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You know who else owned things with swastikas on them?

At first, Collectors Weekly deleted virtually anything listed on their site bearing a Nazi swastika. Now they are explaining what changed their mind and why some people collect this particular paraphernalia.
posted by gman on Jun 24, 2011 - 32 comments

To create or not to create

Do Artists Have a Moral Responsibility in War? is a thoughtful, question raising 40 min video and podcast by NYT journalist Alan Riding.
Should Artists Speak Out Against War? Goes at some depth into the nuances of this complex question by describing the Cultural Life In Nazi-Occupied Paris
posted by adamvasco on Jun 15, 2011 - 32 comments

Unit 731 - A Lesser Known Piece of WW2 History

While most Westerners are familiar with the Holocaust and Nazi war crimes, fewer Westerners know much about the war crimes committed by the Japanese military throughout Asia, particularly the human medical experiments conducted by Unit 731. [more inside]
posted by The ____ of Justice on Jun 7, 2011 - 95 comments

Fading to yellow in a brown leather frame.

67 years ago today, 150, 000 allied troops landed on 5 beaches on the coast of France that were defended by Rommel and about 60,000 troops of the Nazi Wermacht. Today is the D-Day landings anniversary. Lest we forget.
posted by dazed_one on Jun 6, 2011 - 62 comments

Bletchley Park WWII Code-breaking Machines Rebuilt from Memories

Early 1940: British police listening for radio transmissions from German spies within the UK pick up weird signals, and pass them to Bletchley Park, the United Kingdom's main decryption establishment in WWII. The source of these German messages is an unknown machine, which the Brits dub Tunny (10 minute video with Tony Sale describing the Tunny). August 30, 1941: German operators send two very similar messages with the same key, providing insight into the encryption scheme. By January 1942, British cryptographers deduced the workings of the German code machines, sight unseen. The British were able to create their own Tunny emulators to decrypt messages sent by German High Command. After the war, these and other British code-breaking and emulating machines were demolished and/or recycled for parts and their blueprints destroyed, leaving a hole in the history of the British WWII code breaking. Efforts to rebuild the British Tunny emulator started in the 1990s, and quite recently a Tunny emulator replica was completed. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 30, 2011 - 12 comments

A deliberate, knowing lie.

Acting Solicitor Gen. Neal Katyal, in an extraordinary admission of misconduct, took to task one of his predecessors for hiding evidence and deceiving the Supreme Court. The misconduct took place 'in two of the major cases in its history: the World War II rulings that upheld the detention of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans.' 'Scholars and judges have denounced the World War II rulings as among the worst in the court's history, but neither the high court nor the Justice Department had formally admitted they were mistaken — until now. "It seemed obvious to me we had made a mistake. The duty of candor wasn't met," Katyal said.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on May 25, 2011 - 38 comments

Brown And Also Blue

VE and VJ Day, in London. In Colour.
posted by The Whelk on May 8, 2011 - 14 comments

Battle-field Interpretation

With the death of Osama Bin Laden having re-opened the debate over the intelligence value of "enhanced interrogation" techniques, it's worthwhile revisiting the wartime lessons of Sherwood Moran, missionary, Marine, and decorated POW interrogator (he preferred he term "interviewer"). Working on the front lines of battle - even under aerial bombing and artillery shelling - he combined "deep human sympathy" with a "ruthlessly persistent approach" to extracting information from a supposedly unbreakable captured enemy. [more inside]
posted by Doktor Zed on May 3, 2011 - 56 comments

Memoirs of the Great Patriotic War

A collection of first-person accounts of the men and women who defended the Soviet Union against the Fascist invasion, and eventually participated in the race to Berlin. via the War Nerd
posted by pompomtom on Apr 18, 2011 - 22 comments

Prisoner 918

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]
posted by zarq on Apr 13, 2011 - 30 comments

Pictures of Cats in the Sea Services

"Sailors and cats have a special relationship that dates back thousands of years." The U.S. Naval Institute posts pictures of sailors and their cats, with photos from the 1880:s through the 1950:s.
posted by gemmy on Apr 13, 2011 - 53 comments

Confidential!

Derailing a train isn't as easy as you might think. [1944] (Declassified WW2 OSS training video.) [more inside]
posted by crunchland on Apr 11, 2011 - 55 comments

It's time to share memories.

