The War of the Worlds

Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

— H. G. Wells (1898), The War of the Worlds

I don’t know what it is about this Sci-Fi classic by H.G. Wells first serialised in 1897 in the UK by Pearson’s Magazine and in the US by Cosmopolitan magazine. The novel’s first appearance in hardcover was in 1898 from publisher William Heinemann of London.

But ever since I came across the story I fell in love with it. But it was via Jeff Wayne’s musical version I  encountered the tale of the Martians that invaded our planet, Even though the chances of this happening were a Million to one.

I forget how often I have listened to that album but at least hundreds of times if not thousands(maybe I should get out more). In 2008 I got the chance to see the live show. 30 years I had waited for it and it did not disappoint. Although I was a bit surprised by the cast who joined for the most recent shows,in my opinion some just had no talent at all(An ex member of Westlife), leave alone to be a part of such an amazing phenomena.

wotw_01

But of course it was Orson Welles’s radio broadcast of the World of the Wars which had probably the biggest impact. The panic that ensued because people believed it was a genuine news broadcast. Ingenious really when you think of it, you just can’t buy that kind of publicity. It was on the 30th of October 1938, the world was in grip of events happening in Germany.

 

Someone asked me once “what is your favourite War of the Worlds movie?”And I honestly couldn’t say. I like the 1953 and Spielberg’s 2005 adaptation equally.

The story is really the most basic form of Science Fiction. The earth being invaded by aliens. But it works, it is compelling. It basically is a war story but rather then human enemies we are fighting extra terrestrial foes.

The story clearly inspired other TV show and movie makers. Series like “V” and “Falling Skies” are clearly based on the War of the Worlds as is “Independence Day”

What is the most fascinating is that it was written between 1895 and 1897 and it didn’t date. It is still as fresh as it was when it was first released. Ironically I only read the book after I listened to the musical version and watched the movies.

correa-martians_vs-_thunder_child

I think I might just retreat now and listen to the album again, or read the book. I may even watch one of the movies.Either way one thing I know for sure the story will never bore me regardless in which configuration or adaption. Leaving you with some art work of Jeff Wayne’s musical version of TWOTW and my favorite track.

Advertisements

Forgotten History-Hannie Schaft resistance fighter.

When we think of WW2 heroes we (including me) tend to think only of men, this is of course wrong.

There were many women who gave their lives during the war. This story is about Hannie Schaft, although the title Forgotten History is slightly incorrect in a Dutch context because Hannie’s story has been told in a book which has also been made into a movie.Known as “Het meisje met het rode haar” the girl with the red hair. I do believe her story is not that well known outside of the Netherlands. Although

Jannetje Johanna Schaft was born on September 16, 1920. Her nickname was Jo or Jopie. Hannie was the name she used later on in the resistance group. She grew up in the northern part of Haarlem (a city 12 miles west of the capital Amsterdam), where she lived with her parents and her 5 year older sister Annie. Annie died in 1927 from diphtheria. Jo was very quiet and shy. She was very good at school, her GPA (Grade Point Average) was even the highest of her class. The political development in Germany was a frequently discussed subject in her family.

They were worried about Hitler and his national socialism in Germany, but also about Mussert and his national socialistic party in the Netherlands. At the time the war broke out, Hannie went to law school at the university of Amsterdam. From the moment that the Germans occupied Poland in 1939 on, Hannie tried to help. She sent small packages to captured Polish officers with a program of the International Red Cross. When the Germans occupied Holland, Hannie tried to help people too and she offered resistance. An example is that when the Jews weren’t allowed to walk in a park anymore in 1941 Hannie said: ‘If they aren’t allowed to walk there, I won’t walk there either’. Little by little she got more involved with the resistance movement.

From 1942 on all Jews had to wear a yellow star.

jood

When the need for false identity cards increased to help Jews in hiding, Hannie stole identity cards in all sorts of public areas for them. In the spring of 1943 there were several razzia’s at the universities. Later the Germans announced that every college graduate had to go to Germany to work there for a while and finally the college students who wanted to continue their education had to sign a loyalty affidavit to the Germans. Hannie didn’t sign and so she quit school.

