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Girls and guns: Brave female freedom fighters from around the world on the battlefields of war


The first female combat veteran Margaret Corbin helping to load a cannon being shot by her husband John Corbin during the Battle of Fort Washington on Manhattan Island, 1772. Though Corbin is depicted in the painting above wearing a dress she disguised herself as a man in order to contribute to the efforts on the battlefield.
 
During the Revolutionary War it was commonplace for the wife of a soldier to accompany her husband to war only to mostly perform activities such as doing laundry, preparing meals and attending to he injured. Though this is exactly what Margaret Corbin did initially when she joined her husband John as a member of the Pennsylvania military at the age of 21, four years later Corbin would disguise herself as a man to help her husband load his cannon during the Battle of Fort Washington on Manhattan Island. During the fighting John was killed leaving Margaret alone to “man” the cannon. Which she did until she nearly lost her left arm due to British army fire. Corbin would survive and for her participation in the Battle of Fort Washington she was officially recognized as the first woman “combat veteran” and subsequently became the first woman to receive a military pension.

Many other women would follow in Corbin’s pioneering footsteps including Deborah Sampson who dressed as a man in order to fight in George Washington’s army in 1782. Sampson’s heroic charade lasted for a year until she became injured and was no longer able to hide the fact that she was a woman and was honorably discharged. During the Civil War and the Spanish American War in 1898 there are several accounts of women masquerading as men in order to fight on the front lines along with their male counterparts, as well as serving their country assisting with war related activities such as espionage. Though women would participate in WWI and WWII and lose their lives as a result, it was not until 1976 that women were allowed to enlist in the military. Instances of women fighting in other wars and acting as snipers, and members of resistance efforts in places like France during WWII were common.

Speaking of snipers, the story of Red Army sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko is a compelling one. Pavlichenko was an expert female sniper from Ukraine who fought the Nazis during WWII and was credited with killing 187 Germans during her first 75 days as a member of the Soviet resistance. That number would grow to 309 with 36 of her total kills being German snipers, though it’s widely believed that her actual kill count is likely much higher as there was not always a third-party to witness them all. The German army was rightfully so terrified of Pavlichenko they took to broadcasting appeals over loudspeakers to have the 25-year-old killing machine join their troops instead of wiping them out. Pavlichenko would of course turn down the offer (which according to historians included the promise of “candy”). There were 2000 female snipers who fought with the Red Army during WWII—and Pavlichenko would be one of the 500 who walked away with their lives.

Below, I’ve included some pretty stunning images of women taking up arms. I’ve also posted the trailer for the 2015 film based on Lyudmila Pavlichenko’s brave exploits Battle for Sevastopol. Stay strong, sisters.
 

Red Army sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko.
 

Armenian guerilla fighters during the Hamidian massacres, 1895.
 
More after the jump…

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Morbid and grotesque Italian anti-German propaganda postcards from WWI


‘Danza Macabra Europea’ number 23 by Italian artist Alberto Martini.
 
Alberto Martini was a prolific Italian active during the late 1800s and a good portion of the 1900s who dabbled in many disciplines including painting, illustration, engraving and graphic design. During WWI Martini was enlisted to create a series of postcards called the “Danza Macabra Europea” that were used as propaganda, grotesquely lampooning figures such as German Kaiser and king of Prussia Wilhelm II as well as members of the Austro-Hungarian empire such as the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef. 

Martini’s cards are absolutely horrific, filled with depictions of dismemberment, cannibalism and executions. Sometimes the Germans in Martini’s propaganda cards are pantless or appear to take on feminine forms. Copies of 54 lithographs of the Danza Macabra produced during 1914 and 1916 were widely distributed to Allied forces fighting against the rising Austro-Hungarian empire. According to cultural historians familiar with Martini’s work for “Danza Macabra Europa” the artist’s goal was to show the “horror” of war by using barbaric symbolism such as portraying the neutral country of Belgium as a child whose hands have been severed off at the wrist.

Most of the approximately 450,000 prints of Martini’s exquisitely grim postcards, captioned in both Italian and French, were sent to those fighting on the front lines of the war to help create a clear understanding of the horrific atrocities being committed against soldiers and civilians. Many consider Martini’s work a precursor to the surrealist movement. I’ve included many images of the 54 lithographs done by Martini in this post—all of which are absolutely NSFW.
 

‘Danza Macabra Europa’ number thirteen.
 