WWII German soldiers speak about their experiences. 'The myth that the Nazi-era German armed forces, the Wehrmacht, was not involved in war crimes persisted for decades after the war. Now two German researchers have destroyed it once and for all. Newly published conversations between German prisoners of war, secretly recorded by the Allies, reveal horrifying details of violence against civilians, rape and genocide.''What already seems hardly feasible for current military operations like the war in Afghanistan is nearly impossible when it comes to an event that happened so long ago as World War II. Nevertheless, two German historians have managed to produce precisely such a documentary of perceptions of the war using live historical recordings.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Apr 10, 2011 - 41 comments

“I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up … I finally wanted to speak the truth.”

Last year, the unofficial Dean of the White House Press Corps, Helen Thomas, spoke about the State of Israel on camera. (Previously) Her replies: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," and that the Jews "can go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," sparked media outrage, prompted her to issue an apology and retire. After months of being out of the the public spotlight, she has now given her first long-form interview, which will appear in the April issue of Playboy Magazine. In it, she explains what she meant, tells us how she would like to be remembered and expands upon her positions regarding Israel, Jewish political influence, Presidents Bush and Obama, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
posted by zarq on Mar 22, 2011 - 224 comments

Eva Braun's Private Photos

LIFE presents: Eva Braun's Private Photos. The highlight of the collection: Eva as Al Jolson.
posted by nasreddin on Mar 9, 2011 - 82 comments

VJ Day, Honolulu Hawaii, August 14, 1945

Richard Sullivan has posted the 16mm color footage his father shot of the "spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender" on Kalakaua Ave in Waikiki on August 14th, 1945.
posted by zzazazz on Feb 11, 2011 - 44 comments

Rediscovering WWII's female "computers"

Rediscovering WWII's female "computers". While researching a documentary in Philadelphia, filmmaker LeAnn Erickson came across two women with a story she'd never heard before: thousands of women with advanced mathematical skills employed as "computers", working day and night during WWII to supply soldiers in the field with precise ballistics algorithms. Some of those women also went on to program ENIAC, the first general-purpose computer (previously). Erickson turned their stories into Top Secret Rosies, a documentary released to theaters last year and to DVD this month. One of those programmers, Betty Jean Jennings Bartik, spoke at length to the Computing History Museum in 2008. [youtube, 1:07:19] [via]
posted by Errant on Feb 8, 2011 - 32 comments

Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?

"He was a good man, a very good man, I would follow him to hell and back. So would the men from E Company."

“He led hundreds of young men through some of the toughest fighting the world has known, but at his core he was a peaceful man. In everything he did, he served honorably.”

Major Richard "Dick" Winters (official site, memoirs), memorably portrayed in HBO's Band of Brothers (based on Stephen Ambrose's book), peacefully passed away on January 2. Winters never received the Medal of Honor, but there is a petition to remedy that. He was 92. (BoB previously)
posted by HumanComplex on Jan 10, 2011 - 83 comments

Raisins: More Than Nature's Candy

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.
posted by gusandrews on Jan 8, 2011 - 25 comments

Jackie the Hitler-Mocking Dog

"Just months before the Nazis launched their attack on the Soviet Union, they had nothing better to do than to obsess about this dog." Introducing Jackie, the Finnish dog that infuriated the Nazis.
posted by naju on Jan 7, 2011 - 69 comments

We can do it!

Time for a break, Rosie. All the day long, Whether rain or shine She’s part of the assembly line. She’s making history, Working for victory Rosie the Riveter [more inside]
posted by HuronBob on Dec 31, 2010 - 16 comments

House of Sharing

The House of Sharing is a place for the Halmoni to to live together and heal the wounds of the past while educating the future generations of the suffering they survived.
The View From Over Here details her visit to the House of Sharing, a therapeutic group home and museum for surviving "comfort women", who were systematically raped by the Japanese military during World War II. The museum displays art for and by the survivors. Via Ask a Korean. [more inside]
posted by ignignokt on Dec 17, 2010 - 5 comments

Girls Gone WWII

Photos of female aircraft workers, 1942-1943.
posted by hermitosis on Dec 16, 2010 - 31 comments

The legacy of Japanese spy Takeo Yoshikawa

This is the Japanese spy who was stationed in Hawaii early in 1941. Here's how scouted the islands in preparation for the attack. These are his memories (Flash interface).
posted by nomadicink on Dec 7, 2010 - 23 comments

Dates which do not live in infamy

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]
posted by Zed on Dec 7, 2010 - 29 comments

A G.I.'s WWII Memoir

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]
posted by zarq on Nov 23, 2010 - 7 comments

Trains, the future, and the past

The US government is trying to blow life into the railroad's passenger services which have been declining since WWII because of production stops during the war, and government sponsoring afterward going primarily to air travel and roads. Meanwhile the French SNCF is going public in catching up with its dark past, in order to get a piece of the investment cake.
posted by Namlit on Nov 13, 2010 - 111 comments

I loved Kurt so I tried to love his books, too.

