In December 1945 the French government invited Porsche to Paris, ostensibly to discuss licensing manufacture of a French Volkswagen. Ferdinand, Ferry and Anton Piech traveled to Paris but quickly found themselves in a political pressure cooker. The French government intended seizing the Volkswagen factory and moving it to France as reparations and they wanted Porsche’s patents. When Porsche stonewalled, the trio were arrested as war criminals. After four months imprisonment Ferry was released and hurried back to Stuttgart. To raise funds to secure his father’s release, Ferry began to promote a custom sportster that he’d been developing in Gmund. The first cars were entirely hand built from assorted VW parts in barn. Now Ferry moved the operation to Porsche’s Stuttgart workshop and started taking orders – with payment up front. Continue reading
The Price of Gold
The Legacy of Doping in the GDR
Reunited Germany inherited many East German champions who had not only broken records in track and field, but also in the forced consumption of steroids. Twenty years later, German sports are only now beginning to recover.
Ukraine has always been invaluable to Russia as a ready source of gain. For centuries, the fertile black earth of the Eastern European plains was cultivated by peasant farmers who led a traditional way of life attached to their patches of land. When Stalin came to power in 1924, he instigated a reign of terror in the Ukraine that ranks among the foremost of his crimes against humanity. Over the next few years, he imposed a ruthless policy of collectivization. The kulaks’ land was sized for state farms and they were forced to work their own land as state employees. Many rebelled and were shot. In 1928, Stalin piled on the pressure by increasing the kulaks’ taxes at the same time as requisitioning ever-larger quotas of grain. Continue reading
The early days of the Berlin Wall.
By John Bainbridge
The wall that divides Berlin is hard to visualize, because it defies comparison. Other things in the city are easy enough to imagine, because they can be Iikened to something familiar—the Kurfürstendamm to Fifth Avenue, Potsdamer Platz (in an earlier period) to Times Square, the Spree River to the East River, and so on. But there has been never been anything quite like die Mauer—or, as Mayor Willy Brandt has called it, die Schandmauer (the wall of shame). Its purpose alone would make it unique. Countries have built walls to keep their enemies out; die Mauer is probably the only wall ever built to keep a people in.
Otoya Yamaguchi (22 February 1943 – 2 November 1960)
On October 12, 1960, the 17year old Otoya Yamaguchi assassinated Inejiro Asanuma, head of the Japan Socialist Party, during a televised political debate for the coming elections for the House of Representatives. While Asanuma spoke from the lectern at Tokyo’s Hibiya Hall, Yamaguchi rushed onstage and pierced Asanuma twice with a 33cm yoroi-dōshi (a traditional samurai sword) through his ribs and abdomen. Asanuma died before he reach the hospital.
Otoya Yamaguchi hung in his cell, while being held in a juvenile detention facility, some days later, on November 2.
Flour Mills Begin Decorating Their Flour Sacks After Realizing That Depression-Era Families Were Using Them To Make Children’s Clothing. 1930s.
Resonant cavity microphone – wanted item
The Thing, also known as The Great Seal Bug, was a passive covert listening device, developed in the Soviet Union and planted in the study of the US Ambassador in Moscow, hidden inside a wooden carving of the Great Seal of the United States. It is called a passive device as it does not have its own power source. Instead it is acivated by a strong electromagnetic signal from outside. The device was codenamed LOSS by the US and RAINDEER (Северный олень) by the Soviets. Continue reading
The Bombing of Berlin: An Eyewitness Account
My family members, on both my mother’s and my father’s sides, served in the Canadian forces in both world wars. But I also have another connection with wartime: my husband’s family.
He was born in Berlin after the war and emigrated to Canada as a young man. His father Kurt Drews flew with the Luftwaffe, and his mother Gerda Kernchen lived through the bombing of Berlin and its occupation by Russia at the end of the war.
Gerda is now 86, still living in Berlin, and often visits us in Canada. Recently I interviewed her on tape about her wartime experiences. Since she doesn’t speak English, the recording was translated by my husband.
Her description of what she experienced during the bombing is very sad. Please note that by repeating her words, I make no comment on the Allied bombing initiative, or the incredible bravery of our young air crews. But their courage in the air shouldn’t detract from the suffering of the civilians on the ground.
This is the first of a two-part series. This week, Gerda describes her life during the war, when Berlin was bombed 363 times. Next Wednesday, she explains what happened when her city fell to the Russians.