German novelist Norman Ohler has written his first non-fiction work, Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany. Drug abuse permeated all levels of the Third Reich, with Hitler himself, enabled by his personal physician Theodor Morell, being one of the most addicted, primarily to Eukadol (Oxycodone) and cocaine. Ohler also argues methamphetamines made the western Blitzkrieg through the Ardennes possible.
The bizarre rise and fall and resurgence of tiki bars and cocktails is an interesting history that starts with two men, Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron, who traveled to the South Pacific and brought back some "island culture" to the United States with them in the 1930s, continuing on with the craze really booming after WWII vets returned from tours overseas. With the ebbs and flows of popularity, the cultural appropriation in "Tiki culture" has often been overlooked, as to the Māori mythology and meaning behind Tiki carvings and imagery and Hawiian culture of leis and luaus. Let's talk Tiki bars: harmless fun or exploitation. [Soundtrack: Les Baxter's Ritual Of The Savage ( 1951) and Martin Denny's Exotica (1957)] [more inside]
European refugees in India, Africa and the Middle East
During World War II in Europe over 40 million refugees sought shelter away from the catastrophic bloodshed that engulfed the continent for over six years.
World War II Railroad Women In April 1943, Office of War Information photographer Jack Delano photographed the women of the Chicago & North Western Railroad roundhouse in Clinton, Iowa.
It all started with a question, one my parents had been unable to answer for 70 years. What happened to the French doctor they had taken in during the Russian siege of Budapest? He was an escaped prisoner of war. They were just trying to hang on. Together, they hid in a cellar, beneath the feet of German soldiers who had made the home their headquarters.San Francisco Journalist John Temple follows the threads of World War II into the present.
Keiko Horikawa is a Japanese freelance journalist whose work, unknown in English translation until now, deals with the value of life and the weight of death. Her two subjects are the death penalty and the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, which has gained new urgency as bomb survivors, the hibakusha, die out after 70 years. Here is a translation of an event promoting her book about the Genbaku Kuyoto, the mound containing the unclaimed remains of approximately 70,000 bomb victims, and her effort to reunite the 815 identified remains with their families.
A year after the bomb was dropped, Miss Sasaki was a crippIe; Mrs. Nakamura was destitute; Father Kleinsorge was back in the hospital; Dr. Sasaki was not capable of the work he once could do; Dr. Fujii had lost the thirty-room hospital it took him many years to acquire, and had no prospects of rebuilding it; Mr. Tanimoto’s church had been ruined and he no longer had his exceptional vitality. The lives of these six people, who were among the luckiest in Hiroshima, would never be the same.--originally published in The New Yorker, August 31, 1946.
Celebrate Orson Welles 101th birthday with this collection of his commercial work (and famous outakes), an episode of You Must Remember This on his relationship with Rita Hayworth and the Mercury Wonder show (original flyer) or listen to him narrate a bonkers documentary commissioned by the then Shah of Iran 'Eternal Light' .
At The Awl, Rob Dubbin describes a sincere unease about a new Kickstarter card game smash hit, "Secret Hitler". [more inside]
Under the name Attaboy Clarence/The Secret History Of Hollywood, Adam Roche creates very long, very in-depth podcasts about classic Hollywood how it relates to broader sociopolitical trends. Clocking in at 171 minutes, Hunting Witches With Walt Disney goes into the background, motivations, and effects of the Red Scare in Hollywood and the House Of Un-American Activities. The nearly 3 hour long podcast spans a cast of characters including Budd Schulberg, Elia Kazan, John Garfield, Dorothy Comingore, Edward Dymytryk, Dalton Trumbo, Walt Disney, Humphrey Bogart, and of course, Howard Hughes
The UK's desperate-measures approach to teaching Japanese during WWII, and its lasting impact. [SLBBC] [more inside]
Luftwaffe photo albums, Spain, Norway, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Greece, Russia, Africa, Italy, Germany
They haven’t forgotten. For 70 years, the Dutch have come to a verdant U.S. cemetery outside this small village to care for the graves of Americans killed in World War II. On Sunday, they came again, bearing Memorial Day bouquets for men and women they never knew, but whose 8,300 headstones the people of the Netherlands have adopted as their own.
