s architect. Sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

23. Julius Streicher – incited hatred and murder against Jews. Sentenced to death.

24. Robert Ley – German Labour Front. Committed suicide before trial


By this time many of the top Nazis were dead. Hitler himself had committed suicide. Joseph Gobbels followed Hitler the next day, by taking his life, the life of his wife and the their six children. Reinhard Heydrich had been killed by Czechoslovak agents in 1942. Herman Goering cheated the hangman by swallowing a cyanide capsule.


The war criminals were held in Spandau Prison. They argued that the International Military Tribunal was a Victor’s Justice and was a mock trial.


Judges who tried the German Judges accused of perversion of justice were:

 (Soviet main)

 (Soviet alternate)

 (British main), President of the Tribunal

 (British alternative)

 (American main)

 (American alternative)

 Professor (French main)

 (French alternative)


Chief prosecutors

 (United Kingdom)

 (United States)

 (Soviet Union)

 , later replaced by (France)


Apart from the trial of the Nazi War Criminals there were 12 other trials at Nuremberg, now occupied by the USA. These were held before US Military Courts and not before the International War Crimes Tribunal. These 12 trials were known as the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials. In one trial 16 German Judges and Jurists were indicted, for


Participating in a common plan or conspiracy to commit and ; war crimes through the abuse of the judicial and penal process, resulting in , , of ; crimes against humanity on the same grounds, including charges and membership in a criminal organization, the or leadership corps. But the highest ranking officials of the Nazi judicial system could not be tried.


Franz Gurtner, Minister of Justice since 1942 had committed suicide in 1946. Roland Freuler President of the People’s Court was killed in a bombing raid on Berlin. Gunther Volmer was killed in 1945.

Between 1941 and 1944 Germans deported millions of Jews from Germany, from occupied territories and from Axis Countries to ghettos often called Extermination Camps. There they were done to death in gas chambers. They moved these Jews by trains packing them like sardines. This continued up to the day the German forces unconditionally surrendered.

The Judge’s Trial was depicted in a movie shot in 1961, called “Judgement at Nurembrg”, with a star studded cast, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schelle, Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift. These were some of the best known film stars of the era.



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Strong on vocals



The group Mirage is very much alive, and kicking, as one would say!

Their lineup did undergo a few changes and now they have decided to present themselves as an all male group – operating without a female vocalist.

At the helm is Donald Pieries (drums and vocals), Trevin Joseph (percussion and vocals), Dilipa Deshan (bass and vocals), Toosha Rajarathna (keyboards and vocals), and Sudam Nanayakkara (lead guitar and vocals).

The plus factor, where the new lineup is concerned, is that all five members sing.

However, leader Donald did mention that if it’s a function, where a female vocalist is required, they would then feature a guest performer.

Mirage is a very experience outfit and they now do the Friday night scene at the Irish Pub, in Colombo, as well as private gigs.



Continue Reading


Dichotomy of an urban-suburban New Year



Ushered in by the ‘coo-ee’ of the Koel and the swaying of Erabadu bunches, the Sinhala and Tamil New Year will dawn in the wee hours of April 14. With houses to clean, preparation of sweetmeats and last-minute shopping, times are hectic…. and the streets congested.

It is believed that New Year traditions predated the advent of Buddhism in the 3rd century BC. But Buddhism resulted in a re-interpretation of the existing New Year activities in a Buddhist light. Hinduism has co-existed with Buddhism over millennia and no serious contradiction in New Year rituals are observed among Buddhists and Hindus.

The local New Year is a complex mix of Indigenous, Astrological, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions. Hindu literature provides the New Year with its mythological backdrop. The Prince of Peace called Indradeva is said to descend upon the earth to ensure peace and happiness, in a white carriage wearing on his head a white floral crown seven cubits high. He first plunges, into a sea of milk, breaking earth’s gravity.

The timing of the Sinhala New Year coincides with the New Year celebrations of many traditional calendars of South and Southeast Asia. Astrologically, the New Year begins when the sun moves from the House of Pisces (Meena Rashiya) to the House of Aries (Mesha Rashiya) in the celestial sphere.

