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JAA: After Paul von Hindenburg, President of the Weimar Republic of Germany, died of cancer in 1934 his powers were rolled up with the existing powers of the Chancellor, Adolph Hitler, making him the absolute ruler of the country. Things began to go badly for Jews in Europe.

JAB: Jews were systematically stripped of their civil rights on the Continent. They lost their jobs and homes and were moved into work camps that eventually became great factories of human death. But nothing similar ever happened in Britain. There were even Jews in Parliament.

JAC: The Gervasi family had been royal subjects for many generations. Benjamin Gervasi was a meteorologist with a specialty in "numerical methods of mesoscale forecasting". He lived, unfortunately, just before the proper tool for his work, the computer, had been invented.

JAD: But Jews were very rare in the United Kingdom, which might have explained why, during the Great Depression, Benjamin Gervasi could only find work as a lighthouse keeper at St. Catherine’s Lighthouse on the Isle of Wight, just a few miles off the southern coast of England.

JAE: Being a "wickie" did have some good points associated with it, Benjamin thought. His wife Edith and even his daughter Judith aided him in his work, so it became a family endeavor. Also the lighthouse grounds, owing to its location, doubled as a meteorological outstation.

JAF: During daylight, the Gervasi family sent hourly reports of temperature, humidity, cloud height, cloud formation, wind direction, and wind force to the Meteorological Office in London by Teletype. This allowed Benjamin the satisfaction of working within his chosen field.

JAG: When Benjamin was paid his salary a small amount of petrol was delivered to power the engine that turned the lighthouse shaft. He was never tempted to divert a portion of this petrol to his motorcar, as he had none, but he did have to keep an eye out for certain neighbors who did.

JAH: On weekday mornings Judith trudged up from Undercliff to the village of Niton for her primary school, and sometimes her mother accompanied her when she needed to attend to shopping. On Shabbat Benjamin and his family ceased from all their labors and remained indoors.

JAI: On rare occasions Benjamin Gervasi took his family by ferry and bus on such modest holidays as they could afford, once to the beautiful Lake District in the northwest of the country, camping in the high, treeless hills called fells that qualified as mountains in England.

JAJ: The Isle of Wight lay within the English Channel, and the English Channel was the chief theater of contest between the United Kingdom and Germany. That is not to say Benjamin, Edith, and Judith would have been entirely safe if they had moved closer to the Lake District.

JAK: The town of Coventry, for example, was severely damaged in an air raid. But there were no German frogmen in West Midlands, nor was Coventry more than incidentally involved in the secret "Wizard War" as the earliest developments of electronic warfare were famously dubbed.

JAL: In the lead-up to World War II British scientists were tasked to create a death ray based on radio waves to take out German bombers. They never quite managed a death ray but in their research they found that metallic objects at great distances could reflect a radio pulse.

JAM: The time delay displayed on an oscilloscope was a very accurate indication of distance. Rotating a narrow-beam antenna could pin down a target’s compass direction. Thus was born RDF, or Range and Direction Finding. The British built an RDF network called Chain Home.

JAN: Chain Home made all the difference in the Battle of Britain, which occurred during the summer months of 1940. Numerically the Luftwaffe had an edge over the Royal Air Force, but the RAF, with Chain Home, knew exactly where the attackers were and could concentrate planes.

JAO: The Luftwaffe also had an edge when it came to the quality of their aircraft, but with Chain Home providing early warning of attacks, RAF pilots could rest until they were scrambled, use less fuel, and put less wear on their aircraft. Over time it made a big difference.

JAP: As the Luftwaffe began to take heavy losses in bombers and fighter cover they tried attacking some of the Chain Home stations, including one that was constructed near to St. Catherine’s Lighthouse. The Gervasi family was unharmed but they had their first taste of the War.

JAQ: Towers constructed with an open lattice structure are practically immune to blasts. The few antennas the Germans did manage to topple were repaired within days while operators from nearby dummy stations broadcast signals to make the enemy believe no harm was done at all.

JAR: The Luftwaffe tried flying lower and approaching England below the sight line of Chain Home stations but the British simply used their smaller RDF systems intended to direct gunfire against ships in the Channel and German losses continued to mount at an unacceptable rate.

