Today marks the end of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay which has travelled throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, journeying from Olympia, Greece itself. Lighting of the Olympic Torch marks the official inauguration of the London 2012 Games and signals the beginning of the XXX Olympiad. Given its presence in the modern Olympic Games, the torch relay has somewhat surprising origins. It is difficult to imagine that the symbolic gesture of peace, travelling throughout the corners of the world, actually began in 1936 with the XI Olympiad, hosted by the city of Berlin under the national socialist dictatorship of Adolf Hitler.
During the Great Depression, American society was both economically and politically apathetic. It was a time of great dissatisfaction in the United States of America, the loss of financial potency too difficult to handle. Two individuals who sought to disrupt and profit from the social malaise came to the fore and captured the American imagination. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow rose to national acclaim in their two year crime spree, thievery, armed robbery and murder being amongst their many crimes. Almost eighty years on, an auction offering the pistols recovered from their bullet ridden bodies on 23 May 1934, following their dramatic shoot-out, has been announced, rekindling the public fascination of these two most infamous criminals. What is unique from any other gun auction is the fact that the lots on offer were personally, even intimately, connected with the pair; Bonnie’s ‘squat gun’, found taped to her inside thigh, is estimated to sell for more than $200,000 alone.
The impression of Napoleon Bonaparte to many, both today and in the past, is one of imperturbable confidence and resolve. His First French Empire lasted from 1804 to 1815, conquered most of Europe and governed over 44 million people at its peak in 1812. It is difficult to imagine, therefore, the sweet, romantic and desperate undertones of the exemplary military and political tactician who would be sworn in as the first Emperor of France. The discovery of numerous notes, memorandums and love letters has revealed the vulnerable and very human nature behind the notorious tyrant.
Since the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, conjecture and imagination have plagued the historiography. No other regime in history has inspired such virulent and ever escalating myths than the twelve year National Socialist dictatorship and the Third Reich. Romanticism, fanaticism and sheer occultism have taken effect in spawning numerous conspiracy theories and dystopian rhetoric. One of the more outlandish theories is the myth concerning Neuschwabenland, the ‘secret’ Nazi Antarctic colony.
In today’s society, the issue of copyright is an ever present deterrent and source of condemnation for many would-be disseminators of online and offline content. The recent high profile court cases of Napster, Limewire and Kim Dotcom/Megaupload Ltd., demonstrate the severity of copyright infringement and the repercussions upon those that attempt it. One particularly infamous case occurred in the 1970s, involving one group of aspiring counter-culturists and the epitome of mass-consumerism and purity, vying with one another for freedom of expression and their own artistic rights. In 1971, Mickey Mouse became an unexpected battleground in a legal conflict waged between the Air Pirates comic artists and the might of the Walt Disney Company.
In the concluding months of World War Two, on 5 February 1945, one of the more bizarre and audacious Allied propagandistic operations began functioning. A German train carrying cargo, including a consignment of mail bags destined for the Austrian town of Linz, was derailed following an aerial strafing attack by Allied fighter planes. Following the bombardment, a sortie of Allied bombers dropped an unusual payload; eight mail bags, each containing 800 letters, sealed, stamped and ready for delivery, unbeknownst to the German authorities and the Deutsche Reichspost (German postal service) that subsequently delivered them. Operation Cornflakes and das Futsches Frühstück [ruined [sic] breakfast] had begun.