History in Pics

Protestors

Anti-Apartheid protesters sprayed with a water cannon shooting purple dye to mark the demonstrators for arrest. South Africa, 1989.

This happened in Green Market Square in Cape Town. The cops turned up and started shooting everyone with the water cannon loaded with purple dye. The protesters took the said cop off his perch, someone else jumped up there and began spraying everything. Not only was it now impossible to tell if a purple person was a protester or merely a shopper who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but also all the buildings in the square got a coat. For weeks afterward, it was known as Purple Market Square.

Apartheid technically only ended in 1994. In 1990, it was basically agreed upon that it would be ended but no one was exactly sure on how or when. The 4 years in between 1990 and 1994 were an extremely tense time in the country. During these 4 years, there were a lot of negotiations about the conditions that needed to be met. In these 4 years, there was more violence and tension than the previous 40 years and it’s probably the closest the country ever came to going into civil war. There were so many different factions involved. There were the hard line whites who didn’t want any kind of end to Apartheid. There were the less hard-line ones who wanted an end but they still feared they could lose everything they have. There were the black leaders of the homelands who didn’t want to lose their powers and there were blacks who didn’t believe that they would be getting enough in these deals.

During those 4 years, there were assassinations of leaders, riots in response to assassinations and just general chaos and uncertainty about what was going to unfold.


Big Ben

A rare look behind the clockface of the Big Ben, 1920.
Big Ben is actually the bell, not the clock or the tower. The tower is officially Elizabeth Tower. Previously it was called The Clock Tower. The tower at the other end of the building is Victoria Tower.

If you are a British citizen you can write to your local MP and request a visit to Elizabeth Tower which houses Big Ben. You get a full hour tour and get to see the clock face in person. You also get to be at the top of the tower to watch Big Ben chime the hour (which is so loud you need earplugs – which they provide). It’s free and you have to be in good health (lots of steps). You can also write to your MP for a tour of the Houses of Parliament. I’m not sure if they’re happening at the moment with various terror threats.

Another interesting piece of trivia about clocks: The reason the stems on clocks are called “hands” is that back before they were mechanical, a man would stand in the town square and indicate the time using his arms. This takes constant counting and precise timing, so the men chosen to do this were trained extensively in universities for years. Because it was a lonely and dedicated craft, the decrees these men received were referred to as “bachelor degrees”. Time-men were actually the reason behind a surprising number of terms and phrases we use to this day.


Lyndon B. Johnson

U.S. President Lyndon Johnson listens to a tape sent by Captain Charles Robb (his son-in-law) from Vietnam (1968).

Johnson had asked Robb to send him reports of what was really happening on the ground in Vietnam. Though certainly the experience of leading the U.S. through Vietnam was anguishing, at this moment Johnson appears to have simply been resting his eyes while listening to Robb’s tape.

Robb went on to become governor of Virginia. Ms. Virginia 1983 Tai Collins publicly claimed to have had an affair with him when he was a senator.


Brutal Beating


Man’s spectacles explode after being struck by a policeman’s truncheon, 1971.

This happened during a cup competition football game between Cork Hibernians and Linfield from Belfast, played at Dublin’s Dalymount in May 1971. Linfield had a Loyalist following and with the growing conflict in Northern Ireland, there was political and sectarian tension in the air. Clashes erupted and the Gardaí baton charged the Linfield fans.


German Soldier

German soldier takes a break from the combat during the Battle of Berlin as the Reichstag burns behind him, April 1945.

In the early hours of 29 April, the Soviet 3rd Shock Army crossed the Moltke bridge and started to fan out into the surrounding streets and buildings. The initial assaults on buildings, including the Ministry of the Interior, were hampered by the lack of supporting artillery. It was not until the damaged bridges were repaired that artillery could be moved up in support. At 04:00 hours, in the Führerbunker, Hitler signed his last will and testament and, shortly afterward, married Eva Braun. At dawn, the Soviets pressed on with their assault in the southeast. After very heavy fighting they managed to capture Gestapo headquarters on Prinz-Albrechtstrasse, but a Waffen-SS counter-attack forced the Soviets to withdraw from the building. To the southwest, the 8th Guards Army attacked north across the Landwehr canal into the Tiergarten.