The New Year marks the end of the harvest season and spring. Consequently, for farming communities, the traditional New Year doubles as a harvest as well. It also coincides with one of two instances when the sun is directly above Sri Lanka. The month of Bak, which coincides with April, according to the Gregorian calendar, represents prosperity. Astrologers decide the modern day rituals based on auspicious times, which coincides with the transit of the Sun between ‘House of Pisces’ and ‘House of Aries’.

Consequently, the ending of the old year, and the beginning of the new year occur several hours apart, during the time of transit. This period is considered Nonegathe, which roughly translates to ‘neutral period’ or a period in which there are no auspicious times. During the Nonegathe, traditionally, people are encouraged to engage themselves in meritorious and religious activities, refraining from material pursuits. This year the Nonegathe begin at 8.09 pm on Tuesday, April 13, and continues till 8.57 am on 14. New Year dawns at the halfway point of the transit, ushered in bythe sound of fire crackers, to the woe of many a dog and cat of the neighbourhood. Cracker related accidents are a common occurrence during new year celebrations. Environmental and safety concerns aside, lighting crackers remain an integral part of the celebrations throughout Sri Lanka.

This year the Sinhala and Tamil New Year dawns on Wednesday, April 14, at 2.33 am. But ‘spring cleaning’ starts days before the dawn of the new year. Before the new year the floor of houses are washed clean, polished, walls are lime-washed or painted, drapes are washed, dried and rehang. The well of the house is drained either manually or using an electric water pump and would not be used until such time the water is drawn for first transaction. Sweetmeats are prepared, often at homes, although commercialization of the new year has encouraged most urbanites to buy such food items. Shopping is a big part of the new year. Crowds throng to clothing retailers by the thousands. Relatives, specially the kids, are bought clothes as presents.

Bathing for the old year takes place before the dawn of the new year. This year this particular auspicious time falls on April 12, to bathe in the essence of wood apple leaves. Abiding by the relevant auspicious times the hearth and an oil lamp are lit and pot of milk is set to boil upon the hearth. Milk rice, the first meal of the year, is prepared separate. Entering into the first business transaction and partaking of the first meal are also observed according to the given auspicious times. This year, the auspicious time for preparing of meals, milk rice and sweets using mung beans, falls on Wednesday, April 14 at 6.17 am, and is to be carried out dressed in light green, while facing east. Commencement of work, transactions and consumption of the first meal falls on Wednesday, April 14 at 7.41 am, to be observed while wearing light green and facing east.

The first transaction was traditionally done with the well. The woman of the house would draw water from the well and in exchange drop a few pieces of charcoal, flowers, coins, salt and dried chillies into the well, in certain regions a handful of paddy or rice is also thrown in for good measure. But this ritual is also dying out as few urban homes have wells within their premises. This is not a mere ritual and was traditionally carried out with the purification properties of charcoal in mind. The first water is preferably collected into an airtight container, and kept till the dawn of the next new year. It is believed that if the water in the container does not go down it would be a prosperous year. The rituals vary slightly based on the region. However, the essence of the celebrations remains the same.

Anointing of oil is another major ritual of the New Year celebrations. It falls on Saturday, April 17 at 7.16 am, and is done wearing blue, facing south, with nuga leaves placed on the head and Karada leaves at the feet. Oil is to be applied mixed with extracts of Nuga leaves. The auspicious time for setting out for professional occupations falls on Monday, April 19 at 6.39 am, while dressed in white, by consuming a meal of milk rice mixed with ghee, while facing South.

Traditionally, women played Raban during this time, but such practices are slowly being weaned out by urbanization and commercialisation of the New Year. Neighbours are visited with platters of sweetmeats, bananas, Kevum (oil cake) and Kokis (a crispy sweetmeat) usually delivered by children. The dichotomy of the urban and village life is obvious here too, where in the suburbs and the village outdoor celebrations are preferred and the city opts for more private parties.



