63 years ago today, 20-year old German lance-corporal Hein Severloh was armed with a rifle, a machine gun and 16,000 rounds of ammo when American forces landed in the early morning hours off Omaha Beach on D-Day. During the next nine-hour "Longest Day", Severloh gunned down up to 3,000 Americans before running out of ammo, making him personally responsible for about three-quarters of all casualties at Omaha Beach, comparable in scale to 9/11 or the Iraq War. Nicknamed The Beast of Omaha
, today he says "I never wanted to be in the war. I never wanted to be in France. I never wanted to be in that bunker firing a machine gun. Thinking about it makes me want to throw up."
posted by stbalbach
on Jun 6, 2007 -
Huge gently floating bombs
made their way across the pacific below balloons
using the high altitude jet streams floated to the Americas during WWII. Kept secret for most of the war, you can read about their amazing history here.
posted by lee
on May 6, 2007 -
WANTED: The Limping Lady.
The Gestapo's poster read "She is one of the most valuable Allied agents in France and we must find and destroy her"
but Virginia Hall, who used a prosthetic limb after losing a leg years before in a hunting accident, eluded them and saved countless Allied lives while working as a spy during WWII. Additional biographical information, as well as the biographies of other famous female spies, at WWII Female Spies
(which has many outgoing links to other great informational resources about female spies in WWII).
posted by amyms
on Feb 21, 2007 -
'Films from the Homefront'
is a (new) collection of amateur documentaries, newsreels, government films, and home movies documenting life for the ordinary people in Britain during World War II, with background text descriptions/explication. Browse the themes
. The films are QT and wmv format. I found it both poignant and funny, for instance, seeing kids don gasmasks during air raid drills then attempt to continue writing in their lessons. [via Glasgow School of Art Library]
posted by peacay
on Feb 16, 2007 -
It will always be known as the "date which will live in infamy
," but this year - the 65th Anniversary - may mark the last time survivors can/will come together at the site
to pay their respects to the fallen and to shake hands with their former adversaries. Hawaii affiliate KHNL News 8 has already started
its 5-day long coverage
of the ceremonies, which culminate on the morning of the 7th and will feature a live web feed and a keynote adress given by Tom Brokaw
(@ 7:30am HST).
Some consequences of the attack inside...
posted by krippledkonscious
on Dec 4, 2006 -
On 14 April 1988, the missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts
was damaged by a mine in the Persian Gulf. Some 45 years before, Coxswain Samuel B. Roberts
was killed when he guided his boat in front of Japanese lines on Guadalcanal in an effort to distract their fire from a rescue party evacuating wounded marines. In between was the destroyer escort Samuel B. Roberts, which on 25 October 1944 sailed into history in the Battle off Samar
. (Long post inside for history buffs.)
posted by forrest
on Oct 25, 2006 -
Not sure how many people saw the post about the T34
pulled out of a peat bog a couple of weekends ago, but here is another story about German tank this time. Pulled out of the mud in the Czeck Republic.
Decent amount of pictures with this one too.
posted by a3matrix
on Sep 23, 2006 -
Save the Girls!
of WWII era fighter & bomber nosecone art is the highlight of this site dedicated to the history and preservation of such works.
posted by jonson
on Sep 6, 2006 -
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!
posted by longbaugh
on Sep 2, 2006 -
Back in the dark days of World War II, the man
who would become Dr. Seuss
was in the business of military propaganda . One of the characters he created was Private Snafu
Private Snafu was an animated depiction of a bumbling soldier in military training films, whose voice sounded suspiciously close to Bugs Bunny
. Warner Bros. animation studios produced the cartoons with the talents of Mel Blanc
, Chuck Jones
, and Bob Clampett
Private Snafu has been discussed here previously
but now you can watch some of the original cartoons on youtube
and download them here
! (unfortunately, I am still unable to locate the awesomely-titled "Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike"
posted by elr
on Aug 23, 2006 -
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]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane
on Aug 6, 2006 -
August 6, 1945 Hiroshima, Japan
"... Father Siemes' account is now given below without any editing or modification. His eyewitness account is a priceless insight into this event, as are his thoughts on the implications of total war and its application."
posted by paulsc
on Aug 5, 2006 -
In 1945-46, some of the (very few) Polish Jews who had survived the Final Solution returned -- sick, poor, wounded -- to Poland. In Elie Wiesel's words, "they had thought all too naively that antisemitism, discredited 6 million times over, had died at Auschwitz with its victims. They were wrong
." In 2001 Princeton professor Jan
published the story of the 1941 destruction of the Jewish community
at Jedwabne, Poland
, and proved how Jews were rounded up, clubbed, drowned, gutted or burned to death not by German forces as previously believed but by mobs of their own non-Jewish neighbors
. Now professor Gross tells the story of the Kielce pogrom
in his new book, "Fear
". Of course, the Kielce butchery took place in 1946 -- more than a year after
the end of WWII and defeat of Nazism. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Jun 25, 2006 -
--he escaped from Auschwitz with another guy, Wetzler, in April 1944 and got to Slovakia and Hungary, telling the world of the atrocities in the Auschwitz Protocol. Some Hungarian community leaders, however (Hungary was the only country that hadn't had its Jewish population deported yet), were busy making deals with Eichmann
for safe passage away. In any case, the result was that about 1,700 Hungarian Jewish leaders, with their families and friends, ended up in Switzerland, while almost half a million unsuspecting Hungarian Jews ended up dead in Auschwitz.