Her mother was a Mennonite and her father was attached to the Social Democratic Workers’ Party. During her law studies at the Universiteit van Amsterdam she became friends with the Jewish students Philine Polak and Sonja Frenk. This made her feel strongly about actions against Jews. With the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II university students were required to sign a declaration of allegiance to the occupation authorities. When Hannie refused to sign the petition in support of the occupation forces, she could not continue her studies and moved in with her parents again. She became more and more active in the resistance movement and helped people who were hiding from the Germans with stolen identification cards and food-coupons.

She went back to Haarlem, where she joined the RVV, the council of resistance. She said that food aid wasn’t enough for her, she was willing to offer armed resistance. The RVV ordered her and another member of the group to ‘eliminate’ an officer of the German secret police, the Sicherheits Dienst. Hannie was scared to death but she fired. Instead of a shot, a click was heard and nothing happened. The SD officer introduced himself as Frans van der Wiel, the commandant of the resistance group. It appeared to be a test. Although Hannie had past the test, she was furious. Hannie got to know many people who were involved with the resistance. That is how she met Truus Oversteegen and her sister Freddie, who were also members of the resistance group. Hannie was 19, Truus was 16 and Freddie only 14 at the beginning of the war. Truus became the leader when they worked together because Hannie was a bit dreamy, according to Truus, and Freddie was still too young. Most of the work existed of spreading illegal newspapers, transportation of weapons, stealing and/or falsifying identity cards, sabotage, disguising as German girls to extract information from the German soldiers and bringing Jewish children to hiding places. Hannie took also part in bigger actions. In November 1943 Hannie and a few other members of the resistance group tried to blow up a power station near Haarlem. Only a part of the explosives did actually explode, so only one transport system was damaged. Although the attempt didn’t work for one hundred percent, it gave the people hope.

Hannie also eliminated several members of the German secret police and Dutch collaborators. One example is that on March 15, 1945 Hannie and Truus saw Ko Langendijk, a hairdresser who betrayed people for money. Hannie and Truus shot him. They hid in a hotel afterwards. Remarkably was that Hannie powdered her face because she wanted to die pretty. Luckily they didn’t get caught.

Hannie had to be very careful. She couldn’t tell her parents anything about her work for the resistance group. The nazi’s were looking for her, so she was obliged to dye her hair black and to wear glasses made out of clear glass

After a sub-department of the Raad van Verzet in Velsen killed a farmer, without authorization from the groups’ leaders, Hannie brought a list of names of the ones who did that to her leaders.

Afterwards the named people on this list were given to the Sicherheitsdienst, which meant a certain death. After the war this episode was investigated by a special commission

On March 21, 1945 Hannie was arrested at a routine checking because she had illegal newspapers and her pistol in her bag.Pistool_van_Hannie_Schaft

Soon the Germans recognized her as the girl with the red hair, for whom they had been looking for so long. On April 17, 1945 she was executed in the dunes.

It is the evening of 17 April 1945. A truck leaves the Huis van Bewaring, a prison on the Amstelveenseweg in Amsterdam. The truck contains a Dutch driver, three German soldiers and the Dutch detective, Maarten Kuijper.These men form the escort for one prisoner, a young Dutch woman of 24. They drive to the German Ortskommandantur in Haarlem where a soldier of the Feldgendarmerie (Gefreiter) equipped with a shovel gets in. The truck moves off again and the new man gives directions to the beach at Overveen, a few miles away. The truck stops near the beach where a path leads into the sand dunes.

DUIN

Kuijper and the German, Mattheus Schmitz, lead their prisoner into the dunes, the man with the shovel bringing up the rear. Schmitz, who is walking a few paces behind the girl, draws his pistol and fires, she cries out in pain but does not fall. Kuijper, seeing she has a wound to the head but is still standing, levels his machine pistol and takes his turn. This time the bullets find their mark and the young woman falls dead.

