"It is somewhat of a mystery why the English-speaking world has had to wait until 1981 for the first translation of the Deutsche Sagen (German Legends) by the Brothers Grimm. After all, the Legends, which first appeared in 1816 and 1818, were translated into French, Danish, and even Rumanian in the nineteenth century, and have always been considered a vital source book for folklorists and critics alike. Perhaps we have always assumed that the German Legends had been translated since many of them are known through romances, novels, adaptations, selective translations, films, comic books, and references in critical studies. The two most famous examples are Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser and Robert Browning's 'The Children of Hameln.'"-Jack Zipes, in an approving review of Donald Ward's translation of the Legends. Ward's work has since fallen out of print, but you can read select legends at the eclectic Golden Scales folktale collection.
Abdel Kader Haidara awarded Germany's 2014 Africa Prize for rescuing Timbuktu manuscripts. Under his direction centuries' worth of texts were smuggled out when the city was taken by book-burning religious conservatives in 2012. The collection is currently in Mali's capital Bamako where it is being preserved and digitized. More text, slideshow, video, previously previously previously [more inside]
On this day one hundred years ago, Imperial German soldiers who had peacefully arrived in the Belgian city of Leuven (Fr: Louvain), having taken hostages and accepted the parole of its mayor on behalf of its citizens, without warning set fire to the city and massacred its inhabitants forever altering the city, its university's library, and the course of the war.
Belgian Judicial Report on the Sacking of Louvain in August 1914 The destruction and rebuilding of the Louvain Library: claim and counterclaim
In the records of human conflicts, there are at least three Chicken Wars. Two left little mark on the world at large, and the third resulted in some strange work-arounds for heavy tariffs. The first was Wojna kokosza, the Chicken or Hen War of 1537, when an anti-royalist and anti-absolutist rokosz (rebellion) by the Polish nobility resulted in near-extinction of local "kokosz" (an egg laying hen), but little else. The second was an odd spin-off of the more serious War of the Quarduple Alliance that lasted from 1717 to 1720. Though most of the activity happened in Europe, there were some battles in North America. The Texas manifestation was the capture of some chickens by French forces from a Spanish mission, and a costly overreaction by Spanish religious and military men. The third Chicken War was a duel of tariffs during the Cold War, with the only lasting casualty being the availability of foreign-made light trucks in the United States. [more inside]
What happens to a nation that's suffered a great crime? What happens when the wrong can't be made right?
"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]
Tonight marks the 75th anniversary of the November Pogroms throughout Germany, known as Kristallnacht. @9Nov38 is live-tweeting the events of the night (in German.)
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]
Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives A collection of images from the book, including more disguises, images of house searches, hand-to-hand combat techniques, hidden cameras, and even fake beards, is available free of charge at Simon Menner’s website. [more inside]
"Brigitte Höss lives quietly on a leafy side street in Northern Virginia. She is retired now, having worked in a Washington fashion salon for more than 30 years. She recently was diagnosed with cancer and spends much of her days dealing with the medical consequences. Brigitte also has a secret that not even her grandchildren know. Her father was Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz." [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.
"The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking" [NYTimes.com]
"The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945."
