Life Magazine has a fascinating gallery of colour photographs of Nazi myth-making, taken by one of Hitler’s personal photographers, Hugo Jaeger:
In this gallery, LIFE.com takes a long, hard look at the aesthetics of the Reich’s propaganda machinery, from the single swastika to the epic torchlit celebrations during Hitler’s 50th birthday. Here are the almost inconceivably vast Nuremberg rallies, where individuals are subsumed into one Fuhrer-worshiping organism. Here are the gargantuan Nazi banners, towering above a sea of faces that fade into insignificance. Here are thousands of tanned, near-naked youth, re-enacting a manufactured, cobbled-together and thoroughly mythical past when “Aryans” gamboled beneath a Teutonic sun.
In the Middle Ages, books were so valuable that monks would often inscribe curses against people who would steal or damage them. Not a bad idea, really. Here’s a great example:
This book belongs to S. Maximin at his monastery of Micy, which abbat Peter caused to be written, and with his own labour corrected and punctuated, and on Holy Thursday dedicated to God and S. Maximin on the altar of S. Stephen, with this imprecation that he who should take it away from thence by what device soever, with the intention of not restoring it, should incur damnation with the traitor Judas, with Annas, Caiaphas, and Pilate. Amen.
Or this one:
May whoever destroys this title, or by gift or sale or loan or exchange or theft or by any other device knowingly alienates this book from the aforesaid Christ Church, incur in this life the malediction of Jesus Christ and of the most glorious Virgin His Mother, and of Blessed Thomas, Martyr. Should however it please Christ, who is patron of Christ Church, may his soul be saved in the Day of Judgment.
In 1212, it was decreed that curses inscribed in books were not valid, and monks were forbidden from the practice, since “to lend is enumerated among the principal works of mercy”.
Text Hexes [Futility Closet]
On The Telegraph, a series of famous historical figures are re-imagined. The project was commissioned by the historical TV channel Yesterday, and gives a sense of how these people would have appeared if they were alive today. Pictured above is King Henry VIII:
Renowned for being vain and lavish, King Henry has been given white veneers and hair plugs to hide his balding head.
Known to flaunt his wealth, is now out of his voluminous puffed sleeve velvet gown and in a tailored designer black suit, wearing a sparkling diamond ring and designer watch.
Instead of the cotton shirt fastened up to the chin he now sports an unbuttoned shirt Simon Cowell style and is very much the modern day lady killer.
An avid sportsman and known for being conceited he has been slimmed down. Henry’s vanity would have ensured he would have retained the naturally muscly, rugby-player type figure he had in his youth.
Known for having spent a lot of time outdoors riding, hunting, and playing tennis, Henry VIII has also been given a tan.
Henry has exchanged his uncomfortable flat footed shoes for modern shoes with a heel.
Historical Figures for the 21st Century [TheTelegraph]
If you look closely, you can see that the man sleeping on the couch has the face of Adolf Hitler, while the two snakes about his shoulders have the faces of Mussolini and Tojo. His body and clothing, however, evoke the evil ruler Zahhāk, from Ferdowsi’s Shahname, the Persian national epic. In the image above, the evil ruler is dreaming of three kings who are coming to kill him – Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin.
The piece is part of a larger series created by a British graphic designer who incorporated traditional Persian themes in an effort to win the support of the Iranian people.
The British and Soviet forces invaded Iran from the north and south between August 25 and September 8, 1941. The reason for the invasion was that after the German offensive against the Soviet Union in June, they felt threatened the Iranian petroleum resources in their management, and they also intended to transmit war material from the Persian Gulf via rail to the Soviet Union. Although Iran was neutral, the Shah had basically done the inter-war modernization of the country with German help, and he refused to expel the German advisors on British request. After the peace treaty the British deposed him and expelled him to Egypt, and raised on the throne his son Reza Pahlavi, who represented the Anglo-American policy, and declared war on Germany. Subsequently, in November 1943 opened the Tehran conference with the participation of the three above kings, with the aim of coordinating the common war efforts and to open the second, western front.
The easy defeat of the Persian army and the humiliation of the occupation hit very hard the country’s public opinion. This was acerbated by the fact that the massive British buying-up of food for the troops caused a severe famine in the occupied zone, and that, on the principle of “divide and conquer”, both occupying forces excited the ethnic minorities living under their power against the Persian rule. All this is described in detail in Simin Daneshvar’s Savushun (1969), the key novel of 20th-century Iran.
It is understandable therefore, that on the occasion of the Tehran conference the British saw it opportune to present the purpose of their arrival in an easily perceptible visual form to the Persian people.
Additional historical context and images here:
Book of Kings [Poemas del Rio Wang]
PC World has a great article about ancient computers still being used today. For example, Sparkler Filters of Conroe, Texas, uses an IBM 402 from 1948 for all of their accounting and billing tasks:
Of course, before the data goes into the 402, it must first be encoded into stacks of cards. A large IBM 029 key-punch machine–which resembles a monstrous typewriter built into a desk–handles that task.
