Museums come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – but what is a museum? Here, Shannon Bent returns and considers the ‘new’ definition of a museum from the body responsible for defining it - and one glaring omission from their definition.

This follows Shannon’s articles on Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie (here) and Topography of Terror (here), as well as the UK’s Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker (here).

The British Museum, London, under construction in the 1820s.

The British Museum, London, under construction in the 1820s.

Museums tend to want to do the same things, generally. They do it in different ways, and provide their information in many different manners, but basically most museums are there for the same reasons. If you asked most people, they would probably say that museums are there to educate, give information, and perhaps even preserve historic objects. This is probably a generally agreed remit, and most people would nod along if you were to say it to them. However, when you break it down there are so many elements to museums. Just from my brief time within museums volunteering and working, I’ve learnt that it simply isn’t just about exhibiting objects and writing interpretation panels on them. There’s the learning department, the archives, the preservation of objects, marketing, retail, catering and many more departments that I couldn’t name off the top of my head. Therefore, any definition of a museum must encompass all of these elements to ensure that each department is clear on what is expected of them. 

Of course, there has to be a designated group of people to sort this out and argue about it. It’s like having a board of directors except this is for all museums rather than just one. For this heritage industry, ICOM is this group of people. The International Council of Museums is in charge of overseeing everything to do with museums, holding conferences and workshops all around the world. As a museum you are automatically affiliated with this group, but individuals can join and become members too, for a fee of course. And you have to prove that you are involved in museums in some manner. So really not anyone can join. Anyway, pulling museums together into a common definition is one of their many tasks, and they have recently proposed a new working definition for what museums should be. And it has caused a bit of an argument.


The definition of a museum

There is always going to be someone that isn’t happy with what is said or produced. That’s just the nature of involving so many people, organizations and institutes into one definition. And some of the arguments against this are silly in my opinion. However, I can see where others are coming from. Here’s ICOM’s current proposition:

“Museums are democratising, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the pasts and the futures. Acknowledging and addressing the conflicts and challenges of the present, they hold artefacts and specimens in trust for society, safeguard diverse memories for future generations and guarantee equal rights and equal access to heritage for all people. 

“Museums are not for profit. They are participatory and transparent, and work in active partnership with and for diverse communities to collect, preserve, research, interpret, exhibit, and enhance understandings of the world, aiming to contribute to human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing.” 


Firstly, lets talk about why I like it. Well, from the top, it’s diverse. It directly says it should be ‘democratising, inclusive and polyphonic’, a fancy word for saying including many voices and perspectives. It has many other mentions of diversity too, including ‘safeguard diverse memories’, ‘guarantee equal rights’, and ‘equal access to heritage for all people’. I’m up for anything that actually comments on people from every and all backgrounds actually having access to any heritage they wish to observe and learn about. 

The comment ‘work in active partnership with and for diverse communities to collect, preserve, research, and interpret, exhibit and enhance understanding’ is perhaps the moment of gold here. It hits all those points that people traditionally associate with museums that I mentioned at the top of the article, including preservation, exhibiting and researching. ‘Contributing to human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing’ may be very dramatic but it certainly makes the point. It’s nice to see there are other people that believe museums are important to planetary wellbeing… even if it is very theatrical. Perhaps if this perspective is more widely held, all the funding that is being pulled from the heritage sector may slow down and perhaps we can keep these museums and heritage sites afloat. But that’s another argument for another time. 


What’s missing?

So far, it doesn’t seem like this missed anything, right? Seems to hit most important points, seems to be fairly inclusive and understanding. Mostly. But here’s the biggest issue. This working definition misses one very important word: education. Yes, that’s right. Not once does that definition talk about education, passing on knowledge and allowing people to learn from the collections of the museums. Whoops. Yes, ‘enhance understanding of the world’ I guess is a broad way of saying educate, but if there is one thing we know about these kind of definitions, it is all about the ‘buzz words’. If you don’t use the actual word ‘educate’, or ‘learning’ then any learning and education departments in museums are going to immediately struggle to justify their requests for funding because it can be argued that museums are not required to educate. This may seem a little far-fetched but in a sector that is rather tight on money as it is, and yes it all comes down to money, I could image any excuse being used to not grant funding. Anyone in this industry has probably seen this happen. Even I have been told within my roles ‘change the wording of that to this. We’re guaranteed more funding if you say it is for this rather than that’. Appalling, I know, but that’s the way the world works unfortunately.

This has been the biggest issue for most people within ICOM and other organizations. It is a vital word, and when I saw the article headline saying that people were arguing about it, I thought it would be over some silly and insignificant word that really didn’t matter. Upon reflection, this is actually rather important and I find myself completely behind the group of people saying the word ‘education’ or ‘learning’ is needed within this new definition. I have recently started a new job within a museum in which I am an ‘Education Facilitator’, essentially delivering education sessions to visiting school groups. When you break it down and look at the different departments of a museum, as I have mentioned before, the education side of a museum, be it visiting schools or the general public, is one of the most important parts. A lot of large museums’ profit comes from their education departments. They need to be able to justify their existence, and show how important and integral they are into the wider machine of their museum.



As yet there has been no suggestions made for changes. I’m sure they will come soon before it is voted on again. I found it very interesting; when I first saw that people were arguing about it, I rolled my eyes and thought ‘leave it alone, it can’t be that bad’. But upon reflection, and now coming from an education department of a museum myself, I can see why this would be a negative game changer for many museums across the globe. I hope this maybe opens peoples’ eyes to the various elements of museums and how just one word can impact this sector. I hope they can come to a new definition, encompassing all the things I love about it, the inclusivity and diversity, while being aware that every single person and department in a museum is a vital part of the overall apparatus that makes this sector as important as it is. We don’t need a definition that I don’t dispute. Let’s just make it the best we can.


How would you define a museum? Let us know below.

AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

The Nazis treated many groups they saw as different terribly – and the LGBTI community was no exception. Here, Kim Barrett starts by considering Dr Magnus Hirschfield, who founded the world’s first gay rights organization in the decades prior to the Nazis taking power in Germany, and then looks at how the Nazis treated the LGBTI community.

Students organized by the Nazi Party parade in front of the Institute for Sexual research in Berlin in 1933.

Students organized by the Nazi Party parade in front of the Institute for Sexual research in Berlin in 1933.

Beneath the paving stones in Bebelplatz in Berlin is an inaccessible, empty library with enough space on its shelves for 20,000 books. At this site at the start of May 1933, those symbolically missing books were burnt by the Nazis. Among them were books by Jewish people, socialist and communist writings, as well as works advocating for women and disabled rights.

The fire also consumed the entire library and archives of the Institute for Sexual Research (Institut für Sexualwissenschaft): the pinnacle of Magnus Hirschfeld’s life’s work.


Dr Magnus Hirschfeld

Dr Magnus Hirschfeld was a prominent gay Jewish man born in Poland in 1868. He founded the world’s first gay rights organization in 1897, the Scientific Humanitarian Committee (Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee). He moved to Berlin at the end of the 19th century and, in 1904, he wrote Berlin’s Third Sex (Berlin’s Drittes Geschlecht), a book about LGBTI people. He also co-wrote and appeared in the silent film Different From the Others(Anders als die Andern) released in June 1919. The film was the first to positively portray same-sex relationships but also addresses some of the problems gay men faced: the main character is blackmailed and arrested as a result of his sexuality.