 
More ‘Danza Macabra Europa’ after the jump…

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Nuclear family: Apocalyptic images of babies and kids outfitted in gas masks during wartime
11.08.2016
12:24 pm

Topics:
History
Hysteria

Tags:
Walt Disney
WWII
gas masks


A group of children riding their bikes while wearing gas masks, late 1930s.
 
By the time 1939 rolled around in Britain somewhere in the neighborhood of 38 million gas masks had been delivered by hand to homes in the event of a gas-related attack. On September 1,1939, Germany had invaded Poland leaving Britain and France with little choice but to declare war on Germany in order to help stop the advancement of Hitler’s military.

The masks were made to be portable, a rather terrifying aspect of what had become a way of life in Britain during wartime. In order to try to take away some of the fear regarding the omnipresent notion that bombs full of toxic gas could at any moment start raining from the sky to the din of air raid sirens, masks for children were manufactured to be more appealing to kids. In addition to making colorful masks Walt Disney even got in on the gas mask game and designed a “Mickey Mouse” gas mask in 1942. Only about 1,000 of Disney’s offputting Mouse masks were made.

During wartime it was also commonplace for schools to run emergency drills and there is almost nothing more chilling than the photographs taken during such drills that show children, some still clearly in diapers holding hands while wearing gas masks. Unless of course you consider that hospitals would also run drills and were instrumental in helping teach caregivers and parents of how to put their infants into special “baby gas respirators” that covered everything but the baby’s legs.

An image of a baby enclosed within the confines of a gas mask can never been unseen. So as crazy as this world has gotten over the course of this last year or so, the photos in this post are a somber reminder that things can always be (and used to be) much worse. Have some perspective.
 

Nurses in Britain helping test out gas masks for babies (under the age of two), 1940.
 

 

A group of mothers with their infants inside their gas masks.
 
More after the jump…

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The Reich Stuff: The grim Nazi propaganda magazine aimed at women


An issue of ‘Frauen Warte’ a Nazi magazine marketed to women, 1940.
 
Frauen Warte (or “Women’s Worth” at least when translated using Google) was a women’s interest magazine put out by the Nazi party starting in 1935. Published twice a week Frauen Warte was full of recommendations and “advice” on how to properly raise children so they would be strong enough to “defend their fatherland with their lives,” how to clean and maintain their homes, and fashion advice that fell within the Führer’s tastes of respectability. Frauen-Warte even went so far as to include specific sewing patterns for clothing for women to make for themselves and their children. In more than one issue during the magazine’s run, a school set up by the Nazi party called the Reich Brides’ and Housewives’ School in Husbäke in Oldenburg was discussed in great, rather enthusiastic and misogynistic detail.
 

A page from ‘Frauen Warte’ detailing the activities at the Brides’ and Housewives’ School in Husbäke in Oldenburg.
 
Brides and aspiring housewives (according to Nazi doctrine a woman’s place was to get married, have children and care for their family) would attend the school for a period of six weeks during which they would learn various skills to help them succeed as they embark on their “careers” as housewives, such as cooking, sewing, how to properly decorate their homes, creating and maintaining a household budget, and of course, how keeping their hardworking German men “comfortable” when they comes home from work. During this time women were also told to adhere to the following guidelines in order to ensure they would emulate the “ideal” German woman:

Women should not work for a living
Women should not wear trousers
Women should not wear makeup
Women should not wear high-heeled shoes
Women should not dye or perm their hair

Various articles in the propaganda masquerading as a magazine included such topics as “The Expert Housewife of Today,” the bleak sounding “Ready to Die, Ready to Live” (whose focus was to encourage women to propagate even during wartime), and “Strength from Love and Faith” that stated that all Hitler really wanted for his birthday was for his followers (in this case specifically women) to work hard. To reinforce Hitler’s feelings about the role of women, the failed painter and leader of the Third Reich even wrote for the rag about the importance of a woman’s role when it to the advancement of the Nazi’s quest for global domination.

What a man proves through heroic courage, the woman proves in eternal patient suffering. Each child that she brings into the world is a battle she fights for the existence or nonexistence of her people.

