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Working Together… And Then Not!

From the History Channel (History.com) comes a story from September 13, 1942, that is a feel good story until it becomes a feel bad story!

A German submarine (U-boat) sunk the British troop ship, the Laconia, killing more than 1,400 men. The commander of the German sub, Capt. Werner Hartenstein, then realized that also on that sub, there were Italians prisoners-of-war being transported among the passengers. So, he gave an order to attempt to rescue their sunken allies.

The Laconia, a former Cunard White Star ship that was being used to transport troops, including prisoners of war, was in the South Atlantic bound for England. There, it encountered  U-156, a German sub.

The sub attacked and sank the troop ship, while also sinking more than 2,200 passengers. But as Commander Hartenstein, the sub commander,  learned from survivors that they began taking on board, there were 1,500 Italians POWs still below on the sunken ship. Realizing that he had just endangered the lives of so many of his fellow Axis members, he put out an emergency call to an Italian submarine, and two other German submarines in the area, to ask for help in rescuing the survivors. (Italians)

In the meantime, a French and two British warships sped to the scene to also assist in the rescue. The German subs informed the Allied ships that they had surfaced to the top “for humanitarian reasons”.

The Allies assumed it was a trap. Suddenly, an American B-24 bomber, the  Liberator, saw the German sub and bombed it—despite the fact that Hartenstein had draped a Red Cross flag prominently on the hull of the surfaced sub.

The sub, damaged by the air attack, immediately submerged under water. Admiral Karl Donitz, Supreme Commander of the German U-boat Forces, had been monitoring the rescue efforts. He ordered that “all attempts to rescue the crews of sunken ships…cease forthwith.” As a result of the attack and then subsequent order, more than 1,400 of the Laconia‘s passengers, which included Polish guards and British crewmen, drowned.

The stick that lit the firecracker. No one trusted, despite attempting to work together for one moment during the war. No good!

And for pic o’ day, how about some funny politics!

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