Klara Hitler


Hitler's Mother

Klara Hitler ( 12 August 1860 – 21 December 1907) was an Austrian woman, and the mother of Führer Adolf Hitler.

Family background and marriage

Born in the Austrian village of Spital, Weitra, Waldviertel, her father was Johann Baptist Pölzl and her mother was Johanna Hiedler. Either Johanna Hiedler’s father Johann Nepomuk Hiedler or his brother Johann Georg Hiedler (who is presumed and accepted as the father) was the biological father of Klara Heidler’s husband, Alois Hitler, Sr.. Therefore, Klara and Alois were most likely first cousins once removed.

Klara came from old peasant stock, was hard-working, energetic, pious, and conscientious. According to Dr. Bloch, who treated her, she was a very quiet, sweet, and affectionate woman.

In 1876, three years after Alois Hitler’s first marriage to Anna Glasl-Hörer, Alois hired 16-year-old Klara as a household servant. After the death of his second wife — Franziska Matzelsberger — in 1884, Alois and Klara were married on 7 January 1885 in a brief wedding held early that morning at Hitler’s rented rooms on the top floor of the Pommer Inn in Braunau. Klara found the wedding to be a short ceremony. Alois then went to work for the day at his job as a customs official. Their first son — Gustav — was born four months later, on 15 May 1885. Ida followed on 23 September 1886. Both infants died of diphtheria during the winter of 1886-1887. A third child, Otto, was born and died in 1887.

Adolf was born 20 April 1889, followed by Edmund on 24 March 1894 and Paula on 21 January 1896. Edmund died of measles on 28 February 1900, at the age of five. Klara’s adult life was spent keeping house and raising children, for which, according to Smith, Alois had little understanding or interest.

Klara was very devoted to her children and, according to William Patrick Hitler, was a typical stepmother to her stepchildren, Alois Jr. and Angela.

Klara was a devout Roman Catholic and attended church regularly with her children. Of her six children with Alois, only Adolf and Paula survived to adulthood.

Alois and Klara’s children were:

  • Gustav Hitler (born 10 May 1885, died of diphtheria on 8 December 1887 in Braunau am Inn)
  • Ida Hitler (born 23 September 1886, died of diphtheria 2 January 1888 in Braunau am Inn)
  • Otto Hitler (born and died 1887 in Vienna, lived three days)
  • Adolf Hitler (born 20 April 1889, committed suicide 30 April 1945), German dictator
  • Edmund Hitler (born 24 March 1894, Passau, died of measles, 28 February 1900, Leonding)
  • Paula Hitler (born 21 January 1896, died 1 June 1960), the last surviving member of Hitler’s immediate family.

Later life and death

When Alois died in 1903, he left her a government pension. She sold the house in Leonding and moved with young Adolf and Paula to an apartment in Linz, where they lived frugally.

Klara Hitler first discovered a lump in her breast in 1905 but initially ignored it. After experiencing chest pains that were keeping her awake at night, Klara finally consulted the family doctor, Eduard Bloch, in January 1907. Dr. Bloch chose not to inform Klara that she had breast cancer and left it to her son Adolf to inform her. Dr. Bloch told Adolf that Klara had a small chance of surviving and recommended that she undergo a radical mastectomy. The Hitlers were devastated by the news. According to Dr. Bloch, Klara “accepted the verdict as I was sure she would – with fortitude. Deeply religious, she assumed that her fate was God’s will. It would never occur to her to complain.” Klara underwent the mastectomy at Sisters of St. Mercy in Linz whereupon the surgeon, Dr. Karl Urban, discovered that the cancer had already metastasized to the pleural tissue in her chest. Dr. Bloch informed Klara’s children that her condition was terminal. Adolf, who had been in Vienna ostensibly to study art, moved back home to tend to his mother as did his siblings. By October, Klara’s condition had rapidly declined and Adolf begged Dr. Bloch to try a new treatment. For the next 46 days (from November to early December), Dr. Bloch performed daily treatments of iodoform, a then experimental form of chemotherapy. Klara’s mastectomy incisions were reopened and massive doses of iodoform soaked gauze was applied directly to the tissue to “burn” the cancer cells. The treatments were incredibly painful and caused Klara’s throat to paralyze leaving her unable to swallow. The treatments proved to be futile and Klara died at home in Linz from the toxic medical side-effects on 21 December 1907. Owing to their mother’s pension and money from her modest estate, the two siblings were left with some financial support. Klara was buried in Leonding near Linz.

Adolf Hitler, who had a close relationship with his mother, was devastated by her death and carried the grief for the rest of his life. Dr. Bloch later recalled that “In all my career, I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief as Adolf Hitler.” In his autobiography Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote that he had “…honored my father, but loved my mother” and said that his mother’s death was a “dreadful blow….” Decades later, in 1940, Hitler showed gratitude to Dr. Bloch (who was Jewish) by allowing him to emigrate with his wife from Austria to the United States.

