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Archive for the ‘WW I’ Category

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SMY Hohenzollern II was built by AG Vulcan Stettin, it was 120 m long, 14 m wide and 5.6 m deep, and had 9,588 HP.

It was in use as Imperial Yacht from 1893 to July 1914. Emperor Wilhelm II used it on his annual prolonged trips to Norway. In total he spent over four years on board.

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The Emperor with members of his family on board of the imperial yacht Hohenzollern

At the end of July 1914 it was put out of service in Kiel. The ship became property of the Weimar Republic in 1918, was struck in February of 1920 and scrapped in 1923.

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"The recruits of 1914 have the look of ghosts. They are queuing up to be slaughtered: they are already dead." – Geoff Dyer, The Missing of the Somme

[Image: Austrian soldier at the wooden trenches during WWI, Eastern Europe, 1915, via deathandmysticism]

Image and text from 50watts

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A board game played by German soldiers in the trenches of World War One is giving modern computer games a run for their money – how has it managed to stay so popular for so long?

There is, we know, a very big centenary under way. In Germany 100 years ago there was a momentous development, and the revolution that ensued is being marked with great fervour in village halls up and down the land.

People sit down around tables. There is discussion and there are moments of reflection, punctuated with loud altercation.

I refer, of course, to the invention of the board game Mensch Aergere Dich Nicht. It was devised a century ago and became popular among German troops in the trenches.

Families back home ordered games from the manufacturer, who would then despatch them straight to the frontline.

Schmidt

The game was invented by Josef Friedrich Schmidt, an employee of the city of Munich who had three bored children to entertain at home. He devised the game with dice and counters and played it happily with an ever-widening circle, including his neighbours’ children.

After a couple of years of this amateur fun, he decided to put it on the market. It only took off during World War One.

Schmidt had the very bright idea of making hundreds of copies of the game and giving them to hospitals used by the war-wounded. Sales haven’t slowed down in the succeeding century.

There is, I think, something very German about the stubborn refusal of its citizens to move with the times. Of course, Germans embrace lots of aspects of modernity – "Vorsprung durch Technik" (Progress through technology) – but one of the charms of the place is that old habits die hard.

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I shake hands with my colleague every morning and evening. There is a bakery on every street. We eat a proper lunch – a beef stew in the canteen, with sprouts.

They cook seasonally too – goose with red cabbage on the menu in restaurants at Christmas, cured herring in June, Pfifferlinge – a type of fine mushroom – in late August, pumpkin or Kuerbis in October.

There is a heart-warming eschewing of newness for the sake of it.

In the finance ministry the lifts are ancient. They are those open lifts which continually move in a belt and which you step onto with some trepidation, I find. Old-fashioned but effective – a fitting symbol for a finance ministry.

The German way: Improve what works but keep what pleases people – like a board game.

It comforted shell-shocked lads 100 years ago and it is giving computer games a run for their money today. How comforting.

Text and images from BBC NEWS magazine

Take a good look at the picture above of the family playing the game. Dad looks like a little kid enjoying himself and the rest of the family looks bored way into the soporific. But in Germany dads are still the boss, if he wants to play, they play – Ted

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Image credit: Getty Images

One of the subtlest and most surprising legacies of the First World War is its effect on our language. Not only were newly named weapons, equipment, and military tactics being developed almost continually during the War, but the rich mixture of soldiers’ dialects, accents, nationalities, languages, and even social backgrounds—particularly after the introduction of conscription in Great Britain in 1916—on the front line in Europe and North Africa produced an equally rich glossary of military slang.

Not all of these words and phrases have remained in use to this day, but here are 21 words and phrases that are rooted in First World War slang.

1. ARCHIE Apparently derived from an old music hall song called Archibald, Certainly Not!, Archie was a British military slang word for German anti-aircraft fire. Its use is credited to an RAF pilot, Vice-Marshall Amyas Borton, who apparently had a habit of singing the song’s defiant chorus—“Archibald, certainly not! / Get back to work at once, sir, like a shot!”—as he flew his airplane between the exploding German shells on the Western Front.

2. BASKET CASE While it tends to be used fairly light-heartedly today (usually describing someone who constantly makes stupid mistakes, or who crumbles under pressure), the original basket case is an unexpectedly gruesome reminder of just how bloody the War became. In its original context, a basket case was a soldier who had been so badly injured that he had to be carried from the battlefield in a barrow or basket, usually with the implication that he had lost all four of his limbs.

