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Andrzej Munk: Wry Smiles, Suspicious Glances

Eroica. Film director Andrzej Munk’s tragic death at age thirty-nine might have formed the plot for one of his own darkly sardonic works: a Polish Jew and an active resistance worker during the war, he was returning home from shooting his film Passenger at the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1961 when an oncoming truck struck his car. He left behind only four feature films, but his influence was prodigious. As one of the key figures of the postwar “Polish School” of filmmaking, along with Wajda and Kawalerowicz, he helped to shape a vision that broke with the official social realist optimism of Eastern-bloc dogma and cast a skeptical eye on official notions of heroism, nationalism, and life in the Stalinist-occupied state. Mentor to Roman Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski, his influence can be felt even in the films of a later generation of Polish filmmakers — directors like Zanussi and Kieslowski. More inside.
posted by matteo on Dec 7, 2005 - 7 comments

The London Cage

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.
posted by matteo on Nov 12, 2005 - 12 comments

We Can Do It -- the tale of an iconic image

We Can Do It! In 1942, 17 year-old Geraldine Doyle spent a week working in a Michigan factory pressing metal as a early replacement worker for men who had gone off to war. During her brief tenure a wire photographer would take a picture of her she'd soon forget. That image -- re-imagined by J. Howard Miller while working for the Westinghouse War Production Co-Ordinating Committee -- would soon become iconic both for the war effort and for the forever changed society it fostered. Interestingly, Doyle was unware that she had been the inspiration for this great American image until 1984. She's still alive and kicking in Lansing, MI.
posted by Ogre Lawless on Nov 4, 2005 - 22 comments

"A snapshot in time"

WWII soldier found frozen in ice. (pics)(video)
posted by xowie on Oct 20, 2005 - 46 comments

Pobediteli: Soldiers of the Great War.

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.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Oct 18, 2005 - 9 comments

Wilhelm Furtwängler

The Wartime Ninth. "Berlin. October 7, 1944. In the Beethovensaal a concert is about to begin, but the theater is empty, relieved of its usual audience studded with Nazi elite. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is on stage, awaiting its cue. Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler stands awkwardly on the podium. The vague meandering of his baton summons the first shadowy note of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony. A Radio Berlin engineer starts his Magnetophon. The most extraordinary orchestral recording of the century has just begun". More inside.
posted by matteo on Oct 5, 2005 - 21 comments

Simon Wiesenthal, 1908-2005

Goodnight, mr. Wiesenthal
posted by matteo on Sep 20, 2005 - 68 comments

Modern Wars and the Civilian Experience

What is the difference between refugees and expelled persons? Refugees leave home and land for fear of what would happen to them, or they were driven out. Expellees are told to leave their home country, often immediately. Their added and deep trauma is broken trust
"Modern Wars and the Civilian Experience as shown in my experience in World War II", by Greta Zybon
posted by PenguinBukkake on Sep 17, 2005 - 2 comments

Aleksandr Sokurov's "The Sun"

The Emperor's Bunker. "The Japanese, with sadness and irony, stressed that Hirohito couldn't even speak properly. This was partly to do with the fact that he didn't have to speak - people spoke in his name and he was isolated from real life". "The Sun", the third part in Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov's 'Men of Power' tetralogy after the gloom of Moloch (1999), about Hitler and Eva Braun, and the despairing tones of "Taurus" (2001), focused on the wheelchair-bound Lenin in his death throes, "The Sun" seems almost upbeat. This, after all, is a film about reconciliation. More inside.
posted by matteo on Sep 13, 2005 - 21 comments

Singing, Painting and the Holocaust: Interview with Leon Greenman

you'll then have a grave in the clouds where you won't lie too cramped
"No, no, I never met Paul Celan. This poem is too CLASSIC, too cold, and too difficult to follow. It does nothing to me".
Singing, Painting and the Holocaust: Interview with Leon Greenman, Auschwitz Survivor 98288
posted by matteo on Aug 29, 2005 - 9 comments

Armbands are back in fashion everywhere, these days...

