ROMANO-Archives has a YouTube channel with over 270 color film clips, called Unknown WWII In Color. "World War ll has usually been seen in black and white, but our recent research has unearthed an abundance of superb color film that shows what it really looked like to those who were there. The Author presents mainly WW2 recently declassified and other previously unavailable material, exclusively filmed in color." They also have over 900 videos of Automobile History USA l lots of pages of images with history, like Jammin' with Betty Boop. [In English and Italian] [more inside]
Charley Fox, two-time recipient of the Distinguished Cross, died on October 18th in a car accident. Another WWII veteran gone, and as with many, an interesting tale exists in his past. Credited with injuring Rommel (although he didn't know it at the time and it was denied by Germany), it's often thought that the loss of Rommel from Hitler's strategy team helped sway the war for the Allies (though it's wondered if has Rommel lived the July 20 plot against Hitler might have succeeded). After the war, Charley was an advocate for veterans and trained many. He died wearing his uniform.
This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than any enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will... My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit... My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weakness, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will.... Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but Peace. [more inside]
I first heard of a 'Paraset' when I saw a message on the QRP-L reflector announcing an upcoming 'June 6th Paraset D-Day' activity. A search for more information soon revealed that the Paraset was a small vacuum-tube transmitter-receiver unit built during WWII in the UK at the Whaddon Hall headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service Communications Unit. Known officially as the 'Whaddon Mark VII', the units were either air-dropped by parachute or carried, by the jumpers themselves, into many of the occupied countries of western Europe. . .
It's hardly the case today (unless you live in Iran), but once upon a time, all computer programmers were female. While the (male) engineers who built ENIAC, the world's first modern computer, became famous and lauded, the six women who actually programmed ENIAC have been largely overlooked. Now a team of researchers and programmers is trying to raise money to tell the story of these pioneering women in a new documentary, before it's too late. [more inside]
"When you’re on your own in that pit with the bomb in the middle of a city, it’s strange how everything suddenly goes totally quiet..." Interview with one of Germany's most experienced bomb disposal experts as he retires. Photogallery.
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]
On this day in 1941 a man named Witold Pilecki deliberately got himself arrested and sent to Auschwitz. Pilecki was a spy sent in to investigate the camp and establish underground resistance cells. He sent reports to Warsaw, which passed them to London. In 1942, his reports that prisoners were being gassed were not believed. [more inside]
Baseball behind barbed wire. Japanese-Americans brought baseball with them when they emigrated to America. The game had been introduced to Japan, so the story goes, by American Professor Horace Wilson in the 1870s. When Japanese nationals and Japanese-Americans were relocated to internment camps during World War II, playing baseball was one of the few freedoms allowed them by camp directors. [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.
"This watch costs to-day in Switzerland Frs. 250 – but you must not even think of settlement during the war." Rolex's remarkable offer to British P.O.W.s in Nazi camps during WWII. [more inside]
Sometimes a simple Amazon reader's review leads you to a fascinating story (or stories) of which you may have been previously unaware. In this case, the story of (the so-called) Buffalo Soldiers that liberated Tuscany in WWII. The novel Miracle at St. Anna also captivated director Spike Lee, who is bringing it to the Big Screen (Higher quality at apple.com). This may be considered his latest shot in the "feud" with director Clint Eastwood, who offended many by overlooking the contributions of black soldiers in his two recent WWII films.
In November 1943, the village of Tyneham in Dorset, England, received an unexpected letter from the War Department, informing residents that the area would soon be "cleared of all civilians" to make way for Army weapons training. A month later, the displaced villagers left a note on their church door: Please treat the church and houses with care; we have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly. Residents were told they would be allowed to reclaim their homes after the war, but that didn't happen, and Tyneham became a ghost village. Though most of the cottages have been damaged or fallen into disrepair, the church and school have been preserved and restored. Photo galleries 1, 2, 3, 4. Panoramic tour [Java required]. Video: Death of a Village [YouTube, 9 mins.]
According to the photographer's daughter, "All photos in this collection were taken by then Lt. and later Capt. George S. White, my Father, while he was serving in the Pacific as a pilot. They are generally between 1945 and 1948 from what is documented." My favorites? The barmaid or postwar Tokyo or wrecked planes and airplane graveyards.