Removal of tombstone

On 28 March 2012, the tombstone marking Alois Hitler’s grave (and that of his wife, Klara) in Town Cemetery in Leonding was removed, without ceremony, by a descendant, according to Kurt Pittertschatscher, the pastor of the parish. The descendant is said to be an elderly female relative of Alois Hitler’s first wife, Anna, who has also given up any rights to the rented burial plot. The plot was covered in white gravel and left with its distinguishing single tree which has since been removed, but the grave is very easy to locate. The remains of Hitler’s parents are still interred in the grave.

 

Lucille Teasdale-Corti


safe_image.php

Lucille Teasdale-Corti, (January 30, 1929 – August 1, 1996) was a Canadian physician, surgeon and international aid worker, who worked in Uganda and contributed to the development of medical services in the country.

Early life in Canada

Born in Montreal East, Quebec on 30 January 1929, Lucille Teasdale was the fourth of seven children. Her father René ran a grocery store in Avenue Guybourg, Saint-Léonard, Montreal.

She was educated as a boarder at Collège Jésus-Marie d’Outrement, a select Catholic college by nuns whose methods she thought to be very strict. A visit to the college by some nuns who had worked as missionaries in China acted as a catalyst for her, then aged 12, to consider becoming a doctor, this coming on top of voluntary work which she had done in a clinic serving the disadvantaged people of the Plateau Mont-Royal from which she had gained a conviction that the worst injustic was disease and that she could do something about it.

She won a scholarship to attend medical school at the University of Montreal, starting in 1950. Females were not common in the medical profession at that time and her class of 110 students included only eight women. She graduated in 1955, becoming one of the first female surgeons in Quebec, and took work at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine, Montreal.

It was at this time, while working in the pediatric department, that she first met the Italian doctor, Piero Corti. He was working at the hospital to obtain a specialist qualification in pediatrics, to add to those in radiology and neuropsychiatry which he already had. Corti showed an interest in her but Teasdale was concentrating on her job, working up to 16 hours a day and sometimes fainting in the operating theater as a consequence.

A condition of completing her postgraduate training was that she must agree to work for a period of time in a hospital abroad. Teasdale tried to obtain work in the USA but was turned down by 20 hospitals. She later said that this was “probably because I was a woman”.

France and Uganda

In September 1960 Lucille traveled to France to work at l’Hôpital de la Conception in Marseille, and, although she lacked confidence in her own abilities she was nonetheless highly regarded by staff members there. She had been unhappy with the Canadian health-care system which, to her, appeared to be an immoral one because it had both private and public sectors, and patients in the private sector obtained better treatment. She thought indeed that medicine was so interesting that doctors should pay for the honor of practicing it.

It was while working in Marseilles that Corti approached her: he needed a surgeon at a small clinic which had been established in Uganda and to which he had recently been invited and had hopes of turning into a hospital. The clinic was located in a small village of the Acoli tribe, 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from Gulu. It was run by a staff of six Combonian nuns and consisted of an outpatient unit and around 40 maternity beds. She agreed to go with Corti, initially for a period of two months, and arrived in May 1961. On 10 June 1961 she performed her first operation, on a makeshift table, and thereafter spent mornings treating outpatients and afternoons in theater.

Facilities improved as Corti spent his time soliciting donations from abroad. The clinic was renamed Lacor Hospital, after the nearby town, and Teasdale returned to France after extending her stay from two months to four.

She returned in December 1961, finding herself unable to be separated from Corti. They were married in the hospital chapel on 5 December and on 17 November 1962 she gave birth to their daughter Dominique. At this time Teasdale was seeing around 300 outpatients each morning and then performing operations in the afternoon, in conditions which were poor due to, amongst other things, a fluctuating supply of electricity, shortage of suitable medication and the poor quality of the water supplied.

She also spent time educating Acoli mothers who were uninformed about medical science and were utilising the traditional practice of ebino, the extraction of infants’ canine tooth buds, which supposedly cures disease, but in fact often causes bacterial infections.

Uganda, a British protectorate, gained independence on 9 October 1962. Years of civil unrest and then outright civil war followed, involving the supporters of the dictators Amin Dada (1971–1978), Milton Obote (1979–1985) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (1986–2006), as well as an invasion by Tanzanian troops. By the end of Amin’s period in power there had been an estimated 300,000 victims. The hospital received its share of the wounded and the dying, causing Teasdale-Corti to become a war surgeon and increasing her workload further. The hospital not merely dealt with the casualties but also suffered from looting and the kidnap of staff members. During this time Teasdale continued to expand her abilities and expertise and, in 1979, performed her first bone graft, this being on a wounded soldier in an attempt to avoid the alternative of amputation.

In 1972 she and her husband established a school of nursing at the hospital to train local people; from 1982 she ran a program at Makerere University, Kampala for the training of surgical residents and also arranged the work preparation of Italian doctors intending to work in Africa.

