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Totalitarian Leaders, Urban Legends and Motorbikes March 29, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Totalitarian Leaders, Urban Legends and Motorbikes

Totalitarian states put their leaders at the very heart of civic life as symbol and reality of fascism/Nazism/communism (or whatever other nightmare a country has fallen into). One of the consequences of the popular focus on the duce/fuhrer/stalin is that the individual citizen comes to feel a special warmth for the head that they might […]

Molotov, Poetic Justice and Outer Mongolia March 13, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Molotov, Poetic Justice and Outer Mongolia

There is always some fun seeing people placed in hells of their own making, hells that they amply deserve. Of course, there is the whole ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’ thing: Samuel K. Doe, president of Liberia being tortured to death on celluloid; Gaddafi meeting his end in a culvert (‘God forbids […]

The Pope and His Tanks January 21, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Pope and His Tanks

If you open a book of memorable quotations you will find bon mots and phrases that have been validated by time. You will also often find controversy as to where these sentences come from and because they belong to a given people or nation or, indeed, all of humanity they are altered and reascribed. Beach […]

The Venkov Lenin: the Bizarre Fate of a Communist Era Statue January 9, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Venkov Lenin: the Bizarre Fate of a Communist Era Statue

Picture borrowed from Vacilando, a useful source for information on Lewis Carpenter There are some great stories about Lenin statues and busts, including Lenin in Antarctica, a post featured on this blog a couple of years ago. For now though let’s turn to one of the most travelled of all the statues of the man […]

The Gannet Club: Parachuteless in WW2 December 14, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Gannet Club: Parachuteless in WW2

Jumping out of a plane without a parachute is never a good idea. But it is striking that some individuals walk away, or more likely are carried away, with a few token broken bones and a story to dine out on for the rest of their lives. Most modern examples are of parachutists who have […]

Jokes From World War 2 October 28, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Jokes From World War 2

Unlike our previous post on jokes about the World Wars here are a series of jokes from world war two. Beach can’t guarantee that every single one came from the the period between Sept 1939 and the summer of 1945, but they have a contemporary feel. Here are his favourites. Note a factory worker, Marianne […]

Twelve Best History Montages October 13, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Twelve Best History Montages

By history montage we refer to short length runs of images and film available on youtube often with attractive music in the background. They are typically put together by amateurs and their productions standards and their production values can be a little shaky. However, often late in the evening or when he wants his daughters […]

Totalitarian Bizarreness August 29, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Totalitarian Bizarreness

Beach isn’t a big fan of totalitarian regimes, but in the defence of those sorry little (and occasionally big) regimes they do make for bizarre news stories. For example, the rumour is just coming in, via South Korea, that the Great Leader in the north has wiped out much of NK’s pop singing community. Among […]

Forgotten Kingdoms: The Gagauz and Identity Problems July 24, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Forgotten Kingdoms: The Gagauz and Identity Problems

Eastern Europe is full of unexpected populations. But few are as fun as the Gagauz,  a proud and ancient people, based in what is today southern Moldova. Of course, most modern westerners have never heard of Moldova – historically part of Romania – let alone that country’s tiny minority in the south. But the Gagauz […]

Image: Hammer and Sickle Time on the Reichstag July 9, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Image: Hammer and Sickle Time on the Reichstag

Yevgeny Khaldei (obit 1997) was Jewish, a Ukrainian and a Soviet citizen: three pretty good reasons to hate the Third Reich. A talented photographer he must have counted himself lucky, then, to have been in at the kill, on the roof of the Reichstag as an adolescent, Aleskei Kovalyev, lifted the dreadful flag of Stalin […]

The Children of Bjelaja-Zerkow April 26, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Children of Bjelaja-Zerkow

A horrid story from August 1941 at Bjelaja-Zerkow in German occupied Soviet territory. In this town the SS murdered as many as nine hundred Jewish residents. That is nightmarish enough, of course, if unfortunately an all too typical act in the war in the east. What allows Bjelaja-Zerkow to climb a little higher in the […]

Columbus Knew Where He Was Going, Claims Soviet Historian December 30, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
Columbus Knew Where He Was Going, Claims Soviet Historian

A weird little news report from New York Herald Tribune, 12 October 1959 Soviet Historian Declares Columbus Tricked World. A Soviet Historian said today that Christopher Columbus hoodwinked the world 467 years ago because he knew all along where America was. The historian, identified only as Tyspernik, a lecturer at the Kazakh Pedagogic Institute, was […]

The Last Survivor of the Second World War November 15, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Last Survivor of the Second World War

Strange History put up a melancholy post a couple of weeks ago marking the day that the last Battle of Britain pilot died. And this is only the beginning… On that very day the newspapers ran with another story commemorating not the last but the oldest Auschwitz survivor’s death. Now the Battle of Britain and Auschwitz involve […]

Japanese Cartoons from Siberia and Beyond October 16, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Japanese Cartoons from Siberia and Beyond

***Dedicated to Ricardo R and the Kiuchi family*** Beach’s best discovery on the internet this month (courtesy of Ricardo R) has been a fabulous series of Japanese cartoons, describing the ordeal of an air corps man, Kiuchi Nobuo, one of hundreds of thousands Japanese soldiers, dragged off by the Soviets at the end of the war. […]

Are Societies What They Eat? September 11, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Are Societies What They Eat?

There is no question that food and drink change us. If you begin to drink two litres of coca-cola a day, instead of a litre of fizzy water or if you start chewing on cocoa leaves instead of making banana smoothies your family will quickly notice a difference. Here there is and can be no […]

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