Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Uncivilized Warfare: The Sinking of the Athenia

    Summer, 1939. War loomed in Europe as Germany occupied the Rhineland, gobbled up Austria and the Sudetenland, and threatened Poland. Americans aboard were urged to return home.
    They faced a problem. Many passenger ships had been requisitioned for conversion to troopships. Bookings were cancelled. For stranded passengers in late August, the TSS (Twin-Screw Ship) Athenia appeared to be a godsend. Built in 1922-23, the Donaldson Atlantic Line ship served the transatlantic route between Britain and Canada.

    Late in the afternoon of September 2, 1939, the Athenia weighed anchor in Liverpool and began its journey to Quebec City. The next day, England and France declared war on Germany after their ultimatum to Germany to withdraw their troops from Poland was ignored.
    The German navy was ready for war. Two weeks earlier, their submarines had taken up station in the Atlantic and in the waters around Great Britain. Naval headquarters sent coded radio messages instructing U-boats to make war on merchant shipping in accordance with operations orders, the rules and conditions in which they could attack, and to open hostilities against England immediately.

    Among the submarines was U-30, commanded by Fritz-Julius Lemp. Until midafternoon that Sunday, he'd seen only the Norwegian freighter SS Knute Nelson. Then he spotted a large ship well north of the usual shipping lanes, moving fast in a zigzag, antisubmarine pattern. As light waned, he determined it was running without lights. He therefore decided the ship was a British armed merchant cruiser. He fired the first shot of the war in the west.
    Jubilant at sinking the first Allied ship in the new war, he watched the slowly sinking vessel through his periscope. The ship was now lit up and people were boarding lifeboats. Lemp checked the Lloyds Register of Ships and discovered his error. He'd attacked and sunk a civilian passenger liner against Hitler's order and international law.
    Because the Athenia sank slowly--it did not go down until about eleven o'clock Monday morning, September 4--most passengers got off into lifeboats. Out of 1,418 souls on board, only 112 died. Many were killed in the torpedo explosion, others in lifeboat mishaps. Nearby ships answered the Athenia's distress calls, and the Knute Nelson, the American freighter City of Flint, and the private Swedish yacht Southern Cross rushed to the scene.
    Lemp turned away from his disaster, rending no assistance or provisions to the survivors. Neither did he report his misdeed to German High Command during the next two and a half weeks of his patrol.

Irish soldiers carry wounded Athenia passengers off the Knute Nelson in Galway, Ireland.

    Submarines were a controversial weapon. Before the First World War, international law had insisted on search and seizure: merchant ships were boarded and searched for contraband by naval officers from surface ships. Such procedures were dangerous to vulnerable submarines, and Germany began using unrestricted submarine warfare, sinking ships on sight, without warning. Their ruthlessness in sinking ships with no provision for civilian crews and passengers horrified the American public, and the United States declared war on Germany in April, 1917, after American ships were sunk.
      Disarmament conferences struggled with the legality and morality of submarines. One side believed sinking unarmed merchant ships, and of course, passenger liners, was piracy and the submarine ought to be abolished. Others felt it was just another naval weapon that only needed its use defined and controlled. Its legality was accepted, but under such conditions making it nearly impossible for a submarine to engage in warfare because of its delicate vulnerability.
    The German High Command learned of the sinking of the Athenia from British radio. They immediately denied any involvement, suggesting a mechanical failure or perhaps the British sank it themselves to get America into the war. Nevertheless, a new order was sent to the U-boats: "By order of the F├╝hrer. Passenger-ships until further notice shall not be attacked even if escorted."
    Hitler knew of the role submarines had played in bringing the United States into World War I. He wanted the US neutral in the present crisis. The American and British public saw only that the Germans had picked up right where they'd left off in 1918. It was either an authorized attack, suggesting madness in Germany, or an unauthorized attack, suggesting an undisciplined German navy.

    Lemp behaved himself for the rest of his patrol, sinking freighters after allowing the crews to abandon ship. When two British dive bombers crashed into the sea, he picked up the badly wounded pilots and dropped them off in neutral Iceland for medical treatment. Back in Germany, he received a slap on the wrist for not taking sufficient care over his choice of target in the Athenia affair, and his first Iron Cross.
    In recent weeks, I have seen portions of King Arthur and Gladiator, films in which armies fought hand to hand, hacking each other apart, shooting flaming arrows, and doing as much gruesome damage as possible. Apparently it was civilized warfare because women and children were not present. In today's world of terrorism, the outcry over submarines seems almost quaint. Has slaughtering the enemy ever been civilized?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Weekly Windup: Birthday Bash Week 4

Can you believe we're in the LAST DAYS of the Birthday Bash?! But the fun isn't over yet. We have MORE WINNERS!

This Week's Winners:

  • Monday's Winner of Land of My Dreams by Norma Gail is...Marilyn R.!
  • Tuesday's Winner of choice of books by Crystal Barnes... Patricia Bradley!
  • Wednesday's Winner of ebook of choice by Carole Brown...Susan P.!
  • Thursday's Winner of book of choice from Amber's prize vault...Chappy Debbie!
  • Saturday's Winner of Chasing the Lion ebook by Nancy Kimball is ... Kim Hansen!


If you are a winner, please contact us to claim your prize!

Coming up this Week:

  • Monday: Guest Devotional by Christine Lindsay - #Giveaway of custom chalkboard art by Amber Schamel
  • Tuesday: Uncivilized Warfare: The Sinking of the Athenia by Terri Wangard - #giveaway Winner's choice of book by Crystal Barnes.
  • Wednesday: Birthday Bash Fun and #giveaway!
  • Thursday: Birthday Bash Grand-prize Giveaway Announcement!!!
  • Friday: Fun Friday with Caryl McAdoo
  • Saturday: Interview with Jodie Bailey

Be sure to join us each day this month for your chance to win BIG!

No One Likes It Lukewarm - Devotional and #giveaway

"No One likes it lukewarm. Not even the Lord." 

This little saying is printed on my favorite coffee cup, and taken from the movie WarRoom. (If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth the watch!) In the film, an elderly lady name Miss Clara invites Elizabeth in for coffee. As she asks the younger woman about her prayer life, she serves Elizabeth a lukewarm cup. Of course, Elizabeth is disgusted. that's when Miss Clara gives Elizabeth the great quote.

The scene in the movie is cute and funny but it also carries a strong point. We don't like our coffee lukewarm. Lukewarm milk will make us sick. So how does our lukewarm prayer life make God feel?

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Rev. 3:15-16
 So we obviously don't want to get lukewarm with the Lord! But as humans, it's easy for things to get busy and without realizing it, we do let our prayer life and relationship with Christ become lukewarm. What then?

Our Lord explains the answer a few verses down.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Rev 3:20
A chalkboard art I made for a friend.

Jesus is sweetly calling. "Let me in. Make me a priority. I want to be your everything."

But how do we bring the fire back into our prayer life? The Scripture holds the answer to this as well. Here's a few that have been brought to my mind during difficulty.

  • Read your Bible and pray EVERY day.
    Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. James 4:8a
  • Recall the Lord's faithfulness in your life and thank Him for it. We see the Psalmist do this many times. The psalm will begin with his woes and a very discouraged tone, but by the end he is exalting the Lord and his heart is lifted.

    In what ways have you brought the fire back into your prayer life? Share your thoughts for your chance to win a custom chalkboard art like the one pictured below!I'll help you design it, then I'll make it and mail it to you.