Posts tagged World War II
Posts tagged World War II
Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Hillel Italie wrote a piece for the Associated Press on how we’re not actually sure of the exact words Lincoln said:
Memories of Gettysburg only sharpened in hindsight. Accounts differ on everything from the day’s weather to how long the crowd applauded, if at all. Original transcriptions differ, and scholars still debate the speech’s exact length, usually ranging from 268 to 272 words.
The Telegraph printed an obituary for Mavis Batey, an awesome woman I’d never heard of until now:
… the Abwehr Enigma was so complex that Hut 6 had been unable to break it. It had four rotors instead of the standard three, and unlike other machines they rotated randomly with no predictable pattern.
[Dilly] Knox took over the task of breaking it, using Mavis Batey and Margaret Rock as his assistants, to test out every possibility. On December 8 1941 Mavis Batey broke a message on the link between Belgrade and Berlin, allowing the reconstruction of one of the rotors.
Within days Knox and his team had broken into the Abwehr Enigma, and shortly afterwards Mavis broke a second Abwehr machine, the GGG, adding to the British ability to read the high-level Abwehr messages…
After World War II, she got into the conservation of historical gardens in Britain too. Pretty cool.
This story by John Dugdale for The Guardian is from 2009, but for some reason it’s been getting some recirculation on the internet lately, including yesterday’s UK edition of the Evening Edition. I hadn’t heard it before, so now I’m passing it on to you:
Its section on the author’s secret life as a “dilettante spy” draws on his KGB file in saying he was recruited in 1941 before making a trip to China, given the cover name “Argo”, and “repeatedly expressed his desire and willingness to help us” when he met Soviet agents in Havana and London in the 40s. However, he failed to “give us any political information” and was never “verified in practical work”, so contacts with Argo had ceased by the end of the decade.
Continuing our statistically anomalous recent coverage of World War II here on Nullary Sources, here are Mari Yamaguchi and Malcolm Foster of the Associated Press talking about how a Japanese politician put his foot in his mouth the other day:
An outspoken Japanese politician apologized Monday for saying U.S. troops should patronize adult entertainment businesses as a way to reduce sex crimes, but defended another inflammatory remark about Japan’s use of sex slaves before and during World War II.
[Osaka Mayor Toru] Hashimoto said then that the practice of using women from across Asia to work in front-line brothels before and during World War II was necessary to maintain discipline and provide relaxation for soldiers. He added that on a recent visit to the southern island of Okinawa, he suggested to the U.S. commander there that his troops “make better use” of the legal sex industry “to control the sexual energy of those tough guys.”
Whoops! I can’t imagine how that wouldn’t have gone over smoothly.
Andrew Roberts on The Daily Beast plugging a new book by Stephen Harding, senior editor of Military History magazine:
Here are the basic facts: on 5 May 1945—five days after Hitler’s suicide—three Sherman tanks from the 23rd Tank Battalion of the U.S. 12th Armored Division under the command of Capt. John C. ‘Jack’ Lee Jr., liberated an Austrian castle called Schloss Itter in the Tyrol, a special prison that housed various French VIPs, including the ex-prime ministers Paul Reynaud and Eduard Daladier and former commanders-in-chief Generals Maxime Weygand and Paul Gamelin, amongst several others. Yet when the units of the veteran 17th Waffen-SS Panzer Grenadier Division arrived to recapture the castle and execute the prisoners, Lee’s beleaguered and outnumbered men were joined by anti-Nazi German soldiers of the Wehrmacht, as well as some of the extremely feisty wives and girlfriends of the (needless-to-say hitherto bickering) French VIPs, and together they fought off some of the best crack troops of the Third Reich.
History is wacky.
Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports on the history of German soccer club Bayern Munich, which I was woefully unfamiliar with as a stereotypical American who doesn’t follow soccer at all:
During the years leading up to the second World War, Bayern had developed a strong tradition of having senior administrators, sponsors, fans and coaches … who were Jewish. That status put the club and its leaders directly in the crosshairs of the Nazis, who were determined to stamp out any sign of Jewish success or positivity.
As the tentacles of Hitler’s racist and anti-Semitic doctrine spread and the seeds of hatred that would ultimately result in the Holocaust grew, Bayern, having won its first German title in 1932, became a readily available and high-profile target.
This 2012 piece for The Observer by Raphael Honigstein goes into a little more detail about the switch in the club’s attitude toward its past that’s happened under CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and some of the things it’s done recently in that vein.
Polish prosecutors are investigating a Swedish artist’s claim that he used the ashes of Holocaust victims to make a painting, an act that could carry a prison term.
Spokeswoman Beata Syk-Jankowska said Tuesday that prosecutors in the eastern city of Lublin have opened an investigation to check whether there is truth to the artist’s claim. She said there is no evidence and prosecutors are acting on media reports.
This could be a completely false publicity stunt. Of course, it could be a true publicity stunt. :(
Chiune Sugihara was an awesome guy who was a Japanese diplomat to Lithuania during World War II.
Sympathetic to Jews who were trying to leave Lithuania after it was occupied by the Soviet Union, he took it upon himself to write thousand of exit visas for refugees, despite having orders from the Japanese Foreign Ministry to the contrary.
Sugihara continued to hand write visas, reportedly spending 18–20 hours a day on them, producing a normal month’s worth of visas each day, until 4 September, when he had to leave his post before the consulate was closed. By that time he had granted thousands of visas to Jews, many of whom were heads of households and thus permitted to take their families with them. On the night before their scheduled departure, Sugihara and his wife stayed awake writing out visa approvals. According to witnesses, he was still writing visas while in transit from his hotel and after boarding the train at the Kaunas Railway Station, throwing visas into the crowd of desperate refugees out of the train’s window even as the train pulled out.
In final desperation, blank sheets of paper with only the consulate seal and his signature (that could be later written over into a visa) were hurriedly prepared and flung out from the train.
What a badass.
Sergey Larenkov takes photos from World War II and merges them with present-day photos of the same locations. The one accompanying this post is titled “Vyborg. Bridge to the past.” You should probably go to his LiveJournal and check out his other work, including the first photo in this D-Day set and this set from Gatchina.
Bill Dedman on MSNBC’s Open Channel blog:
In the 70 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor, a dramatic photo of female firefighters has been published many times in magazines, history books and online as a depiction of action on Dec. 7, 1941. We published it this past week on msnbc.com. Now, with the help of our readers, we’ve located one of the women, who says the photo was definitely not taken on that day.
Really awesome piece involving crowdsourcing, personal history, and politics.