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  • Why Children-Stealing Gypsies? December 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Why Children-Stealing Gypsies?

    The idea that someone is out to get our children has been around from classical times. Several antique Christian writers, for example, credit ‘the Jews’ with stealing children and this became, by the Middle Ages, part of the notorious ‘blood libel’ for which hundreds and perhaps thousands of men, women and, yes, children of Jewish descent […]

    The Man Who Lost Germany the Great War? December 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Man Who Lost Germany the Great War?

    A couple of indisputable, non-negotiable Great War facts. In early September 1914 the German army came smashing down on the French army at the Marne. In the decisive battle of the first part of the war, the French, with some assistance from the brave but plodding Brits, managed to hold the Germans. However, everyone on […]

    The King and Country Debate: Oxford 1933 December 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The King and Country Debate: Oxford 1933

    It is remembered as ‘the King and Country Debate’, the most famous student debate in history. 9 February 1933 Oxford Union (the students of Oxford University in contentious mode) undertook to discuss the proposal ‘that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country’. The expectations were that the proposal would be brushed […]

    Great War Organ Gun November 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Great War Organ Gun

    The organ gun, also known as the ribadulequin, was one of those crude innovations in military technology that shifted humanity towards the ‘elegant’ killing of the machine gun arc. Organs were basically guns with many barrels and one trigger and were as liable to explode in the gunner’s face as to blast away the opposition. Beach recently […]

    When Churchill Came Within Twenty Yards of Hitler November 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    When Churchill Came Within Twenty Yards of Hitler

    Historians have made a great deal between that all-too often drunk British genius Churchill and his abstemious German rival, the murderous Hitler. The two gradually came to loathe each other. Hitler loved to blame Churchill for many of the disasters of the war (sometimes correctly); while Churchill went on the record as saying that when […]

    Sunk Three Times in an Hour November 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Sunk Three Times in an Hour

    Beachcombing’s grandfather was sunk three times in the last World War. But the three times in question were spread out over seven years… Imagine, instead, being sunk three times in just under an hour, not only that, we are not talking about lonely frigates or minesweepers, these were three British battleships: HMS Cressy, Aboukir and […]

    Churchill Urinating in Germany October 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Churchill Urinating in Germany

    An unseemly story as the title suggests. 24 March 1945, Churchill visited the first occupied areas in Germany and more particularly the famous Siegfried Line. He was travelling with several British dignitaries including Montgomery and Brooke. An American, Lieutenant General William Hood Simpson asked Churchill, some miles prior to Germany’s last line of defence, whether […]

    The German Non-Saluter Myth October 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    The German Non-Saluter Myth

    This picture has appeared periodically over the last few years. Its popularity is easy to understand. A crowd is slavishly announcing the thousand year reich but one man, can you spot him, refuses to lift his hand. The picture has become associated with August Landmesser, a member of the Nazi party who made the error […]

    The Poison Duel 9#: Poison Duel at the Theatre October 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 9#: Poison Duel at the Theatre

    This story comes from a German grammar book with Teutonic compositions dating to 1903 An apothecary once insulted an officer. The officer therefore challenged him to a duel. The duel was to be with pistols. When the opponents had arrived, the apothecary said: ‘I am not used to fighting with pistols, but I have another […]

    The Poison Duel 6#: The Poisoned Draught October 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 6#: The Poisoned Draught

    There follows a story that appeared during research into poison duels. As with many duel stories it is thrilling: ref Hartlepool Mail, 18 Dec 1888, 4. Herr Karl von Krulhanser— the Professor, he was called— was an eccentric man of science. With the exception of a few students, to whom he gave private lessons, he […]

    The Poison Duel 4#: The Medical Origins of the Poison Duel? September 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Poison Duel 4#: The Medical Origins of the Poison Duel?

    The earliest nineteenth-century poison duel seems to have been that almost fought in 1821 in Virginia. However, there are pre-nineteenth-century records and strangely they concern doctors. The earliest record anywhere that Beach has been able to dig up was an alleged reference in the Iranian poet Nizami (obit 1209). Nizami in one poem (Treasury of […]

    Review: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union September 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union

    Books on the holocaust have, broadly speaking, two choices. They can either focus on the big picture and describe the liquidation of an entire people from this or that national territory, or they can focus on an individual, family or a village and concentrate, instead, on the micro-tragedies: an excellent example of the latter is […]

    Nietzsche, the Prostitutes and the Piano September 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Nietzsche, the Prostitutes and the Piano

    A WIBT moment from the first age of mighty Fred Nietzsche. As a student, aged 21, in February 1865, the moustached one visited Cologne and there he was left, according to his then good friend, and generally reliable witness, Paul Deussen (obit 1919), by a coachman at a brothel. Fred, who claimed that he had […]

    Prophetic German Poster, 1918 August 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Prophetic German Poster, 1918

    Great War posters are often, say it quietly, not very good. Nations had just not had enough experience at propagandizing young men when war broke in 1914 and even the best poster makers – the Americans? – still put out plenty of numbers that would make advertising execs pale today. However, the combatant states learnt and […]

    The Great War Begins: The 10 Most Resonant Moments August 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Great War Begins: The 10 Most Resonant Moments

    Historical anniversaries are not normally to Beach’s taste. They vulgarise, they trivialise, they misstate…. Like an ardent monarchist who can’t stand royal weddings he would be anywhere but there when the minister appears with the scissors for a ribbon and a vapid speech. But this blogger has been filled with a sense of awe as […]

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