Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eilmer of Malmesbury

William of Malmesbury wrote about 100 years after the event in his epic ‘Deeds of the English Kings’:

‘He was a man of good learning for those times; of mature ge and in his early youth had hazarded an attempt of singular temerity: he had by some contrivance fastened to his hands and feet in order that he might fly as Daedalus, and collecting the air, on the summit of a tower, had flown for a distance of a furlong (200m); but agitated by the violence of the wind and a current of air, as well as the consciousness of his rash attempt, he fell and broke both his legs, and was lame ever after. He used to relate as the cause of the failure that he had forgotten to provide himself with a tail.’

Then, a young Benedictine monk leapt with a crude pair of cloth wings from a watchtower of a church abbey at the beginning of the 11th century. This monk, known to history as Eilmer of Malmesbury, covered a furlong--a distance of approximately 200 metres--before landing heavily and breaking both legs. Afterwards, he remarked that the cause of his crash was that "he had forgotten to provide himself with a tail."

We know of Eilmer's attempt through the writings of a historian, William of Malmesbury, who mentions the flight in passing. Of more interest to William was that Eilmer, late in his life, was the first person to spot a comet, which people then credited as being an omen of the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror.

Eilmer typified the inquisitive spirit of medieval enthusiasts who developed small drawstring toy helicopters, windmills, and sophisticated sails for boats. As well, church artists increasingly showed angels with ever-more-accurate depictions of bird-like wings, detailing the wing's camber (curvature) that would prove crucial to generating the lifting forces enabling a bird -- or an airplane -- to fly. This climate of thought led to general acceptance that air was something that could be "worked." Flying was thus not magical, but could be attained by physical effort and human reasoning.

Eilmer was an individual of remarkable daring and boldness. He leapt from the top of a tower,
passed over a city wall, descended into a small valley by the River Avon, and then fell into a marshy field (now known as St. Aldhelm's Meadow) fully  200 metres lower than the point of his leap. Of his wings, we can surmise that they were constructed of ash or willow-wand, covered with a light cloth, and perhaps attached to pivots on either side of a back-brace, with hand-holds so he could hopefully flap them.

Given the geography of the Abbey, his landing site, and the account of his flight, he must have remained airborne about 15 seconds. At low altitude he apparently attempted to flap the wings, which threw him out of control. His post-flight assessment qualifies him as the first "test pilot," for he sought to understand, in technological terms, what happened on the flight and why he crashed. Malmesbury exists today, much changed and quite quaint, near Swindon and Bristol. The Abbey features a stained-glass window of Brother Eilmer. Alas, a nice pub named "The Flying Monk" is no more, replaced by a shopping center.


