Today marks the 77th anniversary of the Rafle du Vel d’Hiv in Paris. It took the French over 50 years to admit their very proactive role in this tragedy, and Jacques Chirac was the one to finally tell the truth. For this reason, I will always have respect for him, in spite of his being — in my view – politically objectionable on other matters. There was absolutely nothing for him to gain from this in terms of votes. It was simply the right thing to do.
I’m a day late, but in honour of July 12th and King Billy (my family benefitted rather enormously from this man and his adventures), I give you this terrific tune. (You will recognize the melody – Sweet Betsy From Pike. Of course, when immigrants came to North America, they brought their songs and the lyrics were often changed.)
When I was in high school, I had a history teacher named Mr. McGrahan. He was mean to me. He was always mystified when I did fabulously well on a test, which was EVERY TIME I WROTE A TEST. He just did not like me. But he said one thing that was useful – he told us that the Versailles Treaty was not unjust, that it was not a cause of World War II, that the Germans had no justification to whinge about it. As I went on to study history at university and on my own time, I came to the conclusion that he was correct, though the received wisdom was always that the Versailles Treaty was unfair to Germany and a cause of the war. This is my very long-winded way of saying that I was thrilled to come upon this column in the Wall Street Journal, written by Joseph Loconte: The Versailles Treaty Gets a Bum Rap.
I think you should read it!
This is the best. Sad that it needs to be explained.
I found this story particularly poignant.
D-Day veterans have returned to the beaches where they landed 75 years ago to lay crosses and remember their fallen comrades.
Trooper Albert Price, 93, was an 18-year-old gunner with the Royal Dragoon Guards when he landed on Gold beach on D-Day.
He took Betty – his wife of 67 years – by the hand and walked with her on to the historic beach for the first time today.
Read the whole thing and enjoy the pictures. As the kids say, “relationship goals.”
My uncle’s letter to my grandfather on June 8th, 1944, mentions DDay. He and his Algonquin Regiment comrades were still in England training, and would join the battle in July. But you can see from this letter that the invasion had quite an impact on morale – a positive one. Excerpts:
I am well, of course, and quite happy. Also, of course, excited, for the Second Front is still in the process of being established. You have only a small idea of what it has done to our morale over here. It’s given everything a new meaning, and at day time we watch planes going south, and say, “Ahha!”, see them coming north and nod at one another, watch them going east & west, and murmur excitedly. We see huge convoys going in all directions and wink. We see the Higher Paid Help riding by in their command vehicles and say, “I’ll bet….”
But for the last few weeks you couldn’t imagine the air activity that was going on. Absolutely terrific, and something Canada has still to see. Every sort of plane has gone over us, in all sorts of combinations, by day and by night. We’ve been awakened at night by them, prevented from lecturing by the noise of them, and kept dizzy counting them.
At this date everything seems to be going well on the beachhead, tho’ it’s hard to say from here – just as hard, if not harder, here as it is at home. We get hourly reports, newspapers, radio reports, and all the latest rumors. All of which also make us dizzy.
Impossible to overstate the significance of this date. I have a few links about soldiers – all but the last D-Day veterans, all men who served with honour: Windsor veteran going to the commemorations, likely his last; Ninety-nine-year-old veteran reflects on D-Day; the D-Day experiences of the recently deceased fighter pilot Jack Henry Hilton, via The Memory Project (these folks do wonderful work); Louis Levi Oakes, last of the Mohawk code talkers, dies.
The great historian John Lukacs died – please read Conrad Black’s excellent tribute to him. And here are links to two of my favourite Lukacs’ books: Five Days in London, May 1940; June 1941: Hitler and Stalin.
I’ve bookmarked and accumulated a lot of links in the past few weeks. I will not post them all, but here are a few of interest. I do want to add that I’ve had readers write me and say “hey Rondi, why don’t you comment on x/y/z?” Rest assured that as with everything that comes from me, there is no method to my madness. I do not ignore certain stories for political reasons or because I don’t care about them – as some have suggested – but merely for reasons of time allotment and forgetfulness. Of course, I am interested in some issues more than others, as most of us are.
So let us begin:
When Turkey Destroyed its Christians. (This piece pains me enormously – I have such fondness for Turkey and Turks, in general.)
Fighting for the Soul of Islam in Sri Lanka, written by the novelist Ameena Hussein, after the horrific Easter bombings.
The Mossad agent who captured Eichmann passed away. May Rafi Eitan’s memory be a blessing.
Queen Victoria as you’ve never seen her before – a rare film clip of her (and she’s wearing hipster sunglasses!).
That’s all for today, dear readers. I like ending with the Queen Victoria link – it is cute and fun.