JAS: The Luftwaffe accepted they would be spotted by Chain Home and switched to night raids, thinking the RAF's fighters could not see them in actual combat. The British quickly produced even smaller RDF systems for planes that rapidly ended German night bombing over England.

JAT: Since the battle took place over UK home turf, if an RAF plane was shot down the British pilot could bail out and be back in the air flying another plane, perhaps on the same day if he was not injured. But if a German pilot bailed out over land he was invariably captured.

JAU: If he ditched in the Channel he was likely to die from drowning or exposure. When the Battle of Britain came to an end in October 1940 the British had lost only about 500 airmen while the Germans lost eight times that number. Nearly a thousand German pilots were captured.

JAV: The Luftwaffe lost nearly two thousand planes and Hitler was forced to shelf his invasion plans indefinitely. In hindsight Hitler's "Operation Sea Lion" was never realistic. Even if Germany had obtained a lasting command of the air, Britain still had an unmatched Navy.

JAW: Germany was ill-prepared to make a sea crossing in any event. The Battle of Britain was an important turning point. Hitler had been thwarted for the first time in the war. He turned his gaze East and made ready for an invasion of the Soviet Union, code-named Barbarossa.

JAX: The United Kingdom shifted emphasis from air defense to air offense, but during the course of 1941 it became clear to Bomber Command that nighttime navigation to the correct target was a serious issue. In 1942 an electronic guidance system called Clarinet was developed.

JAY: Clarinet used two highly directional radio beams, one transmitting Morse code dots and the other one transmitting dashes, to be received by a single bomber flying point in the wave to minimize the chance of the Germans reverse-engineering the system from a downed plane.

JAZ: The night bombers flew out from England on a straight line along the radio dots, and when the lead plane encountered the strongest part of the radio dashes from another angle it dropped a load of marker flares. Then the whole bomber wave dropped their bombs on the flares.

JBA: Concrete was transparent to the Clarinet frequency. So an antenna was constructed inside BenJBmin’s lighthouse mounted to the central shaft. That way the white structure of the lighthouse would hide the antenna and the Germans, it was thought, would never suspect a thing.

JBB: Periodically a targeting order came to BenJBmin Gervasi over the same Teletype he used to transmit his weather information to London. The message gave him a precise angle to position the antenna, a duration and start time, and whether he was to transmit dots or dashes.

JBC: The Gervasi family was kept busy throughout 1943 as the RAF focused their bombing campaign on Hamburg and the industry centered in the Ruhr valley. The next year a large number of American, Australian, En Zed, and Canadian troops were transported to the south of England.

JBD: They trained with Tommies in preparation for the invasion of France. To ensure their success a tower of operational deception was assembled that the world had never seen before nor since. False plans were planted on a corpse that was allowed to wash up on a French beach.

JBE: A world of false radio traffic was created and maintained to let the German High Command conclude that US Army General G. S. Patton was gearing up to lead the entire force over the narrowest part of the Channel where Dover could be seen from Calais. It was the smart move.

JBF: Admiral Sir Bertrand Ramsay, in overall command of the invasion, left absolutely nothing to chance. On June 4, 1944, just before D-Day, Sir Ramsay actually took time to visit St. Catherine's lighthouse. The weather was quite murky and wet so he cut his inspection short.

JBG: BenJBmin showed Ramsay the room where the Teletype and Clarinet transmitter were installed. Ramsay thanked BenJBmin personally for his service to the King, and BenJBmin, for his part, considered it prudent not to mention the assistance he received from Edith and Judith.

JBH: The Admiral seemed to be captivated by a wall chart and asked BenJBmin to identify it.

“That’s my moving five-day weather forecast for Undercliff, sir. That would be this stretch where the lighthouse is located. We are in a rain-shadow, you know. And also a fog-shadow."

JBI: "The weather here is not nearly as immoderate as it is for the Overners." After the War BenJBmin coined the word microclimate. He led the Admiral into the white octagonal tower to inspect the Clarinet antenna and took him spiraling up the ninety-four steps to the top.

JBJ: BenJBmin showed Sir Ramsay where the huge crystal lens had been chipped by a 1943 air raid. They could see thirty nautical miles out to sea. The whole English Channel was roiling with whitecaps kicked up from high winds which threatened to derail the immanent invasion.