Nihonjinron in images - despite being the second-largest entity in a global economy, Japan's cultural xenophobia has been said to contribute much to nihonjinron, what some describe as a near-fascist-like obsession of a small group of its citizens in restoring Japan to a monocultural, miltaristic, pre-war empire, despite one Japanese academic's contrary view of history.
posted by Rothko on Aug 21, 2005 - 40 comments

James Fee's Peleliu Project

The Peleliu Project. The tiny Micronesian island of Peleliu was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. The U.S. invasion of the Japanese occupied island began in September of 1944, and was expected to last only a matter of days. Casualties on this 5 square mile island reached 20,000 by the end of the two-month struggle. U.S. soldiers were forced to pour aviation fuel into caves and ignite them in order to end the standoff of those who refused to surrender. One determined group of 34 Japanese soldiers remained in hiding until they were discovered in April of 1947.
Pharmacist Mate 3rd Class Russell Fee returned from Peleliu with a fierce, uncompromising vision of America which would have a profound impact on the life and work of his son. Fifty-three years later, armed with his father's snapshots and diary which he had just uncovered, James Fee went to Peleliu to see with his own eyes the place where his father's vision had taken shape. The result of his five year quest is The Peleliu Project. more inside
posted by matteo on Aug 21, 2005 - 13 comments

Something racist goes here

Japanese Propaganda from WWII I've seen & been fascinated by a fair amount of Allied propaganda from the second World War, including an exhibit at the Smithsonian a decade back, but this is the first bit of "enemy" propaganda I can remember running across. It's a pamphlet detailing Japan's plans for a better future. Another piece, "Farewell American Soldiers" piece which was leafleted to the troops is in English and is particularly chilling.
posted by jonson on Aug 15, 2005 - 34 comments

"Mincemeat Swallowed Whole"

Operation Mincemeat Sometimes in war, you don't need kilotonnage; you need a good plan instead. And what a plan it was. A dead body, a submarine commander, and a future spy novelist. The amazing thing is, it worked.
posted by John of Michigan on Aug 8, 2005 - 11 comments

GI Propaganda Pamphlets

Pamphlets for the G.I.s during WWII. There was a belief by many in the War Department that social discontent among enlisted personnel would foster problems at home after the war was over. A series of pamphlets was commissioned to help get their minds right. Titles included: What Is Propaganda?, How Far Should Government Control Radio?, Do You Want Your Wife to Work After the War?, and Our Russian Ally.
posted by caddis on Aug 5, 2005 - 10 comments

The Way We Were

KilroyWasHere.org -- Come for the kilroy, stay for the story upon story from a time when the U.S. really was fighting for democracy. (Links upon links too, if that's your thing.)
posted by If I Had An Anus on Aug 4, 2005 - 9 comments

Japan and WWII: the problem and solution

Atoning for World War II, 60 years later (and Japan should continue to do so) It's no news regarding Japan's role during WWII. However, unlike Germany, Japan has yet to fully apologize and repair strained relations in Asia. However, it is complete crap that U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer thinks that people should glaze over the atrocities in light of Japan's monetary donation. Let's not forget that the US benefitted from the medical experiments that were conducted by the Japanese and that in the fight against communism was willing to quickly establish an outpost and let bygones be bygones.
posted by dkhong on Jul 30, 2005 - 40 comments

Last of WWII Comanche Code Talkers Dies

Last of WWII Comanche Code Talkers Dies Charles Chibitty, the last survivor of the Comanche code talkers who used their native language to transmit messages for the Allies in Europe during World War II, has died. He was 83. More info on the Code Talkers
posted by edmcbride on Jul 22, 2005 - 9 comments

POW Camps in the US

I didn't know there were POW camps in the US during World War II, let alone so many of them. The list of camps is extensive, but not on any list I've seen so far is the former Wright Field (currently Wright-Patterson Air Force Base). The base is preserving the walls of the former mess hall where German POWs left a cool set of freaky demonic murals filled with old germanic folklore. The story behind them is a interesting read.
posted by Dome-O-Rama on Jul 21, 2005 - 24 comments

Tokyo Rose

"Now you fellows have lost all your ships. Now you really are orphans of the Pacific. How do you think you will ever get home?" Tokyo Rose was the name given to any female propaganda broadcaster for the Japanese during WWII’s battle for the Pacific, but it has stuck most tightly to Iva Toguri D'Aquino, an American who studied zoology at Berkeley and unwisely went to visit a relative in Japan in 1941 without a passport.