Specific sex acts between men had been illegal since the unification of Germany in 1871, under a provision in the German Criminal Code known as Paragraph 175. Magnus Hirschfeld opposed and campaigned against this law. He believed that same-sex attraction was a natural variation. He considered it a mild form of “sexual intermediary” or “third sex”, which also included cross-dressing, intersex and transgender people. He thought up to 20% of people were “third sex”.

In Weimar-era Berlin, Paragraph 175 was only sporadically enforced and there were bars, clubs and balls where “third sex” people could socialize (mostly) safe from the law. However, the police often arrested people who cross-dressed, although cross-dressing itself was not specifically illegal. Magnus Hirschfeld lobbied the police to stop this practice and, in 1909, “transvestite passes” were created. The police could issue a pass to someone if a doctor believed they would be at risk of harm if they were not allowed to cross-dress.


The Institute for Sexual Research

In July 1919, Magnus Hirschfeld founded the Institute for Sexual Research (Institut für Sexualwissenschaft) in Berlin, which researched gender and sexuality. It also provided sexual health clinics and offered marriage and sex counseling. In its heyday, the Institute employed over 40 people, many of them “third sex” themselves.

Magnus Hirschfeld coined the term “transsexualism” to refer to people who would now be called transgender. He provided some primitive hormone therapies, which changed people’s bodies to align with their genders.

The Institute also performed some of the first gender reassignment surgeries. Karl Baer was a women’s rights activist, who was probably born intersex but assigned female at birth. In 1906, he medically transitioned with the help of Magnus Hirschfeld. The following year he received an updated birth certificate that designated him as a man, which allowed him to marry his girlfriend. Lili Elbe was a Danish painter, who Magnus Hirschfeld assisted in the removal of her testes in 1930. She died the following year from complications from a uterine transplant.

On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. In February 1933, three decrees were enacted forcing most of the LGBT-friendly bars and publications in Germany to close. In March 1933, the first Nazi concentration camp was opened.

Kurt Hiller, a gay socialist writer who worked closely with Magnus Hirschfeld, was arrested in Berlin in April 1933 and later sent to a concentration camp. The Institute for Sexual Research was attacked in May 1933 by a Nazi student group assisted by the SA. Its books, journals, images and museum of sexual artifacts were all destroyed in a ceremonial book burning attended by 40,000 people.

Magnus Hirschfeld was lecturing abroad at the time and never returned to Germany. Two years later he died of a heart attack. His peers continued researching the spectrum of sexuality and gender. The Institute for Sex Research in Indiana, USA was opened in 1947 by Alfred Kinsey, the creator of the Kinsey Scale used to describe sexual orientation.


Under Nazi rule

In 1935, Paragraph 175, the law criminalizing sex between men, was extended to include any action between men intended to “excite sexual desire”. Those convicted were sent to prison or to a concentration camp for up to five years. 

In the concentration camps, a system of symbols was used to identify groups of people. Men who were attracted to men (as well as people who would likely now identify as transwomen) wore a down-facing pink triangle. This symbol has since been reclaimed in its inverted form by gay men. Women who were attracted to women wore a black triangle used to denote asocial (asozial) people, a group that also included prostitutes, pacifists and mentally ill people.

As well as being forced to perform hard labor (known as “extermination through labor”), some LGBTI people were shot as target practice or given dangerous jobs working with explosives. They were also tortured and “experiments” were performed on them, including castration and implanting testosterone devices in their testes.

The Nazis believed that same-sex attraction could be spread to other people, so anyone wearing a pink triangle was kept separate from other prisoners. It was seen as preferable to execute people rather than house them with the gay men in case they also “turned gay”.

Unlike Jewish people or others targeted by the Nazis because of their race, same-sex attraction or cross-dressing was seen by some Nazis as something to be “cured”. Men arrested under Paragraph 175 could sometimes convince their guards to release them by being observed having sex with women prostitutes.

Towards the end of the war, concentration camp detainees wearing a pink triangle were given minimal military training and sent into battle as cannon fodder. An estimated 60% of prisoners wearing a pink triangle died before their release.


Paragraph 175

At the end of the war, some of the LGBTI people who were freed from the concentration camps were sent to prison to complete their sentences, and many were convicted again later under the same law.

In East Germany, the extended version of Paragraph 175 was removed in 1950 and sex between men was decriminalized in 1957. However, in West Germany, the Nazi-era version of Paragraph 175 remained on the books until 1969.

LGBTI people were not officially considered victims of the Nazis until May 2002 when Nazi-era convictions under Paragraph 175 were pardoned and compensation was offered. In June 2017, everyone ever convicted under Paragraph 175 had their convictions annulled.

Everyone who was sent to a concentration camp because of their sexuality is believed to have now died. The last known person was Rudolf Brazda, who died in 2011 aged 98.

Berlin has now reclaimed its title as one of the most LGBTI-friendly cities in Europe, boasting several gay districts. Its annual Pride march, commemorating the Stonewall Riots in New York, USA, is one of the largest in the world. It also houses a memorial to the gay and lesbian victims of the Nazis.



Kim Barrett is a freelance writer – more information is available here.

The leaked British government plans for a no-deal Brexit show a Britain in peril. In the past, as in the case of preparations for the event of a Soviet nuclear attack, the government has been well advised to keep secrets from the public lest they expose the true extent of the inadequacy of their plans.

Here, Jack Howarth looks at Brexit planning in the context of government planning for a nuclear attack in the Cold War.

There was frequent guidance in the Cold War related to what to do in the event of a nuclear attack, such as this US Government booklet.

There was frequent guidance in the Cold War related to what to do in the event of a nuclear attack, such as this US Government booklet.

The leaked Operation Yellowhammer document, outlining the British government’s planning for a no-deal Brexit, paints a grim picture of Britain’s future. It shows planners preparing for food shortages, economic disruption, and civil unrest; ‘wartime implications, in peacetime’, according to one MP.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government claims the consequences shown are merely a worst-case scenario, not a prediction. Still, one imagines the government would rather these plans have remained secret. 

After all, why scare the public with what only might happen?


Planning for a Soviet nuclear strike

This line of argument has a history. Decades ago, the British government was similarly engaged with planning for full-scale disaster: economic collapse, unprecedented health crises, and public disturbances threatening the rule of law. 

Then, the preparations being made behind closed doors were for how Britain might look after an expected nuclear strike by the Soviet Union. Strategic exercises, devised at the behest of the Callaghan and Thatcher governments, were role played to ensure a future for the British state in the event of a catastrophe. 

It was widely known that entertaining any hope for the survival of the public-at-large was futile. The advice given to the populationwas usually ill-considered, sometimes grimly amusingand, scoring points for some contemporary politicians, flew in the face of all guidance given by the experts.

The decimation of the population, though, was not seen as good reason to not ensure the continuity of government.

While it was assumed the Cabinet would either be preoccupied in scrabbling for a retaliation, or be entirely obliterated, declassified civil service records show plans being laid out for the proposed structure of the rest of the state infrastructure after an attack.

In order to avoid anarchy, disorder and delays, officials planned a new, regionally devolved government. County council chief executives would become substantially empowered. A Britain divided into twelve regional zones would emerge, each being ruled essentially as their new leader saw fit.

