Afghanistan

Afghanistan is in the news again for all the wrong reasons. But I am not going to address that here, there are plenty of news outlets where you can read all about that.

I want to go more into the history, or at least the recent history, of Afghanistan.

The name Afghanistan (Afghānistān, land of the Afghans/Pashtuns, afāghina, sing. afghān) can be traced to the early eighth/fourteenth century, when it designated the easternmost part of the Kartid realm. This name was later used for certain regions in the Ṣafavid and Mughal empires that were inhabited by Afghans. While based on a state-supporting elite of Abdālī/Durrānī Afghans, the Sadūzāʾī Durrānī polity that came into being in 1160/1747 was not called Afghanistan in its own day. The name became a state designation only during the colonial intervention of the nineteenth century.

After the end of the Third Anglo-Afghan War and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi on 19 August 1919, King Amanullah Khan declared Afghanistan a sovereign and fully independent state. He moved to end his country’s traditional isolation by establishing diplomatic relations with the international community, particularly with the Soviet Union and the Weimar Republic of Germany.[75][76] Following a 1927–28 tour of Europe and Turkey, he introduced several reforms intended to modernize his nation. A key force behind these reforms was Mahmud Tarzi, an ardent supporter of the education of women. He fought for Article 68 of Afghanistan’s 1923 constitution, which made elementary education compulsory. The institution of slavery was abolished in 1923. Khan’s wife Queen Soraya Tarzi was an important figure during this period in the fight for woman’s education and against their oppression.

Some of the reforms that were put in place, such as the abolition of the traditional burqa for women and the opening of several co-educational schools, quickly alienated many tribal and religious leaders, and this led to the Afghan Civil War (1928–1929). Faced with the overwhelming armed opposition, Amanullah Khan abdicated in January 1929, and soon after Kabul fell to Saqqawist forces led by Habibullah Kalakani. Prince Mohammed Nadir Shah, Amanullah’s cousin, in turn defeated and killed Kalakani in October 1929, and was declared King Nadir Shah. He abandoned the reforms of Amanullah Khan in favor of a more gradual approach to modernization but was assassinated in 1933 by Abdul Khaliq, a fifteen-year-old Hazara student who was an Amanullah loyalist.

Until 1946, Zahir Shah ruled with the assistance of his uncle, who held the post of Prime Minister and continued the policies of Nadir Shah. Another of Zahir Shah’s uncles, Shah Mahmud Khan, became Prime Minister in 1946 and began an experiment allowing greater political freedom, but reversed the policy when it went further than he expected. He was replaced in 1953 by Mohammed Daoud Khan, the king’s cousin and brother-in-law, and a Pashtun nationalist who sought the creation of a Pashtunistan, leading to highly tense relations with Pakistan.During his ten years at the post until 1963, Daoud Khan pressed for social modernization reforms and sought a closer relationship with the Soviet Union. Afterward, the 1964 constitution was formed, and the first non-royal Prime Minister was sworn in.

King Zahir Shah, like his father Nadir Shah, had a policy of maintaining national independence while pursuing gradual modernization, creating nationalist feeling, and improving relations with the United Kingdom. However, Afghanistan remained neutral and was neither a participant in World War II nor aligned with either power bloc in the Cold War thereafter. However, it was a beneficiary of the latter rivalry as both the Soviet Union and the United States vied for influence by building Afghanistan’s main highways, airports, and other vital infrastructure in the post-war period. On a per capita basis, Afghanistan received more Soviet development aid than any other country. Afghanistan had, therefore, good relations with both Cold War enemies. In 1973, while the King was in Italy, Daoud Khan launched a bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan, abolishing the monarchy.

The picture at the start of the blog is of the King of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah rides in his limousine on Kabul’s central road Idga Wat in this 1968 photo. Zahir Shah, the last of King of Afghanistan lived in exile in Rome since a 1973 coup, returning to Afghanistan in 2002, after the removal of the Taliban. He passed away in Kabul in 2007, at the age of 92.