JBK: "And you do this weather forecasting as a sort of hobby?"

"Perhaps more than just a hobby, Admiral Sir Ramsay. I’m trained as a meteorologist, and I’m a damn fine one, if you don’t mind me carrying my own chair. But it's wartime now, and I'm a wickie for the duration."

JBL: "Now I know we’ve all got to pull together to stop Jerry, sir, and I’m sure other professional men are in the same predicament as myself, but all the same, one must use the skills one has been trained to use, or one’s mind gets in a bit of a rut."

"I see," said Ramsay.

JBM: "It’s not the purely sterile pursuit you might imagine it to be, Admiral Sir. By a strange fluke of geography and wind and water currents, the weather here at the lighthouse has a very high correlation with the weather directly across the Channel on the coast of France."

JBN: "I’ve checked it for years, sir, in every season, and the match occurs more than eighty percent of the time, well outside the realm of coincidence. I intend to publish a paper about this after the war."

"Is that so? Remarkable! And what do you forecast for Undercliff?”

JBO: "A twenty-four hour break in this miserable weather, partly cloudy, winds drop to five knots. Then on the afternoon of the sixth of June we return to the same pattern. Everywhere else along the English Channel there will be fog and rain and winds gusting to thirty knots."

JBP: Admiral Sir Ramsay was elated. Eisenhower's chief meteorologist had predicted the same short break in the weather using B-17 aircraft far out over the Atlantic to gather the data. General Montgomery was willing to take the risk, but Ramsay and Ike were still cautious.

JBQ: Allied Intelligence said General Erwin Rommel, master of the Atlantic Wall, wasn't even presently in France, a sign the Germans were anticipating at least a week of bad weather. But now a doughnut hole in that weather was confirmed by a second, entirely unexpected source.

JBR: Now Sir Ramsay had moved over to General Montgomery's camp and was ready to give the nod on the invasion. It might be enough to convince Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, to launch the massive invasion of France just as the Germans were letting down their guard.

JBS: The Admiral asked, "Does the strange correlation of weather between Undercliff and the French coast hold for the Pas-De-Calais?" "Alas, no, I’m afraid that predicting the weather for Dover and Calais is a puzzle, and my reports to the Weather Office are but one piece."

JBT: The Admiral sighed, suddenly reluctant to proceed. There was one final duty BenJBmin Gervasi could perform for England, and it saddened the Admiral to deceive the man, but there was no choice. It was, in fact, the chief reason for his visit.

JBU He said, "Then it is time to reveal the real purpose of my visit here, and why I have attended to this myself rather than send a staffer. What I’m about to tell you has the highest possible classification. You cannot mention a word of it even to your family."

JBV: "I understand, sir."

"Mr. Gervasi, the following three weeks will be very lively ones for you, I’m afraid. You might be aware that much of southern England has become one large armed camp containing millions of troops from several countries, and all their supplies."

JBW: "As we get closer to the moment of the Allied invasion across the Strait of Dover, which is set for the final week of June, you will find that your Clarinet task orders will be coming in at a much greater rate than ever before."

"Nightly rather than weekly, then, sir?"

JBX: "Twice nightly, I’m afraid. We will soon be bombing the potential landing areas continuously, day and night, and you'll need to get such sleep as you can when it is light. I wanted to tell you this, Mr. Gervasi, so you did not imagine things have gone terribly amiss."

JBY: "I understand what I must do, sir," said BenJBmin Gervasi. "Perfectly." After a brisk shake of their hands they descended the spiraling steps mounted inside the structure of St. Catherine's lighthouse and were parted, but Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay felt thoroughly soiled.

JBZ: Earlier in 1944 a German U-boat captain gazed at the shore of the Isle of Wight through his periscope and noted that St. Catherine’s lighthouse stopped flashing for hours. It was a small matter but he noted the start and stop time. The report wound its way through Berlin.

JCA: One clever analyst realized the data matched the start and stop time of the Clarinet signal originating from what they thought was a nearby antenna. A second observation verified the light beam remained lined up on a target in Germany that was taken out by night bombing.

