World War Two created a whole host of heroes in the battle to beat the Fascist Powers in Europe. But many of the heroes remain unknown. Here, Brian Fleming, author of a recently published book on unsung heroes of World War Two (Amazon USAmazon UK), explains some stories of amazing people whose actions saved the lives of people in great danger from the Nazis.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who helped save the lives of many people from the Nazis.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who helped save the lives of many people from the Nazis.


For some reason, I have always been particularly intrigued by the doings of unsung heroes. Perhaps it is as a result of their invariably modest attitudes towards their achievements or maybe the fundamental unfairness that sometimes permeates accounts of events is the cause. My curiosity prompted me to write The Vatican Pimpernel: The Wartime Exploits of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty (Amazon USAmazon UK).[i] A fellow Irishman, who while working as a priest working in the Vatican during World War 2 established what became known as the Rome Escape Line. O’Flaherty and his colleagues rescued many Allied servicemen and others who were on the run from the Nazis and Italian Fascists. My interest in this case was that his story was relatively unknown in Ireland despite the fact that at least 6,500 individuals were saved by the organization. There were reasons for this to be the case, most particularly because his own modesty. Researching The Vatican Pimpernelbrought me in contact with stories of other escape lines and I have realized an ambition to explore some of these in Heroes in the Shadows: Humanitarian Action and Courage in the Second World War (Amazon USAmazon UK).[ii]

On this occasion rather than give an extensive account of one escape line, I have provided a chapter on each of four escape lines which allows for a fairly comprehensive outline of the activities of each one. The first chapter, however, is not about an escape line strictly speaking. In it, I recount the activities of diplomats in various parts of Europe who used their positions to save thousands of individuals. Of these, Raoul Wallenberg is by far the most famous but there were others whose heroic deeds need to be better known 


Aristides de Sousa Mendes

One interesting example is that of the Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes. Under the dictator Salazar, Portugal, like its neighbor Spain, was determined not to become involved in WW2. Sousa Mendes, a lawyer by profession, served in his country’s diplomatic service and took up duty as Consul General in Bordeaux in 1938. The following year, Salazar, anxious not just to remain neutral but to be seen to be so, issued an instruction to his nation’s diplomats that visas were not to be issued to various categories of people. Essentially this covered all refugees who might be seeking access to Portugal. Exemptions could only be granted with sanction from the Foreign Ministry in Lisbon. It is clear that from the very start that Sousa Mendes was uncomfortable with this restrictive approach. He began to make exceptions without prior clearance and put forward, to the authorities, retrospective justification for his actions. The numbers involved were quite small but the situation changed radically in 1940 as French resistance to the Nazi invasion began to collapse. Millions fled south, many to avoid conflict but others, notably the Jews, had far more specific reasons to leave France. Hundreds approached the consulate in Bordeaux seeking assistance.

Sousa Mendes became indisposed in mid-June with what he described subsequently as a breakdown. Clearly he was in a very difficult situation caught between his instructions from Lisbon and his humanitarian instincts. Happily the latter proved decisive and he emerged from his illness with an emphatic decision. ‘From now on I’m giving everyone visas. There will be no more nationalities, races or religions.’[iii]For the next few weeks this is precisely what he did. Obviously Salazar’s government could not tolerate such defiance and he was recalled, an instruction he complied with but not in any great hurry. Estimating the numbers he saved is difficult as visas often covered more than the individual holder but included family members such as children. Some have suggested that between him and his colleague Emile Gissot in Toulouse, 20,000 were saved. Certainly a figure of 10,000 would constitute a conservative estimate. The noted Holocaust scholar, Professor Yehuda Bauer has described the role played by Sousa Mendes as perhaps the largest rescue operation by a single individual during that period. Subsequently the career of Aristides de Sousa Mendes was destroyed on the direct instructions of Salazar. Sadly he lived in relative poverty for the remainder of his life and his actions were airbrushed from history. Eventually the truth began to emerge and a campaign in the US by a group including the diplomat’s son, John Paul, bore fruit in 1986 when 70 members of congress wrote to the then Portuguese Prime Minister asking that the good name of Aristides de Sousa Mendes be restored. Two years later the Portuguese parliament unanimously adopted a motion striking out all charges against Sousa Mendes and marked the decision with a standing ovation. Further recognition has followed in Portugal and in Bordeaux where he made his wonderfully courageous decision.


The Belgian

Escape lines during WW2 tended to specialize in particular target groups. Some focused on ensuring the safe return home of members of the Allied Forces so that they could re-join their regiments, whereas others prioritized the needs of civilians who were seeking to evade capture by the Nazis and Fascists. 

Pat O’Leary was the name used by the leader of a prominent escape line centered in the South of France. In reality, he was a Belgian doctor whose real name was Albert Marie Guérisse.  When his native country was invaded, he made his way to Britain and enlisted in the Armed services. In early1941, he arrived in Marseille and made contact with Ian Garrow, a member of the Seaforth Highlanders who had been unable to reach Dunkirk in time to evacuate. Making his way south, he had begun to establish an escape line with a Scottish-born clergyman called Donald Caskie amongst others. The arrival of O’Leary was a major step forward as he brought new skills to the endeavor, including an ability to speak French fluently and the training he received in undercover work whilst in Britain. Indeed, he became the central figure in the organization and it became known as the ‘Pat Line’. He immediately set about expanding the line in terms of the number of ‘safe houses’ that were available in which to lodge escapees while ways of getting them out of France were organized. 

There were about 50,000 personnel who, like Garrow, failed to make the evacuation at Dunkirk. Many remained at large and others, whilst captured initially, managed to escape. The main objective of the line was to locate and repatriate these so that they could return to active service. In order to do this, the organization had to extend its presence throughout France as far as possible and to set up a route through Spain so that evacuees could be brought to Gibraltar and home from there. Establishing a large organization throughout war-time France was a risky operation. There were Nazi spies both in that part under the control of the German authorities and Vichy France, the so-called un-occupied region. Recruiting helpers was always difficult as the authorities were constantly seeking to penetrate organizations favorable to the Allied cause. Despite this, an extensive escape line stretching from north of Paris to Gibraltar was soon in place. 

Getting escapees over the Pyrenees and through Spain was difficult. Spain, under the control of General Franco, while nominally neutral, was favorably disposed towards the Nazis especially when they had the upper hand in the conflict. As a result, there were plenty of Nazi undercover agents in the country and the authorities turned a blind eye. Donald Darling was appointed by the British authorities to facilitate evacuees heading for Gibraltar and he soon had a fairly efficient operation in place. In this, he was helped by a diplomat stationed in the UK embassy in Berlin and a number of favorably-disposed locals. 

Of course, ensuring the safe passage of escapees through France was even more difficult. Operating over such a distance and involving so many volunteers led inevitably to failures. The line was penetrated by Paul Cole, an Englishman and former soldier. He had a number of early successes in bringing people down to the South of France and eventual freedom. This was a typical tactic by the Nazi authorities to allow an agent acting on their behalf build a positive image. In late November 1941, Cole’s real role became clear and he was confronted but escaped. He betrayed some of the lines leading supporters in the North of France, costing approximately fifty to be arrested, tortured and executed.

Despite this very serious setback, O’Leary and his team re-built the organization and evacuations to Gibraltar continued. In the main, these were by way of the Pyrenees but, for a period, sea evacuations were carried out successfully. They also managed to organize jail breaks including some spectacular ones, so that particular vital personnel could return home to resume their duties. On 2March 1943, O’Leary himself was betrayed by a volunteer named Roger le Neveu. He suffered serious torture in prison but survived. For obvious reasons an organization such as the ‘Pat Line’ kept no detailed records so estimating how many were assisted is not straightforward. It is likely, however, that about 2,000 individuals were helped by O’Leary and his colleagues.


The Franciscan

Assisi has been a focus of pilgrimage and religious practice for Christians over the centuries. As such, for those seeking sanctuary from the effects of the war it was an obvious destination to seek out. Indeed the local bishop had set up a committee to care for refugees at an early stage. Padre Rufino Niccacci was, at the time, Father Guardian of the local Franciscan seminary. In June 1944 the Allies, after protracted battles, eventually reached Rome. A few hours later, Padre Rufino was woken by a colleague close to midnight with a message to call to see the bishop immediately, which he did. As he had no involvement with the committee for the welfare of refugees, he was surprised to be asked to bring a group of them to Cardinal Della Costa in Florence, who would arrange for them to leave Italy via the port of Genoa. His surprise became astonishment when it was explained that this was a group of Jews, including a Rabbi. Rufino had never met a Jew and indeed, it was believed that no one of that faith had ever been in Assisi. The task was successfully completed and Rufino was destined to learn a lot in the next few months as he looked after increasing numbers of Jews arriving in the area to seek sanctuary. As escape via Genoa became unavailable, he hid them in the many religious houses in Assisi, supplemented by many locals who were willing to accommodate some in their private homes. A dangerous game of cat and mouse ensued between him and the local Nazi forces and, despite many near misses, he ensured that all in his care survived the war. Given the nature of these events it is likely that many locals were aware of what was going on but he and his charges were never betrayed. Interestingly, it is probable that the Nazi commander in the area during the final months of the occupation had some inkling of what was afoot and chose to turn a blind eye.

These are just three of the cases detailed in Heroes in the Shadows. There are others recorded there and elsewhere and, indeed, many individual heroic acts that are long forgotten.  War invariably provides ample evidence of humankind’s capacity for appalling brutality. It is important not to forget that many possess the necessary moral courage to resist such examples of man’s inhumanity to man and a willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice in doing so.


Heroes in the Shadows: Humanitarian Action and Courage in the Second World Warby Brian Fleming is available here: Amazon USAmazon UK

[i]Fleming, Brian The Vatican Pimpernel: The Wartime Exploits of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty(the Collins Press, 2008 & 2014, Skyhorse Publishing, 2012).

[ii] Fleming, Brian Heroes in the Shadows: Humanitarian Action and Courage in the Second World War (Amberley Publishing,2019).

[iii]Paldiel, Mordecai Diplomat Heroes of the Holocaust (KTAV Publishing, 2007) p. 74.

Human trafficking is a terrible afflication in the modern-world, as it has been for a very long time. In this article, Andrew Wonwoo Lim coniders the case of human trafficking in Japan. In particular he looks at the role of the Japanese yakuza organization, the history of the yakuza, and what can be done to solve the human trafficking problem in Japan.

In the Muromachi period (室町時代/ 1336-1573),kyougi (侠客) appeared. They were the people who were involved in crime such as gambling, blackmailing or manslaughter. They were short fused and had a sharp tongue but they were often described as Robin Hood-like characters in Kabuki. It is not clear if it was a absolute fantasy of the Kabuki script writers or a truth up to a certain point.    Umeno Yoshibei (梅の由兵衛) is one of the famous kyogi from the Edo period (江戸時代/ 1600-1868).   Source: Juju Kurihara, "History of Yakuza," Iromegane, last modified June 12, 2015, accessed December 9, 2018, .

In the Muromachi period (室町時代/ 1336-1573),kyougi (侠客) appeared. They were the people who were involved in crime such as gambling, blackmailing or manslaughter. They were short fused and had a sharp tongue but they were often described as Robin Hood-like characters in Kabuki. It is not clear if it was a absolute fantasy of the Kabuki script writers or a truth up to a certain point.

Umeno Yoshibei (梅の由兵衛) is one of the famous kyogi from the Edo period (江戸時代/ 1600-1868).