Following the election of Mohammed Daoud Khan as Prime Minister in 1953, social reforms giving women a more public presence were encouraged. One of his aims was to break free from the ultra-conservative, Islamist tradition of treating women as second-class citizens. During his time, he made significant advances towards modernization.

The Prime Minister prepared women’s emancipation carefully and gradually. He began by introducing women workers at the Radio Kabul in 1957, by sending women delegates to the Asian Women’s Conference in Kairo, and by employing forty girls to the government pottery factory in 1958. When this was met with no riots, the government decided it was time for the very controversial step of unveiling.On August 1959, on the second day of the festival of Jeshyn, Queen Humaira Begum and Princess Bilqis appeared in the royal box at the military parade unveiled, alongside the Prime Minister’s wife, Zamina Begum.A group of Islamic clerics sent a letter of protest to the Prime minister to protest and demand that the words of sharia be respected.The Prime minister answered by inviting them to the capital and present proof to him that the holy scripture indeed demanded the chadri.When the clerics could not find such a passage, the Prime Minister declared that the female members of the Royal Family would no longer wear veils because the Islamic law did not demand it. While the chadri was never banned, the example of the Queen and the Prime Minister’s wife was followed by the wives and daughters of government officials as well as by other urban women of the upper class and middle class, with Kubra Noorzai and Masuma Esmati-Wardak known as the first commoner pioneers.

I just wanted a side of Afghanistan not so many people are aware of. The country we’re so often shown today is comparable to a broken medieval society, but not so long ago, the barren landscape was dotted with stylish buildings, women wore pencil skirts and teenagers shopped at record stores.

I know at the moment the situation in Afghanistan appears to be dire, and it looks like the Taliban has thrown the country back a few centuries.

But perhaps this glimpse of Afghanistan’s past, can one day become the future again.

sources

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1921 Women’s Olympiad

Today 100 years ago, the world’s first international sporting event for women took place in Monaco. The 1921 Women’s Olympiad was held in Monte Carlo from 24 to 31 March, 1921 . It featured competitors from just five nations: France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, and Norway.

The games were organized by Alice Milliat and Camille Blanc, director of the “International Sporting Club de Monaco” as a response to the IOC decision not to include women’s events in the 1924 Olympic Games.

There were 10 events running (60 meters, 250 meters, 800 meters 4 x 75 meters relay, 4 x 175 meters relay and hurdling 65 meters), high jump, long jump, javelin and shot put The tournament also held exhibition events in basketball, gymnastics, pushball , rhythmic gymnastics and standing long jump.

Leading competitors in this Olympiad ese games included Mary Lines (1893-1978) of the United Kingdom and Violette Morris (1893-1944) of France. Mary Lines won gold in several athletics events including the 60m, which she ran in 8.2 seconds. She died in 1978 in a traffic accident, aged 85. She was rushing to post her Christmas mail and ran in front of a van.

Violette Morris had a slogan ” Anything a man can do, Violette can do!” well she certainly proved that throughout her life, but not always in a positive way .

She excelled in those sports that require strength and power such as shot put and javelin.However those weren’t the only sports she was involved in.

She partook in football,water polo ,road bicycle racing, motorcycle racing, airplane racing, horseback riding, tennis, archery, diving, swimming,weightlifting, and Greco-Roman wrestling,boxing and car racing.

She loved car racing so much that she had her breasts removed to fit better in the car.

In 1937 she was acquitted for shooting a man dead in self-defence.

Her lifestyle was of no shame to her. She lived as a man and made no secret of the fact that her lovers were women. This was considered really scandalous behaviour in 1920’s France. For this She was later banned from competing.

One of her biggest admirers was Adolf Hitler. In 1935 she was approached an recruited by by the Sicherheitsdienst. On the personal behest she was invited to attend the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Morris was later accused of being a Nazi collaborator. On 26 April 1944 she was ambushed on a country road by the French Resistance and machine-gunned to death.

