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The Death Dealer of Kovno March 31, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Death Dealer of Kovno

Call it the month of the massacres: Beachcombing in the past four weeks has gone knee deep in blood ‘that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er’. Even he gets a little queasy thinking about it. There was Queen Victoria drinking blood; then killer ice-cream; followed up by a horrific […]

Playing Solitaire in Hitler’s Bunker March 24, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Playing Solitaire in Hitler’s Bunker

  Crisis in the Beachcombing household tonight. Yesterday it was discovered that every member of the family save Beachcombing himself had been stricken with head lice. And so Beachcombing has spent most of the last six hours combing what look like wood ants from his darling wife’s and elder daughter’s fair locks. By way of […]

Image: Murder Inc March 15, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Image: Murder Inc

This picture is taken from David King’s brilliant The Commissar Vanishes (another post, another day) and shows the 228 men and women (this online version is cropped) who ran the prosecutor’s office of the Supreme Soviet. Their task was to break the ideological enemies of the regime, understood not, of course, as enemies of communism, but […]

Nationalising Women on the Volga March 8, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Nationalising Women on the Volga

  Beachcombing has been remiss in picking on the Soviet Union recently, his last efforts came in October of last year. However, yesterday’s post on Women Service sparked a memory within a memory and sent Beachcombing running to his book shelves. The work in question was Frederick Bailey’s brilliant Mission to Tashkent. Bailey – a British spy […]

Image: Dancing to Save the World October 18, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Image: Dancing to Save the World

Mirella over at History and Women has the happy phrase, ‘Wordless Wednesday’, for her regular posts with images. And this ‘wordless’ approach is certainly the sensible one. But Beachcombing gets worryingly loquacious when powerful pictures come up and today is going to be no exception. The photograph above was one of a series of the […]

Image: Comrade Lenin in Antarctica October 4, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Image: Comrade Lenin in Antarctica

It was a dull weekend and so Beachcombing is going to give himself a pick-me-up this Monday morning with one of his favourite sports – making fun of the Soviet Union. And what better way to do it than with this fabulous photograph of the southern pole of inaccessibility, the point in Antarctica furthest from […]

Tom Wintringham and Lenin’s Tractor September 8, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Tom Wintringham and Lenin’s Tractor

Of all the intellectual perversions of modern times perhaps none was as bizarre and perhaps none had more serious consequences than the fawning attitude of some western democrats towards the Soviet Union and its satellites from the 1930s to the 1970s. The paeans of nonsense that there were written about Lenin and Stalin now beggar […]

Women Drivers in Stalingrad August 22, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Women Drivers in Stalingrad

                            Beachcombing has already offered readers a series of his WIBT (‘wish I’d been there’) moments and couldn’t resist the following vignette that though unimportant in intention and outcome catches something of the Soviet Union in its worst years. Stalingrad in late […]

German Crusaders lost in Central Asia? June 29, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
German Crusaders lost in Central Asia?

Beachcombing often stretches himself pretty thin in covering the centuries and sometimes he just doesn’t have the languages to check up properly on a story. With these caveats he offers his readers the following tale that reads like a late Victorian or Edwardian boy’s own adventure. The text comes from Richard Halliburton’s Seven League Boots, […]

Unluckiest in History June 12, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Unluckiest in History

                    Beachcombing has had one of those extraordinarily bad days where everything went wrong from birdsong onwards: broken computers, screaming infants, rude emails, income tax threats, temperamental car, vomiting wife (don’t ask)… In celebration of this he thought that he would muse on the unluckiest person in history: a […]

Oleg Penkovsky, Six Breaths and World Destruction May 31, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Oleg Penkovsky, Six Breaths and World Destruction

    Beachcombing has never quite known what to make of Oleg Penkovsky, the most important double agent run by MI6, indeed by any power in the Cold War. Was he self-seeking? A traitor? A hero? These are puerile questions: he was probably all three. But now for a curiosity that is more amenable to […]

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