Thursday, June 30, 2022





Two items came to my attention within the last couple of days concerning the Nazis and persons aged 101 years.

Now an anvil does not need to fall on my head to draw my attention to something that is somewhat unusual. I don’t know what the significance is or why two such stories within a couple of days of each other happened but it is worthy of a Bytes post . . .


The first is a story from the Smithsonian Magazine, the link to that article being:

An article about the story can also be found in the Daily Mail at:

The following is the Daily Mail article:

101-year-old former Dutch resistance fighter is reunited with £50,000 painting... 78 years after it was looted from her father by the Nazis in WWII

A 101-year-old woman has been reunited with a painting that was looted from her father by the Nazis during the Second World War – but is now selling it so her family can benefit. Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, who was a member of the Dutch resistance during the war, had given up hope of ever seeing the 1683 painting again.

By Dutch master Caspar Netscher, it depicts seated man Steven Wolters and had hung in Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck's home in Arnhem in the Netherlands.

Her father, Joan Hendrik Smidt van Gelder, a doctor who was in charge of the city's children's hospital, went into hiding after refusing to follow the orders of the Nazis.He stored the painting, along with 13 others, in a bank vault in Arnhem, believing it would be safe from the Nazis' clutches. The paintings remained hidden for four years after the Nazis' invasion of the Netherlands in 1940. But in 1944, after the failed Operation Market Garden attempt by Britain and Allied forces to re-take Arnhem, the Nazis looted the city and stole the paintings.

Detective work by the London-based Commission for Looted Art in Europe tracked the Netscher painting down at the end of last year and returned it to Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck. She is now selling the painting so her 'heirs' can enjoy the proceeds. It has been given an upper estimate of £50,000 by auction house Sotheby's, with whom it is being sold on July 7.

Ms Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck points to the art work in her home.

By Dutch master Caspar Netscher, the painting depicts seated man Steven Wolters and had hung in Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck's home in Arnhem in the Netherlands

The Commission for Looted Art found that the painting had surfaced at a Düsseldorf gallery in the mid-1950s. It was then auctioned in Amsterdam in 1969 and bought by a private Germany-based collector. The collector agreed to return the painting to Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck last year. Her father died in 1969 with no knowledge of what had happened to the painting. Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck was reunited with the painting last November and, after six months with the painting back in her hands, she is selling it. Speaking on BBC Radio 4 about the rediscovery, Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck said: 'I was flabbergasted to have it back, you can understand.' She added: 'I really felt moved because it was such a beautiful painting… I was very happy when I saw it back.

Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck on her wedding day

The painting was returned to Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck last year. Above: The moment she saw the painting for the first time in more than 80 years

Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck joined the Dutch resistance after the family's paintings had been taken, whilst her father went into hiding. The family's other paintings were also sold off. Previous detective work by Anne Webber, the founder of the Commission for Looted Art, discovered one – Jacob Oschtervelt's The Oyster Meal – in 2017. It had ended up in the collection of the lord mayor of London at Mansion House. It was returned to Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck in 2017.


The other item is from at:

101-year-old ex-Nazi guard sentenced for aiding 3,500 murders
June 28, 2022

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard was convicted in Germany Tuesday of more than 3,500 counts of accessory to murder — becoming the oldest person to date to be held accountable for crimes related to the Holocaust. The Neuruppin Regional Court sentenced Josef Schütz to five years in prison, although he is unlikely to serve any time behind bars because of his poor health, advanced age and a lengthy appeals process.

Schütz had denied working as a Schutzstaffel guard at the Sachsenhausen camp and aiding and abetting the murder of 3,518 prisoners. In the trial, which opened in October, the centenarian said that he had worked as a farm laborer near Pasewalk in northeastern Germany during the period in question and never wore a German uniform. However, the court considered it proven that starting at age 21, he worked at the camp on the outskirts of Berlin between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing, the German news agency dpa reported.

“The court has come to the conclusion that, contrary to what you claim, you worked in the concentration camp as a guard for about three years,” presiding Judge Udo Lechtermann said, according to dpa. He added that, in doing so, the defendant had assisted in the Nazis’ terror and murder mechanism. “You willingly supported this mass extermination with your activity,” Lechtermann said. “You watched deported people being cruelly tortured and murdered there every day for three years.”

