Posts Tagged ‘WWII’

The events of the World Wars staging in the planet earth not only brought the highest recorded casualties of the 20th century but brought many historical consequences and incredible stories. People in my community often take Hitler‘s genocide of killing 6 million European Jews as an act of achievement or blessing because they theorize the opinion that it is the Jews being blood-thirsty of the Muslims in Palestine for decades. Hardly they are familiar with Zionism movement and do not recognize the difference between a Jewish religion and a Zionism movement.

The complexity of the subject lies in the tragic state where the Jews were the prime target in The Holocaust. In my life, I personally came to realize that Jews have been war or political victims ever in the timeline when I happened to watch Roman Polanski‘s The Pianist back in 2003. I was familiar with the face of the young Anne Frank as I happen to see in some tribute videos played on the TV a few years ago and I calculated the prominence of her picture in the history section that there is something very memorable about this girl.  Later on, through various sources on the internet, I learned her personal and posthumous achievement as a teenage diarist revealing some very critical details of the existing chaos in Nazi Germany and the Netherlands, and her very tragic conclusion of giving up life in one of the concentration camps in Germany at a minor age of 15.

Anne Frank rose to posthumous fame globally when her diary was published with the sharp details of her personal life and the war disturbances during her two-year hiding with her family. It is not just an impression of reading a girl’s diary speaking of the world war but it is a deep psychology of understanding one of the 6 million casualties that how a normal person of any age shapes in the historic or political chaos. How a girl of 13 with all the luxury of a domestic and school life lives an unfortunate life in the two-year hiding with her family?

Everyone in the Europe was affected by the world war and Anne Frank is one of the most discussed Jewish victims of that time. As a reader, when you read the first dozens of the letter, you become a child like her. With her writing and your reading, you begin to create and develop an understanding with her, her ideology, her opinion, her social behavior and attitude towards her parents, her sister, her friends (among which couple of them became more than a friend for a short period), and other people with whom she was hiding in the concealed rooms. Diary was Anne’s best and most loyalist friend but the reading mentally convinces if you are the diary’s replacement and the deceased is talking, admitting and confessing to you.

Anne wasn’t a childish immature diarist as I was expecting. To my surprise, she was a mature girl who had a treasure of words to describe in details her physical and emotional developments. She was impressive in giving detail about the structure of the house where the whole family was hiding which is known as Secret Annex (Achterhuis in Dutch). She has spoken about her relation with Peter in much of the detail that draws your attention. Peter was a 16-year-old son of the van Pels family, the family who joined the Franks in the hiding. Besides, she expresses her love towards history and literature and set her ambition to become a journalist when the war is finished.

To my reading experience, the dozens of books which I have read so far, this is the book which gives me more pain and grief. I have to admit that when I was reading this book, I was traveling the time and wanting that bad to save the entire family from the evils of invasion. It breaks my heart to understand how much people have to suffer from the decisions made by the people in power. I began thinking while reading her letters about my honest opinion that the whole world, its existence, the life, the timeline and every creature arriving at the surface is all scripted by the God. He is the author, a writer to the fate of the earth and its inhabitants. Anne was bestowed with the diary, a present she got on her 13th birthday by her father. A month later, the hiding began and the diary gifted a month ago became Anne’s keeper of the secrets. The next two years, she began writing in rich details a lot of things until she is arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the concentration camp. It was Miep Gies who hid the Franks and van Pels in the Secret Annex. Months after Anne’s tragic death, Miep found the papers and the diaries on the floor of the concealed room. She didn’t read but forwarded to Anne’s father Otto Frank after the war, when her death was confirmed in the Autumn of 1945. If there was no war, there would have been no hiding and this book would never be written nor reach to us. It is all scripted, Anne wasn’t brought in this world to live a normal life. She was born in the most disturbed timeline at the unfortunate place to write the diary and do us a favor to read her. It is all scripted. 

Miep Gies died a few years ago at the age of 100. One of Anne’s friends, Hanneli Goslar, is still alive at 88 who now lives in Jerusalem with her family. Goslar has appeared in several Anne Frank documentaries. Had Anne not died in the camp, she might have fulfilled her ambition to become a journalist and would have been 88 to date. Anne and her sister Margot were buried in an unknown mass grave but the reading of her memoir is buried in our hearts and we have sympathies and respect for the poor little girl. 

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“Friends have asked how I came to engender this American antagonism. My prodigious sin was, and still is, being a non-conformist. Although I am not a Communist I refused to fall in line by hating them.”


