Category Archives: Hidden History

December 3, 2021

Vladimir Komarov – The Cosmonaut who Fell to Earth from Space

While falling to his death, Komarov cursed in rage accusing the Party and everyone responsible for his misfortune.

Vladimir Komarov had a fate no astronaut would ever dream of.

The Space Race, fueled by Cold War competition between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., was a period of rapid innovation and technological advancement. First rockets, then probes, and finally humans were launched outside of Earth’s atmosphere. But in the haste of who was going to dominate the next step into space, many unfortunate accidents occurred.

The U.S. lost three great astronauts — Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee — in the Apollo 1 capsule during a ground test in January 1967, the same day that the Outer Space Treaty was signed. That same year the U.S.S.R. lost one of its best cosmonauts, Vladimir Komarov, when his spaceship collapsed once it entered Earth’s atmosphere and crashed on the ground with the force of a 2.8-ton meteorite.

At the beginning of 1967, Leonid Brezhnev, the leader of the Soviet Union, came up with an idea for a spectacular celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution.

Brezhnev had a space celebration on his mind. His idea was the launch of two capsules, Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 2, that would meet and dock in space and two cosmonauts would exchange places, crawling from one vehicle to the other.

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November 18, 2021

WWII deserters the US Army tried to hide: the 2013 book revealed how gangs of AWOL GIs terrorized Paris with a reign of mob-style violence

In the weeks following liberation from the Nazis, Paris was struck by a wave of such violent crimes that rivaled the effects of the war itself. These were men that took up the opportunity for self-gain during a time of global chaos. Paris was especially appealing to these men, with the city’s famous cafés and brothels to entertain them. 

The book The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II, by Charles Glass, tells an interesting WWII story that not many have heard – the story of the deserters.

A deserter is a military term used for soldiers who have left their posts without permission. Unlike the term Absence Without Leave (AWOL) used for soldiers who leave their posts temporarily, “deserters” refers to those who have no intention of ever returning to the line of duty. With his book, Glass sheds light on this long-neglected phenomena.

Glass interviewed and surveyed 150,000 American and British soldiers that deserted their posts for good during WWII. He also used army archives, personal diaries, memoirs, and court-martial records to get a clearer picture of the lives of ordinary soldiers fighting in the front lines, and why they abandoned their posts. The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II tells the story of three deserters in France, Italy and Africa.

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November 8, 2021

Black slave owners in the southern states of America before the Civil War (Video)

There is a popular misconception that all black people in the south of the United States were slaves before the American Civil War and also that only white people owned slaves. Neither of these ideas is true.

November 7, 2021

Death in Venice and how film has mistreated child stars

A new film shows how actor Björn Andrésen was damaged by playing a teen object of desire in Visconti’s 1971 classic. Is child stardom any healthier now, asks Sophie Monks Kaufman.

Fifty years ago, the revered Italian director Luchino Visconti searched far and wide for a young boy to star as the embodiment of youthful beauty in his film adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novel, Death in Venice. The character, Tadzio, is the object of obsession for ageing composer Gustav von Aschenbach (played by a 50-year-old Dirk Bogarde). The child actor that impressed Visconti enough to play him – a character whose “face recalled the noblest moment of Greek sculpture”, in the words of Mann – was 15-year-old Swede, Björn Andrésen.

However, while working with one of European cinema’s great directors when still a teenager may sound like a dream opportunity, it was anything but. A new documentary, The Most Beautiful Boy in the World, tells the story of Andrésen in the aftermath of landing the role, exposing the inadequate care afforded to him on set and looking at how he then emerged into a queasy limelight as the child object of grown-up desire. The film also tells of the tragedies that befell Andrésen before and after Death in Venice spun his life off its axis. The Andrésen we meet today is haunted by experiences depicted in the documentary – and, it is clear that if Death of Venice isn’t the source of all his pain, then it has certainly contributed a lot of it. 

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November 3, 2021

Yuri Gagarin and The First Human Mission Into Space…. Or Was It? (Video)

Megaprojects

November 1, 2021

The Blitz: Why the British Shelled their Own Cities During World War II (Video)

This video discusses the use of heavy artillery in Britain between 1940 and 1944.

October 31, 2021

Britain’s Favourite Myth (Video)

The events following the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 provide the British with their most potent myth – that of the plucky little country facing a mighty foe

October 29, 2021

Roman Gate To HELL Where Animals DROP DEAD! (Video)

Around 200 BCE ancient people would flock to a Temple in the City of Hierapolis, which was part of the Roman empire in modern day Turkey. Located on top of a cave was what they believed to be the Gateway to Hell, named Plutonium after the God of the Underworld Pluto. Animals of all various sizes from birds to bulls would drop dead at the entrance or soon after as the people believed the cave was thought to exhale the breath of death, of course more than 2000 years ago this was quite the phenomenon to behold.

October 24, 2021

Foreigners in the Gulag. Stalin’s foreign slaves (1996) – Documentary

For half a century the Soviet Union’s labour camps made virtual slaves of millions of Russians. But the Russians were not the only ones who suffered. Tens of thousands of foreigners were also caught up in this nightmare world. Using what was newly-released film from the archives and testimonies of former prisoners, this film traces the history of these slave-labour camps.

October 21, 2021

In tree rings and radioactive carbon, signs of the Vikings in North America

Wood at a settlement in Canada’s Newfoundland that was cut with metal tools helped researchers pinpoint when the Norse first reached the continent — well before Columbus.

Vikings from Greenland — the first Europeans to arrive in the Americas — lived in a village in Canada’s Newfoundland exactly 1,000 years ago, according to research published Wednesday.

Scientists have known for many years that Vikings — a name given to the Norse by the English they raided — built a village at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around the turn of the millennium. But a study published in Nature is the first to pinpoint the date of the Norse occupation.

The explorers — up to 100 people, both women and men — felled trees to build the village and to repair their ships, and the new study fixes a date they were there by showing they cut down at least three trees in the year 1021 — at least 470 years before Christopher Columbus reached the Bahamas in 1492.

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