Her sultry voice was heard across the Pacific during her radio show “The Zero Hour,” which earned her about $7 per month. After the war, "Orphan Annie" returned to the U.S., where she was tried for treason in the most expensive trial in history. Her story has been made into movies and documentaries, and as of 2003 she was running a store in Chicago. You can listen to her broadcasts online and apparently even email her.
posted by gottabefunky on Jul 12, 2005 - 10 comments

Eyewitness to History

American's censored Nagasaki A-bomb report unearthed after 60 years: The first reporter to reach Nagasaki following the August 1945 “Fat Man” atomic attack had his newspaper stories censored and banned by US General Douglas MacArthur’s office. The reporter, George Weller, who worked for the (defunct) Chicago Daily News, was prevented from reporting on a mysterious “Disease X” out of fear that the stories of radiation poisoning would horrify the world and shift public attitudes regarding the bomb.

Weller died two years ago. Carbons of the articles were discovered by his son, Anthony.

Four of them were published today for the first time by the Tokyo daily Mainichi Shimbun, which purchased them from Anthony Weller.
posted by zarq on Jun 17, 2005 - 83 comments

The Hidden History of the United Nations

The Hidden History of the United Nations: "The history told about the defeat of Nazism and the founding of the United Nations in the 1940s has become distorted. A false view of the past is being used today to shape how we think about our future. The military power of the victorious wartime allies is offered as a model for running the world, while the UN’s supposed utopianism is seen as ineffective and irrelevant. This is a travesty of the facts."
posted by jenleigh on Jun 4, 2005 - 15 comments

When wars were good and men were noble...

The making of a D-Day tradition... I immediately get goosebumps when I hear the score of Band of Brothers...I'm not sure why, maybe it was my local connections (Dick Winters, Bill Guanere, Albert Blithe, Babe Heffron, Thomas Meehan, Ralph Spina, Harry Welsh, and Robert Strayer are all from Philadelphia), the surrounding suburbs, or Pennsylvania), or maybe it was because the original airings took place in the shadow of 9/11 (the premiere was September 9th, 2001, with the D-Day drop occuring in the second episode, Day of Days, on 9/16/2001), but this series will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart. Everything is done so beautifully, from the special effects, to the sound, the music, to the dutiful translation from Stephen Ambrose book to the screen. It's certainly worthy of the 9.5 out of 10 that IMDB readers had given it. Every year now since, either HBO (On Demand - you have to subscribe to HBO plus have digital cable) or the History Channel has played Tom Hanks' and Steven Spielberg's masterful WW2 epic. You can think of it as Saving Private Ryan, but 3 times as long. Even if war movies are not your thing, I can almost guarantee that they will see the human side of the soldier and becomely deeply invested in the characters. Follow the men of Easy Company from training and the running of Currahee, to the parachute jump on D-Day, through the liberation of Europe, the horror of a German concentration camp, and eventually to the end of the war, to Hitler's mountaintop retreat. I'm not the only one - check out the numerous fan sites to BoB (forum shorthand for Band of Brothers) here, here, and here, as well as entries on TVTome, Wikipedia, and Television without Pity. If you want to try before you commit to watching the whole thing, I'd recommend the episodes Day of Days, Crossroads, and the Breaking Point.
posted by rzklkng on Jun 4, 2005 - 24 comments

