Berlin Wall’s 46th

August 13, 2007

Today is the 46th anniversary of the beginning of the Berlin Wall. The post I wrote last year on this topic continues to be popular, day in and day out, but especially when high school curricula get to the Cold War, the Berlin Airlift, the 1960s, and the collapse of the Soviet empire, best exemplified by the destruction of the Berlin Wall itself and the reunification of Germany.

Go read my post of last year, “Berlin Wall’s 45th.”

The photograph I used to illustrate that post has become one of the more popular photos of the Berlin Wall on the internet. It is from a small, too-little used collection posted by Corey Hatch at the University of Utah.

Here is another photo from his collection. It comes without caption; from the barbed wire and the uniform and helmet, I would say This is cropped version of a photo of an East German soldier,  Conrad Schumann , assigned to shoot people trying to breach the wall to escape to West Germany, who instead decided to leap to freedom himself, probably at Checkpoint Charlie, one of three gates between East and West Berlin. I regret I have no further credit information on the photo on August 15, 1961.  The photo is by West German photographer Peter Leibing, then working for Contiepress, in Hamburg.

East German soldier leaping barbed wire of the Berlin Wall, to freedom.

German authorities announced the Wall was open for travel between the two entities of divided Germany on November 9, 1989. Jubilant Germans on both sides of the wall tore down sections, poked holes in the concrete barriers, and generally vandalized the wall over the next few weeks. Negotiations then led the way for the Reunification of Germany on October 3, 1990.

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Interactive panoramic images of World War II sites

August 13, 2007

Spectacular images of World War II historical sites are available at two websites every history or geography teacher should have bookmarked, and use frequently.

The first is D-Day spots, which features satellite photo/map hybrids, and dozens of Quicktime interactive panoramas of dozens of sites all along the beaches of Normandy.

D-Day Spots image of Utah Beach

The panoramic images are made up of digital photos, usually very high quality, which would be useful images even were they not part of the interactive, panoramic feature; see the image of the West Pointe du Hoc cliffs at right.

West Utah Beach Many beach shots are there, of course — the panoramic images also include a few other sites around the beaches, and some of those images are spectacular all on their own, such as the interior of a local church, Sainte Mére-Eglise.

Sainte Mere-Eglise Church interior, D-Day Panoramas

The second site is Panoramas of World War II Landmarks 1945-2007.

These landmarks feature many battlefield sites, and they offer interactive, Quicktime panoramas of some sites that are not so well known as they ought to be, such as the graveyard at Al Alamein in Egypt (see photo below). To U.S. audiences, some of these sites may be relatively unknown — it’s a good excuse to explore the sites and get more familiar with the European view of World War II.

Al Alamein War Memorial, Egypt

This site also features photos of the war in the Pacific, with a series of photos from Hiroshima (see below), Nagasaki and Tokyo, but also including Pearl Harbor and Okinawa.

Integrating these sites into directed teaching should be easy, if you have a computer and projector. At the D-Day site, many of the panoramas are downloadable. For the Landmarks site, an active internet connection may be required.


Hiroshima, under the dome

Ardeatine Massacre: Bombers were soldiers, not terrorists

August 13, 2007

Our Italian physicist friend, Dorigo, at A Quantum Diaries Survivor reports that an Italian court ruled against a newspaper that started a campaign to deny the history of the Ardeatine Massacre.

Good news today. The supreme court of Cassazione in Italy has ruled that the press campaign labeling “terrorists” the GAP partisans who organized the bombing of Via Rasella in nazi-occupied Rome in 1944, launched by the national newspaper “Il Giornale”, was a striking example of manipulation of historic truth for political means. The newspaper is owned by Paolo Berlusconi (brother of Silvio, formerly premier of Italy in 1994 and 2001-2006), and was directed by Vittorio Feltri . . . a journalist who never hid his sympathy for the extreme right.

What was the Ardeatine Massacre?

Statue memorial to the victims of the Ardeatine Massacre, Italy Wikipedia:

The massacre of Fosse Ardeatine (Italian: Eccidio delle Fosse Ardeatine) took place in Rome, Italy during World War II. On 23 March 1944, 2 German soldiers, 31 Italian soldiers of Battaglione Bozen and a few Italian civilians passing along the road, were killed when members of the Italian Resistance set off a bomb close to a column of German soldiers who were marching on via Rasella[1]. This terrorist attack was led by the Gruppi di Azione Patriottica, of Rosario Bentivegna, Carla Capponi, Antonello Trombadori (Head of GAP in Roma) and the approval of Sandro Pertini (later President of Italian Republic), in order to provocate the reaction of SS troops.

Adolf Hitler is reported but never confirmed to have ordered that within 24 hours, one-hundred Italians were to be shot for each dead German. Commander Herbert Kappler in Rome concluded that ten Italians for each dead German would be sufficient and quickly compiled a list of 320 civilians who were to be killed. Kappler voluntarily added ten more names to the list when the 33rd German/Italian died after the Partisan attack. The total number of people murdered at the Fosse Ardeatine was 335, most Italians. The largest cohesive group among the murdered were the members of Bandiera Rossa, a Communist military Resistance group.

Why is there controversy 60 years later? Read the rest of this entry »

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