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Soviet Storm

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]
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 8, 2013 - 56 comments

The Many States of Jefferson, the could-have-been and might-be states

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]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 6, 2013 - 25 comments

We are simply passing through history....

"It’s not often that one finds buried treasure, but that’s exactly what happened in Wayland High School’s History Building as we prepared to move to a new campus. Amidst the dusty collection of maps featuring the defunct USSR, decades-old textbooks describing how Negroes are seeking equality, and film strips pieced together with brittle scotch tape, was a gray plastic Samsonite briefcase, circa 1975."
posted by Kid Charlemagne on Sep 4, 2013 - 40 comments

Powstanie Warszawskie

Powstanie Warszawskie/Warsaw Rising is a new Polish movie about the 1944 Warsaw Uprising that makes use of contemporary footage, colourised and dubbed.
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 24, 2013 - 14 comments

"All I wanted to do was make something beautiful."

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]
posted by Sokka shot first on Aug 15, 2013 - 67 comments

Smashed Like a Strawberry Box

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]
posted by Chanther on Aug 1, 2013 - 26 comments

The following notes were written at odd hours and strange places...

The War Diaries of Lt. George Lester Cushman
posted by curious nu on Jul 28, 2013 - 4 comments

That belongs in a museum!

One of the last remaining copies of Schindler's List has been posted for sale on Ebay, with a starting bid of $3,000,000 USD. [more inside]
posted by Strange Interlude on Jul 27, 2013 - 50 comments

Nadezhda Popova "Night Witch" Dies at 91

The Nazis called them “Night Witches” because the whooshing noise their plywood and canvas airplanes made reminded the Germans of the sound of a witch’s broomstick. Ms. Popova was a member of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment of the Soviet Air Forces during WWII. Composed entirely of women, most in their teens and early 20's, the Night Witches flew over 23,000 missions with only 40 2-woman crews. Popova herself flew over 850 missions and was shot down several times.
posted by bluejayway on Jul 15, 2013 - 69 comments

"You are very welcome to this sad, tattered and abused old world."

"We have not learned, even, to live with our fellow man. Instead we have perfected more means to annihilate him -- to wipe him (and ourselves) from the face of the Earth." A 1974 letter from Lieutenant Colonel Clyde S. Shield, lead test pilot for the Manhattan project, to his newborn grandson.
posted by DarlingBri on Jul 10, 2013 - 9 comments

A life well lived.

"In life, things happen twice if you're lucky. There's the father you get and the father you choose." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 10, 2013 - 10 comments

Creative New Zealand Tanks of World War II

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.
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 17, 2013 - 17 comments

RAF Museum successfully raises Dornier Do 17

The only known example of a Second World War Dornier Do 17 aircraft has been successfully lifted from Goodwin Sands in the English Channel. [more inside]
posted by Devils Rancher on Jun 11, 2013 - 28 comments

"There is a dog still on the beach today...looking for its masters."

Legendary war correspondent Ernie Pyle didn't get to Normandy Beach until the day after D-Day.

In a series of three columns, he described what he saw, and found.

"A Pure Miracle"

"The Horrible Waste Of War."

"A Long Thin Line Of Personal Anguish."
posted by timsteil on Jun 6, 2013 - 11 comments

The Department Of War Math

You Are Not So Smart: Survivorship Bias, demonstrated through Abraham Wald's work at the Statistical Research Group in World War 2. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 6, 2013 - 48 comments

Crystal Meth Origins

The German Granddaddy of Crystal Meth
posted by Confess, Fletch on May 31, 2013 - 59 comments

Early copper coins from an African trading empire found in Australia

The history of people finding Australia goes a little something like this: Aboriginal Australians separated from a migration out of Africa into Asia about 70,000 years, and Australian archaeological sites have proof of humans going back 50,000 years. Jump ahead to 1606, when there were two European voyages that made landfall and charted portions of Australia. First was Willem Janszoon's voyage in late February or early March of that year, and then Luís Vaz de Torres came a few months later. Abel Jansen Tasman was the first European to come across Tasmania, and between 1642 and 1646, his crew charted the Australian coast, more or less (Google auto-translation, original page). Then of course, there was James Cook's 1770 voyage. With all these dates in mind, how did five copper coins from an African sultanate that collapsed in the early 1500s (Google books) end up on an uninhabited island in the Northern Territory of present-day Australia? [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 28, 2013 - 84 comments

Two Cathedrals

My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity…
All a poet can do today is warn.