Broadsword calling Danny Boy

Channel 4's 100 Greatest War Films as voted for by their (generally more clued-up than average) viewership has plenty for you to disagree with, but much to recommend. Filmsite.org has a history of war films (as does Berkeley) for the completists among you. There are more war films from and about Vietnam and Indochina than you can shake a bayonet at (see also the 1999 NYT article, Apocalypse Then: Vietnam Marketing War Films to learn a little about the Vietnamese government's 1960s and 70s archive of war film). The [British] national archives have archived film from pre-WWI to the Cold War.
posted by nthdegx on May 17, 2005 - 74 comments

History

Nobel winner GÜNTER GRASS about Germany on the anniversary of the end of WWII (NYT).
posted by semmi on May 7, 2005 - 28 comments

The Amber Room

The Amber Room : [flash] Stolen by the Nazis in WWII from the Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Amber Room remains one of the greatest missing treasures of Europe. The room has now been reconstructed, and the search for the original may have come to an unhappy end.
posted by dhruva on Apr 23, 2005 - 15 comments

Our Victory, Day by Day - a project of RIA Novosti

Our Victory, Day by Day. Russian news agency RIA Novosti counts down to the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, with songs, posters, photos, and stories. Be sure not to miss the first-person accounts in English (under "Frontline Album").
posted by gimonca on Apr 9, 2005 - 19 comments

Echoes From The Sky

First built in the 1920's, and predating the use of Radar in World War II, early warning "sound mirrors" were used to provide some means of detecting incoming enemy aircraft. First used in World War I to listen for Zeppelins, their vestigial remnants dot the English coastline. The bizarre legacy of the sound collectors lives on through some decidedly nerdy enterprises.
posted by basicchannel on Apr 7, 2005 - 27 comments

Liberty takes a bow

Liberty ship bow art of Sausalito.
posted by breezeway on Apr 6, 2005 - 6 comments

Over 3,400 Annoying Gimmicks

Consolidated B-24 Liberator nose art archive. Signs of the zodiac, dirty jokes, self-fulfilling prophecies, and stumpers. (Some questionable content [NSFW-ish] and site design)
posted by breezeway on Mar 25, 2005 - 7 comments

Bless my homeland forever

The Edelweiss Pirates - Not all German kids joined the Hitler Youth in the 1930's and 40's. A loosely-knit group of thousands of working-class teenagers called the Edelweiss Pirates existed in Cologne and nearby towns. Growing out of a youth hiking group (rather than swing dancing), they created their own anti-Nazi subculture through clothing and protest music. Many were arrested for tagging the city with anti-Nazi graffiti and working with the Underground--and they eventually killed the head of the Cologne Gestapo in 1944. Orders to root them out came from Himmler himself, and some were hung in the streets or killed in the camps. Their story is now being told in a film playing at film festivals around the world, including its European premiere in Berlin a few weeks ago. But the surviving members' criminal records officially remain on the books in Germany.
posted by Asparagirl on Mar 9, 2005 - 42 comments

Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state

Aerial Propaganda Leaflet Database. Propaganda from WWI to Operation Iraqi Freedom, including many safe conduct passes. Also, leaflets from the Korean War & Vietnam, Sefton Delmer's "Black Propaganda Radio, and even some NSFW (work, not war) propaganda. Come On Boys, Himmler For President!
posted by armage on Mar 9, 2005 - 6 comments

Hitler's nuclear program

Hitler's bomb. Adolf Hitler had the atom bomb first but it was too primitive and ungainly for aerial deployment, says a new book by German historian Rainer Karlsch. The book indicates that Nazi scientists carried out tests of what would now be called a dirty nuclear device in the waning days of World War II. US historian Mark Walker, an expert on the Third Reich's atomic weapons program, supports Karlsch's claims: "I consider the arguments very convincing". More inside.
posted by matteo on Mar 4, 2005 - 18 comments

