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  • First Blood in the Great War? June 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    First Blood in the Great War?

    Lieutenant Albert Mayer of the fifth Baden Mounted Jäger Regiment brought seven German cavalry onto a ridge at Jonchery to the south-east of Belfort close to the French German border. On this ridge the riders ran into representatives of the forty-fourth Infantry Regiment, who had come to intercept them, and fighting broke out. Mayer smashed […]

    Why Did the Axis Fight the US? June 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Why Did the Axis Fight the US?

    One of the neatest sentences about the Second World War is that the Allies won their victory because of ‘Soviet blood, British time and American resources’. This is an approximation, of course, to truth but a pretty effective one. The Soviets lost perhaps 26 million, enough dead to damn the river of German invasion. The […]

    A Travelling Chair June 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Travelling Chair

    Beach has recently been trying to explain to his daughters the meaning of an heirloom. Interesting how children lack the essential measure of time – Beach’s eldest is 5, and doesn’t really do ‘centuries’. ‘This ring was in our family before Granddad’s granddad was born’ cue blank expression and ‘Let’s watch Tom and Jerry’. Anyway […]

    Love Goddess #10: Lactating German Virtues May 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Love Goddess #10: Lactating German Virtues

    Another love goddess, though this time from Germany. If you go to Nuremberg and make sure you don’t get distracted by recent traumatic events there (trials, fire storms etc) you will discover a beautiful medievalish city in the heart of Bavaria. On the edge of Lorenzer Platz you will find perhaps the most curious fountain in Western […]

    Review: The Ex Kaiser in Exile May 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Ex Kaiser in Exile

    In 1918 as Germany began to implode, Wilhelm II, Kaiser and perhaps the individual most responsible for the war, crossed the border into the Netherlands, took up residence there and then abdicated. He would live in the Netherlands (which had of course been neutral for the previous four years) until his death in 1941. In […]

    Caesar and a German Unicorn? May 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Caesar and a German Unicorn?

    Karl Shuker has recently put up a post on an ancient cryptoid: the Hercynian Unicorn. KS, always interesting, quotes the work of a German author Markus Bühler (whose work I’ve not read), suggesting that we are dealing with a ‘freak deer’ across the Rhine. However, before conjuring up abberant creatures to explain curious antique references, […]

    Killing After Surrender in WW2: Parachutes and Submarines May 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Killing After Surrender in WW2: Parachutes and Submarines

    The laws of war dictate that if someone puts up their hands then they are prisoners and must be treated as such. However, despite the traditions of ages and now the strictures of various conventions mercy is ignored at times even by civilised armies. Two striking examples from the Second World War where the opposition […]

    Neo-Pagan Partisans May 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Neo-Pagan Partisans

    Ask a well-read person today about neo-paganism and many will identify it as something that came out of flower power in the late 1960s. However, this is not, for the most part, true. Neo-pagans were actually around before the Great War and in some incarnations neo-paganism can be traced back to late nineteenth-century eccentrics, such […]

    11 Burning Libraries: Book Lovers Beware April 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    11 Burning Libraries: Book Lovers Beware

    This blog has pioneered a series of burning libraries: books that didn’t make it (23 to date)… But what about real burning libraries? Libraries that, at some point in Antiquity or the Middle Ages, were gutted by fire, accidental or deliberate. I have included here a list of eleven devastatingly bad ‘burning libraries’ or ‘burning […]

    Last Casualty of the Great War? April 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Last Casualty of the Great War?

    The last death in the Great War took place, as is often the case with such conflagarations, long after most of those involved had put down their weapons. 21 June 1919, the German High Fleet had illegally scuttled itself at Scapa Flow in Orkney, the island group to the north of Britain. The aftermath was […]

    The Spy Who Loved Me? Semen and Espionage April 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Spy Who Loved Me? Semen and Espionage

    By WW2 Britain had the best spy and espionage service in the world: one that helped end the war in 1945 rather than 1946 or 1947. However, in WW1 it was still amateur hour. MI6 was just five years old when the guns of August thundered and there was a great deal of improvisation by […]

    A Jewish Hitler? April 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Jewish Hitler?

    One of the most interesting ‘urban legends’ about Hitler is that the fuhrer was himself part Jewish: a notion perhaps helped along by his particularly unaryan features. It would, as a matter of fact, be truer to say that Hitler may have had Jewish ancestry. The ambiguity comes about not from Hitler’s maternal side but […]

    A Year-Long Dance in the Eleventh Century? April 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Year-Long Dance in the Eleventh Century?

    A busy day here but really this strange twelfth century text (about an eleventh century event) needs little in the way of explanation. Wonder should be enough. William of Malmesbury, who quotes this account, apparently has a witness to hand. Note that Ethelbert sounds an Anglo-Saxon name but it is presumably an Anglified version of […]

    Declaring War in WW2: National Styles March 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Declaring War in WW2: National Styles

    The characters of countries are reflected in their cuisines, their clothes, and their soap operas, so why not in their declarations of war? Thought it might be fun to see whether this notion stands up and so this morning ran through every WW2 declaration of war that I could find from 1 September 1939 through […]

    A Letter Between Enemies, 1915 March 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Letter Between Enemies, 1915

    This letter came in the spring of 1915 to the Michon family house in France. It arrived from a Naples address, but it had come ultimately from Berlin: direct letters from Berlin to France where, of course, out of the question by this date. The writer was one Charlotte von Dassel. Very dear Madame, In […]

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