The story of Mimi and Brownie, besties for 74 years

Mimi and Brownie became close in 1942 while serving as World War II Army nurses. For 74 years, they remained best friends and talked on the phone every single day. Veena Rao of Pop-Up Magazine shares their incredible, and oh-so-sweet, story (get out the tissues).

(RED)

Becky and Susan, this one's for you!

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The Dresden Panometer gives visitors an immersive experience on a 1:1 scale of the Allied bombing raids of 1945

The Dresden Panometer is a converted former gasometer that exhibits 360°  panoramas created by the artist Yadegar Asisi.

“The 15 m high visitor’s tower provides you with a 360-degree view from the tower of Dresden’s Town Hall and reveals the extent of the destruction in the panorama by Yadegar Asisi, almost 3,000 m² in size.”

Image: YouTube screengrab Read the rest

Powerful Iwo Jima WWII footage shot by marines in combat and never seen publicly

Today is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Iwo Jima, when the US Marines and Navy invaded and captured the island from the Imperial Japan Army. Almost 7,000 Allied troops and 18,000 Japanese soldiers were killed. The University of South Carolina's Moving Image Research Collections is now helping the History Division of the Marine Corps digitize and make public mostly unseen film footage shot by marines in combat during the battle. There are 14,000 cans of film undergoing the digitization and preservation process. The videos above and below are barely a teaser of what's to come. From the University of South Carolina:

From the beginning, Marine Corps leaders knew they wanted a comprehensive visual account of the battle — not only for a historical record but also to assist in planning and training for the invasion of the Japanese main islands. Some Marine cameramen were assigned to the front lines of individual units, and others to specific activities, such as engineering and medical units. Films from these units show the daily toll of the battle such as Marines being treated in the medical units or being evacuated off the island to hospital ships as well as essential behind-the-lines tasks of building command posts or unloading and sorting equipment on beaches....

Another goal of the Marine Corps film project is to identify and label as much of the historical information in the films as possible, such as Marine Corps units and equipment. In addition to manually scanning the films for this information, Moving Images Research Collections has partnered with Research Computing and the university’s Computer Vision Lab, a research group within the College of Engineering and Computing, to use artificial intelligence to recognize text in the films to help identify units as well as individual Marines, airplanes and ships.

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92-year-old's memoir tells the forgotten story of a German official who sabotaged Nazi deportations and saved more Jews than Schindler

Hans Calmeyer was a left-wing German lawyer -- his law license was temporarily suspended when he was accused of being a Communist -- who was inducted into the German army under the Nazis, who put him in charge of an office that determined which Dutch people would be deported to Auschwitz during the Nazi occupation. Read the rest

"How to Behave in a British Pub" -- 1943 film for U.S. soldiers

Burgess Meredith stars in this 1943 film produced by the United States Office of War Information to teach U.S. soldiers how to conform to the customs of British pubs. The film has an "Ugly American" type soldier doing all the wrong things while a uniformed Meredith shakes his head in shame.

[via Nag on the Lake] Read the rest

Nazi bunker in Germany to become "design and lifestyle" hotel

A developer plans to transform the massive Nazi-era St. Pauli anti-aircraft and air raid bunker in Hamburg, Germany into a "design and lifestyle hotel," as described by a spokesperson for the Spanish hotel chain NS Hotel Group designing the property. The structure is currently used as a concert venue and art/music studio space. According to the spokesperson, there are plans for the rebuilt facility, seen in the rendering above, to also hold a World War II memorial. The bunker hotel project comes on the heels of other Nazi-era structures that have been redeveloped. From the New York Times:

In 2018, the former Gestapo headquarters in Hamburg, where Jews, gay people, Roma and other people targeted by the Nazis were tortured and murdered, a cluster of high-end apartments, luxury boutiques and offices opened for business. Protests ensued.

A never-completed holiday resort that Hitler had intended to be used for workers through his “Strength Through Joy” project has been converted to luxury apartments.

The challenge when integrating these sites into modern-day landscapes is “how to reconcile commemoration and consumption or consumerism,” said Thomas L. Doughton, a senior lecturer at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts who takes students on tours of Holocaust sites across Europe to explore the politics of memory.

