Posts Tagged ‘History’


Entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp, August 2008

The Atlantic just published my story about Witold Pilecki, a member of the Polish resistance during World War II who volunteered for an assignment inside Auschwitz. Check it out.

Also, I would highly recommend buying a copy of The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery, an English translation of Pilecki’s report about his time in the camp.

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Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Here is CBS’s radio broadcast announcing news of the attack.

Here is video of FDR’s famous “day of infamy” speech:

The National Archives has put together this blog post and a video about its Pearl Harbor-related documents and records:

A bit of sad news on this anniversary… According to the New York Times, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will disband at the end of the year, faced with the realities of the passage of time and the dwindling health and numbers of its members.

And finally, to end the post on a humorous note, leave it to the fine folks at The Onion: “Kamikaze Swimmers Finally Reach Pearl Harbor.”

Great find from NIN collaborator Rob Sheridan: the immigration forms filled out by the Apollo 11 crew after they returned from the moon. That must have been a lot of fun to explain to the customs agents.

By now, most of you have seen or heard about this clip:

PALIN: He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms uh by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed.

To his credit, Chris Wallace followed up with her on this question on “Fox News Sunday”:

CHRIS WALLACE: I gotta ask you about that real quickly, though. You realize that you messed up about Paul Revere, don’t you?

PALIN: You know what? I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere. Here’s what Paul Revere did. He warned the Americans that “the British were coming, the British were coming.” And they were going to try to take our arms so got to make sure that, uh, we were protecting ourselves and, uhm, shoring up all of our ammunitions and our firearms so that they couldn’t take them.

But remember that the British had already been there — many soldiers — for seven years in that area. And part of Paul Revere’s ride… And it wasn’t just one ride. He was a courier. He was a messenger. Part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there that, “Hey. You’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms. You are not gonna beat our own well-armed, uh, persons, uh, individual private militia that we have. He did warn the British.

And in a shout-out, gotcha type of question that was asked of me, I answered candidly. And I know my American history.

I was a history major in college – having gone to a school in the Boston area – so the story of Paul Revere was pretty well known to me at the time. Palin can continue to make mistakes and choose to repeat or refuse to acknowledge them – politicians do this all the time – but my big problem here is this:

Her fans are apparently editing Paul Revere’s Wikipedia page to make it more in line with her version. Longfellow may be no match for Sarah Palin.

Look at the changes made to the Wikipedia page here and here. Obviously, Palin isn’t responsible for what a misguided fan or fans of hers do, but this is the worst type of historical revision this side of the Soviet Union. If you want the real details of Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, read this.

Update: There’s a good post about this subject at Outside the Beltway which is worth reading.

Anniversaries Galore Today

Posted: April 12, 2011 in History
Tags: , ,

Don’t know how or why, but lots of historical milestones today.

On this date in 1861, the battle of Fort Sumter began, kicking off the Civil War.  The Washington Post has special coverage for the anniversary which is worth reading.  The Post and the National Park Service are tweeting the Civil War in real time as it happened 150 years ago.

On this date in 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, making a 108-minute flight in his Vostok 1 spacecraft in the middle of the Cold War. Gagarin got his own Google logo to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his milestone voyage:

And finally, on this date in 1981, the first Space Shuttle mission was launched.

On this date in 1981, John Hinckley tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan within two months of his taking office.

Holocaust revisionist denier Bishop Richard Williamson has worn out his welcome in Argentina.

Argentina has thrown out Holocaust-denying British bishop Richard Williamson, saying he must leave the country in 10 days.

The Interior Ministry said last night Williamson had failed to declare his true job as director of a seminary on immigration forms and because his comments on the Holocaust “profoundly insult Argentine society, the Jewish community and all of humanity by denying an historic truth”.

Williamson’s views created an uproar last month when Pope Benedict XVI lifted his excommunication and that of three other bishops consecrated by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as part of a process meant to heal a rift with ultra-conservatives.

The flap led the Vatican to demand that the clergyman recant before he could be admitted as a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church. It also prompted the Society of St Pius X, founded by Lefebvre, to dismiss Williamson as director of the La Reja seminary in Argentina and to distance itself from his views.

The Vatican had no comment on the Argentine action.

Although Williamson has been in Argentina since 2003, the government’s secretary for religious affairs, Guillermo Oliveri, said immigration officials only realised he had made an undeclared change of jobs when the controversy hit the press.

But Mr Oliveri made clear the Holocaust uproar played a key part.

“I absolutely agree with the expulsion of a man residing in our country following his statements (denying) one of the greatest human tragedies,” he said.

It was not clear when or where Williamson would go. A person who answered the phone at the Society of St Pius X said Williamson was still in the country, then hung up.

I find it interesting that the Argentinian government used the immigration excuse to kick him out of the country. Even if he hadn’t included inaccurate information on his papers, I’m sure they would have found some loophole to throw him out. It’s worth keeping in mind that the people and government of Argentina are extremely sensitive when it comes to the Nazis, World War II, the Holocaust and antisemitism.

Several Nazi collaborators and war criminals, including Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele, fled to Argentina after the war, often with the blessings of Argentinian president Juan Peron.

More recently, there were two terrorist attacks on Jewish facilities in Buenos Aires: the Israeli embassy in 1992 and a Jewish community center in 1994.

The global uproar over Williamson’s comments show just how raw and heated emotions are about the Holocaust more than 60 years later. I find it astonishing that an educated man like him could genuinely believe discredited theories to whitewash what really happened. Whether or not he will recant and change his views is entirely up to him, but until he does no church, seminary, school, or organization will want anything to do with him.