Source: Juju Kurihara, "History of Yakuza," Iromegane, last modified June 12, 2015, accessed December 9, 2018,

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a global problem that continues to be difficult to control. One of the biggest problems is that the economic benefits of human trafficking, especially in the form of sexual exploitation, outweigh the “moral and legal commitment to equality of the sexes and to the protection of women’s rights.”[1]The statistics on how many people are trafficked annually vary drastically, showing how even collecting the data is challenging. Sex slavery is indisputably one of the most lucrative and exploitative industries, with numbers on trafficked humans ranging from 200,000 to 2,000,000 and the profits calculated up to 10.5 billion dollars annually.[2]Although it is most often women including younger girls who get trafficked into the sex trade, there is still a “significant number of males—both adult and children—enslaved for homosexual prostitution.”[3]The sex slave industry operates globally, especially through powerful criminal organizations such as “The Italian Camorra, Chinese Triads, Russian Mafia, and Japanese Yakuza.”[4]

As human trafficking is a global issue, in order to protect people from innocently getting deceived into the trade, it is of utmost importance to understand the different cultures behind human trafficking. The situation must be brought to light, but it cannot happen without learning how human trafficking differs profusely depending on where you are. Even the simplest things, such as the definition of the term, can be interpreted differently amongst varying cultures—for example, from the U.S. to countries in Asia. 

The human trafficking network in Asia can be broadly identified through some common flows: “(1) from the Philippines to Japan, (2) from Thailand to Japan, (3) from Burma (or Myanmar) to Thailand, (4) from Vietnam to Cambodia, and (5) from Nepal to India.”[5]Japan, amongst the countries in Asia, is a popular destination for trafficking. However, this is not surprising, given the history of the yakuza organization that dominates trade involving illegal activities such as the trafficking of humans. 


History of the Yakuza

In order to properly analyze how to address the problem of human trafficking in Japan, the influence of the yakuza organization must be thoroughly investigated. The yakuza, or the gokudō, are “members of transnational organized crime syndicates originating in Japan.”[6]The yakuza are highly involved in all aspects of life in Japan, especially in the economy and politics. Amongst the yakuza, there are around “3,000 separate, tightly-knit gangs, with over 80,000 members”[7]and despite the Anti-gang law (改正暴力団対策法) passed in 1992, the yakuza still continue to thrive in the society.[8]Interestingly, the yakuza are also perceived as a “Robin Hood” that is heroic publicly, and the “feeling persists among the Japanese that organized crime in Japan bears a noble past;”[9]this image dates back almost four centuries. Ever since the yakuza have been around, gangster groups like the yakuza were used by the government to aid suppressing labor unrest. Eventually, figures like Mitsuru Toyama affected the culture of organized crime in Japan, as he was one among many who brought politics and organized crime together.[10]The yakuza got involved in politics by assisting in political campaigns for conservative politicians—both violently and helping finance operations, which were also usually done through criminal activities including prostitution, blackmail, and gambling. Gradually, by the time World War II broke out, members of the yakuza had positions in national office.

Many yakuza members participated in the Second World War, and during the war, the Japanese, along with the Germans, had “pleasure women” for the soldiers where women were forced into brothels.[11]Once again, this further developed the relationship between the yakuza and the Japanese government. The war did not go in Japan’s favor, resulting in both Japan and the yakuza gangs being left in ruins. However, the American Occupational Forces, mistakingly, ended up contributing to the yakuza’s rebirth as they helped the gang members in order to repress the threat from the growth of communism. Yoshio Kodama, a Class A war criminal that the Occupational Forces released, ended up being a big influencer in the yakuza, as he became the “link to the highest levels of Japanese government.”[12]Kodama accumulated a great deal of wealth in these years and founded the “Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which controlled the Japanese Government until the early 1990s.”[13]

In 1963, where the organization’s growth was at its peak, the yakuza grew to 184,109 members in 5,216 separate gangs. Of these different groups, the most notable one is the Yamaguchi-gumi, estimated to control “7,000 shops, 5,000 restaurants, 4,500 money-laundering operations, 2,300 bath houses, 2,500 bars, 600 property companies and 400 transport firms."[14]

Although some of the group’s traditional activities are dwindling, their influence continues to grow, especially as they expand internationally. By participating in “more sophisticated types of crime,” their annual income, taking into account for their “25,000 legitimate ‘front’ organizations, runs to as high as 70 billion dollars.”[15]As the group is involved in more sophisticated financial crimes such as human trafficking or the drugs trade, the power of the yakuza does not look likely to cease anytime soon, especially as the organization, unlike most crime groups, is, “to a certain degree, readily accepted by Japanese society and heavily connected to the highest levels of government—factors which will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate them from the national and international scene.”[16]


Organized Crime 

The yakuza organization is not only expanding overseas—“South America (Brazil in particular), The Philippines, Thailand, Europe, Russia, China, Australia, South Africa, Taiwan, Korea, and the US”—but alliances overseas, such as the Hong Kong and Taiwan Chinese Triads, the Russian mafia, and the American mafia. Once again, the problem is not one country’s but a global issue. 

The yakuza have been clearly involved in organized crime since the 17th century; nowadays they have expanded their operations: 

“(1) controlling the construction business and the entertainment industry; (2) counterfeiting Japanese currency and stamps, United States dollars, watches, and even brand-name food products; (3) the sex slave trade; (4) smuggling immigrant workers, drugs, guns, whale meat, and other items; (5) insurance fraud; (6) corporate extortion; (7) strong-armed settlement of civil disputes between creditors and defaulting debtors and between parties involved in auto accidents; and (8) intimidation of landowners.”[17]


Bringing the focus back to human trafficking in Japan, the yakuza “are smuggling people from Thailand, the Philippines, Brazil, and China to work in Japan.”[18]This is done in many different ways ranging from forging passports from Indonesia or Taiwan or transporting people on boats, to traditional airport smuggles. When people are brought over from outside countries into Japan, they are often exploited for economic benefits. Either the “illegal works are placed in jobs”[19]or they become part of the sex industry. The work they may be part of could be serving in a hotel or restaurant to being a part of the construction industry. Whatever their work is, the “illegal immigrants also live and work in miserable conditions, because they are always under the threat of being reported to the authorities if they do not obey their employers.”[20]Similarly, the conditions in the sex industry is not so great, as expected. The business is not only in Japan, but widespread across Southeast Asia. That being said, the “yakuza syndicates dominate the sex industry in Japan and are heavily involved in prostitution, turkish baths, massage parlors, pornography, sex tours, and the sex slave trade.”[21]The reason why the sex trade is so big in Southeast Asia is because of the destitute prior living conditions that the the victims of trafficking are coming from. For a number of people, getting involved in the sex industry and giving themselves or their daughters up for prostitution is the “only way they can make a ‘better’ life for themselves.”[22]In the early 1970s, there were arranged sex tours for Japanese men to nearby countries such as South Korea, Thailand, and The Philippines. The women in the prostitution houses were most often impoverished migrants, usually from the countryside. Even worse than the sex tours were the illegal sex slave trade, which the yakuza has been a part of since the early 1980s, “where women knowingly volunteer, or are tricked into coming to Japan and working as prostitutes."[23]Either families would sell a member of their family into the trade or an individual would be kidnapped or tricked into the industry. 

The worst part about the sex slave trade is that it is impossible to escape from. Once an individual is duped into coming to the Japan with the promise of a workspace, the victims of trafficking are in constant debt to the yakuzas. Once they arrive in Japan, their forged passports are taken away, so they are forced to work as prostitutes. Starting from trying to pay off the initial flight cost, passport, and visa, the debt is endless as the individuals must borrow money from the organization and the ruthless cycle continues. What started out as debt around $2000, grows to somewhere between $15,000 to $20,000, not accounting for interest; this amount is not attainable by the poor workers. Hence, the yakuza ends up with leverage over the trafficked humans. 

Today, there are “approximately 140,000 Thai and Filipino women working in Japan as prostitutes due to the sex slave trade,”[24]and probably thousands more considering not all people can be accounted for. 

Unfortunately, the Japanese police do not have much control over the situation in Japan. They “can’t plea bargain, wire-tapping is so restrictive that it is almost useless and rarely applied, and now they are not supposed to have direct contact with members of the yakuza, making intelligence collection nearly impossible.”[25]Because there is no witness protection program, there is nearly no incentive to ever turn a higher member in the hierarchy of the yakuza over to the police. In fact, the benefits and costs are so outweighed. If a member keeps quiet, “he gets a cash reward when released from jail, his family is looked after, and he will probably get a promotion.”[26]However, if he cooperates with the investigation, there is no benefit, but only harm as he “doesn’t get a lighter sentence, his organization will know he talked, he loses financially, and when he gets out of jail, he may even lose his life or a finger.” Hence, it is understandable why no member of the organization will give someone up, and matters are not made easier when accounting for the close ties the yakuza has with the government. When a “criminal conspiracy act, which would allow the police to arrest senior yakuza for the crimes of their subordinates more easily” was brought up, it was “opposed by the ruling coalition for years,” as a leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) from 2005 to 2006, Maehara Seiji, was “bankrolled and supported by Shinohara Jun, an advisor to the Yamaguchi-gumi.”[27]In a more hopeful light, because the yakuza are also human, “they are horrified by the acts of their fellow yakuza” on occasion, hoping that they will be stopped. Ironically, some of the yakuza who “still live by their traditional code cannot stand some of the crimes the modern yakuza are involved with”[28], such as child pornography or human trafficking. 


The Future

Considering the history and the wide influence of the yakuza in Japan, addressing the issue of human trafficking must take the position the yakuza stands in in Japan into account. After learning about the culture of Japan and how the public perceives the yakuza, solutions to help resolve the global phenomenon can more effectively be distinguished. Although no solution is easily attainable, especially as it requires a change in culture and the mindset of the general public, a step-by-step resolution can be identified. The reason knowledge about the history of the yakuza and Japan is important is to effectively implement the solution. The solution to assisting the phenomenon of human trafficking is theoretically not too complicated. Because currently, the benefits of trafficking humans are much higher than any cost, the industry is flourishing. Yes, there are many steps that need to be taken before getting to this conclusion:

1.    There needs to be witness protection, so the morals of the yakuza can help shed some light on specific issues. 

2.    The police and government need to be given more power to be able to suppress the activities of the yakuza. 

3.    The Japanese police should also cooperate with foreign law enforcement officials and ditch the “dual criminality” standard, where the police will “disseminate information only if the alleged criminal activity is also a crime in Japan.”[29]

4.    The strong ties between the organization and the government need to be broken off.

a.    When the public is informed upon a notable figure’s relationship with the yakuza, it is frowned upon and results in a retirement, but there is no real consequence. This needs to change, in order to dissuade public figures from working with the yakuza.

5.    There needs to be a change in the public’s idealistic perception of the yakuza as some “Robin Hood” figure.

6.    Finally, to also assist in getting to the roots of the problem, help the countries that the yakuza frequently exploit for finding impoverished women and help their situation and educate them. 


Even taking these measures, the yakuza will be difficult to shut down. One flip-side to trying to make the costs greater than the benefits through these steps, and ultimately prevent the yakuza from exploiting innocent humans, is that by creating harsher punishments, the yakuza may become less visible and go underground. This may cause more difficulty tracking them down, but it will be a start to alleviate the situation now.