Mr. Vonnegut talked about my dad a lot and put him into a lot of his books. Sometimes he was Dad, and sometimes he was just a character Mr. Vonnegut made up. So what I would say to any of you who are wondering is this: My dad was what people called a real character, which always made us laugh because it was so literally true owing to his association with a famous fiction writer. He could also get pretty obnoxious. But he was a good man. And he definitely wasn’t crazy. At least not until the brain tumor.

Kurt Vonnegut Didn't Know Doodly-Squat About Writing: Finally, Literary Analysis Worth Reading by Bernard V. O'Hare, with an introduction by Meghan O'Hare.
posted by shakespeherian on Nov 3, 2010 - 49 comments

The Battle of Stalingrad

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]
posted by Joe Beese on Oct 27, 2010 - 61 comments

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Rebecca West's 1941 account of the people, history, and politics of the doomed Kingdom of Yugoslavia, is available online in its flawed, majestic entirety.
posted by Iridic on Oct 11, 2010 - 9 comments

The cat, the mouse, and the elephant.

"This is your state! A big country like India is a slave to a small country like Britain. The Indian soldiers should be fighting for their freedom which can only be achieved if England is destroyed. You are only fighting to remain enslaved." A comprehensive account of WWII propaganda campaigns on all sides of the complicated relationship between Axis, Allies, and India. [more inside]
posted by albrecht on Oct 8, 2010 - 13 comments

The Germans Wore Grey, You Wore Blue

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.
posted by briank on Oct 7, 2010 - 30 comments

The Library of Dream

This is all rooted in a vision I had, of William S. Burroughs as a CIA agent, and Philip K. Dick as his young henchman, going head-to-head with notorious gangster and pervert Adolf Hitler somewhere in Hamburg to find out where Hitler is shipping all the computers he can get his hands on. - In another world Charles Stross wrote this sprawling work of Alternate History instead of the Merchant Princes books. Fictional books are of course themselves a common them in Alternative History stories, from The Grasshopper Lies Heavy in The Man in the High Castle to Adolf Hitlers pulp novel Lord of the Swastika in The Iron Dream. Stanisław Lem was particularly enamoured with the idea of the fictional book, and wrote two volumes of reviews and introductions for them, lovingly described here by Bruce Sterling.
posted by Artw on Sep 23, 2010 - 87 comments

Hauntingly Calm

Recently uploaded airplane camera footage from 1945 Japan (slyt). Uploaded from the Romano Archives (previously).
posted by glaucon on Sep 21, 2010 - 34 comments

Foyle's War

History and mystery wonderfully blended. Although doubtless well-known to UK Mefites, I was only recently directed to this marvelous and engaging TV series featuring Michael Kitchen as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle. It's a refreshing change from American fare, entirely adult, with crisp dialogue and meticulous attention to detail and historic accuracy. Speaking as a Yank weary of plasticity, it's also wonderful to see actors with real faces. The series can be seen on Youtube in pieces that can be viewed fairly seamlessly: Series One: The German Woman, The White Feather, Lesson in Murder, Eagle Day. Series Two: Fifty Ships, Among the Few, War Games, The Funk Hole. Series Three: The French Drop, Enemy Fire, They Fought in the Fields, War of Nerves. Series Four: Invasion, Bad Blood. Series Five: Bleak Midwinter, Casualties of War. Series Six: Plan of Attack, Broken Souls, All Clear. [more inside]
posted by kinnakeet on Sep 19, 2010 - 25 comments

The Lady Was a Spy

Eileen Nearne was found dead in her flat in Torquay on September 2, apparently alone and forgotten. But it turns out, she was neither.
posted by CheeseLouise on Sep 15, 2010 - 18 comments

“The purple glow in the sky — that was so eerie”

Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 14, 2010 - 6 comments

The Power of Music

A 90-year-old WWII vet recounts a remarkable experience. (SLYT)
posted by gman on Sep 5, 2010 - 27 comments

Blogging The War, Seventy Years Later

Martin Cherett is blogging the Second World War, daily, seventy years on.
posted by Fiasco da Gama on Aug 5, 2010 - 23 comments

Have you eaten your pound of potatoes today?