And it’s a very important thing because it gives closure to the relatives of the victims,” Zuroff added. “The fact that these people all of a sudden feel that their loss is being addressed and the suffering of their family who they lost in the camps is being addressed … is a very important thing.”

Sachsenhausen was established in 1936 just north of Berlin as the first new site after Adolf Hitler gave the SS full control of the Nazi concentration camp system. More than 200,000 people were held there between 1936 and 1945. Tens of thousands of inmates died of starvation, disease, forced labor and other causes, as well as through medical experiments and systematic SS extermination operations including shootings, hangings and gassing with Zyklon-B. Exact numbers on those killed vary, with upper estimates of some 100,000, though scholars suggest figures of 40,000 to 50,000 are likely more accurate.

In its early years, most inmates were either political prisoners or criminal convicts, but they also included some Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals. The first large group of Jewish prisoners was brought there in 1938 after the so-called Night of Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht, an anti-Semitic pogrom. During the war, Sachsenhausen was expanded to include Soviet prisoners of war — who were shot by the thousands — as well as others. As in other camps, Jewish prisoners were singled out at Sachsenhausen for particularly harsh treatment, and most who remained alive by 1942 were sent to the Auschwitz death camp.

Former Nazi concentration camp guard Josef Schütz, 101, hides his face behind a folder in a German court Tuesday, before he was convicted of more than 3,500 counts of accessory to murder.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022



Some interesting facts and trivia, facts from QII and extra comment from myself . . .


In the 1600s, a gay brothel may have occupied the location where Buckingham Palace, home of Queen Elizabeth 11, now stands, according to some historians.


Historian Norton Rictor wrote in 2013 that gay cruising spots and brothels may have started operating in London around the start of the 17th century. His essay notes that Clement Walker, an English politician, wrote in 1649 about brothels and gay male sex workers that there were “new-erected sodoms and spintries at the Mulberry Garden at S. James’s.”

“Sodoms referred to the brothels and “sprintries” to the gay sex workers, according to the outlet.

The Mulberry Garden is now the northwest corner of Buckingham Palace.



The Louvre has a naked version of the Mona Lisa painted by Da Vinci or perhaps by one of Da Vinci’s pupils.


Art experts may have solved a riddle that has been baffling them for years: whether a drawing of a nude woman, bearing a striking resemblance to the Mona Lisa, is a Leonardo da Vinci original.

Following extensive testing, investigators from the Centre for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France (C2RMF) say the charcoal drawing, known as the "Monna Vanna" or "Nude Mona Lisa," was completed in da Vinci's studio and may have been the work of the master himself.

The drawing was previously thought to have been completed by da Vinci's students.

Experts at the centre found that much of the work was completed by a left-handed artist, supporting theories that da Vinci was the creator.


Btw, here is the real Mona Lisa for comparison:



When Queen Victoria arrived in 1837, there were no bathrooms in Buckingham Palace.


Originally commissioned as a large townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham, the house which would become Buckingham Palace was acquired by the crown in 1761 when King George III purchased it as a private residence for Queen Charlotte. The palace then took on a more official role as the London residence of the British monarch when Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837.

The palace Queen Victoria inherited in 1837 was in dire need of repair. The kitchen’s faced floods of sewage, lamp gas had dangerously built up and the building was constantly cold due to poor ventilation, plus there were no bathrooms. The design flaws were soon seen to, however, by a team led by Prince Albert, who also oversaw major additions to the palace such as the iconic balcony.

The palace c. 1837, depicting Marble Arch, a ceremonial entrance. It was moved to make way for the east wing in 1847.



Whoopi Goldberg got her name from her childhood flatulence.


From an article in The Guardian:
Goldberg, born Caryn Elaine Johnson, was nicknamed Whoopi after joke shop fart cushions. She explained: "If you get a little gassy, you've got to let it go. So people used to say to me: 'You're like a whoopee cushion'".

From an article in the New York Times:
You were born Caryn Johnson. How did you wind up with the name Whoopi?

