'Non preoccuparti, we left Winston in the car.' (Chamberlain, Mussolini, Lord Halifax & Count Ciano at Rome Opera, Jan. 1939)

(C J Sansom) Smog, smog smog.  There is a lot of smog in this novel, which serves to hide the holes in this rather unlikely  plot.  But it’s an ok read if you believe in “holiday” books. World War I is known only as The Great War because there was no World War II.  Halifax succeeded Chamberlain.  England surrendered and Churchill is now an underground resistance leader.  How differently things actually turned out!  It’s all very well until the erstwhile surprisingly amiable and hands-off Nazis turn a bit nasty and start to disappear people.  Importantly however, Germany’s most effective means of domination is to control Europe with finance rather than jackboots.  How…

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Eleanor’s Story

March 2, 2015 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | THEATRE, WW2 |

Hitler promised a chicken in every pot and a VW in every garage but failed to add that soon there would be no pots or garages...(Photo c/- German Federal Archives)

This review comes from our Guest Reviewers – thank you Denise and Margaret!  Guest reviews are always welcome. “Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany”. (The Fringe, Rymill Park, Adelaide, 19 February 2015) Denise writes: A stellar performance by Ingrid Garner, adapted from her grandmother’s autobiography.  Performed on a small set all but bare of props, and with some intermittent sound effects and voice-overs to enhance the sounds of conflict, this young actress drew us deeper and deeper into the daily business of survival in a foreign country at war.  She showed us how a family unit can remain strong…

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Winston Spencer Churchill

February 3, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, POLITICS, Ulalume, WW2 |

Peerless self-confidence

(30 Nov. 1874 to 25 Jan. 1965) The 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death prompts us to recall a person the like of which we no longer see.  Whilst he was a giant even from early age, Churchill was wildly inconsistent in his politics and his professional allegiances.  He failed more often than he succeeded and a case can be made that he was a far better writer (and painter) than politician or military strategist.  Yet he completely embodies the heroic myth of ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’.  Hard as it is to believe today, for a great deal of…

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The Imitation Game

January 20, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WW2 |

(Dir. Morten Tyldum)  (2014) There have been many books and indeed many films concerning Enigma and Ultra.  All are unsatisfactory to varying degrees.  The present effusion suffers from a common defect.  It is hard to engage us, in cinematic terms, by presenting decryption, or its value in the war effort: one is visually dull, the other incalculable.  One is left to stage moral dilemmas or descend to caricatures of hobbits in Bletchley huts, sledgehammering us with reminders that queer little folk can do great things. Turing and his colleagues in Hut 8 were crucial to the effort to break the…

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Nazi Philistines – Arthur Boyd – The Brians

November 24, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, Modern Music, MUSIC, POLITICS, Ulalume, WW2 |


The Wall Street Journal reports that the art collection of Cornelius Gurlitt, who died on 6/5/14, has been bequeathed to a museum in Bern.  The collection included works looted by the Nazis and ‘assayed’ under the stewardship of Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand: Matisse, Franz Marc, Monet and Renoir (which last perhaps suggests the basic philistine nature of the national socialists). German authorities famously carried out a home invasion of Gurlitt’s Augsburg home in 2012 and confiscated the art as, according to the WSJ, “Gurlitt sat shocked in a corner wearing his pyjamas.” This property was never returned to him but the…

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