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History Video

2021 Days of Remembrance Commemoration

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History Travel

Pan Am “First Moon Flights” Club

Between 1968 and 1971, Pan American World Airways issued over 93,000 “First Moon Flights” Club cards to those eager to make a reservation for the first commercial flight to the Moon. The cards were free. I was a proud member.

The Club originated from a waiting list that is said to have started in 1964, when Gerhard Pistor, an Austrian journalist, went to a Viennese travel agency requesting a flight to the Moon. The agency forwarded his request to Pan Am, which accepted the reservation two weeks later and replied that the first flight was expected to depart in 2000.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the moon.

On September 9, 1969, the United States Postal Service issued a 10 cent postage stamp showing an astronaut walking on the surface of the moon. It was called the “First Man on the Moon” postage stamp. According to the National Postal Museum, the stamp was made from the same master die that the astronauts took with them to the moon. Additionally, it was the largest stamp the United States had issued up to that point.

Pan Am sent members of the “First Moon Flights” Club “First Day of Issue” envelopes. I was excited to get mine and have kept it all this time. I now doubt I will make it to the moon. But it was an exciting thought.

Letter from Pan Am to First Moon Flights Members about the “First Man on the Moon” first day cover.

Unfortunately, Pan Am did not survive. It went bankrupt in 1991.

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History

Can One Person Change History?

Without Hitler, this much is certain, there would have been no Holocaust. His fanatical anti-Semitism was the engine driving genocide. While it may have been difficult to tell sometimes when Hitler was play-acting, the Führer was always deadly serious when he vented his maniacal hatred of Jews.

Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 611). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
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History

“The Diaries of Friedrich Kellner”

Photo of Friedrich Kellner in 1934. Scanned from family album by Professor Robert Scott Kellner

I am reading the recently published second and final volume of the biography of Adolf Hitler by German historian Volker Ullrich. It is entitled Hitler: Downfall: 1939-1945. Roger Abrams, writing in the New York Journal of Books, calls Ullrich’s work “a remarkable treatise on the malevolence of power in modern times.”

Early in the volume, Ullrich commends the diaries of Friedrich Kellner. Kellner was a court official in the western German town of Laubach who had no special access to wartime information. Kellner was repulsed by the Nazi regime and kept detailed diaries based on what he read in the German press and by talking to people. He hoped his diaries would be a warning to future generations about blind faith.

Ullrich explains that Kellner’s diaries “show that it was entirely possible for normal people in small-town Germany to see through the lies of Nazi propaganda and learn of things like the ‘euthanasia’ murders of patients in psychiatric institutions and the mass executions carried out in occupied parts of eastern Europe.”

The Kellner diaries were published in 2011 in German and now are available in English. The diaries are also the subject of a touching 2007 TV documentary on YouTube created by Kellner’s American grandson.


Sources:

Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 6). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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History

Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Recordings Now Online

The complete recordings of the Nuremberg War Crimes trials are now online for the first time. The International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, the custodian of the original materials, arranged the digitization of its archive, collaborating with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris. There are 775 hours of recordings so this is not for the casual listener.

Edward Rothstein writing in The Wall Street Journal explains that the recordings aren’t easy to listen to in part because the recordings do not translate the German, English, French and Russian spoken at the trial. Even so, Rothstein concludes that:

what is heard, even now, seems remarkable: a rough first draft of judgment, beginning just five months after the war with Germany ended and unfolding over nearly a year as its arbiters strained to fit minimal forms of existing law to maximal forms of moral degradation.

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History Photography

Washington, DC on High Alert

This is a tense period in the nation’s capital. Key institutions look like an armed camp. I have lived in Washington over 40 years and have never seen anything like this.

The Supreme Court is surrounded by a protective fence. © David H. Enzel, 2021
The Capitol is fenced off and protected by the US Army after the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The flag is at half mast because United States Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty during the attack. © David H. Enzel, 2021
At approximately 9:30 p.m. on January 7, 2021, United States Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty. Officer Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters. He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The death of Officer Sicknick will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch, the USCP, and other agencies. Officer Sicknick joined the USCP in July 2008, and most recently served in the Department’s First Responder’s Unit.© David H. Enzel, 2021