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  • Preserving Foolish Enemies March 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Preserving Foolish Enemies

    A very speculative post. In war there may be something to be said, in strategic terms, let’s forget the tiresome debates around international law, for killing enemy leaders. Sometimes this is a simple decapitation strategy (American attempts to annihilate Sadam Hussein at the beginning of the Second Gulf War or earlier US targeted bombing on […]

    Churchill’s Daemon March 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Churchill’s Daemon

    Strange History has noted before the belief in daemons, individual spirit guides, a Mediterranean tradition that matures into the guardian angel with the assistance of Christianity. The most striking example is certainly that of Socrates who had regular conversations with his daemon. Then there is Joan of Arc and St Michael (or whoever)… Beach today […]

    Good Swastikas? The Hakaristi February 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Good Swastikas? The Hakaristi

    When is a swastika a good sign? The answer is, crudely, when it predates the Nazi party’s adoption of the crooked cross in 1920, for the swastika is one of the most ancient and one of the most widespread of human symbols. In many countries it remained an essentially religious symbol, locked into a pre-modern memory […]

    Count Teleki: The Politics of Suicide February 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Count Teleki: The Politics of Suicide

    The Hungarian Count Pál Teleki is a tragic Second World War figure, obit 1941 (that says it all). In the last year of his life tensions between Hungary and her neighbours were growing. Teleki was emotionally an Ally, an old fashioned conservative democrat, who would have been far more at home in Britain or France’s […]

    Scoundrels and Pisspants: WW2 Ambassadors and Declarations of War February 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Scoundrels and Pisspants: WW2 Ambassadors and Declarations of War

    Diplomats and ambassadors find themselves in a rather unusual situation. They are to represent their country, first and foremost, of course, but they are also to fraternize with their adopted country. This strange and strained sets of loyalties makes declarations of war particularly painful. The ambassador meets the foreign secretary with whom he has often […]

    The Peshev Insurgency February 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Peshev Insurgency

    Dimitar Peshev was a middle ranking interwar Bulgarian politician of conservative persuasion. He served briefly as Bulgarian minister of Justice in the mid 1930s, then returned to the back benches with an honorific position in parliament. He survived the Second World War and, miraculously, the communist purges that followed, though he spent a year in […]

    Forgot the Damn Suicide Pills! January 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Forgot the Damn Suicide Pills!

    Perhaps you need a British sense of humour, but this scene had Beach smiling more than potential death scenes normally do. It is D-Day and General Donovan (pictured) and Colonel David Bruce the narrator have to undertake a special mission in the French interior just off the D-Day beaches (they have been landed at Utah), […]

    Forgotten Kingdoms: The Republic of Montefiorino January 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Forgotten Kingdoms: The Republic of Montefiorino

    Another for the forgotten kingdom files, this time a particularly short lived example from Italy: the rulers of the Republic of Montefiorino managed about six weeks in 1944 before history and German flame-throwers intervened. First, some background. In the summer of 1943 Mussolini’s fascist government crumbled and Italy found itself occupied by angry Allies in […]

    For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow and WW2 December 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    For He's a Jolly Good Fellow and WW2

    A painful moment from 1939, at least for any Britons reading this post. Neville Chamberlain and his capable foreign minister, Lord Halifax, have travelled, 11 January, to Rome for a meeting of minds with Mussolini. In fact, Britain is just nine months away from a World War and a year and a half away from […]

    The Rights and Wrongs of Killing Mussolini December 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Rights and Wrongs of Killing Mussolini

    After Beach’s recent blog on Mussolini’s death several emails about not so much the circumstances as the justification for killing the Fascist leader. The official version of the story claims that the Allies wanted Mussolini for themselves but that the partisans and particularly the Communist partisans had decided to do away with Mussolini as a […]

    The King and Country Debate: Oxford 1933 December 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The King and Country Debate: Oxford 1933

    It is remembered as ‘the King and Country Debate’, the most famous student debate in history. 9 February 1933 Oxford Union (the students of Oxford University in contentious mode) undertook to discuss the proposal ‘that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country’. The expectations were that the proposal would be brushed […]

    The Misericordia Polyptych Meets Allied Bombs November 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    The Misericordia Polyptych Meets Allied Bombs

    The Misericordia Polyptych is a talismanic work of art by Piero della Francesca, today, and for most of its history, kept at Sanselpolcro in eastern Tuscany near the border with Umbria (Italy). It took PF seventeen years to complete the polyptych, yet it would have only taken a second for an Allied bomb to blow […]

    Italy’s World War Disaster November 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Italy's World War Disaster

    Italians and World Wars don’t really get on. A combination of poor military culture and one of the most macho yet incompetent political classes on the planet made for messy interventions, and amputations rather than extrications. However, even by sorry Italian standards, the six weeks beginning 28 Oct 1940 and ending 7-8 Dec 1940 were […]

    The Joys of Historical Ignorance November 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Joys of Historical Ignorance

    For a student from the west the basic sign of historical literacy is whether or not you can put the following periods in their correct order: antiquity, ‘dark ages’, middle ages, renaissance and modernity. Beach has the privilege of teaching perhaps two hundred American students a year and probably ten percent would be capable of […]

    The Dominions and WW2 November 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Dominions and WW2

    The Dominions were a precise administrative category within the British Empire. They referred to the territories that had reached, according to omniscient London, the ability to govern themselves with minimum interference from the motherland. With many of the racist assumptions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was believed that only white populations […]

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