Finally, looking at the Victims Protection Act passed in 2000 in the United States, both Japan and anyone addressing the change to aid Japan can learn from what the United States did well and what it could improve on. The Victims Protection Act did “increase the penalty for sex trafficking”, which could result in providing a “disincentive to commit the crime of trafficking.”[30]In the United States, the Act serves as an effort to “criminalize the conduct of traffickers, to penalize sex trafficking as if this were a crime as serious as rape, and to provide the immigrant victims with enhanced benefits like permanent residency status in the United States.”[31]The penalties for trafficking cases in comparison to other activities such as drug dealing, for example ten grams of LSD, contrast dramatically in the United States. Hence, the gravity of human trafficking needs to still be brought to realization for the community. Notwithstanding, the Victims Protection Act proposes the economic solution to human trafficking as it adds weight to the costs of participating in the trade, which can be applied to assist Japan in combating the influence of the yakuza and its involvement in human trafficking.


What do you think about this article? Let us know below.




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[1]Susan W. Tiefenbrun, "Sex Sells but Drugs Don't Talk: Trafficking of Women Sex Workers," 23 T. Jefferson L. Rev. 199, 2000-2001, 201, accessed December 8, 2018,

[2]Alice Leuchtag, "Human Right, Sex Trafficking, and Prostitution," EBSCO Publishing, January/February 2003, 10, accessed December 8, 2018,

[3]Leuchtag, "Human Right," 10.

[4]Leuchtag, "Human Right," 12.

[5]James O. Finckenauer and Ko-lin Chin, "Asian Transnational Organized Crime and Its Impact on the United States: Developing a Transnational Crime Research Agenda," Trends in Organized Crime10, no. 2 (December 2006): 27, accessed December 8, 2018,

[6]"Yakuza," Wikipedia, accessed December 8, 2018,

[7]Lt. Bruce A. Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords of Japanese Organized Crime," Annual Survey f International & Comparative Law4, no. 1 (1997): 147, accessed December 8, 2018,

[8]Jake Adelstein, "Japan's Newest Anti-Yakuza Laws Allow Instant Arrests," The Atlantic, July 30, 2012, [Page #], accessed December 8, 2018,; accessed December 8, 2018,

[9]Lt. Bruce A. Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords of Japanese Organized Crime,"Annual Survey f International & Comparative Law4, no. 1 (1997): 149, accessed December 8, 2018,

[10]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 155.

[11]Susan W. Tiefenbrun, "Sex Sells but Drugs Don't Talk: Trafficking of Women Sex Workers," 23 T. Jefferson L. Rev. 199, 2000-2001, 213, accessed December 8, 2018,

[12]Lt. Bruce A. Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords of Japanese Organized Crime,"Annual Survey f International & Comparative Law4, no. 1 (1997): 159, accessed December 8, 2018,

[13]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 159.

[14]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 175.

[15]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 147.

[16]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 148.

[17]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 179.

[18]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 188.

[19]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 189.

[20]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 189.

[21]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 195.

[22]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 195.

[23]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 196.

[24]Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords," 197.

[25]Jake Adelstein, "Global Vice: The Expanding Territory of The Yakuza," Journal of International Affairs66, no. 1 (2012): 155,

[26]Adelstein, "Global Vice," 155-156.

[27]Adelstein, "Global Vice," 156.

[28]Adelstein, "Global Vice," 157.

[29]Lt. Bruce A. Gragert, "Yakuza: The Warlords of Japanese Organized Crime,"Annual Survey f International & Comparative Law4, no. 1 (1997): 202, accessed December 8, 2018,

[30]Susan W. Tiefenbrun, "Sex Sells but Drugs Don't Talk: Trafficking of Women Sex Workers," 23 T. Jefferson L. Rev. 199, 2000-2001, 201, accessed December 8, 2018,

[31]Tiefenbrun, "Sex Sells," 215.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a period of thirteen days of high tension between the US and NATO on one side and the USSR and Cuba on the other. The crisis began when the US found out that the Soviets had moved missiles capable of reaching the mainland United States into Cuba, some 100 miles from the US shore. This led to days of diplomatic activity, military preparations, and high-level, high-risk correspondence between senior leaders in the USSR and USA - and nearly led to nuclear war.

However, the underlying reasons for the crisis were complex: these included that the USSR wanted to threaten and compete more effectively with the USA, the involvement of the USSR and the US in the Korean War and Vietnam War, strategic imbalance between the two sides, and the division of Berlin.

Nicky Quinton explains.

A picture of the US Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic missile, which were partly responsible for the Cuban Missile Crisis.

A picture of the US Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic missile, which were partly responsible for the Cuban Missile Crisis.


The political relationship between the United States and the USSR after World War II was filled with tension. Two geographical giants were competing for economic, technical, and military superiority all over the world. Government policies were aimed at improving performance in various fields to tip the balance of power in their favor, even to the detriment of their citizens. The space race, nuclear arms race, and even the Olympic Games were proof that the US and the Soviet Union did not want to give an inch in the battle.

After World War II, the world was largely divided into two camps: those who supported capitalism and those who supported communism. The United States and the Soviet Union were the leaders of these two groups. Unfortunately, this confrontation was not limited to an informational and ideological war. Instead, the two states got involved in wars to support their ideological allies.

This was because neither the USA nor the USSR truly wanted to fight each other directly – the desire to avoid another World War and the risks from nuclear weapons helped prevent that. However, their armies fought indirectly in conflicts, notably the Korean War and Vietnam War. 


Korean War and Vietnam War as examples of indirect war

The split of Korea after World War II into two independent states was driven by the Cold War. A socialist regime was established in the northern state, and a capitalist regime was established in the southern state. The Soviet Union (and China) supported the communist leader Kim Il-sung, and the US supported the anti-communist leader Syngman Rhee. The war began in 1950 and ended up with the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953.

The Vietnam War is another example of a proxy war. Although the official conflict took place between North Vietnam and South Vietnam, the real state of affairs was similar to the Korean War. The USSR and China supported communist North Vietnam, and the United States and other anti-communist countries more actively supported South Vietnam. Therefore, indirect conflicts increased the tension between the USA and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.


Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis was different to those wars – it was partly about strengthening the Soviet position and giving it a more credible nuclear threat.

It could happen at all because in the years before 1962 the Cuban Revolution led communist leader Fidel Castro to take control of Cuba in 1959. The Soviets were more than happy with an ally some 100 miles from the US coast and used it to their advantage.

The Soviet initiative to place missiles in Cuba was the result of the Soviet’s perceived strategic imbalance, since the United States had nuclear weapon bases in Turkey, close to the Soviet Union (Nathan, 58). In 1961, US President John F. Kennedy agreed to put 15 nuclear-tipped Jupiter missiles near the Turkish border. While the US military was deemed capable of delivering a first strike on the USSR (launching a nuclear attack before the enemy could do the same), the Soviets had few ballistic missiles deemed capable of reaching the continental US from the USSR at the time. Furthermore, these were considered to be both inaccurate and unreliable (Allison and Zelikow, 92). Therefore, the USSR wanted to solve this problem by placing mid-range missiles in Cuba, thus restoring the strategic balance.

One more crucial reason for the Crisis was Berlin. During the Cold War, Germany was effectively split into two: East Germany (GDR) and West Germany (FRG). The border went straight through Berlin. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev believed that by having missiles in Cuba, the Soviet Union could try and strike a deal with the West into relinquishing its control over the western portion of Berlin (Allison and Zelikow, 105).

In short, some of the key reasons for the Cuban Missile Crisis were:

·      The Cuban Revolution that led communists to take charge of Cuba

·      Political competition between the USA and the Soviet Union.

·      Growing tensions throughout the 1950s, partly driven by the Korean War and the (early days) of the Vietnam War

·      To put pressure on the United States to remove its nuclear arms from Turkey

·      Control over Berlin



Crisis was averted in Cuba and the US did in fact secretly later remove the nuclear-tipped missiles from Turkey (Nathan 134). Fortunately the Cold War didn’t turn into a “hot war.”


Works Cited

Allison, Graham T., and Philip Zelikow. Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. TPB, 2000.

“Cuban Missile Crisis.”, A&E Television Networks, 8 May 2019,

Nathan, James A. The Cuban Missile Crisis Revisited. St. Martin’s Press, 1992. 


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

This article was provided by Nicky Quinton of WriteMyEssayOnline.


Editor’s note: That external link is not affiliated in any way with this website. Please see the link herefor more information about external links.

AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

The 75th anniversary of D-Day took place a few days ago, on June 6th. In honor of that, today we have a contribution from an author of a recently published book about D-Day - D-Day UK: 100 Locations in Britain (Amazon USAmazon UK). Here Simon Forty explains the background to World War Two’s D-Day and his book.

US troops approaching Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.

US troops approaching Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.

In June 1944 Allied forces invaded France to liberate Europe and destroy Nazism.

Immortalised in film and book, D-Day is, rightly, seen as a turning point in 20thcentury

history and opened a land campaign that finished less than a year later in the

unconditional surrender of the enemy. 


The speed, means and method of this victory have been discussed and debated

ever since. Most of the discussion has concentrated on the landings and the battles

that followed: the bravery of the soldiers, sailors and airmen; the effectiveness and

personality of the commanders; the efficiency and abilities of the respective tactics,

weapons and armies.


The locations are written indelibly in our memories: Omaha and Juno, Pegasus

Bridge, Arromanches, Pointe du Hoc, Sainte-Mère-Église. Understandably, much of the

military remembrance – the cemeteries and memorials – are on the French side of the

English Channel, as are most of the remnants of war – bunkers, vehicles, scarred buildings.

However, like the tip of an iceberg, the D-Day landings and the battle of Normandy

– about two months’ fighting from 6 June until the end of August – were the result of

years of preparation that took place to a great extent in Britain. It was in Britain that

the plans were developed, the logistics organised and the weapons prepared. It was in

Britain that the soldiers boarded the ships to take them to France, from Britain that

the air forces provided aerial cover and the armada set sail. It was in Britain that large

numbers of young American, Canadian, Polish, and French men and women spent so

much time that they became part of the everyday life of the country. And it wasn’t all

work: the influx of that many young men and women – including more than 100,000

black troops – had a striking affect on Britain’s social scene. After the war, 60,000 war

brides left Britain for a future in North America. British and American culture hadn’t

become one entity, but it had certainly joined at the hip.


Americans start to arrive

The first Americans arrived in Northern Ireland in January 1942 – although

‘Special Observers’ had been there since spring 1941. By May 1944 their ranks had

swelled to around 750,000, a figure that doubled before 1944 was out. Some of these

soldiers spent a short time in Britain before heading to the Mediterranean theatre;

others spent as much as 20 months training for action.


This invasion – often dubbed the ‘friendly invasion’ – affected most people

in Britain in one way or another. The Americans had to be housed and fed; they

had to have places to train and trainers to tell them what to do. They had to have

equipment and places to practise using it. The supplies for the battles to come had

to be stored somewhere. The details of the invasion had to include secure locations

for final preparation, places to board ships and receive final orders. And then there

were the naval facilities, and those needed for the US Air Forces: airfields, runways,

hangars. This was no mere temporary posting. This was the creation of an American

infrastructure in a way that hadn’t been done before. The rulebook had to be created.

Over the next two years the preparations for the invasion of France took form.

It wasn’t a linear progression: political considerations, fighting in Africa and the

Mediterranean, the strength of the opposition – all these things interrupted progress

until late 1943. From then on the countdown had begun and while the actual end date

changed slightly, it wasn’t a question of if, but when.


D-Day UK, published to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, chooses 100

locations in Britain to tell the story of how the invasion of France came about. It covers

the practicalities of the planning process, the main people and the major organisations

involved. It looks at the specialist training the troops needed and the major exercises;

gives an insight into some of the logistical issues, covers the movement of troops from

marshalling camp to embarkation – for delivery to France by landing craft or aircraft;

examines the range of air assets over the battlefield, from fighters through medium

bombers to the heavies; and touches on the naval side of the landings, particularly the

minesweepers and landing craft.


