The tiny African island of Mauritius is only slightly bigger than the City of London, and much less densely packed – slightly more than 1.2 million people versus London’s nearly 9 million.   The island punched above its weight in providing heroic agents for the Allied Cause in World War II, however.  One of those …

  • May 12, 2021
  • History
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Where everybody is guilty, no one is. — Hannah Arendt The two women in the photo are breathtakingly lovely.  Their clear skin and perfect hair frame faces with smiles that reach through their eyes.  They are happy women. The two women in the photo, Maja Buždon and Nada Šakić, may have been happy, but it …

  • April 16, 2021
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Near the end of September 1944 an important meeting between the Yugoslav Partizan leader, Josip Broz Tito, and Stalin took place.  It was not precisely easy for Tito to get to the meeting – he, his dog Tigar, and several advisors had flown to the Soviet lines in Romania before being transferred to Soviet aircraft …

  • March 17, 2021
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Comrades, today is the day when we should show our devotion to our viceroy by reacting and destroying the Ethiopians for three days.  For three days I give you carte blanche to destroy and kill and do what you wan to the Ethiopians.  —Federal Secretary Guido Cortese On 19 February, which is Yekatit 12 in the …

  • February 19, 2021
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As is emblematic of Balkan countries, when the Greek Prime Minister and head of the Fourth of August Regime, Ioannis Metaxas, died of septicemia from a throat abscess on 29 January 1940 there were whispers of a dark conspiracy of assassination.   The whispers seemed to converge on the arrival of a British medic who …

  • January 29, 2021
  • Comments Off on The Man Who Said No

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Ox”The struggle now is for everything,” Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, 28 October 1940. At 3:00 in the morning on 28 October 1940, the Italian ambassador in Athens delivered a message to the Greek government.  Allow the Italian army to enter Greece and occupy strategic positions, it said, or there will be war. “Alors, c’est …

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It is well known that Mark Twain said “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes,” while writing “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County.” This was an 1865 English rewriting of an ancient Greek-language frog tale set in classical Greece, two or three thousand years old.  All these facts are well known. And yet, …

  • October 24, 2020
  • Greece
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The baby who would become the Bulgarian Tsar Boris III was born on 30 January 1894.  The biggest scandal around his infancy centered around the fact that his father, Ferdinand I, defying the angry wishes of Boris’s mother, converted the infant from the Catholic to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.  The switch horrified the Catholic Habsburg …

  • July 23, 2020
  • Bulgaria
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Josip Broz Tito loved dogs.  Although people may not have known that before World War II, they certainly realized it after as photos of him with his omnipresent canine companions circulated throughout Yugoslavia and the world.  And if it weren’t for a dog, Yugoslavia may never have existed.  Or, at least, not the Yugoslavia that …

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War produces monuments and detritus; which is which often depends on which side of the line you are standing on after the end of the war. The Greek and Italians famously repurposed old monuments, treating them as detritus which went into building their homes.  Many old villas are built from the remains of older monuments …

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