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]
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.
"Capra knew that the only way to earn an ending this happy would be to send the audience through utter, bleak horror, so everything before George gets to live again is shot to maximize the sense of his confinement, before breaking loose into rapture. It’s the story arc the country itself had just lived through for the four years prior." It’s A Wonderful Life shows the unending cost of being good - Todd VanDerWerff, The A.V. Club
The Stonehill Jewish Song Collection is a website by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance containing songs sung by Jewish refugees in Hotel Marseilles in New York in 1948. All songs include the original lyrics and translations into English. Not all the songs have been digitized and translated already, but there is a variety of themes already, with more on the way soon. The songs were collected and recorded by Ben Stonehill who went to the refugees and asked them to sing anything they like.
A research team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen claims to have finally found the wreckage of the Japanese Yamato-class Battleship Musashi, sunk at the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea October 23-24, 1944, part of the largest naval battle of World War II. [more inside]
"On June 3 and 4, 1942, Japanese military forces conducted air strikes on U.S. Army and Navy facilities at Dutch Harbor, in what is now the city of Unalaska. Several days later, they occupied Kiska and Attu islands, the latter the location of an Unangax village. Within a short time, the 42 Unangax residents of Attu and a non-Native teacher were taken to Japan, where they served as laborers for the Japanese for the duration of the war ... For the Unangax [or Aleut] of most other villages, World War II brought a different fate:" internment camps in the United States [more inside]
"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]
As England was fighting for its life against the Nazis, the British government sent its most charming spies — including Roald Dahl, Ian Fleming, Noël Coward and David Ogilvy — to America to blackmail, bully and cajol the U.S. into the war effort. [They were part of a] British spy ring that operated in Washington, D.C., during World War II.
Works by Monet, Picasso, and Renoir are among the 60 additional works found in the Salzburg home of Cornelius Gurlitt, who made headlines last year when it was revealed that he had more than 1400 works stashed in his Munich apartment that had been lost or stolen during WWII. This comes just weeks after Gurlitt indicated for the first time that he is now willing to consider returning works that are determined to have been looted by the Nazis. Determining rightful ownership of the works is an ongoing and complicated process. (Previously)
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]
"Untold History of the United States challenges the basic narrative of the U.S. history that most Americans have been taught.... [Such history] is consoling; it is comforting. But it only tells a small part of the story." Instead of clips of modern people pondering the past, Oliver Stone's ten-part series relies heavily on archival footage and clips from old Hollywood films, with narration by Stone. Towards the end, he gets into the assassination of JFK, "but that should not detract from a series that sets out to be a counterweight to the patriotic cheerleading and myth-making." [more inside]
If you're curious about the Eastern Front in World War II, the Russian produced, English spoken Soviet Storm: World War II in the East is obligatory viewing and now all eighteen episodes are available on Youtube. [more inside]
If someone mentions the state of Jefferson that existed in an alternate universe, the question should be: which one? The western neighbor of the Kansas Territory, the eastern portion of Texas, the later effort to split off a western portion of Texas, or the new state composed of parts of Oregon and California? [more inside]
An English-subtitled trailer is now available for Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's latest film, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu), which will premiere to English-speaking audiences at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. [more inside]
Seventy years ago today, in the midst of World War II, St. Louis citizens and dignitaries gathered at Lambert Airport to watch a VIP demonstration flight of the CG-4A glider, which had recently entered service. Aboard the glider were William Becker, the Mayor of St. Louis, several other high-ranking city officials, the founder and the vice-president of Robertson Aircraft (a St. Louis company producing the glider for the war effort), as well as two pilots. Immediately after being released by the tow aircraft, the right wing of the glider sheared off, sending the glider plummeting to the ground and killing all ten aboard. [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]
PhotosNormandie is a collaborative collection of more than 3,000 royalty-free photos from World War II's Battle of Normandy and its aftermath. (Photos date from June 6 to late August 1944). The main link goes to the photostream. You can also peruse sets, which include 2700+ images from the US and Canadian National Archives.