Illness

Teasdale-Corti had prided herself on her stamina, working extremely long hours in difficult circumstances. When her health began to deteriorate and her ability to sustain a heavy workload was consequently reduced, she sought medical advice for herself. The diagnosis, which is variously said to have been made in Italy and by Anthony Pinching (an immunologist) in London, was that she was suffering from AIDS, probably as a consequence of operating on a victim of the civil war.

She suffered the consequences of the illness for a further eleven years, with trips to San Raffaele Hospital in Milan in order to receive treatment for herself. She died on 1 August 1996, weighing 33 kg, in Besana in Brianza, Italy, to which she had recently moved in search of treatment for herself. A copy of what is believed to be her last letter exists and describes the situation of both the hospital and herself at the time. Her body was returned to Uganda and interred in the grounds of the hospital. A few months after her death Corti had his fourth heart attack; and he eventually died seven years later, of pancreatic cancer. He had continued working at the hospital, had conducted research into AIDS with Dr J W Carswell, and was buried next to his wife.

In 1993, three years before her death she and her husband had established the Lucille Teasdale and Piero Corti Foundation in Montreal, followed two years later by a similar body based in Milan. These were intended to ensure the continued existence of the hospital. By that time she had performed more than 13,000 operations and the hospital had grown to have 465 beds and departments covering numerous specialities. As at 2011 Dominique, the couple’s daughter and herself a doctor of medicine, continues to run the Foundations.

A TV movie of the story was made in 2000.

 

The Black Dahlia


elizabeth-short

“The Black Dahlia” was a nickname given to Elizabeth Short (July 29, 1924 – c. January 15, 1947), an American woman who was the victim of a gruesome and much-publicized murder. Short acquired the moniker posthumously by newspapers in the habit of nicknaming crimes they found particularly lurid. Short was found mutilated, her body sliced in half at the waist, on January 15, 1947, in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, California. Short’s unsolved murder has been the source of widespread speculation, leading to many suspects, along with several books and film adaptations of the story. Short’s murder is one of the oldest unsolved murder cases in Los Angeles history.

Early life

Elizabeth Short was born in Boston; she grew up and lived in the suburb of Medford, Massachusetts. She was the third of five daughters of Cleo Short and Phoebe Mae Sawyer. Her father built miniature golf courses until the 1929 stock market crash, in which he lost much of the family’s assets. In 1930, he parked his car on a bridge and vanished, leading some to believe he had committed suicide. Short’s mother moved the family to a small apartment in Medford and found work as a bookkeeper. It was not until later that Short would discover her father was alive and living in California.

Troubled by asthma and bronchitis, Short was sent to live for the winter in Miami at the age of 16. She spent the next three years living there during the cold months and in Medford the remainder of the year. At age 19, Short travelled to Vallejo, California, to live with her father, who was working nearby at Mare Island Naval Shipyard on San Francisco Bay. They moved to Los Angeles in early 1943, but an altercation resulted in her leaving there and finding work in the post exchange at Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg Air Force Base), near Lompoc, California. Short next moved to Santa Barbara, where she was arrested on September 23, 1943, for underage drinking. Following her arrest, she was sent back to Medford by the juvenile authorities in Santa Barbara. Short then returned to Florida to live, with occasional visits to Massachusetts.

In Florida, Short met Major Matthew Michael Gordon, Jr., a decorated United States Army Air Force officer who was assigned to the 2nd Air Commando Group and in training for deployment to China Burma India Theater of Operations. Short told friends that Gordon wrote her a letter from India proposing marriage while he was recovering from injuries sustained from an airplane crash. She accepted his proposal, but Gordon died in a second airplane crash on August 10, 1945, before he could return to the United States.

Elizabeth Short returned to Los Angeles in July 1946 to visit Army Air Force Lieutenant Joseph Gordon Fickling, an old boyfriend she had met in Florida during the war. At the time Short returned to Los Angeles, Fickling was stationed at NARB, Long Beach. For the six months prior to her death, Short remained in southern California, mainly in the Los Angeles area.

Murder and aftermath

The nude body of Short was found in two pieces on a vacant lot on the west side of South Norton Avenue midway between Coliseum Street and West 39th in Leimert Park, Los Angeles on January 15, 1947. It was discovered by local resident Betty Bersinger, who was walking with her three-year-old daughter around 10 a.m.; Bersinger initially mistook the body for a discarded store mannequin. Upon realizing it was a corpse, she rushed to a nearby house, where she phoned the police.

Short’s severely mutilated body was severed at the waist and completely drained of blood. Not only was the body bloodless, but her body had been obviously washed by the killer as well. Her face had been slashed from the corners of her mouth toward her ears, creating an effect called the Glasgow smile. Short also had multiple cuts on her thigh and breasts, where entire portions of flesh had been removed. Her lower half was positioned a foot away from her torso, and the intestines were tucked neatly under the buttocks. The body had been “posed” with her hands over her head, her elbows bent at right angles, and her legs spread. Near the body, detectives found a cement sack which contained droplets of watery blood, as well as a heel print on the ground amidst tire tracks.