Beans are bullets. Potatoes are powder. An exhibition of food posters from the National Agricultural Library.
posted by mudpuppie on Jul 29, 2010 - 13 comments

The Battle of Midway

On the morning of June 4th, 1942, US Navy Reserve Commander John Ford awoke to the sounds of a Japanese air raid. [more inside]
posted by TrialByMedia on Jul 29, 2010 - 11 comments

Poetry in Hell

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]
posted by zarq on Jul 23, 2010 - 9 comments

History Channel World War II programs reviewed as if they were scripted television

(seriously, between calling the strongman "Man of Steel" and the Frenchman "de Gaulle", whoever came up with the names for this thing ought to be shot). single-link LiveJournal via Making Light
posted by cgc373 on Jul 13, 2010 - 70 comments

Truth, justice, and the American way!

For your 4th of July enjoyment: 10 Exceedingly Patriotic American Comic Heroes. Given the overlap between the Golden Age of superheroes and the beginning of WWII it should be no suprise that there are so many patriotically themed superheroes. Probably the first was The Shield ("G-Man Extraordinary"), who eventually faded away to be an occasional character in Archie comics, followed by the revolutiionary war themed Minute Man. But the most enduring of all would be Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's creation Captain America, whose first comic sold just under a million copies and featured Cap doing the most patriotic thing of all: Punching Adolf Hitler in the jaw.
posted by Artw on Jul 4, 2010 - 37 comments

Orwell's War-Time Diary

“People talk a little more of the war, but very little. As always hitherto, it is impossible to overhear any comments on it in the pubs, etc. Last night, E[ileen] and I went to the pub to hear the 9 o’c news. The barmaid was not going to have it on if we had not asked her, and to all appearances nobody listened.”
On May 28, 1940, George Orwell began keeping a war time diary. Printed in “full and in chronological order” by the Orwell Trust, 70 years after he wrote them, with selected historian’s notes. Pre-war entries are a little duller, focusing on topics like recipes (macon!), the weather, gardening and farming. (Previously)
posted by stratastar on Jun 18, 2010 - 21 comments

"A Minute With Venus... A Year With Mercury!"

"During World War I, the [US] Army lost 7 million person-days and discharged more than 10,000 men because they were ailing from STDs. Once Penicillin kicked in in the mid-1940s, such infections were treatable. But as a matter of national security, the military started distributing condoms and aggressively marketing prophylactics to the troops in the early 20th century." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 1, 2010 - 45 comments

A tribute to fallen heros

“Let us acknowledge the measure of their sacrifice by honoring them as brave women, and by honoring them as women who served without thought of glory which we accord to heroes of battle. The service pilot faces the risk of death without the emotional inspiration of combat. Men who battle in the sky have the grim, triumphant knowledge that their bombs and bullets are destroying the enemy, and their courage is sustained by the emotions of conflict. These women have given their lives in the performance of arduous and exacting duties without being able to see and feel the final results of their work under the quickening influence of aerial action. They have demonstrated a courage which is sustained not by the fevers of combat, but the steady heartbeat of faith—a faith in the rightness of our cause, and a faith in the importance of their work to the men who do go into combat. Let us pay tribute to these women by honoring their memory . . . Let us treasure their memory as women whose sacrifice has brought honor not only to their country, but also to their organization. We shall not forget the accomplishments of our women fliers and their contributions to the fulfillment of our mission. And we shall always keep and remember the brave heritage of the women who gave their lives. It is the heritage of faith in victory and faith in the ultimate freedom of humanity.” [more inside]
posted by caddis on May 31, 2010 - 9 comments

These bastards let your brother die

Robert Heinlein really, really didn't like early Science Fiction fandom.
posted by Artw on May 28, 2010 - 129 comments

Teaching Our Soldiers to Die Instead of Kill?

During WWII Allied soldiers were taught how to smash jawbones while gouging eyes, crush windpipes and snap necks, and generally apply deadly force to the weakest, most vulnerable parts of the human anatomy in order to kill or disable the enemy quickly and efficiently. Current American military unarmed combat is heavily influenced by the popularity of mixed martial-arts and puts great emphasis on grappling with/controlling the enemy. Not a single neck-snapping technique is taught. Some current members of the military think that this is teaching our soldiers to die rather than kill the enemy, and that it would be better if our soldiers were taught to straight up kill the enemy rather than try to wrestle him to the ground while wearing 70+ pounds of gear. [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on May 10, 2010 - 121 comments

Faces of war. 1941-1945

On the eve of the 65rd anniversary of the end of World War II, RIA Novosti presents images in memory of WWII heroes compiled from photographs taken by war correspondents in 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany. Ships trains planes and people
posted by hortense on Apr 13, 2010 - 19 comments

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