The Role of Greenland in WW2 and The Cold War | W.U Hstry

Although Greenland has always been one of the more remote places of the world, its position leaves it with a potentially very significant role to play in any world-wide conflict. The Geographical location of Greenland is important for three reasons, the first being that it is part of the land that forms the ‘GIUK Gap’ which is an important naval choke point in the north Atlantic that is…

Source: The Role of Greenland in WW2 and The Cold War | W.U Hstry

The Last Days Of London | Spitalfields Life

At twelve years old, he photographed the end of the trams in 1952 and, since then, Spitalfields Life Contributing Photographer Colin O’Brien has become fascinated by recording the ‘last days’ of vanishing aspects of London Life …

Thames Embankment, 1952 “When I was twelve, the trams stopped running forever so I took this picture with my box camera while the driver posed for me. I loved going out with my dad on Sunday mornings for a ride through the Kingsway Tunnel and out on to the Embankment. It was even more exciting if we managed to get the front seat on the top deck where I could imagine I was…

Source:  The Last Days Of London | Spitalfields Life.

The World’s Oldest Man Is Now An Auschwitz Survivor Aged 112.

Guinness World Records have just named the world’s oldest man as Yisrael Kristal, who is aged 112 years old.

You would expect anyone reaching such a momentous age to have a spectacular history, but Yisrael Kristal’s defies the odds.

Courtesy of Family

Kristal was born in Poland on September 15th 1903 to Jewish parents. Tragedy struck from an early age with his mother dying in 1910, and his father dying soon after the outbreak of World War One. Aged 17 he moved to the Polish city of Łódź, where he went on to work in the family’s candy factory. In 1928 Kristal married and became father to two children.

With the outbreak of World War Two, the life Kristal had built was turned on it’s head. When Poland was invaded, his family was forced into the Łódź ghetto, where both of his children died. Further tragedy struck in August 1944, when Kristal and his wife were transported to…

Source: The World’s Oldest Man Is Now An Auschwitz Survivor Aged 112.

Memory and identity: a personal history – Mathew Lyons

My father is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. He will be 90 this year. He grew up close by the docks in Beckton, East London, which are now long gone. He remembers seeing the first wave of German bombers flying over London on September 7, 1940.

He was stationed in the Pacific when he joined the Navy in 1944; he has photos of Nagasaki taken a few weeks after it was destroyed by the atomic bomb.

At Cambridge after the war, he joined the Communist Party only to leave in the 1950s, disheartened by the party’s refusal to fully endorse the democratic process. At least, this is what I remember being told long ago, when facts seemed more stable than they do now.He spent almost his entire working life in…

Source: Memory and identity: a personal history – Mathew Lyons

Britain is no longer a country for and says “Farewell” to its oldest and greatest test pilot, Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown

Source: Britain is no longer a country for and says “Farewell” to its oldest and greatest test pilot, Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown


Eric, who has died at the age of 97, between the 1930s and 1980’s flew 487 types of aircraft, ranging from gliders to fighters, bombers, airliners, amphibians, flying boats and helicopters. This is more than any other pilot has flown, or is ever likely to fly. His 2,407 deck landings at sea including the first in a jet plane and 2,721 catapult launches are world records which are unlikely ever to be broken. Blessed with exceptional skill and completely without fear, he received the affectionate nickname, ‘Winkle’ from his Royal Navy colleagues. It was short for the small mollusc, the ‘periwinkle’ because of his 5 ft 7 in stature which enabled him to put his “legs under the seat and curl up like a little ball in the cockpit,” which he believed had “saved me because there were occasions I would have…

Source: Britain is no longer a country for and says “Farewell” to its oldest and greatest test pilot, Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown

The World’s Longest War Only Ended in 1986 | Atlas Obscura

Some historians consider England’s Scilly conflict to be the longest war in known history, dragging on for a staggering 335 years. Yet one side was not a country in its own right, there were no casualties for the entire duration, and not a single shot was fired. Neither side even remembered they were still at war until someone checked the paperwork.

All of which begs the question: if war is declared but neither nation remembers, does it still count?

The Isles of Scilly are five inhabited islands and a multitude of other uninhabited rocks off the coast of Cornwall at the southwestern tip of England. With a population of roughly 2,000, the islands rely on fishing and tourism as…

Source: The World’s Longest War Only Ended in 1986 | Atlas Obscura

Nobel’s doctorate revoked for Nazi past |

Austria’s prestigious Salzburg University has posthumously revoked the honorary doctorate of Nobel-winning ethnologist and zoologist Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989) because of his Nazi past.The university cited the Austrian’s 1938 application to join the Nazi party in which he says that he had “of course always been a National Socialist as a scientist” and that “my life’s work… has been in the service of…

Source: Nobel’s doctorate revoked for Nazi past |

Most Effective Murder – The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin


It’s been twenty years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

Political assassinations can be unpredictable events, just as likely to achieve the goal of the killer, if he had one, or result in some unforeseen consequence.

The JFK murder resulted in great national soul searching which LBJ used to push his Great Society and civil rights programs.   Lincoln’s killer certainly changed reconstruction.