Continue Reading


New Year games: Integral part of New Year Celebrations



Food, games and rituals make a better part of New Year celebrations. One major perk of Avurudu is the festivals that are organised in each neighbourhood in its celebration. Observing all the rituals, like boiling milk, partaking of the first meal, anointing of oil, setting off to work, are, no doubt exciting, but much looked-forward-to is the local Avurudu Uthsawaya.

Avurudu Krida or New Year games are categorised as indoor and outdoor games. All indoor games are played on the floor and outdoor games played during the Avurudu Uthsava or New Year festival, with the whole neighbourhood taking part. Some of the indoor games are Pancha Dameema, Olinda Keliya and Cadju Dameema. Outdoor games include Kotta pora, Onchili pedeema, Raban geseema, Kana mutti bindeema, Placing the eye on the elephant, Coconut grating competition, Bun-eating competition, Lime-on-spoon race, Kamba adeema (Tug-o-War) and Lissana gaha nageema (climbing the greased pole). And what’s an Avurudhu Uthsava sans an Avurudu Kumari pageant, minus the usual drama that high profile beauty pageants of the day entail, of course.

A salient point of New Year games is that there are no age categories. Although there are games reserved for children such as blowing of balloons, races and soft drinks drinking contests, most other games are not age based.

Kotta pora aka pillow fights are not the kind the average teenagers fight out with their siblings, on plush beds. This is a serious game, wherein players have to balance themselves on a horizontal log in a seated position. With one hand tied behind their back and wielding the pillow with the other, players have to knock the opponent off balance. Whoever knocks the opponent off the log first, wins. The game is usually played over a muddy pit, so the loser goes home with a mud bath.

Climbing the greased pole is fun to watch, but cannot be fun to take part in. A flag is tied to the end of a timber pole-fixed to the ground and greased along the whole length. The objective of the players is to climb the pole, referred to as the ‘tree’, and bring down the flag. Retrieving the flag is never achieved on the first climb. It takes multiple climbers removing some of the grease at a time, so someone could finally retrieve the flag.

Who knew that scraping coconut could be made into an interesting game? During the Avurudu coconut scraping competition, women sit on coconut scraper stools and try to scrape a coconut as fast as possible. The one who finishes first wins. These maybe Avurudu games, but they are taken quite seriously. The grated coconut is inspected for clumps and those with ungrated clumps are disqualified.

Coconut palm weaving is another interesting contest that is exclusive to women. However men are by no means discouraged from entering such contests and, in fact, few men do. Participants are given equally measured coconut fronds and the one who finishes first wins.

Kana Mutti Bindima involves breaking one of many water filled clay pots hung overhead, using a long wooden beam. Placing the eye on the elephant is another game played while blindfolded. An elephant is drawn on a black or white board and the blindfolded person has to spot the eye of the elephant. Another competition involves feeding the partner yoghurt or curd while blindfolded.

The Banis-eating contest involves eating tea buns tied to a string. Contestants run to the buns with their hands tied behind their backs and have to eat buns hanging from a string, on their knees. The one who finishes his or her bun first, wins. Kamba adeema or Tug-o-War pits two teams against each other in a test of strength. Teams pull on opposite ends of a rope, with the goal being to bring the rope a certain distance in one direction against the force of the opposing team’s pull.

Participants of the lime-on-spoon race have to run a certain distance while balancing a lime on a spoon, with the handle in their mouths. The first person to cross the finish line without dropping the lime wins. The sack race and the three-legged race are equally fun to watch and to take part in. In the sack race, participants get into jute sacks and hop for the finish line. The first one over, wins. In the three-legged race one leg of each pair of participants are tied together and the duo must reach the finish line by synchronising their running, else they would trip over their own feet.

Pancha Dameema is an indoor game played in two groups, using five small shells, a coconut shell and a game board. Olinda is another indoor board game, normally played by two players. The board has nine holes, four beads each. The player who collects the most number of seeds win.

This is the verse sung while playing the game:

“Olinda thibenne koi koi dese,

Olinda thibenne bangali dese…

Genath hadanne koi koi dese,

Genath hadanne Sinhala dese…”

Continue Reading