Fascinating Kodachrome Footage of “Victory over Japan Day” in Honolulu, 1945

When Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signed Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945 in Berlin (footage here), the Second World War may have been over for Europe, but the war on the Pacific front waged on as Japan refused to surrender. Only after the fateful decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and after the Soviets invaded Japanese-held Manchuria, did Emperor Hirohito accept the hopelessness of the situation and agree to surrender on August 15. When the official radio announcement (recording here) was broadcast - due to time zone differences on August 14 in the U.S. - the news spread like wildfire and the day became known as "Victory over Japan Day", or simply as "VJ Day." Spontaneous celebrations erupted all over the United States, but especially on Hawaii, where the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 leading the US to officially enter World War II.

One of these spontaneous celebrations in Honolulu was captured on Kodachrome 16mm film and has been digitally restored. One commenter on Vimeo has identified all of the exact locations here.

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

British Actors Read Poignant Poetry from World War I

The First World War (1914-1918) changed Britain to a degree that was unthinkable in 1914. Pre-war certainties and values such as honor, fatherland and progress disintegrated on the battlefields and trenches in France and Belgium. New technology such as tanks, machine guns, grenades, flame throwers and poison gas were used to destroy the enemy; constant fire for days on end was intended to break the soldiers in the trenches. Unspeakable horrors led to psychological problems of unknown proportions.

Coping with these horrors during and after The Great War (as it's still called in Britain today) seemed like a Herculean task to poets - how do you put the unspeakable into words? Some poets, e.g. Rupert Brooke, still celebrated the heroism of the English soldiers (e.g., 1914 II. Safety), whereas others, such as Wilfred Owen, tried to describe the horrors of this war (e.g., Dulce et Decorum Est).

Every year on the Sunday closest to November 11, Britain remembers the dead of the First World War. For Remembrance Day 2012, famous British actors were asked to recite First World War poetry. The finished clips were to be shown on TV that day. The video above shows three actors reciting four poems by Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen (click the names of the actors for information about them and the titles of the poems for the full text):

  1. Sean Bean reads Wilfred Owen's "Anthem for Doomed Youth"
  2. Gemma Arterton reads Wilfred Owen's "Arms and the Boy"
  3. Sophie Okonedo reads Rupert Brooke's "The Soldier"
  4. Sean Bean reads Wilfred Owen's "The Last Laugh"

Bonus material:

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

The Normandy Invasion Captured on 16 mm Kodachrome Film (1944)

The Normandy Invasion, otherwise known as "Operation Overlord," was launched by the Allies on June 6, 1944. On that day -- D-Day -- American, British and Canadian troops landed on five separate beachheads in Normandy, on the western shores of France. By the end of August 1944, the Allies had liberated all of northern France and started marching towards Nazi Germany.

At the time, the filmmaker George Stevens (1904-1975) was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army's Signal Corps. Dwight D. Eisenhower, tasked with planning and carrying out the Allied invasion of Normandy, wanted film crews present at the invasion to provide footage for a documentary film. Stevens took charge of the Special Motion Pictures Unit and gathered a group of cameramen and writers dubbed the "Stevens Irregulars". They used the standard Army motion picture stock, 35 mm black and white newsreel film. But they also brought along a hand-held camera and some 16 mm Kodachrome color film. Stevens shot several hours' worth of color footage from France, Belgium and Germany. The scenes from the liberation of Dachau concentration camp are particularly shocking and left their mark on the lives of the cameramen. In 1994, Stevens' son used this film footage to assemble the documentary George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin.

Bonus material:

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Frank W. Buckles, The Last U.S. Veteran of World War I

Frank Woodruff Buckles was born on February 1st, 1901. At the age of 16, he enlisted in the U.S. Army by convincing recruiting officers that he was, in fact, 21. In this short film, Buckles recalls this time so long ago and the last year of the Great War. There are two particularly moving passages in this documentary: when he talks about the difficulties veterans experienced after returning home, and when Buckles voices his opinions on war in general, and particularly war today ("How did we get involved in this thing, Iraq? It was crazy, we have no damn business in there.")

Frank died on February 27th, 2011, at the age of 110. The last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I, he was properly laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery (find video of the ceremony here). There are two tributes to Mr Buckles that offer more insight into his life: a short video by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and an obituary in the Washington Post.

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Quantcast