Here’s the thing. When you’re performing on stage, you never really have time to go into the bathroom and close the door. So if you get a little gassy, you’ve got to let it go. So people used to say to me, You are like a whoopee cushion. And that’s where the name came from.

If you find it rude to comb your hair in public, as you’ve said on your show, how can you possibly justify public acts of flatulence?

Is it bad manners if you say, I really have to cut this?



Tuesday, June 28, 2022





From the Vault:
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Laws of the Universe: Murphy's and Other Laws

Murphy’s Law, the adage that “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”, became known in those terms about 1950 although similar expressions dated back to the 1800’s. 

The above wording and the name Murphy’s Law are generally attributed to Captain Edward Murphy, an engineer working on Edwards Air Force Base in 1949. Murphy said of one technician “If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it.” Shortly afterwards the base MD, Dr Stapp, said at a press conference that the base safety record was due to a firm belief in Murphy's Law and in the need to try and circumvent it. From there it was quoted and became more widely known, eventually worldwide.

Murphy’s Law, and laws like Murphy’s, help to explain and make sense of both minor occurrences and the structure of the universe. More importantly, they do so in practical ways we all understand and relate to. Quote Newton’s Third Law of Motion – “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” – and you will have people scratching their heads and wondering of what practical benefit in any event.

Quote Aigner’s Axiom – “No matter how well you perform your job, a superior will seek to modify the results” – and people will nod knowingly. Not only do they know it’s true, either from experience or because it intuitively feels true, it also a practical tool to deal with expectation and for not becoming discouraged.

These laws of the universe are descriptive and identifying, not causative. Thus we know that as soon as you wash your car, it will rain, but you cannot deliberately make it rain by washing your car.

Today I present to you the original Murphy’s Law and corollaries. Future posts will feature other such laws and their application to specific situations.

Murphy’s Law:
If anything can go wrong, it will

MacGillicuddy's Corollary:
At the most inopportune time

It will be all your fault, and everyone will know it.

If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.

Extreme versions:
If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the FIRST to go wrong

If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway

If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop

It will be impossible to fix the fifth fault, without breaking the fix on one or more of the others

Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

Some other examples of laws of the universe . . . 


Monday, June 27, 2022




Sent to me by friend John P . . .

Things I will NOT do before I die!


Extreme skiing in Wyoming.


Cliff camping.


Sky walking in the Alps.


Climbing Redwoods.


Sitting on the Trolltunga rock in Norway


Jumping on the Trolltunga rock in Norway


Ice climbing a frozen waterfall.

And why would you want to do this?


Extreme picnicking.


Sky walking on Mount Nimbus in Canada.


Just having a look around.


Extreme kayaking at Victoria Falls.


Diving 30 meters through a rock monolith in Portugal.


Climbing Mt. Wellington.


Standing on the Edgewalk in Toronto.


Cycling in Norway.


Walking over a crevice.


Glacier boarding anywhere.


Biking on the Cliffs of Moher.


I am ALREADY old.

I didn't get here by being stupid!

Thanks for sending John.

A couple of more comments and thoughts . . .

Sunday, June 26, 2022




Continuing a look at the events and people in Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire.

Each two lines represent a year.

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, "Bridge on the River Kwai"
Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, "Ben Hur", space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U-2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, "Psycho", Belgians in the Congo


Chou En-Lai:

Chou En-Lai (1898-1976):

Chou (also Zhou) En-Lai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China serving from 1 October 1949 until his death on 8 January 1976.

Zhou served under Chairman Mao Zedong and helped the Communist Party rise to power, later helping consolidate its control, form its foreign policy, and develop the Chinese economy.

Mao Zedong and Chou En-Lai

As a diplomat, Zhou served as the Chinese foreign minister from 1949 to 1958. Advocating peaceful coexistence with the West after the Korean War, he participated in the 1954 Geneva Conference and the 1955 Bandung Conference, and helped orchestrate Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China. He helped devise policies regarding disputes with the United States, Taiwan, the Soviet Union (after 1960), India, Korea, and Vietnam.