Choosing 100 locations

Choosing 100 locations proved to be a difficult job and I’m sure that many would

disagree with my choices: too much air and not enough naval; too much in Hampshire

and not enough in Essex; too much American and not enough British or Canadian; too

much that can’t be seen today. In the end it’s impossible to please everyone.

Finally, I decided early on not to include museums in the listings: there could

have been 100 of them alone, including the Imperial War Museum, National Army

Museum, RAC Tank Museum, D-Day Museum, Royal Signals Museum, Fleet Air

Arm Museum, the excellent Portsmouth naval museums (the Submarine Museum,

Naval Museum and Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower), Bletchley Park, Cobbaton

Combat Collection, museums at airfields (Tangmere, Shoreham, Dunkeswell), up to

and including the Commando display in the Fort William Museum. All these and many

more have material related to D-Day and are worth a visit.



D-Day UK: 100 Locations in Britainby Simon Forty is available here:Amazon USAmazon UK

AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

The Shah of Iran led a coup d’état in Iran in 1953, with the help of the UK and US. This article considers what happened after the coup, in particular how the awarding of a road-building contract to a British company ultimately led to resistance to awarding major contracts to some foreign companies. Guan Kiong Teh explains.

The Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza, with his wife and son in 1967.

The Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza, with his wife and son in 1967.

I wrote this article on the road building and vehicle industry in the late Pahlavi state to respond to two aspects of Iranian historiography. The first is the lack of scholarship on the technique of science and technology within Iranian modernization. Many scholars mention science and technology within Iranian political discourse. However, I focus upon scientific technique - defined as the legal, political and societal context and consequences of the application of technology. This only started gathering force recently, with for instance, Katayoun Shafiee’s focus on ‘sociotechnical’ processes in Machineries of Oil(2018).

The second is the thin analysis of the social impacts of consumerism during the years between the 1953 coup and the announcement of the Peykan car in 1966 through an integrated system of the private market and public infrastructure. Drawing upon British governmental and personal sources, and documents produced by the Iranian Government, Mowlems, and Chrysler, I examine how road building and the related vehicle industry contributed to Iranian political practice and discourse between the spring of 1954 and the announcement of the Peykan car in 1966, particularly towards the concept of independent foreign policy and an Iranian state for the Iranian people. The Mowlems contract was a blessing and a curse. While it demonstrated to the Iranian government that they had the sophistication to turn perfidious Albion on its heads, its costliness contributed to the pro-business spirit of the 1960s and the mythical White Revolution.


Iranian Vehicle Industry

The vehicle industry represented a fertile opportunity to win over the Iranian people and execute leverage against countries such as Britain, America, and Germany, particularly given the lessons of the Mowlem’s affair from 1954-57. Commercial development projects grew in geopolitical significance during the Cold War. Iran shared a border with the Soviet Union. The increasing burden of aid, military and nuclear expenditure in Iran in the 1950s compelled Mohammad Reza Shah to pursue a more independent foreign policy, most notably through the ‘soft’ weapon of the trade of goods and services within Iran. The logic: to reap the benefits of aid and expenditure without furthering the impression and consequences of Anglo-American political puppetry. Between 1954 and 1959, the PO sought to consolidate its uniquely ‘educated’ and powerful role in government through these formative exercises, refining its technique of portraying British firms as undeserving of their prestigious commercial reputation. The diplomatic successes and economic costs, however, led the government to pursue diplomatic success through economic profit, as evidenced in the birth of Iran’s automotive industry, culminating in the Iran N Peykan.

John Mowlem & Co Ltd. were British construction agents. By the 1950s they were established names in Britain, supervising Thames drainage projects at the turn of the century. In April 1954, Glossop was approached by Ebtehaj, Fazlollah Zahedi and the Shah to negotiate for a road-building contract, with vocal support from Roger Stevens, the British Ambassador to Iran. Mowlem’s first problem was demonstrating hostility towards the Iranian Government’s demands for accountability in technical expertise, exacerbated by the British Embassy’s lack of technical knowledge. A July 27 telegram states the position of the Iranian Government as interpreted by Ambassador Roger Stevens. Mowlems was expected to seek a contract to acquire the road plant material from a preferably non-British firm. The Iranian Government did not, as a matter of practice, enter multiple contracts in its pursuit of development projects. The Embassy advised that this was a clear warning that Mowlems’ would be held to the highest technical scrutiny. Since the previous month, Ebtehaj repeatedly expressed that he was under pressure from American firms to ensure that plant contracts were not exclusively awarded to British firms. Finally on May 10, 1955, Richard Glossop, the Managing Director of John Mowlem & Co. Ltd, exchanged contracts with Abdolhassan Ebtehaj. These were the roads to be constructed.Mowlems committed, as ‘managing agents’, to supervise the construction of 6,000 kilometers of roads in Iran over eight years. This was, according to the British Embassy, ‘the most important contract we have secured in Persia since the resumption of diplomatic relations. For years past foreign contractors have tried and failed to get it.’ Yet Mowlems’ shortcomings in its mastery of technical information served as a wake-up call for the Iranian government. When this contract was terminated in December 1957, barely 300 kilometers of roads had been refurbished in small stretches, with no new roads built. The contract was formally annulled on September 10, 1958. Further road building contracts until the mid 1960s never rivaled the Mowlems’ contract on scale, and were overwhelmingly awarded to Iranian firms or, at most, a minor supervisory role was awarded to Belgian, South African or Danish firms notably Kampsax - never Anglo American again.


How the Agreement Ended

The Plan and Budget Organization enacted political leverage against Britain by purporting that Mowlems failed to deliver the technical excellence necessary to justify maintaining the contract. The experience demonstrated that Iran had the strategic sophistication to manipulate perceived British commercial opportunism. Yet this was executed at the expense of contributing towards a balance of payments crisis between 1958-60 and presenting unfinished roads to the public, instilling further ambivalence about the merits of the incorporation of ‘Western’ development and Iranian nationalism advocated by the Shah. 

While the extraordinary expenditure of the Mowlems’ contract makes it difficult to argue that money was judicially used, the Plan Organization took some steps towards independent foreign policy by challenging Mowlems not on explicitly financial or political but technical grounds. The PO presented limitations upon British commercial advantage as a moral and financial obligation to find the most technologically competitive route to infrastructure development. The contract negotiation period between April 1954 and May 1955 was formative for the PO in coming to terms with manipulating technical expertise of road building. 

Relations were warmest where British and Iranian interests in road building and foreign policy clashed. During the second half of 1956, Mowlems’ dedication towards technical competitiveness improved. In November, a 36 kilometer stretch of road between Qazvin and Takestan was successfully refurbished, of which General Ansari gave a tour to Majlismembers at the end of the year. By December 1956, Ebtehaj grew more praiseful of Mowlems, announcing early in January 1957 to commit to fund a new flagship project: a road from Qazvin to the Turkish border at Jolfa, via Tabriz, and a direct route between Isfahan and Shiraz[1]. The route to the Turkish border provided easy access to a ‘friendly’ missile base, and would also serve Iranian interests in regional links.

However, Mowlems’ astonishing cost-saving by refusing to study soil composition exasperated the Iranian government. By mid-1957, only 240 kilometers of roads had been refurbished with no new roads built. Early batches were cracking and potholed, the result of importing a road plant mixture designed for British weather and soil. The Shah summoned Stevens, decrying it as ‘the worst piece of propaganda I’d ever seen’. Once he said this, Ebtehaj went for the pincer. The Shah had promised Mowlems’ reputation to the Majlis in 1955. If Mowlems’ did not improve or concede incompetence, the Iranian state was headed for a crisis of confidence that could rival what happened 1953. Eventually, Ebtehaj wrote to Mowlems to annul the contract on 23 December 1957. 450 million rials had been wasted over two and a half years.


The Consequences for Iran

This experience primed commercial instinct during the White Revolution. It gave the Iranian Government an obsession with ensuring Iranian - particularly Persian,Pahlavicharacter was evident in national ‘modernization’ and ‘development’, as evidenced in the automotive industry, particularly the Iran National Peykan, announced 1966, and the Pars Khodro Shahin, announced 1967. Cars were a uniquely potent symbol of the West and a unique absorption point for discontent therewith. Unlike Western lecturers or artists, ‘ordinary’ Iranians interacted with the benefits of the car on a practical (as opposed to abstract) level. Unlike refrigerators, hydroelectricity or the sewage system, ‘ordinary’ Iranians interacted with the car for extended periods of time. Unlike radios or TV sets, the value of the car as a tool and means of earning income were more obvious. Further, in an experience common around the world, the car was often the most expensive product and second-most expensive that a family bought, after their house. The passenger car has political capital. Note the situation that Volkswagen found themselves in during 2018, when they faced criticism that they withdrew from the Iranian market due to lobbying by the American ambassador in Germany.

To begin, the Government ostensibly took steps to secure Iranian national input; ostensibly committed to Import Substitution Industrialization as defined in the Third Development Plan (1963-68). A June 1963 news broadcast announced that the Government was planning initiatives to boost car battery production within Iran. The Government favored entrepreneurs to the detriment of the consumer’s pockets by enforcing considerable economic incentive to encourage importers and distributors to seek tenders for nationalized Complete Knock-Down Kits. For instance, 126 ‘saloon cars’ were imported between 27 September and 2 October 1965. These cars were worth 9,500,000 rials to their importer and subject to governmental duties of 92%, at 8,740,000 rials. High tariffs were imposed upon cars that were supposed to be relatively affordable. While the exact make and model of the 126 saloons are unknown, they were all the same model, giving a market price of 75,397 rials and a tariff of 69,360 rials per vehicle, costing the importer 144,757 rials per vehicle in total. As sold to consumers, the vehicle would have cost slightly more than the 150,000 rial Peykan and was a likely competitor. Yet the pressure upon importers was clear: one could be subject to heavy tariffs, or one could try hard to persuade car brands to license cars for CKD production. These were not technologically advanced cars: the Volkswagen Beetle’s air cooled engine was far more appropriate for Iran’s arid climate. Overall, the impetus to produce the national car came from an interest in profit and symbolism of adopting a British and American car; symbol that the Iranian government could actually reign in foreign powers and, to quote British politician Nigel Farage, ‘make a titanic success out of it’. 



The Peykan divided urban and rural more than it united. The Hillman Hunter GT was rebranded the Peykan Javanan, heralding the prominence of youths in the country and the role of youth in Iranian politics. Few in the countryside, however, could afford to maintain cars. In villages, those who drove taxis were respected as ‘chauffeurs’, their ability to drive singled out by hopeful mothers trying to matchmake sons. In 1969, 4 million - 15% of Iran’s population - lived in cities. Yet 80% of the passenger car market was urban. 

The Pahlavi state made genuine efforts to ensure that ‘development’ initiatives from the United States, Britain and their Cold War allies were practical for those outside Tehran and Iran’s major cities. The road building experience was good. However, the Pahlavi state focused on the wrong aspect of the lessons, valuing money over expertise. This was the main takeaway: without subscribing to determinist narratives on the inevitability of the White Revolution leading to a Black instead of Red Revolution, Iran’s determination to make sense of the point of scientific and technical control meant that following a clear path of ‘development’, as suggested by Huntington or Moore, was never going to be likely.


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

[1]Tehran to FO, 16 February 1957, FO 371/127117

Art in the Soviet Union underwent a number of phases – from great restriction in Stalin’s time to some more open, less restricted periods in the decades after. Here, Alyse D. Beale provides an overview of the history of art in the USSR, with a focus on Socialist Realism art.

Lenin in Smolny in 1917 by Isaak Brodsky. An example of Socialist Realism.