A riveting manuscript blended with the toppling of articulation. An essence of dissemination with a gifted cerebrum which educates the readers the life of an artist who never inclined nor compromised. The quote above is from the thirtieth chapter which confirms the resistance and determination. An institution, an influence; whose artistic brilliance and extracting expressions from the silence won hearts and made him the most beloved entertainer of the 20th century. He was Charlie Chaplin a.k.a. The Tramp.

A verbal but soft revolt over the hatred or a memoir wonderfully constructed like an architect coalescing the whole tabulation with a strong grip. A case study which examines a life structure built from a struggling poverty towards solving the enigma of solemnity. A gracious gentleman with a beautiful heart, a blessing smile which can melt a tart.

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He was respiring in his seventies when the pages of this incredulous book were inked. I am not surprised that the gentleman who wrote his own scripts, directed his own films, would go on write an autobiography; but what astonishes me is the chosen vocabulary. The school of words used as the text defines his individuality and indicates how indulged and fascinated was he to treasure the richness of words and then use as a sword. It is not to my knowledge nor have I quested an answer to what length has the wordings of Mr. Chaplin been edited but the introductory words by his biographer David Robinson confirms that the writing is all done by the tramp himself. The artistry of a performer has his own percussion of conveying his message and reading his life in his own words helps you step into his world and understand him.

 

Being a stage/theater artist, the actor knows how to bring a ‘Vow!’ among the viewers. So as the author who happened to be an artist, he drops the revelation of mystery by beginning the book with precise date, time and place of birth this way;


“I was born on 16 April 1889, at eight o’clock at night, in East Lane, Walworth.”


This is exactly the confession and the first sentence of the book which gives the reader an impression that a grandpa in his rocking chair is about to excite you with the story existed from his universe.

The first 5 chapters are very private, firsthand and tragic which speaks of his grinding poverty and mother’s mental health. Chaplin talks about the couples who were parted and the family comprised of a mother with her two children, Charles and Sydney, depended on his weekly payments of 10 shillings a week. He talks about a failing stage performer whose vocal issues ended her career and her 5-year-old son took the stage in desperation to win the spectators, collected the coins and handed over to his ailing mother.

Chaplin recounts his struggles at such a tender age when his mother was shifted to the medical care for mental sickness. The wait for some good fate and fortunes making you anxious to turn over the pages.

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The quality of eagerly reading this book is that with every chapter, the reader grows his fictional age from childhood to young hood to manhood. When Charlie reaches the age of puberty, he becomes romantic so as the reader. Those readers who have watched his films would realize how romantic was Charlie and how cavernous would he go to convey his utter emotions in the silent films. Plus the account of his love affairs distinguishes in writing to grow the feeling of youngness and maturity. For example, his depiction of love for Hetty Kelly gives a warm look at his boyhood which makes your understanding of ‘love’ a bit emotional but when he speaks about his relation with Paulette and Oona, his third and fourth wife respectively, the reader grows adult like him.

At 19, Chaplin proposes 15-year-old Kelly on which she keeps silent. He determines not to meet her again but he couldn’t resist and feels regret. He meets her at her residence but he couldn’t say more than ‘Goodbye’ twice. His love for Hetty Kelly is what grieved and ached him all his life and at such an old age when he chooses to write this book, he drops a ship of theseus on the readers when he writes in chapter 6 about her;


“Although I had met her but five times, and scarcely any of our meetings lasted longer than twenty minutes, that brief encounter affected me for a long time.”


 

Moving from the affection of love affair, he builds his career in next chapters while landing in the United States; and in space of 10 years, he works for Fred Karno, Keystone Pictures, Essanay Studios and Mutual Films Corp. The amazement is reading an inspiring journey by highlighting his earnings. Fair enough to reveal that his earnings under contract with Karno which stood at 6 pounds/week turn into an extremely rich contract of $670K with Mutual Films Corp. payable at $10K/week. What an accomplishment in few years!

Also, the book has rich details of his life-long friendship with Mary Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks from chapter.13 who later form a partnership business by the name United Artists. Under this banner being a co. owner, Chaplin makes most of his feature films and makes the company one of the leading production companies of that time in Hollywood.

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For the reader’s luxury, Chaplin has enriched and highlighted some very interesting episodes from his personal account and professional career. He records many elite names he met and befriended them. In different chapters, Chaplin has covered makings of his various feature films. For me, the most interesting read is about his film The Kid in which child actor Jackie Coogan co. starred. He pens interesting story how he discovered the child and how he approached Coogan’s father.

