Roundup: Talking About History
This is where we excerpt articles about history that appear in the media. Among the subjects included on this page are: anniversaries of historical events, legacies of presidents, cutting-edge research, and historical disputes.
SOURCE: Boston Globe (5-1-11)
Jeff Jacoby is an op-ed columnist for the Boston Globe.
ON JANUARY 30, 1945, shortly after Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz death camp, a Polish doctor from nearby Oswiecim entered the vast Nazi complex to help care for the survivors. In his chronicle of what he saw that day, Dr. Tadeusz Chowaniec described his first view of Block 11, one of the 28 barracks that comprised the oldest part of the camp:
“We walked down the cement stairs to the cellar. The stairs were slippery, and splattered with blood and mud. Strips of underclothing, soiled with excrement, lay everywhere. The corpses of men and women filled the corridor, which was almost 40 meters long. The corpses were naked, and their rib cages and hip bones jutted out. The skin, which was all that held the bones together, was thin, greenish, and pale… . We looked on, stupefied.’’
The Germans slaughtered 1.3 million human beings in Auschwitz, of whom 1.1 million were Jews. Six of those Jews were my...
SOURCE: Salon (5-1-11)
Joan Waugh is a professor in the UCLA History Department. Her newest book is entitled U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth (University of North Carolina Press, 2009).
Ulysses S. Grant, the commanding general of the Union Army and the 18th president of the United States, would have been 189 years old last week -- not long after the "official" opening of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, which will run through 2015.
Grant -- like George Washington and Dwight D. Eisenhower -- was both a professional warrior of a defining war and a twice-elected president. And like Washington and Eisenhower he dominated his era, which in his case encompassed both the Civil War and its aftermath, called Reconstruction, from 1862 (when he rocketed to fame with his defeat of Confederate forces at Fort Donelson) to 1876.
At the end of the war, Gen. Grant stood with Republicans in making sure that Union victory was secured on northern terms, restoring the rights and...
SOURCE: Huffington Post (5-1-11)
Dorian de Wind is a retired U.S. Air Force Major and former aerospace/defense executive. Dorian contributes opinion, travel and personal experience articles to several newspapers and blogs.
To the few remaining Dutch survivors of the Holocaust and to the descendants of the more than 100,000 Dutch Jews who were murdered by the Nazis during World War II, this upcoming Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day) could be a particularly poignant one.
You see, het Nationaal Archief (The Netherlands' National Archive) announced a couple of weeks ago that it has compiled, from previously sealed archives on war collaborators, extensive information about the arrests and deportations to Nazi concentration camps of some 9,000 Dutch Jews.
The information includes, according to the National Archive, the names of those who...
SOURCE: TomDispatch (5-3-11)
Adam Hochschild is the San Francisco-based author of seven books, including King Leopold’s Ghost. His new book To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), has just been published.
What if, from the beginning, everyone killed in the Iraq and Afghan wars had been buried in a single large cemetery easily accessible to the American public? Would it bring the fighting to a halt more quickly if we could see hundreds of thousands of tombstones, military and civilian, spreading hill after hill, field after field, across our landscape?
I found myself thinking about this recently while visiting the narrow strip of northern France and Belgium that has the densest concentration of young men’s graves in the world. This is the old Western Front of the First World War. Today, it is the final resting place for...
SOURCE: Dissent Magazine (5-3-11)
Saul Cornell is the Paul and Diane Guenther Chair in American History at Fordham University and a Senior Research Scholar in Residence at Yale Law School.
AMERICANS ARE deeply divided over how to interpret the Constitution. Originalism, the view that judges should interpret the Constitution by discovering the original intent or the original meaning of the text, has a strong hold on the public. Yet the opposing view, that judges ought to interpret the Constitution as a living document and read it in light of contemporary values or an evolving tradition, is also well entrenched in American culture. Not surprisingly, support for originalism is strongest among Tea Party activists, conservatives, and Republicans. Although the vast majority of legal academics are not originalists, the theory of originalism has never been stronger among law professors. Indeed, originalism now has adherents not only among conservative but also liberal legal scholars. There is really only one...