Zhou survived the purges of other top officials during the Cultural Revolution. While Mao dedicated most of his later years to political struggle and ideological work, Zhou was one of the main driving forces behind the affairs of state during much of the Cultural Revolution. His attempts at mitigating the Red Guards' damage and his efforts to protect others from their wrath made him immensely popular in the Cultural Revolution's later stages.

Mao's health began to decline in 1971 and 1972, and Lin Biao fell into disgrace and later died in a plane crash. Amid these events, Zhou was elected to the vacant position of First Vice Chairman of the Communist Party by the 10th Central Committee in 1973 and thereby designated as Mao's successor (the third person to be so designated after Liu Shaoqi and Lin Biao), but still struggled internally against the Gang of Four over leadership of China.

His last major public appearance was at the first meeting of the 4th National People's Congress on 13 January 1975 and died one year later. The massive public outpouring of grief which his death provoked in Beijing turned to anger at the Gang of Four, leading to the 1976 Tiananmen Incident. Zhou's ally Deng Xiaoping was able to outmanouvre the Gang of Four politically and took Hua's place as paramount leader by 1978.

Relevance to 1957:

In 1957 he survived an assassination attempt whilst on the charter jet Kashmir Princess, having changed planes. A Koumintang bomb killed the 16 others.

Bridge on the River Kwai:

The 1957 film Bridge on the River Kwai was a big success, winning 7 Oscars including Best Pic.

Some trivia:



During WW II, allied POWs in a Japanese internment camp are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Their instinct is to sabotage the bridge, but under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson they're persuaded the bridge should be built to help morale, spirit. At first, the prisoners admire Nicholson when he bravely endures torture rather than compromise his principles for the benefit of Japanese Commandant Colonel Saito, but soon they realise it's a monument to Nicholson, himself, as well as a form of collaboration with the enemy. Nicholson becomes so focused on building the bridge that he loses his perspective on the war, the enemy and his own men.

The movie's story was loosely based on a true World War II incident, and the real-life character of Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey. One of several Allied P.O.W.s, Toosey was in charge of his men from late 1942 through May 1943 when they were ordered to build two River Kwai bridges in Burma (one of steel, one of wood), to help move Japanese supplies and troops from Bangkok to Rangoon. In reality, the bridge took eight months to build (rather than two months), and they were used for two years. They were destroyed in an Allied bombing raid in late June of 1945. Toosey's memoirs were compiled into a 1991 book by Peter Davies, titled "The Man Behind the Bridge".

The cast includes Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins, and Sessue Hayakawa.

This movie has many elements of truth woven into its fictitious narrative. While prisoners were used as slave laborers to build the railway depicted, the factual commander, Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey was the senior officer in this camp and risked his own life many times by deliberately sabotaging the bridge building efforts, completely different from the senior officer in this movie.

Colonel Saito was inspired by Major Risaburo Saito, who, unlike the character portrayed in this movie, was said by some to be one of the most reasonable and humane of all of the Japanese officers, usually willing to negotiate with the P.O.W.s in return for their labor. Such was the respect between Saito and Lieutenant Colonel Toosey (upon whom Colonel Nicholson was based), that Toosey spoke up on Saito's behalf at the war-crimes tribunal after the war, saving him from the gallows. Ten years after Toosey's 1975 death, Saito made a pilgrimage to England to visit his grave.

Screenwriters Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman had been blacklisted in Hollywood after having been accused of having Communist ties at the time that this movie was made, and went uncredited. The sole writing credit, and therefore the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, went to Pierre Boulle, who wrote the original French novel, but did not speak English. Clearly he had not written the English script, and this became a long-running controversy between the Academy and the actual authors to achieve recognition for their work. In 1984, the Academy retroactively awarded the Oscar to Wilson and Foreman. Sadly, Wilson did not live to see this, and Foreman died the day after it was announced. When this movie was restored, their names were added to the credits.

Director Sir David Lean initially wanted Nicholson's soldiers to enter the camp while singing "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball", a popular (during World War II) parody version of the "Colonel Bogey March" poking fun at Adolf Hitler and various other Nazi leaders. Sam Spiegel told him it was too vulgar, and the whistling-only version was used instead.