3. BLIGHTY Derived from vilayati, an Urdu word meaning "foreign," blighty is an old military nickname for Great Britain. It first emerged among British troops serving in India in the late 19th century, but didn’t really catch on until the First World War; the Oxford English Dictionary records only one use in print prior to 1914. A "blighty wound" or "blighty one" was an injury severe enough to warrant being sent home, the English equivalent of a German Heimatschuss, or “home-shot.” Self-inflicted blighty wounds were punishable by death, although there are no known reports of anyone being executed under the rule.

4. BLIMP As a military slang name for an airship, blimp dates back to 1916. No one is quite sure where the word comes from, although one popular theory claims that because blimps were non-rigid airships (i.e., they could be inflated and collapsed, unlike earlier rigid, wooden-framed airships), they would supposedly be listed on military inventories under the heading “Category B: Limp.” However, a more likely idea is that the name is onomatopoeic, and meant to imitate the sound that the taut skin or “envelope” of a fully inflated airship makes when flicked.

5. BOOBY-TRAP Booby-trap had been in use since the mid-19th century to refer to a fairly harmless prank or practical joke when it was taken up by troops during the First World War to describe an explosive device deliberately disguised as a harmless object. Calling it “one of the dirty tricks of war,” the English journalist Sir Philip Gibbs (1877-1962) ominously wrote in his day-by-day war memoir From Bapaume to Passchendaele (1918) that “the enemy left … slow-working fuses and ‘booby-traps’ to blow a man to bits or blind him for life if he touched a harmless looking stick or opened the lid of a box, or stumbled over an old boot.”

6. COOTIES As a nickname for body lice or head lice, cooties first appeared in trenches slang in 1915. It’s apparently derived from the coot, a species of waterfowl supposedly known for being infested with lice and other parasites.

7. CRUMP-HOLE Crump is an old English dialect word for a hard hit or blow that, after 1914, came to be used for the explosion of a heavy artillery shell. A crump-hole was the crater the shell left behind.

8. DAISY-CUTTER Before the War, a daisy-cutter had been a cricket ball or baseball pitched low so that it practically skims along the surface of the ground. The name was eventually taken up by troops to describe an artillery shell fitted with an impact fuse, meaning that it exploded on impact with the ground rather than in the air thereby causing the greatest amount of damage.

9. DINGBAT In the 19th century, dingbat was used much like thingummy [Ed. note: British term for "thingamajig"] or whatchamacallit as a general placeholder for something or someone whose real name you can’t recall. It came to be used of a clumsy or foolish person during the First World War, before being taken up by Australian and New Zealand troops in the phrase "to have the dingbats" or "to be dingbats," which meant shell-shocked, nervous, or mad.

10. DEKKO Like "blighty," dekko was another term adopted into English by British troops serving in 19th century India that gained a much larger audience during the First World War; the Oxford English Dictionary has no written record of the term between its first appearance in 1894 and 1917. Derived from a Hindi word of equivalent meaning, dekko was typically used in the phrase "to take a dekko," meaning "to have a look at something."

11. FLAP "To be in a flap," meaning "to be worried," dates from 1916. It was originally a naval expression derived from the restless flapping of birds, but quickly spread into everyday English during the First World War. The adjective unflappable, meaning unflustered or imperturbable, appeared in the 1950s.

12. IRON RATIONS The expression "iron rations" was used as early as the 1860s to describe a soldier’s dry emergency rations, which typically included a selection of hard, gritty provisions like rice, barley, bread, biscuits, salt, and bacon. During the First World War, however, the term came to be used as a nickname for shrapnel or shell-fire.

13. KIWI The UK declared war on August 4, 1914, and New Zealand joined immediately after. By August 29, New Zealand had successfully captured Samoa—only the second German territory to fall since the war began. Within months, New Zealand troops, alongside those from Australia, began to arrive in Europe. They quickly gained the nickname Kiwis, as an image of New Zealand’s national bird was featured on many of their military badges, emblems and insignias. Incredibly, some 100,444 total New Zealanders saw active service during the First World War—equivalent to 10 percent of the entire country’s population.

14. NAPOO English-speaking soldiers frequently found themselves serving alongside French-speaking soldiers in the First World War, often with little chance of one understanding the other. So when French soldiers would exclaim “il n’y a plus!" meaning “there’s no more!” the English soldiers quickly commandeered the expression and anglicised it as napoo, which they took to mean finished, dead, or completely destroyed.