JCB: In the early morning hours of June 5, 1944 a U-boat surfaced off the Isle of Wight. Commandos rowed ashore to raid the lighthouse, led by an SS captain named Felix Schaub who doubled as the political officer to ensure the crew's loyalty to the gangsters running Germany.

JCC: On this occasion Felix Schaub wore his black pre-war Schutz Staffel uniform for the brutal psychological effect he knew it would have on the Gervasi family. Judith and Edith whimpered in terror when they were tied up and threatened with pistols pointed at their heads.

JCC: Benjamin demonstrated the operation of the Clarinet system to Captain Schaub, but the Germans neither destroyed the gear nor tried to remove it to their submarine. Instead, Schaub identified each member of the Gervasi family by name, and told them he knew they were Jews.

JCD: "Mr. Gervasi," Straub said, "this is a matter of life and death for your wife and daughter. I do not make empty threats. The fate of Edith and Judith will depend on how you answer two questions. First, what is the target area of the planned invasion across the Channel?"

JCE: Benjamin stiffened in dismay. He was confronted with the choice of losing his family or betraying the trust Admiral Sir Bertrand Ramsay had given him. To prod him along, there was a slight nod from Schaub. The hammer was pulled back on the pistol pointed at Judith’s head.

JCF: Gervasi capitulated. It was never a question. "Dover to Calais," he said, letting escape the breath he had been holding for half a minute.

“Goot,” Captain Schaub said. “And the timing?”

"I do not know the day. I know only that it will be during the last week of June."

JCG: The SS officer smiled. "I am a man of my word," he said. "Your family is safe. But this is what I want you to do now, Mr. Gervasi. When you get your orders to operate Clarinet, you will carry them out, but you will be just a little sloppy when you align the antenna."

JCH: "Not too much, Mr. Gervasi! Perhaps only a fraction of one degree. Just enough to throw off the resulting bombing raid by a few hundred meters. You will do this until your government returns to their original wisdom and no longer prosecutes its war against the Reich."

JCI: "But this is the most important part: you must tell no one you are sabotaging the raids, or that we were here."

"Or you’ll return and kill us?"

"Mr. Gervasi, now I am disappointed in you! What does a man have in this world if he fails to do what he promises he will do?"

JCJ: "You have my word that neither you nor your lovely wife Edith nor your beautiful young daughter Judith will be killed. But I am not sure that you are a man of your word, Mr. Gervasi. So at this time we will take them to the concentration camp near Saint-Malo in France."

JCI: "No, I beg you!"

"Do not be alarmed, Mr. Gervasi. Your wife Edith and your daughter will not be unduly mistreated there, nor even on the way there. This camp I mentioned that lies in Brittany is where all the British Jews in the Channel Islands have been relocated."

JCJ: "But if we learn that a future air raid using the transmitter inside this lighthouse is successful, things will not seem so good. But even then, my word will hold! Judith and Edith will be simply be transferred to a work camp deeper in France or perhaps even in Germany."

JCK: "You know, it is astonishing, Benjamin, how much work you can get out of a Jew with a whip.”

Judith and Edith were taken to Cherbourg by raft and by sub, and by the morning of June 6 they were inducted into a French farm that had been dubbed a clinic for racial hygiene.

JCL: Schuab’s report, sent by coded radio from the U-boat, filtered up to Hitler, and the final piece of deception in the Fortitude element of Operation Bodyguard was in place. Hitler reinforced the defenses in the Pas-De-Calais region and left only a skeleton force at Normandy.

JCM: Captain Felix Straub and the U-boat at his beck and call only just made it to Cherbourg in time. In the early morning hours of June 6 the Channel was filled with 7,000 vessels carrying 160,000 men to the beaches of Normandy, and not Calais, as Benjamin told his tormentors.

JCN: Mr. Gervasi’s weather forecast had tipped Ramsay into Montgomery's camp for having a go, and that in turn convinced Eisenhower. Two Panzer tank divisions, which might have defeated the invasion, were kept on a tight leash by Hitler because he didn’t trust his own generals.

JCO: Hitler himself slept until noon on the sixth of June, and didn’t release the Panzers until four in the afternoon, by which time the beachhead was relatively secure and Allied aircraft dominated the skies to the point of forcing all German tanks to move only at night.