Kamikaze

Kamikaze. 'American and Japanese images of kamikaze pilots differ greatly. This web site explores diverse portrayals and perceptions of the young men who carried out suicide attacks near the end of World War II.'
'When Japanese kamikaze pilots carried out their attacks between October 1944 and October 1945, Japanese and American people had opposite perspectives. Japanese people saw young smiling pilots as they waved goodbye. In contrast, American soldiers viewed death and destruction when the pilots' planes exploded upon crashing into their ships. These very different points of view continue to influence Japanese and American perceptions of kamikaze pilots even until today.'
posted by plep on Mar 3, 2005 - 16 comments

The Gorge

"... Giordano Bruno might have been a pantheist. A pantheist believes that God is everywhere, even in that speck of a fly you see there. You can imagine how satisfying that is—being everywhere is like being nowhere. Well, for Hegel it wasn’t God but the State that had to be everywhere; therefore, he was a Fascist.”
“But didn’t he live more than a hundred years ago?”
“So? Joan of Arc, also a Fascist of the highest order. Fascists have always existed. Since the age of . . . since the age of God. Take God—a Fascist.”
Umberto Eco in the New Yorker
posted by matteo on Feb 28, 2005 - 36 comments

Vintage wartime technology illustrations

Unusual technical images of equipment used in World War II - vintage public information illustrations from the pre-computer graphics era.
posted by madamjujujive on Feb 27, 2005 - 16 comments

"The Hazards of Private Spy Operations"

The Pond is the history of a secret, independent US intelligence-gathering group which preceded (and outlasted) the OSS. Shuffled from Cabinet to Cabinet to the CIA, it eventually ran aground against the infighting of McCarthy's Red Scare hearings and was no more by 1955.
posted by trondant on Feb 2, 2005 - 8 comments

Lee Miller: The Real Surrealist

From muse to master Lee Miller started out as a Vogue model, but by 1930 she had moved behind the lens to take piercing photographs -- culminating in her rage-fuelled portraits of Nazi kitsch. The "Lee Miller: Portraits" exhibit is at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from February 3 until May 30. More inside.
posted by matteo on Jan 22, 2005 - 15 comments

The mystery of Stefan Mart

The mystery of Stefan Mart and the 'Tales of the Nations'. "The Tales of Nations" was not an ordinary book that you could buy in a book store, and it's mysterious narrator/illustrator disappeared into the darkness of Hitler's Germany, seemingly without a trace. Learn the background, read the stories, and view all 150 fabulous colour illustrations — "small in size, but strong in expression, each a microcosm packed with action, each a feast for the eyes like a beautifully set jewel".
posted by taz on Jan 9, 2005 - 20 comments

Vittorio Sacerdoti - K Syndrome

The BBC has a beautiful story of another unsung hero of the Holocaust.
posted by Pretty_Generic on Dec 3, 2004 - 14 comments

"because once you found a relic you can't stop digging, you know, it is real, it was there in time of a great event and you know that next item can be this special one that worth you efforts..."

The Serpeant's Wall - a new photo essay about the tragic history of Kiev during The War. From the same motorcycle-riding woman whose Chernobyl photos we've discussed before.
posted by kickingtheground on Nov 21, 2004 - 9 comments

DooWop Nation

DooWop Nation Not to get all Pepsi Blue on your collective ass, but I have been luxuriating in the Proper box sets The Dawn Of Doo-Wop (tracklist) and Doo Wop Delights (tracklist and discography) and thought to construct a post around the topic of the original postwar--as World War II--black harmony singing style, of which, as Greil Marcus notes in his Lipstick Traces, there were 15,000 records recorded after World War II--a DIY phenomenom which he compares to rise of punk... (more inside, naturally)
posted by y2karl on Nov 11, 2004 - 16 comments

Canadian campaign in Italy, WWII

The Italian Campaign The Globe and Mail has been running an excellent series on the Italian Campaign during WWII by Canadian troops. There are photos, artifacts, and articles, including one by Farley Mowat. (x-posted to MoFi)
posted by livii on Nov 11, 2004 - 6 comments

The People's War

The People's War
Read and share memories of World War II, courtesy of the BBC.
posted by Mwongozi on Nov 11, 2004 - 2 comments