The Unknown War: WWII And The Epic Battles Of The Russian Front, the 20-episode documentary of the Nazi-Germany/Soviet Union conflict, first aired in the United States in 1978 but was subsequently pulled after the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. "The footage was edited from over 3.5 million feet of film taken by Soviet camera crews from the first day of the war, 22 June 1941, to the Soviet entry into Berlin in May 1945. Most of these films have never been seen outside this documentary series." It is available in full (1040 minutes). [more inside]
On the night of 13/14 February 1945, RAF Bomber Command carried out a raid on the city of Dresden, the capital of Saxony, Germany. For all intents and purposes, this was a standard mission undertaken in much the same way as any other sortie... Warning - some graphic images inside
How the Military Waged a Graphic-Design War on Venereal Disease In many ways, such a coordinated public effort to alter sexual behavior was unprecedented. At a time when discussion of sexual activity was anything but frank, the VD posters of World War II addressed the topic directly using clinical language, ominous symbolic imagery, and jingoistic slogans to help enlisted men steer clear of sexually transmitted infections. While American sex-ed programs have taken many forms over the last hundred years, the military’s VD campaign left a unique trail of ephemera in its wake, featuring imagery that’s both gorgeous and deeply unsettling.
Finland commemorates the 75 anniversary of the start of the Winter War today with services held across the country. Hostilities began on 30 November 1939 with an attack by the Soviet Union including bombing raids on the capital Helsinki. via
Russiatrek.org's blog has a nice collection of Soviet propaganda posters. Soviet space program 1958-1963 Part 1. Part 2. International Workers' Day. Soviet Patriotism. Soviet propaganda - the beginning 1917-1923. Stalin's Soviet Union tourism posters. Socialism vs. Capitalism. WWII Part 1. Part 2. Soviet posters of the 1970's. The blog's art category.
Are you trying to write a period-correct Captain America story or just have questions about NYC in the 1930s-40s in general? The tumblr Steve Rogers Is Historically Accurate is here to help.
Putting on a brave face. It isn’t easy to do without, but to do without while giving the impression that little has changed offers necessary courage to one living in an otherwise terrifying situation. Women had no power over the volatile state of the world, and after conscription was introduced, they also lost control over which jobs they held and where these jobs took them; if they could succeed in appearing strong and unruffled on the outside, perhaps on the inside they might also feel capable of succeeding in the midst of the uncertainty that had become their lives
On June 6th 1944 Jim Radford, aged just 15, was serving on the HM Rescue tug Empire Larch at Gold Beach tasked, amongst other things, with building the breakwater and later the mulberry harbour there. 70 years later an 85 year old Jim stood up in front of a packed Albert Hall in London and, accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra, sung his autobiographical composition - The Shores of Normandy. [more inside]
WW2 & The Origins Of Radar :World War II led to an explosion of new technologies that would have profound effects in the postwar period. Although advanced Nazi aircraft, guided weapons, and long-range rockets are well known, in reality the Allies led the Germans in many fields, and not only had more resources to draw from but were much better organized to exploit their new inventions. The atomic bomb is the most spectacular example of Allied technical superiority, but just as significantly, the Allies developed radar and other new "electronic warfare" technologies at a rate that left the Axis in the dust. Winston Churchill called the race for electronic superiority the "Wizard War". This document provides a history of the Wizard War.
Richard Edes Harrison was a trained architect, artist and mapmaker whose maps in the years leading up to and through WWII gave Americans a new perspective on the world. World War II Led to a Revolution in Cartography. These Amazing Maps Are Its Legacy [more inside]
December 7--The war opened with the attack of Japanese aircraft on Oahu. So begins the Command Summary of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, now available online as part of the U.S. Naval War College's Naval Historical Collection, in eight pdf volumes. Downloading is currently a little slow, as demand for site access has been high.
Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest known Holocaust survivor and subject of the film "The Lady in Number Six" has died at the age of 110. Before World War II, Alice was a concert pianist who travelled across Europe. During the war, Alice's mother and husband were sent to Auschwitz where they were murdered, and Alice and her six year old son were sent to Theresienstadt. Alice performed more than 100 concerts at Theresienstadt, and immigrated to Israel with her son after surviving the camp. [more inside]
Unedited footage of the bombing of Nagasaki: This silent film shows the final preparation and loading of the "Fat Man" bomb into "Bockscar," the plane which dropped the bomb on Nagasaki. It then shows the Nagasaki explosion from the window of an observation plane. This footage comes from Los Alamos National Laboratory. (SLYT)
Marc Wilson’s series The Last Stand documents the remains of coastal fortifications that lined Northern Europe during the Second World War — bunkers swallowed by the sea, pillboxes barely clinging to land, buildings ripped from their foundations and wrecked on the rocks — from Allied positions on England’s east coast and the far tip of the Northern Isles, to the once German-occupied archipelago of the Channel Islands and the remains of the Atlantikwall, the colossal Nazi defense network which stretched from Norway to Spain.Slideshow
In 1959, MOSFILM released "Ballad of a Soldier," made during the Khrushchev Thaw . It chronicles a young soldier, Alyosha, and his six-day trip home from the front during World War II, which "sweeps you, with feeling, into the physical and psychological world of Russians at war." And it is on YouTube. [more inside]
Eleanor Roosevelt and the Soviet Sniper "Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a Soviet sniper credited with 309 kills—and an advocate for women's rights. On a U.S. tour in 1942, she found a friend in the first lady." [more inside]
What we knew of Angus was this: Angus—the only name we had for him—was a flight surgeon our mother had fallen in love with during World War II, planned to marry after the war, but lost when the Japanese shot him down over the Pacific. Once, long ago, she had mentioned to me that he was part of the reason she decided to be a doctor. That was all we knew. She had confided those things in the 1970s, in the years just after she and my father divorced. I can remember sitting in a big easy chair my dad had left behind in her bedroom, listening to her reminisce about Angus as she sat with her knitting. I remember being embarrassed, and not terribly interested. I was interested now. Even 30 years before, her affair with Angus had been three decades old. Now, 60 years after he had fallen into the sea, she wanted to follow him.[more inside]
Harold Percival will not be missed. This. This is the power of the printed word, and the internet. If you only read one thing today, please read this.
Advice to UK animal owners just before World War Two broke out: "If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency." It concluded: "If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed." [more inside]
When German soldiers arrived in Paris in the summer of 1940, there were so few of them that they had to win hearts and minds. The untold story of one young couple.
It's The Victory Belles! The house vocal trio for the National WW2 Museum's Stage Door Canteen in New Orleans perform medleys of war-time hits in shimmery brown uniforms (or Santa suits).
"Just to describe you: You're a large man, a big boned man." ..The most fascinating oral history you'll hear this week. Prendergast endured a German labor camp after being captured during the battle of the bulge, and witnessed the fire bombing of Dresden from 15 miles away. Interviews were recorded as source material for Studs Terkel's book: The Good War.
The most well known of New Zealand's World War II home-built tanks was the Bob Semple tank, designed by New Zealand Minister of Works Bob Semple. There was only one made, but it served its purpose of "showing the people that something was being done to meet the enemy. It rumbled around, took part in parades, and inspired confidence." One problem: the tank, built on a Caterpiller tractor and armored with corrugated steel, would momentarily pause while changing gears, unless it was already headed down hill. During parades and public shows, its driver was instructed to change gear as little as possible, to prevent people from thinking their tank was stalling. The other New Zealand-built tank was the Schofield tank, built on the chassis of a Chevrolet heavy-duty truck, with the ability to drive quickly on wheels, then operate on treads, the transition only taking 7 to 10 minutes. Two prototypes were made, but neither the Bob Semple nor the Schofield tank were mass produced, as New Zealand started receiving tanks from abroad by 1943.
