Philby's boss was Sir Stewart Menzies, who, we are told, "rode to hounds, mixed with royalty, never missed a day at Ascot, drank a great deal, and kept his secrets buttoned up behind a small, fierce mustache. He preferred women to men and horses to both." Menzies was an amateur at a time when his adversaries were professionals. Philby's fellow Soviet spy Donald Maclean was a mess. But since he was a mess with the right accent and background he easily found a home in the British spy service. At one point, Macintyre says, Maclean "got drunk, smashed up the Cairo flat of two secretaries at the U.S. embassy, ripped up their underwear, and hurled a large mirror off the wall, breaking a large bath in two. He was sent home, placed under the care of a Harley Street psychiatrist, and then, amazingly, after a short period of treatment, promoted to head the American desk at the Foreign Office."Kim Philby, the Soviet spy who infiltrated MI6, is the subject of a Malcolm Gladwell article in The New Yorker. Gladwell argues that Philby's story is not about spying but "the hazards of mistrust." He is interviewed on a New Yorker podcast about his article. Gladwell's article is also a review of Ben Macintyre's book on Philby, A Spy Among Friends. Gladwell reviewed Macintyre's previous book, Operation Mincemeat and argued that spy agencies might be more trouble than they're worth.
"Normal return route canceled. Proceed as follows: Strip all company marking, registration numbers and identifiable insignia from exterior surfaces. Proceed westbound soonest your discretion to avoid hostilities and deliver NC18602 to marine terminal La Guardia Field New York. Good luck." [more inside]
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]
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]
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.
You Are Not So Smart: Survivorship Bias, demonstrated through Abraham Wald's work at the Statistical Research Group in World War 2. [more inside]
Metafilter's own JF Ptak has an interesting post on the Life magazine issue of March 2nd, 1942, readers of which were confronted by some startling maps detailing possible Axis invasion strategies for North America. There was invasion down the St. Lawrence valley, there was invasion via Trinidad, via Bermuda, full frontal west coast, and down the west coast as well - note the mapping of the large "fifth columns". As Ptak notes, maps such as these with huge arrows pointed menancingly at the American homeland were very much not the norm of the day. [more inside]
"With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent... do you not tremble for your children?" ― Winston Churchill, 1935. The World War II Database connects people, events, photographs, and other elements of history in relational db form to tell the story of the 20th century's 2nd great war.
World War II pictures in color. Some favorites: Soldiers at the Coliseum. A WAC discusses sailing with an old hand. A canine "soldier" dons a gas mask during training. African-American MPs on Motorbike Patrol. Other galleries: WWII in Color. | A searchable database of color slides.| Library of Congress collection (also includes Depression-era photographs) | WWII in pictures (mostly Germans; one graphic photo halfway down)
JARDA: Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives is a collection of photographs, diaries, letters, camp newsletters, personal histories and a wealth of other material relating to the relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The site is divided into four categories: People, the men, women, and children who were incarcerated. Places, prewar neighborhoods and wartime camps. Daily Life, eating, sleeping, working, playing, and going to school. Personal Experiences, letters, diaries, art and other writing by internees. Among the photographers hired by the War Relocation Authority was famed dust bowl photographer Dorothea Lange. 855 of her photos are on the site. Even though she was working as a propagandist many of her images captures a starker reality, for instance this picture of a glum little girl.
Bletchley Park: A WWII juggernaut. It decrypted German Enigma (try one!) and Japanese messages on an industrial scale in huts and blocks, had an outpost in Mombasa, and built one of the first modern computers (it helped that Alan Turing was on staff). Now a diverse museum with or without a funding problem, it generated yet more intrigue in 2000 when an Enigma was stolen, and hosts a rebuilt, working Colossus that launched a cipher challenge. Beating it wasn't easy! [more inside]
Upon the Nazi invasion of Poland, pediatrician Eugeniusz Łazowski and his friend Stanisław Matulewicz fabricated a fake typhus epidemic to save Polish Jews from the Nazis. Knowing that typhus-infected Jews would be summarily executed, non-Jews were injected with the harmless Proteus OX19, which would generate false positives for typhus. [more inside]
Today's post of tenuously related audio brings you ten historic radio broadcasts, 529 eternal questions in popular music, and one mildly amusing black metal band prank call.
One man: one plan, one stove, hundreds of accomplices, 200 tonnes of sand, 4,000 bed boards, 600 feet of rope.
76 men: 50 murdered, 23 recaptured, only three got away.
The real story behind the Great Escape.
76 men: 50 murdered, 23 recaptured, only three got away.
The real story behind the Great Escape.
Secret agent Huub Lauwers was parachuted into occupied Holland in 1941 to relay intelligence back to London. His capture by the Germans marked the beginning of the Englandspiel, a deadly game of cat-and-mouse intelligence that cost the lives of over fifty agents. Lauwers frantically tried to inform the SOE that he had been caught, but the Baker Street Irregulars just didn't get it. Or did they? [more inside]
Please, do mention the war. Really, it's hard not to. After all, in a sense football is war, as the General famously joked. Sometimes it's peace. Same goes for that other football, by the way.
360 photographs of Allied-occupied Japan after World War Two, taken by anthropologist John W. Bennett, arranged in portfolios with comments by Bennett and links to large images, such as hotel umbrellas drying in the sun. The exhibition includes selections from Bennett's journal and letters with his first impressions of Japan. Portfolios include views of Tokyo, children in the park, women of the night, traditional architecture, and Japanese resorts.
The Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal "...to provide a searchable registry of objects in U.S. museum collections that were created before 1946, and changed hands in Continental Europe during the Nazi era (1933-1945)." Families who had art confiscated by the Nazis can search US collections for it here.
The last World War Two Japanese soldier surrendered in the Philippines in 1980, ending a stream of holdouts. This is their story.
the grave of the unknown rapist. does the brutality of war result in man sinking to the depths of depravity