As for the 1921 Women’s Olympiad it was a great success and an important step for Women’s sports. The 1922 Women’s Olympiad and 1923 Women’s Olympiad were held at the same Monaco venue. The 1922 Olympiad often gets confused with the 1922 Women’s World Games, which were held in Paris.

sources

https://www.history.co.uk/articles/the-1921-women-s-olympiad-one-hundred-years-of-women-s-international-sport

International Women’s Day-Celebrating women.

Although I do not really agree with the concept of having a day dedicated to Women or Men, or juts being that Women or Men. I would rather see days allocated to Women and Men who despite great adversities achieved many things.

The idea of an International Women’s Day or International Men’s Day(which by the way get a lot less media coverage) is too broad for me because it celebrates every woman and man even those who committed horrendous crimes.

However since this is a site focusing on history, and I also want to use this opportunity to celebrate the beauty of women before the woke generation put s a stop to that, or even puts a stop to addressing every woman as a woman.

The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day in the International Women’s Year, 1975. But the earliest Women’s Day observance, called “National Woman’s Day”,[9] was held on February 28, 1909, in New York City, organized by the Socialist Party of America.

In 1914, International Women’s Day was held on March 8 in Germany, possibly because that day was a Sunday, and now it is always held on March 8 in all countries. The 1914 observance of the Day in Germany was dedicated to women’s right to vote, which German women did not win until 1918.

(Women’s demonstration for bread and peace – March 8, 1917, Petrograd, Russia)

Celebrating women and their beauty.

Female beauty and War.

Betty Grable

I have done so many pieces on the horrors and the ugly side of World War 2 so I decided that today I am going to turn it around a bit. Today the focus will be on celebrating some of the beautiful women who served in WWII in a variety of ways.

The picture above is off the Actres/Pin Up girl Betty Grable.showing off her “Million Dollar Legs”.Undoubtedly that picture would have put a smile on the face of many service men.

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Alas, it is not known who this Army nurse was or why she was wearing US Army threads. The only information is the postcard itself, that she was in Australia during November 1942 – and she might have been somewhere else in the Pacific. However, whoever or wherever she was,her presence here must certainly must have been appreciated.

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Red Army snipers assemble before heading to the front. 1943.

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19-year-old Soviet sniper Roza Shanina had 59 confirmed kills, 1945

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It could put a descriptive text here filled with innuendo and double entendre, but lets keep it clean suffice to say it is a picture of a US Pin Up girl sitting on  a torpedo taken in 1944

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Aleksandra Samusenko was the only female Soviet tank officer in the 1st Guards Tank Army, 1943.

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Actress Ida Lupino, as a lieutenant in the Women’s Ambulance and Defense Corps at a telephone switch board in Brentwood, California, on January 3, 1942.

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Mrs. Titus, 77-year-old air raid spotter of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, carries a gun as she patrols her beat, on December 20, 1941. Mrs. Titus signed-up the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. “I can carry a gun any time they want me to,” she declared.

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Simone Segouin, aka Nicole Minet , was a  French Resistance fighter who served in the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans group. one of  her first acts of resistance was stealing a bicycle from a German military administrator, which she then used to help carry messages.

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Gerda Steinhoff- No remorse but jokes.

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Gerda

The buzzword nowadays is gender balance, and to be fair to the Nazi regime they had figured out gender balance decades ago. But was that a good thing?

When it come to evil there is no real difference between men and women, the men are in general physically stronger through their biology, but that is where the difference ends.

There were a large amount of female guards as part of the SS across several concentration camps.

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Compared to the likes of Ilse Koch or Maria Mandl,Gerda Steinhoff wasn’t the worse of the female guards. This was probably because she joined the SS late in the war. Prior to her career with the SS, she had been working and tram conductor.

