Steve Pollock

Since 1963.

Category: History (Page 2 of 3)

Andy and His Opies

The second post from Shorpy for today is another famous Desilu Production: Here's Andy Griffith in 1962, playing…

Posted by Steve Pollock on Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dinah and Desi

Love Shorpy, the 100-year-old photo blog. Here's a couple of blasts from the past: April 3, 1960, Dinah Shore grooving…

Posted by Steve Pollock on Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mayo History Room: 1880s Beagle Reading Chair

I knew this place and I would get along when I saw the history museum and found out the Mayo brothers had a reading…

Posted by Steve Pollock on Thursday, February 4, 2016

Uh Oh.

In the clinic's history museum.

Posted by Steve Pollock on Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ignorant and Doomed

Among savages incapable of retaining collectively learned experience, a perpetual infancy results. I can no longer figure out these days whether I’m reading history or current events. [Note to self: If it’s on the Kindle, it’s a history book. If it’s on the web browser on my laptop, it’s currently happening.]

Berlin, 4-May-27:
“Goebbels spoke again at the Veteran’s Association House. ‘A fresh heckler was thrown out into the fresh air,’ he noted laconically in his diary. … Somebody had indeed heckled Goebbels during his speech and on a signal from the Gauleiter had been seized by a horde of SA men, brutally manhandled, and thrown down the stairs. A journalist from the Scherl publishing house who was discovered in the hall was subjected to the same treatment. …”
—_Goebbels: A Biography_ by Peter Longerich 2015

Columbus, OH, 21-Nov-15:
“Then, when Mr. Trump began talking about surveillance of refugees, the college-age couple standing in front of the students began chanting, “Hating Muslims helps ISIS.” The students were caught off guard, but after a moment of uncertainty, some of them joined in.
“Mr. Hopkins [a Trump supporter at the rally] leaned over and screamed, “Shut up!”
“Mr. Trump stopped his remarks and looked toward the commotion with disgust. “Two people, two people,” he said dismissively of the couple, as the crowd started booing and the people around them began shouting. “So sad,” Mr. Trump said. “Yeah, you can get ’em the hell out.”
“The crowd erupted in triumph as the protesters and students turned to leave. “Get out of here!” Mr. Hopkins shouted, shoving one of the two protesters in the back on his way out.
“One of the high school girls said afterward that as they exited, people in the crowd had asked them, “If you don’t love America, why don’t you just leave?” and that a man had told her that if she had not been filming on her phone, he would have slapped her.
“She and another student said they had heard an epithet for black people hurled their way.
“After Mr. Trump wrapped up his speech and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” blasted on the speakers, Mr. Hopkins rushed to the stage to get a picture of Mr. Trump.
“Asked what he thought of the rally, he said: “It’s like a movement! And he’s a man of action.”
“And the protesters? “Very rude.””
—_The Wasington Post_, 25-Nov-15

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
—_The Life of Reason_ (1905-06), George Santayana

I need add nothing to all that.

70 Years On

[Fair warning: Not a happy or basset-y post. (Didn’t help my, shall we say, outlook on life, that our water heater failed and flooded the den and we’re down to weak cold water in the bathroom and heating water in pots on the stove like we did in 1975.) And it contains opinion at the end which you may or may not like. Just do what I do often with Facebook; hide or don’t read this post. Happier/doggier/noncontroversial posts will be return when I’m in a better mood.]

Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation by elements of the Red Army’s First Ukrainian Front of the Polish city of Oswiecim and the German konzentration/vernichtung lager system surrounding it. Auschwitz (Hell realized on Earth) is quite real. I’ve been there. The only difference between 27-Jan-45 and today is that you can visit this hell without getting burned. They sell postcards and photobooks in Hell on Earth’s gift shop, actually. It’s jarring, but quite human, to buy postcards at the gravesite of 1.1 million murdered people.

