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  • 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 […]

    Crowds #7: Fleeing July 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Crowds #7: Fleeing

    Beach greatly enjoyed, last year, writing a series of posts on crowds: i.e ransacking the web for likely images with the philosophy that groups, particularly ecstatic, tense or ‘altered’ groups make for interesting studies. There was crowds as art, those silly men with straw hats from August 1914, listening crowds, religion and crowds, prisoner crowds […]

    The Greatest Marine of WWII? June 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Greatest Marine of WWII?

    Guy Gabaldon was perhaps the most remarkable American Marine of the ‘greatest generation’, a man who went to the grave, in 2006, with the knowledge that he had saved hundreds of lives, most of them Japanese soldiers and civilians, toying with or in some cases literally running towards suicide (cliffs). If this introduction suggests a […]

    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 […]

    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 […]

    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 […]

    Pimping Your Noble Sister in Wartime Naples March 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Pimping Your Noble Sister in Wartime Naples

    Norman Lewis’ Naples ’44 is one of the great works of the Second World War. It describes the most dramatic of places, Naples, under the most dramatic of situations, German and then Allied occupation. Beach was so excited, by his recent playing around with this book, in that tale about Padre Pio the human anti-aircraft […]

    Who Needs Anti-Aircraft Guns When You Have Saints? March 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Who Needs Anti-Aircraft Guns When You Have Saints?

    In Norman Lewis’ brilliant, astounding Naples ’44, the British writer has many curious and memorable passages from his diary of that year. However, this is one of Beach’s favourites. At Pomigliano [north-east of Naples] we have a flying monk who also demonstrates the stigmata. The monk claims that on an occasion last year when an […]

    British Occultists and World War II February 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    British Occultists and World War II

    World War II has come to Britain. The country you love is in peril. What do you do? Young men become soldiers. Young women nurses or volunteers. Pacifists argue against the insanity of it all. The old end up on fire-watching duty or filling in crucial holes in industry. Centenarians start knitting socks for the […]

    Into the Lion’s Mouth January 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Into the Lion's Mouth

    What do Lorenzo the Magnificent (obit 1492), Henry III of Navarre (obit 1610) and Rudolph Hess (obit 1987) have in common? Well, they were men, they were all born in Continental Europe and they also went defenceless to their enemies and somehow survived to tell the tale, hence the lion’s mouth of the title. First, […]

    Families and the Durability of Memory November 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Families and the Durability of Memory

    How long can memories remain in a family? We have played these games before, of course. Just a couple of weeks ago Beach was imagining his daughter telling his great great grandchildren about the time their great, great, great, great grandfather survived an Italian attack in the Mediterranean, a hundred and fifty years after the […]

    Oldest Still Used Clothes November 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Oldest Still Used Clothes

    Strange History announces a search for the oldest clothes in the world. Or rather the oldest still worn clothes. This is the best we’ve come up with so far. A British soldier has escaped from an Italian prisoner of War camp, 1943, and he has run to the mountains where he has fallen ill. Luckily […]

    Crowds #6: Bully Crowds November 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Crowds #6: Bully Crowds

    We have so far shown numerous posts on crowd photographs: crowd art, crowd speeches, August 1914 crowds, POWs in crowds and religious crowds. Here is by far the most unpleasant of the series – you have been warned! – bullying crowds. A group of people with power, perhaps newly acquired power, decides to revenge itself […]

    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 […]

    Sherlock Holmes in the Blitz November 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Sherlock Holmes in the Blitz

    ***Dedicated to Stu*** Some wonderful lunchtimes in the last week re-watching the Basil Rathbone (Holmes) and Nigel Bruce (Watson) Sherlock Holmes films, a series that begin in 1939 with the Hound of the Baskervilles and then went on to Dressed to Kill in 1946, with twelve films and numerous radio dramatisations intervening. Lovers of the […]

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