The autopsy stated that Short was 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) tall, weighed 115 pounds (52 kg), and had light blue eyes, brown hair, and badly decayed teeth. There were ligature marks on her ankles, wrists, and neck. Although the skull was not fractured, Short had bruising on the front and right side of her scalp with a small amount of bleeding in the subarachnoid space on the right side, consistent with blows to the head. The cause of death was hemorrhage from the lacerations to the face and shock due to blows on the head and face.

Following Short’s identification, reporters from the Los Angeles Examiner contacted her mother, Phoebe Short, and told her that her daughter had won a beauty contest. After prying as much personal information as possible from Mrs. Short, only then did they inform her that that her daughter was actually dead. The newspaper then offered to pay her air fare and accommodation if she would travel to Los Angeles to help with the police investigation. It was however a ploy, the newspaper used the trip to keep her away from police and other reporters to protect their scoop. William Randolph Hearst’s papers, the Los Angeles Herald-Express and the Los Angeles Examiner, later sensationalized the case: The black tailored suit Short was last seen wearing became “a tight skirt and a sheer blouse” and Elizabeth Short became the “Black Dahlia”, an “adventuress” who “prowled Hollywood Boulevard”. As time passed, the media coverage became more outrageous, with claims that her lifestyle had “made her victim material”.

On January 23, 1947, someone claiming to be the killer called the editor of the Los Angeles Examiner, expressing concern that news of the murder was tailing off in the newspapers and offering to mail items belonging to Short to the editor. The following day, a packet arrived at the Los Angeles newspaper containing Short’s birth certificate, business cards, photographs, names written on pieces of paper, and an address book with the name Mark Hansen embossed on the cover. Hansen, an acquaintance at whose home she had stayed with friends, became a suspect. One or more persons would later write more letters to the newspaper, calling himself “the Black Dahlia Avenger”, after the name given to Short by the newspapers. On January 25, Short’s handbag and one shoe were reported seen on top of a garbage can in an alley a short distance from Norton Avenue, and then finally located at the dump.

Due to the notoriety of the case, more than 50 men and women have confessed to the murder, and police are swamped with tips every time a newspaper mentions the case or a book or movie about it is released. Sergeant John P. St. John, a detective who worked the case until his retirement, stated, “It is amazing how many people offer up a relative as the killer.”

Short was buried at the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California. After Short’s sisters had grown up and married, Short’s mother moved to Oakland to be near her daughter’s grave. Phoebe Short finally returned to the east coast in the 1970s and lived into her nineties.

Rumors and popular misconceptions

According to newspaper reports shortly after the murder, Elizabeth Short received the nickname “Black Dahlia” at a Long Beach, California drugstore in mid 1946 as wordplay on the film The Blue Dahlia. Los Angeles County district attorney investigators’ reports state that the nickname was invented by newspaper reporters covering the murder. Los Angeles Herald-Express reporter Bevo Means, who interviewed Short’s acquaintances at the drug store, is credited with first using the “Black Dahlia” name.

A number of people, none of whom knew Short, contacted police and the newspapers, claiming to have seen her during her so-called “missing week”—a period between the time of her January 9 disappearance and the time her body was found on January 15. Police and district attorney investigators ruled out each of these alleged sightings; in some cases, those interviewed were identifying other women they had mistaken.

Many true-crime books claim that Short lived in or visited Los Angeles at various times in the mid-1940s; these claims have never been substantiated and are refuted by the findings of law enforcement officers who investigated the case. A document in the Los Angeles County district attorney’s files titled “Movements of Elizabeth Short Prior to June 1, 1946″ states that Short was in Florida and Massachusetts from September 1943 through the early months of 1946 and gives a detailed account of her living and working arrangements during this period. Although a popular portrayal amongst her acquaintances and many true-crime authors was of Short as a call girl, the Los Angeles district attorney’s grand jury proved there was no existing evidence that she was ever a prostitute, and the district attorney’s office attributes the claim to confusion with a prostitute of the same name. Another widely circulated rumor holds that Short was unable to have sexual intercourse because of a congenital defect that left her with “infantile genitalia”. Los Angeles County district attorney’s files state that the investigators had questioned three men with whom Short had engaged in sex, including a Chicago police officer who was a suspect in the case. The FBI files on the case also contain a statement from one of Short’s alleged lovers. Found in the Los Angeles district attorney’s files and in the Los Angeles Police Department’s summary of the case, Short’s autopsy describes her reproductive organs as anatomically normal, although the report notes evidence of what it called “female trouble”. The autopsy also states that Short was not and had never been pregnant, contrary to what had been claimed prior to and following her death.

Suspects

The Black Dahlia murder investigation was conducted by the LAPD. The Department also enlisted the help of hundreds of officers borrowed from other law enforcement agencies. Owing to the nature of the crime, sensational and sometimes inaccurate press coverage focused intense public attention on the case.