This feel-good article finishes up with a passage seemingly straight from Satan’s own playbook requesting that anyone reading the magazine (which had a circulation of 1.9 million readers by 1939) follow Hitler “on this path through the raging fire of war.” Which as we know was what the Germans figuratively and quite literally did. A large volume of detail including covers of the magazine, numerous articles and photos from the magazine (which you can see in this post) have been cataloged by Randall Bytwerk, a Professor Emeritus of Communication Arts and Sciences Calvin College in Michigan in the German Propaganda Archive hosted by Calvin College’s website. Issues of Frauen Warte published between the years 1941 and 1945 (which put out its last issue shortly before the Nazi’s unconditionally surrendered in France in May that same year) can be seen over at The University of Heidelberg website. If this is of interest to those of you that collect these kinds of artifacts copies of Frauen Warte are fairly easy to come by online.
 

1939.
 

1939.
 
More good housekeeping tips from the Nazis, after the jump…

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The sexy, porny nose art of WWII combat planes
08.31.2015
10:49 am

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
WWII
planes
pin-up girls


 
It’s easy to imagine a… lonely soldier doodling a smutty little pin-up on the side of a military plane from sheer boredom, but the elaborate “nose art” of World War II also served a very functional purpose. A memorable girl on the side of a plane let you know who made it home before they even landed, so a “Memphis Belle” or a “Marine’s Dream” was an early indicator of a serviceman’s safe return. Surprisingly, nose art wasn’t an American innovation (I guess I just assumed we were pioneers of all things porn and explosions?). Italians and Germans were decorating their military vehicles in non-standard ways as early as 1913.

The nose art I’ve curated below is not featured for its cheeky sexuality, but rather the explicitness of some of the work; note the placement of the hand on the “in the mood” pin-up two images down? Obviously the majority of aviation pin-ups were a little more coy, but there’s something really comical about the artists who dispensed entirely with subtlety, sometimes without much actual artistic talent.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Thirty minutes of amazing color footage of Berlin after the war
05.06.2015
12:48 pm

Topics:
History

Tags:
Berlin
WWII


 
This post will be brief, as in spite of my surname, my German language faculties are scheiße, and an over-reliance on Google translate has a way of biting one on the ass. The long-lived and respected German magazine Stern has this week reported on the existence of an incredible high-def video comprised of 30 minutes of full color footage shot in Berlin in July of 1945, two months after the city fell at the end of World War II.

The devastation is incredible. We see the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Alexanderplatz, all in ruins as the citizenry carries on with everyday life. The aerial footage, too, is stunning and sobering. It was uploaded by Chronos Media founder Konstantin von zur Mühlen on Monday, on the heels of similar footage of Hamburg released last week. Here it is in its entirety.
 

 
Much gratitude is due to Ben Merlis for alerting us to this footage.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Ansel Adams’ photos of a Japanese internment camp are beautiful, yet disturbing
04.14.2015
10:06 am

Topics:
History
Race

Tags:
WWII
Japanese internment
Ansel Adams


Ryie Yoshizawa, center, teaching a class on dressmaking
 
The relocation and internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War 2 is one of the more baffling atrocities committed by the U.S. government. Not only was it relatively recent, two thirds of the detainees were U.S. citizens, and this was all done on U.S. soil. In addition to the sheer Big Brother terror of such a massive abuse of human rights, internment wasn’t even dealt out consistently. The government did not, for example, feel the same impulse to throw actual American Nazis into a camp—maybe because they already had camps of their own? Or maybe it’s because Germans are generally white, and governments are historically more sympathetic to the populations that most physically resemble their ruling class? (Nahhhh…)

At any rate, some beautiful and strange records of detainment exist, including Ansel Adams’ beatific photographs of Manzanar War Relocation Center in California. Adams openly sympathized with the Japanese, including many of the photos in his ironically titled book, Born Free and Equal.The book had limited circulation, likely due to reactionary, racist wartime sentiment, but Adams held fast on his principles, saying:

The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and dispair [sic] by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment.

You’ll notice Manzanar had a lot of resources—the volunteers who helped build the camp were actually the first interned. At its most populous, it had 10,046 inhabitants, and it was a bustling, organized community—of sorts. Although Adams’ work focuses on how people at Manzanar seemed to thrive, the conditions were awful. Families were cramped into tiny “apartments” divided from larger buildings—the partitions between “rooms” didn’t reach the ceiling, so privacy was unthinkable. The latrine was coed, with no partitions between toilets or shower stalls. The rickety buildings did very little to protect detainees from scorching summers, freezing nights and winters, and the dry, violent winds that coated them in desert dust while they slept.
 

 

 

Painter C.T. Hibino.
 