See and hear the scene by clicking on:

See a further clip:


Saturday, June 25, 2022





Currawong Beach:


Currawong Beach is a suburb in northern Sydney in the state of New South Wales, 42 kilometres (26 mi) north of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of Northern Beaches Council.

The suburb is located on the edge of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, on the western shores of Pittwater, beside Great Mackerel Beach and north of The Basin. Coasters Retreat and Palm Beach are located nearby.

Name origin:

Currawong was originally named Little Mackarel Beach.

The term currawong itself is derived from the call of the pied currawong. 

Pied Cuarrawong

The origin is believed derived from the aboriginal Dharug word gurawaruŋ from the Sydney basin.

I have been unable to determine how and when the suburb name was changed to Currawong Beach


Currawong Beach’s homes can only be reached by water, or on foot through Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Currawong, then Little Mackarel, was settled by John Clarke in 1823, a NSW military veteran. The land was purchased by William Burke in 1824.

Governor Thomas Brisbane formally granted the land to Burke on 16 January 1835. Burke had arrived in NSW in 1815 and had farmed in Bringelly from 1820. In 1835 Burke leased part of the land to Patrick Flinn, a convict.

The Wilson family owned Little Mackarel from 1871 until 1908, when the property was known as "Wilsons Beach"

In 1908 Little Mackerel Beach came into the possession of Pink Marie Stiles, who was married to Dr. Bernard Tarlton Stiles, a physician. The Wilson house, occupied by the Stiles family, was destroyed by fire before 1917.

Between 1916 and 1917 a house named "Africa" was built by the Stiles family. This house survives today, albeit renamed "Midholme". The Stiles family also constructed a house known as "Wildenerss" or "Southend", used as a general store and guest house. Little Mackarel Beach was purchased by the Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company in 1942.

In 1949 the Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company sold the Beach to the Labor Council of New South Wales for £10,000, including 4 cottages. Following on from the legislated 40-hour working week, and two weeks of paid annual leave, the Labour Council proceeded to use the site for holiday accommodation. Eight cabins were constructed between 1949 and 1952 and an additional "Vandyke" style cabins between 1950–1953 and in 1990 a manager’s house was constructed.


A group of local residents, led by actor Shane Withington, established the Friends of Currawong to lobby for its protection. In the 1990s, Michael Costa, then secretary of Currawong's owner Unions New South Wales, attempted to lease the land to Maharishi TM Incorporated, a transcendental meditation group. This deal was aborted when a development deadline was missed.

In 2007, Currawong was sold to developers Allen Linz for $15 million. The Liberal Party of Australia NSW Division and Pittwater Liberal Candidate Rob Stokes, during the 2007 State election campaign, stated that a NSW Liberal Government would Heritage list the site with a goal of buying the site and gazetting it as part of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Independent State Member and Mayor of Pittwater Alex McTaggart announced a policy for the council to manage the site on a long-term lease basis.

Following the 2007 NSW State election newly elected MP Rob Stokes sought assurances from Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NSW State Environmental Minister Phil Koperberg that they would use their statutory powers to protect Currawong. These assurances were given, particularly that a road would not be built through the National Park to link the site with West Head Road, however final say lay with Planning Minister Frank Sartor.

On 7 November 2007, the NSW Heritage Council voted to include Currawong on the NSW State Heritage Register, with the listing gazetted on 12 May 2009. Currawong was bought by the State Government in 2011 who announced the creation of Currawong State Park in 2015.

"Midholme", the original Currawong homestead built in 1911, was restored in 2014, and in September 2017, the NSW Government announced a $1 million grant for the restoration and modernisation of the remaining 1950s-era cottages.


"Africa" built by Dr. Bernard Stiles in 1916–1917 and later renamed "Midholme".

Tidal creek at the north of Currawong Beach

Grassy area at Currawong Beach, showing sandstone cliffs in the adjacent Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Above and below:
Heritage listings -
Currawong Beach has a number of heritage-listed sites, including
Currawong Workers' Holiday Camp

Currawong Flat Picnic Ground

Another view of "Africa".
The windmill is there for water from the ground, but when it rains they bless the rains down in Africa. (I'll see myself out).