Monday, October 28, 2013

Germany versus Russia at the 1937 Paris Expo

Postcard of the 1937 International Exhibition in Paris

Lisa from There's Gladness In Remembrance showed an interesting postcard from the 1937 International Exhibition in Paris. This exhibition opened on 25 May 1937 and ran until November of that year. Interesting in this postcard is the German pavilion on the left directly facing the Russian pavilion on the right.

The German pavilion on the left and the Soviet pavilion on the right

The organization of the exhibition had placed the German and the Soviet pavilions, the two great ideological rivals, directly across each other. Hitler had desired to withdraw from participation, but his architect Albert Speer convinced him to participate after all, showing Hitler his plans for the German pavilion. Speer later revealed in his autobiography that he had had a clandestine look at the plans for the Soviet pavilion, and had designed the German pavilion to represent a bulwark against Communism.

Short video of the two buildings

Speer's pavilion was completed by a tall tower crowned with the symbols of the Nazi state: an eagle and the swastika. Vera Mukhina designed the large figurative sculpture on the Soviet pavilion. The grand building was topped with a large statue, of a male worker and a female peasant, their hands thrusting a hammer and a sickle together, in a symbol of worker union.

Speer and Hitler

Note: the soccer stations for the 2022 World Championship in Qatar are designed by Albert Speer’s son Albert Speer Junior.

Future Doha Port Stadium in Doha, Qatar (photos of all the planned stadiums)

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

First photo of Mecca (1884)

First photo of Mecca
Mecca in 1884, photo by Christiaan Snouck (Universität Tübingen)

In 1884 the Dutch Arabist and Islam expert Christiaan Snouck (1857-1936) was the first westerner who managed to make photographs in Mecca. Mecca was (and is) forbidden for non-Muslims. Between 1503 and 1884, only fifteen (disguised) Westerners managed to gain access to the pilgrimage. Snouck converted to Islam, so that he could attend the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Present day Mecca: muslim pilgrims walking around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque (

Immense buildings are erected in Mecca: the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower  (Fayez Nureldine, 2012)

next episode: Lake Natron

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dress Like The Oppressor To Celebrate Your Liberation

Group in historical costume celebrating Waterloo Day in Amersfoort, 1913.

Due to lack of time I can't participate in Sepia Saturday as often as I would like, but I was thinking of preparing a post to commemorate their bicentennial. But this weeks theme is one I cannot ignore.

Before World War I, Waterloo Day (June 18th) was a yearly celebration of the liberation of Europe from the 'evil' French. In 1913 the centennial celebration was larger than usual; this photo shows a group of people dressed like the French (the guy in the middle looks familiar) in the garden of a local cafe.

I've mentioned Napoleon in my posts before (a female Napoleon, his birthplace, his horse,  St. Helena). He even visited Amersfoort once for a few minutes: … un evénement qui rendra la ville d'Amersfoort immortelle à la posterité. Unfortunately, before the mayor could finish his speech the little emperor was already gone at full gallop. In Vienna I secretly flash-photographed the cradle of his son, who led a tragic life. I still don't know if his father, Napoleon I, was a cruel dictator or a visionary reformer.

next episode: ?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Joost van Vaneveld family

Het gezin van schepen Joost van Vaneveld
The family of schepen (alderman) Joost van Vaneveld (1579-1655) and his wife Maria. There are 11 children present (and the dog) (museum Flehiteon loan from the St. Pieter and Blocklands Gasthuis).

Painted by Paulus Bor senior (the father of Paulus Bor) in Amersfoort in 1628. Centrally depicted is Joost van Vaneveld, the director of the St. Pieter and Blocklands Gasthuis (a place where the sick and elderly could be nursed and cared for) in Amersfoort, at the age of 49, with his wife Maria Fransdochter and their eleven children. Their clothes are characteristic for the (early) Dutch Golden Age. It's interesting to notice that 50 years after protestantism was declared the state religion this family (and the painter as well) are catholic. The oldest son Berend is shown as a student pastor with cross and chalice. In 1688 their eldest daughter Mary bequeathed the painting to the gasthuis.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

John Sherman, causer of Government Shutdowns

The Honorable John Sherman, Ohio (photo by Mathew Brady, ca. 1860-1865, National Archives)

John Sherman (1823–1900) was an American Republican representative and senator from Mansfield, Ohio.  In 1864-1865 and 1867-1877 he served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, where he played a major role in decisions related to financing the Civil War and the post-Civil War years.

In 1869-1870 he sponsored the Currency Act and the Funding Act. The US government had a long history of spending their entire budget within a matter of months and then returning to the Congress for additional funding. Many agencies, particularly the military, would intentionally run out of money, obligating Congress to provide additional funds to avoid breaching contracts.

Such behavior was unacceptable to the Congress; which responded in 1870 by passing a statute that simply stated: "It shall not be lawful for any department of the government to expend in any one fiscal year any sum in excess of appropriations made by Congress for that fiscal year, or to involve the government for the future payment of money in excess of such appropriations". This statute has evolved into what we now refer to as the Antideficiency Act causing the current Government Shutdown. 

 John Sherman at a younger age (National Archives) 

Later he also served as both Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State. Sherman ran for the Republican presidential nomination three times, coming closest in 1888, but never winning. Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman was his older brother.

Senator John Sherman in his office (ca. 1894)

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Saturday, October 5, 2013


This week the island of Lampedusa was in the news again after a boat with African migrants sank resulting in the death of over a hundred people. So here is a repost of mine from 2011.

Lampedusa is in the news because it is used by African refugees as a stepping stone to Europe. Lampeduwhat, I never heard of the place. Luckily the 21st century features google maps:

Official Language: Italian

Area: 20 km2  (8 sq mi)
Population: 4.500

Lampedusa was a landing place and a maritime base for the ancient Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The Romans established a plant for the production of a popular fish sauce known as garum. As a result of pirate attacks by the Arabs, the island became uninhabited. In the 18th century a program of resettlement was started. In the 1840s the island was sold to the Kingdom of Naples, to become part of the new Kingdom of Italy in 1860.

Apparently it is a small holiday island nowadays

During World War II, the island was captured by British forces in Operation Corkscrew. In 1940 an earlier plan (Operation Workshop) was aborted when the Luftwaffe strengthened the air threat in the region. The radar installations and airfield on the nearby island of Pantelleria were seen as a real threat to the planned invasion of Sicily. An intense ten-day air bombardment of Pantelleria substantially reduced the defences, and the Italian garrison surrendered when the British forces landed on the island. The Italian garrison on Lampedusa also quickly fell. This cleared the way for the invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) a month later.

British soldiers during Operation Corkscrew
next episode: maya Government Shutdown

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Jennie Wendle

Jennie Wendle

Carte De Visite (CDV). At the backside is written: Jennie Wendle from Williamsport, PA, July 1865.

Googeling this I found a Jeanette Jane "Nettie" Wendle Brower. Born May 5th 1849 at Muncy, Pennsylvania. She married Reese Brower at November 19th 1868 at Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He was a locomotive engineer. She had zeven kids: Bessie, Blanche, Frank, Thomas, Martha, Florence and Emily. She died in 1911 at Williamsport.

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