As Allied Forces fought the Nazis for control of Europe, an unlikely unit of American and British art experts waged a shadow campaign
Trapani! Trapani, don’t you see?” Capt. Edward Croft-Murray exclaimed as the skyline of the Sicilian coastal town first appeared through the porthole of the Allied aircraft. Sitting next to him, Maj. Lionel Fielden, who had been drifting off into daydream for much of the flight from Tunis, opened his eyes to the landscape below. “And there, below us,” Fielden later wrote, “swam through the sea a crescent of sunwashed white houses, lavender hillsides and rust red roofs, and a high campanile whose bells, soft across the water, stole to the mental ear. No country in the world has, for me, the breathtaking beauty of Italy.”
It was the fall of 1943. A couple of months earlier, the Sicilian landings of July 10 had marked the beginning of the Allied Italian campaign. The two British officers, who had met and become instant friends during the recently concluded push to drive the Germans from North Africa, were assigned to the Allied Military Government for Occupied Territories (AMGOT), which took over control of Italy as the country was being liberated by the Allies. Read more.
Missing for decades, the rediscovered diary of Alfred Rosenberg — a chief Nazi ideologue and one of Adolf Hitler’s closest confidants — was officially turned over to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., Tuesday (Dec. 17). And with its new acquisition, the museum has made the German-language diary available online for the first time.
Under Hitler, Rosenberg led the Nazi party’s foreign affairs department and served as the Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. Historians had long known that Rosenberg’s diary existed; it was used as evidence in the Nuremberg trials, some of the papers were published and parts of the diary are even in the collection of the U.S. National Archives.
But the bulk of manuscript, which is more than 400 pages and covers 1936 through 1944, only resurfaced earlier this year. Read more.
Few names have cast more terror into the human heart than Dracula. The legendary vampire, created by author Bram Stoker for his 1897 novel of the same name, has inspired countless horror movies, television shows and other bloodcurdling tales of vampires.
Though Dracula may seem like a singular creation, Stoker in fact drew inspiration from a real-life man with an even more grotesque taste for blood: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia or — as he is better known — Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes), a name he earned for his favorite way of dispensing with his enemies.
Vlad III was born in 1431 in Transylvania, a mountainous region in modern-day Romania. His father was Vlad II Dracul, ruler of Wallachia, a principality located to the south of Transylvania. Vlad II was granted the surname Dracul (“dragon”) after his induction into the Order of the Dragon, a Christian military order supported by the Holy Roman Emperor. Read more.
When the uprising against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad began two years ago, satellite images showed the ruins of the ancient Hellenic city of Apamea surrounded by green farmland. A year later, photos reveal a moonscape blighted by hundreds upon hundreds of holes.
Looters in bulldozers armed with automatic weapons are exploiting the mayhem of Syria’s civil war to seize sites including Apamea, founded in 300 B.C. by one of Alexander the Great’s generals, where colonnaded streets stretch for almost 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) along a hilltop.
“It’s tragic, objects from archaeological sites risk being lost without us ever knowing they existed,” said Jonathan Tubb, keeper of the Middle East department at the British Museum. “It can be callous to talk about this in the face of appalling human loss, but Syria’s cultural heritage is of such great importance to our understanding of human history that it’s only right we’re concerned.” Read more.
Deep in the mountains of northern Idaho, miles from the nearest town, lies evidence of a little-known portion of a shameful chapter of American history.
There are no buildings, signs or markers to indicate what happened at the site 70 years ago, but researchers sifting through the dirt have found broken porcelain, old medicine bottles and lost artwork identifying the location of the first internment camp where the U.S. government used people of Japanese ancestry as a workforce during World War II.
Today, a team of researchers from the University of Idaho wants to make sure the Kooskia Internment Camp isn’t forgotten to history.
"We want people to know what happened, and make sure we don’t repeat the past," said anthropology professor Stacey Camp, who is leading the research. Read more.
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Two years after he made history by becoming the Navy’s first black pilot, Ensign Jesse Brown lay trapped in his downed fighter plane in subfreezing North Korea, his leg broken and bleeding. His wingman crash-landed to try to save him, and even burned his hands trying to put out the flames.
A chopper hovered nearby. Lt. j.g. Thomas Hudner could save himself, but not his friend. With the light fading, the threat of enemy fire all around him and Brown losing consciousness, the white son of a New England grocery-store magnate made a promise to the black son of a sharecropper.
“We’ll come back for you.”
More than 60 years have passed. Hudner is now 88. But he did not forget. He is coming back. Read more.
It’s all a bit of a blur, isn’t it? That little-remembered century—1600 to 1700—that began with the founding (and foundering) of the first permanent English settlement in America, the one called Jamestown, whose endemic perils portended failure for the dream of a New World. The century that saw all the disease-ridden, barely civilized successors to Jamestown slaughtering and getting slaughtered by the Original Inhabitants, hanging on by their fingernails to some fetid coastal swampland until Pocahontas saved Thanksgiving. No, that’s not right, is it? I said it was a blur.
Enter Bernard Bailyn, the greatest historian of early America alive today. Now over 90 and ensconced at Harvard for more than six decades, Bailyn has recently published another one of his epoch-making grand narrative syntheses, The Barbarous Years, casting a light on the darkness, filling in the blank canvas with what he’s gleaned from what seems like every last scrap of crumbling diary page, every surviving chattel slave receipt and ship’s passenger manifest of the living and dead, every fearful sermon about the Antichrist that survived in the blackened embers of the burned-out churches. Read more.
The latest project from Dassault Systèmes with the help of historians and archaeologists is the remarkable Paris 3D Saga, an interactive model that guides you through two millennia of Paris’ history.
You are taken through the French capital at various stages of its’ development from 52 BC Gallic Oppida through the Roman city and on to the present day. You can witness the construction of the Bastille and Notre Dame and walk through winding stone streets in the middle ages and then visit the 1889 World’s Fair to see the Eiffel Tower just after completion.
The Paris 3D Saga let’s you experience the city like you have never seen it before. Go on a journey through more than 2000 years of history: Read more.