In the first decade of the 20th Century, a German Chief Justice was asked to hear the case of a man who had recently been found guilty according to a law code enacted in the last years of Napoleon's short-lived empire. No state in Europe still used that exact set of laws, but in one small part of the continent, there was an 850 acre plot of land which no state had claimed since the final defeat of Napoleon: Neutral Moresnet, also known as Kelmis, La Calamine or Amikejo. In To Govern, or Not to Govern: Prussia, Neutral Moresnet [pdf, click 'Download This Paper'] Steven Michael Press explains how Neutral Moresnet came to be, and how the Chief Justice ruled in the case. For more information, visit the Neutral Moresnet website. For an account by a visitor, read Unvisited Places of Old Europe by American travel writer Robert Shackleton [starts on page 157]. Finally, here's a podcast lecture by journalist and historian Neal Ascherson called Memories of Amikejo [iTunes link] reflecting on Neutral Moresnet's short existence and whether it tells us something about modern Europe. [Neutral Moresnet previously on MetaFilter]
You're a Monk, I'm a Monk, We're All Monks is a short video introduction to The Monks, a band founded in 1964 by five American soldiers in Germany. They put out only one album, the abrasive, noisy, minimalistic Black Monk Time in 1965, that sounded like nothing else at the time. They also dressed in all-black, shaved monkish tonsures in their hair and wore bits of rope as neckties. In 1966 they appeared on German TV shows Beat-Club and Beat, Beat, Beat, and played three songs on each, Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice, Monk Chant, Oh, How to Do Now, Complication, I Can't Get Over You and Cuckoo. Aaron Poehler interviewed The Monks and wrote about their history back in 1999. That same year they got back together to play at the Cavestomp festival. And here The Monks are being interviewed by a hand-puppet on public access television in Chicago. [The Monks previously on MetaFilter]
During a recent visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., I was reeducated in the power of branding — especially as applied to poster design — at the special exhibition, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, which demonstrates how the Nazi party used carefully crafted messages, advertising and design techniques, and then-new technologies (radio, television, film) to sway millions with its vision for a new Germany. (related)
Julius Fromm, a “quintessential ‘entrepreneurial proletariat’”, and a modest man with minimal education, sought a career alternative to making cigarettes and began taking evening classes in rubber chemistry around 1912. Julius Fromm then hit upon the idea of making condoms. The early condoms from the eighteenth century were generally made of animal intestines, and were used primarily by wealthy men – like Giacomo Casanova, who referred to them as “English riding coats” . . .The Great Rubber Robbery: How Julius Fromm’s Condom Empire Fell to the Nazis. via 3 quarks daily
Color footage of 1936 Berlin, in what appears to be a promotional film for the city before the 1936 Olympics. (SLYT)
The last man to have been imprisoned in a concentration camp for being homosexual under the Nazis has died, his obituary is more interesting than that sounds.
"ALL U-BOATS. ATTENTION ALL U-BOATS. CEASE-FIRE AT ONCE. STOP ALL HOSTILE ACTION AGAINST ALLIED SHIPPING. DÖNITZ." [more inside]
802 Prisoners attempted escape from Auschwitz. 144 were successful. Kazimierz Piechowski, a Polish boy scout, was one of them. Today, at age 91, he tells his story. [more inside]
A box of raisins saves a family from the Nazis. The Pop Laval Foundation in Fresno, CA adds an interesting WWII story to a historical photo from a local raisin processing plant.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was neither the U.S.' first armed conflict leading to WW II, nor the last Axis attack on American soil. [more inside]
American military planners are fascinated with German/Prussian military history. Busts of Von Clauswitz adorn American military academies where On War is taught, often with the misperception that Von Clauswitz viewed war as a controllable science. Shock & Awe is just the idea of Blitzkrieg with better weapons. Endless exhortations about unit cohesion (a complex, multi-layered idea with no military definition that is nonetheless used to keep gay soldiers from openly serving) comes from admiration for the Wehrmacht, their discipline and courage on the battlefield. So too the idea of a military culture separate and more honorable than the civilians they protect, advancing the professional warrior model at the expense of the citizen-soldier model. But to quote author military/adventure author Tom Clancy, “Why do people have a fixation with the German military when they haven’t won a war since 1871?” Previously
Robert F. Gallagher served in the United States Army's 815th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Third Army) in the European Theater during WWII. He has posted his memoir online: "Scratch One Messerschmitt," told from numerous photos he took during the war and the detailed notes he made shortly afterwards. [more inside]