As the test runs played as war games by civil servants, military officials, and those who would ultimately take up power progressed, many bemoaned the lack of clarity of government figures. Confusion reigned, with the only agreement amongst the players tending to arise around the need for the future leaders to ‘virtually have life and death authority over the people of the county’. In this, at least, the government was obliging: an emergency powers bill was prepared ready to be pushed through Parliament at a moment’s notice.

None of those involved in the actual work of the exercises was under any delusion of bravado; none imagined they could actually face down the threat. Even those who were to be given the role of ruling their region knew they were planning for the impossible. 

Fortunately for the government of the day, the scenarios envisaged by these plans remained largely unknown to the public. Attempts to publish them led to criminal prosecution. Awareness of them might compromise Britain’s power abroad, or embarrass the nation in front of the enemy, it was said. 


Planning in perspective

Reading the correspondence involved now, one might agree that the government was sensible to not disclose its plans. Obvious wartime disadvantages aside, civil defense planners already faced staunch opposition from local government and resurgent protest movements. Had the public known the depth of inadequacy of the government’s plans, the support for the enshrined policy of mutually assured destruction may have ebbed to the extent of requiring reconsideration.

To protect government policy, the officials responsible for contingency planning decided that the ‘balance of advantage’ weighed against any public disclosure, lest they alarm the public. There was, they reasoned, always the possibility that their work may be unnecessary, that disaster may be averted. 



What do you think of Cold War nuclear planning? Let us know below.


Jack Howarth is a graduate of the University of Exeter and is currently a postgraduate student at Oxford Brookes University, having been awarded the de Rohan Scholarship to continue his research into contemporary history. 

During the seventeenth-century, almost every European polity with a warm water port tried to colonize some portion of the New World. And, despite their status as a newly independent state, the Netherlands proved no exception as they went on to colonize a part of modern-day America that includes New York. Jordan Baker explains.

You can read Jordan’s previous article on the role of Black Haitian Soldiers in the Siege of Savannah during the American Revolution here.

A painting of New Amsterdam (later New York) from 1664, the year the English took possession from the Dutch. By Johannes Vingboons.

A painting of New Amsterdam (later New York) from 1664, the year the English took possession from the Dutch. By Johannes Vingboons.


If, like me, you grew up in the United States, the history classes you took may well have given you the impression that England, Spain, and Portugal were the only European powers that attempted to colonize the Americas. This couldn’t be farther from the truth!


The Beginnings of New Netherland

The story of New Netherland starts with the beginning of the Netherlands itself. Up until 1581, the Netherlands was controlled by the Habsburg family, first under the auspices of the Holy Roman Empire, then under the Spanish crown. Beginning in 1568, however, the Dutch revolted, beginning the conflict known as both the Eighty Years’ War and the Dutch Revolt. Though the Dutch did not gain de jureindependence from Spain until 1648, they secured de factoindependence in 1581. 

No longer part of the Habsburg Empire, the Dutch quickly set out making an Empire of their own. Unlike other European powers of the day, however, the Dutch Empire was based on trade rather than the acquisition of mass amounts of territory. Though Henry Hudson explored the area that became New Netherland in 1609, during the first few decades of the seventeenth-century the Dutch focused more on the Asian and African sections of their empire, capturing valuable trading ports from the Portuguese. This changed in 1621 when the Dutch Republic granted the West India Company (WIC) a charter and 24 year trading monopoly as a way to both take advantage of North American trade and challenge Spanish hegemony in the Atlantic.

Due to several factors, the European population of New Netherland remained rather low throughout the first decade of its existence. One major reason for this was the WIC’s monopoly. The controlled all trade in the colony and thus any immigrant to New Netherland was a WIC employee. And, the chances of this small population reproducing was null, as a majority of settlers brought to the area by WIC were farmers, craftsmen, hunters, and traders — all men. With Fort Orange, the Dutch were perfectly positioned to take advantage of Europeans’ growing desire for beaver pelts and they acquired these in mass trading with Iroquoian and Algonquian speaking peoples. Their settlement on Manhattan Island, New Amsterdam, also became a major Atlantic trade port, with ships arriving from all over the Americas, Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. 


Attempts at Populating New Netherland: Patroonships

By 1630, New Netherland’s European population was 300. For a territory that stretched 145 miles up the Hudson from Manhattan Island, that’s pretty sparse. In order to increase their profit and population while lowering their costs, the WIC implemented the Patroonship plan. Under this plan, a settler would be given a large tract of land, thus becoming a Patroon, and were given full rights to the land and legal rights to settle non-capital court cases - almost like a manorial lord in the Middle Ages. Though the plans for Patroonship were modified after their implementation, the overall program proved successful at bringing more European settlers to New Netherland, who the WIC could then tax to make their profit. 

Kiliaen van Rensselear, already a principal shareholder in the WIC, became the most successful of the Patroons, establishing Rensselaerswyck near the Dutch settlement of Fort Orange. Under this Patroonship, Rensselear controlled the largest fur trading territory in New Netherland, taking advantage of his new found ability to deal with the neighboring New England colonies and Native Nations. 

While the Patroonship model for colonization did help increase the numbers of Europeans immigrating to New Netherland, most of the people making the journey weren’t Dutch. Many colonists in New Netherland were actually Walloons - French speakers from what is now southern Belgium. In fact, colonists from Wallonia became the first permanent settlers in New Netherland.

By the time the Dutch Republic ceded New Netherland to England in 1664, the colony boasted a diverse population of Swedes, Finns, Germans, English, Walloon Belgians, and Dutch, whose numbers topped out somewhere around 9,000.  


The Final Years of New Netherland 

The end of New Netherland began in another hemisphere altogether. The Dutch established a powerful, world-wide trading empire in the seventeenth-century, but their territories in the Western Hemisphere proved difficult to maintain. From 1630-1654, the Dutch and WIC controlled part of Portuguese Brazil, which they called New Holland. After Portugal regained independence from Spain in 1640, Brazilian planters began rebelling against their Dutch rulers. Eventually, the Dutch and WIC were forced to concede their Brazilian territory to Portugal. 


Many of the colonists from New Holland made their way to other Dutch colonies in the Americas, like New Netherland. This collapse of New Holland caused the population of New Netherland to grow dramatically, helping reach the numbers mentioned earlier. A year after losing the rich sugar producing territory of New Holland, the Dutch gained control of New Sweden, a stretch of small colonies located primarily in Delaware, which lead to the incorporation of many of the Swedish and Finnish inhabitants of New Netherland.

Despite its growth in both population and territory, however, New Netherland wasn’t long for the world. The Netherlands ceded control of the colony to England in 1654. Though the Dutch did briefly regain control in 1673-1674, the territory was ostensibly English until the Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution in 1783. Once in control, the colony’s new rulers changed the name of Fort Orange to Albany and the booming trading port on Manhattan Island from New Amsterdam to New York.


Jordan Baker writes at the East India Blogging Company here.

Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings were a huge Allied undertaking in June 1944 during World War Two that opened up the Western European Theater of Operations. Here, Robert Tremblay considers the operation in the context of the differing leaderships: the Allies led by General Eisenhower and the Nazis led by Erwin Rommel.

General Eisenhower addresses American troops on June 5, 1944, the day before D-Day.

General Eisenhower addresses American troops on June 5, 1944, the day before D-Day.


