Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

Archive for February 13, 2014

Feeding polar bears from a tank; ca. 1950

 Russian tanks were designed to be driven with one arm.

“There’s a good bear, now go and maim those Nazis on this other side of this hill.”

This is quite possibly the most Russian photograph ever taken.

Polar bears look really freaking cute, but they’re the only animal that actively predates on humans.

Wolves will give it a long and hard thought about whether they want to attack humans. Polar bears? Nope. If they see you, and you can’t protect yourself or seek shelter, you’re dead.

 

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The first snowplow in Norway; ca. 1923

Snow plows have not changed one bit since 1923.

Snow plows have not changed one bit since 1923.

Based on an Opel truck, the plow was made by Hans and Even Overaasen.


Soliders ready in the trenches during the Iran-Iraq war; ca.1980’s

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More people should know about the Iran Iraq war, oil money leads to wars in so many ways.


Kids collecting shrapnel on a London street, 1940

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There’s actually an academic article written on this topic.

PDF: 2008 A Hard Rain: Children’s Shrapnel Collections in the Second World War. Journal of Material Culture 13(1):107-125.

 


The longest Surviving POW in Vietnam William Andrew Robinson being held by an armed NVA guard; ca. 1965

 

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This was taken at the beginning of his captivity.

“Public records do not indicate the precise nature of the mission undertaken on September 20, 1965, but the HH43B went down near the city of Tan An, and all four personnel aboard the aircraft were captured. It is not clear if the four were captured by North Vietnamese or Pathet Lao troops or a combination of the two. Duane W. Martin was taken to a camp controlled by Pathet Lao. Curtis, Robinson and Black were released in 1973 by the North Vietnamese, and were in the Hanoi prison system as early as 1967.”


Near Pyongyang, North Korea, refugees crawl over the city’s wrecked bridge to escape the advance of Chinese troops; Dec. 4, 1950

 

JJYHUY2A Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph by AP photographer Max Desfor.


What role did the Prussian Junker class play in Prussia’s jingoistic society?

Historians are still debating the degree to which one can characterize Prussia as consistently jingoistic. There are two basic interpretations of the relationship between the Junkers and militarism.

Although the association of the Prussian Junkers with a destructive German militarism began during the First World War, it was in the aftermath of 1945 that historians began to craft a historical narrative in which the Junkers played a central role. Friedrich Meinecke, one of the intellectual mandarins of Berlin, published a dissection of German history in 1946 which presents Prussian militarism acted as a unique cancer within the German body politic. Gordon A. Craig would expand upon this theme in his 1955 classic The Politics of the Prussian Army. Craig contends that Frederick the Great’s cantonal system created an political alliance between East Elbian Junkers and the Prussian state that lasted through 1945. As a result of this alliance, the Junkers absorbed both a militaristic and an antidemocratic ethos; a hubris that snaked its way through German history until found its nemesis under Hitler, who used Junkers militarism to his own ends, which included breaking the estate power of the Junkers. Later historians like Otto Büsch and Hans Ulrich-Wehler would expand this thesis by arguing that the Junkers found that their domination of the officer corps was a secure zone (unlike the rapidly expanding German industrial economy) in which they could operate. Wehler in some cases went quite far in his interpretation and asserted that Wilhelmine jingoism as exemplified by the German Navy League was one of the political tactics employed by the Junkers to cow the German middle classes and win over the German lower orders through popular militarism.

Scholarship in the last thirty years has come to question the levels of continuity between the various German states (Prussia-Imperial-Weimar-Third Reich) and their respective militarisms. The collapse of the GDR meant historians have had access to archives in Brandenburg and the former Prussian territories and they have revealed that the Junkers involvement within the cantonal system was far less systematic than previously thought. Moreover, the research pioneered by Geoff Eley found that nationalist leaders’ attitudes towards the Junkers could range from ambivalence to outright hostility (the slogan of populist nationalist Otto Böckel was “against Junkers and Jews”). Ute Frevert’s A Nation in Barracks contends that that the militarization of German society was far from a monolithic process within German society during the nineteenth century and had a highly localist bent. Similarly, Jeffrey Verhey asserts that popular militarism was not nearly as prevalent as both scholars and laymen have assumed.

As can be seen from the above, the impact of the Junkers on a militarized German nationalism is far from settled among historians. Certain salient facets of Prussian/German society do stand out with regards to the OP’s question. Robert Citino has cogently argued that the Prussian “way of war” (which he haphazardly labels German) grew out of a cultural milieu that emphasized swift movement and offensive operations. The Prussian Junkers did have an ethos that emphasized military service and the Prussian-German state did enshrine military nationalism during the nineteenth century as part of its core values (which to be fair, so did nearly every other contemporaneous European government). The Junkers as a class may have been more ambivalent about German hypernationalism, but the image of an aggressive Prussian militarism had great power. The victorious Allies in 1946 abolished Prussia as a state in 1946 and many of the bureaucrats behind this decision saw it as a symbolic act to break Germany’s martial traditions.


