The Korean War: History In An Hour

Korean WarBringing together the military mights of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United Nations States, the Korean War raged for three years from 1950 to 1953. Not only the result of a carving of Korean territories following the Pacific conflicts of the Second World War, it was also a battle of ideologies as General MacArthur’s American military forces occupied the southern half and Stalin’s Soviet forced supported the northern half.

Initiated by infantry movements and air raids, the region gradually became mired in a static trench war by July 1951, and would continue to cost both sides in both morale and human lives. The Korean War: History in an Hour by Andrew Mulholland is the concise story to one of the most bitter and enduring conflicts of the post-war era.

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Also available as an audio download.

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The North Invades
The United Nations Clings On
UN Counter-Offensive
China Intervenes
Entrenched: Peace Talks and Military Stalemate
Other Developments in the Korean War
Casualties of War
Korea Since 1953
Reasons to Remember


Did the ‘War of the Worlds’ Radio Broadcast Really Cause Mass Panic?

Tonight, PBS airs a documentary about Orson Welles’ infamous 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast and the resulting hysteria that swept America. The only problem? Many scholars contend that the program didn’t actually cause mass panic at all.

The story is burned into our national consciousness: Airing on October 30, 1938, the War of the Worlds broadcast was brilliantly directed by the not yet world famous “boy wonder,” Orson Welles. His expertly crafted show told the story of Martians invading New Jersey, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake. We’re told millions of people took the fictional program as real, and thought that the end of the world had arrived. The program supposedly caused suicides, heart attacks, and any number of panicked people to get in their cars and flee for the hills.

This story of mass panic is the one that PBS tells tonight. The show cleverly utilizes modern actors to give reactions from people who heard the broadcast. The modern footage is even treated to make it look old, while the audio is distressed and tinny. Unfortunately, this device largely serves to perpetuate the myths surrounding the broadcast, rather than better our understanding of it.

Yesterday I spoke with Michael Socolow, whose 2008 article in The Chronicle of Higher Learning argues that claims of mass panic have been overhyped. According to Socolow, the anecdotal accounts run by newspapers of the time were deeply flawed and painted a skewed picture of how Americans (most of whom hadn’t even heard the broadcast first-hand) had responded to the now infamous program.

“The reason it becomes so big is that the press goes crazy for the story. And then people start thinking they’ve heard it,” Socolow says. “Memory and the media have an incredibly complex relationship.”

The surveys done immediately after the program illustrated that not only did very few people hear the broadcast, but that virtually no one thought it was real. Socolow co-wrote a piece forSlate that appears today and lays out many of the same arguments.

When I asked Socolow about his assessment, he was quick to rattle off four names of other researchers who had come to similar conclusions about the War of the Worlds broadcast, even before his first article on the topic appeared in 2008: Edward Jay EpsteinRobert BartholomewJeffrey SconceW. Joseph Campbell. Socolow was far from the first to realize that this so-called panic broadcast wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Socolow was interviewed for the PBS American Experience: War of the Worlds documentary that airs tonight, but as he puts it, “they left all of the scholarship out.” He’s seen an advance screener copy and has many issues with the program. To begin with, the film only devotes one line to the dissenting viewpoint that maybe the mass panic claims were a bit overblown.

“Ultimately, the very extent of the panic would come to be seen as having been exaggerated by the press,” the PBS show says late during the program in the lone hint that this might all be bullshit.

Socolow also takes issue with the way that the PBS documentary represents certain facts. The show uses modern actors to read portions of letters written by people responding to the broadcast in 1938, and they also use interview material that appears in the 1940 book The Invasion From Mars by Hadley Cantril. “I’m not sure why PBS would base a documentary on a piece of scholarship published in 1940,” Socolow says. “If they produced a new documentary on, say, the Civil War or the Jazz Age, one would assume they would reference more recent scholarship.”

Cantril’s 1940 book is flawed in so many crucial ways, as Socolow wrote in 2008:

Admitting that his interviews did not comprise an accurate sample of either the national population or the radio audience that evening, Cantril nevertheless filled his short volume with narratives of terror and fear.