15. OMMS-N-CHEVOOS English troops arriving in France in 1914 were unceremoniously loaded onto basic railway transport carriages marked with the French notice “Hommes: 40, Chevaux: 8” on their doors. The notice designated the carriage’s maximum occupancy (“40 men, 8 horses”), but for those English troops with no knowledge of French, the carriages themselves became known as omms-n-chevoos.

16. POGEY-BAIT Pogey-bait was candy, or a sweet snack of any kind, among American and Canadian troops. No one is quite sure where the term comes from, but the first part could be pogy, a nickname for the menhaden fish (i.e. literally “fish-bate”), or else pogue, a slang word for a non-combatant or weakly soldier.

17. SHELL-SHOCK Although the adjective shell-shocked has been traced back as far as 1898 (when it was first used slightly differently to mean “subjected to heavy fire”), the first true cases of shell-shock emerged during the First World War. The Oxford English Dictionary has since traced the earliest record back to an article in The British Medical Journal dated January 30, 1915: “Only one case of shell shock has come under my observation. A Belgian officer was the victim. A shell burst near him without inflicting any physical injury. He presented practically complete loss of sensation in the lower extremities and much loss of sensation.”

18. SOUVENIR Derived from the French for “memory” or “remembering,” souvenir has been used in English since the 18th century. However its use in military slang to refer to wounds, scars, shrapnel, and other permanent reminders of battle emerged during the First World War, and has since been traced back as far as 1915.

19. SPIKE-BOZZLED Spike was used during the First World War to mean “to render a gun unusable.” Spike-bozzled, or spike-boozled, came to mean "completely destroyed," and was usually used to describe airships and other aircraft rather than weaponry. Exactly what bozzled means in this context is unclear, but it’s probably somehow related to bamboozled in the sense of something being utterly confounded or stopped in its path.

20. STRAFE One of the German propagandists’ most famous World War I slogans was "Gott Strafe England!" or “God punish England," which was printed everywhere in Germany from newspaper advertisements to postage stamps. In response, Allied troops quickly adopted the word strafe into the English language after the outbreak of the War, and variously used it to refer to a heavy bombardment or attack, machine gun fire, or a severe reprimand.

21. ZIGZAG Zigzag has been used in English since the 18th century to describe an angular, meandering line or course but during the First World War came to be used as a euphemism for drunkenness, presumably referring to the zigzagging walk of a soldier who had had one too many.

Text from MentalFloss

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437_mata hari_01Margaretha Geertruida "M’greet" Zelle MacLeod (7 August 1876 – 15 October 1917), better known by the stage name Mata Hari, was a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy and executed by firing squad in France under charges of espionage for Germany during World War I.

Early life
Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. Her birthhouse, at Kelders 33, survived a big fire that ruined the three houses next to it on 19 October 2013. She was the eldest of four children of Adam Zelle (2 October 1840 – 13 March 1910) and his first wife Antje van der Meulen (21 April 1842 – 9 May 1891). She had three brothers. Her father owned a hat shop, made successful investments in the oil industry, and became affluent enough to give Margaretha a lavish early childhood that included exclusive schools until the age of 13.

However, Margaretha’s father went bankrupt in 1889, her parents divorced soon thereafter, and her mother died in 1891. Her father remarried in Amsterdam on 9 February 1893 to Susanna Catharina ten Hoove (11 March 1844 – 1 December 1913), with whom he had no children. The family had fallen apart and Margaretha moved to live with her godfather, Mr. Visser, in Sneek. In Leiden, she studied to be a kindergarten teacher, but when the headmaster began to flirt with her conspicuously, she was removed from the institution by her offended godfather. After only a few months, she fled to her uncle’s home in The Hague.

Dutch East Indies
At 18, Margaretha answered an advertisement in a Dutch newspaper placed by Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod (1 March 1856 – 9 January 1928) who was living in the then Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and was looking for a wife. Margaretha married Rudolf in Amsterdam on 11 July 1895. He was the son of Captain John Brienen MacLeod (a descendant of the Gesto branch of the MacLeods of Skye, hence his Scottish-sounding name) and Dina Louisa, Baroness Sweerts de Landas. This was significant as the marriage enabled her to move into the Dutch upper class and her finances were placed on sound footing. They moved to Malang on the East side of the island of Java and had two children, Norman-John MacLeod (30 January 1897 – 27 June 1899) and Louise Jeanne MacLeod (2 May 1898 – 10 August 1919).