About 60 people confessed to the murder, mostly men. Of those, 25 were considered viable suspects by the Los Angeles District Attorney. In the course of the investigation, some of the original 25 were eliminated, and several new suspects were proposed. Suspects remaining under discussion by various authors and experts include Walter Bayley, Norman Chandler, Leslie Dillon, Joseph A. Dumais, Mark Hansen, George Hill Hodel, George Knowlton, Robert M. “Red” Manley, Patrick S. O’Reilly, Woody Guthrie, Orson Welles, and Jack Anderson Wilson.

Theories and possibly related murders

Some crime authors have speculated on a link between the Short murder and the Cleveland Torso Murders, which took place in Cleveland between 1934 and 1938. As with a large number of killings that took place before and after the Short murder, the original LAPD investigators looked into the Cleveland murders in 1947 and later discounted any relationship between the two cases. Nevertheless, new evidence implicating a former Cleveland torso murder suspect, Jack Anderson Wilson (a.k.a. Arnold Smith), with Short’s death was investigated by Detective John P. St. John in 1980. St. John claimed he was close to arresting Wilson for the death of Short, but Wilson died in a fire on February 4, 1982.

Crime authors such as Steve Hodel (son of George Hill Hodel) and William Rasmussen have suggested a link between the Short murder and the 1946 murder and dismemberment of six-year-old Suzanne Degnan in Chicago. Captain Donahoe of the Los Angeles police also stated publicly that he believed the Black Dahlia and Lipstick murders were “likely connected”. Among the evidence cited is the fact that Elizabeth Short’s body was found on Norton Avenue three blocks west of Degnan Boulevard, Degnan being the last name of the girl from Chicago, and there were striking similarities between the writing of the Degnan ransom note and that of “the Black Dahlia Avenger”. For example, both used a combination of capitals and small letters (the Degnan note read in part “BuRN This FoR heR SAfTY”), and both notes contain a similar misshapen letter P and have one word matching exactly. Convicted serial killer William Heirens served life in prison for Degnan’s murder. Initially arrested at age 17 for breaking into a residence close to that of Suzanne Degnan, Heirens claimed he was tortured by police, forced to confess, and made a scapegoat in the Degnan murder.

Media portrayals

A television dramatization, “Who Is the Black Dahlia?” (1975), featured Lucie Arnaz in the role of Elizabeth Short. The case has inspired numerous works of fiction, among them True Confessions, a 1981 film starring Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall. It was adapted from a 1977 novel of the same name by John Gregory Dunne. James Ellroy’s 1987 novel The Black Dahlia is a fictionalized account that, like Dunne’s, uses the case as an occasion for “an exploration of the larger fields of politics, crime, corruption, and paranoia in post-war Los Angeles”, according to cultural critic David M. Fine. Brian De Palma’s 2006 film The Black Dahlia, based on Ellroy’s novel, bears little relation to the facts of the case.

 

Lavinia Ellen Ream Hoxie


8413200321_836fb4f1b3_z

Lavinia Ellen Ream Hoxie (September 25, 1847 – January 12, 1914) was an American sculptor. Her most famous work was the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the U.S. Capitol rotunda.

Early life

Ream was born 25 September 1847 in a log cabin in Madison, Wisconsin as Lavinia Ellen Ream. She was the youngest daughter of Lavinia and Robert Ream. Robert Ream was a surveyor and a Wisconsin Territory civil servant. Her mother was a McDonald of Scottish ancestry. The Reams also operated a stage coach stop, one of the first hotels in Madison, from their home. Guests slept on the floor.

Her brother Robert Ream enlisted in the Confederate army, in Arkansas, serving in Woodruff’s battery.

Vinnie Ream attended Christian College in Columbia, Missouri, now known as Columbia College. A portrait of Martha Washington by Ream hangs in St. Clair Hall.

Career

In 1861, her family moved to Washington, D.C.. Vinnie Ream was one of the first women to be employed by the federal government, as a clerk in the dead letter office of the United States Post Office from 1862–66 during the American Civil War. She sang at the E Street Baptist Church, and for the wounded at Washington, D.C. hospitals. She collected materials for the Grand Sanitary Commission.

In 1863, James S. Rollins introduced her to Clark Mills. In 1864, President Lincoln agreed to model for her in the morning for five months.

Vinnie Ream was the first and youngest woman to receive a commission as an artist from the United States government for a statue. She was awarded the commission for the full-size Carrara marble statue of Lincoln by a vote of Congress on July 28, 1866, when she was 18 years old. She worked in a studio in Room A of the basement of the Capitol. In 1868, she traveled to Wisconsin to gain a commission, unsuccessfully. Senator Edmund G. Ross boarded with her family during the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson. She traveled to Paris, Munich, Florence, then Rome to produce a finished marble figure from the plaster model. She studied with Leon Bonnat in Paris. She made busts of Gustave Dore, Pere Hyacynthe, Franz Liszt, and Giacomo Antonelli. Her studio was a 45 Via de San Basile. She met Georg Brandes at that time.

When the statue was complete, she returned to Washington. On January 25, 1871, her white marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln was unveiled in the United States Capitol rotunda. She was only 23 years old. She opened a studio at 704 Broadway. In 1871, she exhibited at the American Institution Fair.