She got married in 1944 and had a child. That same year, due to a shortage of new guards, Gerda joined the camp staff at Stutthof. On October 1, 1944, she became a Blockleiterin in Stutthof women’s camp SK-III.There, she took part in selections of prisoners to be sent to the gas chambers

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Later that month, on October 31st , 1944, she received a  promotion as SS-Oberaufseherin and was assigned to the Danzig-Holm subcamp. On the first of December, 1944 she was reassigned to the Bromberg-Ost female subcamp of Stutthof located in Bydgoszcz near Gdańsk.  In the camp is where ,she received a medal for her loyalty and service to the Third Reich, on January 25, 1945. She was dedicated and utterly devoted  to her job in the camps and was known as a very ruthless supervisor. Soon before the end of World War II, she fled the camp and went back home.

But her stay at home didn’t last long, on the 25th of May , 1945, she was arrested by Polish officials and sent to prison. She stood trial with the other SS women and kapos and was convicted and condemned to death for her involvement in the selections and what was called her sadistic abuse of prisoners.During her trial Gerda showed no remorse but made jokes instead

She was publicly hanged on July 4, 1946, on Biskupia Gorka Hill, near Gdańsk.

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Opha May Johnson-US Marine

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Today marks the 100th anniversary of real girl power. Om August 13th 1918,Opha May Johnson became the first Female US Marine.

World War I was drawing to an end when the Marine Corps decided to fill some of the gaps left behind by all the men fighting overseas. In 1918, Johnson was the first of 300 women who reported for duty. They made headlines in newspapers all across the country.

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Newspaper articles, OF 1918 AND ALSO the published history of Women Marines in World War I,  reported Johnson’s first duties were as a clerk at Marine Corps headquarters, managing the records of other female reservists who joined after she did.

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Ironically when she joined the marines she was not yet allowed to vote.

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I am passionate about my site and I know 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 To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Resources

National Library of Congress

Washington Post

 

Women at War- The heroines of WWII

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On the day it is in ,international women’s day, it’s the perfect time to celebrate women at war and World War 2 to be precise.

Women fulfilled many roles during WWII be at on the battlefield or on the home front.They were nurses, pilots, secret agents or workers in the factories. Each had a part to play.

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Below are just a few examples.

Nearly 350,000 American women served in uniform, both at home and abroad, volunteering for the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs)

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A row of Harrods employees, each wearing the uniform of a different women’s service

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Reporter Ruth Cowan (at te far left of the picture) and some other  women war reporters.

 

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Nancy Wake served as a British Special Operations Executive agent during the later part of World War II. She became a leading figure in the maquis groups of the French Resistance and was one of the Allies’ most decorated servicewomen of the war.

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Hannie Schaft, a Dutch resistance fighter aka ‘Het Meisje met het Rode haar- the girl with the red hair’ she eliminated several members of the German secret police and Dutch collaborators.

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

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Native American women from Chemawa train to work in shipyards.

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Yugoslavian female partisan fighters

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Canadian Women’s Army Corps

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After the Bataan Peninsula fell in April 1942, a group of Army and Navy nurses continued to perform their duties while imprisoned in a Japanese camp.

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Sexy and Lethal-WWWII: Women of World War 2

Simone Segouin, the 18 year old French Résistance fighter, 1944 (1)

I know the title is not PC, but it reflects the reality because these women were sexy. They would give any man a run for their money. They were not to be messed with and they were lethal. Either as part of the resistance or armed forces they were a force to be reckoned with.

Honoring the women who fought and often gave their lives so that we now all enjoy our freedom.

The picture above is of Simone Segouin, also known by her nom de guerre Nicole Minet. When this photo was taken she was 18 years old. The girl had killed two Germans in the Paris fighting two days previously and also had assisted in capturing 25 German prisoners of war during the fall of Chartres. In 1944, at the height of the Nazi occupation of France, she joined the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (Free-shooters and Partisans, or FTP) – a combat alliance made up of militant communists and French nationalists. Simone was very much in the latter camp. Her father was a huge inspiration – a decorated soldier who had fought in the Great War – and she was intensely proud of her country.

