When your aunt organized mass murder as a party game

In March 1945, it said, just before the end of World War II, Margit held a large party in the town of Rechnitz on the Austrian-Hungarian border to fete her Nazi friends. She, the daughter and heiress of European baron and tycoon Heinrich Thyssen, and her friends drank and danced the night away.

At the height of the evening, just for fun, 12 of the guests boarded trucks or walked to a nearby field, where 180 Jewish slave laborers who had been building fortifications were assembled. They had already been forced to dig a large pit, strip, and get down on their knees. The guests took turns shooting them to death before returning to the party. The organizer of this operation was Margit’s lover Hans Joachim Oldenberg. Margit’s husband, Count Ivan Batthyany, Sacha’s grandfather’s brother, was also at the party. [link]

Blood vineyards, slave labor and the US wine industry

Frances Dinkelspiel writes in “California’s Wine Industry was Built on Slave Labor,”:

California, which had been part of Mexico until 1848, tried to solve the labor shortage in the spring of 1850 with a law that essentially enslaved Native Americans so they could be put to work in the vineyards.

Nicknamed the Indian Indenture Act, which was, in fact, the very first legislation that the state passed, cruelly stripped California’s Native Americans of most of their rights. It allowed any white man to identify a Native American as vagrant, lazy, or drunk, which would permit a marshal or sheriff to arrest and fine him. Since most Native Americans could not pay theses fines, a week’s worth of their labor would be auctioned off to the highest bidder, who would then pay the fines. The Native Americans couldn’t protest against their treatment because the law also prohibited them from testifying against white men in court. [link]

 

In praise of Gchat

Four years after I blocked my boyfriend, I sent him an email saying I would be visiting his city. We traded a few responses, but my trip fell through days before I moved overseas, and again we slipped into silence. Then, nervously, I unblocked him on Gchat — and suddenly, both tagged “available,” the messages started flowing. Now, when we don’t message each other, it’s mostly because we can yell from the next room over. We have a cat: 23 mentions and counting. [link]