During General Eisenhower’s message to the Allied Forces, the day of June 6, 1944, he communicated intent and insight to the forces by stating they are “about to embark upon the Great Crusade”.[1]  General (GEN) Eisenhower’s engaged and responsive decision making, through his experience and leadership attributes, accounted for the success in defeating Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and the Germans in Operation Overlord.  Operation Overlord became the catalyst for the future Allied victory in the European Theater of Operations for WWII.  Operation Overlord was to open-up a third war front through Western Europe, within the European Theater of Operations, in order serve as a theater opening for a line communication to liberate Western Europe. Then, the Allied forces would have the ability to create an envelopment of Nazi Germany, leading to their occupation and surrender.  The mission consisted of a multinational invasion using air power, sea power, and land power.  Operation Overlord forces comprised of 5,000 landing vessels (security provided from 700 naval boats) transporting 175,000 (numbers vary) from five multi-lateral divisions with three Allied airborne divisions by 1,000 personnel transport aircraft and gliders, which were supported by 4,000 fighter and bomber airplanes.[2]  Operational Overlord consisted of soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines coming from seven nations coming together for a common cause.[3]  


Root Cause Analysis for Operation Overlord

The root cause for the execution of Operation Overlord and the occupation of Omaha Beach was a result from three critical factors.  The first factor was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (FDR’s) decisions to formally support the “Europe First” policy over the Pacific campaign.  The reason is that the Americans and the British made a mutual judgement that Germany was rapidly becoming a bigger risk than Japan and the Allies needed to concentrate first on Europe.  FDR and Churchill’s objective was to destroy Hitler’s aggression across Europe and North Africa.  The Americans and the British used the “Europe First” policy as an advantage for development of its readiness through the Southern European and North African campaign.  FDR used military, as an instrument of power to reach a political objective of legitimizing the “Europe First” policy.  This policy led to the planning and preparation for Operation Overlord.  

The second critical factor was the concept of operations development amongst the Allied leaders for Operation Overlord.  The Allied leaders initially discussed the concept of operations in May 1943 at the Trident Conference.  During the conference, the senior Allied leaders discussed the organization, training, and equipment for the U.S. Military and Allied Forces going into Great Britain.[4]  Then, at the Quadrant Conference in August 1943, the Allied military leaders discussed the concept of Operation Overlord.[5]   This stated three conditions that needed to be met before the execution of Operation Overlord.  The first condition was that there needed to be exhaustion in the German military resources before the Allies executed D-Day.  The second condition was that the Allies needed to strain the German resources though the depletion of their logistical base by sustaining two areas of operations within the war.  The third condition was that the Allied forces were to use opportunities to advance their readiness through mission-related experiences.   

The last factor was the selection of GEN Dwight Eisenhower.  FDR officially designated GEN Eisenhower as the Supreme Commander on his weekly address. Before he did the address, FDR told GEN Eisenhower “Well, Ike, you are going to command Overlord”.[6][7]  GEN Eisenhower took all responsibility for Operation Overlord.  After his appointment of responsibilities, GEN Eisenhower empowered the Allied forces with loyalty and conviction so they could plan and prepare for this complex operation.  He stated that he had “full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle”.[8]  


Conflicting Personalities of Generalship

The German and American generalship was the decisive reason as to whom would be victorious in Normandy.  There were conflicting personalities operating within different forms of nationalism and ideology.  Soldiers witnessed GEN Eisenhower being an engaged general based on wanting to know each soldier’s emotions before the invasion.  For example, during Operation Overlord, this is where the famous picture was taken in front of the 101st ABN DIV Soldiers before they did their jump behind enemy lines.[9]  Additionally, once he provided the decision for Overlord, he was as anxious for the soldiers as the general officers and the division commanders as it was the soldiers that put the plans into action.[10]GEN Eisenhower had the personal courage to take all of the responsibility of any failure.  For example, with respect to Operation Overlord, GEN Eisenhower wrote a letter claiming all responsibility if the Normandy Invasion was a failure.[11]  Now, he was able to lead an organizational culture with full freedom and empowerment. GEN Eisenhower made it clear with Churchill and FDR that he needed the responsibility and empowerment to be able to make and execute decisions and actions freely.  This generalship and climate was all the way down to the lieutenant and sergeant.  These lieutenants and sergeants had the empowerment to decide and execute the tactical decisions and actions required for all operations to become a success.  

Referencing the Germans’ generalship, it was the total contrary.  Hitler and his Generals micromanaged down to the lieutenant and sergeant.  For example, during the invasion, the German Commanding Generals had to seek authorization from Hitler to get a Panzer Division from the reserve.  The German Generals could not wake Hitler until noon, while the first land forces started to come aboard around 0600 hrs on June 6, 1944 and Airborne operations came the night prior.[12]  Once the German Generals received clearance, the Panzer division could not start moving until night so that they could be under darkness for concealment.[13]  Therefore, this Panzer Division did not arrive until 0930 hrs June 7, after a 75-mile march.[14]  The impact was drastic for not having the Panzer division in an expeditious matter of time.  Guderian stated in his memoirs that the best opportunity for a counterattack on the British airborne forces was lost due to not receiving orders from higher command.[15]   Furthermore, to make matters worse, Rommel was not at Normandy.  Hitler gave Rommel the operational command of securing the Atlantic and Normandy front, but Rommel was far away and tried to get to Normandy. However, since the Allies had air superiority, Rommel could not fly and had to drive.[16]  The result was multiple blunders that led to German failures and Allied successes during the invasion.  



In conclusion, historical analysis substantiates that American Forces were successful in accomplishing their objectives in Operation Overlord. This was done through their maneuvers that resulted in the opening up of – and eventual envelopment of – the Western European Theater of Operations. Operation Overlord had lasting impacts within World War II.  Therefore, one of the main conclusions from Murray and Millet’s analysis was that World War II was one of the biggest destroyers of human life and material that we have encountered in world history.[17] The amount of human life lost to Operation Overlord (and especially at the Battle of Omaha Beach) was and is still unthinkable.  Then, with the amount of money and material destroyed, that loss was even greater.  The Overlord Allied casualties totaled 60,771 with 8,975 killed in action.[18]  Historians believe that Hitler wanted to conquer the world at any cost.  Hitler and the Nazis proved this point on many occasions.  For example, Hitler and his Nazis committed unthinkable acts within the Holocaust, Polish and French Campaigns, and several other Eastern European campaigns.  The Allies needed to hold the Nazis accountable and so defeat them. The process of defeating the Nazis came at a very high cost, with the destruction of material and human lives. The means were the destruction of the Nazis and ends were eliminating their evil from the world. Therefore, it is my belief that the ends outweighed the means.  In conclusion, GEN Eisenhower summarized that “Operation Overlord was at once a singular military expedition and fearsome risk”.[19]


What do you think of the article? Let us know below.

[1]Dwight Eisenhower. Message from General Dwight Eisenhower to the Allied Forces, Eisenhower Archives Website (6 June 1944).

[2]John J. Marr. “Designing the Victory in Europe.” Military Review July-August 2011 (2011): 64.

[3]John J. Marr. “Designing the Victory in Europe.”, 64.

[4]Max Hastings. Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy. (New York: Vintage Books, 1984), 21.


[6]Dwight D. Eisenhower. Crusade in Europe  (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company INC, 1952), 211

[7]Dwight Eisenhower. The Eisenhower Diaries.Edited by Robert H. Ferrell (New York: WW Norton and Company, 1981), 107.


[9]Eisenhower. Crusade in Europe, 251-252.

