• History,  Labour Party

    What’s missing?

    Guest post by Sackcloth & Ashes On 3rd December the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition delivered a speech in Prague to the Party of European Socialists Council. The text contains a reference to the host nation’s troubled history, and particular the traumas the Czechs experienced during the 20th century. But there’s one episode in the Czech Republic’s recent past which isn’t referenced in Jeremy Corbyn’s speech. Anyone care to guess what it might be?

  • Books,  History,  War etc

    War Stories

    For years afterwards in the 1950s, the war remained an inexhaustible subject with a huge audience. The memory thus transmitted to later generations is a fragmentary one. An obvious reason is the unparalleled extent and complexity of Britain’s war. For Russians, arguably the war can be encapsulated by the sieges of Leningrad and Stalingrad, the core of Vasily Grossman’s… Life and Fate. For Americans, memory seems to focus on Pacific islands and D-Day. For the French, on the “syndrome” of occupation, collaboration and resistance. But for Britain, the only European country to have fought the whole war, it cannot be easily abbreviated. Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the…

  • antisemitism,  History,  Movies


    A good interview on National Public Radio with Prof. Deborah Lipstadt about the new film “Denial,” based on the legal challenge she faced from David Irving in 1996 after she called him a Holocaust denier. Here’s the trailer. Avoid the comments if you don’t want to have your stomach turned. Apparently Irving is a martyr to a frightening number of people.

  • History,  Russia

    And Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia…

    It is now illegal in Vladimir Putin’s Russia to publish the historical fact that both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia invaded Poland in September 1939 and divided that country between themselves. The Human Rights in Ukraine website reports: 37-year-old Vladimir Luzgin was convicted in July this year by the Perm District Court and fined 200 thousand roubles. The charge was under Article 354.1 of Russia’s criminal code (‘rehabilitation of Nazism’) and concerned Luzgin’s repost of a text on his VKontakte social network page entitled ’15 facts about Bandera supporters, or what the Kremlin is silent about’. It is probably no accident that the ‘offending text’ should be Ukrainian, and fairly…

  • History

    Free funerals in 1941

    A funeral home in Roanoke, Virginia, placed this advertisement in the Roanoke Times on September 7, 1941– three months before Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II. But even if you weren’t a German Nazi or an Italian Fascist– $75 for a funeral? At those prices, you couldn’t afford to live.

  • History,  Iraq

    Neoconservatism: A Lament

    In 2003 I did not just support the Iraq War, I supported an ideology associated with many of the most vocal proponents of that war: neoconservatism. The purpose of this post is not to criticise Tony Blair for his decision to go to war, although one has to admit that Iraq in 2016 is not the liberal democratic paradise of which many had dreamed, but to note that neoconservatism as an ideology is a soiled good. There is no simple definition of neoconservatism and neoconservative writers have not all sung the exact same tune with the exact same words. In my opinion neoconservatism is about promoting democracy abroad, opposing regimes…

  • History,  Stateside

    Happy Independence Day

    Unfortunately the festivities here in Lexington, Virginia, have been cancelled due to rain (I was going to work at the Democratic party booth), but I hope all our American readers are enjoying the Fourth of July holiday. Via Politico, here are some contemporary cartoons to mark the occasion and remind us that (for better or worse) things are never what they used to be.

  • antisemitism,  History

    Elie Wiesel’s wisdom

    As President Obama said in a heartfelt tribute: Elie was not just the world’s most prominent Holocaust survivor, he was a living memorial. After we walked together among the barbed wire and guard towers of Buchenwald where he was held as a teenager and where his father perished, Elie spoke words I’ve never forgotten – “Memory has become a sacred duty of all people of goodwill.” Upholding that sacred duty was the purpose of Elie’s life. Along with his beloved wife Marion and the foundation that bears his name, he raised his voice, not just against anti-Semitism, but against hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms. He implored each…

  • History

    A comment on Hiroshima Revisionism

    There is no getting round the fact that over 100,000 people and possibly as many as 200,000 died as a result of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, most of them innocent civilians. People are entitled to their own moral judgement on these acts, but that does not mean to say that the historical record should be distorted to justify a preconceived moral position against the bombs. The purpose of this revisionism is to deny the bombs were necessary to end the war. I do not wish to delve into all the revisionists’ claims here, but I am moved to write because the political commentator Mehdi…

  • History,  Stateside

    Alternate history

    Would the reelection of President William Howard Taft in 1912 have prevented World War II? Wade Gilley, who served in the cabinet of a Republican governor of Virginia and held appointments in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, thinks it’s a possibility. Writing in The Roanoke Times about how a split in the Republican party, and an independent candidacy, could ensure the election of Hillary Clinton as president this year, he recalls: …Teddy Roosevelt, who had served two terms as president before handing the office over to his vice president, Howard Taft, decided to run for a third term (which was allowed back then). But Roosevelt could not get the…