Kuijper then helps the Gefreiter bury the body in a shallow grave, they are keen to be done with their work and in their haste long strands of red hair are left protruding from the sand

After the war, in these dunes the remains of 422 members of the resistance were found, 421 men and one woman, Hannie Schaft. She was reburied at the honorary cemetery Erebegraafplaats Bloemendaal in the dunes in Overveen Hannie Schaft was given a state funeral at the Erebegraafplaats on 27 November 1945 in the presence of Queen Wilhelmina who called her the “symbol of the Resistance”in the presence of Princess Juliana and her husband Prince Bernard. Later, as queen, Juliana unveiled a bronze commemorative statue in the Kenau Park in nearby Haarlem, her birthplace. Hannie Schaft also received the ‘Wilhelmina resistance cross’ and a US decoration.

art02-HannieSchaft_10

Shortly after the war, the communist movement enjoyed popularity, partly because of the effort of the USSR in defeating the Nazis. However, with that country’s increasing influence in Eastern Europe, the popularity decreased. Because the Dutch communist party celebrated her as an icon, her popularity decreased too, to the point that the commemoration at Hannie’s grave was forbidden in 1951. The commemorators (who were estimated to number over 10,000) were stopped by several hundred police and military with the aid of four tanks. A group of seven managed to circumvent the blockade and reached the burial ground, but were arrested when they tolled the bell. From the next year on, the communists decided to prevent another such scene by holding their commemoration in Haarlem instead.

 

She was celebrated as a hero in some of the former Warsaw Pact (former eastern European communist countries) The DDR even had a stamp issued in her memory.Her name had been used a bit in a political context during the cold war which had alienated some war veterans.

220px-Stamps_of_Germany_(DDR)_1962,_MiNr_0883

A number of schools and streets were named after her. For her, and other resistance-heroines, a foundation has been created; the Stichting Nationale Hannie Schaft-herdenking. A number of books and movies have been made about her. She features in De Aanslag by Harry Mulisch, also released as a movie directed by Fons Rademakers. Ineke Verdoner wrote a song about her. Author Theun de Vries wrote a biography of her life.

 

<a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/search/ref=as_li_qf_sp_sr_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&index=aps&keywords=ASIN%3A%20B0100KJ1UY&linkCode=ur2&tag=dirkdeklein-21″>ASIN: B0100KJ1UY</a><img src=”https://ir-uk.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=dirkdeklein-21&l=ur2&o=2&#8243; width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

 

Forgotten History-WW2 Hero John Steele.

Steelejohn

Who is John Steele I hear you say. Well to be honest until recently I had never heard of him either. It’s just that I am a great WW2 movies fan I came across his name.

longestday_cover

In the movie ” the Longest Day” about D-Day there are a few scenes which made me wonder if they really happened. Some of them are quite funny, there is one scene where a German patrol and an American patrol pass each other by not realizing they are enemies and just walk on minding their own business. Another one where a German officer puts on his boots the wrong way. However there are also some sad scenes. One is showing a paratrooper whose parachute was caught in one of the pinnacles of the church tower.

I could not find anything on the patrols or the visually impaired German officer but the story of the paratrooper is true and really happened. This Paratrooper’s name was Private John Steele. he was the American paratrooper who landed on the church tower in Sainte-Mère-Église, the first village in Normandy liberated by the Americans on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

On the night before D-Day (June 5–6, 1944), American soldiers of the 82nd Airborne parachuted into the area west of Sainte-Mère-Église in successive waves. The town had been the target of an aerial attack and a stray incendiary bomb had set fire to a house east of the town square. The church bell was rung to alert the town of the emergency and townspeople turned out in large numbers to form a bucket brigade supervised by members of the German garrison. By 0100 hours, the town square was well lit and filled with German soldiers and villagers when two sticks (planeloads of paratroopers) from the 1st and 2nd battalions were dropped in error directly over the village.

The paratroopers were easy targets, and Steele was one of only a few non-casualties. His parachute was caught in one of the pinnacles of the church tower, causing the cables on his parachute to stretch to their full length, leaving him hanging on the side of the church to witness the carnage. The wounded paratrooper hung there limply for two hours, pretending to be dead, before the Germans took him prisoner. Steele later escaped from the Germans and rejoined his division when US troops of the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment attacked the village capturing thirty Germans and killing another eleven. For these actions and his wounds, Steele was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and the Purple Heart for being wounded in combat.

Though injured, Private Steele survived his ordeal. He continued to visit the town throughout his life and was an honorary citizen of Ste. Mère Église. The tavern, Auberge John Steele, stands adjacent to the square and maintains his memory through photos, letters and articles hung on its walls. Steele died of throat cancer on May 16, 1969 in Fayetteville, NC just three weeks short of the 25th anniversary of the D-Day invasion

But his story as a brave soldier starts much earlier and continued well past the episode in Sainte Mère Église. There is much more to the story of paratrooper John Steele.