Simone went on to become a paediatric nurse in Chartres, where her wartime exploits made her hugely popular. Despite her swashbuckling war years, Simone was always aware of how difficult it had been for women to play a role in the Resistance. They made up little more than ten per cent of the force, and the majority were confined to non-combat roles. But nonetheless, their presence had helped force a shift in the way women were treated.

Female snipers of the 3rd Shock Army, 1st Belorussian Front. The ‘Shock’ armies were created with the specific structure to engage and destroy significant enemy forces, and were reinforced with more armored and artillery assets than other combined arms armies. Where necessary the Shock armies were reinforced with mechanized, tank and cavalry formations and units.

The snipers in the picture:
First row – Guard Staff Sergeant, VN Stepanova: 20 kills, Guard Sgt JP Belousova: 80 kills, Guard Sgt AE Vinogradova: 83 kills.
Second row – Guard Lieutenant EK Zhibovskaya: 24 kills, Guard Sgt KF Marinkin: 79 kills, Guard Sgt OS Marenkina: 70 kills.
Third row – Guard Lieutenant NP Belobrova: 70 kills, Lieutenant N. Lobkovsky: 89 kills, Guard Lieutenant VI Artamonova: 89 kills, Guard Staff Sergeant MG Zubchenko: 83 kills.
Forth row – Guard Sergeant, NP Obukhova: 64 kills, Guard Sergeant, AR Belyakova 24 kills.

Total number of confirmed kills: 775. Photo taken in Germany, May 4, 1945

775 confirmed kills in one picture, 1945

Roza Shanina was a Soviet sniper during World War II who was credited with fifty-nine confirmed kills, including twelve soldiers during the Battle of Vilnius. Shanina volunteered for the military after the death of her brother in 1941 and chose to be a marksman on the front line. Praised for her shooting accuracy, Shanina was capable of precisely hitting enemy personnel and making doublets (two target hits by two rounds fired in quick succession).

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On 27 January 1945 Shanina was severely injured while shielding a wounded artillery officer. She was found by two soldiers disemboweled, with her chest torn open by a shell fragment.Despite attempts to save her, Shanina died the following day near the Richau estate (later a Soviet settlement of Telmanovka).

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Mrs. Paul Titus, 77-year-old air raid spotter of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, carries a gun as she patrols her beat, on December 20, 1941. Mrs. Titus signed-up the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. “I can carry a gun any time they want me to,” she declared.

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Ack-Ack Girls, members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), run to action at an anti-aircraft gun emplacement in the London area on May 20, 1941 when the alarm is sounded.

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Little known to the outside world, although they have been fighting fascist regimes since 1927, the Italian “Maquis” carry on their battle for freedom under the most hazardous conditions. Germans and fascist Italians are targets for their guns; and the icy, eternally snow-clad peaks of the French-Italian border are their battlefield. This school teacher of the Valley of Aosta fights side-by-side with her husband in the “White Patrol” above the pass of Little Saint Bernard in Italy, on January 4, 1945.

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Specially chosen airwomen were being trained for police duties in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). They had to be quick-witted, intelligent and observant They attended an intensive course at the highly sufficient RAF police school – where their training runs parallel with that of the men. Keeping a man “in his place” – A WAAF member demonstrates self-defense on January 15, 1942.

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Members of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) pose at Camp Shanks, New York, before leaving from New York Port of Embarkation on February 2, 1945. The women are with the first contingent of Black American WACs to go overseas for the war effort From left to right are, kneeling: Pvt. Rose Stone; Pvt. Virginia Blake; and Pfc. Marie B. Gillisspie. Second row: Pvt. Genevieve Marshall; T/5 Fanny L. Talbert; and Cpl. Callie K. Smith. Third row: Pvt. Gladys Schuster Carter; T/4 Evelyn C. Martin; and Pfc. Theodora Palmer.

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Symbolic of the defense of Sevastopol, Crimea, is this Russian female sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who, by the end of the war, had killed a confirmed 309 Germans — the most successful female sniper in history.

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