In the scale of its intensity, its destructiveness and its horror, Stalingrad has no parallel. It engaged the full strength of the two biggest armies in Europe and could fit into no lesser framework than that of a life-and-death conflict which encompasses the earth. - The New York Times, February 4, 1943 [more inside]
Poetry in Hell contains a complete collection of poems recovered from the Warsaw Ghetto's Ringelblum Archives. The project, which took ten years to complete, gives English translations of poems that are shown in their original Yiddish. [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]
The capture of Adolf Eichmann is one of the more daring spy operations in the post WWII era. The story spans 17 years, beginning with Eichmann's clandestine escape from the Allied forces and the Nuremberg trial, and ending with his hanging in Israel. [more inside]
Perhaps you have seen the recent video of flies zooming around a "German trade show" like little banner planes? That "German Trade Show" was the Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurter Buchmesse)—the most important event in the book publishing world. It's international; all the major US publishers go, as do many agents, to meet their foreign counterparts and to buy and sell projects amid publishing's eternal and ever-present air of fatalism. This year's fair had some interesting subplots, the most visible of which was the complicated dance the organizers did with this year's guest of honor, China, as accusations of censorship (on the part of China) and of brown-nosing (on the part of the fair's organizers) flew. [more inside]
The Thirty Years War is a website covers that ginormous kerfuffle that consumed Europe in the first half of the 17th Century from the Second Defenestration of Prague to the Peace of Westphalia. It has a handy map with a place locator which will help you tell your Schweidnitz from your Schweinfurt. Here are some other maps, The Religious Situation in Central Europe about 1618, Principal Seats of War, 1618-1660 and Europe in 1648 - Peace of Westphalia.
The BBC World Service has put together a special report on the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe (they also have a simpler portal). There is a wealth of material, including TV reports on key events from the BBC archives, interviews, a map timeline, a report on Catholicism's role in the 1989 revolutions, a first-hand report of what it was like to gather news in East Germany during that time and much more.
September 22, 1939: In the Polish city of Brest-Litovsk (now Brest, in Belarus), "a monumental military parade took place.... What is unusual is that the parade was held not by the Polish army, but by the soviet Red Army and the Nazi German Wehrmacht – together." The excellent blog Poemas del río Wang (which usually features gorgeous illustrations from books) provides historical context, many photos, posters, and cartoons, even a five-minute official German newsreel (the parade takes up the first half). The event itself is a historical footnote, but in Russia, with the "cult of the victory of Soviet people and of the Soviet state in WWII," the very idea of it was anathema and it was denied until last year. [more inside]
Moments in Time 1989/1990 - The Fall of the Wall and reunification. Films and photos from private collections. With woodpeckers.
NRW 1946—2006. Short articles chronicling North Rhine-Westphalia. The site has one rather large shortcoming though, the video clips cannot be accessed (only available on VHS within the State!).
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.
Billy Jenkins was "The Nazi Cowboy." One of the most popular German western stars of the 1930s, Jenkins (real name Erich Rudolf Otto Rosenthal) was a card-carrying member of the Nazi party. Pre-war Germany was crazy for cowboys, with Jenkins starring in pulp fiction books with titles like "Texasfieber" and "Aufruhr in Laredo" that were influenced by the works of Karl May. The only problem? Under Nazi Germany's racial laws, Jenkins was considered half-Jewish.
Nudism, in the modern, Western, sense seems to have started in Germany (NSFW) back around the turn of the century, and despite the efforts of the Nazis to eradicate the practice Free Body Culture (FKK), as the Germans call it, enjoyed great popularity in East Germany, the Communists thought it expressed solidarity, and everyone else thought it reflected West German freedoms they were being denied. After the reunification it turns out the West Germans aren't so hot on FKK after all... In Germany opponents say nudism is disorderly, in the USA they say its child porn in disguise (SFW) Laws in the USA vary widely. In Arkansas its not only illegal to be nude, but its also illegal to talk about nudism, while in New York its legal for women to be topless, as long as they aren't being paid for it. As usual the gods send mixed messages.
Thomas Graz has a collection of glasses with pictures on them. Mainly from the countries of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the German Empire, but including some other countries too. A novel way to navigate history, architecture, people and landscape. Oh! and he needs help with some of them too.
