Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Life under Nazi occupation in the former capital of Ukraine

Constitution Square, Kharkov, 1942

Kharkov (Ukrainian: Kharkiv, Dutch: Charkov, German: Charkiw) is the second largest city of the Ukraine. It's located in the northeast and has approximately 1.5 million inhabitants. It was founded in the middle of 17th century by Cossacks and it was the capital of the Ukraine from 1919–1934. 

Portrait of Adolf Hitler in a shop window in occupied Kharkov (1942) 

In October 1941 the German troops captured the city for the first time. Kharkov was the most populous city in the Soviet Union captured by the Germans. In total four battles were fought in the region, from which the Third Battle of Kharkov is the best known.

  Hotel Krasnaya (Red Hotel), Kharkov, June-July 1942. It was one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Very badly damaged during the occupation it could not be reconstructed after the war.

In February 1943, after the German defeat at Stalingrad, Soviet troops liberated the city. The Germans launched a massive counterattack, and with large casualties on both sides recaptured the city in March 1943. This was the last major strategic German victory in World War II. In August 1943, following the Battle of Kursk, the Germans had to finally give up the city.

The House Science and Technology (Kharkov, 1942)
Constitution Square near the beginning of the Sumska street.
The building in the front is the House Science and Technology (Kharkov, 1942)

This post has been made in the context of the European Championship Football in Poland and the Ukraine. Also, this week Sepia Saturday (one of my favorite sites) features Sophie Tucker; she was born in the Ukrainian city of Tulchyn in 1866.

next episode: The lost Kingdom of Galicia

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Forest Floor with a Toad, a Lizard and a Bullfinch on a Branch of Ivy

 Forest Floor with a Toad and a Lizard and a Bullfinch on a Branch of Ivy by Matthias Withoos

Matthias Withoos (Amersfoort, 1627) studied painting in Amersfoort and went to Rome in 1648. There he was known as Calzetta Bianca (his name translated into Italian). In 1653 he returned to Amersfoort, but in the 'Disaster Year' 1672, when the French troops of Louis XIV temporarily occupied Amersfoort, Matthias fled to Hoorn, where he would remain until his death in 1703. 

His still life paintings are characterized by their close-ups of dark and mysterious plants and undergrowth inhabited by insects and other creatures. Casper van Wittel was one of his students, and many of Withoos' seven children followed in his footsteps, including the botanical artist Alida Withoos.

next episode: Kharkov (Kharkiv) Charkov (Charkiw)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Crossword Puzzles revealed D-Day Code Names in Advance

The secrecy of the 1944 Invasion of Normandy (D-Day) was apparent by the use of code names. Every aspect of the invasion was referred to only as code words. The entire operation had the code name Overlord. Security was kept as tight as possible, even the smallest compromises were call for alarm.

The London Daily Telegraph crossword puzzles May - June 1944. 

On 2 May 1944 a British staff officer doing the London Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle noticed 17 across: 'One of the U.S.' answer: Utah, the code name of one of the landing beaches. It was found that in previous months the words Juno, Gold and Sword (all code names for landing beaches) had appeared. On 22 May came the clue 'Red Indian on the Missouri': Omaha (landing beach). On 27 May the solution to ‘a Big-Wig' was Overlord. On 30 May the pattern continued with Mulberry (floating harbours used in the landings) and finally, on 1 June, the solution to 15 down was Neptune (code name for the naval assault phase).

MI5 agents suspected that this was a coded warning to the Nazis. On 1 June they detained the compiler, Surrey schoolmaster Leonard Dawe, only to find out he knew nothing. For decades it was thought to be a bizarre coincidence. But in 1984 Ronald French, a schoolboy of 14 in 1944 and a former pupil of the crossword creator, revealed that he fed the words to the schoolmaster who would often ask his students for words for his next puzzle. The pupil picked up the terms while hanging around Canadian and American soldiers camped close by the school, awaiting the invasion. The soldiers talked freely in front of him "because I was obviously not a German spy". He believes that hundreds of schoolchildren must have known what he knew.

next episode: a toad and a lizard

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Provost Marshal

The Provost Marshal of the Division of General Bosquet (Roger Fenton, Crimean War, 1855).

The Provost Marshal is the officer in the armed forces who is in charge of the military police (often called the provost). There may be a Provost Marshal serving at many levels of the hierarchy and he/she may also be the public safety officer of a military installation, responsible for the provision of fire and ambulance services as well as law enforcement. A Provost Marshal may also be in charge of the execution of punishments.

next episode: Operation Overlord

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Scale Of The Universe

Click on picture, then click on Start. Move the scroll bar at the bottom (or use your mouse wheel)
to explore different sizes, click on items to bring up descriptive information.
 (this tool uses Flash animation, which doesn't work with all operating systems).