In 1974, Leon Leyson was one of a group of Jews who greeted Oskar Schindler when he visited Los Angeles. It was the first time the two had seen each other since the war. He began to introduce himself, but Schindler interrupted: "I know who you are," Schindler said, grinning at the middle-aged man before him. "You're Little Leyson." On Sunday, the youngest name on Schindler's List passed away at the age of 83. "The truth is, I did not live my life in the shadow of the Holocaust," he told the Portland Oregonian in 1997. "I did not give my children a legacy of fear. I gave them a legacy of freedom." [more inside]
Dr. Gisella Perl was a gynecologist living in what is now Sighet, Rumania, when in 1944 she and her family were transported by the Nazis to the death camp at Auschwitz. There, she was forced to work under Joseph Mengele in the camp hospital. After seeing the horrors and abuse leading up to the murder of pregant women, she "decided that never again would there be a pregnant woman in Auschwitz." Gisella Perl: Angel and Abortionist in the Auschwitz Death Camp [more inside]
Danish author Sven Hassel (Wikipedia, official site) has passed away at the age of 95. (Danish - Translation) Hassel fought for the Germans during WWII and became famous after publishing Legion of the Damned, a semi-autobiographical account of the war. He went on to write thirteen more books following the adventures of his convict battalion, incuding Wheels of Terror which in 1987 was made into the movie The Misfit Brigade staring Bruce Davison and David Patrick Kelly (clip). He will be remembered fondly by all who browsed the bookshelves of charity shops as young men.
"A post-World War II documentary, banned by the military in 1946 but lately released online, is one of the earliest depictions of psychotherapy." Let There Be Light, a film by John Huston. [more inside]
We Japanese Americans must not forget our wartime internment - George Takei on the the treatment of Japanese-Americans during WWII and Allegiance, his new musical. Previously.
Cartoon images of "worshiping cats" on the Chinese 100 yuan RMB banknotes, "the equivalent of the 'Eye of Providence' on the US dollar," probably weren't designed as cartoon cats. A coin expert noted that there were no cat's whiskers on the bank note, as shown on the "clarified" image. But if you're looking for hidden images in Chinese currency, World War II era Chinese currency has many cases of hidden messages and over-printed propaganda (part 2 of a series on WWII Allied banknote propaganda).
I am not going to try now to open the eyes of the world to the Leningrad Blockade. What I will write about here is less ambitious and somewhat more promising: the literature of the siege. [more inside]
Nearly seventy years ago, 10,000 Japanse Americans were forcibly relocated to Heart Mountain, just outside Cody, Wyoming; they were part of a larger group of more than 120,000 men, women, and children incarcerated in War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps due solely to their ancestry. This past weekend, about 100 survivors of the camp -- led by the delightfully named Bacon Sakatini -- returned to this remote corner of Wyoming to celebrate the grand opening of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center. Of the ten WRA camps, Heart Mountain had the only organized resisters movement, which was started in 1944 by seven men who formed the Fair Play Committee to protest the drafting of Japanse American men while their families remained imprisoned -- leading to the largest draft resistance trial in U.S. history.
Smithsonian Magazine's new blog Past Imperfect has already told some interesting stories in its first weeks, but none more compelling than that of Lt. Commander Minter Dial's Annapolis class ring.
Color Photos of the Russian Front Even though color photography was no longer entirely a novelty by the time of the Second World War, it is still uncommon and intriguing to see color photos from the war. Even moreso in this case, as the pictures in this EnglishRussia.com post are mainly of the German army fighting in Russia. The images include scenes of actual combat as well as behind the lines, though there was only one I noticed that featured a wounded soldier. There's even a picture of some GIs near the end of the series.
Deaf People and World War II is an NTID project collecting videos, books, articles, links, etc., about the experiences of deaf Europeans, Asians, and North Americans during the war. [more inside]
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)
Burlap paradummies called Ruperts were dropped during D-Day, later depicted in the film The Longest Day. But prior to D-Day, both the British and the Germans had used straw-filled decoys in various locations. Later in the war, the U.S. tested "Oscar" but found him lacking, adopting instead the PD Dummy. [more inside]
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.
Johnny Red was a story appearing in Battle and Battle Action magazine back in the late 70's and early 80's. Telling the story of a young British fighter pilot serving with the Falcons; a Russian squadron in World War II; Johnny Red was remarkable for it's time (in the midst of the Cold War) giving a positive image of Soviet Russian heroism in the fight against Nazi Germany. Scans of almost every issue are contained within - enjoy!
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]
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