The Lost Tapes from Pearl Harbor

pearl-harbor-tribute

❝ One style of history documentary — vintage clips plus reminiscences plus talking heads — is so common that it’s easy to forget that there are other options. “The Lost Tapes,” a series the Smithsonian Channel introduces on Sunday night with an episode on Pearl Harbor, effectively employs an alternative that really ought to get more use, especially for history that falls within the era of film and sound recording.

The program consists of just clips and still images with an occasional caption. No academics in office-chair interviews interpret things for you. No survivors grow weepy while dredging up their decades-old memories. No narration intrudes. The idea is to come closer to putting you in the historical moment, to give you a sense of what people experienced and felt at the time.

RTFA. Know what to expect, what to look for, when you watch this – as I plan to do. Never forget.

Russian scientists find WW2 Nazi weather station


Click to enlarge

❝ A secret Nazi base in the Arctic abandoned after scientists ate infected polar bear meat has been unearthed.

The mysterious site, named ‘Schatzgraber’ or ‘Treasure Hunter’ by Hitler’s underlings, was constructed in 1942 – a year after the Third Reich invaded Russia.

Russian researchers have now rediscovered the military base, which the former garrison evacuated by U-boat after eating infected polar bear meat…

❝ More than 500 objects were recovered from the site as Russian scientists explored the former Nazi compound located in Alexandra Land, an island around 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole.

❝ On the barren moonscape of the isolated island, relics of the Second World War can be seen, with shells and other fragments of the conflict lying on the shale.

The ruins of bunkers, discarded petrol canisters and even paper documents have also been discovered, preserved in the intense cold

❝ Allied forces occupied most suitable sites for polar weather reports, so the Nazis landed a small group of observers on Alexandra Land.

Supplies for the men at the remote post were dropped by air.

In 1944 all of the men at he base ate raw polar bear meat, which resulted in trichinosis disease from roundworms living in the infected flesh.

A U-boat had to rescue the scientists posted there after infection ravaged their base.

Not exactly good duty. I hope they at least received combat pay.

Thousands protest US bases on Okinawa — murder provokes increased anger over subservience to US military


Click to enlargeAssociated Press

Tens of thousands of people on the Japanese island of Okinawa have taken part in one of the biggest protests against US military bases in recent years, weeks after the arrest of an American base worker in connection with the murder of a 20-year-old local woman.

The protesters, many of whom wore black, braved scorching heat to call for an end to the island’s role as host to more than half the 47,000 US troops in Japan…

The protesters also urged the Japanese and US governments to abandon the controversial relocation of a marine airbase from a crowded city on Okinawa to a more remote coastal location on the island, about 1,000 miles south of Tokyo.

They just want the American military gone!

Okinawa’s anti-base governor, Takeshi Onaga, told the crowd he regretted being powerless to prevent crimes by US military personnel, two decades after the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old girl by three US servicemen.

That crime prompted mass protests and forced Tokyo and Washington to discuss reductions in the US military footprint on Okinawa, including the relocation of Futenma to a district in the coastal town of Nago, and the transfer of 8,000 marines and their dependents to the US Pacific territory of Guam and other locations.

…Onaga said…“The government … must understand that Okinawa residents should not suffer any more from the burden of the bases.”…

Okinawa was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific war, and remained under American occupation until 1972. About a fifth of the island is still under US military control.

Previous Japanese governments with more independence than Shinzo Abe’s actually tried to have the bases removed from Okinawa. They received messages from both George W Bush and Obama reminding them of officially secret treaties signed with the United States as part of Japan’s surrender at the end of World War 2 – giving the US control over Japanese territory essentially forever.

The poem by an anti-Nazi pastor, rewritten for Donald Trump

First Trump came for the women
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a woman.

Then Trump came for the people with disabilities
And I did not speak out
Because I did not have a disability.

Then Trump came for the African Americans
And I did not speak out
Because I was not African American.

Then Trump came for the Mexicans
And I did not speak out
Because I was not Mexican.

Then Trump came for the Muslims
And I did not speak out
Because I was not Muslim.

Then Trump came for the gay, bi, and trans people
And I did not speak out
Because I was not gay, bi or trans.*

Then Trump came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.**

Then Trump came for the journalists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a journalist.***

Then Trump came for the judges
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a judge.

And now Trump is coming for the Constitution of the United States
And if I do not speak out, what am I?
 

* Actually I am one of those, and I didn’t speak out about that.
** And one of those, and didn’t speak out about that either.
*** Ditto.
 

Written by Gideon Lichfield

RTFA for the why and how Lichfield came to write this adaptation of Martin Niemöller’s sad, but, true, lament for all the “Good Germans” who said and did nothing during the rise of Hitler and Naziism.

The improbable William Laurence


William Laurence on Tinian Island before the Nagasaki bombing

The most recent episode of MANHATTAN features the arrival of a character based on one of my favorite real-life Manhattan Project participants: William L. Laurence, the “embedded” newspaperman on the project. The character on the show, “Lorentzen,” appears in a somewhat different way than the real-life Laurence does, showing up on the doorstep of Los Alamos having ferreted out something of the work that was taking place. That isn’t how Laurence came to the project, but it is only a mild extrapolation from the case of Jack Raper, a Cleveland journalist who did “discover” that there was a secret laboratory in the desert in 1943, and was responsible for one of the worst leaks of the atomic bomb effort.