I took pictures there 15 years ago this April. It was quiet and beautiful and a nice springtime day in rural Poland. Hell had moved to other places long before I got there.

Yes, the Shoah is real. And no, it shouldn’t happen again. But it has happened/is happening again since ’45 and it will again after this anniversary. The first concentration camp was set up by Spain in Cuba in 1897. We had them scattered throughout the American west during the 19th century and we’re still operating one at Guantanamo Bay today. The Russian gulags are probably still operating as well, and no telling what North Korea is like; it’s darker than the Polish Warthegau/Generalgouvernement areas were in 1943. But we do know that millions have probably died there.

The Auschwitz complex is huge and covers many miles in up to 45 different satellite camps. Auschwitz I – Main is the site of Gaskammer/Krema I, where Zyklon B was first used. Now the main camp houses a museum with human hair (many still braided as it was when it was cut off) and luggage and eyeglasses and prayer shawls and cooking pots and dentures and shoes. You can stand in Gaskammer I and see the purple stains on the wall, remnants of Zyklon B.

Auschwitz II – Birkenau is down the road a couple of miles from the main camp. It is the most photographed/well known; Gaskammers/Kremas II – V are located there and it was in those buildings that most of the 1.1 million Jews, Gypsies, mischlinge/halflinge, political prisoners, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other undesirables met their deaths.

Auschwitz III – Monowitz/Buna is where slave labor (those who were selected for work instead of extermination) produced synthetic gas and rubber (using fuel from such sources as Standard Oil of the US, which continued to provide Germany with Ethyl gas (remember that brand?) up until the early months of January 1942. IBM provided the machines that tabulated and kept tabs on the undesirables. General Electric, Ford (and Henry and Edsel themselves) and other American companies and individuals helped out too. And yes, we knew the camps were there (and had aerial photos), but refused to bomb it out of existence, fearing we would “kill innocent people,” a concern that apparently was out of fashion by 1945, re. Dresden and Hiroshima.

I took pics of the main camp, Auschwitz I: One as we got ready to walk through the famous gate with its encouraging “Works Makes [you] Free” sign (stolen a few years back, recovered in pieces and now in the museum, replaced by a replica). Another of the highly electrified no-man’s land separating the prison blocks from administration blocks at Auschwitz I. Yet another of Gaskammer/Krema I, where Soviet prisoners of war became the first to inhale Zyklon B en masse. Underneath that chimney are two crematory ovens. To the side is the gallows where they hung the camp commandant in 1947. Just to the side of the gallows is the pretty white house where his wife and five children lived; they played in the yard as their father burned people next door. And more (I hope to get the time to post them here soon.)

We then went a mile down the road to the more famous Auschwitz II – Birkenau, the vernichtungslager (extermination camp). It housed workers and Roma and Sinta families and the Sonderkommando responsible for pulling bodies from the gaskammers and putting them into the ovens. Most Sonderkommando, after a certain time, followed the dead up the chimney. I took more pics; one of the latrine for Birkenau slave labor. No, there were no toilet seats or running water. Use of these communal spaces was permitted twice a day; when you left for work and when you came home to bed. Another pic I took was of the view SS officers in charge of “selections” had: the trains arrived from all over Europe, passed through the arch in the guard house and were parked on this siding. The selection chose a small quota for work; everyone else went up the chimney … sometimes in as little as an hour.

Today, speeches were made, the last 300 survivors were paraded in a tent and one noted, “Jews are targeted in Europe once again because they are Jews … Once again young Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes [skullcaps] on the streets of Paris, Budapest, London and even Berlin.”

