Genealogy Blog

22 October 2013

European Court Rebukes Russia for WWII Massacre of Polish Soldiers

The European Court of Human Rights declined Monday to rule on the key points of a claim against Russia by relatives of victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre, but did rebuke Russia for refusing to hand over all of its files on the incident.

The court said it did not have the authority to rule on whether Russia had deprived the victims of their right to life because the World War II massacre happened before Russia joined the European Convention on Human Rights.

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21 October 2013

15th-Century Manuscript Sheds Light On Richard III's Relationship With York

An original manuscript dating back almost 600 years is offering a fascinating glimpse of Richard III and his relationship with the city that claims him as its own.

York is currently embroiled in a row over whether the remains of the medieval monarch, rediscovered last year, should be interred there or in Leicester, where the skeleton was found. And the manuscript reveals how York flamboyantly prepared for his state visits, wrestled with rumours of treason and ultimately what the city leaders felt about the King’s death in 1485.

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18 October 2013

'We Stabbed Each Other, Strangled Each Other, Went For Each Other... Like Mad Dogs': Haunting Interviews With WWI Veterans From Both Sides of The Trenches To Be Heard For The First Time To Commemorate Centenary

Never-before-seen interviews with First World War soldiers revealing the true horror of going 'over the top' in battle are to be shown on television for the first time.

In the heart-wrenching footage the former soldiers tell the true story of life in the trenches, and the emotions that went through the minds of the young men who gave their all in the deadly conflict. In one poignant clip, to be shown on the BBC as part of a series of programmes commemorating the Great War, one unnamed German veteran asks: 'What was it, that we soldiers stabbed each other, strangled each other, went for each other, like mad dogs?'

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16 October 2013

Welsh Soldier's Relatives Back WWI Memorial

The Canadian descendants of a First World War soldier from Bala have backed a campaign to build a memorial in Flanders for Welsh veterans. Campaigners have launched a £90,000 appeal to build a monument or cromlech of a dragon on rocks to be erected in Langemark near Ypres in Belgium.

The Passchendaele Society has already built a memorial to Scottish soldiers who were among the total of 250,000 Allied troops who fell at the battlefield between July and November 1917.

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2 October 2013

Report Lists Oldest Scottish Family Firms

Scotland's 25 oldest family firms have clocked up more than 3,700 years in business between them, according to new research. A report by Family Business United and Close Brothers Asset Management (CBAM) found the companies had been trading for an average of 148 years each.

It named Fife-based John White & Son Ltd as Scotland's oldest family firm. The company, which operates from Auchtermuchty, started producing weighing machines in 1715.

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Call To Rethink Cases of French WWI 'Coward' Soldiers

A panel of French historians has called for the records of soldiers who were shot for cowardice and desertion in World War I to be rewritten. The historians' report, commissioned by the government, called for the cases of 650 men shot during the war to be reconsidered.

Many of them are "worthy and deserving of moral, civic and public-spirited rehabilitation", the report says. Veterans' minister Kader Arif has promised to consider the issue.

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12 September 2013

Those Magnificent Ladies in Their Flying Machines

In the early days of human flight, a new word entered our lexicon: "aviatrix," the female version of "aviator."

These women were true pioneers, although if you asked them, they would probably tell you they were just adventurous and loved flying -same as the men who took to the air in those days. Or even today, for that matter. But for a woman to drive one of the newfangled flying machines in the early 20th century took a can-do attitude that wasn't normally encouraged in women.

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10 Snapshots of British Schoolchildren During World War II

World War II had a huge impact on the daily lives of the people of Britain, but soldiers and grieving widows weren’t the only ones whose lives were irrevocably altered by the war.

Young schoolchildren in cities across Britain found themselves evacuated to the relative safety of the countryside, separated from their families and identified by nothing more than a brown paper tag.

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5 September 2013

The British WWI Prisoner of War Who Returned To Captivity

A British officer captured during World War I was granted leave to visit his dying mother on one condition - that he return, a historian has discovered. And Capt Robert Campbell kept his promise to Kaiser Wilhelm II and returned from Kent to Germany, where he stayed until the war ended in 1918.

Historian Richard van Emden told the BBC that Capt Campbell would have felt a duty to honour his word. It also emerged that Capt Campbell tried to escape as soon as he returned.

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27 August 2013

Your Ancestors Didn’t Sleep Like You

Ok, maybe your grandparents probably slept like you. And your great, great-grandparents. But once you go back before the 1800s, sleep starts to look a lot different. Your ancestors slept in a way that modern sleepers would find bizarre – they slept twice.

The existence of our sleeping twice per night was first uncovered by Roger Ekirch, professor of History at Virginia Tech. His research found that we didn’t always sleep in one eight hour chunk. We used to sleep in two shorter periods, over a longer range of night.

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29 July 2013

Secret Code wWthin WWII POW's Letters Cracked 70 Years Later

Thousands of British servicemen were captured during World War II. They endured life in German prison camps, but a few managed to send coded letters with vital military intelligence back home.

The secret messages of one such prisoner are being revealed 70 years later. The evacuation of British and Allied troops from Dunkirk early in World War II was either a military disaster or a strategic withdrawal. Winston Churchill called the rescue of more than 300,000 troops hemmed in by the Nazi advance a miracle.

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23 July 2013

World War Two Code Breaker Alan Turing Set To Be Pardoned For His Gay Conviction

The Government said it would not stand in the way of legislation to offer a full Parliamentary pardon for Turing, who helped Britain to win the Second World War as a skilled code-breaker.

Until now, the Government has resisted using the Royal Prerogative to pardon Turing for his conviction for gross indecency in 1952 because he was a homosexual.

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22 July 2013

Irish Historians Team Up With Gardai To Trace Relatives of World War I Internees

Historians and the Garda Siochana are attempting to trace relatives of more than 2,600 German and Austro-Hungarian citizens who were interned in Ireland during World War I. The move is part of a major campaign to mark the centenary of Ireland's connections to the 1914-18 war.

The internment of German and Austro-Hungarian citizens on the outbreak of the war is one of the long forgotten aspects of Ireland's involvement in the Great War. But while 300 people were effectively imprisoned for no other reason than their nationality, Ireland's major involvement came when 2,300 captured German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war (POW) were shipped to Tipperary and Meath.

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18 July 2013

Jews Should Get WWII Property Taxes Back, Says Amsterdam Mayor

Jewish Amsterdammers who were charged ground rent for their properties over the years they spent in concentration camps or in hiding during World War II should get that money back, according to the city’s mayor.

In April, students discovered that hundreds of Jews were sent the bills when they returned to their homes after the war. They should now get that money back plus interest, Eberhard van der Laan told KRO television programme Oog in Oog.

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22 June 2013

The Ruins of Normandy: Unpublished Color Photos From France, 1944

The ruins left behind after warfare speak a language of their own. And, even more strikingly, no matter where the conflict has taken place — whether it’s in northern Europe or the South Pacific, the Middle East or Central Africa — the vernacular of destruction is very often the same.

Buildings reduced to rubble and dust. A scarred, tortured landscape seemingly devoid of any life at all, aside from small human forms trying to piece it back together. Twisted, rusting, abandoned vehicles. And always, above it all, the silent, indifferent sky.

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