Paul Nitze, 1907-2004

A Walk in the Woods. Farewell to the original Cold War warrior: Paul Nitze, the college professor's son who went to Hotchkiss and Harvard and worked as investment banker before going to Washington in 1940, where he quickly became one of the chief architects of American policy towards the Soviet Union. His doctrine of "strategic stability" became its cornerstone for half a century (Nitze held key government posts in Washington, from the era of Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan's, when he was the White House's guru on arms control). By the end of 1949, Nitze had become director of the State Department's policy planning staff, helping to devise the role of Nato, deciding to press ahead with the manufacture of the H-bomb, and producing National Security Council document 68, the document at the heart of the Cold War: in it, Nitze called for a drastic expansion of the U.S. military budget. The paper also expanded containment’s scope beyond the defense of major centers of industrial power to encompass the entire world. (NSC-68 was a top secret paper, written in April 1950 and declassified in the 70's, called "United States Objectives and Programs for National Security"). More inside.
posted by matteo on Oct 22, 2004 - 7 comments

"Vote for Lindbergh or Vote for War"

"Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear." He is one of America's great novelists, but you don't expect Philip Roth to be barreling up the best-seller list with a book that hasn't even been published yet. And yet "The Plot Against America" is in the top 3 at amazon.com. It spins a what-if scenario in which the isolationist and anti-Semitic hero Charles Lindbergh runs for president as a Republican in 1940 and defeats F.D.R. "Keep America Out of the Jewish War", reads a button worn by Lindbergh supporters rallying at Madison Square Garden. And so he does: he signs nonaggression pacts with Germany and Japan that will keep America at peace while the rest of the world burns. The Lindbergh administration hatches a nice plan to prod assimilation of the Jews. Innocuously called Just Folks, it's a relocation program for urban Jews, administered by an Office of American Absorption fronted by an obliging and pompous rabbi of radio celebrity. The teenage Roth character is shipped off to a Kentucky tobacco farm, to finally live among Christians. The book is about American Fascism, but while Roth is no fan of President Bush ("a man unfit to run a hardware store let alone a nation like this one"), he points out that he conceived this book (LATimes registration: sparklebottom/sparklebottom) in December 2000, and that it would be "a mistake" to read it "as a roman à clef to the present moment in America." (more inside)
posted by matteo on Sep 28, 2004 - 10 comments

Mayday! Mayday!

The Pacific Wrecks Database is an impressive collection of information about lost and found WWII wrecks in the Pacific. The site is a little hard to navigate (I suggest using the past news archives and the direct links in the description slug on the first page, rather than the drop-down menu,) but the content is worth the trouble. Essays from veterans, discovery tales, photographs, maps, and more await.
posted by headspace on Sep 10, 2004 - 3 comments

Is there such as thing as too much memory?

Munich Bans Memorial Plaques Munich has decided to ban memorial plaques to Jewish, Sinti and German citizens deported and murdered during World War Two. Jewish leaders, fearful that the plaques would stir up anti-Semitic fervor, supported the ban. These plaques are the work of a German artist, Gunter Demnig. ”He first had the idea in the early 1990s when he was unveiling a memorial for the Sinti and Roma victims of the Holocaust. “An elderly woman approached him and insisted that "no Gypsies ever lived here". "It is so easy for people to deny something. I wanted to ensure that this would not happen," he says. (BBC).” This reminder of the holocaust brought to mind the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, as well as the Viet Nam Memorial and the AIDS quilt -- monuments that really changed me.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk on Aug 14, 2004 - 22 comments

World War II Illustrated Envelopes

"Where are the ships?" and 59 other WWII-era illustrated envelopes are now available for viewing through the Veteran's History Project. Another smaller set of gorgeous illustrated envelopes from the same era is available here, all depicting scenes from the life of G.I.s stationed in the Pacific.
posted by .kobayashi. on Aug 4, 2004 - 6 comments

German Helmets

The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945.
posted by starscream on Jun 15, 2004 - 31 comments

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