Putting aside the fact that the source material is unrepresentative of the population that heard the broadcast — or at the very least, doesn’t prove any mass panic actually took place — there is the issue of how the testimonies were changed. As the filmmakers explain in the “making of” video: “One of the challenges of working with letters is that they’re written. And we don’t speak the way that letters are written. So, the letters had to be adapted a bit.”

“I think the decision to ‘interpret’ or ‘adapt’ the primary source material was a mistake,” Socolow contends. “I don’t think any of the characters are particularly memorable, or relatable.”

The issue is not only that these letters were “adapted,” but that they use fake names (like Sylvia Holmes in Newark, New Jersey) as though they were real. As the preface to the 1940 Cantril book lays out, “All names of respondents used in the text are fictitious and identifying characteristics are disguised, but the true flavor of the case studies is preserved.”

This perpetuation of the pseudonyms, in my mind, is a minor issue in the short term. But as we’ve seen with historical figures likeNikola Tesla, minor misrepresentations roll through history like a cartoon snowball growing in size. How many high school or college kids writing a paper on the War of the Worlds panic in the next few decades will quote the fictional Sylvia Holmes?

In the end, Socolow asks us to put ourselves in the shoes of people in 1938. Do we think so little of the people that came before us? Were they really any more gullible than the people of 2013?

“What bothers me the most about the panic myth in general, and the PBS documentary specifically, is that it demonstrates such condescension towards the radio listening audience of 1938,” Socolow says. “I honestly do not think those listeners were much more persuadable — or easily panicked — than we are today, and I don’t think most of us today would panic.”


“Generation War,” billed as a German “Band of Brothers,” follows the lives of five friends from 1939-1945.

“Generation War,” billed as a German “Band of Brothers,” follows the lives of five friends from 1939-1945.

COLOGNE, Germany – A miniseries billed as a German Band of Brothers has become a ratings hit here and sparked a nationwide discussion about the role of ordinary Germans during World War II.

The six-hour series Generation War depicts the lives of five German friends from 1939-45. Most of the series is set among the German Wehrmacht — the regular German armed forces, not the Nazi-controlled Waffen SS — and occurs on the Eastern Front, the site of the most brutal acts of violence by the German army during the war. That violence is at the core of Generation War, something that sets the series apart from previous German WWII shows. Also central to the series is the idea of personal complicity and burden of guilt on ordinary Germans for the Nazi atrocities.

In addition to drawing record ratings for public broadcaster ZDF over three nights – 7.6 million viewers, a 24 percent share of the German audience, saw the series finale Wednesday – Generation War has begun a heated discussion in the media over history and personal responsibility. The debate is arguably on a scale last seen following the release of Stephen Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993).

“Were German Soldiers Really So Barbaric?” was one front page headline in leading German tabloidBild, which, like many newspapers and websites here, called on wartime veterans and family members to share their memories of the time. Yes, they were, was Bild‘s conclusion.

German critics have been nearly universal in their praise for the series, with Der Spiegel calling it a “turning point in German television” and a review in national newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitungsaying Generation War provides “the first and last chance .. to ask grandparents about their true biographies, their immoral compromises … the missed chances to act – everything which, in masses, leads to catastrophe.”

Historic WWII dramas are nothing new for German TV. But in the past, they have been costume melodramas that shied away from the raw violence of the period and uncomfortable historic truths. In scenes that are certain to make Generation War as controversial East of Berlin as it is in Germany, some of the Polish partisans fighting the invading Nazis are depicted as anti-Semites.

“We tried to filter out all the conventions that are usually used in telling stories from the war on German TV, such as using a love story to provide the dramatic arc,” said Nico Hoffmann of Berlin-based teamWorx, speaking to THR at television industry conference MIPCOM last fall, where the producers unveiled the first footage of the series. “Instead, we wanted to get as close to the documented facts as we could.” Hoffman cites Band of Brothers as an inspiration for the style of Generation War, though the characters in the German series are fictional.