Alfred Hitchcock ‘Directs’ a LIFE Picture Story, 1942. "...perhaps no filmmaker provided richer fodder for the Allies during the war itself than Alfred (later Sir Alfred) Hitchcock. Between 1940 and 1945, Hitch made films for England’s Ministry of Information as well as several excellent movies featuring plots that centered on the war (Saboteur, Foreign Correspondent, the remarkable Lifeboat and others). Hitchcock’s most unusual director’s credit from the 1940s, however, wasn’t attached to a movie at all, but instead appeared in the July 13, 1942, issue of LIFE magazine. Titled Have You Heard? (The Story of Wartime Rumors), the feature carrying Hitchcock’s name is a war thriller in photos, shot by LIFE’s Eliot Elisofon from a plot 'suggested by' FDR’s press secretary, Stephen Early, and 'directed by' Hitchcock himself."
You Are Not So Smart: Survivorship Bias, demonstrated through Abraham Wald's work at the Statistical Research Group in World War 2. [more inside]
Days after Hitler’s suicide a group of American soldiers, French prisoners, and, yes, German soldiers defended an Austrian castle against an SS division—the only time Germans and Allies fought together in World War II. Andrew Roberts on a story so wild that it has to be made into a movie.
The Ministry Of Food was a British government ministerial posts separated from that of the Minister of Agriculture. A major task of the latter office was to oversee rationing in the United Kingdom arising out of World War II. They made many newsreels and PSAs to inform the citizenry how to use the food rationing system: Rationing is introduced in 1939 The new ration books are coming! Cod Liver Oil Here's spud in your eye Don't cut that bread! DON'T WASTE FOOD! Dig For Victory! Milk is here! In addition, some short films instructed people in how to best use the new rationing system : Two Cooks And A Cabbage How To Make Tea Rabbit Pie Buying black market meat: a Partner in CRIME A US view explaining UK rationing to the States.
On July 17, 1945, the OSS Deer Team, led by Major A. K. Thomas, was parachuted in the jungle 200 km north of Hanoi, to make contact with a mysterious group of resistance fighters willing to help the US against the Japanese. They were greeted cordially by the group leader, "Mr C. M. Hoo", a sick-looking older man, and his acolyte "Mr Van", a dapper man wearing a white linen suit and a black fedora (and he did like his fedora). From mid-July to the Japanese capitulation, the Deer Team trained Hoo's ragtag band, provided them with explosives and small arms and followed them during skirmishes. They also allegedly saved Ho(o)'s life. Major Thomas' full report on the Deer Mission (including the FPP title and the line Forget the Communist Bogy) is buried in the 1972 Hearings on the causes of the Vietnam war (see also the same events according to Henri Prunier, last surviving member of the Deer Team). [more inside]
In July 1939, French authorities started building a 120m² bomb shelter under the Gare de l’Est (East Railway Station) in Paris so that traffic controllers could keep on working if the station was attacked. However, it was not completed in time and the Germans used it instead. The bunker, which includes a pedal generator, is still there, in near perfect condition. Other images and video (in French). Bonus underground Parisian bunker: this Cold-war era bunker under the Ministry of Transportation (equipped with tandem pedal generators) will become a datacenter early 2014.
When the peace came along in Europe in April of 1945, we just practically sat there without anything to do. Most of the gentlemen drew house plans, because they were thinking they were going to get out of the service pretty soon. And I wrote a symphony. (Transcript) The symphony Van Heuvelen wrote sat on the shelf for decades, and last week he got to witness it performed for the first time. [more inside]