Carl Kracklauer, whose father founded Sparkler Filters in 1927, usually types the data onto the punch cards. The company sticks with the 402 because it’s a known entity: Staffers know how to use it, and they have over 60 years of company accounting records formatted for the device.
The key punch isn’t the only massive accessory in Sparkler’s arsenal. The 402 also links to an IBM 514 Reproducing Punch, which has been broken for three years. When it works properly, the 514 spits out punched “summary cards,” which typically contain the output of the 402′s operation (such as sum totals) for later reuse. Sparkler stores all of its punched data cards–thousands and thousands of them–in stacks of boxes.
The company also possesses dozens of 402 programs in the form of IBM plugboards. Computer programming in the 1940s commonly involved arranging hundreds of individual wires in a way that would likely drive a modern software engineer insane. In the 402′s case, a spaghetti-like pattern of wires attached to hundreds of connectors on each plugboard determines the operation of the machine, and different plugboards can be pulled out and replaced as if they were interchangeable software disks. So you might insert one plugboard for handling, say, accounts receivable, and a different one for inventory management.
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It: Ancient Computers in the World Today [PCWorld]
This photograph was taken in 1947 at Omaha Beach, Normandy.
I love these ads, which were taken out by International Paper in the early 1960′s. [click to embiggen]
Smithsonian Magazine has a fascinating story about a Russian family who were isolated in the taiga for 40 years before being discovered by a surveying crew in the summer of 1978.
The sight that greeted the geologists as they entered the cabin was like something from the middle ages. Jerry-built from whatever materials came to hand, the dwelling was not much more than a burrow—”a low, soot-blackened log kennel that was as cold as a cellar,” with a floor consisting of potato peel and pine-nut shells. Looking around in the dim light, the visitors saw that it consisted of a single room. It was cramped, musty and indescribably filthy, propped up by sagging joists—and, astonishingly, home to a family of five:
“The silence was suddenly broken by sobs and lamentations. Only then did we see the silhouettes of two women. One was in hysterics, praying: ‘This is for our sins, our sins.’ The other, keeping behind a post… sank slowly to the floor. The light from the little window fell on her wide, terrified eyes, and we realized we had to get out of there as quickly as possible.”
Led by Pismenskaya, the scientists backed hurriedly out of the hut and retreated to a spot a few yards away, where they took out some provisions and began to eat. After about half an hour, the door of the cabin creaked open, and the old man and his two daughters emerged—no longer hysterical and, though still obviously frightened, “frankly curious.” Warily, the three strange figures approached and sat down with their visitors, rejecting everything that they were offered—jam, tea, bread—with a muttered, “We are not allowed that!” When Pismenskaya asked, “Have you ever eaten bread?” the old man answered: “I have. But they have not. They have never seen it.” At least he was intelligible. The daughters spoke a language distorted by a lifetime of isolation. “When the sisters talked to each other, it sounded like a slow, blurred cooing.”
Slowly, over several visits, the full story of the family emerged. The old man’s name was Karp Lykov, and he was an Old Believer—a member of a fundamentalist Russian Orthodox sect, worshiping in a style unchanged since the 17th century. Old Believers had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great, and Lykov talked about it as though it had happened only yesterday; for him, Peter was a personal enemy and “the anti-Christ in human form”—a point he insisted had been amply proved by Tsar’s campaign to modernize Russia by forcibly “chopping off the beards of Christians.” But these centuries-old hatreds were conflated with more recent grievances; Karp was prone to complain in the same breath about a merchant who had refused to make a gift of 26 poods [940 pounds] of potatoes to the Old Believers sometime around 1900.
Apparently in the mid-1800′s it was customary to send so-called Vinegar Valentines to people to criticize their habits and behaviour.
Vinegar valentines were a socially sanctioned chance to criticize, reject, and insult. They were often sent without a signature, enabling the sender to speak without fear. These cards were sent not just to significant others, friends, and family but to a larger social circle. People might post a vinegar card to a store clerk, a teacher, or a neighbor.
The tradition was quite popular. Art historian Annebella Pollen points out that these cards were often produced by the same companies that made the frilly, beautiful valentine cards adorned with hearts and flowers, but they cost much less. Some historians argue that comic valentines—of which vinegar valentines were one type—made up half of all U.S. valentine sales in the middle of the 19th century.
Many vinegar valentines were used to enforce gender roles. Senders would use the anonymity of the card to comment on the inappropriate behavior of a couple or the distasteful political views of a feminist friend. Women seemed to be the targets of many of the surviving examples, but balding men, pretentious artists and poets, and smelly fat guys made appearances as well.