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  • 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 […]

    Unripe Bananas and Almost Meeting Charles Dickens: The Index Biography September 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Unripe Bananas and Almost Meeting Charles Dickens: The Index Biography

    So you want to know about a famous man or woman; you need a potted biography. You don’t have access to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (or other national equivalents). Wikipedia is often a bit long and can be inaccurate. The Encyclopedia Britannica is worse. And you threw away your reference volumes because you […]

    Stalin Suffering the Children March 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Stalin Suffering the Children

    This image of Uncle Joe with a young girl understandably became famous. It shows the softer side of one of the most prolific murderers of all time: something useful in a society that was based on a cult of said murderer. And interestingly this is not just a chance photographic moment: the kind that make […]

    Selling (Balkan) Europe by the Pound March 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Selling (Balkan) Europe by the Pound

    Beach has pioneered for some time his WIBT (‘wish I’d been there’) series. Those moments in the past where any historically-conscious person would just LOVE to be a half dead bluebottle on the windowsill watching the great men and women conspiring to create history. It is a nice idea, of course. However, as most of […]

    Impressionist Heresy in the Soviet Union November 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Impressionist Heresy in the Soviet Union

    Beach has spent the day in bed reading books he once loved and in doing so came across this fabulous picture by Sergei Gerasimov (obit 1964). While not normally a big fan of Soviet art, except, of course, for its kitsch value, Gerasimov’s Mother of a Partisan (1943) is worth making an exception over. For […]

    Berlin, 30 April 1945 October 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Berlin, 30 April 1945

    Beachcombing had two formative experiences over the last week. One was discovering that peanut, banana and honey sandwiches can be substantially improved through the use of raw ginger. The other was watching Die Untergang (Downfall) the 2004 film describing the final days of Hitler in April 1945. On balance, Beach prefers the liberal use of […]

    Immortal Meals 6#: Arguments at Tehran October 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Immortal Meals 6#: Arguments at Tehran

    WIBT (Wish I’d been there)  moments from the Big Three Conference at Tehran in 1943 are so numerous that a casual reader would be spoilt for choice: Marshal Voroshilov dropping the Sword of Stalingrad at the worst possible moment in the ceremonials; German intelligence’s attempts to kill Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin; agreement on the United […]

    Stalin, Molotov and the Finns August 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Stalin, Molotov and the Finns

    A brief post to celebrate a WIBT (wish I’d been there) moment from the margins of the Second World War. November 1939 and western Europe has plunged into internecine conflict. However, the non-combatant Soviet Union is enjoying itself. Indeed, it has decided to use this precious period to put the record straight with some of […]

    Superman versus Hitler May 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Superman versus Hitler

    Oh those happy, innocent afternoons a few decades ago! Home from school /college Beachcombing would sit through the junk that British children’s television had to offer. He would quickly take in the news headlines on BBC 1 at 6.00 pm (cruise missiles, inflation, cricket defeats…) and then turn over at 6.02 pm to BBC 2 […]

    The Commissar Vanishes April 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Commissar Vanishes

    After yesterday’s post on cinema gimmicks, Beachcombing found himself wondering about why cinema alone of the great arts seems to prosper under totalitarianism. From there he got all excited about Soviet kitsch and spent an hour in his armchair where he got reacquainted with one of his favourite books of the last couple of years: […]

    Best of Enemies April 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Best of Enemies

    Beachcombing is always going on about how he is looking for historic pictures, especially of the lesser known kind. He was most excited then when a correspondent recently opened up a raw and largely unmined vein: what Beachcombing will call ‘the best of enemies picture’.  Foes brought together after the event… Ok three rules. 1) Photographs […]

    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 […]