Dr. Doughton said there were parallels to places in the United States, including plantations where African-Americans were once enslaved and the sites of atrocities against Native Americans, that have been commercialized at the expense of a blunt reckoning with historical oppression.

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Hear the stories of the last Navajo Code Talkers

The United States military first started using code talkers during The First World War. They were aboriginal soldiers fluent in the languages of the Cherokee and Choctaw peoples who were tasked with speaking in their native tongues to secure voice and communications from an all-too-likely eavesdropping enemy. It wasn’t until they were deployed with the Marine Corps during World War II, however, that code talkers became the legends they’re remembered as, today.

From Wikipedia: There were two code types used during World War II. Type one codes were formally developed based on the languages of the Comanches, Hopies, Meskwakis, and Navajos. They used words from their languages for each letter of the English alphabet. Messages could be encoded and decoded by using a simple substitution cipher where the ciphertext was the native language word. Type two code was informal and directly translated from English into the native language. If there was no word in the native language to describe a military word, code talkers used descriptive words. For example, the Navajo did not have a word for submarine so they translated it to iron fish.

Today, there are only five code Navajo code talker veterans of the Marine Corps left in the world: Joe Vandever Sr., Peter MacDonald, Samuel F. Sandoval, John Kinsel Sr., and Thomas H. Begay. Arizona Central’s* Shondiin Silversmith has done the Navajo Nation and all future generations a great service by collecting the stories of these five brave men in text and video.

Taking a browse of Silversmith’s feature is well worth your time: take a few moments to remember a handful of brave men who sacrificed their youth and, in far too many cases, their lives, to fend off fascism. Read the rest

The new £50 notes will feature Alan Turing (whilst HMG proposes bans on Turing complete computers AND working crypto)

The Bank of England has unveiled its new £50 notes, which had been earmarked to honour a distinguished British scientist, and which will feature Alan Turing, the WWII hero who discovered many of the foundational insights to both modern computing and cryptography, and whose work with the codebreakers of Bletchley Park are widely believed to have shortened WWII by many years and saved millions of lives. Read the rest

At least ten unexploded bombs are hidden in the ruins of Pompeii

At least ten unexploded bombs are hidden somewhere deep in the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. They are leftovers from a 1943 allied air force raid that dropped 165 bombs in the area. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pompeii attracts more than 2.5 million visitors annually. From The Guardian:

“Ninety-six bombs were located and deactivated,” the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano reported. “The other bombs ended up in an area of the site that has not yet been excavated. Many of them were defused or had already exploded. But at least 10 of those explosives are still there.”

Of the 66 hectares (163 acres) of the archaeological area, only 44 have been excavated. At least 10 unexploded bombs are yet to be found in the 22 remaining hectares, according to the investigation.

The Archaeological Museum of Pompeii said: “There is no risk for visitors. The site has regularly drawn up the reclamation project, which is carried out by the military. Area reclamation was carried out per metre.”

But Il Fatto said there was no sign of official documents for the location of at least 10 bombs...

According to statistics from the Italian defence ministry, thousands of second world war bombs are defused in the country every year.

image: Mark Vuaran (CC) Read the rest

Florida fisherman reels in WWII hand grenade and brings it to Taco Bell

A man using a magnet to fish for salvageable items in Ocala, Florida was surprised to reel in a hand grenade. So he tossed it into his trunk and made a run for the border. As one does.

Upon arriving at the nearest Taco Bell, the fellow called the police who were quick to evacuate the restaurant. Fortunately, the bomb squad safely removed the explosive device. They later determined it to be an unexploded World War II grenade.