She returned to Washington and opened a studio and salon at 235 Pennsylvania Avenue. She was unsuccessful in her entry in the Thomas statue competition. In 1875, George Armstrong Custer sat for a portrait bust. In 1876, she exhibited at the Centennial Exposition. In November 1877, she produced a model for a Lee statue in Richmond. After lobbying William Tecumseh Sherman and Mrs. Farragut, she won a competition to sculpt Admiral David G. Farragut located at Farragut Square, Washington, D.C., which was unveiled on May 28, 1878. It was cast in the Washington Navy Yard.

Ream married Richard L. Hoxie, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on May 28, 1878. They had one son. Her husband was reassigned to Montgomery, Alabama, and St. Paul Minnesota. Finally, the Hoxies lived at 1632 K Street near Farragut Square, and Vinnie played the harp for entertainment; they had a summer home at 310 South Lucas Street, Iowa City, Iowa.

Her marbles, America, The West, and Miriam, were exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Ream designed the first free-standing statue of a Native American, Sequoyah, to be placed in Statuary Hall at the Capitol.

She died on January 12, 1914. Vinnie Ream Hoxie and her husband are buried in section three of Arlington National Cemetery, marked by her statue Sappho.

 

Toni Stone


Toni Stone

Toni Stone (July 17, 1921 – November 2, 1996), also known by her married name Marcenia Lyle Alberga, was the first of three women to play Negro league baseball.

Toni Stone graduated from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She married Aurelious Alberga, a man forty years her elder and one of the many people who did not want her playing baseball. She had always been referred to as a “tomboy” growing up and consequently received the nickname “Toni” because it sounded like “tomboy”. She enjoyed the name and eventually adopted it as her own. ”I loved my trousers. I love cars. Most of all I loved to ride horses with no saddles. I wasn’t classified. People weren’t ready for me,” she said.

Career

Toni Stone’s playing career began when she was only ten years old when she participated in a Catholic Midget League, which is similar to today’s Little League. She moved on to play for the Girl’s Highlex Softball Club in Saint Paul, Minnesota. By the age of fifteen, Toni Stone played for the St. Paul Giants, a men’s semi-professional team. Stone soon began playing on Al Love’s American Legion championship team.

She began her professional career with the San Francisco Sea Lions (1949), where she batted in two runs in her first time up. Toni soon became discontented with the owner of the Sea Lions after she did not receive the pay she had been promised. She quit the team and joined the Black Pelicans of New Orleans. After a short stint with the Black Pelicans, Stone joined the New Orleans Creoles (1949–1952). She was signed by Syd Pollack, owner of the Indianapolis Clowns, in 1953 to play second base, the position Hank Aaron played for the team one year earlier. She did this as part of a publicity stunt. The Clowns were compared to the Harlem Globetrotters of the basketball world, so having a woman on the team attracted more fans. During the fifty games that Stone played for the Clowns, she maintained a .243 batting average, and one of her hits was off the legendary Satchel Paige. All of these accomplishments may make her “one of the best players you have never heard of”, according to the NLBPA website. Stone’s contract was sold to the Kansas City Monarchs prior to the 1954 season, and she retired following the season because of lack of playing time.

After the 1954 season, Stone moved to Oakland, California to work as a nurse and care for her sick husband, who later died in 1987 at age 103. Toni died on November 2, 1996 at a nursing home in Alameda, California. She was 75 years old.

Struggles

Stone was the first female player in the Negro Leagues, and she was not met with open arms. Most of the men shunned her and gave her a hard time because she was a woman. Stone was quite proud of the fact that the male players were out to get her. She would show off the scars on her left wrist and remember the time she had been spiked by a runner trying to take out the woman standing on second base. “He was out,” she recalled.

Even though she was part of the team, she was not allowed in the locker room. If she was lucky, she would be allowed to change in the umpire’s locker room. Once, Stone was asked to wear a skirt while playing for sex appeal, but she would not do it. Even though she felt like she was “one of the guys”, the people around her did not. While playing for the Kansas City Monarchs, she spent most the game on the bench, next to the men who hated her. “It was hell,” she said.

Awards

Toni Stone became one of the first women to play as a regular on a big-league professional team in 1953. In 1985 Stone was inducted into the Women’s Sports Foundation’s International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. In 1990 she was included in two exhibits at the Baseball Hall of Fame, one on “Women in Baseball” and another on “Negro League Baseball”. In 1993 Stone was inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Sudafed International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. In 1990, Stone’s hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota declared March 6 “Toni Stone Day”. Saint Paul also has a field named after Toni Stone located at the Dunning Baseball Complex.

 

Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan


350

Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan (July 16, 1919 – April 19, 1999) was a female camp guard at Ravensbrück and Majdanek concentration camps, and the first Nazi war criminal to be extradited from the United States, to face trial in Germany. She was sentenced to life imprisonment by the District Court of Düsseldorf on April 30, 1981.