Rabins’ murder seemingly put an end to any hope of peace which is exactly what his killer wanted.  It has turned out to be one of the most effective political murders of modern times.

Yigal Amir, an “extremist”, murdered Rabin.  We call them terrorists unless they are “extremists;” I guess it depends on whose side they are on. Amir walked around for months openly telling friends that Rabin should be killed and he wanted to be the one to do it.   Unfortunately, Israel’s security forces did not spend…

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Jeffersonian-Era Chemistry Hearth Preserved in Rotunda Wall

rotundaThe University of Virginia’s Rotunda still has its secrets, as conservators are discovering amid the building’s ongoing two-year renovation.

One of them is a chemical hearth, part of an early science classroom. It had been sealed in one of the lower-floor walls of the Rotunda since the 1850s, and thus was protected from the 1895 fire that destroyed much of the building’s interior. Two small fireboxes of the hearth were uncovered in a 1970s renovation, but the hearth itself remained hidden until the current round of renovations. When preparing for the current renovations, workers examined some of the cavities in the walls and found the…

Source: Jeffersonian-Era Chemistry Hearth Preserved in Rotunda Wall

Post-war Germany and Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies

DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 PIctures’ BRIDGE OF SPIES, directed by Steven Spielberg, is the story of James Donovan, an insurance lawyer from Brooklyn who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA enlists his support to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.

Following the defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII, the Allies divided Germany into a larger democratic parliamentary state (the Federal Republic of Germany) and a communist state (the German Democratic Republic). Within a few years after its establishment, by the mid-fifties, the capitalist West Germany enjoyed a thriving economy. By way of contrast, East Germany, controlled by the Soviet Union, mirroring its police state (the Stasi was modeled after the KGB) and exploited for its needs, sank into economic depression.

Like a microcosm of the divisions within Germany itself, Berlin was divided into a communist and a democratic part: East and West Berlin. In 1961 the East Germans erected the Berlin wall, officially called the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall”, under the pretext of protecting their population from fascist elements. In actuality, they were striving to put an end to the exodus of people fleeing East Berlin into West Berlin. The wall, along with the East German soldiers shooting upon sight any person trying to climb over it, turned out to be…

Source: Post-war Germany and Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies

Irish women had pelvic bones sawn in half during labour without consent | The Canary

(TRIGGER WARNING: Please be aware that some of the details in the following story are very harrowing.)
Between 1940 and 1984, about 1,500 women and girls, as young as 14, in the Republic of Ireland, underwent the procedure and are still fighting for justice.

Source: Irish women had pelvic bones sawn in half during labour without consent | The Canary

The Mysterious Erich von Richthofen – Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog

Originally posted on Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog.

Baron Manfred von Richthofen [The Red Baron]

The King and Country debate has been described previously on this blog. It was a talk at Oxford Students’ Union 9 Feb 1933, which saw 275 to 153 students vote for the motion ‘that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country’. This surprisingly pacifist stance from a major British institution attracted first British then international attention. Beach argued in the previous post that the influence of the debate was certainly felt on the streets in other countries: it damaged British prestige or at least gave the sense that Britain was supine in a decade when it would need to be martial and energetic. However, it was also noted that the evidence that the debate swung opinions in the German high command was slight. The only evidence for this comes down, in fact, to (i) some bombastic words from Churchill and…

via The Mysterious Erich von Richthofen – Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog.

Happy July Fourth! John Huston’s “Birthday Present” to America | Rogues & Vagabonds

Originally posted on Rogues & Vagabonds.

“All films are created equal. I don’t think there is such a thing as a small film. We’re not pulling any punches here. Scene for scene, everything is being done to the best of our abilities. Each scene as we make it is the best scene I’ve ever made—in my imagination.” – John Huston, on Independence

Forty years ago, director John Huston and a team of Hollywood professionals rolled into Philadelphia to make a film at Independence Hall. Forty years later, the film still screens at Independence National Historical Park, with twelve shows…

via Happy July Fourth! John Huston’s “Birthday Present” to America | Rogues & Vagabonds.

Croatians Remember Sir Robert Menzies And Bleiburg Massacre

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Sir Robert Gordon (Bob) Menzies of Australia Sir Robert Gordon (Bob) Menzies of Australia

According to British documents, located in the British Public Records Office at Kew Gardens in London, over 500,000 Croatian civilians and 200,000 soldiers were handed over to Tito’s Yugoslav Partisan Army in May of 1945. Based on eyewitness testimony and independent documentation, we can only estimate that the vast majority were slaughtered. The Bleiburg Tragedy is, perhaps, the best kept secret of man’s inhumanity to man. Certainly, it serves as an example of man’s ability to ignore the suffering of the powerless and those who lack nation-state status. Let us pray that Croats always cherish their independence and always fight those that attempt to subjugate them,” Michael Palaich.

May 15th 2014 marks 69 years since the days after WWII ended hundreds of thousands of innocent Croats (disarmed soldiers, civilians including women and children, fleeing communist Yugoslavia into promised freedom in the…

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