Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and even emails.
Here is the Lindberg random letter:
No one would mistake the Stone Age ivory carving for a Venus de Milo. The voluptuous woman depicted is, to say the least, earthier, with huge, projecting breasts and sexually explicit genitals.
Nicholas J. Conard, an archaeologist at the University of TÃ¼bingen, in Germany, who found the small carving in a cave last year, said it was at least 35,000 years old, â€œone of the oldest known examples of figurative artâ€ in the world. It is about 5,000 years older than some other so-called Venus artifacts made by early populations of Homo sapiens in Europe.
Another archaeologist, Paul Mellars of the University of Cambridge, in England, agreed and went on to remark on the obvious. By modern standards, he said, the figurineâ€™s blatant sexuality â€œcould be seen as bordering on the pornographic.â€
In the 1930s the Nazis were gaining ground in Europe. Many chose to ignore or had a laissez faire attitude to the National Socialist policy of expansionism, known as Lebensraum or the threat of war that Germany now posed to the world. John Heartfield (above center, in 1960), a German citizen, was one who chose to criticize the regime through art and he produced a remarkable series of photomongages, the audacity of which still has the capacity to astonishe today.
John Heartfield’s wiki entry.
From The Daily Mail (NSFW)
Most girls were so enamoured with the Aryan invaders that they went to great lengths to make them feel at home, including learning German, putting on performances of their favourite classical music, even dyeing their hair black to provide an exotic contrast to their predominantly blond customers.
Almost every night of the week was party night, with alcohol-fuelled orgies dominating social life at a time when the majority of the population had to abide by an 11pm to 5am curfew.
Even while the Holocaust was being extended to France’s sizeable Jewish community and Allied bombs rained down on suburban factories, the debauchery carried on.
‘It was a golden age for French brothels,’ says Buisson. ‘Many had been threatened with being shut down in less liberated days, but under the Nazis they were completely revived.’
After conquering France in the summer of 1940, the invaders turned out to be insatiable customers.
Wermacht and SS units commandeered no fewer than 22 well known brothels, turning them into establishments for the exclusive use of military staff and a few compliant French officials.
Military commanders set rates for the brothels, with nominal taxes being paid to the collaborating French authorities.
German medics examined the prostitutes three times each week to ensure there were no illnesses, with any outbreak of venereal disease considered an ‘act of sabotage’.
This followed in a Napoleonic tradition, as the French Emperor had ordered the registration and bi-weekly health inspection of all prostitutes in the early 19th century.
Napoleon, who was hugely admired by Hitler, had much to do with the early maisons closes which started to appear in Paris and other major cities at about the same time.
They had to be run by a woman, typically a former prostitute-turned-madam, and their outer appearance had to be ‘discreet’.
From Eyewitness to History:
“The first intimation she received that her plea had been denied was when she was led at daybreak from her cell in the Saint-Lazare prison to a waiting automobile and then rushed to the barracks where the firing squad awaited her.
Never once had the iron will of the beautiful woman failed her. Father Arbaux, accompanied by two sisters of charity, Captain Bouchardon, and Maitre Clunet, her lawyer, entered her cell, where she was still sleeping – a calm, untroubled sleep, it was remarked by the turnkeys and trusties.
The sisters gently shook her. She arose and was told that her hour had come.
‘May I write two letters?’ was all she asked.
Consent was given immediately by Captain Bouchardon, and pen, ink, paper, and envelopes were given to her.
She seated herself at the edge of the bed and wrote the letters with feverish haste. She handed them over to the custody of her lawyer.
Then she drew on her stockings, black, silken, filmy things, grotesque in the circumstances. She placed her high-heeled slippers on her feet and tied the silken ribbons over her insteps.
She arose and took the long black velvet cloak, edged around the bottom with fur and with a huge square fur collar hanging down the back, from a hook over the head of her bed. She placed this cloak over the heavy silk kimono which she had been wearing over her nightdress.
Her wealth of black hair was still coiled about her head in braids. She put on a large, flapping black felt hat with a black silk ribbon and bow. Slowly and indifferently, it seemed, she pulled on a pair of black kid gloves. Then she said calmly:
‘I am ready.’
During 1925, Watson Davis (1896-1967), Science Service managing editor, took numerous photographs while covering the State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes trial as a reporter. In what was dubbed “The Trial of the Century,” Scopes was tried and convicted for violating a state law prohibiting the teaching of the theory of evolution. William Jennings Bryan served on the prosecution team, and Clarence Darrow defended Scopes. Almost eighty years later, the nitrate negatives, including portraits of trial participants, and images from the trial itself and significant places in Dayton, were discovered in archival material donated to the Smithsonian by Science Service in 1971.
(via Boing Boing)
From The Root:
In this excerpt of “The Hemingses of Monticello,” author Annette Gordon-Reed examines how Sally Hemings and her brother, the chef James Hemings, enjoyed the cosmopolitan lifestyle of Paris in the 1770s while living with Thomas Jefferson during his stint as Ambassador to France. Teenaged Sally gets her own pay and taste of freedom that eluded her back home in Virginia.
Sept. 22, 2008–The home that Sally Hemings moved to was just inside the city limits of Paris. The HÃ´tel de Langeac was right next to the Grille de Chaillot, one of the many gated entry points into what was still at the time a walled city. The house, abutting the Champs-ElysÃ©es and along the rue Neuve de Berri, was more expensive than Jefferson could afford. He thought, however, that his position demanded a suitable residence for all the entertaining that he expected to do.
This residence was truly worthy of a French aristocrat. The expansive grounds entered by a way of an impressive courtyard, contained “green houses,” an extensive kitchen garden, and another “graceful” one that Jefferson pronounced “clever.” Just off the entryway into the courtyard were the porter’s lodge and servants’ quarters.
Living at such a place gave both Sally and her brother James Hemingses ample opportunity to compare their surroundings in Paris with those they had seen in Virginia, and they could only have found Virginian residences wanting. The amenity of having indoor bathrooms was remarkable for both them and the Jeffersons.. The very complexity of the house, with its multiple stairways (one large formal one and two smaller private ones) and its numerous passageways leading into different areas of the mansion, no doubt piqued their interest as well.