Life

Braunsteiner was born in Vienna, the youngest child in a strictly observant Roman Catholic working class family. Her father Friedrich Braunsteiner was a chauffeur for a brewery and/or a butcher. Hermine lacked the means to fulfill her aspiration to become a nurse, and worked as a maid. From 1937 to 1938 she worked in England for an American engineer’s household.

In 1938 Braunsteiner became a German citizen after the Anschluss. She returned to Vienna from England and the same year relocated to Germany proper for a job at the Heinkel aircraft works in Berlin.

Camp guard at Ravensbrück

At the urging of her landlord, a German policeman, Braunsteiner applied for a better paying job supervising prisoners, quadrupling her income in time. She began her training on August 15, 1939, as an Aufseherin under Maria Mandel at Ravensbrück concentration camp. She remained there after the start of World War II, and the influx of new prisoners from occupied countries. After three years, a disagreement with Mandel led Braunsteiner to request a transfer in October 1942.

Majdanek

On October 16, 1942, Braunsteiner took up her duties in the forced-labor apparel factory at the Majdanek concentration camp, established near Lublin, Poland a year earlier. It was both a labour camp (Arbeitslager) and an extermination camp (Vernichtungslager) with gas chambers and crematoria. She was promoted to assistant wardress in January 1943, under Oberaufseherin Elsa Ehrich along with five other camp guards.

Her abuses took many forms in the camp. She involved herself in “selections” of women and children to be sent to the gas chambers and whipped several women to death. Working alongside other female guards such as Elsa Ehrich, Hildegard Lächert, Marta Ulrich, Alice Orlowski, Charlotte Karla Mayer-Woellert, Erna Wallisch and Elisabeth Knoblich, Braunsteiner was infamous for her wild rages and tantrums. According to one witness at her later trial in Düsseldorf, she “seized children by their hair and threw them on trucks heading to the gas chambers”. Other survivors testified how she killed women by stomping on them with her steel-studded jackboots, earning her the nickname “The Stomping Mare”. (In Polish “Kobyła”, in German “Stute von Majdanek”.) She received the War Merit Cross, 2nd class, in 1943, for her work.

Ravensbrück again

In January 1944, Hermine was ordered back to Ravensbrück as Majdanek began evacuations due to the approaching front line. She was promoted to supervising wardress at the Genthin subcamp of Ravensbrück, located outside Berlin. Witnesses say that she abused many of the prisoners with a horsewhip she carried, killing at least two women with it.

Post war Austria

On May 7, 1945, Hermine Braunsteiner fled the camp ahead of the Soviet Red Army. She then returned to Vienna, but soon left, complaining that there was not enough food there.

The Austrian police arrested her and turned her over to the British military occupation authorities; she remained incarcerated from May 6, 1946, until April 18, 1947. A court in Graz, Austria convicted her of torture, maltreatment of prisoners and crimes against humanity and against human dignity at Ravensbrück (not Majdanek), then sentenced her to serve three years, beginning April 7, 1948; she was released early in April 1950. An Austrian civil court subsequently granted her amnesty from further prosecution there. She worked at low level jobs in hotels and restaurants until emigrating.

Emigration and marriage

Russell Ryan, an American, met her on his vacation in Austria. They married in October 1958, after they had emigrated to Nova Scotia, Canada. She entered the United States in April 1959, becoming a United States citizen on January 19, 1963. They lived in Maspeth, Queens, where she was known as a fastidious housewife with a friendly manner, married to a construction worker.

Discovery

Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal had followed her trail from a tip in Tel Aviv to Vienna to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then, via Toronto, to Queens. In 1964 Wiesenthal alerted the New York Times that Braunsteiner might have married a man named Ryan and might live in the Maspeth area of the Borough of Queens in New York. They assigned Joseph Lelyveld, then a young reporter, to find “Mrs. Ryan.” They first lived at 54-44 82nd St. in western Elmhurst and moved to 52-11 72nd St. in Maspeth. He found her at the second doorbell he rang, and later wrote that she greeted him at her front doorstep and said, “My God, I knew this would happen. You’ve come.”

Braunsteiner Ryan stated that she had been at Maidanek only a year, eight months of which in the camp infirmary. “My wife, sir, wouldn’t hurt a fly” said Ryan. “There’s no more decent person on this earth. She told me this was a duty she had to perform. It was a conscriptive service.” On August 22, 1968, United States authorities sought to revoke her citizenship, because she had failed to disclose her convictions for war crimes; she was denaturalized in 1971 after entering into a consent judgment to avoid deportation.

Extradition

A prosecutor in Duesseldorf began investigating her wartime behavior, and in 1973 the German government requested her extradition, accusing her of joint responsibility in the death of 200,000 people.

The United States court denied procedural claims that her denaturalization had been invalid (U.S citizens could not be extradited to Germany), and that the charges alleged political offenses committed by a non-German outside West Germany. Later it rejected claims of lack of probable cause and double jeopardy. During the next year she sat with her husband in United States district court in Queens, hearing survivors’ testimony against the former SS guard. They described whippings and fatal beatings. Rachel Berger, alone among the witnesses, testified she would celebrate retribution against the former vice-commandant of the women’s camp at Majdanek.

