Insights into the Past

A Normandy Beach landing photo they don't show in textbooks - Brave women of the Red Cross arriving in 1944 to help the injured troops, WWII.

The past always seems so idyllic, so serene, and so sublime. The reality of day to day life is more prosaic, more challenging and far crueller. For instance the use of horse and carriages raises a number of questions. Firstly consider the welfare of the animals. In ancient and not so ancient wars, more bemoans the tragic loss of human life but what about that of the animals especially the horses. The movie The War Horse puts the atrocious treatment of horses during WW1 i.e. only a century ago into perspective. But what about another factor which had to be born with equanimity by the population especially those residing in the cities – the streets caked with horse excrement!

Main picture: A Normandy Beach landing photo they don’t show in textbooks – Brave women of the Red Cross arriving in 1944 to help the injured troops, WWII.

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Would these Adverts get past the PC Police Today?

Old adverts#17

Probably our grandchildren will have the same response when they view our adverts or even movies such as Star Wars. It is highly likely that the Beatles will sound tinny and David Bowie will look nerdy. They will possibly be amused at rap, wondering why an artist would talk through a song instead of singing. Ironically shoulder length hair for men will probably be in vogue again as well as bell-bottoms.

Main picture: How can the PC Police claim that this advert is sexist. Rather it displays concern for the welfare of one’s wife. Surely!

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Rarely Seen Moments of US History

Opium den in San Francisco, 1900

This series of historical photographs is certainly exceptional. From a slave auction place, circa 1870 to a snapshot of New York in 1887 looking more like modern day Mumbai with telephone wires strung from every pole. I am curious about the slave auction place being dated as 1870 because slavery was abolished at the end of the American Civil War in 1865 unless this is a remnant of that event. Another of the insightful pictures of a bygone era, is a photograph of an opium den in America as it is evocative of the opium scourge in China itself during this era.

Main picture: An opium den in San Francisco, 1900

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The 1965 and 2015 South African Student Protests Contrasted

1965 - The banner reads - South Africa first!

The first student protest in South Africa occurred 50 years ago on 8th April 1965; these were not some radical English speaking students from Wits or UCT but rather conservative Afrikaans students. Their grievances related to mother-tongue education and the removal of liberal lecturers. Contrast this protest with the #FeesMustFall campaign in October 2015 when students once again held protests in Pretoria.

 Main picture: The caption reads South Africa First Continue reading

Life-like colourised photographs of WW2

WW2 photo#23-A Finnish Brewster Buffalo 239 fighter (BW-352) of (Squadron) Lentolaivue 24 at Selänpää airfield. 24th June 1941

World War Two black and white photos that are researched and colorized in detail by Doug and other artists from the ‘Colourisehistory Group.’ This is an example of their work.

Main picture:

A Finnish Brewster Buffalo 239 fighter (BW-352) of (Squadron) Lentolaivue/24 at Selänpää airfield. 24th June 1941. (Source – SA-Kuva. Colorized by Tommi Rossi from Finland)

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A Retrospective Look at Cycling and the Tour de France in particular

The finish of the first Tour. At the right is the first winner, Maurice Garin

With the 102nd Tour de France currently underway, this epic three-week-long event is emblematic of man’s tenacity and perseverance. The unremitting odyssey encompasses tortuous mountain climbs, harrowing hairpin bends and breakneck speeds through hamlets and villages along the 3360km route from Utrecht in Holland to Paris in France.

The agonies and the ecstasies will be closely followed by hundreds of millions every day. What attracts these viewers is not merely the regurgitation of facts about each participant but more importantly the verdant fields, the Alpine vistas and the quaint forgotten hamlets through which the race traverses.

Main picture: The finish of the first Tour. At the right: the first winner, Maurice Garin. At the left: probably Leon Georget (not sure). Tour de France 1903.

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Photographs of Berlin in 1945 and Today

Berlin#1 Pre

Hitler’s decision to fight until the last man and boy had been killed resulted in Hitler retreating from the Wolf’s Lair in Eastern Prussia and ensconcing himself in the so-called underground Fuhrerbunker near the Reich’s Chancellery in Berlin. Large swaths of Berlin had already been laid to ruin due to the continual bombing sorties by the British and American Air Forces. Now it was the turn of the Russian Army to complete its destruction.

Main picture: These photographs, taken by the Boston Globe, show the same location in 1945 and in 2015.

Cloistered within the fetid and otherworldly atmosphere were Adolf Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun together with the Goebbel’s family – Joseph, Magda and their six children. In spite of the German Wehrmacht being woefully inadequate to prevent the demise of Deutschland, Hitler and his closest aids still lived in a dream world. Accompanied by Albert Speer, Hitler even took a tour of the Reich’s Chancellery in order to view a model of the future Berlin; such was Hitler’s unwavering belief in Germany’s invincibility in spite of the deteriorating military situation.

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