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  • 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 […]

    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 […]

    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 […]

    Power and Ageing: Blair, Bush, Clinton, Obama and Thatcher May 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Power and Ageing: Blair, Bush, Clinton, Obama and Thatcher

    It is well known that power corrupts but what does power do for the ageing process? To judge by President Obama’s rapidly whiting hair (and kudos for not getting out the dye too often) then there is nothing more likely to make you old before your time than to be in charge of a major […]

    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 Bugged Conversation from June 1945? May 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Bugged Conversation from June 1945?

    ***Dedicated to Cristiano and the memory of his old friend Johann Elser*** In the 1930s and the 1940s Britain boasted perhaps the best intelligence services in the world, with only the Soviets as rivals. SIS (aka MI6) operated throughout the Empire but also in allied and potential enemy countries to great effect. When World War […]

    Decisions Within March 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Decisions Within

    History takes place between societies, within societies and among groups of individuals. Historians have proved quite competent at measuring these interactions. But what happens when history takes place strictly within a single human heart, in a place where there are no records, no archives or scholars with searchlights, when one decision changes the track of […]

    Germania: A Nightmare Deferred March 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Germania: A Nightmare Deferred

    ‘Egypt’s might is tumbled down/ Down a-down the deeps of thought;/ Greece is fallen and Troy town,/ Glorious Rome hath lost her crown,/ Venice’s pride is nought./ But the dreams their children dreamed/ Fleeting, unsubstantial, vain/ Shadowy as the shadows seemed/ Airy nothing, as they deemed,/ These remain.’ Beautiful poem Mary (Coleridge), but thankfully some […]

    Hitler’s Bizarre Sex Life? February 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Hitler's Bizarre Sex Life?

    Hitler’s sex life has spawned thousands of pages of discussion and speculation. Indeed, there are whole books given over to the subject, many chapters and countless paragraphs. Hell, there are even schools of thought: Hitler the copromaniac, Hitler the homosexual, Hitler the heterosexual… All compete to give an insight into Hitler’s anger and his surreal […]

    Long-Knife Victims September 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Long-Knife Victims

    Beach has several times over the years enjoyed the nonsense that historians spout about numbers. How many people lived in Roman Britain. How many witches were dragged to the stake in the burning years. How many Christians were sold in the slave markets of northern Africa in modern times? The sheer range of numbers is […]

    Crowds #2: Speaking to Crowds June 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Crowds #2: Speaking to Crowds

    W.B.Yeats once wrote that the most important thing for a ‘man’ was, in his day, no longer a sword but a tongue to speak to the masses. Yeats was living in an age when that was still true. Microphones were allowing the amplification of voices and transport meant that a politician or preacher could travel […]

    John Lukacs: The Legacy of the Second World War April 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    John Lukacs: The Legacy of the Second World War

    John Lukacs’s The Legacy of the Second World War is, like most books by that brilliant and maverick historian, a bit of a mess. The chapter headings say it all. Chapter One, ‘Seventy Years Later’ and Chapter Two ‘the Place of the Second World War’ can pass muster. However, then everything is thrown off kilter. […]

    Crowds #1: And so it begins… Images from 1914 March 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Crowds #1: And so it begins... Images from 1914

      [students in Berlin, off to enlist] Beachcombing has recently become interested in crowd photography: large groups of people, preferably in rather strange or extreme situations. And as part of this ‘project’ he started collecting photographs from perhaps the dizziest month in western history: August 1914. The war is just beginning and young and not […]

    Dunkirk and Golden Bridges December 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Dunkirk and Golden Bridges

    Dunkirk is one of those moments in recent history that you have to look at sideways to have even a modest chance of understanding and still then there is something that defies analysis. How was it that the British Expeditionary Force, demoralized, bloodied and on the run, with the greatest army of the twentieth century […]

    Luftwaffe Kills Two Rabbits, Perhaps December 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Luftwaffe Kills Two Rabbits, Perhaps

      Little Miss B in seventh heaven last night and this morning as the family has been gifted a small black rabbit. This black rabbit is not destined to have the happiest of lives as LMB insists on watching Disney cartoons with it. Beachcombing, in any case, fell asleep with rabbits and woke up thinking […]

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