Nikolaus ‘Klaus’ Barbie. A gestapo man known as the Butcher of Lyon. Maybe responsible for fifteen thousand deaths. He tortured children. Should I stop there? After the war the CIA thought “hey, lets work with this guy!” West German intelligence thought “hey, lets work this guy.” British intelligence thought “hey, lets work with this guy.” Western intelligence chose some fairly horrific bedfellows during the cold war.
Extradited to France from Bolivia in 83, died in prison in 91.
September 20, 1945.
Eduard Wirths. For a secular fellow like myself the name of Josef Mengele is the name of the devil. The words summon horrific imagery, impossibly cruel things happening to impossibly innocent people, the great tools of science violently turned on the living as a sort of lark, a mad horrible path of modern science fueled by an ideology so degenerate in view and so expansive in aim that the only reasonable thing to do was to team up with Stalin to defeat it. Dissecting children, vivisecting pregnant women, the odd and random sterilization. Killing fourteen children in a night. These are only some of the things we know of. Worse fantasies he probably indulged in to whom no witness remained alive. Eduard Wirths was his boss.
Eduard Wirths was the head doctor at the Auschwitz concentration camp and Mengele was not his only subordinate. Mass sterilizations, typhus injections, all under his purview. In his review recommending Mengele for promotion Wirths wrote he had made “valuable contribution to anthropological science by making use of the scientific materials available to him.” The scientific materials avaliable to him. Human beings.
Captured by the allies, Wirths hung himself.
Simon Weisenthal, the Nazi Hunter, died on this day as well.
July 28, 1794.
Maximilien Robespierre. Let’s have a revolution! Let’s preach liberty, equality, fraternity! Let’s take that American experience and make it better. O, and lets behead everyone! Let’s retard the growth of liberty by turning it into a monarchy vs murder thing. That’s a good idea. Thanks, chairman of the public safety committee! Guillotined when they figured out that maybe he shouldnt be the vanguard of the revolution.
Olympics opening. Let’s forget there are terrible people for a day.
July 25, 1991.
Lazar Kaganovich. Way back in 1922, well before it was cool, Lazy was fine with executing any order Stalin gave. He didn’t change much in later years. He helped organize the Holdomor in the Ukraine, a famine that killed 2-7 million people. Among the many deaths he was responsible for, his own brother. He died at 97. Too old.
July 23, 1951.
Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain. When I compare Marshal Petain to Joe Paterno I need you to know I’m not trying to be lazy. If I was trying to be lazy I would just go with William Luther Pierce, the author of the Turner Diaries. I would quote this one sentence from Wikipedia. “He is also the founder of “Cosmotheism”, a religion based on white separatism, Aryan nationalism, racialism, panentheism, eugenics, and National Socialism.” I would then be done. But Petain. Petain was justly loved by the people who would later justly hate him. In a few short years at the end of his life he erased his accomplishments and established cowardice and evil in his legacy. And when I compare Petain and Paterno to Croesus I need you to know I’m not trying to be douchily booky but I can’t help it. Croesus was the richest man in the world. One day he asked Solon, the Law Giver of Athens, to name the happiest of people. Solon named these dead twins who died taking their mom to church. “What of me?” Croesus asked. “Call no man happy till he is dead,” Solon answered. Later, overthrown by Cyrus the Great and about to be burned alive Croesus shouted `O Solon.’ Thus Petain and Paterno. Petain stopped the Germans at Verdun and though he didn’t say ‘they shall not pass’ the French thought he did. They loved him. Decades later he allowed himself to be the figurehead for the Vichy regime. The exportation of Jews. The loss of the French fleet at Oran which, if it had surrendered to the British could have shortened the war. You could say he was an old man but after the liberation, relocated outside of France, he refused to be part of the government any longer. Why couldn’t he have refused earlier? Why? He was sentenced to death but his old subordinate, De Gaulle, commuted his sentence to life imprisonment.
July 22, 2012.
Uday and Qusay Hussein. The crimes of the sons of Saddam ranged substantially beyond fashion. In a lot of fiction you get a pair of mismatched villains working against the protagonist. Often it is the big mean slow one one and the terrible smaller ruthless calculating one. There is a whole endless tv tropes page about it. Uday and Qusay were exactly like that except that instead of being fictional they were real and instead of some intrepid hero their enemy: the people of Iraq. In 1988 their Saddam’s bodyguard introduced him to his future second wife. Offended for his mother, Uday walked up to the bodyguard at a party and beat him bloody then took an electric carving knife to him. At a party. Later in charge of the Olympic committee his idea of of team management proved caning the feet of soccer players he felt were under-performing. The stories out there regarding his treatment of kidnapped women are well beyond horrific. Qusay’s crimes were more administrative. Prison overcrowded? Execute the excess. The Marsh Arabs being thorny in their resistance? Drain the marshes. The United States paid thirty million dollars for their location. They were killed in the ensuing firefight.
July 21, 2006.
Ta Mok. Noam Chomsky aside the Khmer Rouge killed millions of people in Cambodia. And yet out of all the Khmer Rouge Ta Mok was the one who earned the nickname “the Butcher.” The Vietnamese overthrew the Khmer Rouge in 1979. He was was finally captured in 1999 and died of heart complications awaiting trial.
For personal reasons I am entirely too tense for a post today. It would have been Felix Dzerzhinsky, the man who set up the forerunner to the KGB. I apologize to my readership.
July 19, 1965.
Sygman Rhee. It is easy enough to look at North and South Korea at night and figure out which side has it better these days. Bank in the day, though, Mr. Rhee was almost as bad as Kim Il-Sung. Before the Korean war he rounded up hundreds of thousands of communists, dissidents, and generally people he did not like. After the war started her ordered all of them, many children, shot. Maybe a hundred thousand dead. His regime generally tortured and murdered it’s opponents. Terrible guy. Just like most George Washington grads. Retired to Hawaii after being overthrown because the US loved him. Died of a stroke.
July 18, 1984.
James Huberty. There are levels of institutional failure here as well. Before the act, there was the 911 dispatcher who, after receiving a call from a citizen who watched a man walk down the street with two guns, gave the officers the wrong address. There was the mental heath official who wrote down the wrong address and never called back. There was the system deciding a man who shot on his head had no issues. After, the lawsuits, the silly greedy misplaced lawsuits against McDonald’s. Falling Down, a great movie, making light of the idea of a guy on a shooting rage being in a McDonald’s. But all that is all that. One day James Huberty walked into a McDonald’s and shot and killed 21 people. Shot by a SWAT sniper.