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.
October 24
1929—Stock Market Crashes
Black Thursday, a catastrophic crash on the New York Stock Exchange, occurs when the value of stocks suddenly declines and continues to decline for a month. The event leads to a subsequent crash in world stock prices and precipitates the Great Depression. This after famous economist Irving Fisher had declared that stock prices had reached a permanently high plateau.
October 23
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.
October 22
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.

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