Lenin in Smolny in 1917 by Isaak Brodsky. An example of Socialist Realism.

As with all else under Joseph Stalin’s domain, arts within the Soviet Union glistened with the red tinge of communist propaganda. Whereas Realism in the West sought to illustrate an unromanticized vision of daily life, Socialist Realism employed its artists as propagandists. Soviet authorities ordered countless works of herculean factory workers, the victorious motherland in all its monumental glory, and its robust leaders strolling the Kremlin. Yet with Stalin’s death, Soviet art evolved parallel to its country, becoming at once more democratic, realistic, and rebellious. Socialist Realism, once created as propaganda for a political machine, later became a tool for working against the very regime that created it.


We recommend you view:Gerasimov, Aleksandr MikhailovichI.V.Stalin and K.E.Voroshilov in the Kremlin after the Rain (1938). 296х386.


What is Socialist Realism?

Socialist Realism in its early form was not so much art, but a political machine that sought to indoctrinate every citizen with communist ideology. The movement first appeared in 1932 at the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers and was later adopted as the Soviet Union's official and sole art form two years later when the Soviet Writer's Congress outlined the criteria for all future works for art. Socialist Realism, as Karl Radekexplained during the Congress, meant a reflection of "that other, new reality -- the reality of socialism...moving towards the victory of the international proletariat…[and a] literature of hatred for putrefying capitalism."


We recommend you view:Mikhail Khmelko.The Triumph of the Victorious Mother-Motherland (1949) .


The Writer's Congress mandated that Socialist Realism embody the Soviets' vision of themselves and their future. The movement emphasized monumental sculptures and buildings to depict the country’s strength and wealth. Bold music prompted workers to action, and paintings displayed cheerful workers, happy peasants, or aggrandized leaders, such as Stalin and Lenin. Each work of art had to meet four requirements: it must be proletariat, typical, realistic, and partisan. Each artwork must show a connection to the proletariat on a basic level, meaning that they be simple to understand and depict scenes from the common man rather than the bourgeoisie. More importantly, each work ought to be partisan, an unquestionable endorsement of the communist party. Socialist Realism left no room for interpretation; it was either total support for the regime, or it was treason.


Art in Thaw

Stalin's death ushered in a somewhat freer era, popularly known as "the thaw" under his successor, Nikita Khrushchev. Though arts within the Soviet Union remained restricted, Stalin's death allowed many new artists to enter the scene. Existing artists, too, embraced this more relaxed atmosphere and created more freely and originally. 

As the country underwent a de-Stalinization, authorities altered works to eliminate Stalin's likeness. The Stalinskaya Station was renamed as Semenovskaya, and removed the dictator's portrait and quote from its walls. At Belorusskaja Station, the new regime replaced a mosaic of Stalin with a red labor flag. 


We recommend you view:On left, Stalinskaya Station. On right, the renamed Semenovskaya Station with Stalin's head removed.  Eugenia. "Moscow Underground Without Stalin - See The Gaps." Real USSR: Lifting the Iron Curtain. March 2, 2010. Accessed December 6, 2015. 


Because the USSR remained highly censorious, even during “the thaw,” many artists opted to create truly realistic works that avoided any political references at all. Other artists and writers, such as V. Dudintsev who penned Not By Bread Alone, an indirect criticism of the regime, pushed the limits of what Khrushchev would allow as art, and helped pave the way for the late Socialist Realism movement.

Though Khrushchev publically supported more liberal policies concerning the arts, he often contradicted himself, which inadvertently popularized the later, more defiant movement. When the 1957 All World Festival of Youth introduced the USSR to an array of American modern and pop art, Khrushchev denounced it and martyred artists unwilling to conform to state guidelines. 

Late Socialist Realism garnered even more support when authorities ended a 1974 art show with bulldozers and a show of force. Government critics thereafter renamed the event as the "Bulldozer Exhibition." These actions divided art within the Soviet Union into two sects: official and unofficial. While the official state art remained Socialist Realism, unofficial art became more rebellious.


A Painted Rebellion

The Severe Style and Sots Art were two artistic movements that grew from Soviet artists’ rebellion against traditional Socialist Realism. While the Severe Style under Khrushchev’s rule critiqued the government implicitly, the later Sots Art movement grew increasingly blatant in their criticisms, and even mockery of, the Soviet Union.

The Severe Style portrayed Socialist Realism much more realistically than the overly propagandized, early works. Late Socialist Realism became more pessimistic in their view of the working class and embraced western styles of Expressionism. Many artists, sick of communist ideology, refused to paint any topics resembling works done under Stalin at all. Instead, they opted to create depictions of daily life or images that represented change in their country. The Severe Style favored construction sites for this reason, as it implied support for a newer, freer country.


We recommend you view:Bohouš Cizek.Untitled (circa 1960).


Technically the fusion of Soviet and Pop Art, the Sots Art movement was a complete rejection of the state-sponsored Socialist Realism. Sots Art is defined by its satirical nature and inclusion of Pop Art as a means of criticizing Soviet policies. Art critics claimed that Sots Art pieces, such as those done by Komar and Melimid (famous for their representation of Stalin sitting aside E.T., with a hiding Hitler in the shadows) were "at once subversive and nostalgic." It was a "manifestation of so-called styob, which can be translated as a kind of 'mockery' that involves miming something to such a degree that the original and the parody become indistinguishable."


We recommend you view:Komar & Melamid.Yalta Conference (1982).Tempera and oil on canvas, 72”X48”.


Art in Transition

Late Socialist Realism became a channel for protest, but also a symbol of their society’s transition to becoming, though with varying degrees, more democratic, realistic, and free.

Perhaps Soviet artists' boldest move was exposing the lie of happiness under Stalin's totalitarian regime. They did so not by political sabotage or physical rebellion, but by implementing ink and paint to portray what life was truly like for the ordinary Soviet citizen. Late Socialist Realism took no part in "heroic idealization of the working man," as Stalin had. These new artists exposed the monotony, drudgery, and grime of factories and fields if they chose this subject at all.


We recommend you view: Ivan Babenko. Waiting, set in 1945 at the end of WWII (1975-1985). Oil on canvas, 123x167 cm.


Late Soviet art became more democratic in the sense that it became available to all, rather than just state-sanctioned artists. Shortly after Stalin's death, the first public art competition took place, accepting submissions anonymously and allowing non-established artists to enter. Even the jury had become more democratic, composed of those with various professions and without allegiances and vested interests.


Embers to Flames

Socialist Realism ended with the Soviet Union’s dissolution. Artists, glad to be free from a controlling communist regime, began creating works independently from the state. It seemed as though all were glad to forget Soviet art and life in general. A "fatigue" of anything remotely Soviet led many to dismantle and hide works of Socialist Realism.

Recently, however, the discussion of Socialist Realism has gone from "stultifyingly boring" to trendy. Art collectors and Russian moguls began snatching Socialist Realism pieces, interested more in their history than in the artists' ideologies or techniques. Such pieces have been put on display around the world, featured in exhibitions from Berlin to London and even Minneapolis. One article, interestingly named "Socialist realism: Socialist in content, capitalist in price," dubbed 2014 "the year of socialist realism." The article described a 2014 Sotheby's auction that featured around forty Socialist Realism works, but the exhibition was only one of many. A June 2014 auction estimated that about twenty-four of the pieces were collectively worth about $7.7 million. Socialist Realism, once a tabooed subject of art history, gained a universal interest in a way that it failed to do even in its prime.


We recommend you view:Yuri Ivanovich Pimenov.First of May Celebration (1950)
This work, celebration International Worker's Day, was sold for 1.5 million by Sothebys London.


What do you think of Socialist Realism? Let us know below.



  1. Eugenia. "Moscow Underground Without Stalin - See The Gaps." Real USSR: Lifting the Iron Curtain. March 2, 2010. Accessed December 6, 2015. 

  2. Hosking, Geoffrey A. The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1992.409.

  3. Khidekel, Regina. It's the Real Thing: Soviet & Post-Soviet Sots Art & American Pop Art. Minneapolis, Minn.: Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum :, 1998. P. 19.

  4. Lindsay, Ivan. "Socialist Realism." Agents | Dealers - An Authority on Russian Art. Accessed December 6, 2015.

  5. Neumeyer, Joy. "Socialist Realism’s Russian Renaissance." Socialist Realism's Russian Renaissance. May 19, 2014. Accessed December 6, 2015.

  6. Pyzik, Agata. "Get Real: Why Socialist Realist Painting Deserves Another Look." The Calvert Journal. December 18, 2014. Accessed December 6, 2015.

  7. Radek, Karl. "Contemporary World Literature and the Tasks of Proletarian Art." Karl Radek: Contemporary World Literature and the Tasks of Proletarian Art (August 1934). Accessed December 6, 2015.

  8. "Reflections: Socialist Realism and Russian Art." Guggenheim.

  9. "Socialist Realism History, Characteristics of Political Propaganda Art." Encyclopedia of Art Education. Accessed December 6, 2015. 

  10. Thorpe, Vanessa. New Exhibition in Berlin Brings Forgotten Soviet Art Back to Reality. October 24, 2009. Accessed December 6, 2015.

  11. Vinogradova, Yulia. "Socialist Realism: Socialist in Content, Capitalist in Price." Socialist Realism: Socialist in Content, Capitalist in Price. July 24, 2014. Accessed December 6, 2015.

Museums are important in helping us connect with the past and with historical events – but not all museums are equal. Here, Shannon Bent explains why she thinks Berlin’s Topography of Terror Museum, a museum that considers the dark past of the Nazi regime, is an excellent museum.

Berlin’s Topography of Terror Museum. Remains of the Berlin Wall are at the top of the picture. Source: Adam Carr, available  here .

Berlin’s Topography of Terror Museum. Remains of the Berlin Wall are at the top of the picture. Source: Adam Carr, available here.

In my previous article posted here on ‘History is Now’ (here) I spoke about Checkpoint Charlie, a well-known tourist destination in Berlin. I talked about this over-commercialised site, and how completely insensitive and underwhelming I felt the ‘attraction’ was. Funnily enough, a few days ago and around a month after I wrote this article, my Dad handed me a page from the British Daily Mailnewspaper with the headline ‘Mona Lisa? It’s a bit rubbish’. It was a small section on the page and detailed the results of a survey done by the airline ‘easyJet’ about what the most desirable tourist destinations to visit in Europe were. While the Mona Lisa was named the most disappointing, Checkpoint Charlie came in at a close second with 84% of 2,000 Britons polled saying they disliked the site. At the risk of being smug, or using the phrase ‘called it’, I’m hardly surprised. It does, however, further the idea that this site is rather useless at its intention and doesn’t exactly educate or even interest many visitors. I was actually rather pleased to read this; at least quite a few other people actually agree with me and I’m not just overreacting!  

Now we’ve seen an instance of failure in the museum sector, perhaps I can offer a view and recommendation for a museum I feel could not be more opposite to the infamous Checkpoint Charlie. Situated perhaps less than a five-minute walk apart, this museum to me is a symbol of the right way to do it; an example of how to educate accurately and effectively on a sensitive subject while remaining interesting and respectful: The Topography of Terror.


