A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7000 images, 3 million hits| History of Science, Math & Tech | Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places...
"There is work that profits children, and there is work that brings
profit only to employers. The object of employing children is not to
train them, but to get high profits from their work." --Lewis Hine, 1908
These broadsides are tough going. They are the work of advocates and reformers who sought to give children an even chance at growing up as children, rather than joining the hundreds of thousands of 6-12 year olds already in the workforce in America in the first decade or two of the 20th century. They were a simple and very powerful appeal to business-owners and parents to resist the temptation of child exploitation--none though so far as I can tell directly addressed the children. See my other posts on this topics here:
See also The Long Fight for the Capitalization of the "n" in "Negro"here
“I believe that eight million Americans are entitled to a capital letter.” W.E.B. BuBois I was walking home the other day, taking a short cut through the Chamber of Commerce (of Asheville) and stopped to read an historical marker placed in parking lot for a Civil War prison and hospital. Sprinkled throughout the two hundred word synopsis were varied parenthetic ( ) corrections of the quoted text. But not when it came to the quoted line using the small-n "negro", there was no parenthetic correction to (N)egro. No sic. Nothing.
The "Negro Pencil" was found in the corporate pamphlet, The Pencil, published by the American arm of the Czech company Koh-I-Noor Pencil Company. It was a lovely thing, really, a lusty bit for the pencil fancier. And then I came to this.
The "Negro" Pencil is not a matter of non-translation into "hard black" or whatever--there are no other instances of the transliteration not taking place. "Negro Pencil" is a product of its time.
The history of the power of words is long and complex, and for the most
part is on one side or the other of the political and social mirror, at
least in the United States. Controlling the meaning of a word or phrase
controls the idea which alters the way people approach it, defining the
very heart of what may control the impulse for war or peace, which
means that people may die as much for words as they will for ideas.
"Negro" may be capitalized here, but perhaps it is because it started a sentence.
It may have been capitalized, but using the name of a race to sell the color of a pencil might as well have taken the capitalization away, demeaning a race to sell a pencil, all without a second thought. It was a product of the time that such a discrimination could be so engrained as to not even think that the use of the word was demeaning.
Here's a slathering piece of propaganda published by the Militant Christian Patriots (of London) on how the British government was dealing with the Nazi/Seudeten problem in September 1938. In their gunsights was Anthony Eden, who was seen by this group as a Bolshevist supporter, and who as the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom under Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was against the appeasement policy of the government towards Nazi territorial acquisitions, particularly in this case with Czechoslovakia. Eden. identified here as "backed by the Zionists, Fabian_Scoailists and "pacifist" League of Nations enthusiasts" was a multiple threat, and seen to be capable of directing national policy towards a confrontation with Germany over the looming Czech problem. [The original is available from our blog bookstore.] On the other hand, Neville Chamberlain, who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at this time (and from May 1938-May 1940), was seen as a better ideological fit with his issues and policies of appeasement of the German nationalist needs and territorial rape. Chamberlain certainly gave what Christian Militants wanted--a free hand to Hitler in Czechoslovakia (and more), and perhaps an acknowledgement of defeat to the Nazi nation. Winston Churchill certainly thought so:
"We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat... you will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi régime. We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude...we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road...we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged..." Winston Churchill, MP, 1938
The Christian Militants saw it all differently, tending to agree with Hitler on the Czech matter, and seeking to keep the U.K. out of confrontation and thus away from war by giving Hitler (and then Mussolini) what they demanded to satisfy their growing national needs.
"I am asking neither that Germany be allowed to oppress three and a half million Frenchmen, nor am I asking that three and a half million Englishmen be placed at our mercy. Rather I am simply demanding that the oppression of three and a half million Germans in Czechoslovakia cease and that the inalienable right to self-determination take its place." -Adolf Hitler's speech at the NSDAP Congress 1938
Eden resigned his position earlier in the year, in March 1938, but stayed in the fray. As everyone knows things went badly at the end of the month of September, 1938, with Chamberlain letting everything go and appeasing Hitler in the Munich Conference (known to the Czechs as the "Munich Dictates" and worse) in which bits of Czechoslovakia were given to Germany in a series of meetings in which that country was not invited.
And so the P.M. returned to the home country having done nothing in Germany but give away a part of someone else's country, all in a feeble attempt at maintaining peace for Europe's key players. He landed at Heston Aerodrome and held a piece of flimsy paper in his hand, which was battered by a tiny wind, and declared that there would be "peace in our time" because Hitler's signature said it would be so, all of which was a "prelude to peace" in Europe as a whole:
"My good friends, this is the second time there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now I recommend you go home, and sleep quietly in your beds."