(CNN)

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The Nazis and your privacy

The nonprofit organization to which I belong recently put the personal data of around 410,000 people on the internet, connected to interactive street maps of where they lived. The data includes their full names, date and place of birth, known residential address, and often includes their professions and arrest records, sometimes even information about mental or physical handicaps. It also lists whether any of their grandparents were Jewish. Read the rest

Peter Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old is a stunning act of remembrance

Everyone raised in my hometown learned to recite In Flanders Fields in school. Every year, as November 11th, Remembrance Day, drew near, we were taught about the First World War. We made poppies. We prepared for a concert to honor our veterans. Elderly men with often vacant, watery eyes would visit our classrooms and talk to us about their time overseas. Sometimes they cried. Other times, they laughed as they talked about long absent friends and their lost youth. As I grew older, I marched in my town's annual Remembrance Day parade: first as an cadet and later in a different uniform. Each year as we gathered at the armory after the parade had ended, there were fewer survivors of the First and Second World War there to greet us. Decades have passed since those days. The men and women who served their fellows and the future generations that would become of them have largely passed on.

No matter where I am in the world, I take pause on November 11th, as many others do, to remember those that gave up their lives in the name of democracy and decency. I try to hold the millions that died from hate, xenophobia and greed. I give thanks that I am now too old and too broken to fight. I fear for those in uniform today that will see things that will never leave them and for those who deployed who will never come home.Amidst these meditations, I wonder over who will carry the torch of remembrance of wars and atrocities past, once those who survived them are no more. Read the rest

When Mickey Mouse was sent to a Nazi concentration camp

In 1942, Horst Rosenthal was sent to the Vichy concentration camp Gurs, where he drew a comic-book that survived him: Mickey au Camp de Gurs, it tells the story of Mickey Mouse being snatched from the street and sent to Gurs, and features a tour of Gurs that uses a brave face of humor to cope with enormous suffering. Read the rest

Video: life lessons from a 111 year old WWII veteran

At 111 years old (the video is a few years old,) Richard Overton is the oldest living World War II veteran. He still drinks whiskey, smoke stogies and has lived in the same house, which he bought after coming home from war, since 1945. In this short film, Overton talks about his long life and along the way, extols a few important life lessons.

My take away: for a long life, eat a shit-ton of soup and butter pecan ice cream. Read the rest

Bayer and Monsanto merge into a new company called "Bayer" because Nazis have a better reputation than Big Ag

The $63 billion takeover of Monsanto by Bayer prompted a thorny branding question: what to call the new company? The company's management has announced its decision: the new company will be called "Bayer," despite the name's longtime association with Nazi slave labor camps, fatal human subjects experiments conducted on prisoners supplied by the Nazis, and complicity in the production of Zyklon B, the lethal poison used in concentration camp gas-chambers. Read the rest

Germany's scientific texts were made free during and after WWII; analyzing them today shows the negative effect of paywalls on science

In 1942, the US Book Republication Program permitted American publishers to reprint "exact reproductions" of Germany's scientific texts without payment; seventy-five years later, the fate of this scientific knowledge forms the basis of a "natural experiment" analysed by Barbara Biasi and Petra Moser for The Center for Economic and Policy Research, who compare the fate of these texts to their contemporaries who didn't have this semi-public-domain existence. Read the rest

WWII living legend finally given the honors he deserves

Frank A. Gleason may not be a name that you're familiar with. But, given his contributions to the allied war effort during World War II, you should be. During the war, Gleason, now 97-years old, worked for the Overseas Strategic Service (OSS), an intelligence organization that was superseded by the Central Intelligence Agency. It was never his intention to become a spy but, smart as a whip and tough as nails, he was a perfect fit for the gig.

From Task & Purpose:

A native of Marietta, Georgia, Gleason was freshly armed with a chemical engineering degree from Penn State University when he was recruited into the OSS. It was a tight-knit, exclusive group: When the agency was founded, director Gen. William “Wild Bill” Donovan famously said, “We need Ph.Ds that can win a bar fight.”

During the year he and his team operated behind enemy lines in China, they were responsible for disrupting enemy communications and the destruction of railway lines, and blew up over 100 bridges. They generally made life for Japanese troops stationed in the areas where they worked a living hell. The dangerous services that Gleason rendered on behalf of the Allies has gone all but unrecognized over the past 74 years. Unlike soldiers, spies generally don't get parades. According to Military Times, Gleason's time in the shadows has come to an end: Congress has recognized the veteran's service during the war with the award of a Congressional Gold Medal – the highest award that can be given to a civilian in the United States. Read the rest

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