The Topography of Terror Museum

The building is initially imposing, yet it is not obvious as to what it contains. Situated next to a preserved section of the Berlin Wall, and on the site of the SS central command, this simply curated museum takes the visitors through the chronology of the reign of terror that the Gestapo, SS and Reich Security lead over the people of Germany and beyond during the Second World War. With room for temporary and special exhibitions within the space that remain within the general theme of the museum, this site doesn’t hide anything. The site that it is on also provokes thought. What better way to keep the memory of the horrors inflicted alive than by placing them in a building sat on the area where the headquarters of the main perpetrators once resided. There is something fairly poetic and thought-provoking about this. Furthermore, with the remains of a piece of the Berlin Wall encompassed into the site that you can walk along and see the remnants of the graffiti from those that lived through it, it further serves as a reminder of the humanity caught up in war, and seeks to remind you that you are learning about individual and real people who had to face the horrors that presented themselves to them during both the Second World War and the Cold War. The area is alive with history, and therefore is the perfect place to keep history alive in. 

When you first enter the Topography of Terror, I would argue that most would be struck with the expanse of space, cleanliness and I should think some would argue sparsity of the place. The museum is free, something that I always appreciate. So, there is no funnelling towards a desk where they’ll ask for your money and try and sell you an overpriced guide book on top of your tickets. Furthermore, and thankfully, there is no gift shop. I hardly think it would be appropriate to place the SS symbol on a pencil or a tote bag to sell at the end of your visit, so a huge well done to the person that manages to keep the retail and commercialisation issue away. Therefore, upon entrance you are free to roam wherever you wish to begin. Despite this, the fantastic curation of the museum lends itself to naturally leading you in a chronological order through the build up to the Nazi regime and through the Second World War.


The Curation

I mentioned that it is the fantastic curation that pulls you into a kind of ‘one-way system’ concept around the room, yet the curation is simple. The entire concept is just boards hung from the ceiling, with one main introductory board per section, numbered in order to help the flow. As you can see, it pulls you around each corner and makes you curious for the next board, in a rather morbid way perhaps. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my opinion. Just because these subjects are some of the darkest and bloodiest points in history doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. Besides, if people are interested, or if it is interesting to them then they are learning about the topic. Ultimately, isn’t this the aim of museums such as the Topography of Terror? Education of these subjects so they shall never be repeated again is of course the main remit of the museum. Consequently, I see no issue with a visitor of this museum finding the content of interest, and with a want to learn more around each information board. 

The phrase ‘it pulls no punches’ may be a little insensitive on this subject, but also fairly appropriate. Perhaps one of my favourite things about this museum is it does not seek to hide the facts, or veil them in mystery and inaccuracy. The facts, the stats, the numbers and the photos are clear for everyone to see. It perhaps for some is an overload of information and writing; if you aren’t already interested in the topic then perhaps this isn’t the museum for you. Certainly, it isn’t a museum to bring younger children. They would find it pretty boring, with no interaction or engagement tailored to them. But in my opinion, this isn’t poor planning or curation on the museum’s part. They knew their target audience, and they knew what information they were aiming at who, and in my opinion they have pulled this off very well. The text is simple and fairly broken up into smaller paragraphs, interspersed with many photos of varied sizes. It gives the exhibition variety, but also makes it an information packed display which is of course the overall aim.


The Meaning of the Museum

The reason I wanted to speak about this museum though, is because of its greater meaning. It has been created by the German people in full knowledge of the history of the site that it is sat on, and it is a symbol that they are not afraid of the truth. While a comical concept, there was once a thought of ‘don’t mention the war’ when it came to the countries that were involved. However, this museum shows that education and information does not have to be hidden from its place of origin and removes the concept of guilt or blame and simply seeks to teach so we can learn from mistakes. It baffles me that there was once a thought that Germany should not be open about the crimes that occurred during the Second World War. After all, and I think I can be accurate and agreed with when I say this, the Nazi regime and the extreme SS that came from it were not truly representative of the country or the majority of its people at the time. These days, while neo-Nazism does exist in various countries and that is a terrifying thought, the viewpoint that caused the atrocities that the Topography of Terror details are reserved luckily to a small section of people. This museum proves that the past doesn’t have to be hidden, or glossed over and more to the point can in fact be shown in greater detail to educate as many people as possible. 

This museum, and certainly this mindset, is a triumph. I can only hope that this continues and spreads wider. The Topography of Terror achieves what all museums should set out to do; clear and accurate information, accessible to as many people as possible and presented in an intriguing and unique way. Even if the subject matter is difficult and sensitive, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, usually the total opposite. It is these subjects that need to be understood the most, by as many people as possible. Its museums like this one that ensure that it can be understood, so it is never repeated in history again. 


I would highly recommend this museum. If you are interested, here is the website and if you are in the area, I would urge you to visit. Let’s keep the knowledge of topics like this and the museums that tell the stories as widely known as possible. Link here.


I hope you can come along with me on this exploration. Don’t hesitate to comment, feedback, and you could even email me for a chat about all this on I would really love people to get involved in this.

The U.S. Coast Guard played a key role during World War Two. Here, Daniel L. Smith tells us about the varied and important role the service played in saving lives and contributing to the US and Allied Powers’ war efforts around the globe.

You can read a few of Daniel’s past articles on California in the US Civil War (here) and Medieval jesters (here).

The U.S. Coast Guard Escanaba crew on board the boat in World War Two.

The U.S. Coast Guard Escanaba crew on board the boat in World War Two.

The naval history of World War II is propense, given the size of the war and participation of nations involved. And more often than not, the United States Navy offers a huge and understandingly repetitive presence over the naval history of WWII. More often than not however, it is the United States Coast Guard’s selfless service and true expense that is lost in that large shadow. As an Honorably Discharged U.S. Coast Guard Veteran, I wear a Coast Guard “Excellence” Ribbon, as well as the 9/11 Transportation Medal for service in the 9/11 attacks in 2001. With experience in rough seas, law enforcement, and search and rescue – I am pleased to share this story about the U.S.C.G. in WWII.

In November of 1941 the Coast Guard went from the Treasury Department to the Department of the Navy; so perhaps this was why the histories of WWII usually look past or only shortly mention the Coast Guard’s priceless role in the great event. The United States declared war after the Japanese surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor, and spent four years and eight months in the fray of internal and external conflict. It was this catalyst that the Coast Guard’s accountabilities to its service to country extended significantly, being valued more than just search-and-rescue, and law enforcement; now it was seen completely integrating militarily.[1]

The Coast Guard was actually involved in some very significant events in World War II. How effective were they? Seaman John Cullen, for instance, was walking the beach performing routine night patrol on the 13thof June of 1942. During his walk Seaman Cullen observed four Germans landing ashore, on a saboteur mission code-named Operation Pastorius. Seaman Cullen of the U.S. Coast Guard was actuallythefirstAmerican who came into contact with the enemy on the shores of mainland USA during WWII.[2]Another incident, CGC Icarus (WPC-110), a 165-ft patrol boat that once had been a rumrunner chaser during Prohibition, put a German U-352 under water on 9 May 1942, off the south coast of Charleston, South Carolina.[3]The Icarus crew took on 33 prisoners that day. They were the first German nationals taken in combat as prisoners by any U.S. armed force.[4]

During the entire length of WWII, U.S. Coast Guard elements sent 12 German and two Japanese submarines to the bottom of the ocean, and would end up capturing two German warships. Finally, Signalman 1stClass Douglas A. Munro was the only Coast Guardsman to be awarded the Medal of Honor. It was at the 2ndBattle of the Matanikau, Petty Officer Munro was tasked with leading the extraction of 400 United States Marines that had been beaten and overrun on the Japanese island. Munro used a 7.62 mm deck-mounted machine gun aboard his “Higgins Boat” to direct a suppressing fire against the Japanese positions as the other recovery boats took on the beaten and battered American Marines. He would end up selflessly putting himself between heavy fire from the Japanese forces and the U.S. Marines – leading the ten landing craft and saving all five-hundred U.S. Marines, including 25 wounded, all escaped.[5] 



The United States Coast Guard wasand continues to remain to be the most professional, elite, and underappreciated service out of the 5 branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. In WWII history, evidence suggests the U.S. Coast Guard was more involved than the history books lead on. So, justhow effective was the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II? Admiral Chester Nimitz highly praised the valuable and selfless performance of Coast Guard men and women in World War II by stating: “I know of no instance wherein they did not acquit themselves in the highest traditions of their Service, or prove themselves worthy of their Service motto, ‘Semper Paratus’—‘Always Ready.’”[6]

It was back in 1837 that the Coast Guard went even further with the order to save lives and property. The main functions of the service were no longer just law enforcement related, but now relied upon as the saviors of life and property with maritime safety taking up an equally important role. For a branch of service that has less peopleserving in it than the New York City Police Department, it always seems it is the U.S. Coast Guard that always stands out at the end of their long days. The Coast Guard has been involved in every single one of our nations wars at sea –along the side of their Navy counterparts. These brief aforementioned illustrations stand as evidence to the examples of the Coast Guard, its crew, and its mission capabilities. Of course, all of this centered around being a 5thmilitary branch of service, with all privileges entitled. 

There is another historical event that would equal silenceto the incredible effectiveness of the Coast Guard’s mission capabilities. Signalman 1stClass Douglas A. Munro, is the aforementioned Coast Guardsman who would equally compare in this quiet and unpromotedglory in while their service. Its interesting in part to think about just howunrecognized the service is. Proof? Half of my recruit training company didn’t even know the Coast Guard was a seagoing service when asked about it by the Company Commanders.[7]If recruits are naïve about the mission, is it unreasonable to assume that the general public wouldn’t have an idea of Coast Guard’s mission effectiveness? Of course not.

The mission effectiveness pre-dating our modern era is apparent when looking back in the historical entries. The Revenue Cutter Service (as it used to be known) was re-named United States Coast Guard in 1915, after the U.S. Government observed justhoweffective they were as a wartime andnon-wartime entity.[8]It is amazing that with such successes in the field and low publicity, both publicly and within the other four military branches, the Coast Guard still continues to remain the mostunderappreciated branch of the services. 



Overall, the Coast Guard performed valiantly with statistics of their own military accomplishments during WWII. 12 submarines were sunk in the Atlantic Theatre by Coast Guard Cutters, Coast Guard Anti-Sub Planes, and Coast Guard-crewed naval vessels. The U.S. Coast Guard documented that from 1941, to the end of the war, Coast Guard crews had served successfully on board Navy attack transports (APs & APAs) and with personnel to spare. They continue on to say, “It was an obvious choice to let the Coast Guard continue to assist in manning various ships of the ever-increasing Navy fleet. They readily took to all of the various types of landing craft utilized by the Navy, including the Landing Craft Infantry, Large, or LCI(L)s, beginning in 1943.”[9]

Technologically, the Coast Guard headed a cooperative effort between scientists and the U.S. Navy, to develop the Long-Range Navigation (LORAN) system. The Coast Guard stated that, “Pulse transmission of radio waves permits LORAN to measure the time a signal travels. This allows an infinite number of lines of position to be placed over the Earth’s surface by radio. Using special charts and a simple receiver, a plane or ship could determine its general location within a few miles by longitude and latitude. LORAN is the first use of electronic navigation, precursor to Global Positioning System (GPS).”[10]

In June of 1942, legislation in the Executive Branch changed the face of the U.S. Coast Guard forever sealing their fate as a military service. Further, the presidential decree allowed for the centralization of the Coast Guard as the premier multi-mission branch of service. According to the U.S. Coast Guard Historians Office:

“The President delegates port-security to the Coast Guard. Responsibilities included: Control of anchorage and movement of all vessels in port; Issuance of identification cards and the supervision of access to vessels and waterfront facilities; Fire-prevention measures including inspections, recommendations and enforcement; Firefighting activities, including use of fireboats, trailer pumps and other extinguishing agents; Supervision of the loading and stowage of explosives and military ammunition; Boarding and examination of vessels in port; Sealing of vessels' radios; Licensing of vessels for movement in local waters and for departure; Guarding of important facilities; Enforcement of all regulations governing vessels and waterfront security; Maintenance of water patrols; General enforcement of federal laws on navigable waters and other miscellaneous duties.”[11]


Handling and piloting these small boats in the rough surf is most certainly a specialized skill. Additionally, this type of emphasized skillset was not common among men in the Navy. Not guys in the Coast Guard though. Many of the coxswains (small boat handlers) had learned this skill from pushing boats through the surf at coastal lifesaving stations. Coast Guard small boat handlers were actually only at lifesaving stations. Most were highly seasoned small-boat handlers, as this proved valuable to the service. Maneuvering landing craft through strong currents, reefs, sand bars and heavy surf, is what these lifesavers excel at. Further, their aid to amphibious operations during the entirety of the war is infinite. 



