Ghosts Of War: Photographer Overlays ‘Then’ And ‘Now’ Photos

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. They also say that a photo can capture a memory. Which partially explains why we’re so fascinated by photographer Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse’s haunting overlays in the “Ghosts of War” series (see her Flickr and Facebook pages here), which takes images of locations today and overlays them with people-filled images from World War II. The series showcases locations in France, Auschwitz, Poland, Germany and Amsterdam.

Dutch historian Teeuwisse found negatives at an Amsterdam flea market and had the idea to begin this series, the Daily Mail reported. Each photograph and location is researched before being put together. We’re fascinated by the idea of seeing modern-day locations in historic and haunting context.

Which image is your favorite?
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[Photos used with permission from flickr user juffrouwjo]

Convenient Forms Of Communication On Display From World War II

communication

Today, we take for granted convenient forms of communication when traveling, like email, text messages, Skype and others. FourSquare, HipGeo, Instagram and other smart phone apps pinpoint our exact location anywhere on the planet. Those fighting overseas in World War II relied on hand-written letters that could take weeks to arrive at their destinations, as loved ones served thousands of miles away.

In the sixth and final installment of its 2012 Legends & Legacies Symposium Series, “Letters Home: Love, Courage & Survival,” Florida’s Fantasy of Flight, a vintage aircraft collection, will honor the art of letter writing and share the stories of wartime bonds preserved by pen and paper.In World War II, soldiers relied on correspondence from their sweethearts and families to keep up with news from home and boost their spirits. In turn, wives, girlfriends, parents and children relied on postal service delivery of letters from the war front to tell them that their soldier was still alive and well.

Fantasy of Flight is searching for people to share their letters with guests during this symposium coming up in October. Writers or recipients of letters including servicemen and women, family and friends are invited to share their wartime experiences through written correspondence. `

Copies of letters can be mailed to Fantasy of Flight at 1400 Broadway Blvd. SE, Polk City, FL 33868. Scanned copies can be emailed to info@fantasyofflight.com with “Letters from Home” in the subject line.

During the Letters Home: Love, Courage & Survival symposium on Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13, veterans and guest speakers will interact with guests in open forum/question-and-answer sessions, followed by meet-and-greet/autograph signing sessions.

Home Front Life During World War II in Stockton, California


[Flickr photo by Gibson Claire McGuire Regester]

Exhibition Examines Role Of Scientists And Doctors In Holocaust

Holocaust, eugenics
This is a poster for the Nazi eugenics program. Printed in 1936, it proclaims, “We are not alone.” The column on the left shows the countries that already had forced sterilization for certain “social undesirables.” The columns on the bottom and right show countries considering eugenics programs.

Note the American flag on the left. Various U.S. states practiced compulsory sterilization as early as 1907, when Indiana instituted sterilization of “confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles, and rapists.” The law was overturned in 1921, only to be replaced in 1927 with a law requiring sterilization of the “Insane, feeble minded or epileptic.” That law stayed on the books until 1974. Many states had similar laws and this “social cleansing” program heavily influenced the Nazis.

The Nazis instituted their Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring in 1933, the same year Hitler came to power. Many scientists and doctors were quick to jump onto the Nazi bandwagon and began “studies” to prove how the Germanic peoples were superior to all other races. This gave a scholarly stamp of approval to the forced sterilization, and eventual killing, of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, and physically and mentally disabled.

This unseemly link between science and the Holocaust is being examined in a new exhibition at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. “Deadly Medicine: Creating The Master Race” brings together posters, leaflets and photos of scientific examinations to show how the scientific community became complicit in the greatest crime of the 20th century.

It also shows how these ideas were sold to the German people. One picture in a high school textbook shows a German man bent under the weight of an alcoholic and a brutish-looking man, perhaps meant to portray a mentally disabled person, with the caption, “You are sharing the load! A hereditarily ill person costs 50,000 Reichsmarks on average up to the age of sixty.”

“Deadly Medicine: Creating The Master Race” runs until October 15, 2012.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Beauty In Wartime: The Italian Chapel In Orkney

Orkney, Italian Chapel
The remote Orkney Islands north of Scotland became important during both world wars. With German U-boats prowling the Atlantic, shipping between the United Kingdom and North America was diverted as far north as possible and passed by Orkney. The islands were protected by a series of bunkers and forts that can still be seen today.

The remote islands also proved to be a good place to put prisoners of war. Camp 60, on Lambholm, housed some 500 Italian soldiers captured during the North Africa campaign of World War II. They had a pretty good life considering the circumstances. By day they worked on building barriers between the islands to inhibit U-boat traffic, and in their spare time they built themselves a bowling alley and printed their own newspaper.

They were far from home, however, and still prisoners, so they needed some spiritual inspiration. Thus they got permission to convert two Nissen huts into a Catholic chapel. The prisoners quickly organized. Former artisans volunteered to decorate and paint the chapel, or devise candlesticks and a rood screen out of scrap metal and wood. Less skilled prisoners did the heavy work.

%Gallery-161322%One Italian POW described why the prisoners rallied around the project: “It was the wish to show oneself first, and to the world then, that in spite of being trapped in a barbed wire camp, down in spirit, physically and morally deprived of many things, one could still find something inside that could be set free.”

Check out the gallery to see this amazing little chapel – all that remains of Camp 60. It’s been lovingly preserved by the people of Orkney and regularly visited by the former prisoners and their families.

The above photo was taken by Gregory J. Kingsley, who obviously went on a nicer day than we did.

Don’t miss the rest of my series “Exploring Orkney: Scotland’s Rugged Northern Isles.”

Coming up next: “A Look Inside at a Scotch Whisky Distillery!”

Historic Battleship USS Texas Taking In Water, Leaking Oil


The USS Texas is America’s oldest battleship. Commissioned in 1914, it fought in both World War I and World War II. Since 1948 it’s been utilized as a museum at La Porte, Texas, on the outskirts of Houston.

Now the vessel is in peril. It’s sprung a leak and is taking on water. So much water entered the ship that it started noticeably listing to port. The old oil tanks got flooded. While the tanks had been emptied decades ago, they’d never been cleaned, so oily water spread out into the bay.

The oil is being cleaned and the water pumped out. While problems continue, the ship doesn’t appear to be in danger of sinking. The Houston Chronicle reports the ship is taking less water now, from a high of 850 gallons a minute down to 100. Repairs will hopefully start Monday and the ship will be closed for the foreseeable future.

Despite its current troubles, the future may be bright for this floating bit of history. In 2007 a state bond issue raised $25 million to dry berth the ship. This would help preserve it for future generations. Now it’s estimated the project may cost twice that. Getting the money will be difficult in this economic climate, but the project would create jobs and preserve a major tourist attraction.

Check out the video to learn more about this amazing vessel.