Intl. Notebook May 23 2012
PLANET IN FLAMES
A few old men dreaming of power, a few million young men cast into the fire.

Above and below we have a collection of World War II propaganda posters from the U.S., Russia, Britain, Japan, and other participating nations. Some of these are artistically adept, and yet intensely ugly. You’d almost wonder if artists—who have so much power over the imagination—shouldn’t adhere to a version of the Hippocratic oath that forbids doing harm in the practice of the craft. Unfortunately, World War II itself teaches us that such oaths don't work for doctors either—re: cruel medical experiments in Germany, the U.S., and other countries resulting in numerous deaths for the purpose of morbid curiosity.

All of these posters are circa 1939 to 1945, except the nasty anti-Jewish, anti-Russian poster, which dates from 1937, but which we’ve included to illustrate how racism was used to pave the way for a war nobody realized—foolishly—would be a generation killer. It's an effective piece in the sense that it portrays other humans as inhuman based on a perception of otherness. It was painted by Horst Schlüter, a prominent graphic artist of the time. And for an idea how unkillable such ideas are, consider the fact that we saw that poster commented upon favorably on a neo-nazi forum.

World War II is just a school term for most people on the planet today, and is often thought of as a romantic time. Perhaps—but it’s worth noting that, more or less, 27,500 humans were slaughtered every day for about six years, eventually totaling more than 60 million lives snuffed out. Many of those people would have been orators, musicians, teachers, artists, writers, and even pulp writers, that we would remember today. Check our previous collection of war posters here

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 20
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
April 19
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
April 18
1923—Yankee Stadium Opens
In New York City, Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees, opens with the Yankees beating their eternal rivals the Boston Red Sox 4 to 1. The stadium, which is nicknamed The House that Ruth Built, sees the Yankees become the most successful franchise in baseball history. It is eventually replaced by a new Yankee Stadium and closes in September 2008.

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