3rd September, 1939: ‘Ev’rybody’s mucking in and doing their job’

Bunker 139/140 of Siegfried Line at the Buhlert in the northern Eifel [Wikimedia]

Bunker 139/140 of Siegfried Line at the Buhlert in the northern Eifel [Wikimedia]

Ev’rybody’s mucking in and doing their job
Wearing a great big smile
Ev’rybody’s got to keep their spirits up today
If you want to keep in swing,
Here’s the song to sing

We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
Have you any dirty washing mother dear?
We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line
‘Cos the washing day is here

Whether the weather may be wet or fine
We’ll just rub along without a care
We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line
If the Siegfried Line’s still there!

Whether the weather may be wet or fine
We’ll just rub along without a care
We’re gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line
If the Siegfried Line’s still there!

The Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain makes a broadcast speech prior to his departure from Arras, France, after visiting the British Expeditionary Force on 15 December 1939. [Wikimedia]

The Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain makes a broadcast speech prior to his departure from Arras, France, after visiting the British Expeditionary Force on 15 December 1939. [Wikimedia]

“This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final Note stating that unless he heard from them by eleven o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you know that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.” Neville Chamberlain on the wireless, 3rd September, 1939

Truetone radio [Wikimedia]

Truetone radio [Wikimedia]

“This war really isn’t at all bad. We make the best of things, putting our trust in God and Arthur Askey. Did you hear this week’s ‘Bandwagon’? It was the best ever. Big sang the ‘Bee’ song and ‘Run Adolf Run’, and did the sketch where they blacked out the skylight with one of Nausea Bagwash’s lumbago plasters. We all felt so cheered after it. We have the wireless on all the time, news bulletins mostly – our expeditionary army is going to France – and we listen to a lot of music too. For those of us at home some of the songs were comforting.” Unknown housewife

© Sarah Vernon

A suitcase full of secrets found in Amsterdam’s Jewish quarter after 70 years – DutchNews.nl

The discovery of a suitcase filled with photographs and paintings and hidden in a cupboard in an Amsterdam flat was the beginning of a story stretching back to 1920s Berlin. Gordon Darroch unravels a mystery which plays out across the globe. Cities are shaped by their past: it courses through them like blood, unseen but vital. Charlaine Scholten’s boyfriend told her about the suitcase in his attic shortly…

Source: A suitcase full of secrets found in Amsterdam’s Jewish quarter after 70 years – DutchNews.nl

The History Girls: Eva Tucker, 1929 – 2015 by Miranda Miller

berlinmosaicBerlin Mosaic (Belonging) by Eva Tucker

Occasionally we are lucky enough to meet someone who makes us feel we can touch events that happened before we were born. For me, my friend Eva Tucker was such a person. I first met her at a PEN summer party about ten years ago. We talked about Thomas Mann and Berlin and Robert Musil and she invited me to the launch of  Berlin Mosaic, her novel based on memories of her childhood.

[Eva Tucker] was born Eva Steineke and spent her early childhood in Berlin, in a very interesting milieu; her father, Otto, was a Communist journalist and her mother, Margot, was a sophisticate with a busy social life who didn’t have a lot of time for her little daughter. Eva’s grandfather, Felix Opfer, was a distinguished physician who was stripped of his right to practise medicine because he was Jewish. After her parents divorced Eva spent a lot of time in her grandparents’ opulent apartment near Friedrichstrasse, until the Nazis confiscated it.

When Eva was nine she and Margot, sponsored by Quakers, were evacuated to Britain. She had to…

Source: The History Girls: Eva Tucker, 1929 – 2015 by Miranda Miller

BBC News – The prisoners of Ruhleben

Originally posted on BBC News.

A recent Magazine article looked at a World War One internment camp in Germany, in which the civilian inmates created a miniature version of Britain, complete with roads named after London streets, a horticultural association and a cricket club.

Unlike a prisoner of war camp, the 5,000 captives at Ruhleben, near Berlin, were not made to work and the German guards at the camp just patrolled the perimeter.

The article about Ruhleben prompted a number of readers to get in touch with pictures, letters and stories of family members who had passed through the camp.

Here are the stories of seven prisoners of Ruhleben.

Arthur Smyth

My grandfather, Arthur Smyth, was at Ruhleben. He had been studying medicine at Heidelberg at the outbreak of the war and apparently continued his studies at the camp. He said it offered the best education in Europe because there were so many eminent foreign academics interned at the same time. He made little carvings in his spare time, learned to skate in the winter and played…

via BBC News – The prisoners of Ruhleben.

Hitler’s American deejay: The strange story of Mildred “Axis Sally” Gillars. | www.seanmunger.com

Originally posted on www.seanmunger.com

This week is the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, and a lot of noteworthy things happened during the fall of the Third Reich. One of them is not nearly as well-known as the others, but still fascinating in its own right. On May 6, 1945, a woman with an American accent made a broadcast on a crackly, static-choked feed from Berlin, which had just fallen to Soviet troops. The broadcast was pro-Nazi, but it hardly mattered anymore; Hitler was dead, many other Germans had committed suicide and the Nazi regime was on the verge of surrendering unconditionally to the Allied powers, which they did two days later. The woman, quite familiar to many American radio listeners, was known as “Axis Sally.” The May 6 broadcast was her last. When it was over she vanished fading into the chaotic backdrop of Berlin that was now a pile of rubble under Soviet occupation, still full of the dead and the dying remnants of Hitler’s regime.

“Axis Sally’s” true name was Mildred Elizabeth Gillars, and she had a fascinating life story. She was born in New England, studied at Ohio’s Wesleyan University in the late 1910s and early 1920s, and wanted to be an actress or musician. She studied piano and tried to get a career going in vaudeville, eventually moving to New York City. During the late 1920s and 1930s she drifted between the U.S. and Europe. She came to Berlin in 1934 and eventually fell in love with a…

via Hitler’s American deejay: The strange story of Mildred “Axis Sally” Gillars. | www.seanmunger.com

V.E. Day — Dorothea von Schwanenfluegel

laughter-wasnt-rationed

Laughter Wasn’t Rationed by Dorothea von Schwanenfluegel

Dorothea von Schwanenfluegel was struggling to survive the hideous days in Berlin with her daughter as the end of the war approached. Hitler had already committed suicide in his bunker and General Wilding was about to surrender the city. 

“The next day, General Wilding, the commander of the German troops in Berlin, finally surrendered the entire city to the Soviet army. There was no radio or newspaper, so vans with loudspeakers drove through the streets ordering us to cease all resistance. Suddenly, the shooting and bombing stopped and the unreal silence meant that one ordeal was over for us and another was about to begin. Our nightmare had become a reality. The entire three hundred square miles of what was left of Berlin were now completely under control of the Red Army. The last days of savage house to house fighting and street battles had been a human slaughter, with no prisoners being taken on either side. These final days were hell. Our last remaining and exhausted troops, primarily children and old men, stumbled into imprisonment. We were a city in ruins; almost no house remained intact.”

Two Nerdy History Girls: Friday Video: An Extravagant Cabinet with Many Secrets, c.1790

Lately the world has been all a-buzz about the newest iPhone, but innovative technology is nothing new. The late 18th c. cabinet in this video clip combines ingenious mechanisms to reveal hidden drawers and secret cubbies plus musical fanfares, and disguises it all inside a breathtakingly beautiful piece of cabinetry.

Here’s the description:

One of the finest achievements of European furniture making, this cabinet is the most important produced  from Abraham (1711-1793) and David Roentgen’s (1743-1807) workshop. A writing cabinet crowned with a chiming clock, it features finely designed marquetry panels and elaborate mechanisms that allow for doors and drawers to be opened automatically at the touch of a button. Owned by King Frederick William II, the Berlin cabinet is uniquely remarkable for its…

Continue reading: Two Nerdy History Girls: Friday Video: An Extravagant Cabinet with Many Secrets, c.1790.

WWI: The Smuts-Gandhi Agreement

Edinburgh Eye

On Tuesday 30th June 1914 the House of Commons had a routine sitting.

The Conservative MP for Knutsford, Alan Sykes, who had been commissioned a Deputy-Lieutenant to the Lord Lieutenant for Cheshire in 1910, rose to ask a question of the Under-Secretary of State for War about the Infantry Territorial battalions of Lancashire and Cheshire:

What percentage of the total enrolled number of officers and men of the Infantry Territorial battalions of Lancashire and Cheshire attended their annual camp this year in the Whitsuntide holidays, indicating what percentage attended for one week and what for the whole period, and giving comparative figures for the same battalions of their attendance at last year’s annual camp?

Harold Tennant, the Liberal Under-secretary of State for War, answered the Opposition question with specific percentages for 1914 and 1913, and said, when Sykes asked if the bounty of a pound had improved…

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