 

SOURCES:

Citino, Robert Michael. The German Way of War: From the Thirty Years’ War to the Third Reich. Lawrence, Kan: University Press of Kansas, 2005.

Clark, Christopher M. Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006.

Craig, Gordon Alexander. The Politics of the Prussian Army 1640-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1955.

Eley, Geoff. Reshaping the German Right: Radical Nationalism and Political Change After Bismarck. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991.

Frevert, Ute. A Nation in Barracks: Modern Germany, Military Conscription and Civil Society. Oxford: Berg, 2004.

Meinecke, Friedrich. The German Catastrophe; Reflections and Recollections. Boston: Beacon Press, 1950.

Verhey, Jeffrey. The Spirit of 1914: Militarism, Myth and Mobilization in Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Wehler, Hans-Ulrich. The German Empire, 1871-1918. Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, UK: Berg Publishers, 1985.


Gun Laws Must be Rewritten

The United States Constitution is the very fabric of our law and our lives. It should not be lightly modified. If we make a case for the changing effect of time and culture, we open a can of worms that may be hard to close.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution, written and polished by noble and fervent Americans living at a time when a new nation was coming into being, took measures to protect the rights of Americans to “keep and bear” arms. Courts subsequently ruled that the Second Amendment protected Americans’ right to possess firearms unconnected to a militia, although the need for a standing and present militia was then a real necessity, and the matter was discussed at length.

Some reports of these long-past events suggest that care was taken to avoid the unpleasantness of a “right of citizens to own arms provision” which might be used to provide armaments to those who would overrule a government, in a situation wherein that government no longer had the trust and support of the majority of people.

The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights. Again, that’s December.  Of 1791.

We may take a moment to call to mind what life in these United States was like in that early time. While civilization was booming in the east, life in the interior and farther west was far from civil. As Americans in covered wagons sought to make homesteads, farms, areas to breed cattle, they encountered Indians native to the region. The history of the defeat of the Indians is a tragic page in American history. The early settlers had to deal as individuals with bad men and rustlers. Gun-wielding bloodthirsty thieves, lawless criminals ran unchecked, out to take everything available for themselves. These lawless riders of the plains were often vicious; they worked in union with others of that ilk. When settlements turned to towns, and later, towns turned to small cities, there was little or no law. Some brave men rose up to protect the community; in some areas sheriffs were elected. Still we can imagine the plight of a man with a wife and children in those trying times.

One early sheriff and fighter for the people was the famed Wyatt Earp, believed to have been born on March 19, 1848. Earp worked for the law and helped to tame the west. He is remembered for a famous historical gunfight at the OK corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Earp’s birth was nearly 60 years after the passage of the Bill of Rights.

William H. Bonney, “Billy the Kid” started a life of crime with theft and horse robbery. He killed a man at the age of 18. He was a gunslinger known for his wanton violence. Billy is thought to have been born on November 23, 1859. That was 70 years after the Constitution was written as the law of the land.

Son of a preacher, John Wesley Harding was possibly the most bloodthirsty of the infamous in the Old West. He killed at least 42 people, including former slaves and gunfighters. He was known for carrying two pistols in holsters strapped to his chest, which enabled a faster draw. He was arrested at the age of 17, but was able to get a gun, kill a guard, and escape. John Wesley Harding was born in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas, on 26th May, 1853.

The old west is gone, and a militia has been replaced with a vast and well armed military. People don’t ride in covered wagons, and they are in most cases well protected. In the United States, major cities daily are forced to defend the force of the special interest groups who openly profit from gun sales. Children are shot. Young people anticipate a short and violent lifetime.

Can you imagine a drug-ridden US city, forced to accept the rights of individuals to carry hidden weapons? No self respecting gang member would go weaponless. Concealed arms would be the rule of the day, and gangbangers with guns, like children with toys, wouldn’t rest until they had heard the explosion and felt the recoil of the respect-granting weapon.

Today’s world is nothing like the time of our founding fathers, and they had no hope to envision the future, just as we today have no hope of previewing the world down the road. So it doesn’t make sense to continue gun laws that are clearly obsolete, and counterproductive. We hope that today’s awful violence in unique situations, and in every US city, will bring light to this night, and that sensible laws which don’t conform to the early constitution will be the rule of the day.