‘Even to this day the diary has a slight aroma of cocoa,’ says Steve Dickinson about a diary kept by his uncle Robert Dickinson while a prisoner at Servigliano, an Italian war camp, in the 1940s. The diary has a cover made of old cocoa tins (hence the smell) with a broadcast aerial design incorporating the title 'Servigliano Calling.' It begins with his capture by the Germans in November 1941, and finishes, about six months before his death, in September 1944. Via The Diary Junction blog.
"'Uncle Adolf' referred to William Patrick as 'my loathsome nephew'." Willy Hitler, the son of Adolf Hitler's half-brother Alois Hitler, Jr., is one member of Hitler's extended family, although he wasn't easy to track down. After WWII, he changed his name and tried to live a private, secret life in the United States. Now, his three sons, relatives of Hitler living normal, regular American lives, have decided to never marry and let their family line die with them. [more inside]
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]
Britain's Maunsell Sea Forts [wiki] were built during WWII as part of the coastal defense system. They were decommissioned in the 1950's, but many of them remain in use for non-military purposes (this is arguably the most famous). Some great photos here. [previously on metafilter]
WWII. The Pacific. Three destroyers sunk, five carriers and three more destroyers heavily damaged [more inside]
The War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement, 1942-1945 collection is a searchable online archive which "contains approximately 7000 photographs and 317 Kodachrome slides which have been arranged into 18 series" (quoted from the Scope and Content page). Links to photo series are under the Container Listing header. Alternatively, you can just browse through them all. [more inside]
In 1943, over Allied bomb ravaged Germany, US pilot Charlie Brown's B-17 was badly damaged and straying further from friendly territory. Luftwaffe ace fighter pilot Franz Stigler pursued the bomber intending to shoot it down, but refrained when he saw the extent of the damage and directed Brown and his crew out of harm's way. The two pilots were reunited 46 years later. [via] [more inside]
Just the other day I was thinking about World War 2-era propaganda songs, so of course I gave a listen to Smoke On the Water. Say what? You didn't know it was about kickin' Hitler's ass? Or Hirohito's? Guess you weren't listening well enough when ol' Red Foley sang: "...there'll be nothing left but vultures to inhabit all that land, when our modern ships and bombers make a graveyard of Japan..." I tell you, they just don't write songs like that anymore, friends. Anyway, by 1951 Red was looking forward to Peace in the Valley. [more inside]
The Armed Forces of World War II, a flash presentation of rank insignia. The creator implies that it's a work in progress, but what I've clicked through seems pretty complete to me. Bonus Babylon 5 link on the left.
I shot his plane down. First his fighter plane was just lost under unknown circumstances during WWII. People speculated on a possible suicide of the writer. Then his golden armband was found by a fisherman in the sea. Then the plane of well known french writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was found in the mediteranean. Now 88 year old journalist Horst Rippert, who was a fighter pilot during WWII, admits that he shot down Saint-Exupéry and that he regretted this his whole life.
Stranded on the island of New Britain during WWII, Fred Hargesheimer was rescued by native islanders, who hid him for 8 months from occupying Japanese forces. Fred never forgot the kindness he received, and in 1960, he used his family's vacation money to return to the island to personally thank the people who saved him. Thus began a 48 year relationship between Hargesheimer and the people of New Britain. [more inside]
"I ask forgiveness to all who felt betrayed." A Belgian writer has admitted that she made up her best-selling memoir and that she did not trek 1,900 miles as a child across Europe with a pack of wolves in search of her deported parents during World War II. More at Slate. Here's an excellent portal about feral children. [more inside]
"You want to do WHAT?" said the British Army – or as their oh-so-polite upper crust officers probably put it: "Sorry, ol’ chap, but we don’t seem to have an urgent need for magicians right at this very moment." But Jasper Maskelyne proved to be very useful. Tales of his service are a mixture of fact and legend. First link via.
The Amber Room found? German treasure hunters using electromagnetic pulse measurements are "90% sure" the Russian "Eighth Wonder of the World" was buried by the Nazi's in a man-made cavern 20 meters underground near the village of Deutschneudorf (map), but it will take "..until Easter to get into the chamber because it may contain booby traps and has to be secured by explosives experts.. The chamber is likely to be part of a labyrinth of storage rooms that the Nazis built." Russia is eyeing its return, "If, hypothetically speaking, the room still exists."
"It was so peaceful a death, that I felt its reproduction would not be in bad taste. But there probably would be another school of thought on this."