[10]Dwight D. Eisenhower.At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends(Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company INC, 1967), 271-275.

[11]Stephen Ambrose. D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Battle for the Normandy Beaches(London: Simon Schuster, 1994), 190.  

[12]Ibid, 567-575.  

[13] Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett. A War to be Won: Fighting the Second World War.  (Cambridge, MS and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2000), 412.   

[14]Rommel, Rommel Papers, 483.

[15]Heinz Guderian. Panzer Leader.  (New York: Dell, 1989), 184.

[16]Ambrose. D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Battle for the Normandy Beaches, 567-575.  

[17]Murray and Millett, A War to be Won: Fighting the Second World War, 554-557.   

[18]Dwight D Eisenhower.  In Review.(Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company INC, 1969), 69.  

[19]Dwight D Eisenhower. At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends, 273.

When modern observers think about World War II, it is hardly likely Iceland comes to mind. Much of Iceland’s role in World War II is not as extensively reviewed and studied as the Allied and Axis powers. But that does not suggest Iceland’s role in World War II is any less interesting and bittersweet to say that least. This begs the next pressing question: Which side of the war was Iceland allied with? The answer may be surprising. Casey Titus explains.

You can read Casey’s previous World War Two related article on a love story between a Nazi SS guard and a Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz here.

The airplane  Walrus , involved in the 1940 British Invasion of Iceland.

The airplane Walrus, involved in the 1940 British Invasion of Iceland.

In 1874, after twenty years of nationalist fervor inspired by Romantic and nationalistic events in mainland Europe, Denmark granted Iceland limited independent ruling powers and a constitution. Prior to being ruled by others, Iceland was independent, inhabited by people of Norse descent, and governed by an assembly called the Althingi and created a constitution. In 1262 a union was created between Iceland and Norway. When Norway and Denmark formed a union in the 14thcentury, Iceland became a part of Denmark. In 1918, the Act of Union was signed and Iceland was rendered an autonomous nation united with Denmark under the same king. It was agreed that Denmark would handle foreign policy for Iceland. Iceland was still a remote and little-known territory, with a barren and volcanic geography. By 1940, just over 120,000 resided in the island, supporting themselves mainly through fishing and sheep ranching and exported products to Europe.


Iceland when war broke out

When the war in Europe began in 1939, Denmark declared an act of neutrality which in turn, applied to Iceland. Until then, the Third Reich’s interests with Iceland started with friendly soccer competitions and visits in the summer of 1938 with gliders and an airplane. German anthropology teams arrived to survey Iceland while U-boats visited the capital Reykjavik. Commercial trade between the two counties drastically increased. These relations did not go unnoticed. One German naval officer remarked, “Whoever has Iceland controls the entrances into and exits from the Atlantic.” London imposed stern export controls on Icelandic goods which prevented profitable shipments to Germany – in other words, a naval blockade. However, on December 17, 1939 the decision was made in Berlin to occupy Denmark.

On April 9, 1940, Nazi Germany began the occupation of Denmark and invasion of Norway. Denmark was swiftly overrun by Germany. As Germany gained control of the lengthy Norwegian coast, British planning shifted as Iceland grew more strategically important. Iceland in all practical purposes was still completely independent. At this time, London offered assistance and an alliance to Iceland, something that was denied by an Iceland that asserted their right to be neutral and believing that Hitler would respect their decision.



Nevertheless, there was no doubt an island state in the Atlantic Ocean with close ties to Denmark was desirable to both warring parties. German presence was already noted; a small diplomatic staff, a few German residents, and displaced war refugees, in addition to 62 shipwrecked German sailors. Allies feared an organized guerilla force or even a coup against the Icelandic government when the nation only had some 70 policemen armed with handguns. From the coast of Norway, Germany at this point could have quickly staged a counter-invasion. An invasion by sea or air was an open opportunity. On May 10, 1940, British troops invaded and took over Iceland. A reconnaissance plane, Walrus, was launched to inspect for enemy submarines within distance. Despite orders not to fly over Reykjavik, it was neglected and British presence was revealed. Iceland did not have airports or airplanes of its own so the people of the town were alerted, ruining the element of surprise. Two destroyers named Fearlessand Fortune, joined British cruisers and transported 400 Royal Marines ashore. A crowd had gathered and the consul of Iceland, Gerald Shepherd, asked the Icelandic police officer in front of the astounded crowd: “Would you mind getting the crowd to stand back a bit, so that the soldiers can get off the destroyer?” The officer complied. 

The capital of Iceland was taken without a shot being fired. The German counsel was arrested along with any German citizens. The Marines managed to gather a considerable number of confidential documents even after the German consul attempted to destroy them. Communication networks were disabled which secured strategic locations. That same evening, the government of Iceland issued a protest, claiming its neutrality had been “flagrantly violated” and its “independence infringed,” but came to agree to British terms which promised compensation, healthy business agreements, and non-interference with local affairs. All forces would also be withdrawn at the end of the war. The troops proceeded to Hvalfjörður, Kaldaðarnes, Sandskeið and Akranes as security to counteract feared German attacks. Iceland was divided into five sectors by the British Army, for strategic purposes and defense. The southwestern corner was the tiniest but most significant with over ten thousand troops assigned to protect it. To the west, over seven thousand were stationed, covering land and air surrounding Reykjavík, along with air and naval anchorages. Unfortunately, rough terrain and poorly maintained roads made the defense of the entire island difficult.


The impact in Iceland

All of this military action was in preparation for a German invasion, but in fact none had been planned leading up to that point. After the British invasion however, the Nazis did discuss a plan to conquer the island (Unternehmen Ikarus – “Operation Ikarus”) for the purpose of blocking Britain’s and France’s sea trade routes and to usher in a possible surrender but these plans were abandoned. In the meantime, Iceland officially maintained neutrality but provided cooperation. Prime Minister Hermann Jonasson asked over radio that the citizens of Iceland treat the British troops as guests.

The British troops were joined by the Canadians and then were relieved by US forces in 1941. When the United States officially joined Allied forces in World War II, the number of American troops on the island reached 30,000. This was equivalent to 25% of Iceland’s population and 50% of its total male population. A new issue was raised from the perspective of the local population: the mingling between Allied soldiers and Icelandic women, referred to as “The Situation” (Ástandið) and the 255 children born out of these dalliances, “Children of the Situation.” 

Despite this, Iceland’s economy was boosted during this time after the debilitating Great Depression. World War II for many Icelanders was referred to as blessað stríðið – “the blessed war”. Infrastructure and technology was up scaled along with job opportunities, roads and airports, including Keflavík International Airport. Many Icelanders moved to the capital for this sudden boost in employment. Icelanders sold massive amounts of fish to Britain, going against the embargo imposed by Nazi Germany and the risk of U-boat attacks.

Reykjavík underwent a transformation during the occupation as streets, local businesses, restaurants, shops, and services bloomed. In addition to this national flourishing, Iceland was left unscathed compared to most other European nations during World War II and did not engage in any war combat minus the approximate 200 Icelandic seamen on sea falling victim to attacks of Nazi German submarines. In May 1941, the German battleship Bismarck attacked and sank the British ship Hood off the coast of Westfjords.


Icelandic independence

The circumstances of the world war prevented Iceland from renegotiating with Copenhagen the 25-year agreement of 1918. Hence, Iceland terminated that treaty in 1943 and broke all legal ties with Denmark, forming an independent republic. The new state was officially founded on June 17, 1944 after an almost unanimous vote by national referendum with Svein Bjornsson as its first president. 