Less than a year later it would all come crashing down, the appeasement policy (such as it was) a shambles, and the world plunged into war. Chamberlain would last as P.M. for a little longer, until May 1940, when he was at last replaced--by Winston Churchill.
I came upon this pamphlet out in the warehouse, and I was reminded again of the greatness and courage of some of the anti-NSDAP/Hitler artists in Germany in the early period of Nazism, 1933-1936. There were many who were overtly anti-Nazi--like George Grosz and John Heartfield--in the political messages that were their artwork; then there were those (like Felixmueller, Wollein, Otto Dix, Max Pechstein) who became enemies of the Nazi state because they chose to depcit the horrors of war or poverty or other social ills
["Brains Behind Barbed Wire", with a woodcut by Frans Masereel.]
John Heartfield, Blood and Iron, 1934
And then, as the Nazis consolidated power they erected an enormous edifice of propaganda and thought control, codified in law and absorbed into societal practice, where artists and writers and their artwork and books and ideas were banned, being "deliberate sabotage of national defense". The books were burned, the art removed or sold or destroyed or hidden, the writers and artists threatened with extinction as well: deported, thrown away, controlled, imprisoned, sent to concentration camps, murdered.
[War and Corpses, by John Hearfield, 1932.]
One way of another, they were mostly gotten rid of--the paintings and other works of those who were abroad or dead or otherwise not-reachable; and the art as well as the artists who were still in Germany, and whose presence could be controlled.
["Max Klinger", Volk in Ketten. Deutschalnds Weg ins Chaos, 1934]
Some of the artists who were not able to escape, or who were Jewish and who did no tget sent to concentration camps, were murdered via the infamous Aktion 4 or T4 program--the mass murder of the physically disabled, the sick, the weak, the "moral degenerate", and those too incapacitated to take care of themselves. The name comes from the address of the organization responsible for it, at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin--the Gemeinnützige Stiftung für Heil- und Anstaltspflege, [or Charitable Foundation for Curative and Institutional Care] which was run from (at least ) 1939 to 1945 under the direction of Recihsleiter Philipp Bouhler (who unfortunately escaped life by suicide after being captured by the Americans in May 1945).
To make things easier on the German mind, the NSDAP selected artists and entire art movements that were to be banned as "degenerate", and displayed them in an infamous 1937 show called Entartete Kunst ("Degenerate Art").
The people who committed their beliefs about the great Evil Thing that was National Socialism, those who committed their thoughts in art or literature, and did so in the 1933-1937 period, were brave people. Hitler and Goebbels and the rest of the Nazi machine deeply appreciated the influence of visual images, being great practioners in the idea themselves, only though with vastly different content.
The great social commentator/satirist/cartoonist for Harper's Weekly magazine, Thomas Nast, also knew the great influence of the single visual image, and magisterially used his insight and art to great effect in helping to effect social change. One of the evils he brought down--Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall--said that he didn't fear anything that was written about him in the newspaper because his constituency "couldn't read". But what he didn't get, and what he never did understand, that the thing that brought him down were cartoons, and those were the things that people didn't need to be able to read words in because they could already "read" the images. And it got him in the end.
The manufacturers of the NSDAP recognized this factor and saw how much it could play against them, and so sought to remove "it". They went after the art, the artists, and the ideas, and came away from it all with safe and sanitized and partially meaningless culture.
The artists condemned in the 1937 Degenerate Art exhibition necessarily reads like a who's-who of modern and 20th century art: the show included Ernst Barlach, Willi Baumeister, Max Beckmann, Max Ernst, Wassily Kandinsky, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein, Paul Klee, Ernst Krircherm Lyonel Feiniger, Oskar Schlemmer, Franz Marc, El Lissitzky, Oscar Kokoschka, George Grosz, Marc Chagall, and Kurt Schwittersto name a few. (A full list can be seen below.) Entire artistic movements were also to be eliminated in order to save the morality and conscience of the German people, including Bauhaus, Surrealism, Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism and Dada. Basically, it was almost all of modern art.
These artist were abandoned/exiled/killed in favor of a more morally-robust and Aryan flavor, a genetic correctness, like the work here by Ernst Liebermann, moribund in its deadly color, greasy, tumescent hyper-non-sexuality:
which is picture postcard bad, like Franklin Mint artists gone to Nazism and shining/lustrous nudes.
The "degenerate" label didn't last very long in Germany, at least not in years--measured in lives, however, it is a completely different story.