Before a hill, a figure rests, his hands folded. His face retains a unsettling demeanor of peace, or contemplation. Whatever thoughts come to his mind at this point, we shall never know, for he shall never awake from his slumber. [via] [more inside]
Photo albums of German soldiers. Fully scanned photos from the personal albums of German soldiers from the Second World War and the years preceding it. [more inside]
Back in July 1994, a patrol of French blue helmets discovered, to their utter bemusement, a derelict Douglas C-47 "Dakota" in the midst of MiG carcasses in the Rajlovac airfield in Bosnia. They were intrigued enough to write down its serial number: Serial Nr. 43/15073 turned out to be a veteran of Normandy, Provence, Market Garden, the Bulge, and the Rhine. Now SNAFU Special is back in Normandy, where it is being restored to become a centerpiece of the Merville Battery Museum. [more inside]
"Third Reich to Fortune 500: Five Popular Brands the Nazis Gave Us." There are pictures and videos of kittens to soften the blow.
Cats in Wartime on land, at sea, and memorialized. (With discussion of some of the most famous-- like Simon and Oscar.) Also, What Cats Know About War, previously on metafilter. [more inside]
"Dear Miss Breed..." the letters begin. Clara Estelle Breed was the children's librarian at the San Diego Public Library from 1929 to 1945. When her young Japanese American patrons and their families were forced into relocation camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1942, Miss Breed became their penpal and their lifeline, sending them books and supplies, assisting with various requests, and "serving as a reminder of the possibility for decency and justice in a troubled world." [more inside]
Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr (1915-2007) The commander of the B-29 plane Enola Gay that dropped the first atomic bomb, on Hiroshima in Japan in World War II, has died at the age of 92. Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr died at his home in Columbus, Ohio. The five-ton "Little Boy" bomb was dropped on the morning of 6 August 1945, killing about 140,000 Japanese. Many others died later. On the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima, the surviving members of the Enola Gay crew said: "The use of the atomic weapon was a necessary moment in history. We have no regrets".
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]
Fort Hunt's Quiet Men Break Silence on WWII. After 60 years of silence, the World War II veterans who interrogated Nazi prisoners of war at Fort Hunt are telling their story. [Via The Reality-Based Community.] [more inside]
Swamp Ghosts. Of all the wrecks on Papua New Guinea (PNG), none is as fabled as the "Swamp Ghost," a B-17E Flying Fortress that ran out of fuel on an ill-fated bombing mission in early 1942 and was ditched in the Agaiambo Swamp about eight miles inland on the northern coast. There the plane rested, intact and more or less unmolested, in soggy splendor for 64 years—that is, until May 2006, when an American salvager took it apart and removed it. This caused such a controversy that the plane was stopped from leaving the country. The story of the Swamp Ghost illustrates the international debate over ownership of salvaged wrecks and war surplus, told from a personal perspective by a journalist whose war-correspondent father died in PNG during WWII.
Ellsworth Kelley, Bill Blass, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and a host of lesser known but equally talented painters, designers, sound engineers and actors served together during World War II in the Ghost Army – the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, a unit whose existence remained an official secret until 1996. German soldiers referred to them as the "Phantom Army," because one moment they were in one place, and the next, they were attacking their flanks or from the rear. Together, they made rubber tanks and fake Jeeps; their changing unit insignia were designed to fool spies and allied units alike. They recorded the sounds of Allied units building bridges or moving troops and broadcast them from special sound trucks, leading the Germans to conclude that the U.S. Army had more troops in more places than it did. "Guys drew, or painted, all the time," documenting their lives, the lives of their fellow soldiers, and that of the local populations in wartime Europe.
"The “Monuments Men” [wiki] were a group of ... men and women from thirteen nations who comprised the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section during World War II....Together they worked to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. ...They tracked, located, and ultimately returned more than 5 million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. Their role in preserving cultural treasures was without precedent. "
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.
Hand drawn Tarot Cards created by a Boris Kobe, a prisoner at Allach Concentration Camp, a sub-camp of Dachau. Each card depcits an aspect of life in the camp - click each image for high-res versions.
Dutch East Indies. "After a wonderful youth in the Dutch East Indies, today Indonesia, my family and I went through three and a half years Japanese occupation. I lost my father, I lost the country I loved, I lost everything, but I kept my memories. ... So here I am, 79 years old, sitting behind my computer, going back to the Dutch East Indies."
Know who else liked tunes by "subhuman" Jewish and Russian musicians? That's right.