Holocaust: History In An Hour

Holocaust IAHThe Holocaust, in which 11 million people died, was the largest atrocity of the 20th century and perhaps the hardest to understand. Approximately 6 million Jews and 5 million others including Roma people, Poles, Russian prisoners of war, political prisoners, homosexuals, people of colour, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and various other minorities were first persecuted and then murdered.

How, both morally and logistically, had this came to happen? From received sentiments of anti-Semitism at the beginning of the 20th century, through the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party, to the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 and finally Second World War, the victimisation of these minorities intensified beyond precedent. With the complicity of a nation hatred became policy. Under the control of sadists, bureaucrats and even ordinary soldiers, irrational acts were then enacted on an industrial scale, and with the use of concentration camps, Western Europe witnessed its most shocking treatment of humanity in modern history. The Holocaust: History In An Hour is by Jemma J Saunders.

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Also available as an audio download.

Holocaust Audio







The Jews of Europe
Assimilated Germans
Early Warnings
Hitler in Power: The Tide Turns
The Nuremberg Laws
Racial Propaganda
The Approach of War
Forced Resettlement
West of Germany:  Yellow Stars and Registration
Pit Killings
The Euthanasia Programme
Wannsee and the ‘Final Solution’
The Will to Live
Arbeit Macht Frei
Killing Factories
Medical Experiments
Collaboration and Resistance
Death Marches
Remembering the Holocaust

Muddle Not Music – Pravda’s review of Shostakovich’s opera Lady MacBeth

From Pravda, 28 January 1936

With the general cultural development of our country there grew also the necessity for good music. At no time and in no other place has the composer had a more appreciative audience. The people expect good songs, but also good instrumental works, and good operas.

Certain theatres are presenting to the new culturally mature Soviet public Shostakovich’s opera Lady MacBeth as an innovation and achievement. Musical criticism, always ready to serve, has praised the opera to the skies, and given it resounding glory. The young composer, instead of hearing serious criticism, which could have helped him in his future work, hears only enthusiastic compliments.

From the first minute, the listener is shocked by deliberate dissonance, by a confused stream of sound. Snatches of melody, the beginnings of a musical phrase, are drowned, emerge again, and disappear in a grinding and squealing roar. To follow this “music” is most difficult; to remember it, impossible.

Thus it goes, practically throughout the entire opera. The singing on the stage is replaced by shrieks. If the composer chances to come upon the path of a clear and simple melody, he throws himself back into a wilderness of musical chaos – in places becoming cacophony. The expression which the listener expects is supplanted by wild rhythm. Passion is here supposed to be expressed by noise.

All this is not due to lack of talent, or lack of ability to depict strong and simple emotions in music. Here is music turned deliberately inside out in order that nothing will be reminiscent of classical opera, or have anything in common with symphonic music or with simple and popular musical language accessible to all.

This music is built on the basis of rejecting opera – the same basis on which “Leftist” Art rejects in the theatre simplicity, realism, clarity of image, and the unaffected spoken word – which carries into the theatre and into music the most negative features of “Meyerholdism” infinitely multiplied. Here we have “leftist” confusion instead of natural human music. The power of good music to infect the masses has been sacrificed to a petty bourgeois, “formalist” attempt to create originality through cheap clowning. It is a game of clever ingenuity that may end very badly.

The danger of this trend to Soviet music is clear. Leftist distortion in opera stems from the same source as Leftist distortion in painting, poetry, teaching, and science. Petty bourgeois “innovations” lead to a break with real art, real science and real literature. The composer of Lady MacBeth was forced to borrow from jazz its nervous, convulsive, and spasmodic music in order to lend “passion” to his characters.

While our critics, including music critics, swear by the name of socialist realism, the stage serves us, in Shostakovich’s creation, the coarsest kind of naturalism. He reveals the merchants and the people monotonously and bestially. The predatory merchant woman who scrambles into the possession of wealth through murder is pictured as some kind of “victim” of bourgeois society. Leskov’s story has been given a significance which it does not possess. And all this is coarse, primitive and vulgar. The music quacks, grunts, and growls, and suffocates itself in order to express the love scenes as naturalistically as possible. And “love” is smeared all over the opera in the most vulgar manner. The merchant’s double bed occupies the central position on the stage. On this bed all “problems” are solved. In the same coarse, naturalistic style is shown the death from poisoning and the flogging – both practically on stage.

The composer apparently never considered the problem of what the Soviet audience looks for and expects in music. As though deliberately, he scribbles down his music, confusing all the sounds in such a way that his music would reach only the effete “formalists” who had lost all their wholesome taste. He ignored the demand of Soviet culture that all coarseness and savagery be abolished from every corner of Soviet life.

Some critics call the glorification of the merchants’ lust a satire. But there is no question of satire here. The composer has tried, with all the musical and dramatic means at his command, to arouse the sympathy of the spectators for the coarse and vulgar inclinations and behaviour of the merchant woman Katerina Ismailova.

Lady MacBeth is having great success with bourgeois audiences abroad. Is it not because the opera is nonpolitical and confusing that they praise it? Is it not explained by the fact that it tickles the perverted taste of the bourgeois with its fidgety, neurotic music?

Our theatres have expended a great deal of energy on giving Shostakovich’s opera a thorough presentation. The actors have shown exceptional talent in dominating the noise, the screaming, and the roar of the orchestra. With their dramatic action, they have tried to reinforce the weakness of the melodic content. Unfortunately, this has served only to bring out the opera’s vulgar features more vividly. The talented acting deserves gratitude, the wasted efforts – regret.

See article on Dmitry Shostakovich.

Richard Wagner: The Master Of Gesamkunstwerk

Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883) was not just a composer he was an artist, a writer, poet, musician and a master of fusing together all the elements to create what is now called the ‘musical drama’; a total work of art or Gesamtkunstwerks.

He is also noted for his use of the Leitmotif; a musical theme often repeated or used for joining sections, such as when walking off and on a stage; it just fills those few seconds or minutes instead of having complete silence.

The Early Period

Richard WagnerBetween 1830 and 1837/8 Richard Wagner composed three operas Die Laune des Verliebten (The Infatuated Lover’s Caprice); Die Hochzeit (The Wedding), and Männerlist größer als Frauenlist oder Die glückliche Bärenfamilie (Men Are More Cunning than Women, or The Happy Bear Family).  The last was a Singspiel, a light opera with spoken dialogue.  All three efforts were abandoned and now are considered as part his learning period.

The Staged Operas

Opera 1 Die Feen (The Fairies). Completed in 1834, this was Wagner’s first opera.  He never saw it performed, but it was eventually premiered in Munich in June 1883.  The story is pure fantasy with elements of fairies, mortality, spirits and love, and has a happy ending; as fairy tales should.

Opera 2 – Das Lieberverbot has two acts; premiered in 1835 in Magdeburg, Saxony. However, the attendance was woefully poor; the leading singer forgot her words; and at the second attempt there was fighting back stage. Wagner abandoned it completely.

Opera 3 – Rienzi der Letzte der Tribunen (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes) usually shortened to Rienzi.  Without doubt Rienzi was Wagner’s breakthrough; it was his first success and brought him into the limelight as a competent composer.  He had started Rienzi in Riga; finished it in Paris, and had it premiered in Germany, at the Dresden Court Theatre (1842).  By 1873 Rienzi had been performed on a hundred occasions in the Dresden Court Theatre alone.  It had five acts and was based on Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton novel, The Last of the Tribunes. Wagner made a distinct effort to create a ballet sequence enhancing the story as opposed to producing, what he considered, a meaningless entertainment.

The Middle (romantic) Period

Opera 4 – Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) is set on the coast of Norway. During a voyage from Riga to London, Wagner experienced a tempestuous sea that tossed the ship and its passengers from side to side; although a terrifying experience, it was for Wagner one that inspired an intriguing story. Completed in 1841. Wagner conducted the premiere in Semper Oper in Dresden.

Opera 5 – Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg consisted of three acts involving legends, a knight and thirteenth century poetry.  It combined French and German historical legends and mythologies; so, Wagner adapted the story and created two versions; one for the French and one for the Germans.

Opera 6 – Lohengrin has a legendary theme; and is called the Swan Knight or the Knight of the Swan.  Wagner’s version was constructed from German mythology; the most popular element being the ‘Bridal Chorus’; Here Comes the Bride has become a routine part of the wedding service.  However, Lohengrin’s wedding does not have a happy ending.

The Late Period – recognised as Musical Dramas

Opera 7 – Das Rheingold is the first of the Ring of the Nibelung (Der Ring Das Nibelungen), or for short, The Ring Cycle.  Four separate operas are blended together as one magnificent masterpiece.  In the singular, Das Rheingold is sectionalized into four scenes as opposed to acts, and its shortness excludes the need for breaks.  It was premiered in the Munich Nation Theatre and later at Bayreuth as the first cycle opera.

Opera 8 – Die Walküre is the second Ring Cycle opera.  The most known section being the Ride of the Valkyrie’s; and was premiered in the Munich National Theatre and Bayreuth.

Opera 9 – Siegfried has three acts and is the third section of the Der Ring Des Nibelungen.  The inspiration for Siegfried came from the legendary story of the hero Sigurd in Norse mythology.  It was premiered at the Bayreuth Festival Theatre in 1876.

Opera 10 – Tristan und Isolde has three acts, and Wagner always called it a drama or plot. He drew his inspiration from his own romance with Mathilde Wesendonck, a poet and writer. Wagner’s entire raison d’être was always to change and create a new style of classical music and he certainly laid down the foundations. Indeed, Tristan is perceived as a new creation; a progression from the old conventions of harmony and tonality. It was premiered in June 1865.

Opera 11 – Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is a comedy and one of Wagner’s longest single operas, lasting around four and a half hours.  Unique in Wagner’s oeuvre, it is the only comedy in his later operas.  It was the only original story devised by Wagner and has no supernatural or magical elements.  It has three acts and was premiered at the Königlicher Hof-und, the Munich National Theatre.

Opera 12 – Götterdämmerung was the long awaited fourth section of Wagner’s masterpiece.  Wagner finished his mammoth undertaking by taking his inspiration from Norse mythology.  It has three acts and was six years in the making, but it slotted neatly into the other three component operas and was premiered at Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Opera 13 – Parsifal was Wagner’s last opera.  Conceived in 1857, Wagner finally began it in 1877 and finished it in 1882; by which time he had become seriously ill.  He chose to call his final opera Ein Bühnenweihfestspiel, A Festival for the Consecration of the Stage.  It has three acts; was premiered in the second Bayreuth Festival in 1882; and was monopolised at Bayreuth until it was premiered in New York’s Metropolitan opera house in 1903

It is easy to see why the operas of Richard Wagner blended in with each other, with one providing ideas for another.  He battled throughout his career for funds to create and produce his musical dramas; and against his manic depression. It forced him to pursue a compulsive perfectionism at all costs.  But out of his meticulous captivity came something to admire and enjoy … his ingenious Gesamtkunstwerks.

Stella Milner

See also Stella’s summary of Richard Wagner, and Wagner and the Bayreuth Festival.

The Gemlich letter – English text

16 September 1919

Dear Herr Gemlich,

The danger posed by Jewry for our people today finds expression in the undeniable aversion of wide sections of our people. The cause of this aversion is not to be found in a clear recognition of the consciously or unconsciously systematic and pernicious effect of the Jews as a totality upon our nation. Rather, it arises mostly from personal contact and from the personal impression which the individual Jew leaves­­almost always an unfavorable one. For this reason, antisemitism is too easily characterized as a mere emotional phenomenon. And yet this is incorrect. Antisemitism as a political movement may not and cannot be defined by emotional impulses, but by recognition of the facts. The facts are these: First, Jewry is absolutely a race and not a religious association. Even the Jews never designate themselves as Jewish Germans, Jewish Poles, or Jewish Americans but always as German, Polish, or American Jews. Jews have never yet adopted much more than the language of the foreign nations among whom they live. A German who is forced to make use of the French language in France, Italian in Italy, Chinese in China does not thereby become a Frenchman, Italian, or Chinaman. It’s the same with the Jew who lives among us and is forced to make use of the German language. He does not thereby become a German. Neither does the Mosaic faith, so important for the survival of this race, settle the question of whether someone is a Jew or non­Jew. There is scarcely a race whose members belong exclusively to just one definite religion.

Through thousands of years of the closest kind of inbreeding, Jews in general have maintained their race and their peculiarities far more distinctly than many of the peoples among whom they have lived. And thus comes the fact that there lives amongst us a non­ German, alien race which neither wishes nor is able to sacrifice its racial character or to deny its feeling, thinking, and striving. Nevertheless, it possesses all the political rights we do. If the ethos of the Jews is revealed in the purely material realm, it is even clearer in their thinking and striving. Their dance around the golden calf is becoming a merciless struggle for all those possessions we prize most highly on earth.

The value of the individual is no longer decided by his character or by the significance of his achievements for the totality but exclusively by the size of his fortune, by his money.

The loftiness of a nation is no longer to be measured by the sum of its moral and spiritual powers, but rather by the wealth of its material possessions.

This thinking and striving after money and power, and the feelings that go along with it, serve the purposes of the Jew who is unscrupulous in the choice of methods and pitiless in their employment. In autocratically ruled states he whines for the favor of “His Majesty” and misuses it like a leech fastened upon the nations. In democracies he vies for the favor of the masses, cringes before the “majesty of the people,” and recognizes only the majesty of money.

He destroys the character of princes with byzantine flattery, national pride (the strength of a people), with ridicule and shameless breeding to depravity. His method of battle is that public opinion which is never expressed in the press but which is nonetheless managed and falsified by it. His power is the power of money, which multiplies in his hands effortlessly and endlessly through interest, and which forces peoples under the most dangerous of yokes. Its golden glitter, so attractive in the beginning, conceals the ultimately tragic consequences. Everything men strive after as a higher goal, be it religion, socialism, democracy, is to the Jew only means to an end, the way to satisfy his lust for gold and domination.

In his effects and consequences he is like a racial tuberculosis of the nations.

The deduction from all this is the following: an antisemitism based on purely emotional grounds will find its ultimate expression in the form of the pogrom.[1] An antisemitism based on reason, however, must lead to systematic legal combating and elimination of the privileges of the Jews, that which distinguishes the Jews from the other aliens who live among us (an Aliens Law). The ultimate objective [of such legislation] must, however, be the irrevocable removal of the Jews in general.

For both these ends a government of national strength, not of national weakness, is necessary.

The Republic in Germany owes its birth not to the uniform national will of our people but the sly exploitation of a series of circumstances which found general expression in a deep, universal dissatisfaction. These circumstances however were independent of the form of the state and are still operative today. Indeed, more so now than before. Thus, a great portion of our people recognizes that a changed state­form cannot in itself change our situation. For that it will take a rebirth of the moral and spiritual powers of the nation.

And this rebirth cannot be initiated by a state leadership of irresponsible majorities, influenced by certain party dogmas, an irresponsible press, or internationalist phrases and slogans. [It requires] instead the ruthless installation of nationally minded leadership personalities with an inner sense of responsibility.

But these facts deny to the Republic the essential inner support of the nation’s spiritual forces. And thus today’s state leaders are compelled to seek support among those who draw the exclusive benefits of the new formation of German conditions, and who for this reason were the driving force behind the revolution­­the Jews. Even though (as various statements of the leading personalities reveal) today’s leaders fully realized the danger of Jewry, they (seeking their own advantage) accepted the readily proffered support of the Jews and also returned the favor. And this pay­off consisted not only in every possible favoring of Jewry, but above all in the hindrance of the struggle of the betrayed people against its defrauders, that is in the repression of the antisemitic movement.