Monsieur Verdoux is the film which covers three chapters which is quite peculiar and outlandish for me because the film wasn’t received well. There is a whole chapter about the film when it encountered the clearance issue from the Office of Decency by copy pasting their whole letter and writing the whole part of the script which was objected. I find writing this all at length redundant and extraneous; this chapter could have been easily abridged.

The reason I am pondering it too lengthy a chapter is because a critically acclaimed film like Modern Times has surprisingly very short details as compared to the others. A film based on The Great Depression and rise of the machines was a hard hitting subject but to my discouragement, Chaplin wrote only a few pages.

Two films whose omission from the book hugely astound me are The Circus and A King In New York. The former, being one of my favorite Chaplin films, was a prominent film which depicted the rise and fall of a circus while the latter was produced after Chaplin was barred from the United States and he showed his anger and criticism over McCarthyism in the film.


“All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman, and a pretty girl.”


 

Chapter.23 is among the gripping chapters of the book which details Chaplin’s tour of Japan and describes how fortunate was he to escape the assassination of the then Japanese PM, Inukai Tsuyoshi, which was committed by 11 young naval officers who revealed the plan that Chaplin’s murder would facilitate war against the US.

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Also has Chaplin filled few pages about meeting very notable, established and prominent personalities like Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, Mr. and Mrs. Einstein, business tycoon William Hearst, the then Premier of Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev and his Defense Minister Nikolai Bulganin, India’s preeminent leader Mahatma Gandhi and first PM Jawaharlal Nehru, Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, first premier of People’s Republic of China Zhou Enlai and few more.

The most critical readings are the last six chapters when Charlie’s life meets severe turnaround when WWII begins. He has one whole chapter on his speeches for Russian War Relief. While Hoover and his FBI team begin scanning him after being accused of being the father of Joan Barry‘s child, his image meets a downfall. Also, the last phase of the book has heavy details on Chaplin’s final moments in the US and early days of settlement in Europe.

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So Charlie Chaplin has covered most of his life in 477 pages but somehow he still has missed leaking or providing few details. He speaks nothing about his second wife, Lita Grey nor does he mention his half-brother Wheeler Dryden. The readers will not find any details about his children especially Sydney and Geraldine. Nor is there any word about Arthur Jefferson, his understudy while working with Fred Karno. Arthur Jefferson is Stan Laurel most celebrated for his partnership with Oliver Hardy in a world famous comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.

 

 

Another major surprise is that Chaplin mentions nothing about his frequent collaborators like Henry Bergman, Mark Swain, Eric Campbell, Albert Austin and Roland Totheroh who was Chaplin’s most regular cameraman for more than 30 films. Perhaps chapters may exceed more details in writing on these gentlemen or perhaps some other reasons. Chaplin talks about Limelight but didn’t speak about his novel Footlights which was unreleased for next six decades until it published in 2014. Footlights is considered a prequel and a fictional book which laid the foundation of producing this film.


“Loneliness is repellent. It has a subtle aura of sadness, an inadequacy to attract or interest; one feels slightly ashamed of it. But, to a more or less degree, it is the theme of everyone.”


Two things I would like to inform the readers about this book. The first point to remember is that Chaplin wrote this book in 1964, so obviously, the readers won’t have the luxury to read about his emotional return to the US eight years later when he received an honorary award for his contribution and outstanding achievements in the industry at the Oscars.

The second point is that the book should not be compared with Attenborough‘s film Chaplin produced in 1992 due to the fact that the details of the film are not precisely accurate as Chaplin has described in his literature.

But above all ‘My Autobiography‘ is a pure gift of The Tramp to his fans. Those readers who are curious to know how the silent cinema functioned in the beginning of the twentieth century should read this book and further realize how a pauper from England revolutionize the industry when the silent comedy was more focused on whacky vehicle races and pieing. His writing eloquence will melt you. A blatantly honest and easily one of the greatest autobiographies written and published.