The judge certified her extradition to the Secretary of State on May 1, 1973, and on August 7, 1973, Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan became the first Nazi war criminal extradited from the United States to Germany.

Trial in Germany

She was remanded in Düsseldorf in 1973, until her husband posted bail. The German court rejected Mrs. Ryan’s arguments that it lacked jurisdiction, because she was not a German national but Austrian, and that the offenses alleged had occurred outside Germany. It ruled she had been a German citizen at the time, and more importantly had been a German government official acting in the name of the German Reich.

She stood trial in West Germany with 15 other former SS men and women from Majdanek. One of the witnesses against Hermine testified that she “seized children by their hair and threw them on trucks heading to the gas chambers.” Others spoke of vicious beatings. One witness told of Hermine and the steel-studded jackboots with which she dealt blows to inmates.

The third Majdanek trial (Majdanek-Prozess in German) was held in Düsseldorf. It began on November 26, 1975, and lasted 474 sessions, Germany’s longest and most expensive trial. All the defendants, including Ryan and Hermann Hackmann, had been SS guards at Majdanek. The court found insufficient evidence on six counts of the indictment and convicted her on three: murder of 80 people; abetting the murder of 102 children; and collaborating in the murder of 1000. On June 30, 1981, the court imposed a life sentence, a more severe punishment than those meted out to her co-defendants.

Complications of diabetes, including a leg amputation, led to her release from Mülheimer women’s prison in 1996. Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan died on April 19, 1999, aged 79, in Bochum, Germany.

After the publicity surrounding Ryan’s extradition, the United States government established (1979) a U.S. DOJ Office of Special Investigations to seek out war criminals to denaturalize or deport. It took jurisdiction previously held by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

 

Yao Defen


RTR176WZ

Yao Defen (July 15, 1972 – November 13, 2012) was the tallest living woman, as recognized by Guinness World Records. She stood at 7 ft 8 in tall (2.33 m), weighed 179 kilograms (395 lb), and had size 26 (UK) / 78 (EU) feet. Her gigantism was due to a tumor in her pituitary gland.

Early life

Yao Defen was born to poor farmers in the town of Liuan in the Anhui province of Shucheng County. At birth she weighed 2.8 kilograms (6.2 lb). At the age of three years she was eating more than three times the amount of food that other three-year-old children were eating. When she was eleven years old she was about six feet, two inches tall. She was six feet nine inches tall by the age of fifteen years.

The story of this “woman giant” began to spread rapidly after she went to see a doctor at the age of fifteen years for an illness. Medical doctors (who also saw her after years) properly diagnosed the illness but decided not to cure her, because her family did not have the 4000 yuan for the surgery. After that, many companies attempted to train her to be a sports star. The plans were abandoned, however, because Yao was too weak. Because she was illiterate, since 1992 Defen earned a living by traveling with her father and performing.

Yao’s giant stature was caused by a condition called acromegaly, wherein a large tumor in the pituitary gland of the brain releases too much growth hormone and causes excessive growth. Around 2002 a hospital in Guangzhou Province removed the tumor and she stopped growing.

The tumor returned and she was treated in Shanghai in 2007, but was sent home for six months with the hope that medication would reduce her tumor enough to allow surgery. The second surgery was never performed due to lack of funds.

In 2009, the TLC cable TV network devoted a whole night’s show to her. She suffered from a fall in her home and had internal bleeding of the brain. She recovered and felt some happiness after a visit from China’s tallest man, Zhang Juncai.

Medical help

A British television program filmed a documentary on her and helped raise money so she could get proper medical care. They measured her and according to the documentary she was seven feet, eight inches tall. Two leading doctors in acromegaly agreed to help Yao. She was taken to a nearby city hospital, where imaging procedures revealed that a small portion of her tumor, thought to have been removed many years before, still remained, causing continuing problems including weakening vision as it pressed against her optic nerve. She returned home, then was admitted for a month under observation in the larger Shanghai Ruijin Hospital, and given dietary supplements. In that hospital, her growth hormone was greatly slowed down, although it remained a problem. Upon her return home to her mother and brother, she was able to walk with crutches, unassisted by others, and was given a six-month supply of medicines and supplements in hopes of improving her condition enough to undergo surgery.

Acromegaly

Yao suffered from hypertension, heart disease, poor nutrition, and osteoporosis. Acromegaly often results from a tumor within the pituitary gland that causes excess growth hormone secretion. As a result, the body’s features become enlarged. It can also delay the onset of puberty as was the case with Yao—she had no secondary sexual characteristics. Potential complication lacking surgery includes blindness and eventually premature death.

She lived near her mother (who is only four feet, eight inches tall) in a small village in rural China.

Death

Yao died on November 13, 2012 at the age of 40 from an unspecified ailment.