JF Ptak Science Book--expansion of Post 230 (September 2008)
This is one of those times when a pamphlet has posed an idea that had never before occurred to me. This anonymous work produced by the German propaganda machine in May 1939 presents the incredible assertion that Poland did indeed have plans to continue to break the back of Germany over the never-to-be-forgotten Treaty of Versailles, and to also physically attack south-eastern Germany sometime in 1940.
Again, the idea that Germany was defending itself against an imminent attack by Poland was completely novel to me. There's always a reason for these sorts of beginnings of wars (Gulf of Tonkin, WMD), but this one really is exceptionally removed. Poland had just decided to defend its borders against the Germans following their conquest of Czechoslovakia the previous year--until then the Polish military's biggest threat was the Soviet Union. The German attack, the blitzkrieg (Fall Weiss) which would begin on 1 September 1939 involved 1.5 million German soldiers attacking two principal points in Poland. It was ostensibly launched in response to a small Polish attack on the German border town of Gliwce. In the attack, the Germans unleashed 11 tank divisions versus Poland's 1; sent in 1250 bombers and fighters to Poland's (mainly obsolete) 360; rolled 4 motorized divisions against Poland's, um, that's right, they didn't have any. And of course the Germans had a modern and vastly superior navy, compared with Poland's 4 destroyers, five subs, and assorted smaller numbers of smaller and less-significant vessels.
The British and the French issued an ultimatum to Germany to cease and desist; Hitler had no intentions in stopping, throwing the five armies of von Rundstedt and von Block deeper into the country in a fast and (according to many German generals) breakneck manner. The British and French declared war on the 3rd, by which time the war in eastern Poland was already almost over. The Germans did respond to the ultimatum (see this in continued reading, below) in which it outlines some of their needs and Polish-inspired dears.
By 24 September the Germans had reached the formerly important geographic boundary of the Vistula and swarmed past. Warsaw was bombed by some 1150 aircraft, and by the 27th, the fighting was almost entirely over. (Some divisions held out to 6 October, the invasion completed in 36 days).
It is sometimes forgotten in the quickness of this defeat that Poland inflicted some heavy losses on the German military machine: 8000 soldiers killed with 27,000 wounded and 5,000 MIA; 217 tanks were destroyed. The Luftwaffe lost over 500 planes, either entirely destroyed or damaged to the point of uselessness. Polish losses were far greater.
It was at this time that the first of my grandmother's brothers, Raymond Dymek of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, would cross the border into Canada and volunteer, becoming a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He would fly against the Nazis with the CRAF, then joined the RAF, until finally, when the U.S. joined the European war 27 months later, would fly for the U.S. Army Air Force. He had a very long career and made it through. His five brothers would also enlist in the U.S. armed forces; all six brothers would return home. Fatherland and all that. I know the vocabuarly for their response to the idea that Germany was responding to a Polish threat of invasion didn't exist to them--it barely does for me.
I came across something late last night, out of place in an out of place basement, a pamphlet entitled Ideals of the New Philippines, and issued by the Japanese propaganda corps. Says so right on the label. It was issued in 1941/2 [This pamphlet is available on our books for sale blog, here.]
There are several essays in this work, all of them address the victory of the Japanese army over the United States and allies (USAFFE), and calling for Filipinos to accept their new responsibilities in rebuilding their country according to Japanese and "Asiatic" ideals. In general the approach to the newly-captive population was that of a liberator, helping the Philippines to "escape from the captivity of the United States". The Japanese call for a "Marshall Petain model of rehabilitation: "... and "you must surmount tremendous difficulties everywhere you go".
There is no escaping the very determined, authoritarian approach: "Filipinos must follow the Japanese way or they will be deemed a traitor to the Philippines and to the Japanese Imperial Army. Those who spread rumors about the return of the US Army to the Philippines are unpardonable criminals because they disturb the tranquility of the country". And "You shall never regret your collaborations with us."
Yosihide Hayasi (Director General of the Japanese Occupation) writes strongly of the anti-Imperialist efforts of Japan and their Army's liberating efforts, and the plan to spring about a great Asiatic Asia, free of Western influences "and the eradication of Anglo Saxon and Western imperialism". "Believing in the superior blood of Asiatic people" "the Filipinos will wash away the defects of the Anglo Saxons". There is a further short essay by Jorge Vargas ("Chairman of the Executive Committee), entitled "Philippine Islands Grateful to Japanese". There is also appended (from pp 28-37) the Field Service Code of the Japanese Army, heavy belief in strength, discipline, honor, obedience.
The Philippines fell to the Japanese weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and was not liberated for another three+ years. And it was a very grueling liberation, particularly in Manila, where the month-long battle to free the city resulted in the death of 100,000 Manila residents.