Vrba's report first alerted the world (including the Vatican, Red Cross, and US and British authorities) to exactly what was going on, and helped prosecute some who were tried later. ...Knowing perfectly well that it was the secrecy surrounding their actions that allowed the Nazis to herd unsuspecting Jews and transport them like sheep to slaughter, Vrba and Wetzler — as soon as they got in touch with Jewish community representatives in their native Slovakia — compiled a detailed report. They wrote about Auschwitz and what awaited Hungarian Jews once they arrived: immediate death by gassing.
posted by amberglow
on Apr 11, 2006 -
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".
posted by matteo
on Mar 22, 2006 -
"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
, Raul Hilberg
. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Feb 17, 2006 -
"The German invasion of Britain took place in July 1940, after the British retreat from Dunkirk".
We see, documentary-style, members of the Wehrmacht trooping past Big Ben and St Paul's Cathedral, lounging in the parks, having their jackboots shined by old cockneys, and appreciatively visiting the shrine of that good German, Prince Albert
, in Kensington Gardens. Kevin Brownlow
and Andrew Mollo
's film "It Happened Here
", with its cast of hundreds (.pdf)
, imagines what a Nazi occupation might have been like — complete with underground resistance, civilian massacres, civil strife, torch-lit rallies, Jewish ghettos, and organized euthanasia. Shot on weekends, eight years in production, made for about $20,000 with nonactors and borrowed equipment and Stanley Kubrick's help, "It Happened Here" was originally envisioned by Brownlow
as a sort of Hammer horror flick about a Nazi Britain
. Thanks in part to Mollo's fanatical concern with historical accuracy
, however, it became something else
. The most remarkable thing about this account of everyday fascism is that it has no period footage. Brownlow's 1968 book
about the film's production, "How It Happened Here
", has recently been republished
. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Feb 12, 2006 -
“Wouldn’t you know, the kid they pick to play tramps is the only good girl in Hollywood.”
Before Myrna Loy
rose to stardom with Manhattan Melodrama
and The Thin Man (both 1934)
, she was often relegated to playing vamps, mistresses, and other assorted flavors of wicked women
. Then, after 80 movies playing mostly bad girls, Montana native Loy
became “the perfect wife.” “Men Must Marry Myrna Loy
” clubs were formed around the country. She and Clark Gable, in a poll conducted by Ed Sullivan, were voted by 20 million of the nation’s moviegoers as The King and Queen of Hollywood. She was FDR's favorite actress, and John Dillinger died just to see her new movie
. A staunch anti-Nazi since the mid-Thirties
(to MGM's dismay, Hitler promptly banned her films from the lucrative German market
), wondered aloud in the press why blacks were always given servants' roles, and was the first major star to buck the studios in a contract dispute (the issue: equal pay for equal work. She was making half what William Powell was, didn't like it and quit work for nearly a year until MGM capitulated
). When WWII broke out she quit Hollywood and worked full time for the Red Cross
, and helped run a Naval Auxilary Canteen. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Feb 3, 2006 -
The "Battle of Los Angeles"
occurred on February 24/25, 1942, when a large object was picked up on radar approximately 120 miles off the southern California coastline. Fearing another Japanese attack
, a general blackout was called and fighter planes were dispatched to combat the unknown assailant.
Three hours later, the planes were recalled. Witnesses reported furious fighting but no sightings of downed planes were noted. The Navy claimed there were no enemy planes; the Army put out the story (embedded sound)
that Japanese spy planes were indeed present. Subsequent investigations revealed that the invasion was most likely a weather balloon. Other opinions
were also expressed.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies
on Jan 12, 2006 -
Miracle on 57th Street.
Thomas Wolfe said that America is not only the place where miracles happen, but where they happen all the time. This is the story of a miracle, a true-life fairy tale, and appropriately enough it begins with the intervention of the Almighty.
, music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1943 to 1947, was an eccentric, a health nut who drank only milk from goats he raised himself and who kept a loaded revolver in his back pocket whenever he conducted. Rodzinski said that God told him to hire 24 year old Leonard Bernstein
, to be his assistant conductor. In the fall of 1943 Rodzinski decided to take a vacation, spend a little time with his goats, and called in Bruno Walter
to conduct seven concerts in ten days. Only hours before one of those concerts (in the program, works by Schumann, Rosza, Strauss and Wagner) Walter fell ill
. Rodzinski was only four hours away, in his farm. But he declined to come back to Carnegie Hall: "Call Bernstein. That's why we hired him." The concert was broadcast over radio and a review appeared on page 1 of The New York Times the next day: "Young Aide Leads Philharmonic; Steps in When Bruno Walter is Ill"
. In the same size type as another that read, "Japanese Plane Transport Sunk." More inside.
posted by matteo
on Dec 28, 2005 -