There are some inconsistencies in various stories that have been cobbled together about him, but it is clear that John Steele was a fearless and brave soldier. He had volunteered his service as a paratrooper and had earlier served in the 82nd Airborne Division in North Africa, prior to parachuting into combat in Sicily with F Company, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.  On the night of 9 July 1943, John broke his left leg and was sent to a hospital in North Africa.  After he recovered he returned to Italy and fought with his unit from Salerno to Naples.

During his jump into Ste. Mère Église on the night of 5-6 June 1944, John was wounded by a shell fragment and was unable to steer his parachute.  As he dangled from the church spire while a battle was going on below him, he tried to cut himself free but his jump knife slipped from his hand. He dangled helplessly for more than two hours, until a German soldier named Rudolf May cut him down and took him prisoner. Despite being wounded, he escaped three days later and rejoined a nearby Allied unit. He was then transferred to a hospital in England for recovery.

After recovery from his latest wounds, he returned to action and parachuted into action nearNijmegen Netherlands where he participated in the liberation of that city.  In November of 1944 he participated in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes region near Reims, France.  When the Allies crossed the Rhine River into Germany in early 1945, John Steele was there, advancing with his unit from Frankfurt to the crossing of the Elbe River, when World War II ended.  He finally returned to the United States in September 1945.

St-Mere-Eglise-John-Steele

Today, these events are commemorated by the Airborne Forces Museum in Place du 6 June in the centre of Ste-Mère-Église and in the village church where a parachute with an effigy of Private Steele in his Airborne uniform hangs from the steeple. Bullet holes are still visible in the church’s stone walls. Inside, there are stained glass windows, with one depicting the Virgin Mary with paratroopers falling in the foreground.

http://www.army.mil/article/22006/church-tower-windows-pay-tribute-to-paratroopers-who-jumped-into-first-town-liberated-during-world-war-ii/

This is just one of the thousands of the forgotten histories of WW2.

Thanks to brave soldiers like John Steele  the people in Europe now live a prosperous life and have freedom it is important that the sacrifices which were made are never forgotten.

More and more I hear the pleas for history to be taken out of the school curriculum but it is my believe and conviction that history is now more important than it ever was. If we forget our history we will forsake our future.

 

Chapter 1 of Not Just a Guide Dog(Part of it)

History of Sorts

Not just a guide dog Not just a guide dog

Prologue

Frank Johnson an ordinary family man, married with 3 children, lived a reasonably ordinary life.

Until due to a degenerative eye disease he turned blind.

His life had changed but he was determined not to be defeated, he was going to be ready for anything that life was going to throw at him.

With this determination and the help of his family and a guide dog called Faust, Frank was ready for anything, even an apocalyptic event that would change the lives of everyone on the planet.

This is a tale of suffering and despair but above everything else also a tale of hope, love and endurance, or in short a tale of life.

Chapter 1   Coping with Blindness.

I didn’t know that they actually used Rottweilers as guide dogs, however I found it intriguing and decided to go for it. I always did…

View original post 899 more words

The walking dead

The extremely popular TV show is currently in its 8th season

 

I am  a great fan of the show although it is coming to the stage where they should be considering bringing it to an end.

Before to the Walking Dead I wasn’t really that interested in the whole zombie genre,prior to that the only 2 movies I had seen were The Evil Dead and Braindead and frankly I wasn’t too impressed by them.

However “the Walking dead” captured my imagination maybe it is because the characters are well written and it is very character driven rather than the special effects which are also pretty cool.

It made me wonder though where did this global fascination come from and where did it originate?

A zombie is a fictional undead being created through the reanimation of a human corpse The term comes from Haitian Folklore, where a Zombie is a dead body reanimated through various methods, most commonly magic. Modern depictions of zombies do not necessarily involve magic but invoke other methods such as viruses.