437_mata hari_02The marriage was an overall disappointment. MacLeod appears to have been an alcoholic who would take out his frustrations on his wife, who was twenty years younger, and whom he blamed for his lack of promotion. He also openly kept a concubine, a socially accepted practice in the Dutch East Indies at that time. The disenchanted Margaretha abandoned him temporarily, moving in with Van Rheedes, another Dutch officer. For months, she studied the Indonesian traditions intensively, joining a local dance company. In 1897, she revealed her artistic name of Mata Hari, Indonesian for "sun" (literally, "eye of the day"), from the Sanskrit "goddess" and "god," via correspondence to her relatives in Holland.

At MacLeod’s urging, Margaretha returned to him, although his aggressive demeanour did not change. She escaped her circumstances by studying the local culture. In 1899, their children fell violently ill from complications relating to the treatment of syphilis contracted from their parents, though the family claimed they were poisoned by an irate servant. Jeanne survived, but Norman died. Some sources maintain that one of Rudolf’s enemies may have poisoned a supper to kill both of their children. After moving back to the Netherlands, Rudolf left her in 1902 and took Jeanne with him. The couple divorced in 1907. Margaretha was awarded custody of Jeanne, but after Rudolf deliberately reneged on a support payment, Margaretha was forced to give Jeanne back to him. Jeanne later died at the age of 21, also possibly from complications relating to syphilis.

Paris
437_mata hari_03In 1903, Margaretha moved to Paris, where she performed as a circus horse rider, using the name Lady MacLeod, much to the disapproval of the Dutch MacLeods. Struggling to earn a living, she also posed as an artist’s model.

By 1905, Mata Hari began to win fame as an exotic dancer. She was a contemporary of dancers Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis, leaders in the early modern dance movement, which around the turn of the 20th century looked to Asia and Egypt for artistic inspiration. Critics would later write about this and other such movements within the context of Orientalism. Gabriel Astruc became her personal booking agent.

Promiscuous, flirtatious, and openly flaunting her body, Mata Hari captivated her audiences and was an overnight success from the debut of her act at the Musée Guimet on 13 March 1905. She became the long-time mistress of the millionaire Lyon industrialist Émile Étienne Guimet, who had founded the Musée. She posed as a Java princess of priestly Hindu birth, pretending to have been immersed in the art of sacred Indian dance since childhood. She was photographed numerous times during this period, nude or nearly so. Some of these pictures were obtained by MacLeod and strengthened his case in keeping custody of their daughter.

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Mata Hari brought this carefree provocative style to the stage in her act, which garnered wide acclaim. The most celebrated segment of her act was her progressive shedding of clothing until she wore just a jeweled bra and some ornaments upon her arms and head. She was seldom seen without a bra, as she was self-conscious about being small-breasted. She wore a bodystocking for her performances that was similar in color to her own skin.

Although Mata Hari’s claims about her origins were fictitious, it was very common for entertainers of her era to invent colorful stories about their origins as part of the show. Her act was spectacularly successful because it elevated exotic dance to a more respectable status, and so broke new ground in a style of entertainment for which Paris was later to become world famous. Her style and her free-willed attitude made her a very popular woman, as did her eagerness to perform in exotic and revealing clothing. She posed for provocative photos and mingled in wealthy circles. At the time, as most Europeans were unfamiliar with the Dutch East Indies and thus thought of Mata Hari as exotic, it was assumed her claims were genuine.

437_mata hari_05By about 1910, myriad imitators had arisen. Critics began to opine that the success and dazzling features of the popular Mata Hari were due to cheap exhibitionism and lacked artistic merit. Although she continued to schedule important social events throughout Europe, she was held in disdain by serious cultural institutions as a dancer who did not know how to dance.

Mata Hari’s career went into decline after 1912. On March 13, 1915, she performed in what would be the last show of her career. She had begun her career relatively late for a dancer, and had started putting on weight. However, by this time she had become a successful courtesan, though she was known more for her sensuality and eroticism rather than for striking classical beauty. She had relationships with high-ranking military officers, politicians, and others in influential positions in many countries. Her relationships and liaisons with powerful men frequently took her across international borders. Prior to World War I, she was generally viewed as an artist and a free-spirited bohemian, but as war approached, she began to be seen by some as a wanton and promiscuous woman, and perhaps a dangerous seductress.