In 1945, the last Royal Navy assets were withdrawn with the last airmen of the Royal Air Force leaving in March 1947. Some American forces remained after the end of the war despite the provisions of their invitation and fifteen conditions. In 1946, an agreement was signed granting America use of military facilities on the island, the last of the US soldiers leaving Iceland on September 30, 2006.


What do you think of Iceland’s role in World War Two? Let us know below.


Chen, C. Peter. “Iceland in World War II.” WW2DB,

Hauptmann, Katharina. “Iceland during World War II.” Wall Street International, 24 Dec. 2013,

“Iceland during WW2.” History TV,

“Invasion of Iceland.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Aug. 2019,

Nieuwint, Joris. “10 Facts About One of the Most Notorious Figures of the 20th Century - Adolf Hitler.” WAR HISTORY ONLINE, 7 Oct. 2016,

For nearly all the world, the Second World War finally ended on 15 August 1945 when Japan announced its surrender or 2 September 1945 when Japan formally signed its surrendered. For some soldiers, however, this was untrue. Many were left with psychological scars that would haunt them until they died. Others had life-altering injuries that prevented them from being able to live as they had before the war.

Neither of these are true for Hiroo Onoda. For him, the war did not end until 1974. JT Newman explains.

Hiroo Onoda (on the right) with his brother Shigeo Onoda (on the left).

Hiroo Onoda (on the right) with his brother Shigeo Onoda (on the left).

Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese intelligence officer who, in 1944, was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines. He was ordered to stay on the island and disrupt Allied activity in any way he could. With these orders came one final command: he was never to surrender, and he was never to take his own life.

Even though his orders clearly stated he was to disrupt Allied activity in whatever way he could, his higher command prevented him from sabotaging an Allied airfield that was nearby. According to reports, his senior officers were eager to surrender when American forces arrived on the island in February 1945. In the fighting that followed their arrival, Onoda and three other soldiers - Private Yuichi Akatsu, Corporal Shoichi Shomada, and Private First Class Kinsichi Kozuka - escaped capture by fleeing into the local mountains.

For many months, Onoda and his three soldiers survived by rationing their food supplies and, when those ran short, foraging through the jungles for food. Occasionally, they would covertly kill a local citizen's cow for meat. It was during one of these raids that one of Onoda's soldiers found a leaflet that read: "The war ended on August 15. Come down from the mountains!"


With war over

Onoda and his soldiers dismissed it as Allied propaganda. Their beliefs were reinforced more heavily when police spotted them and immediately began to engage in gunfire.

Over the years, more leaflets would reach them, even some signed by former Imperial army generals. But each time, Onoda and his soldiers dismissed it as propaganda.

Throughout their time on Lubang Island, Onoda and his soldiers would conduct guerilla warfare operations on the local citizens. Any person they saw was assumed to be an Allied spy, so they engaged them in combat. They got into gunfights with the police and armed search parties who had been sent to retrieve them, burned rice storage down, and generally caused havoc among the local population.

In 1949, Private Akatsu had decided that he had fought for too long. Without saying a word to any of the others, he slipped into town and turned himself in to the local authorities. This caused the calls for the others' surrender to increase. The families of the soldiers were contacted. Letters and photographs of their families were dropped in their area, urging them to come out of hiding and into surrender. Onoda would not hear it out, as he refused to believe that the war was actually over.     By the early 1950s, the remaining three were considered criminals on the island. Corporal Shomada was shot non-fatally in the leg in 1953, nursed back to health over several months, then shot again - this time fatally - in 1954 during an engagement with the police. This left only Onoda and Kozuka alive to continue the mission that they did not know had ended some years before.

Decades pass

Almost two decades passed, with Onoda and Kozuka continuing to raid their "enemies." They lived in makeshift shelters, continued to steal food from the island natives, and engaged in occasional skirmishes with the local police and others in the area. At this time, they still believed the war was on, and that their guerilla tactics would be invaluable for the Imperial Japanese Army to take the island back.

In 1972, Onoda and Kozuka were both reviled and feared on the island. Then, while burning a village's rice silo, police spotted them and fired a few shots. During this conflict, Kozuka was shot and killed. Onoda was able to escape back into the jungle and continue hiding.

Being on his own, Onoda realized that it was unlikely he would be able to continue his operations. He settled down at this time and instead chose to focus on survival.

Norio Suzuki was a college student and an adventurer. He set out to Lubang Island in 1974, with the intent of finding Onoda. Suzuki located him, and befriended Onoda, but was unable to convince him to come out of hiding. For that, Onoda demanded, he would have to hear from his commanding officer.

With this information in mind, Suzuki did just that. He arranged to meet with Onoda two weeks later and returned to the island with Onoda's former commander, Major Taniguchi. Onoda arrived wearing a tattered and dirty Imperial uniform, and carrying his sword, his still-working Arisaka rifle, several hand grenades, and roughly five hundred rounds for the rifle. Major Taniguchi read the orders out for Onoda to return home, as the war had ended.


Surrender and later life

After this, Onoda formally surrendered to President Marcos of the Philippines. Even though he had killed roughly thirty people and wounded many more, President Marcos granted him a pardon due to his belief that he was still at war.

Onoda returned to Japan a celebrity, as his story had spread across the world. However, he found it difficult to adjust to the post-war Japan lifestyle. After writing a biography titled No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War, Onoda moved to Brazil and lead a modest life raising cattle. Some time after this, he returned to Japan and founded the Onoda Nature School, which was a survival skills camp for youth. In 1996, he returned to Lubang Island and donated a large sum of money to a school there.     Little else was publicly heard from Onoda until January 16, 2014, when it was reported that he had died of heart failure due to complications from pneumonia.

Onoda remains a divisive figure in some minds: some view him as the ultimate version of a patriot and others regard him as something much less than that for the damage he did to the community of Lubang.


This article was brought to you by Affordable Papers.


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Fifty years after Apollo 11 landed astronauts on the moon, what is the enduring legacy of humanity’s ventures beyond the Earth?  As explained by Harlan Lebo, author of 100 Days: How Four Events in 1969 Shaped America (Amazon USAmazon UK), the answer is much broader and deeper than President Kennedy’s original vision for achievement in space.

Buzz Aldrin salutes the US flag during Apollo 11, on July 20, 1969.

Buzz Aldrin salutes the US flag during Apollo 11, on July 20, 1969.

On a warm summer night in 1961, two months after President John Kennedy declared a mission to the moon as a national goal, presidential advisor Theodore Sorensen sat on the front steps of his home in Washington, staring up at the heavens, and wondered about the wisdom of creating a program to send humans into outer space.

“Was it really possible,” Sorensen remembered thinking, “or was it all crazy?” 

Crazy or not, eight years later the goal was realized with the journey of Apollo 11 in July 1969 – five months before Kennedy’s deadline of reaching the moon “before the decade is out.”

While the specific goal of reaching the moon was achieved, Kennedy’s broader intention – to demonstrate to the world America’s supremacy in technology and national will – was also more than satisfied.  And if the United States not been engaged at the same time in a hopeless, endless war in Vietnam, the benefits to the nation might have been even more pronounced.