There is some speculation that the word derives from West African languages – ndzumbi means ‘corpse’ in the Mitsogo language of Gabon, andnzambi means the ‘spirit of a dead person’ in the Kongo language. These were the areas where European slavers forcibly transported vast numbers of the population across the Atlantic to work in the sugar cane plantations of the West Indies, the vast profits of which motored the rise of France and England to world powers. The Africans took their religion with them. However, French law required slaves to convert to Catholicism. What emerged was a series of elaborate synthetic religions, creatively mixing elements of different traditions: Vodou or Voodoo in Haiti, Obeah in Jamaica, Santeria in Cuba.

Witch Doctor

The zombie, in effect, is the logical outcome of being a slave

The English word zombie is first recorded in 1819, in “a History of Brazil” in the form Zombi by the poet Robert Southey.

brazil

Nowadays Zombies have become a billion dollar industry with movies like “I am Legend” making $585,349,010 and “World War Z” making a meager $540,007,876. Not even to mention the success of the various books and graphic novels

It was also the inspiration for me to give it a go, hence Not Just a Guide Dog, be it with a different twist.

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/not-just-a-guide-dog

http://www.amazon.com/Not-just-guide-Dirk-Klein/dp/1517765684/ref=la_B018EFJ9FY_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449159077&sr=1-1

Not just a guide dog

Not just a guide dog

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks

$2.00

The vegetarian Zombie

The Vegetarian Zombie

An amusing short undead tale.  by Dirk de Klein

 

It’s just no fun being a vegetarian zombie, sure it’s alright for Mike being a zombie, he had always loved meat, rare steaks were his favourites. As for Frank he was a nutcase anyway, even before he became a living dead.

But me, I just didn’t like meat in any shape or form. How was I am going to survive this apocalypse?

There was nothing in the supermarkets for zombies like me, even normal vegetarians still had a choice of Quorn Chicken Fillets or Quorn Chicken Nuggets and even a soya burger or 2.

But every time I show up in the local supermarket, panic ensues. Screaming mothers picking up their toddlers out of the trolley, running for their lives. At one stage one mother fell just in front of me and when I wanted to help her up she screamed. “I am not that bad” I said “I am just not that dead”

Anyway I suppose life will go on, well actually it won’t, I just have to make the best of it.

It’s just that all the other zombies are bullying me. They go like “Aghg,grrrr,grrh,aahhh” and point to people and making those biting gestures, and I keep telling them “I  am a vegetarian”

At one stage I thought I had the solution, in a market stall I saw a basket of Flesh Tomatoes, “Hey, hey” I thought, so I picked up the basket and when I wanted to pay for them, I noticed the guy behind the stall had ran away. I suppose there are some benefits in being a zombie.

I was so looking forward to these tomatoes, my luck though it turned out I was allergic to them. And when I say allergic I mean allergic. Having the runs as a human being is bad, but as a zombie it is multiplied by a factor of 1000.

No, life is no fun for a vegetarian zombie, note spare a thought for Julie though, she is a vegan zombie and to top it off she likes Justin Bieber, thank God I am not like her.zombie

Picture by someone called Javi Ramos.

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/not-just-a-guide-dog

http://www.amazon.com/Not-just-guide-Dirk-Klein/dp/1517765684/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454071576&sr=8-1&keywords=not+just+a+guide+dog

http://www.amazon.com/Not-just-Guide-Dog-Dirk-Klein-ebook/dp/B0189VGMXA/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1454071576&sr=8-1

 

 

From chapter 9 of Not Just a Guide-Dog.

Chapter 9 Strange Fruit

 

 

The remainder of our trip through France was uneventful. The second we reached the Belgian border our eyes were met with a very disturbing sight.

There were bodies hanging in trees lining the motorway, according to Sophie they appeared to be the bodies from coloured people, going by the clothing they were more than likely Muslims.

I couldn’t help but thinking of that haunting Billie Holiday song “Strange Fruit”

 

“Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees”

It became apparent that the population of Belgium had turned to vigilante justice and had adopted the mob lynch executions so often portrayed in stories and movies about some southern states of the US.

It was true that the Islamic state had spread the disease, but this group of barbaric fundamentalist only represented a tiny percentage of the Islam.

Muslims all over the world had become victims like everyone else on the planet.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Not-just-Guide-Dog-Dirk-Klein-ebook/dp/B0189VGMXA/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1449159077&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Not-just-guide-Dirk-Klein/dp/1517765684/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/not-just-a-guide-dog