"Double agent?"
437_mata hari_06During World War I, the Netherlands remained neutral. As a Dutch subject, Margaretha Zelle was thus able to cross national borders freely. To avoid the battlefields, she travelled between France and the Netherlands via Spain and Britain, and her movements inevitably attracted attention. In 1916, she was travelling by steamer from Spain when her ship called at the English port of Falmouth. There she was arrested and brought to London where she was interrogated at length by Sir Basil Thomson, Assistant Commissioner at New Scotland Yard in charge of counter-espionage. He gave an account of this in his 1922 book Queer People, saying that she eventually admitted to working for French Intelligence. Initially detained in Cannon Street police station, she was then released and stayed at the Savoy Hotel. A full transcript of the interview is in Britain’s National Archives and was broadcast with Mata Hari played by Eleanor Bron on the independent station London Broadcasting in 1980.

It is unclear if she lied on this occasion, believing the story made her sound more intriguing, or if French authorities were using her in such a way, but would not acknowledge her due to the embarrassment and international backlash it could cause.

In January of 1917, the German military attaché in Madrid transmitted radio messages to Berlin describing the helpful activities of a German spy, code-named H-21. French intelligence agents intercepted the messages and, from the information it contained, identified H-21 as Mata Hari. The messages were in a code that some claimed that German intelligence knew had already been broken by the French (in fact it had been broken not by the French, but by the British "Room 40" team), leaving some to claim that the messages were contrived. However, this same code, which the Germans were convinced was unbreakable was used to transmit the Zimmermann Telegram; its unintended interception some weeks later precipitated the United States’s entry into the war against Germany.

437_mata hari_07Trial and execution
On 13 February 1917, Mata Hari was arrested in her room at the Hotel Elysée Palace, on the Champs Elysée, where HSBC later established its French headquarters, in Paris. She was put on trial on 24 July, accused of spying for Germany, and consequently causing the deaths of at least 50,000 soldiers. Although the French and British intelligence suspected her of spying for Germany, neither could produce definite evidence against her. Secret ink was found in her room, which was incriminating evidence in that period. She contended that it was part of her make-up. She wrote several letters to the Dutch Consul in Paris, claiming her innocence. "My international connections are due of my work as a dancer, nothing else …. Because I really did not spy, it is terrible that I cannot defend myself." Her defense attorney, veteran international lawyer Edouard Clunet, faced impossible odds; he was denied permission either to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses or to examine his own witnesses directly. Under the circumstances, her conviction was a foregone conclusion. She was executed by firing squad on 15 October 1917, at the age of 41.

German documents unsealed in the 1970s proved that Mata Hari was truly a German agent.[citation needed] In the autumn of 1915, she entered German service, and on orders of section III B-Chief Walter Nicolai, she was instructed about her duties by Major Roepell during a stay in Cologne. Her reports were to be sent to the Kriegsnachrichtenstelle West (War News Post West) in Düsseldorf under Roepell as well as to the Agent mission in the German embassy in Madrid under Major Arnold Kalle, with her direct handler being Captain Hoffmann, who also gave her the code name H-21.

In December of 1916, the French Second Bureau of the French War Ministry let Mata Hari obtain the names of six Belgian agents. Five were suspected of submitting fake material and working for the Germans, while the sixth was suspected to be a double agent for Germany and France. Two weeks after Mata Hari had left Paris for a trip to Madrid, the double agent was executed by the Germans, while the five others continued their operations. This development served as proof to the Second Bureau that the names of the six spies had been communicated by Mata Hari to the Germans.

Disappearance and rumours   
Mata Hari’s body was not claimed by any family members and was accordingly used for medical study. Her head was embalmed and kept in the Museum of Anatomy in Paris, but in 2000, archivists discovered that the head had disappeared, possibly as early as 1954, when the museum had been relocated.[citation needed] Records dated from 1918 show that the museum also received the rest of the body, but none of the remains could later be accounted for.

A 1934 New Yorker article reported that at her execution she wore "a neat Amazonian tailored suit, especially made for the occasion, and a pair of new white gloves" though another account indicates she wore the same suit, low-cut blouse and tricorn hat ensemble which had been picked out by her accusers for her to wear at trial, and which was still the only full, clean outfit which she had along in prison. Neither description matches photographic evidence. According to an eyewitness account by British reporter Henry Wales, she was not bound and refused a blindfold. Wales records her death, saying that after the volley of shots rang out, "Slowly, inertly, she settled to her knees, her head up always, and without the slightest change of expression on her face. For the fraction of a second it seemed she tottered there, on her knees, gazing directly at those who had taken her life. Then she fell backward, bending at the waist, with her legs doubled up beneath her." A non-commissioned officer then walked up to her body, pulled out his revolver, and shot her in the head to make sure she was dead.

Text from Wikipedia

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