Thank you, Charlie…

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Chaplin’s Wives:

Ch#16 – Mildred Harris (1st wife)

Ch#24 – Paulette Goddard (3rd wife)

Ch#27 – Oona O’Neil

 

Chaplin’s Love Affairs:

Ch#5 – Marie Doro

Ch#6 – Hetty Kelly

Ch#26 – Joan Barry

 

Chaplin’s association with the companies:

1899 – The Eight Lancashire Lads (Ch#3, Age.10)

1906 – Karno Company (Ch#6, Age.17)

1914 – Keystone Pictures (Ch#10)

1915 – Essanay Studios (Ch#11)

1916 – Mutual Film Corporation (Ch#11)

1918 – First National (Ch#14)

1919 – United Artists (Ch#15 – Co.owner with Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks)

 

Chaplin’s Earnings:

1906 – 6 Pounds/Week (Karno company)

1916 – $10K/Week (Mutual Film Corp)

 

Chaplin’s Films:

Ch#14 – A Dog’s Life, The Immigrant

Ch#15 – Shoulder Arms

Ch#16 – The Kid

Ch#19 – The Gold Rush

Ch#21 – City Lights

Ch#24 – Modern Times

Ch#25 – The Great Dictator

Ch#27 – Monsieur Verdoux

Ch#29 – Limelight

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Bridge Of Spies is one of the most terrific historical drama I have seen in last few years. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by the Coen brothers, the movie is somehow based on James B.Donovan’s book “Strangers on a Bridge“. James B.Donovan was an American insurance lawyer, who after his experience of Nuremberg Trials in 1945 (also mentioned in the movie) was asked by US Govt to defend Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.

Now who was Rudolf Abel? Shortly speaking, Abel was born in UK to Russian émigré parents, which means born to the couples living in political exile. He served Soviet military and fought against Nazis in WWII. After the war, he lived as spy in US where years later he was caught by FBI. The director began his part in the movie from here and I think that was a good decision.

The movie has two phases blended splendidly. One is Donovan/Abel phase and the other is Powers/Pryor phase. The other phase is story of two Americans. Francis Gary Powers was American pilot whose CIA spy plane was shot down by the Soviets in 1960 and Frederic Pryor, a graduate student, was caught by East German police without any charge a year later, who was studying there since 1959.

Spielberg offers sharp visual historic presentation of the famous exchange occurred in Glienicke Bridge. The famous exchange scene has been shot at very same historic site. The dare and gallantry of James B.Donovan is well explained, his wit saved Abel’s hugely expected hanging sentence into a 30-year imprisonment which turned into nationwide massive shock.

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When it comes to tell history, the most important aspect to the viewers and readers is ‘deep intensity’. Spielberg successfully sketches deep realistic intensity hitting your head hard, specially at two different scenes. One is the court scene when the judge declares Abel’s punishment to 30 years instead of hanging, next 5 minutes are the peak of boiling points. The other scene is Donovan witnessing Berlin Wall shooting, facial expressions of Tom Hanks who plays Donovan here are priceless.

Bridge of Spies is committed with 90% historical accuracy with slight alterations i.e., all critical points under the incidents happened and presented in the movie are true. Spielberg’s frequent collaborator John Williams did join to compose movie’s score but left for Thomas Newman due to health issues but Newman justified his musical presence and didn’t make us miss John’s score. Production and costume designs were super-excellent, one simply cannot expect an error in these two departments as Speilberg has been veteran of many many historic movies.

Pace is slow but adaptable. Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel is a showstopper who deservingly won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role. Overall, Bridge of Spies is a decent history digging movie from a very important time-zone of the 20th century.

Ratings: 8.8/10

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“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask: ‘Mother, what was war?'” – Eve Merriam


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Sometimes I am deeply stuck between the two sophisticated sides of coins – war and peace. Some experts of social reforms (lawyers of submissions) claim that war is noble to create peace. In few cases, peace becomes an art of deception to frame a war, reconciling depravity.

Segmentation of ‘Man’ differs with words he follow and give at once. Few words alarm the falsification of righteousness and reflect ego factor. Flesh and bones, cells and veins unite to bargain human ego to sustain the cradle of indignity and culprit the affected.

Stubbornness shake the zero-movement of determination, jealousy and anger recruits assassins of loyalty, rudeness hires counselor of injustice in the state of hate, deception chesses the throne and disappointment bleeds the regime of treasury, oops I mean treachery*.

Result? peace is countless in pieces, negotiations turn into egotiations, unity is rattled and differences are settled. Raw becomes jaguar’s paw and scars of the beatings aid war.

So I am deeply stuck between the two sophisticated sides of coins – war and peace. Human races through millenniums and centuries have witnessed over a scores of wars and more than a thousand battles.

“Casualties – mockery to humanity or shall I say it was the other name of calamities”

 

The best example is World War II which unarguably has the biggest number of death toll with approximately 60 million – 80 million casualties. Invasions and conquests of Mongol Empire lies second to death troll estimated at nearly 30 million to 60 million casualties. But still there is a major difference in events of war casualties happening in time period. By time, WWII was historically the worst carnage.

