On this day: the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force is Formed

Waaf Australian Auxiliary Air Force REcruitment Poster Second World War Two 1940s

Second World War recruitment poster.

Britain’s Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, whose members were known as WAAFs, was formed on the 28th of June, 1939, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. Conscription of women began in 1941.

Women in the organisation worked in many fields, from parachute packing to meteorology, aircraft maintenance, and work with codes, in addition to catering and nursing.

Two WAAF cooks at an Royal Air Force aerodrome, following recipes for a hundred pies and a hundred scones. September 1940.

Two WAAF cooks at an Royal Air Force aerodrome, following recipes for a hundred pies and a hundred scones. September 1940. X

By 1943 over 2000 women were enlisting a week, bringing the force’s numbers to a peak of over 180 000.

At the end of the war numbers reduced significantly, and the WAAF was turned into the  Women’s Royal Air Force in 1949.

On this day: Frenchwomen finally vote

After decades of campaigning, the women of France voted for the first time on the 29th of April, 1945, when municipal elections were held. Legislation for women’s suffrage had been passed in October the year before.

While late, France wasn’t the last European country to grant women the vote. Women’s suffrage came even later in Italy, Greece, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra and Switzerland. Liechtenstein was the last to adopt equal voting rights – only in 1984.

This image from May of 1935 is of French suffragette Louise Weiss demonstrating alongside women holding papers saying The Frenchwoman Must Vote.

Suffragettes in France demonstrate in May of 1935. French women didn't win the vote until the mid-1940s. Louise Weiss along with other suffragettes in 1935. The bold text on the newspape

Eighty Years Ago

15 December 1939 Australian Women waving farewell to troop ship RMS Strathallan Advance Party of the 6th Division to service overseas. Include George Alan Vasey's wife Jessie Vasey. Vase

15th December 1939: Australian women wave farewell to troop ship RMS Strathallan. World War Two.

Second from left is Jessie Vasey, the wife of George Alan Vasey, who did not survive the war. Before her husband’s death Vasey had devoted years for fighting for the rights of war widows.

Australia had joined the conflict over three months before the image was taken.

Eighty Years Ago

Soviet cavalry on parade in Lviv, after the city's surrender to the Red Army during 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland The city, then known as Lwów, was annexed by the Soviet Union and toda

Source

This image is taken from Soviet footage in the city of Lviv, made on the 28th of September, 1939. The communists parade through the streets following a successful invasion. Lviv, in Ukraine, changed from Polish to Russian governance at this time.

Control of western Ukraine changed hands a number of times during the Second World War. It was the site of the beginning of the Nazi Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.

1940 Soviet stamps celebrating the 1939 “liberation” of Ukrainian and Belarusian people from the Polish regime.

At the end of the war, world leaders including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were responsible for the region falling behind the so-called Iron Curtain, trapping ethnic Ukrainians in the USSR.

Today, Lviv is one of Ukraine’s most patriotic cities.

On this day: Public Executions in Poland

Following the Nazi invasion of Poland on the 1st of September, 1939, German occupation of cities across the region was fast.

Bydgoszcz was occupied on the 9th of September, and roundups and public executions of civilians followed immediately.

These images show people – including a priest – soon to be killed, as well as random civilians the moment before they were executed.

On this day…

6th August 1942: The Daily Express’ front page reports on Stalin’s genocide in Ukraine, sharing photos of the dead and dying that were sneaked out of the Soviet Union. Unlike many Kremlin-friendly Western publications of the time, the newspaper chose to report on the genocide that claimed the lives of up to ten million people.

In Ukraine the Holodomor took place from 1932-33, when the food and crops of ethnic Ukrainians were confiscated and the people deliberately starved to death, to be replaced with colonial Russians.

6_aug_top_daily_express_Holodomor_Genocide The Daily Express Monday 6th August 1934 STalin Russia's genocide in Ukraine communism

Out this month: Mr Jones

mr. jones is a 2019 drama film directed by agnieszka holland. soviet union ussr ukraine stalin's genocide holodomor in ukraine movie poster

Historical film Mr Jones – about a Welsh journalist who risked his life to tell the truth about Stalin’s 1930s genocide in Ukraine – is out this month, beginning with a premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

Unlike the Holocaust, the Kremlin’s forced famine genocide – known as the Holodomor – escaped the world’s notice mostly because Western journalists, many of them advocates of communism, spent decades denying it.

Conservative estimates of the death toll put it on par with the Holocaust, while others place the numbers much higher; up to ten-million Ukrainians killed between 1932 and 1933. The numbers vary so much because, unlike the Germans who documented every aspect of the Holocaust, the Russian authorities have done everything in their power to hide their crimes.

(It should be noted that the Kremlin committed another genocide, in Kazakhstan, at the same time, killing 42% of their population.)

Gareth Jones, played in the movie by English actor James Norton, saw the Holodomor firsthand, and went against the lead of Stalin-friendly journalists like The New York Times’ Walter Duranty to try and get the truth out beyond the Iron Curtain.

Jones was only twenty-nine when he was murdered, one day shy of his thirtieth birthday.

This film seems incredibly important in this day and age, with people once again reacting to rising fascism by identifying as communists and sympathising with Russia. As this Variety article points out, we live in a similar age to the 1930s, with propaganda and “fake news” dominating much of the press, and most of the world turning a blind eye to atrocities being committed by the Kremlin, and by the regimes in countries like Syria.