Two 20th century choral masterpieces share more than Biblical texts. Benjamin Britten’s well known War Requiem, Op. 66 and Rudolf Mauersberger’s lesser known Wie liegt die Stadt so wüst were both written in response to the destruction of medieval architecture and major churches in WWII bombings. Since 1956, the cities of Coventry and Dresden have been twinned to promote peace and understanding. [more inside]
posted by Madamina on May 27, 2013 - 10 comments

"There was little we didn't know about Nazi Germany"

In a new book, a historian reveals that during WWII, the British kept three groups of Nazi prisoners captive under condititons that an outraged Churchill demanded be stopped. [more inside]
posted by never used baby shoes on May 23, 2013 - 31 comments

The Myth of Nazi Efficiency

The Myth of Nazi Efficiency
posted by Miko on May 18, 2013 - 84 comments

Return Of The Nazi Weather Robot

What won the war? The weather helped. For while the Allies had access to all the Atlantic meteorology, the Axis couldn't easily predict what systems were rolling in from the West - and with the Battle of the Atlantic the one thing that Churchill said kept him awake at night, knowing which way the wind blew certainly needed a weatherman. Or Britain would never be starved into submission. The Weather War was complex and engaging, [more inside]
posted by Devonian on May 17, 2013 - 16 comments

World War II’s Strangest Battle: When Americans and Germans Fought Toget

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.
posted by cthuljew on May 13, 2013 - 26 comments

Abalone submarine detectors

The Kitchen Brothers were, perhaps, ahead of their time. [more inside]
posted by overleaf on Apr 30, 2013 - 2 comments

There wasn't much talk.

On April 29, 1945, the Dachau concentration camp was liberated. Today, on Reddit, with the help of his grandson, one of the men who liberated the camp did an IAmA.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Apr 29, 2013 - 20 comments

Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive

The Finnish Defence Forces have put their archive of 170,000 WWII photographs online.
Some "night fighters".
Some American prisoners, probably from the ill-fated Convoy PQ 17 [more inside]
posted by Authorized User on Apr 29, 2013 - 20 comments

A study of the human spirit.

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the largest organized rebellion by Jews during World War II. Marek Edelman, a leader of the uprising, recalls the ghetto and the revolt. [more inside]
posted by Westringia F. on Apr 19, 2013 - 10 comments

Operation Overlord

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.
posted by zarq on Mar 19, 2013 - 12 comments

Letters From A Private

Letters From A Private: "...[19 year-old Pvt. D. Bruce Hirshorn] was in the Army in 1944 and 1945. He wrote home almost every single day.... Today, Uncle Bruce is the same upbeat, funny guy. He’s 87 and he loves syrup and ships!" [more inside]
posted by knile on Mar 18, 2013 - 8 comments

Go, Gibson guitar gals!

As American men went off to war during World War II, women stepped in to fill the jobs they left behind, keeping the factories and shipyards running, and the economy humming. While most were praised for their patriotism, one unheralded group of women worked in the shadows building Gibson guitars. The maker of the famous instrument never confirmed that women crafted its guitars during the war, and in an official company history, even reported it stopped producing instruments for those years. But now the time has come to shed some new historical light on the Kalamazoo Gals. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 17, 2013 - 15 comments

Textverarbeitung

Bomber, by Len Deighton - the first novel ever written on a word processor.
posted by Artw on Mar 2, 2013 - 18 comments

Fortress UK

The Last Stand - the remains of the Britain's coastal defences photographed by Marc Wilson.
posted by Artw on Feb 5, 2013 - 24 comments

X-Mensch

Magneto the Jew
posted by Artw on Jan 29, 2013 - 60 comments

... But you wouldn’t want your mom to see it!

"When you were up there in a plane, you’d get shot at, and you couldn’t call field artillery to support you. You had no ambulance, no medic. There was no tank to come in and run over the enemy. All it took was one accurate aircraft shot, and a plane full of 10 guys was gone. The commanders, for the most part, understood this,” Conway continues, “So there was a little bit more leniency in that regard than there would have been with ground guys. The officers figured, ‘Well, if this guy wants to paint a naked lady on the back of the jacket, what good is it to try to stop him? He could be dead tomorrow morning.’ The main objective was winning the war, not enforcing minor regulations and rules.”

posted by ChuraChura on Jan 29, 2013 - 23 comments

Let's Show Them: We're NOT Going To War.

