Monday, July 28, 2014

Mata Hari Executed as Spy Oct. 15, 1917

Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" Zelle MacLeod (7 August 1876 – 15 October 1917), better known by the stage name Mata Hari, was from the Netherlands, She was an exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy[1] and executed by firing squad in France under charges of espionage for Germany during World War I

With the outbreak of World War I, Mata Hari's cross-border liaisons with German political and military figures came to the attention of the French secret police and she was placed under surveillance. Brought in for questioning, the French reportedly induced her to travel to neutral Spain in order to develop relationships with the German naval and army attaches in Madrid and report any intelligence back to Paris. In the murky world of the spy, however, the French suspected her of being a double agent. In February 1917 Mata Hari returned to Paris and immediately arrested; charged with being a German spy. 

Her trial in July revealed some damning evidence that the dancer was unable to adequately explain. She was convicted and sentenced to death. In the early-morning hours of October 15, 1917 Mata Hari was awakened and taken by car from her Paris prison cell to an army barracks on the city's outskirts where she was to meet her fate


Mata Hari at arrest

Mata Hari performing in 1905

Mata Hari in 1906, wearing only a bra and jewellery.

Short History Massachusetts Death by Electric Chair

Recently and over the past several years there have been too many stories reported of botched death penalty executions. In 1898, Massachusetts was the third state to employ the electric chair to carry of court ordered death sentences. Actually, Massachusetts was one of the first states to carry out the death penalty in colonial times but has since changed its approach. In early times, hanging was the primary method of execution. 

Some defendants in the 1600's were executed for religious affiliations. Mary Dyer was just one of the people executed for affiliating with the Quaker religion and there were dozens of individuals, both male and female, executed for witchcraft. In 1900, Massachusetts installed an electric chair to be used in death penalty cases. 

Control Room
Electrocution was the most common form of execution in the Commonwealth until capital punishment was abolished in 1984. After the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional in the state, governors, including Mitt Romney, have tried to reinstate the death penalty. Attempts thus far have been unsuccessful.

When a criminal is to be electrocuted, their head and legs are shaved. Their eyebrows and facial hair may also be trimmed off to reduce the odds of the prisoner catching fire. Once the prisoner is fastened into the chair, a sponge dipped in saline solution is laid on top of their head to encourage conductivity. 

A single electrode is affixed to their head, and another is connected to one of their legs to complete the closed circuit. The prisoner receives two jolts of current: the length and intensity is dependent on the person’s physical condition. Generally, the first surge of approximately 2,000 volts lasts for as many as 15 seconds. This usually causes unconsciousness and halts the victim’s pulse. 

Next, the voltage is turned down. At this point, the prisoner’s body reaches up to 138°F, and the uninterrupted electric current causes irrevocable damage to his or her internal organs. The electric current burns the prisoner’s skin, forcing prison employees to peel the dead skin from the electrodes.

After close to 50 years of use, the state finally put the electric chair to rest along with the death penalty. The State of Massachusetts’ final use of capital punishment was documented in 1947.

Viewing Room

Friday, May 16, 2014

House of the Angel Guardian; Jamaica Plain, Boston / Memorial Day Story

Lately I have been dreaming of my deceased parents. Whether it is the advent of Memorial Day or some other reason, I feel compelled to share a story.

After the untimely accidental death of my grandfather, my dad was placed in the House of the Angel Guardian on August 7, 1937. At the time my father was living at the Franco-American school/orphanage in Lowell, Massachusetts. Two years previous he had been placed there with his two younger brothers and older sister for his destitute widowed father could no longer care for them.

The House of the Angel Guardian was an industrial school / orphanage situated in Jamaica Plain/Boston, Massachusetts. The orphanage was administered by the Belgian religious order, the Brothers of Charity. A historian described the home as "certainly no bed of roses under the strict rules," but it "inculcated manly virtues, self-discipline, independence, and respect for authority in its graduates, qualities useful in the military and industry...the monotonous diet of oatmeal, bread, milk, stew, potatoes and peanut butter." The Brothers taught dad the trade of printing and he worked as a printer most of his life.

Dad Far Right

Read Story of Dad's Parents Mendoza and Eveline Rousseau

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Armenian Girls Forced in Harems and Servitude

Military men, Turks, Kurds, and Arabs would either snatch or bribe the gendarmes escorting the deportation caravans and bring Armenian women, girls, and boys into their homes, and harems, as servants, slaves, wives, or concubines. Others were sent to state-run orphanages where a Turkification process was underway. Accounts from the deportation marches tell of mass mutilations and unimaginable sexual violence. Children were raped then shot, as they became unable to continue on the death marches. 