Cary Huang (a 14-year-old ninth grader from Moraga, California): "My seventh grade science teacher showed us a size comparison video on cells, and I thought it was fascinating. I decided to make my own interactive version that included a much larger range of sizes. It was not a school project, just for fun. My brother, Michael, helped me put it on the internet."
Cary (right) and Michael Huang (Huang family photograph) 

Asked if he thought there was a lesson to be learned from the project, Cary wrote, "I would like to say that humankind is a very small part of the universe we live in. There could be so much more out there, but we just don't know it yet." (source: abcnews).
next episode: the provost

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gene Tierney at lunch

Gene Tierney wishes you a fine lunch!

next episode: the provost

Friday, May 18, 2012

Olga Nikolaevna

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia, by Christina Robertson, 1841 (Hermitage St. Petersburg) (cropped)

Olga Nikolaevna (1822–1892), later Queen Olga of Württemberg, was the second daughter of Tsar Nicholas I. In 1846 she married Charles I of Württemberg, with whom she had no children. Last month I posted a painting (by the same artist) of her sister Alexandra Nikolaevna.

next episode: lunch

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hoop Dress Sisters - part IV

Hoop Dress Sister

I'm not sure if she is related to my previous postings of post civil war hoop dress ladies CDVs, but the background and the photographer are the same. Although she is standing intead of sitting, she has the same facial expression as the other three ladies. I bought the previous 3 CDVs together, but this one I spotted months later at Ebay. Since then I always look for similar images, but it never happened again.

next episode: Olga Nikolaevna

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pinning interesting pins on Pinterest

When you see a picture somewhere on the world wide web, and you want to store it somewhere, you can use Pinterest to easily 'pin' it and store in on one of your Pinterest boards. This is very handy compared to the cumbersome saving all kind of pictures to your hard disk, or making all kind of bookmarks.

You can also easily browse through the pins of other pinners (very addictive), and you can upload your own pictures. I use Pinterest when I see some interesting picture I want to preserve, and I use Flickr to upload pictures I posses myself and I want to share with others.

next episode: hoop dress sister no IV

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Germany invades Holland

Heavy German artillery (Mörsers) probably near Ede, 14-16 May 1940. The signpost on the right shows Arnhem (left) and Amersfoort / Utrecht (right) (source). 

On the morning of May 10th, 1940 the Dutch awoke to the sound of aircraft engines roaring in the sky. Germany had commenced operation Fall Gelb and attacked the NetherlandsBelgiumFrance and Luxembourg, in the case of the Low Countries without a declaration of war given before hostilities.

Luckily times have changed; we are now good neighbors and we can make jokes about each other:

next episode: to pin or not to pin

Monday, May 7, 2012

Amersfoort Liberation Day

photo via Archief Eeemland 

On Monday May 7th, 1945 the Canadian Allied Forces entered Amersfoort. The photo shows one of their tanks approaching the Kamperbinnenpoort. Unfortunately the tank is too large, so they have to make a turn left (source: Nationwide Dutch Liberation Day is celebrated on May 5th. On May 4th the victims of World War II are commemorated.

next episode: the opposite of this

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Longwood House (where Napoleon died at May 5th)

Longwood House (photo by Donna Hull)

During Napoleon's exile on St. Helena the Longwood House was his residence. It is located on a windy plain about 6 km from the capital Jamestown.

Map of St. Helena (click to open large version) with in the center Diana's Peak. If you start there following the red road towards Longwood you first pass by Napoleons tomb, and then you arrive at Longwood House. 

On May 5th 1821 Napoleon died.

Longwood House's Reception Room where Napoleon died (photo by Margaret Rodenberg).

He was buried in the nearby Valley of the Geraniums. He himself had selected this beautiful location, although his first choice was to be laid to rest in Paris (in 1840 his remains were indeed transfered to Paris).

Napoleon's Burial Place on St. Helena (photo by John Tyrrell)

Since 1858, after reports of neglect reached Napoleon III, the Valley and Longwood House are in possession of and maintained by France under the name of 'French Domains of Saint-Helena'.

Napoleon had taken up gardening at St. Helena.

next episode: a joyful day

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Saint Helena

St. Helena with its capital Jamestown

Saint Helena is an island of volcanic origin in the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the most isolated islands in the world. The highest point of the island is Diana's Peak at 818 m (2,684 ft).

Area: 122 km2
Population: 4255
Capital: Jamestown

It can only be reached by boat, but in 2005 the UK government announced the construction of an airport on the island. After several delays it’s expected to be completed by 2015. The main export products are stamps, coffee and Tungi Spirit.

The island, named after Helena of Constantinople, was uninhabited when it was discovered by the Portuguese at the start of the 16th century. It was usable as a stopover for ships on the route from Europe to Asia, therefore the Dutch and English dislodged the Portuguese from the area. After the Dutch decided to use Cape Town as their supply point the island was colonized by the English.

In 1676 the astronomer Edmond Halley (known for ‘his’ comet) set up an observatory on the island. From 1815 until his death in 1821 Napoleon was forced lived on Saint Helena. In 1900 and 1901 more than 5000 Boer prisoners were held captive, and in 1890-1897 the Zulu king Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo was imprisoned over here.

picture gallery

next episode: Napoleon


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