Fleeing Franco

Fleeing Franco is a book written by Welsh historian Hywel Davies in 2011. It deals with the Welsh repatriation of Basque children during the Spanish Civil War. While the book is well researched, and presents an uplifting thesis about the largely uniform acceptance of the Spanish children in an already poverty-stricken nation, Davies does seem to present a slightly biased view on the matter. For example, he makes a point of vilifying the leading Welsh politicians, by stating their pro-Fascist attitudes, in favor of returning the children to Spain after the War, while stressing his opinion that those working with the children were following a humanitarian call rather than a political opportunity.… Read the rest here

Things to Come

Things to Come is a 1936 movie adaptation of the book, written by H.G. Wells. This movie continues Wells’ tradition of using powerful science-fiction stories to critique politics. Things to Come focuses on the possibility of war, and the devastating effect it will have for the next century, on England and the world.

There is one powerful scene that can be used as metaphor for the 20th Century till, and beyond, 1936. During the early stages of the war, an enemy pilot who is gassing the country is shot down, and then is promptly attended to by the protagonist, John Cabal.… Read the rest here

The Berlin Stories: Mr. Norris Changes Trains

The Berlin Stories by Christoper Isherwood are two stories set in Berlin in the 1930s. The first story, entitled Mr. Norris Changes Trains, is based on the relationship between William Bradshaw, the protagonist, and Arthur Norris, the mysterious stranger he meets on the train. The story follows their relationship and the gradual development of Norris’ character. Norris is soon revealed to be a communist and ex-convict. His past and his present tend to create financial and political troubles for Norris, especially in the changing climate of the newly Nazi state of Germany.… Read the rest here

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a compelling account of life in the Russian gulag system, based on Solzhenitsyn’s experiences. It deals with the various trials of living in labour camp, and strikingly presents the idea of the relativity of good fortune. A perfect example is the apparent good fortune of Ivan, because he sleeps in the barracks instead of the cells (165). However, the alternative example that I wish to focus on, is Solzhenitsyn’s  commentary on the Russian Orthodox Church.… Read the rest here

Housing Problems

Housing Problems is a 1935 document about housing problems in Britain. The video is very similar to Orwell’s piece entitled ‘Road to Wigan Pier’. It depicts the poor conditions that the lower class in Britain had to live in. It is also interesting to notice that the people who are interviewed are wearing what appears to be decent clothes, with one man even wearing a three-piece suit, without the jacket. I don’t know if this was common attire, but in my opinion it looks like these people did their best to look good, despite the fact that this was a film documenting their poor living conditions.… Read the rest here

“Bread and Wine” by Ignazio Silone

Bread and Wine is a novel written by Italian author Ignazio Silone in 1935. It primarily deals with the betrayal of the Catholic Church in it’s agreement with Fascism, and the underground communist revolutionary movement in Italy at the time. The first half of the book follows the life of a recently returned socialist opponent of the regime, named Pietro Spina, but disguised as Don Paolo Spada. Spada is a priest and is sent to live in a small rural village, in order to regain his health.… Read the rest here

Metropolis

Metropolis is a 1927 film made in Germany, and considered to be the world’s first important science fiction film. It is set in a future where thousands of nameless workers toil in underground factories to help the wealthy minority live in peace on the surface.

The film follows the exploits of Freder, the son of a wealthy industrialist, and Maria, the daughter of a worker. Freder learns compassion for the workers when he goes down to their level, literally and figuratively, and witnesses an explosion that is caused by the carelessness of fatigued, overworked men.… Read the rest here

Russell – The Future of Science

In this article, Russell likens the progress of science to the inventions of Daedalus and the inherent selfishness of mankind as Icarus. As the myth goes, Icarus flies too close to the sun, has his wings melted and falls to his death. He predicts a similar fate for humankind if they are given the technology to fly towards the sun.

This article has many metaphors and summaries about technological development, but from reading his introduction and conclusion, one gets the impression that he is using science as an example to debate the human psyche.… Read the rest here

Eugenics in Interwar Europe

film-eternal-jew

http://www.ushmm.org/propaganda/archive/film-eternal-jew/

This is a German poster for a government scripted movie, entitled the “The Eternal Jew”. It is described as a documentary, but a cursory glance at the poster reveals that it is a eugenics motivated propaganda film. The features of the Jew on the cover are deliberately depicted as ugly and evil, reminiscent of a witch from the tales of the Brothers Grimm. This movie was released in 1940, and represents the exaggerated European eugenicist view of “degenerates” (Stone, 98) during the interwar period.… Read the rest here

John Maynard Keynes: The Economic Consequences of the Peace, 1920.

In this article, Keynes talks about the Treaty of Versailles, and it’s failure to address the economic issues of a post-Great War Europe. He states that victorious Allied powers fail to realize that the stability of Europe, and thereby the stability of both France and Britain as well, is reliant on a complicated system of continental and global trade, which the Treaty attempts to disintegrate.

He focusses on Germany and uses them as a representative of post-war Europe.… Read the rest here