The experience of these surfmen were priceless during amphibious operations. The Coast Guard's surfmen acted as trainers and coaches to the U.S. Navy small boatmen trying to learn the complexities of controlling craft in the rough waters and heavy seas. During the early period of WWII, thousands of Coast Guard and Navy personnel were skilled and apt to handle landing craft in preparation for the beaches.

Part of that landing craft mission was landing troops at D-Day, but, given the sheer size of the operation, the Navy and Army asked that the Coast Guard also provide a flotilla of ships to rescue Americans stranded in the water. The Coastie’s punctually rose-up to complete the challenge, pulling from their daily experience in saving lives for over a century. The Coast Guards Cutters and other small-craft went to war on D-Day. They were literally behind the first wave of landing craft hitting the beaches of Normandy. They had been told to stay two miles away from the shoreline, but most of the Coastie’s took their craft closer to shore where they could rescue more lives. 

The United States Coast Guard pulled over 400 men out of the water that day. One small-boat named "Homing Pigeon," manned by the Coast Guard, rescued 126 lives in one day.[12]It was the Coast Guard Cutters Eastwind and Southwind that would end up capturing the Nazi vessel Externsteine off the coast of Greenland doing weather and supply duty after a brief fire-fight with nobody killed. The Coast Guardsmen gave the newly captured Nazi ship the name USS Eastbreeze and placed 37 men on board to man the vessel. Eastbreeze would end up sailing to Boston where the U.S. Navy renamed her USS Callao. Nazi supply vessel Externsteine was the only enemy ship captured while at sea by any U.S. naval forces during World War II.

What was the scope of the Coast Guard’s rescue operations in WWII? A thorough examination of the United States military’s records in the European phase of the war will reveal just how operationally effective the small services were outside of battle. 4,243 servicemen and merchant mariners were saved, and of these 1,658 survivors were picked up from being torpedoed along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. 810 souls were saved in the North Atlantic, and in the Mediterranean 115 saved. Further, 1,660 were saved from rescue cutters from the English Channel at D-Day. The fact is almost four and a half million fighting soldiers would embark by ship, to fight the enemy in Europe and Africa. Of all who were deployed , 3,954 were lost at sea.



Over the course of World War Two, the U.S. Coast Guard remained completely active with the remaining landing forces until Japan surrendered. Other operations that contributed to the Coastie’s efforts were mine-sweeping off the coasts during occupation. At the finish of major military operations in the Pacific, the soldiers., sailors, and airmen being ferried home by the Coast Guard would come to know the last ride home as… “Magic Carpet” rides. These rides home would have to have been one of the most relieving moments of any war wearied serviceman. 

The Coast Guard contributed as much as any other branch of service to the war effort as part of the amphibious forces in the Pacific theatre of war. The men of this nation's smallest branch of service, – smaller than the N.Y.P.D. to be exact – proved as heroic and valiant as the men in the other branches. The Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, in 1946, would stand on the podium and publicly state that during the war the United States Coast Guard "earned the highest respect and deepest appreciation of the Navy and Marine Corps. Its performance of duty has been without exception in keeping with the highest traditions of service." 

The fact of the matter is…“Their experience in operating in all types of surf conditions as well  as on the high seas made the Coast Guard crews a valuable addition to the Allied invasion fleets.”[13]The United States Coast Guard continues to be the most elite branch of service operational today, also making the Coast Guard statistically, the best the five branches of military has to offer. The truth is that for being the most underappreciated branch of service; the men and women of the Coast Guard display their moraland ethicalprinciples in the line of duty.[14]They truly were mission effective in WWII.



What do you think of the US Coast Guard in World War Two? Let us know below.

Finally, Daniel Smith writes at

[1]Bishop, Eleanor C. 1989. Prints in the sand: the U.S. Coast Guard Beach Patrol in World War II. Missoula, Mont: Pictorial Histories Pub. Co.

[2]Walling, Michael G. 2008. “Dangerous Duty in the North Atlantic.” Naval History

[3]Ibid., pp. 204-207.

[4]Ibid., p. 208.

[5]Quesada, Alejandro de. 2011. US Coast Guard in World War II. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd. WorldCat Reference Center, Online. p. 97.

[6]U.S. Coast Guard, Statistical Division/Historical Section, Public Information Division, The Coast Guard At War (Washington: Public Information Division, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 30 June 1944–1 January 1954), (monograph 7).

[7]“USCG Basic Training Experience, Delta-162” Daniel L. Smith, 2002.

[8]U.S. Coast Guard, Statistical Division/Historical Section, Public Information Division, The Coast Guard At War (Washington: Public Information Division, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 30 June 1944–1 January 1954), (Monograph 17)

[9]"U.S. Coast Guard Manned LCI(L)'s." U.S. Department of Defense. Accessed April 1, 2019.

[10]"Time Line 1900's - 2000's." United States Coast Guard (USCG) Historian's Office. Accessed April 19, 2019.

[11]Ibid.(USCG) Historians Office.

[12]Christy, Gabe. "How 60 Coast Guard Cutters Saved Over 400 Men On D-Day." WAR HISTORY ONLINE. Last modified September 14, 2017.

[13]"What’s in the Coast Guard’s Secret Sauce for High Retention?" Federal News Network. Last modified January 16, 2018.

[14]"From the Homefront: Top 10 Things We Wish People Knew About Coast Guard Life « Coast Guard All Hands." Coast Guard All Hands. Last modified February 5, 2014.


Alejandro de Quesada,. 2011. US Coast Guard in World War II. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd. WorldCat Reference Center, Online.

Arch A. Mercey and Lee Grove, eds. Sea, Surf, & Hell: The U.S. Coast Guard in World War II (New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1945).  pp. 12-14.

Eleanor C. Bishop, 1989. Prints in the sand: the U.S. Coast Guard Beach Patrol in World War II. Missoula, Mont: Pictorial Histories Pub. Co.

"From the Homefront: Top 10 Things We Wish People Knew About Coast Guard Life « Coast Guard All Hands." Coast Guard All Hands. Last modified February 5, 2014.

Gabe Christy. "How 60 Coast Guard Cutters Saved Over 400 Men On D-Day." WAR HISTORY ONLINE. Last modified September 14, 2017.

Ken Wiley,. 2007. Lucky thirteen: D-Days in the Pacific with the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II. Philadelphia: Casemate.

Michael G. Walling, 2008. “Dangerous Duty in the North Atlantic.” Naval History

U.S. Coast Guard, Historian’s Office, “World War II”

 "U.S. Coast Guard Manned LCI(L)'s." U.S. Department of Defense. Accessed April 1, 2019.

U.S. Coast Guard, Statistical Division/Historical Section, Public Information Division, The Coast Guard At War (Washington: Public Information Division, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 30 June 1944–1 January 1954), (Monograph 1-30)

"What’s in the Coast Guard’s Secret Sauce for High Retention?" Federal News Network. Last modified January 16, 2018.

Across the world many languages have become extinct over the past decades. Here, Casey Titus considers this in the American context by telling us about five Native American languages that have become extinct in the twenty-first century.

Four members of the Osage Nation with US President Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

Four members of the Osage Nation with US President Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

1.     Serrano 

This language was spoken by the Serrano people of Southern California, a Serran branch of the Uto-Aztecan family which is one of the world’s primary language families and that stretches from Idaho in the United States to El Salvador in Central America. Serrano translates as “highlander” or “mountaineer” in Spanish, and was given by Spanish missionaries in the late 18thcentury as the Serrano historically resided in the San Bernardino Mountains and other Transverse Ranges as well as the Mojave Desert. Due to forced relocations and smallpox epidemics for which the Serrano people had no immunity, their population was greatly reduced and by 1910, only 150 of the Native Californians were estimated to be left. The last fully fluent speaker was Dorothy Ramon, who died in 2002.


2.     Unami


An Algonquian language that stretches from the Rocky Mountains to Atlantic Canada, Unami was spoken by the Lenape people, who stretched across five states, but primarily Delaware, from the late 17thto early 18thcenturies. The Lenape had a matrilineal clan system whose women elders could remove leaders of whom they disapproved and families were matrilocal; newlywed couples would reside with the bride’s family where her mother and sisters could assist her with her growing family. By 1682, their population was endangered and subsequent decades of intertribal conflict and forced relocation pushed the Lenape people further west until the 1860s when the United States government sent most remaining Lenape to present-day Oklahoma under the Indian removal policy. Currently, the Delaware Tribe of Indians is one of three federally recognized tribes, with Unami being one of two Delaware languages, the other being Munsee. The last fluent speaker in the United States was Edward Thompson who died on August 31, 2002.



3.     Klamath-Modoc

A traditional language of the Klamath and Modoc people spoken around the Klamath Lake that extends to southern Oregon and northern California, both ethnicities speak a dialect of the language. Klamath is part of the Plateau Penutian language family and, like Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages, this language is abundant in ablaut, any sound change within a word that indicates grammatical information. By 1998, only one native speaker remained. Four years later, the last fluent Klamath speaker residing in Chiloquin, Oregon, Neva Eggsman, died at the age of 92. As of 2006, there are no more native speakers of either the Klamath or Modoc dialects.


4.     Osage

Osage is a Siouan language spoken by the Osage people of Oklahoma. Siouan languages are located primarily in the Great Plains, Ohio, and Mississippi Valleys. The Osage Nation developed in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys around 700 BC and migrated west of the Mississippi after the 17thcentury because of ongoing battles with the Iroquois, who were invading the Ohio Valley from New York and Pennsylvania in search for new hunting grounds. “Osage” is a loose French version of the tribe’s name that roughly translates to “warlike.” At the height of their power in the early 19thcentury, the Osage was the dominant power in the region and feared by neighboring tribes. The missionary Isaac McCoy described the Osage as an “uncommonly fierce, courageous, warlike nation.” Though not officially declared extinct, as of 2009, approximately 15-20 elders claimed Osage as their second language. In early 2015, Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear announced he would render Osage language immersion and revitalization a priority.


5.     Eyak

Historically spoken by the Eyak people, indigenous to south-central Alaska. Eyak is one of twenty-one official languages in the state of Alaska. The rapid spread of English and restraint of indigenous languages contributed to the decline of Eyak. The last full-blooded Eyak and native speaker, Marie Smith Jones, died in 2008 and with her, the Eyak language. In June of 2010, an astounding revival effort was made when the Anchorage Daily News published an article about Guillaume Leduey, a French college student who taught himself Eyak from the age of 12 through the use of print and audio instructional materials received from the Alaska Native Language Center. He is now classified as a fluent speaker, translator, and instructor of Eyak.


What do you think of the extinction of these languages? Let us know below. 