By the next day, 30 April, the Soviets had solved their bridging problems and with artillery support at 06:00 they launched an attack on the Reichstag, but because of German entrenchments and support from 12.8 cm guns 2 km (1.2 mi) away on the roof of the Zoo flak tower, in Berlin Zoo, it was not until that evening that the Soviets were able to enter the building. The Reichstag had not been in use since 1933 when it burned and its interior resembled a rubble heap more than a government building. The German troops inside made excellent use of this and lay heavily entrenched. Fierce room-to-room fighting ensued. At that point, there was still a large contingent of German soldiers in the basement who launched counter-attacks against the Red Army. Finally, on 2 May the Red Army controlled the building entirely. The fighting around the Reichstag was not a place that German Troops would “take a break”. It was the last stop before ending the war in Stalin’s perspective.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I find it amusing how people talk about the Nazi’s like the christians haven’t done the same thing during the Inquisition and the crusades. Nazi’s are still reviled, yet christians are popular? Make a choice, hypocrites, or shut the he!! up.

    • You clearly know nothing about the Crusades or the Inquisition.

      The Spanish Inquisition, though draconian by our standards, was actually more lenient, and ended in more not guilty verdicts, than the civil courts run by the King and his government. Most of the Inquisition’s horrors were played up by English Protestants as propaganda, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I when a Spanish invasion seemed imminent.

      And the Crusades were a response to several centuries of Islamic incursions into Christian lands. The First Crusade began because Seljuq Turks conquered half the Byzantine Empire and began slaughtering Christian pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem. Infamous battles, like the Massacre of Jerusalem, were indeed brutal, but were, in fact, entirely common in the warfare of the Middle Ages. Everyone acted the same way. Not two hundred years later, Muslim armies would commit atrocities in Georgia and Turkey that were far greater than the deaths at the hands of Crusaders, and razed the city of Jerusalem to the ground so no one would want it.

      Also, look at you, edgelord. You can say Hell, your mom’s not going to find out.

    • Really, how far back you want to go? It is true that crimes of this nature have been committed since the dawn of time. However, this does not justify the crimes committed by the Nazis and their allies. Those criminals earned their fate. And, those who support their ideals will also get their appropriate Justice.
      BTW, the Spanish Inquisition executed 39 person at the pyre, 2 of them in effigy. Lord Calvin executed 6,000, including the Jesuit priest that discovered our circulatory system.

    • The ability for humans to inflilct suffering on others is born out of weakness and lack of insight in the individual, and fostered by the flaw in all of us as a group, in our inability to create a society which is a product of the finest of our knowledge, in justice, equity, compassion, creative will, and love for each other. Our tragedy is that we are lost in a sea of competing ideologies, political contests, hidden schemes to control wealth, religious traditions, and power struggles, while the simple truth blunders on waiting for catastrophe to shape us, while the gift of choice is ignored.

  2. Having just looked up the total deaths during the inquisition, it seems to vary from 30,000 up to the millions. Though we cannot arrive at accuracy, we do know that 50,000,000 people died in the world wars recently, and no one was a victor! German fascism rose out of a frustrated Germany burdened with debt after the first world war. We are now burdened with debt once again, and the arms makers are itching for excuses to use them, so lets be careful eh? As to Arabs and terrorism, the school kids recently blowing off their immaturity are catching up to terrorist executions of innocents as we speak, but few are seeing the real ill behind all this. Since our churches are proving to be little more than international pedophilia rings, where are the moral arbiters of the modern age? You certainly cannot look to the governments, muslims, christians or fascists for that can you??

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