On this day: a train to Auschwitz

This photograph, dated the 14th of June, 1940, is of mainly political prisoners, as well as both Catholics and Jews, being loaded onto a train in Tarnów, Poland. They were being sent to the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz I.

The first extermination of prisoners at that camp took place in September of 1941.

First_transport_to_Auschwitz_(Tarnów_-_14th_June_1940) Prisoners from the first transport to KL Auschwitz at the train station in Tarnów. The transport was composed mostly of Polish po

On this day: Italy declares war.

Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini stands on the balcony of the Palazzo Venezia in Rome to declare war on France and Great Britain on the 10th of June, 1940.

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Mussolini_DOW_10_June_1940 Italian leader Benito Mussolini delivering his war declaration on France and Great britain from the Palazzo Venezia Balcony in Rome. Fscist dictator.

Meanwhile, in Turin in the north of the country, people gather in a piazza to listen to the declaration on the radio.

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Turin-10-6-1940 People in Charles Albert Square, Turin, listening to the radio message of Benito Mussolini from Rome, announcing the italian declaration of war, 10th June 1940.

Wartime Ukrainian Easter

Before, during, and after the Second World War, Ukrainians resisted (often in underground organisations), occupation by both Russia and Germany, as well as military aggression from others including Hungary and Romania. Additionally, the west of Ukraine was under Polish rule before the Soviets invaded. The region suffered heavily during Operation Barbarossa.

These vintage Ukrainian Easter cards are from that turbulent time – note the rifle carried by the man on the horse.

The writing is the typical Easter message for Ukraine, and translates to ‘Christ is Risen’.

American professor Timothy Snyder is a good place to start for information on the most overlooked aspect of the war, particularly his book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.

Easter_card_Ukr_Legion These Easter cards are Ukrainian, and represent the era and the underground forces fighting more than one invader at the same time

Easter_card_ukr_leg These Easter cards are Ukrainian, and represent the era and the underground forces fighting more than one invader at the same time

Mt Vesuvius in 1944

Mount Vesuvius, a volcano on the Gulf of Naples in Italy, had one of its more destructive eruptions in March 1944.

The eruption destroyed the villages of San Sebastiano al Vesuvio, Massa di Somma and Ottaviano. Part of San Giorgio a Cremano was also destroyed.

John Reinhardt, serving in the US Army Air Forces in the Second World War, took this photograph.

mt-vesuvius-erupting-in-march-1944-shot-by-john-reinhardt-b24-tailgunner-is-the-usaaf-in-wwii

On this day: the end of the Winter War

Finnish_ski_troops The Winter War, which began in November 1939 when the Soviet Union invaded Finland, ended on the 13th of March, 1940.

Finnish ski troops in 1940.

The Winter War, which began in November 1939 when the Soviet Union invaded Finland, ended on the 13th of March, 1940.

Despite being victorious, Finland was still required to hand over some of their land to Russia at the end of the war.

The invasion of Finland was deemed illegal by the League of Nations, and was the cause of Moscow’s expulsion from the League in December of 1939.

The style of hybrid warfare used by the Kremlin in Finland has been replicated a number of times since, most recently in Ukraine.

On this day: the premiere of an anti-Nazi film

naztyspy_lobbyyou-nazty-spy-the-first-american-film-made-with-an-anti-nazi-sentiment-premiered-on-the-19th-of-january-1940

You Nazty Spy!, the first Hollywood film made with an anti-Nazi sentiment, premiered on the 19th of January, 1940.

Featuring The Three Stooges, it satirised Nazi Germany at a time when Americans had still not entered the Second World War, and the country remained neutral.

Some American politicians, such as Burton Wheeler and Gerald Nye, were offended by the anti-Nazi sentiment in the production, seeing it as war propaganda.

Of course, their attitudes changed completely twenty-three months later, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Construction in NYC

An image of the United Nations building in New York under construction in 1949. The building was completed in 1952.

The Empire State Building is in the background.

Bizarrely, this image is often said to be the Empire State Building under construction, even though it was completed in 1931, and is clearly visible in the background!

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This is a 1949 image of the United Nations building in New York under construction in 1949. The building was completed in 1952.