“Klamath Language.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Feb. 2019,

“Osage.” Atlas of Endangered Alphabets,

Revolvy, LLC. “‘Klamath Language’ on” Revolvy,

Revolvy, LLC. “‘Unami Language’ on” Revolvy,

“Serrano Language.” Serrano Language - Howling Pixel,

“Serrano Language.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Apr. 2019,

“Unami Language.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Sept. 2018,

During the presidency of Ronald Reagan (1981-89) the Cold War got hotter – and there were a number of major Cold War battlegrounds. Somebody who played a key role in many of these was CIA Director William Casey. Casey was to play a major role in several noteworthy and controversial events, perhaps most infamously in the Iran-Contra Affair. Scott Rose explains.

You can read Scott’s past articles about spies who shared American atomic secrets with the Soviet Union (read here), the 1950s “Red Scare” (read here), the American who supplied the Soviets with secrets in the 1980s (read here), and Cuban spies in the US in the 1980s (read here).

William Casey, CIA Director from 1981-1987.

William Casey, CIA Director from 1981-1987.

As the Cold War drew to its conclusion, President Ronald Reagan was viewed as the one individual most responsible for the eventual demise of the Soviet Union. Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin will probably always be thought of as the beginning of the end of communism in the U.S.S.R. and its satellite states.

However, there was another American official just as responsible for the Cold War victory of the Western world. William J. “Bill” Casey was Reagan’s CIA Director from 1981-1987, and Casey pulled the strings of American Cold War policy, making it his personal crusade to bleed the Soviet Union dry. Undoubtedly, Casey was one of the most powerful CIA Directors to ever hold the position.

Instead of being remembered for his patriotism as Reagan is, Casey’s legacy is quite controversial and unclear. Most Americans who remember Casey will forever associate him with the murky episode known as the Iran-Contra Affair.


Lawyer, Spymaster, Writer

Bill Casey was born in New York in 1913, to a hard-working family with limited financial means. From his childhood onward, Casey was ambitious and determined to change his social status. During his grade school years, he displayed great intellect, while showing a temperamental side as well, earning the nickname “Volcano” from his classmates. The only mark he ever received less than a B grade was a C in personal conduct. He became a caddie at a local golf course and taught himself how to play golf, which would remain a lifelong hobby.

Casey’s good grades got him into Fordham University in Manhattan, followed by law school at St. John’s University. In 1938, he passed the bar exam and began working at a law firm in New York. Casey displayed a talent in business and financial law, and created what is known as the “tax shelter.”

During World War II, Casey went to work for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the pre-cursor of the Central Intelligence Agency. He served in France and helped coordinate American spying operations inside Nazi Germany. Fiercely patriotic, Casey was by all accounts very effective in his position managing spies and gleaning vital information as the Allies prepared to invade Germany, and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service. After the war, he would return to his legal practice in New York.

Casey wrote several books about business law during the 1950s; the books sold well, and were widely purchased by other American lawyers. He made a small fortune, which was multiplied by successfully investing his earnings into a variety of business ventures and stock holdings. He also lectured on tax law for fourteen years at New York University.

Casey was a strong supporter of Richard Nixon during the election of 1968. Nixon and Casey had common ground; both were conservative lawyers, World War II veterans, and staunch anti-Communists. In 1971, Nixon named Casey chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and three years later, Casey became Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.


A Partnership with Reagan

During the late 1970s, the United States looked to be losing prestige on the world stage. The Jimmy Carter Administration had failed to check Soviet influence around the world, and the Iran hostage crisis had made Carter appear soft. The American economy was in recession, compounding the nation’s problems in foreign affairs.

Ronald Reagan was challenging Carter in the 1980 election, vowing to restore America to its former glory. An unabashed capitalist and anti-Soviet, Reagan was a candidate Casey could relate to, just as Nixon had been. Upon announcing his candidacy, Reagan named the crafty and tireless Casey to be his campaign chairman. Reagan won in a landslide, and shortly after he was inaugurated, the Americans who had been held hostage in Iran were released. There has been a popular theory that Casey persuaded the Iranians to delay the release in order to weaken the Carter campaign; whether or not this was true has never been established.

Reagan asked Casey to become the new CIA Director, but initially Casey was not enthused about the prospect. He wanted to help shape American foreign policy, not merely report intelligence that had been gathered. However, Reagan promised Casey he would be given a large role in the country’s international affairs, and Casey took the job. Still well respected in the intelligence community for his OSS operations, he was a popular choice with many of the senior officials at the CIA.

During the Carter years, the CIA had been vilified in several Senate hearings. The Agency’s budget had been drastically cut, and by 1980 morale had dwindled. Upon becoming Director, Casey sought to rebuild the CIA back into the world’s strongest and most effective intelligence organization. Budgets were increased, and many new agents and administrators were hired. Casey voiced his intention to not only stop the increase of Soviet influence, but to “roll back” the Soviet world presence as well. His understanding of intelligence gathering and economics had put him in a unique position to do just that.


Taking on the Soviets

As the American economy recovered, Casey realized that the Soviet economic system could be damaged through long, drawn-out military operations such as the one in Afghanistan. The Soviets had invaded the country in 1979, but were now engaged in an ongoing conflict with Afghan rebels known as mujahedeen, or freedom-fighters. Casey asked Congress for financial aid for the Afghans, and received even more money than he had asked for. The CIA used these resources to furnish the Afghans with military equipment for use against the Soviets. Before long, the mujahedeenwere using American anti-aircraft missiles to bring down Soviet military helicopters. Just as Casey had expected, the U.S.S.R. poured more money and personnel into the conflict. In all, the Soviets would be bogged down in Afghanistan for nearly ten years, before withdrawing in 1989, losing billions of dollars and thousands of troops along the way.

Casey had hoped to accomplish the same objectives in Nicaragua, where the Soviets were sending $400 million per year to back the communist Sandinista government in its fight against the American-backed Contra forces. However, Congress was not as receptive to aiding the Contras, who had a less-than-stellar record when it came to human rights. Eventually, a bill was passed to limit American aid to the Contras. When the CIA mined harbors in Nicaragua, Casey was called to testify before Congress, and most of his answers were vague and indirect. By this time, Casey spoke in a slurring fashion (referring to Nicaragua as Nica-wag-wa), and there were many occasions when he spoke and left his listeners completely confused. In 1984, Congress passed a second measure, completely banning American aid to the Contras.

Neither Casey nor President Reagan had any intention of letting the Contra cause die. Before the second Congressional Bill was passed, Reagan asked his National Security Advisor, Robert McFarlane, to find a way to keep the Contras afloat. McFarlane and his deputy, Lt. Colonel Oliver North, were able to persuade the royal family of Saudi Arabia to send a million dollars per month to the Contras. This was a far cry from the level of assistance the Sandinistas were receiving from the Soviets, but enough to keep the war going for the foreseeable future. For Casey’s part, he went on record that the CIA no longer had any involvement in Nicaragua.

In 1984, Casey had another huge problem to deal with. William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Lebanon, had been kidnapped by Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed organization. Shortly after Buckley’s kidnapping, American intelligence operatives in Lebanon began to disappear. It was clear that Hezbollah was torturing Buckley to gain information. These fears were confirmed in early 1985 when a videotape arrived, showing Buckley being tortured. Reportedly, the tape was so graphic that several CIA officials openly wept upon watching it.


The Iran-Contra Conundrum

Casey ordered his subordinates to find Buckley’s location and plan a rescue mission. In spite of this, the CIA couldn’t determine where Buckley was, or if he was even still in Lebanon. With each passing day, the Agency became more desperate to find the agent.

Eventually, a shimmer of promise came in the form of an Israeli foreign agent named David Kimche. In July of 1985, Kimche visited Robert McFarlane in Washington, telling the National Security Advisor that there might be a way to get Buckley and six additional American hostages released. Kimche told McFarlane that there was a group of Iranians who wanted American support for overthrowing the anti-American Iranian government of Ayatollah Khomeini. In return, these Iranians would use their influence with Hezbollah to obtain the return of the Americans being held in Lebanon, including Buckley. The point of contact would be an Iranian named Manucher Ghorbanifar.


McFarlane told President Reagan and other cabinet members, including Casey, about his conversation with Kimche. The President and Casey were in full support, while others in the Administration were more suspicious of what they heard. Kimche returned in August, telling McFarlane that Ghorbanifar’s group was asking for American weapons as part of the deal. Secretary of State George Shultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger were opposed to the idea, arguing that it would become an “arms for hostages” situation. Undeterred, Kimche proposed to McFarlane that Israel sell the weapons to Ghorbanifar, with the United States resupplying Israel. Weinberger argued that this would be illegal, while Casey disagreed. McFarlane and Casey supported Kimche’s idea, and ultimately, so did President Reagan. However, Casey had not been forthcoming with the President or McFarlane; he was actually already aware of Manucher Ghorbanifar. The CIA had met with the Iranian in 1984, administering two polygraph tests which Ghorbanifar had failed. Afterward, the CIA issued a “burn notice” on Ghorbanifar, meaning he was not to be trusted under any circumstance, a fact Casey made no mention of.

Shortly afterward, the arms shipments began. However, after the first shipment of TOW missiles, Ghorbanifar claimed the shipment had “fallen into the wrong hands.” After the second shipment, Ghorbanifar told McFarlane that Hezbollah would release one hostage, and for McFarlane to pick the hostage. McFarlane promptly picked William Buckley, but to Casey’s horror, the captors replied that Buckley was too ill to be moved, and another hostage would have to be chosen. Within a few months, the American government would find out that Buckley had actually died of a heart attack while being tortured in June of 1985.

The arms shipments continued into 1986; in all, there were seven shipments, with only three hostages being released. Then, in autumn of 1986, the lid was blown off the entire operation. In October, a helicopter carrying supplies to the Contras was shot down in Nicaragua. The lone survivor, an American named Eugene Hasenfus, told the Sandinistas that he was a CIA operative, which Casey denied. Then, in November, a Lebanese magazine reported the arms shipments to Iran. The Reagan Administration initially refuted the allegations, promising an investigation. Later the same month, Attorney General Edwin Meese confirmed not only that the arms shipments had indeed occurred, but also that proceeds from the arms sales had been diverted to the Contras in Nicaragua.

The spotlight turned squarely on Casey and the CIA. He was called to testify before Congress in December; however, the morning before he would have testified, Casey suffered a seizure at CIA headquarters. Taken to the hospital, he suffered a second seizure the same day. He was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, and three days later he had surgery to remove the tumor. Casey would never recover his health, and resigned as CIA Director in January of 1987.

As the Iran-Contra affair unfolded in spring of 1987, several current and former members of the Reagan Administration were called to testify before Congress, but Casey was never able to do so. Most of the American public speculated that Casey was the one person who knew the entire story. On May 5, a former Air Force officer and CIA operative named Richard Secord testified that he organized weapons deliveries to the Contras, under direction of Casey and Oliver North. The next day, Bill Casey passed away.

Legendary Washington Postreporter Bob Woodward wrote a book called Veilabout Casey and the CIA, which includes a controversial story about Casey during his final days. Whether the story is factual or simply sensationalism is up for debate. Woodward claimed to have entered Casey’s hospital room for a few minutes while Casey’s guards were away. According to Woodward, he asked Casey, “You knew about the diversion to the Contras didn’t you?” He claims Casey looked and him and nodded that indeed he had. Woodward also states that he then asked the former CIA Director why he had approved of the events that had taken place, to which Casey faintly replied, “I believed.”


What do you think of the Iran-Contra affair? Let us know below.


Steve Coll, Ghost Wars, Penguin Press, London, 2004

Robert C. McFarlane, Special Trust, Cadell & Davies, New York, 1994

Joseph E. Persico, Casey: The Lives and Secrets of William J. Casey: From The OSS to the CIA, Penguin Books, London, 1991

Bob Woodward, Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1987