 

Many of the detained were actually decorated members of the military, like Corporal Jimmy Shohara.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Working Women: Portraits of WWII’s female factory workers
10.30.2014
10:30 am

Topics:
Feminism
History

Tags:
WWII

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Miss M. Greatorex: a war worker in the manufacture of 17-pdr anti-tank guns, 1943.
 
The coloring and composition of some of these photographs look like paintings by the great Dutch masters, but they were taken by photographers from the Ministry of Information to document working life on the British homefront during the Second World War.

Women workers were essential to the war effort, and although working class women had been working prior to the war, the number of British women workers involved in heavy industry increased “from 19.75% to 27% from 1938-1945.” The number of skilled and semi-skilled female workers working in the engineering industry increased from 75% to 85% between 1940 and 1942. However, as documented in The Economic History Review the rates of pay for women—surprise, surprise—were less than their male counterparts.

The photographs are part of the Imperial War Museums’ history of modern Britain’s “wartime experience,” and more images can be seen here.
 
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Mrs. C. Graham, war worker in the manufacture of 17-pdr anti-tank guns, 1943.
 
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Unnamed war worker involved in milling breech blocks, 1943.
 
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Miss Miriam Highams welding the saddle of a 25 pounder gun.
 
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Women at work in a makeshift factory, 1943.
 
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Mrs. Chaulkey, portrait of a war worker, 1943.
 
More women war workers, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Tyler Kent, the original (attempted) ‘wicked leaker’

image
 
Famed British documentarian, Adam Curtis, has been keeping an absolutely wonderful, quirky, must-read blog on the BBC’s website. Often Curtis will post long forgotten TV documentaries and news clips from the Beeb’s archives. Recently, he put up a nearly forgotten piece of history, one that’s particularly relevant again with the Wikileaks scandal currently occupying the government, the news media and chattering classes and which provides a unique bit of perspective… on several fronts:

Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst who is alleged to have leaked the thousands of state department cables, has often been compared to Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

But I have stumbled on a film in the archives that tells the story of another leaker in America who tried to do the same thing, but even earlier.

He was a young State Department diplomat who stole and copied thousands of Top Secret cables. Like Daniel Ellsberg, his aim was to release them to stop America’s involvement in what he believed was a disastrous foreign war.

He was called Tyler Kent. He was a diplomat at the US embassy in London in 1940 and he wanted to stop President Roosevelt bringing America into the war to help Britain.

It is a fascinating story, but it also brings an odd perspective to the contemporary Wikileaks story.

Tyler Kent was a horrible man. He was a rabid anti-communist who believed that the Jews had been behind the Russian Revolution.

He was convinced that Germany should be allowed to destroy both Communist Russia and the Jews. And America should not get in the way of that being allowed to happen.

Looking back, most people now feel that Daniel Ellsberg was right in 1971 because the Vietnam War had become a horrible disaster that needed exposing.

Today, we are not sure of Bradley Manning’s motives (and it hasn’t been proven that he is the source of the leak), but again there is a general feeling that it was good thing because the cables have exposed an empty nihilism at the heart of America’s foreign policy.

But the perspective the Tyler Kent story brings is the realisation that diplomatic leaks are not automatically a good thing. It just depends on who is using them. And why.

Tyler Kent secreted away nearly 2000 cables between then First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Chruchill and President Franklin Roosevelt. If the cables would have been made public (Kent’s idea was to share them with Senators who shared his isolationist views) the American people—80% were against entering WWII—might not have re-elected Roosevelt. Who knows how this one twisted freak could have altered the course of history?

Tyler Kent was tried and convicted to seven years in prison (Malcolm Muggeridge was at the trial representing MI6). Oddly, the State Department did not attempt to prosecute him for working as a Nazi spy. Eventually he was deported back to the US, where he married a wealthy woman and started a newspaper with ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Kent died, bitter, broke, weird—and an unrepentant anti-Semite—in a trailer park near the Mexican border in 1988. A BBC Newsnight journalist tracked Kent down in 1982 and interviewed him. You watch the report at Curtis’s blog, The Medium and the Message.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Donald Duck takes on Hitler to the tune of Der F?ɬ

image
 
Der Fuehrer’s Face is a 1943 propaganda cartoon from the Walt Disney Studios, starring Donald Duck. It was directed by Jack Kinney as an anti-Nazi piece for the American war effort. The song, of course, was later made famous by the great Spike Jones and his City Slickers. The short film won the 1943 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film (the sole Donald Duck short to do so) and in considered one of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time, as voted on by animators.

The German oom-pah band is comprised of Emperor Hirohito (Sh?֬

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment