"The most beautiful girl or woman in the world would be a matter of indifference to me, but tall soldiers
—they are my weakness." Thus confessed Frederick William
, second king of Prussia, whose passion compelled the creation of an elite regiment of six-foot-plus grenadiers
. Recruitment, diplomatic gifts, and the occasional abduction of a spindly peasant or acromegalic tradesman supplied thousands of "giants" for the ranks; experiments with breeding programs and stretching machines were somewhat less successful. Frederick II, Frederick William's son and successor, dispersed the regiment when he succeeded to power in 1740. The Potsdam Giants had never actually seen combat, the main part of their duty having been to drill and parade before their enraptured king. [more inside]
World War I in Color
is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
The Siege of Paris
, during the Franco-Prussian War, lasted from September 1870 to January 1871
. As the Prussian army blockaded the city, Parisians turned to ever more desperate
. Like the zoo animals
. And other animals not normally eaten
From 1864 to 1904, the Russian Empire tried to quelch the nationalism of Lithuanians by ordering all Lithuanian texts to be printed with Cyrillic characters instead of in the Latin-derived Lithuanian or Polish alphabets. But they didn't count on the Knygnešiai - the Booksmugglers
. [more inside]
Indeed, all three of Hitler’s prized leather whips were presents from high society ladies.
: Christopher Clark reviews High Society in the Third Reich
by Fabrice d’Almeida in the London Review Of Books.
One day in 1999, Alex Sabac el Cher, a retired German textile salesman opened his door to a historian who had a painting to show him and a few questions. Preußisches Liebesglück
("Prussian love bliss"), a 1890 painting of two lovebirds, an African officer of the German imperial army and his young red-headed bride, was perhaps an allegory of (color-)blind love, but also an actual moment of happiness in the Sabac el Cher family history
, that started in 1836 with the gift of a young Nubian boy nicknamed August "Good morning"
to an exiled princely murderer and became interwoven
with German history
. Bonus: First 10 minutes
(in French) of a documentary about the Sabac el Cher
is the name of the little dot between Poland and Lithuania which lights up when you select "Russia" in the Axis Applet
. It turns out to be a Special Economic Zone
entirely surrounded by newly-minted EU members.
But before it was gobbled up by Russia in the wake of World War II, it was named Konigsberg
. Founded in 1255 by Ottocar II
(Not related to the Ottokars of Syldavia
) of Bohemia, Konigsberg was the inspiration for the problem of the 7 Bridges
and the name of two famous warships