History in Pics


Jesse Owens wins gold in Nazi Germany, 1936.

Many Americans imagined that black athletes would be poorly treated in Berlin, but the 100,000 Berliners chanting “Jes-say O-vens” as he won the 100m proved the contrary. Owens and his black teammates enjoyed a freedom of movement and equality seldom experienced stateside. The Nazis wanted to use the Olympics to display a renewed Germany to the world. International Olympic boycott movements had threatened the opportunity. Consequently, the Olympic village was integrated and all racist propaganda was suspended for the duration of the games. Robert Vann, an African-American newsman, wrote, “These German people are mighty fine. They have a spirit of sportsmanship and fair play which overrides the color-barrier.” However, this rosy picture of Berlin in 1936 was not conducive to framing a struggle between opposed political ideologies. In truth, the tolerant Berlin on which Vann reported was created specifically for the duration of the Olympics at the behest of Goebbels and the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Anti-Semitic posters and publications were removed from the streets. Buildings were whitewashed and painted. Public persecution of Jewish Berliners was forbidden. Foreshadowing the terror to come, the Sinti and Roma were forcibly removed to a “gypsy camp” in Marzahn, a suburb of Berlin. Goebbels appealed, “The future of the Reich will depend upon the impression that is left upon our guests.” Der Angriff, the militant newspaper that eventually coined the slur “black auxiliaries” for the black American Olympians, advised its readers to be “more charming than the Parisians, more easygoing than the Viennese, more vivacious than the Romans, more cosmopolitan than London, and more practical than New York.” The effort expended by the Reich to sanitize the Capitol lessened the political influence of National Socialism on the Olympics Games. Instead, the XI Olympiad hid the true nature of the regime’s intentions. Historian Barbara Keys concluded, “The games did nothing to alter the character of the Third Reich. But the Third Reich did little to alter the character of the Olympics.”


SR-71 Blackbird pilots in pressurized uniforms, 1980’s.

One of the most amazing accomplishments of the SR-71 program was that it was possible to survive ejecting at Mach 3+. The pressure suit was a major part of how this was accomplished. In addition to the obvious, it would also inflate fully during an ejection in order to act like an airbag to cushion being shot into Mach 3 slipstream and had thermal protection built in to protect them from the intense heating involved. When they decided to equip the Space Shuttle crews with pressure suits after Challenger, this suit (with minor changes) was the one they used.


Women in Chicago being arrested for wearing one piece bathing suits, without the required leg coverings, 1922.


WWI reconnaissance pigeon, 1915. A pigeon with a small camera attached. The trained birds were used experimentally by German citizen Julius Neubronner, before and during the war years, capturing aerial images when a timer mechanism clicked the shutter.

Pigeons played a vital part in World War 1 as they proved to be an extremely reliable way of sending messages. Such was the importance of pigeons that over 100,000 were used in the war with an astonishing success rate of 95% getting through to their destination with their message.


Students saluting a USSR veteran, 1989.

Once a year, they get to wear the medals and get bussed to the parade where they walk for propaganda purposes and hear praise from crowds and leaders. For the rest of the year, many of them were neglected by the government that did not actually support cripples – with no wheelchairs, no ramps, no transportation, minimal pensions, relying entirely on family members to go anywhere. Many ended up begging on the street and living in poverty.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here