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  • Buried Six Times in Twelve Years April 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Buried Six Times in Twelve Years

    Most cultures look with distaste on the removal of dead bodies: many families will do whatever they can to avoid such a thing for their loved ones. So imagine the trauma of being buried and reburied six times in a dozen years. Let’s start though with our death. Paul von Hindenburg, the President of Germany […]

    WW2 Myths: Forgetting General Winter April 5, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    WW2 Myths: Forgetting General Winter

    Today a bit of WW2 cobblers: the myth that the German High Command in 1941 forgot that there was a winter in the Soviet Union; thousands of German soldiers on the road to Moscow would be immobilized by ‘General Winter’ and have to face -20 or -30 degrees with nothing but lederhosen. Now as it […]

    Image: Hitler Bows to Hindenburg March 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Hitler Bows to Hindenburg

    Two of the most important men in twentieth-century German history stand on the steps of Potsdam Garrison Church, 21 March 1933. On the right one of the great generals of the First World War, Paul von Hindenburg, in full Imperial uniform with the Prussian Pickelhaube. Hindenburg was, of course, the victor of Tannenberg, a decisive, […]

    Photo: The Four (and Ciano) at Munich February 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Photo: The Four (and Ciano) at Munich

    One of the great twentieth-century photographs. The four men who dominate Europe in late September 1938 stand side by side. On the left, looking as if he has an umbrella up his bottom, there is Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister and pioneer of Britain’s disastrous experiment with appeasement. Connoisseurs of the British national character will […]

    Why Did Germany Screw Up in 1940? January 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Why Did Germany Screw Up in 1940?

    The survival of Britain from May to October 1940 is one of the most stirring stories of the Second World War. Britain as Lukacs noted could never have won the war alone but in the first summer of the war Britain could have lost it. From 1936 to early May 1940 the UK had made […]

    Lovers Leaping, Shooting and Drowning January 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Lovers Leaping, Shooting and Drowning

    Love suicides are happily today a rare thing. But they were common enough from 1700 to, say, after the Second World War to enter folklore: many places in the English-speaking world have their ‘Lovers Leaps’. (Derbyshire, a small British Midland county has four!) Why were love suicides so popular? Perhaps we can separate the pull […]

    Ilse Koch: The Skin Harvester of Buchenwald December 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Ilse Koch: The Skin Harvester of Buchenwald

    Ilse Koch, ‘the bitch of Buchenwald’, seems to have been an unpleasant human being. She was a sadist, and she was, as a matter of record, – something almost as serious in the 1940s and 1950s when her reputation was made – ‘promiscuous’: she had opportunities to sate both desires as the wife of the […]

    A Fourteen-Year Second World War?! November 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Fourteen-Year Second World War?!

    Strangehistory recently featured the longest European war of the twentieth century, that between Greece and Albania (1940-1987). While looking at this Beach was intrigued, nay amazed by the true duration of the Second World War. In fact, this morning his room has taken on a strange orange sheen. For example, how long was Britain at […]

    Gentlemanly Soldiers October 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Gentlemanly Soldiers

    There are lots of different types of soldiers but today Beach wants to put aside the cowards, the sadists, the pragmatists, the survivors and concentrate on perhaps one of the few attractive categories: the gentleman soldier. The cult of the gentleman soldier began amongst the European aristocracy in the middle ages, its values were embodied […]

    Foreign Swindles in the Nineteenth Century September 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Foreign Swindles in the Nineteenth Century

    More in our swindlers series. Bread Trick: X in Russia goes to a jewelers and gets 4000  roubles worth of goods. He can only pay 500 but asks the owner (the victim) to come to the bank for the rest. At the bank he reminds the banker that they had spoken before and says ‘can […]

    Fat Virgin Mary in the Lost Provinces September 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fat Virgin Mary in the Lost Provinces

    In 1871 Prussia (on its way to becoming Germany) seized by force and then won by negotiation Alsace and Lorraine, an act that secured their Rhine territories and that arguably led to two world wars: the lost provinces would cost millions of lives. ‘What flag flies over Strasburg?’ asks a nineteenth-century politician returned from the […]

    Ten Best Second World Statistics September 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Ten Best Second World Statistics

    What are the most telling WW2 statistics? Here are ten that stand out for Beach. Send any others in: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com or correct at will. 1) The population of the first world Allied nations was approximately half a billion, the population of the first world Axis powers was approximately one hundred and fifty […]

    The Longest Surviving Medieval Heresy August 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Longest Surviving Medieval Heresy

    Imagine this. You wake up one morning in 1216 and say ‘to hell with it’. You walk into the local square of piazza stand on an upturned wheelbarrow and talk to your neighbours about the cosmos. Perhaps you’ve learnt that Christ married Mary Magdalene and had twins; or that the angels are worms in universal […]

    Early Bionic Ear August 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Early Bionic Ear

    Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (obit 1676) was a seventeenth-century German author with a penchant for fantasy. Here is an invention dreamt up for one of his novels. In Simplicius Simplicissimus (published 1668) he wrote this extraordinary passage. And when I had fancies, and lay awake many a night thinking how might contrive new finds […]

    Gort’s Longest Hour August 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Gort's Longest Hour

    Long before Tolstoy ruined War and Peace with his reflections on the role of great men in history humans sat down and debated the ability of individuals to influence events. Beach is a bit of a heretic in this. He believes passionately that men and women not ‘impersonal forces’ (whatever the hell they are) make […]

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