Bias in Fleeing Franco

Hywel Davies’ Fleeing Franco is a study of Spanish refugee children who were sheltered in Wales during the Spanish Civil War.  Davies examines how the cultural and geographic similarities between the Welsh and Basque people led to a connection that resulted in the Welsh providing more effort toward supporting the Republican army than the rest of Britain.  He also shows how the Welsh peoples’ more left leaning politics played a role in their willingness to provide aid.… Read the rest here

Things To Come

William Cameron Menzie’s film Things to Come is an adaptation of a novel by HG Wells.  Produced in 1936, this science fiction film explores England’s dystopic future that comes as a result of a devastating war, which is significant in the way that it accurately predicts World War II.  England first experiences a regression to the dark ages, which is followed by a period defined by obsession with progressions of technology.  Authoritarian leaders are in power during each of these eras.… Read the rest here

Mr. Norris and Communism

Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories consists of two novellas set in Berlin right before and during the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s, the first of which is The Last of Mr. Norris.  This stories chronicles the friendship between William Bradshaw and Arthur Norris.  Mr. Norris proves to be a mysterious and interesting character, as he is a communist during a time which it is dangerous to be so in Germany.

While Norris holds onto his communist beliefs despite the political dangers they cause him, there are some aspects of his personality that do not completely fit with the communist ideology. … Read the rest here

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novella One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich describes the working and living conditions of a Russian labor camp by examining the lives of its prisoners.  All of these men ended up in the camp by being deemed enemies of the state, and the purpose of the camp is to reteach them how to be productive members of the Communist party.  However, some of the values that are prominent in the camp ironically go against those of Communism. … Read the rest here

Fighting Poverty in Britain

The interwar period brought about a shift in Britain’s attitudes toward the poor.  Rather than continuing to believe that poverty was the fault of the poor, the British government began to implement programs aimed at helping them and increase awareness about their plight.  The documentaries Housing Problems and Enough to Eat are examples of these efforts at awareness.  Housing Problems interviews residents of a British slum about their living conditions while Enough to Eat describes Britain’s efforts at minimizing malnutrition.… Read the rest here

“Bread and Wine”

The first half of Ignazio Silone’s Bread and Wine follows Pietro Spina, an Italian socialist revolutionary who has returned to Italy after having been exiled.  In order to evade arrest, he disguises himself Don Paolo Spada, a priest who has been sent to live in a rural village in Southern Italy to regain his health.  This disguise is ironic, as Spina has abandoned the religious fervor he had in his adolescence.  Silone uses this plot line to explore the effects of fascism on Catholics and uneducated peasants.… Read the rest here

“Metropolis,” Capitalism, and Science

Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis provides a good balance between science fiction and social commentary on Weimar Germany.  It depicts a futuristic, dystopian city in which the upper and working classes are both literally and symbolically divided.  When Freder, the son of the city’s overlord discovers the disconnect between the classes, he realizes his role as a mediator between his father and the workers.  He is helped to discover this by his love interest, the prophetic Maria, who preaches for a peaceful solution for the class divide rather than the violent revolution which ends up occurring.… Read the rest here

Science and Fear

While science has brought about much great advancement in human history, it has also had the potential to be destructive.  In his article Icarus, or The Future of Science, Bertrand Russell argues that humanity would use scientific advances for darker purposes, such as to “…facilitate centralization and propaganda,” and as a result, “…groups become more organized, more disciplined, more group-conscious, and more docile to leaders” (Russell).  He argues that through technological developments, governments are able to have more control over all aspects of peoples’ lives. … Read the rest here

British Eugenics: Race Versus Class

This eugenicist poster presents the differences between different African faces, highlighting the features of the so-considered “criminal” and “civil insane.”  I found it to be a good demonstration of the belief within eugenics that someone’s facial features could be used to determine their personality type.  Eugenicists believed that one’s personality could be determined by their appearance.  Having a “shorter, broader, higher head” for example could classify one as a criminal according to this poster.  Biology and anthropology were used as both logical proof and a moral conscience for these claims. … Read the rest here

The Economic Consequences of the Peace

In this section of his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes discusses what he believes to be the failings of the Treaty of Versailles.  He believes that the treaty will cause the economic situation in Europe to worsen, as well as fail to prevent future animosity amongst the opposing countries, stating that it contains “…nothing to make defeated Central Europe into good neighbors.”  Keynes’ views appear to be more similar to those of Woodrow Wilson in his 14 Points than those expressed in the official treaty, arguing that the treaty did too much to harm Germany.… Read the rest here