The undeniable truth is that Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. Any objective reading of the history and ideology of Zionism makes it very clear that Zionism has nothing to do with 'settler-colonialism', 'Racism' or 'Facism' as the loathsome critics of Zionism and Israel repulsively charge.Zionist ideology holds that the Jews are a people or nation like any other, and should gather together in a single homeland. Zionism was self-consciously the Jewish analogue of Italian and German national liberation movements of the nineteenth century. The term "Zionism" was apparently coined in 1891 by the Austrian publicist Nathan Birnbaum, to describe the new ideology, but it was used retroactively to describe earlier efforts and ideas to return the Jews to their homeland for whatever reasons, and it is applied to Evangelical Christians who want people of the Jewish religion to return to Israel in order to hasten the second coming. "Christian Zionism" is also used to describe any Christian support for Israel.The Zionist movement was founded by Theodor Herzl in 1897, incorporating the ideas of early thinkers as well as the organization built by Hovevei Tziyon ("lovers of Zion"). I do not know where else in history that we have a people disposed from a land for two thousand years, scattered all over the world, who reconvene through an international movement and regain their homeland. I also can not recall any group suffering the violent and irrational hatred of so many nations as the Jews have. The many decisions from world leaders could have gone much differently if made a few years sooner or later. Jews did not initially support it broadly many prefered assimilation to their country of birth and some felt that the growing socialist movement provided a better answer to anti-Semitism. Even within the Zionist movement political infighting was strong. Yet the worst fears of those seeking a refuge from growing European anti-Semitism did not forsee the scope of the Holocaust, exterminating 6 millions out of the 7 millions Jews in Europe. This emboldened the survivors and motivated just barely enough world sympathy to formulate the creation of the Jewish state. The reaction of the Arabs was neither surprising or unique in the course of developing nations. This shows Zionism not as a righteous holy ordained movement, nor is it a an evil racist colonial movement as the modern Arab media prefers to portray it. It was a politically and diplomatically unique solution to a very serious and unique problem. That the success of the Zionist enterprise has not yet yielded the peace they so desperately seek, makes this work only an introduction, but a valuable source to those seeking to understand the volatile Middle East of the 21st century. There are many more chapters to be written.In 1946 David Ben-Gurion in his testimony before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, he put forward the following paradigm for the Jewsih case "Our case, and I think you have just seen many such cases in Europe, is like that of the Jews who were forcibly expelled from their homes, which were then given to somebody else. Those homes changed hands and then after the Nazi defeat some Jewish owners came back and found their homes ocupied. In many cases they were not allowed to return to their homes. To make it more exact, I shall put it in this way. It is a large building, the building of our family, say fifty rooms. We were expelled from the house, our family was scattered, somebody else took it away and again it changed hands many times, and then we had to come back and we found some five rooms ocuppied by other people, the other rooms destroyed and uninhabitable from neglect. We said to these ocupants "We do not want to remove you, please stay where you are, we are going back into the uninhabitable rooms, we will repair them". And we did repair some of the rooms and resettle them.' The Jewish people returned to their ancient land which was of central importance to their faith and nation. While certain landmarks were of importance to the Christian and Islamic faiths, to only the Jews has Eretz Yisrael in it's entirety been central to their being.The Jews returned with malice to none, and with no intention to 'displace' or 'occupy' anyone, but were confronted with malice by the Arabs and British colonists begrudging the Jews the tiny corner of their ancient land. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, and Israel is the home to a very large portion of the Jewish people.To oppose Zionism is to oppose a people's basic freedoms and human rights.

The Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS Division

During World War II, Bosnia-Hercegovina was one of the bloodiest battlefields of the war and of the Holocaust. The Bosnian Serbs are representatives of the Orthodox Christian Church and of the Byzantine culture and are part of the larger Serbian nation.The Bosnian Croats are representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Austro-Hungarian culture and are part of the Croatian nation.The Bosnian Muslims are representatives of Sunni Islam and were part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire and culture. The Bosnian Jews are representatives of Judaism and are mostly descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain following the Inquisition and expulsion of the Jews. From 1941-1945,Bosnia-Hercegovina was part of the NDH,the Independent State of Croatia and was one of the bloodiest arenas of the Holocaust and battlefields of the war.With the assistance of Haj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler, the Bosnian Muslim leadership undertook the systematic extermination of the Jewish and non-Muslim,non-Croat population of Bosnia-Hercegovina.Two Waffen SS Divisions and other Nazi and fascist formations were formed to advance the goals of the Third Reich and of Islam.The goal of the Muslims was to achieve autonomy and independence for Bosnia-Hercegovina under Muslim rule. The Bosnian Muslims formed two Nazi SS Divisions during World War II,the 13th Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Handzar” (or “Handschar” in German) from the Turkish hancher, “dagger”, and the 23rd Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS “Kama”,from Turkish kama, “dagger,dirk”.
During the war, Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler,the “architect of the Holocaust”, was photographed and filmed reviewing the Handzar Division in a famous German newsreel in 1943 while the division was being formed and trained in Silesia, at the Neuhammer Waffen SS Training Camp in Germany. The Bosnian Muslims had 20,000-25,000 men in the Waffen SS and police,roughly 4% of their total population,one of the highest ratios of membership in the Nazi ranks as a percentage of total population during the war. The Schutzstaffel or SS, meaning “protective rank” or “defensive squadron” in German, was a branch of the German National Socialist Worker’s Party (National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei),the NSDAP,or Nazi party.The two Bosnian Muslim Waffen SS Divisions, Handzar and Kama, were radical departures from the racial theories heretofore applied by the SS.Before Handzar, SS members had been either German or Germanic,that is,Aryan or Nordic,the herrenvolk (the master race),and were Christians. Thus, inclusion of the Slavic Muslims represented a revolutionary and radical departure for the SS at that time. The approximately 20,000 Bosnian Muslim troops in the 13th Waffen SS Gebirgs Division “Handzar” and the several thousand in the 23rd Waffen SS Gebirgs Division “Kama” wore a field-green fez,while officers wore a red or maroon fez.On the fez itself appeared the Totenkopf (Death’s Head) insignia of the SS and the Hoheitszeichen (a white or silver eagle and the Nazi swastika). While Mustafa Kemal Ataturk,Kemal Pasha, had outlawed the fez in 1925 for Turkey in the Hat Law,the Bosnian Muslims,continued to wear the fez. The Muslim Handzar and Kama Divisions were organized on the model of the Bosnian Muslim regiments of the Austro-Hungarian Army.The divisional names are derived from the Turkish words “hancher” and “kama”, which in Turkish mean “dagger”.The handzar and kama were Turkish daggers which the Ottoman Turkish Zaptiehs or police customarily carried as weapons when Bosnia was under Turkish Ottoman rule. The Handzar Division would be commanded by SS Brigadefuehrer and Generalmajor of the Waffen SS,Karl Gustav Sauberzweig, and at its peak strength by the end of 1943 would consist of 21,065 men,making it the third largest of the approximately 40 SS Divisions formed during the war. In June,1944,Sauberzweig was promoted to Generalleutnant and assumed command of the IX SS Mountain Corps. SS Brigadefuehrer and Generalmajor of the Waffen SS Desiderius Hampel replaced him as commander of the Handzar Division. The Donauzeitung newspaper of December 31, 1942 reported that the Mufti had donated over 240,000 Kuna,the currency of the NDH regime, to the Muslim charity organization in Sarajevo from the coffers of Nazi Germany. In the spring of 1944,in a German radio broadcast from Zittau,Germany, he issued a call to Bosnian and Yugoslav Muslims to hold Islamic prayer services for 7 days to pray for the success of Hitler’s forces. The Bosnian Muslim Handzar and Kama Divisions were indoctrinated to kill Jews and Orthodox Serbs,who made up the bulk of the guerrilla and resistance movements, and who were associated with the enemies of the Third Reich, Communism and England,or as Heinrich Himmler termed it, the “ common Jewish-Anglo-Bolshevik enemy”.On March 1,1944, the
Grand Mufti issued from Berlin the following call to all Muslims: “Kill the Jews wherever you find them.This pleases God,history,and religion. This saves your honor.God is with you! Numerous eyewitness accounts testified that the Handzar Division committed the “worst atrocities against the Serbian population.” In a photograph of troops of the Division,members are seen reading the pamphlet Islam und Judentum (Islam and Jewry), which explained the Nazi position on the Jewish Question and how it related to Muslims.These were prepared from the Mufti’s schools and training centers in Germanythe Dresden school for Muslims in the Waffen SS,and the Goettingen school for Muslims in the German Wehrmacht. Heinrich Himmler was determined to create the two Bosnian Muslim Waffen SS Divisions,although he met with opposition from the NDH regime and from sources within the SS itself. The Bosnian Muslim troops in the Waffen SS Divisions were accorded the same privileges they had enjoyed in the Imperial Austro-Hungarian Army: special rations and the observance of Islamic religious rites.Each battalion in the Divisions had an Imam and each regiment a Mullah. ” On June 23,1943,Himmler prepared a special SS oath for the Bosnian Muslim troops which read as follows: I swear to the Fuehrer,Adolf Hitler, as Supreme Commander of the German Armed Forces, to be loyal and brave. I swear to the Fuehrer and to the leaders whom he may designate, obedience unto death.