The “good looking” deportees were distributed among men in different villages. Girls were sent to high-level government officials for their sexual pleasure, and forced into orgies. The director of the Rescue Home, Karen Jeppe, stated that out of the thousands of women who came her way, only one had been spared sexual abuse, as Matthias Bjornlund notes in his article “A Fate Worse than Dying.” Excerpt  from Devilish Marks’ and Rape in the Time of Genocide by Nanore Barsoumian (Armenian Weekly)

Alma Sakaian, a 15 year old genocide survivor was sold into servitude by a slave trader. Read her story

Read about "Secrets of Harems"

Read  about "Auction of Souls" based on Ravished Armenia:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1915 Martyred Professors of Euphrates College, Harpoot

In 1915 several of the leading Armenian members of the faculty at Euphrates College in the city of Harpoot were arrested, tortured, and executed. The college buildings were then occupied by the Ottoman Military and initially used as training camp, and later as a military hospital. Euphrates College was officially closed shortly after the founding of the Republic of Turkey and nothing now remains of its buildings.

The following description of the above photograph is from `WHERE EDUCATION WAS A CRIME' [By Ruth A. Parmelee, M.D.] < >

`When the Turkish Government began to carry out its plan of exterminating the Armenian race, the educated and influential men of the community received first attention. In May, 1915, a number of Armenians were imprisoned in the city of Harpoot, among whom were priests and merchants and five of the professors of Euphrates College. Their houses were searched for papers that might incriminate them in some revolutionary plot, and they themselves were cruelly tortured, to extract confessions of hidden fire-arms or the preparation of bombs.'

She continues and describes the men in the photograph.

`The upper right hand professor in the group [Nigohos Tenekejian, Professor of History and Ottoman Literature, [Osmaniyan badmoutiun in Armenian] had served the college for thirty five years and had shown some special talent and tact in representing the interests of the Americans and his own people to the Government. He never had shown the least disloyalty toward the rulers. Nothing could be proved against him at this time, but after most severe tortures (pulling out of hairs of head and beard, hanging by arms, beating) he was sent out with his companions, bound together and under strong guard, and killed on the road. Of this man's family only one daughter escaped. The two older sons were among twelve hundred Armenian soldiers (serving in the Turkish army) who were starved for some days and sent out to be murdered in cold blood. The wife and the younger children were exiled and never heard from again.

`The left hand man in the lowest row [Donabed Garabed Loulejian, (Biology; Botany and Zoology)] was beaten until unconscious and then thrown into a foul-smelling closet. The Turkish mayor himself took a hand at the beating. After some weeks of imprisonment, some favorable influence resulted in his being taken to a Turkish military hospital. After recovery from the results of his tortures, he remained in hiding until opportunity was offered of escaping on foot through the mountains into Russia. He was a great help in relief work for the destitute Armenians in the Caucasus [specifically Erzerum] until his death from typhus fever.

`The one in the center of the group [Garabed Soghigian, (Armenian Language)] also died of disease, after obtaining release from prison by paying large bribes.

`The right hand professor in the middle row [Mugurdich Vorperian, (Professor of the Preparatory Department, Religion)] did not suffer imprisonment but was exiled with his family in a company of rich people who were promised very safe conduct. They were robbed of all their possessions and after a few days' travel, the men were separated from the women, to be taken to their slaughter. When asked for his thirteen year old daughter by a Turkish officer the Professor replied that he should prefer death for himself and her, to a marriage to a Mohammedan Turk. The beautiful girl was kidnapped by the officer, but the father died for his principles, being taken out and killed with all the men of their company. The son of this professor [Mooshek Vorperian] had his life saved through the influence of the above-mentioned Turkish officer and later escaped into Russia and thence to the United States. His story has been recently printed in a well-known magazine. 

Of these seven professors, then, four were murdered [Khachadour NahigianHovhannes Boujicanian, Nigoghos Tenekejian, Mugurdich Vorperian ] and two died of disease after having suffered the tortures and discomforts of the Turkish prison [Garabed M.Soghigian and Donabed Garabed Loulejian]. Four of these men had taken post-graduate work in Yale [Donabed Garabed Loulejian, M.S. degree, 1911], Cornell [courses taken as a special student fall of 1909 and spring 1910 by Garabed Donabed Lulejian sic!], Michigan [Khachadour Nahigian], Princeton [Mugurdich Vorperian] and Edinburgh Universities [Hovhannes Boujicanian]. The only charge against them was their education. `The seventh man [Samuel Khachadourian, Professor of Music (left hand lower corner) was the sole survivor of the group. He had studied music in Germany and seemed to find favor with the Turkish authorities.'