The response? Statements by world politicians were issued with the usual words, but without an effort to actually fly to Cracow and drive 45 minutes. The leader of the liberating nation sent his regrets; seems the Red Army is a bit preoccupied in the Ukraine again. So he stayed in Moscow and posed with a rabbi lighting a candle. American and British politicians roused themselves briefly to post platitudes on Twitter, then went back to plundering their respective treasuries. Germany’s bundeskanzler called Auschwitz “a disgrace.” And executions for all kinds of reasons proceeded apace this week in Saudi Arabia, Syria, China, North Korea … Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma …

Sorry to be on the pessimistic side … but I’ve been there. And if we can’t learn from setting our own eyes on Auschwitz/Birkenau (and events of this century so far indicate we have not) … then … there will be more anniversary commemorations in other places in the world.

Sassoon and Gaza: A Hundred Years, An Unchanged Mankind

In Palestine

“On the rock-strewn hills I heard
The anger of guns that shook
Echoes along the glen.
In my heart was the song of a bird,
And the sorrowless tale of the brook,
And scorn for the deeds of men.”
—Siegfried Sassoon, 30-Mar-1918

An interesting story of the month Siegfried Sassoon spent in Palestine is in the Los Angeles Review of Books currently. Nina Martyris in «Siegfried Sassoon and Palestine» notes that Sassoon “wrote [the words above] not on the Somme but in Palestine, where he was posted for a little over a month in the spring of 1918. He could easily be talking about the vicious war raging across Israel and Gaza’s rocket-strewn hills today.” She continues:

“To read Sassoon on war is to read about Israel and Gaza today. After he left Palestine, he wrote a tightly crafted sonnet called “Ancient History” on the fratricidal nature of war, told through the allegory of Cain and Abel. Ironically, that same story of brotherly murder provided the name of Israel’s Operation Brother’s Keeper, launched to search the West Bank for the three Israeli teenagers whose abduction and murder sparked the ongoing clash. In Sassoon’s scorching parable, Adam stands in for the cynical old politicians who watch their young kill one another.

“What makes this poem a moral grenade is its self-awareness. Sassoon knew that there were bits of Cain and Abel tussling inside him. At the start of the war, he had been a soldier filled with bloodlust, and made quite a reputation for himself for his revenge killings of Germans. But he had also sickened of the slaughter and campaigned for it to stop. In Sassoon’s case, Abel finally won, but the current war, with its far more ancient and complex metabolism, is inevitably stamped with the mark of Cain.
“The Gaza war has been fought as much with rocket fire and rhetoric as with cameras that have smote the world’s conscience with streams of pictures of Palestinian families half-buried under rubble. During the First World War, press coverage of the front was strictly monitored, and only photographs of dead Germans were allowed to be published in the British newspapers. In the absence of cameras there were war poems.”
LA Review of Books

Fascinating reading, even if it is pretty depressing.

The Old Lie (2018 Memorial Day)

On Remembrance Day … remember. War and the military should never be “celebrated.” Remembered with solemnity and an understanding of the brutality and savagery and destruction. But never “honored” or “celebrated” or as an opportunity for “sales.”

Died of Wounds
His wet, white face & miserable eyes
Brought nurses to him more than groans & sighs,
But hoarse and low and rapid rose & fell
His troubled voice: he did the business well.
The Ward grew dark; but he was still complaining,
And calling out for ‘Dickie’. ‘Curse the Wood!
‘It’s time to go: O God, & what’s the good? ___
‘We’ll never take it; & it’s always raining.’
I wondered where he’d been; then heard him shout,
‘They snipe like hell! O Dickie, don’t go out!’ …
I fell asleep: next morning he was dead;
And some Slight Wound lay smiling on his bed.
—Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

A Mystic as Soldier
I lived my days apart,
Dreaming fair songs for God.
By the glory in my heart
Covered & crowned and shod.
Now God is in the strife,
And I must seek him there,
Where death outnumbers life,
And fury smites the air.

I walk the secret way
With anger in my brain.
O music thro’ my clay,
When will you sound again?
—Siegfried Sassoon

(Documents from « The First World War Poetry Digital Archive », University of Oxford; University of Oxford.)

Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’‘ring like a man in fire or lime …
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: “Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.”
—Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Anthem for Doomed Youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, —
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
—Wilfred Owen

The Old Lie

On Remembrance Day … remember. War and the military should never be “celebrated.” Remembered with solemnity and an understanding of the brutality and savagery and destruction. But never “honored” or “celebrated” or as an opportunity for “sales.”

Died of Wounds
His wet, white face & miserable eyes
Brought nurses to him more than groans & sighs,
But hoarse and low and rapid rose & fell
His troubled voice: he did the business well.
The Ward grew dark; but he was still complaining,
And calling out for ‘Dickie’. ‘Curse the Wood!
‘It’s time to go: O God, & what’s the good? ___
‘We’ll never take it; & it’s always raining.’
I wondered where he’d been; then heard him shout,
‘They snipe like hell! O Dickie, don’t go out!’ …
I fell asleep: next morning he was dead;
And some Slight Wound lay smiling on his bed.
—Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

A Mystic as Soldier
I lived my days apart,
Dreaming fair songs for God.
By the glory in my heart
Covered & crowned and shod.
Now God is in the strife,
And I must seek him there,
Where death outnumbers life,
And fury smites the air.

I walk the secret way
With anger in my brain.
O music thro’ my clay,
When will you sound again?
—Siegfried Sassoon

(Documents from « The First World War Poetry Digital Archive », University of Oxford; University of Oxford.)

Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’‘ring like a man in fire or lime …
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: “Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.”
—Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Anthem for Doomed Youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, —
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
—Wilfred Owen

Remembering Braniff Flight 250, 47 Years Ago Today

Taking time today to remember a tragic moment: 47 years ago today: Braniff International flight 250 crashed on Tony and Vernell Schawang’s soybean farm northeast of Falls City, NE, taking 42 lives. The crash had widespread consequences, both personally and in the industry. We fly safely today without any thought thanks in large part to sacrifices like those made that night.

In memory:

Crew:
Captain Donald G. Pauly, 46, Minneapolis, MN; First Officer James A. Hilliker, 39, Bloomington, MN; Hostess Ginger Elaine Brisbane, 21, Minneapolis; Hostess Sharon Eileen Hendricks, 21, Minneapolis.

Passengers:
Bosted, Private Larry Joseph, Omaha, NE; Broadfoot, Andrew Dewitt, Offutt AFB, Omaha; Chamblin, Nancy, Ft. Smith, AR; Chamblin, Susan, Ft. Smith, AR; Cox, Danny Ray, Omaha; Denies, Ronald L., Bayard, NE; Duerkson, Jean, Victoria, TX; Dyer, Ava, Washington, D.C; Eschback, Donald, Omaha; Eskelinen, Kenneth, Omaha; Ferrero, Donald, Offutt AFB, Omaha; Foster, Leslie David Jr., Omaha; Gilbertson, Patricia, North Little Rock, AR.

Graeber, Lyman Monroe, Spring Park, MN; Gummers, Mrs. G., Omaha; Hamm, Mary Kay, Houston, TX; Hamm, Susan, Houston; Howard, Charles E., Omaha; Hudson, Russell E., Ft. Worth, TX; Jacobson, Patricia, Fargo, ND; Johnson, William O., Glen Flora, WI; Jordan, Cheryl Lyn, Minneapolis; Kowtaliw, Bohdan, Chicago, IL.

Kuhr, Mitchell L., Omaha; Kuhr, Ruth L., Omaha; Mayer, Adolph, Omaha; McConnell, Eugene P., Council Bluffs, IA; Mills, Opal, Gonzalez, TX; Murphy, William, Sauk Village, IL; Paul, John H., Overland Park, KS; Robertson, Garrett George, Omaha; Roettger, Grace Rhodes, Decatur, TX; Smith, Donald R., Bellevue, NE; Tejada, Virginia, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Ward, Charla J., Omaha, NE; Welter, Robert D., Des Moines, IA; Wilson, Frank, Fremont, NE; Wright, Donald Keith, Omaha.

RIP

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