Adolf Hitler.

The Gemlich Letter in context.

Adolf Hitler’s Last Political Testament – full text

More than thirty years have now passed since I in 1914 made my modest contribution as a volunteer in the First World War that was forced upon the Reich.

In these three decades I have been actuated solely by love and loyalty to my people in all my thoughts, acts, and life. They gave me the strength to make the most difficult decisions, which have ever confronted mortal man. I have spent my time, my working strength, and my health in these three decades.

It is untrue that I or anyone else in Germany wanted the war in 1939. It was desired and instigated exclusively by those international statesmen who were either of Jewish descent or worked for Jewish interests. I have made too many offers for the control and limitation of armaments, which posterity will not for all time be able to disregard for the responsibility for the outbreak of this war to be laid on me. I have further never wished that after the first fatal world war a second against England, or even against America, should break out. Centuries will pass away, but out of the ruins of our towns and monuments the hatred against those finally responsible whom we have to thank for everything, international Jewry and its helpers, will grow.

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Bess of Hardwick and Hardwick Hall

Bess of Hardwick is probably best remembered for two things: having survived four husbands and having built Hardwick Hall, about which Elizabeth I’s advisor Robert Cecil quipped, “Hardwick Hall? More window than wall.”

Bess was born at Hardwick Manor in Derbyshire, probably on October 4, 1527, according to her biographer Mary Lovell. Hardwicks had been living there for two hundred years, and Bess, who was descended from Edward I and Eleanor of Castille, was a gentlewoman. But her father had died when she was a baby, her mother had remarried, and her stepfather was imprisoned for debt when Bess was about ten, so the family lived in genteel poverty.


Bess of HardwickAt around the age of twelve, Bess was sent to be a lady-in-waiting to her distant relation Anne Gainsford, Lady Zouche. This kind of service in noble households was the standard way in which well-born boys and girls were introduced to influential people who could help them rise in the world and to potential mates. Bess is a shining example of how effective this system could be.

Both Lady Zouche and her husband, Sir George Zouche, had been in the household of Anne Boleyn. Lady Zouche served Jane Seymour after Anne Boleyn’s death in 1536, and in about 1540, Sir George became a gentleman pensioner to Henry VIII. This elite group of attendants were never far from the king both in London and when he went on progress during the summer, and it’s likely that Bess was in London and around the court of Henry VIII during some very interesting times.

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The Appeal of 18 June – text

Full text of Charles De Gaulle’s ‘Appeal of 18 June’ broadcast:

“The leaders who, for many years, have been at the head of the French armies have formed a government. This government, alleging the defeat of our armies, has made contact with the enemy in order to stop the fighting. It is true, we were, we are, overwhelmed by the mechanical, ground and air forces of the enemy. Infinitely more than their number, it is the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans which are causing us to retreat. It was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans that surprised our leaders to the point of bringing them to where they are today.

“But has the last word been said? Must hope disappear? Is defeat final? No!

“Believe me, I who am speaking to you with full knowledge of the facts, and who tell you that nothing is lost for France. The same means that overcame us can bring us victory one day. For France is not alone! She is not alone! She is not alone! She has a vast Empire behind her. She can align with the British Empire that holds the sea and continues the fight. She can, like England, use without limit the immense industry of the United States.

“This war is not limited to the unfortunate territory of our country. This war is not over as a result of the Battle of France. This war is a worldwide war. All the mistakes, all the delays, all the suffering, do not alter the fact that there are, in the world, all the means necessary to crush our enemies one day. Vanquished today by mechanical force, in the future we will be able to overcome by a superior mechanical force. The fate of the world depends on it.

“I, General de Gaulle, currently in London, invite the officers and the French soldiers who are located in British territory or who might end up here, with their weapons or without their weapons, I invite the engineers and the specialised workers of the armament industries who are located in British territory or who might end up here, to put themselves in contact with me.

“Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished. Tomorrow, as today, I will speak on the radio from London.”

See article on Charles de Gaulle’s Appeal of 18 June and a summary about de Gaulle.