If I consider 60 million similar figure from both the wars, then it took 118 years in Mongol Empire case (1206-1324) to total that figure as compared to only 6 years in WWII (1939-1945). That means over 508 thousand casualties per year or over 42,372 casualties per month or almost 1400 casualties per day or 58 casualties per hour or a casualty in almost 50 seconds in Mongol Invasions and Conquests as compared to 10 million casualties per year or over 833 thousand casualties per month or 27,400 casualties per day or almost 1150 casualties per hour or 19 casualties per minute in WWII.

In a picture that captures the violence and sheer destruction inherent in war perhaps more graphically than any other ever published in LIFE, Marines take cover on an Iwo Jima hillside amid the burned-out remains of banyan jungle, as a Japanese bunker is obliterated in March 1945.

In a picture that captures the violence and sheer destruction inherent in war perhaps more graphically than any other ever published in LIFE, Marines take cover on an Iwo Jima hillside amid the burned-out remains of banyan jungle, as a Japanese bunker is obliterated in March 1945.

In a photo that somehow comprises both tenderness and horror, an American Marine cradles a near-dead infant pulled from under a rock while troops cleared Japanese fighters and civilians from caves on Saipan in the summer of 1944. The child was the only person found alive among hundreds of corpses in one cave.

In a photo that somehow comprises both tenderness and horror, an American Marine cradles a near-dead infant pulled from under a rock while troops cleared Japanese fighters and civilians from caves on Saipan in the summer of 1944. The child was the only person found alive among hundreds of corpses in one cave.

“Weapons and Ammunitions – they kept upgrading with the passage of time from stones to drones”

 

> Use of gunpowder firearms and field artillery can be traced back in early 16th century when Babur and his 15,000 men fought Ibrahim Lodi and his army more than double of former in the first Battle of Panipat. Lodi also fought with 1000 war elephants but Babur’s warfare strategic move of usage of cannons hit hard on Lodi’s elephants as the animals got scared and collapsed on firing sounds of cannons. Elephants collapsed on Lodi’s own men which swiftly reduced all chances of winning the battle over Babur. Despite the fact, Lodi’s were more than double, Babur convincingly won the battle, killed Lodi with more than 15,000 casualties stamped under Lodi’s. That battle marked the beginning of the Mughal Empire.

> Even uniforms and safety kits like helmets and shields were upgraded with the passage of time. By the time of World War I, most of the soldiers were fighting in war wearing cloth caps. In 1915, metal helmets were introduced by the French.

> Arrows have been hood’s best friend and there have been many failed attempts by the opponents. But what if I tell you that once in history of wars, the enemies gifted their opponents the weapon to prove their genius attempt towards suicide?? No I am not talking about Oliver Queen!!!

In Tang Dynasty, there was a Chinese general, Zhang Xun. In 756 A.D., once in a battle, his troop ran out of arrows and were in no position to fight the battle and take on opponents. General came up with a strategy and ordered his troops to play war drums and make noises the same night to make the enemies sense a sudden attack. The troops then placed and lowered straw dummies down the wall. The dummies became warrior and the enemies shot many arrows as possible. That was not enough, Zhang Xun risked the bizarre and entirely risky strategy the next night again and enemies again took no notice and shot more. Enough stock of arrows to conquer!!

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Elements on earth are compromised with the sieging of inhabitants armed with tools of combat. Sometimes they are called soldier, sometimes rebel, sometimes dacoit, sometimes saint and have many other names.

For centuries, the kings, the commanders, the generals, the militants have been under process to occupy the land of other and put on law and order. This was the surviving theory in order to live long and in peace. One army/empire entered the other land, fought with them and occupied. There were two options for you and there still is – either you rule or get ruled over, either you fight or stay a casualty, either you raise your voice or just hear (if not listen).

There were strategies in war, formed and implemented. Followed like Bible, hard as marble. All combatants who fought each other in every war, were tested by the formation of strategies. Armies were divided/subdivided, ranks were graded among the officers, field attack probabilities were measured on their navigational maps, warfare wages and expenses were counted, weak and strong factors of both sides were considered, combat fields were tested, marching orders were roared, maneuvering were practiced, hostages were either unharmed in the name of peace or enjoyed with lust. With all these numbers, the one army who subjected and framed these in more better and superlative ways tasted victory, occupied the land and ruled.

With that practice, many empires entered the aura and left, some ruled with agony and suddenly disappeared, some ranks later became pranks but some survived and lived for long with pride. 

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The Art of War will continue. Thanks for the read and you may give your opinion below and share with your fellow readers. Keep calm and wait for the next chapter….

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