Looking back at a deeper legacy

Now, 50 years later, we can look back and ask, did Apollo spawn a lasting legacy?  The most obvious answer is yes – the US reached the moon, and with that achievement firmly established the United States as the pre-eminent leader in science and engineering of the 20thcentury.  

Thanks to Apollo, America still supports a vigorous space program – even without a current schedule of manned missions – that engages both the public and private sectors.  And we can, of course, itemize the direct benefits of our efforts in space with a tally of specific products as diverse as fire prevention fabric, improved solar cells, freeze-dried food, and medical monitoring, among hundreds of others.

But beyond those individual achievements, the enduring advances are less tangible, yet even more profound.  


The jolt of inspiration

The greatest value of Apollo to the American experience emerged from the sudden, abrupt focus of technological inspiration required to create the lunar mission – the largest financial outlay ever made by a peacetime nation.  

While one can point to the growing needs of national defense in the cold war as a catalyst for economic growth, it was the research and development across the spectrum of science required for the Apollo Program, compressed from decades into a few years in the 1960s, that acted at a breakneck speed as a formidable accelerator in advancing the nation.  The jolt supplied by the manned space program produced a trail of benefits – not only for the results achieved in space, but for the technical possibilities that the mission illuminated.  

Transcending individual inventions and products, Apollo stimulated the broad expansion of advances over a wide range of industries and fields – including many enlightened enterprises that are both profitable and progressive, such as organizations involved in precision medical equipment or alternative energy sources. 

For example, the process of creating the Apollo Guidance Computer, with its razor-thin margin of capabilities needed to support the moon missions, became a high-profile inspiration within the computer industry to create new generations of components that were more powerful, smaller, and cheaper.  

The country’s growing needs for digital technology in space programs created a thriving market – and competition – in the creation of semiconductors and related hardware for the computing industry. U.S. government projects – primarily defense and space – were the world’s largest purchasers of semiconductors – accounting for almost 70 percent of all sales – spurring production and shrinking prices. In 1962, the average price of a computer chip was $50; by 1973, the price had fallen to 63 cents. 

Beyond just shrinking the costs of technology, Apollo proved to be a powerful catalyst for the digital realm long after the missions were over – with important links to the growth of Silicon Valley and other tech crucibles. The path was clear for the development of new types of computers that did not yet exist, including computers created for individuals. Soon to come were the first personal computers in the 1970s and 1980s; the internet was not far behind. 


New leaders, new progress

This progress was possible largely because of growth in technological leadership – a new generation that rose in American business, science, and engineering thanks to the flourishing of the space program.

“Many people point to guys working in their garages in the Silicon Valley as the starting point for the technology industries of the 1980s,” said space historian Roger Launius. “But much of the innovation of that era had already come from scientists and engineers trained to work in the space program; after Apollo, these people dispersed and went everywhere – to companies, to universities, to think tanks – taking with them the knowledge they had gained from working on the space program. 

“We saw a blossoming of technology in the 1970s,” said Launius, “that was in no small part the result of the base of knowledge that built up during the space program, and that was pushed by Apollo.”

The Apollo 11 landing on the Moon was the most important peacetime achievement of the 20thcentury.   But even more important is the broad range of change inspired by Apollo that continues to touch the American experience.


Harlan Lebo’s book, 100 Days: How Four Events in 1969 Shaped America, is available here: Amazon USAmazon UK

Archeologists always amaze us with their discoveries. Many of these findings are the result of many years of research. But, some of them were found accidentally by ordinary people who didn’t know that such historical treasures were only a few feet underneath them. In this article, Alex Lemaire tells us about five discoveries made by accident.

The Lascaux paintings in France. They were discovered by teenagers in 1940. Image source: Prof saxx, available  here .

The Lascaux paintings in France. They were discovered by teenagers in 1940. Image source: Prof saxx, available here.

Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter

While doing his homework, Daniel Kristiansen, a 14-year Danish boy, and his father Klaus found the wreckage of a German plane that crashed during WW2 in their family-ownedfarm.

The history teacher gave his students a school assignment about the Second World War. Daniel asked his father if he could help. Klaus wanted to teach his son about the history of the area using a different approach. He wanted his son to interact with the historical information instead of just consuming it passively.

Klaus was told by his grandfather about a German fighter that crashed in the farm in the last years of the war when Denmark was still occupied by the Nazis. He didn’t know its exact location and he didn’t expect to find anything because he thought that the wreckage was removed. However, he wantedto give it a shot.

The kid and his father used a metal detector to scan the field. And after a few moments, the device indicated the presence of some buried metal pieces. They dug for a few feet to find the plane’s engine block and the pilot’s remains. They called the authorities immediately. 

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal made sure there were no unexploded bombs and the fighter’s ammunition was safe. The archeologists examined the wreckage. They were able to identify the pilot, the date when the plane crashed and other details about its mission. The airplane’s parts were handed over to the Historical Museum of Northern Jutland Denmark.


Ötzi the Iceman

On September 19, 1991, two German tourists Helmut and Erika were walking in the mountains on the border between Italy and Austria when they found a dead body. It was well preserved; they thought it belonged to someone who recently died. They reported that to the authorities. The police came to the scene and tried to remove the body, which was buried in the glacier. But the first attempt failed due to the bad weather. The body was finally exhumed with some of the man’s belongings. Archeologists estimated that based on the axfound on the site, the dead body was four thousand years old!

Scientists examined thecorpse and the items found with it extensively. They estimate that Otzi was 45 years old when he died, was 5 feet 3 inches tall (160 centimeters), weighed 110 pounds (50 Kg), and lived somewhere between 3400 and 3100 BCE. 

The body was well preserved after all of these years because it was covered by ice moments after the death. Even the blood cells were still intact which makes them the oldest human intact blood cells ever discovered. Otzi’s body, clothes, andtools were reconstructed. They are on display on the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Italy. They offer a unique snapshot of our way of life during that era.


Hoxne Hoard

One of the most famous and precious artifacts displayed in the British Museum is the Hoxne Hoard. It consistsof 14,865 coins, 200 silver tableware,andgold jewelry. It was found on a field, in the village of Hoxne, in the UKin 1992 by Eric Lawes.

Eric’s friend, Peter, is a farmer. When he was working in his farm, he lost his hammer. He called his friend and asked him if he could give him a hand. Eric used his metal detector to look for it. Instead of finding it, he found a hoard inside a wooden box. (They later found the cheap hammer that is on display alongside the gold and silver coins and the precious jewelry in the museum).

The two men reported their discovery to the authorities. A group of archeologists unearthed the treasure and scanned the whole area with metal detectors to make sure nothing was left behind. This trove was large - the expert in the British Museum needed a month to clean and examine these relics.


Pompeii and Herculaneum

Pompeii and Herculaneum are two ancient Romancities. They were buried under feet of ash and cinder, which preserved them in very good condition for hundreds of years. They are amazing time machines that helpus visualize many aspects of Roman life 1600 years ago.

In AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted sending tons of ash many miles away and burying the two cities entirely and killing thousands of people instantaneously. Organic materials were carbonized. Wooden objects like doors are still in goodshape. Human bodies turned into statues. Even foodwas preserved.

The two cities were forgotten for centuries until they were discovered while digging the foundations of a newbuilding.Herculaneum is smaller than Pompeii but its residents appear to be wealthier. Colored marble was used extensively in its houses. Around 11,000 people lived in Pompeii. This estimation is based on the number of buildings in the city.