Let's Show Them: We're NOT Going To War. "WHY THE CONVOCATION? This is one of the most effective means for Wisconsin students to serve notice, along with 1,000,000 other students, that WE'RE NOT GOING TO WAR -- ever again!" A protest handbill from the University of Wisconsin, announcing a campus-wide peace demonstration, on April 11, 1940. From the UW Library's compendium of resources on protests and social action at UW-Madison from 1910 through the end of the 20th century.
posted by escabeche on Jan 24, 2013 - 38 comments

"We want you to take a picture."

This iconic photo of the first Aboriginal woman to enlist in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps was used as a recruitment tool, and "appeared all over the British Empire [in 1942] to show the power of the colonies fighting for King and country." Its original caption in the Canadian War Museum read, "Unidentified Indian princess getting blessing from her chief and father to go fight in the war." Its current caption in The Library and Archives of Canada reads: "Mary Greyeyes being blessed by her native Chief prior to leaving for service in the CWAC, 1942." But as it turns out, the two people in the photo had never met before that day. They weren't from the same tribe or even related and Private Mary Greyeyes was not an "Indian Princess." 70 years after the photo was taken, her daughter-in-law Melanie made sure the official record was corrected. Via [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 22, 2013 - 13 comments

To tell the story to someone else...

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]
posted by zarq on Jan 14, 2013 - 35 comments

Beate Sirota Gordon, 1923-2012; "The Only Woman In The Room"

Beate Sirota Gordon, Long-Unsung Heroine of Japanese Women’s Rights, Dies at 89: a NYT obituary relates the fascinating story of a young woman who was just the right person in just the right place at just the right time and managed to strike a blow for gender equality. [more inside]
posted by flex on Jan 4, 2013 - 20 comments

"Voice over of Mickey Rourke rambling platitudes over images of soldiers and/or rare birds at magic hour may be out there somewhere."

The Best WWII Movies You [Probably] Haven't Seen: Page 1, Page 2
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 7, 2012 - 46 comments

A screaming comes across the sky

Bomb Sight is an interactive map of every bomb dropped on London during the Blitz.
posted by empath on Dec 6, 2012 - 39 comments

Mannerheim: General of the Czar, Marshal of Finland [1/9]

Mannerheim: General of the Czar, Marshal of Finland [1/9] (In Russian, with English subtitles) [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Nov 29, 2012 - 8 comments

"God, you owe me a life - a living baby."

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]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 28, 2012 - 40 comments

The International Tracing Service, more than 65 years on

The International Tracing Service was established following the Second World War to help repatriate forced laborers and survivors of the concentration camps as well as to trace the missing. 67 years after the end of the war, ITS receives about 1,080 requests for information a month, some of which still result in reuniting relatives. [more inside]
posted by hoyland on Nov 27, 2012 - 5 comments

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Via io9: "The first nine Superman cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios from 1941 to 1942 are a wonder of animated retrofuturism, giving us a peek into a world that not only had a flying superstrong protector, but also filled viewers' heads with dreams of autonomous robots, comet-controlling telescopes, and machines that could shake the Earth. These films are in the public domain and have been available on the Internet Archive," but now Warner Bros. is releasing them (remastered) on YouTube. The first short, "Superman" (also known as "The Mad Scientist,") was nominated for an Academy Award. Also see: The Super Guide to the Fleischer Superman Cartoons. Find links to all nine episodes and more inside. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 25, 2012 - 28 comments

Van Heuvelen Symphony No. 1

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]
posted by DynamiteToast on Nov 11, 2012 - 5 comments

The British Military Still Uses Carrier Pigeons

The British Military Still Uses Carrier Pigeons. Not really. But the skeletal remains of a WWII carrier pigeon were recently found in a chimney, with a coded message still attached to its leg.
posted by COD on Nov 2, 2012 - 56 comments

Coronet Instructional Films

From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 1, 2012 - 41 comments

The Ghosts of World War II

Photographs found at flea markets superimposed on to modern views of the same location.
posted by blaneyphoto on Oct 19, 2012 - 20 comments

"Are we the baddies?"

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.
posted by Artw on Sep 23, 2012 - 31 comments

Pantyhose during WWII

The unexpectedly fascinating story of pantyhose in wartime, via Smithsonian Magazine (part 1, part 2).
posted by mudpuppie on Sep 19, 2012 - 4 comments

The Story of the Two Yellowing Sheets of Paper.

Two old sheets of paper tell a story. Scroll down to the last big paragraph of the blog post, just above the photo of the two yellowed sheets of paper. (h/t Jane H.)
posted by brianstorms on Sep 17, 2012 - 10 comments

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