William Laurence, however, was solicited. And he was the only journalist so solicited, invited in to serve as something of a cross between a journalist, public relations expert, and propagandist. (When a character on the show hisses to Lorentzen that they “don’t give Pulitzers for propaganda,” she is, as the show’s writers all know, incorrect — the real-life Laurence did receive a Pulitzer for his reporting on the Nagasaki bombing, and it was a form of propaganda, to be sure.)

William Leonard Laurence was born Leib Wolf Siew, in Russian Lithuania. In 1956 he gave an interview to the Oral History Research Office at Columbia University, and, well, I’m just going to let him tell his own “origin story,” because there’s no way I could capture his “flavor” any better than his own words do:

❝I was born in Lithuania, in a very small village. You know Lithuania was one of the strange never-never-lands, you might say, in a certain culture, because it was there that the Jewish intellectual, the Hebraic scholarly centers, were gradually concentrated.. …

The Lithuanian villages were out of space and time, because you know, a life there, in the ghetto, you might say — because that was the only place where the Russianized government permitted Jews to live — they lived there in the 19th century when I was born and the early part of the 20th century in a way that might have been the 15th century, the 16th century. It made no difference. They wore the same type of clothing. They lived the same kind of life, because it was the same culture, you know.

RTFA for another piece of important history you’re not likely to bump into elsewhere. I only posted the bare bones beginning above.

Some of it makes me chuckle. The last couple of firms I worked for before retirement had me up on the hill – so to speak – every once in a while. There are a couple of folks in today’s Los Alamos community I respect for their personal honesty and scientific acumen. Per capita, it is the wealthiest little town in America. Death and destruction pays very well in the Free World.

I met Dr. Oppenheimer a couple times in NYC. Both times, at public forums dedicated to nuclear disarmament and the struggle for peace in the Cold War. Though he was just trying to be part of the audience, he received a standing ovation when spotted.

The TV series is entertaining, BTW. The line between historic record and fiction is pretty well blurred. The flavor, the conflicts between the US military and folks who actually believed in constitutional freedoms as much as scientific freedom of inquiry is well represented. Then – as it is today.

Remembering absent friends — all wars

I presume these Canadian troops are marching away from a memorial to those who fell during the liberation of Belgium during World War 2. Yes, I remember all of those days. I can’t forget those days.

My best friend died over ten years ago. He was the most decorated soldier from our home state in WW2. He had 16 months in hospital to reflect upon how he got there – not just the German soldier who threw a hand grenade at him at the liberation of a death camp; but, the corporate and political creeps who helped scum like Hitler into power. Both sides of the pond.

We learned a lot together over the years. Both of our fathers’ families came to the US from Canada, btw. His from Montreal and mine from PEI.

This weekend watching football from England the silent tributes pre-match – and more – have started. Tens of thousands of sports fans of all ages in complete silence remembering all they have to remember. I thought I’d repost this tribute.

I salute you, too, Clyde.

Thanks, Mister Justin

Pigeons wearing bras go to war

The pigeon vest was a vest that was created to protect carrier pigeons as they parachuted through the air strapped to the chest of paratroopers during World War II. Once the paratroopers hit the ground behind enemy lines, they would release the pigeons so they could fly off to deliver important messages.

And what does this have to do with brassieres? The pigeon vest was designed and manufactured by the brassiere company, Maidenform. On December 22, 1944, Maidenform agreed to make 28,500 pigeon vests for the U.S. government, switching, as many companies did, from peacetime production to producing necessary supplies for the war. In addition to the pigeon vest, Maidenform also made parachutes.

RTFA. It all makes sense.

Thousands of Nazis were rewarded with life in the U.S. to aid the Cold war

In the early ’70s, New York Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman received a confidential tip that American immigration authorities knew of dozens of former Nazis — some implicated in serious war crimes — who were living in the U.S.

Holtzman looked into it and discovered that it was true, and that the formerly named Immigration and Naturalization Service wasn’t doing much about it.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg, according to investigative reporter Eric Lichtblau.

In his new book, The Nazis Next Door, Lichtblau reports that thousands of Nazis managed to settle in the United States after World War II, often with the direct assistance of American intelligence officials who saw them as potential spies and informants in the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

Lichtblau says there were whole networks of spy groups around the world made up of Nazis — and they entered the U.S., one by one…

Most Americans knew little about the Nazis among them. And then in 1979, media reports and congressional interest finally spurred the creation of a Nazi-hunting unit with the Justice Department.

That prompted the first wave of Nazi-hunting, Lichtblau says.

There are still documents that remain classified today about the CIA’s relationship with Nazi figures in the ’40s and ’50s and into the ’60s. A lot of these documents have become declassified just in the last 10 or 15 years. … There are documents that may open up whole new chapters that still remain classified…

RTFA for all the delightful topics in Lichtblau’s book: Generals who wanted Nazis in charge of DP camps; the ease of Nazi collaborators to slide through the DP camps vs the roadblocks faced by Jews.

Our transparent government continues to be see-through in name only. We have a new generation of politicians raised on the model of the Cold War. They are no less inclined to hide who they’re spying on and why. And the political hacks who set the standards were the creeps who brought Nazis into the US by the boatload – figuring they did their job “thoroughly” — why not do the same for us?

Or something like that.