This Sunday will be Yom HaShoah "Holocaust Martyrs' Remembrance Day" in Israel. A month ago Eric Muller, a law professor at UNC, went to Germany to find what he could about his great uncle Leopold Müller. Today he got something unexpected in the mail. (via)
The Monumental is My Sickness: a newly translated 1979 interview with German sculptor Arno Breker. Extremely revealing about art, memory, Nazism, and the troubling life story of "Hitler's Favourite Sculptor". For context, read this critical review of a recent exhibition of Breker's work. More Arno Breker resources, including many photos: (in French); the museum of Arno Breker (in German); Wikipedia entry. via
90 years ago today, whistles blew around the river Somme in France as British troops prepared for an attack on German trenches. By the end of the day they had suffered 57,470 casualties. By the battle's end in November, there were over 600,000 Allied casualties, with perhaps the same number of German casualties. The Imperial War Museum has launched an online exhibition, where you can find out more about how the battle was planned, personal stories of those involved, and myths about the attack. Elsewhere you can find copies of Army reports on the first day, look at film of the attack, diaries and letters home from the troops, go on tours of the trenches, listen to contemporary songs and music inspired by the battle, and see some more modern responses.
He has cavorted naked with Charlotte Rampling [this is VERY NSFW] and covered himself in caviar for Marc Jacobs, but Jürgen Teller thinks "fashion is a wank". Teller's first solo show in Paris is entitled "Nurnberg", it consists of a sequence of images (annoying Flash site, sorry) taken at the infamous Zeppelintribune parade ground, site of Nazi propaganda rallies, which was designed by Hitler's favourite builder, Albert Speer. Over several months, Teller (.pdf) has photographed the monument, the podium and the steep, ruthless steps, all of which have been left to decay. Or not. "It wasn't really maintained, but if there was a broken step, or a smashed wall, it would be mysteriously replaced with a new one." Teller's photographs show the delicate weeds, flowers and lichen [NSFW] that have grown up around the stone blocks. "In Germany, there is a saying about letting the grass grow over things, meaning that events will eventually be forgotten".
"They are demanding that I kill the children of my people with my own hands"On October 4, 1939, a few days after Warsaw's surrender to the Nazis, Adam Czerniaków was made head of the 24 member Judenrat, the Jewish Council (write "Czerniakow" in the linked page's search box) responsible for implementing German orders in the Jewish community (interactive map of the Warsaw ghetto). On July 22, 1942 -- Tisha B'Av, the "saddest day in Jewish history" -- the Judenrat received instructions that all Warsaw Jews were to be deported to the East (exceptions were to be made for Jews working in German factories, Jewish hospital staff, members of the Judenrat and their families, and members of the Jewish police force and their families. Czerniaków tried to convince the Germans at least not to deport the Jewish orphans). Czerniaków kept a diary from September 6, 1939, until the day of his death. It was published in 1979 in the English language as the "The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniaków: Prelude to Doom", edited by one of the most prominent Holocaust scholars, Raul Hilberg. More inside.
The London Cage. Kensington Palace Gardens is one of the most exclusive addresses in the world. Between July 1940 and September 1948 three magnificent houses there were home to one of Great Britain'smost secret military establishments: the London office of the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre, known colloquially as the London Cage. It was run by MI19, the section of the War Office responsible for gleaning information from enemy prisoners of war, and few outside this organisation knew exactly what went on beyond the single barbed-wire fence that separated the three houses from the busy streets and grand parks of west London. The London Cage was used partly as a torture centre, inside which large numbers of German officers and soldiers were subjected to systematic ill-treatment. In total 3,573 men passed through the Cage, and more than 1,000 were persuaded to give statements about war crimes. A number of German civilians joined the servicemen who were interrogated there up to 1948. More inside.
Benny's Postcards "is devoted to the postcards my grandfather collected from approximately 1906-1918. The collection is comprised of 435 postcards, most of which were produced in Russia, Poland and Germany." [coral cache]
Pobediteli: Soldiers of the Great War. In this year of the 60 Anniversary of the Victory we wish to personally thank the soldiers of the Great War living among us, and tell the story of their heroism.
Nobel winner GÜNTER GRASS about Germany on the anniversary of the end of WWII (NYT).
The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945.
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