JCP: For two months the Allies became tied down in the Normandy region trying to break out of hedgerow country while the Germans attempted to contain them. When the Allies did escape, the breakthrough was very near to the Saint-Malo area where Judith and Edith were being held.

JCQ: To prevent their premature liberation the Germans moved everyone in the camp to another one deeper in France, far from the front lines, precisely what Felix Straub threatened would happen should Benjamin Gervasi prove faithless in his sabotage, when he in fact never was.

JCR: Benjamin continued to operate the Clarinet system when the nightly orders came in over the Teletype, but he deliberately altered the requested target angle slightly. He sincerely believed Captain Straub that it was the only way he could save the lives of Edith and Judith.

JCS: The deception came crashing to an end in September when Judith failed to register for secondary school. The constable came calling, and he found evidence of the raid by the German frogmen. He notified army intelligence, and they in turn squeezed the truth out of Benjamin.

JCT: Sir Ramsay successfully intervened to keep Benjamin out of prison, but Sir Arthur Harris of RAF Bomber Command insisted the man be sacked from his lighthouse job for the duration of the war. Benjamin gradually began to despair of seeing either one of his loved ones again.

JCU: After breaking out of Normandy at Avranches, General Patton’s Third Army moved across France at an unbelievable pace, performing a right hook that nearly encircled Hitler’s forces opposing the invasion. Judith and Edith were moved to different camps at least once a month.nth.

JCV: The constant relocation was encouraging in a way, but things grew progressively worse the nearer Edith and Judith were taken to Germany itself. Internment camps were abandoned for work camps, which were evacuated in turn for what could only be called punishment camps.

JCW: Early in 1945 after one more relocation, Edith and Judith reached their final destination, an extermination camp called Ohrdruf-Nord deep in the heart of Germany proper. In that place Jews were worked to death constructing a railroad center that would never be finished.

JCX: Along the way currency, gold, and jewelry (of which Judith and Edith had none) were sent to the SS headquarters of the Economic Adminstration. Watches, clocks, and pens were sent to the troops on the Western, Eastern, and Italian fronts. Their civilian clothing was given to needy German families.

JCY: Judith saw things that pushed far beyond any boundaries of human evil she thought were possible to exist. Ohrdruf wasn’t eventhe worst camp in the hellish constellation. Those were to be found further to the east.

Many men have a taste for sixteen year old female flesh.

JCZ: Judith learned to trade her body for scraps of extra food. Some of this she ate herself, but it was purely business. The longer she could delay taking on the figure of a skeleton, the more opportunities he might have to trade her body for food, for both herself and Edith.

JDA: This became a huge problem during the terrifying and humiliating appells, or inspections, that followed roll call and lasted most of the day. The guards realized Judith and Edith were wasting away at a slightly slower rate than their companion prisoners.

JDB: They were successful in feigning weakness, but it was almost impossible to hide their extra weight, and suspicion was raised. When the guns of Patton’s tanks could be heard only forty miles away, the twelve thousand inmates of the camp were being loaded onto cattle cars.

JDC: The prisoners were being rushed to transfer to Buchenwald. Edith Gervasi slipped and revealed that she had a little extra food. What happened after that Judith told no one but her father, years after the war, on his final day of life. The horror of it was too much to tell.

JDD: Learning the manner of the passing of his wife might have even been the thing that killed him.

Troops of the 89th Infantry Division of the US Third Army captured Ohrdruf-Nord on April 4, 1945. Judith was one of the very few prisoners left standing.

JDE: After the war in Europe when Judith had been sufficiently deloused and scrubbed, and had demonstrated her status as a British subject to the satisfaction of the Occupation, she was placed on a ship and sent home to her father. She met him on a dock at Portsmouth.

JDF: Judith gazed upon him as though across a great gulf which was the memory of the unspeakable ordeal she had somehow survived. They were utter strangers to each other now. When he took her home Benjamin tearfully begged his daughter to tell him what happened to Edith.

JDF: The girl said nothing, and every time he pressed, she would only shake her head. A few days later, in his Portsmouth home, Benjamin caught a quick glimpse of the mass of whip scars on his daughter’s back.

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