These two cities are the largest continually exacted archeological sites in the world. Many parts of the city are still buried after centuries of hard work to unearth them. However, the biggest challenge isn’t to remove the volcanic ash, it is to preserve what has been already excavated. Because the buildings are now exposed to the elements of nature, they will deteriorate faster if measures are not taken.


Lascaux Cave

The Lascaux Cave is situated near the village of Montignac in southwestern France. Its interior walls and ceiling are covered with over 600 prehistoric paintings. The paintings depictmostly animals that lived somewhere around 17,000 years ago. Many of these animals are extinct like rhinos and lions.

Four teenagers made this discovery on September 12, 1940 after looking for their dog who had fallen into a hole. They decided to explore what’s inside. So they widened the hole and threw some rocks to estimate how deep it is. They entered the cave after they made sure it was safe to get inside and they found the jaw-dropping paintings.

The cave was opened to the public on July 14, 1948. There were around 1200 visitors per day. But the heat, humidity and the deterioration of the air quality along with other factors damaged the paintings. To protect the cave, the authorities decided to close it to the public in 1963. The Lascaux Cave was enlisted in the UNESCO's World Heritagelist in 1979. For those who want to enjoy these breath-taking paintings, you can visit Lascaux 2. It is a replica of the original cave and only a few hundred feet away from it.



Have you made any amazing discoveries? Let us know below if so.

Article written by Alex Lemaire of

AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

The causes of World War Two are varied, but some factors are more important than others. Here, Seth Eislund explains that fascism was the primary factor that led to World War Two. He considers Mussolini’s fascist Italy, Hitler’s Nazi Germany, and Horthy’s fascistic Hungary.

Seth has previously written an article on whether the Nazis achieved their domestic aims – here.

Miklos Horthy and Adolf Hitler in 1938.

Miklos Horthy and Adolf Hitler in 1938.

From November 1918 to September 1939, Europe existed in a fragile state of peace known as the interwar period. Political frustration and economic woes plagued European countries, especially Germany and Hungary, both of which endured a crippling defeat at the hands of the Allies. Germany and Hungary lost large swathes of territory to the Allies and faced grave economic depression and inflation. Even Italy, which had been on the winning side at the end of the First World War, endured “an inconclusive but costly victory.”[i]Hoping to return their countries to greatness, many Italians, Germans, and Hungarians eagerly adopted an ideology called “fascism,” which was promulgated by a former syndicalist named Benito Mussolini. Fascism emphasized expansionism, extreme nationalism, anti-Marxism, and anti-liberalism.[ii]Ultimately, due to its nationalist, expansionist, and warlike tendencies, fascism was the primary factor that shattered the fragile peace of the interwar period and incited the Second World War.


Italian Fascism

Benito Mussolini’s fascism promoted a love of warfare, nationalism, and expansionism, values which were implemented in Italian foreign policy and helped instigate World War II. In 1932, Mussolini wrote that fascism “believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace… War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it.”[iii]Mussolini stated that fascism was inherently violent, and that violence unleashed peak human potential. Peace, on the other hand, neutered human potential and was therefore detrimental to humanity as a whole. Thus, in Mussolini’s worldview, war was a moral good that must be constantly waged to further human progress. Mussolini linked this line of reasoning with imperialist rhetoric, saying that “the expansion of a nation… is an essential manifestation of vitality.”[iv]To Mussolini, fascism was centered around a “nation,” or a “people,” which needed to expand their territory through any means necessary. Unsurprisingly, Mussolini’s fascism saw the Italian people as destined to expand throughout the world. These expansionist and nationalist motives explain why he invaded Ethiopia in 1935 and ultimately sided with Hitler in his conquest of Europe. Hence, Italian fascism aimed to foment conflict, and, as such, it exacerbated the tensions that ignited World War II.


German Nazism

Similar to Italian fascism, German Nazism combined a policy of nationalism, expansionism, and racism that aimed to start another war on European soil. Like Mussolini’s fascism, Adolf Hitler’s Nazism was a nationalist and expansionist ideology. Nazism claimed that Germans needed to conquer new territory and supplant the people who lived there. This was because Germans were members of the Aryan race, which was superior to all other races.[v]Days before he invaded Poland, Hitler articulated his desire to obtain more “living space,” or lebensraum, for the German people. He emphasized that war was necessary to obtain land for the survival of the Aryan race, and only by exterminating the Poles “shall [Germans] gain the living space which [they] need.”[vi]Hitler’s words show that the invasion of Poland, and consequently World War II, were inextricably linked to his Nazism. Waging war enabled the Aryan race to take the land it so desperately needed, purge “inferior races,” and achieve hegemony over the world.


Hungarian Fascistic Ideology

While not as fascist as Italy or Germany, Hungary adopted a fascistic ideology that contributed to the outbreak of World War II. Suffering tremendous territorial losses following World War I, Hungary became “barely one-third of its prewar size.”[vii]Consequently, many Hungarians were enraged at the punitive peace imposed upon them by the Allies, vowing to restore Hungary’s territorial and political status. Fascistic ideas gained traction, and under the auspices of Admiral Miklós Horthy and Captain Gyula Gömbös, Hungary became increasingly authoritarian during the interwar period. Gömbös allied Hungary with Italy and Nazi Germany, since he wanted to restore the territory Hungary lost after 1918.[viii]As a result, Hungary participated in the German annexation of Czechoslovakia by annexing regions with Hungarian nationals, which drew international outrage and panic.[ix]Ultimately, by abetting Germany’s dissolution of Czechoslovakia for its own gain, Hungary helped destabilize the already fragile peace in Europe and initiate World War II.


In Conclusion

Fascism was primarily responsible for causing the Second World War, as its emphasis on nationalism, expansionism, and warfare escalated tensions in interwar Europe. Mussolini’s fascism saw war as a moral good and proclaimed that the Italian people needed to expand their territory, which led Italy to invade Ethiopia in 1935. Similarly, Nazism viewed Germans as members of the “master race” which needed “living space” to survive, a belief that led Adolf Hitler to invade Poland in 1939 and start World War II. Lastly, Hungary aligned itself with Italy and Nazi Germany, annexing parts of Czechoslovakia in 1938. Therefore, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and fascistic Hungary plunged the continent into the most devastating war in history.

What do you think was the primary cause for World War Two? Let us know below.

[i]Robert O. Paxton and Julie Hessler, Europe in the Twentieth Century, 5th ed (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth - Cengage Learning, 2012), 180.

[ii]Paxton and Hessler, 179.

[iii]Benito Mussolini, “Benito Mussolini: What is Fascism, 1932,” Internet Modern History Sourcebook, edited by Paul Halsall (New York, NY: Fordham University, 2019), accessed May 5, 2019,


[v]Paxton and Hessler, 284.

[vi]Louis P.  Lochner, What About Germany?(New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1942), 1-4.

[vii]Paxton and Hessler, 191.

[viii]Paxton and Hessler, 302.

[ix]Paxton and Hessler, 345.





Lochner, Louis P. What About Germany?New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1942.

Mussolini, Benito. “Benito Mussolini: What is Fascism, 1932.” Internet Modern History Sourcebook, edited by Paul Halsall. New York, NY: Fordham University, 2019. Accessed May 5, 2019.

Paxton, Robert O., and Julie Hessler. Europe in the Twentieth Century. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth - Cengage Learning, 2012.