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And then one time Reagan decided it was important to him to honor Nazi SS troopers who had been assigned to kill American P.O.W.s

Reagan Defends Cemetery Visit : Says German Dead Are Also Victims of Nazis - Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — President Reagan, under attack from Jewish and veterans groups and members of both houses of Congress, Thursday defended his plans to visit a German military cemetery, saying the soldiers buried there were "victims of Nazism just as surely as the victims of the concentration camps." Reagan's announcement earlier this week that he will also visit a Nazi concentration camp failed to calm the storm of criticism. The President, speaking to editors and broadcasters at a White House luncheon Thursday, said he does not want to cancel his plan to lay a wreath at the cemetery at Bitburg, West Germany, in part because it would appear that he had "caved in" to his critics. He said that at the Bitburg cemetery, "we only found later that there were the graves of about 30 SS troops--they were the villains who conducted the executions and all." Reagan said that almost 2,000 others are buried at the site and that "most of those--the average age is about 18--these are the young teen-agers that were conscripted, forced into military service in the closing days of the Third Reich." He added: "I see nothing wrong with visiting that cemetery, where those young men are victims of Nazism also, even though they were fighting in German uniform, drafted into service to carry out the hateful wishes of the Nazis." Bitburg served as a German tank staging area for the Battle of the Bulge, the last Nazi offensive of World War II, which cost 10,000 American lives. Reagan made no mention of this, nor of the fact that the cemetery contains the graves of members of a Panzer unit charged with slaughtering American prisoners in the battle.

May 23, 2013

On America's ghost army in WWII

Artists and showmen used inflatable tanks, decoy radio transmissions, massive speakers playing recordings of an army approaching and more tricks to fake out the Germans. When an Army of Artists Fooled Hitler | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine
Deception has long been a part of war, the Trojan Horse being perhaps the most famous example. But what set the 23rd troops apart, says Beyer, is the way they integrated so many different strategies to create a multimedia roadshow capable of being packed up for another show the next night. To shore up potential holes in the line, the unit would set up its inflatable tanks and roll in the giant speakers with a 15-mile range to give the impression that a huge army was amassing. Coupled with decoy radio transmissions, the deceptions proved largely successful. From the beaches of Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge, the Ghost Army saw a lot of action, but their biggest stunt would come near the end of the war. With the American Ninth Army set to cross the Rhine river deeper into Germany, the 23rd had to lure the Germans away. Posing as the 30th and 79th divisions, 1,100 men had to pretend to be more than 30,000. Mixing real tanks alongside the inflatable ones, the troops appeared to be assembling a massive attack. Their fake observation planes were so convincing, American pilots tried to land in the field next to them. When the offensive finally made its move across the Rhine, with General Dwight Eisenhower and Prime Minister Winston Churchill watching, they were met with little German resistance. The riverbanks were left for the taking and the Ghost Army earned a commendation for its success. Because the men had to keep their true purpose a secret, they regularly pretended to be other units. They’d mark their trucks with chalk or sew fake badges to throw off potential spies in the cities where they spent time off duty. Set apart from other troops by their secret mission, the artists also brought an usual perspective to war. Upon finding a bombed-out church in Tr�vi�res, several of them stopped to sketch the structure. When they stopped in Paris and Luxembourg, the men recorded everything from the beguiling women biking by to the scenic rooflines and street scenes. Beyer accumulated more than 500 of these sketches during the eight years he spent on the documentary, many of which were included in an accompanying art exhibit at the Edward Hopper House in New York.

May 21, 2013

UPDATE: Oklahoma Officials Revise Tornado Death Toll Down to 24

Oklahoma City tornado: Twister touches down 10 miles south of...