Category Archives: History

America’s Love Affair with Terrorist Groups

terrorist groupsThese days when we think of terrorist groups, we think of dictators in the Middle East and other international groups who sit there and plan ways to do us harm here in the United States.  We rarely, if ever, think about our own people conspiring against us.

We are raised to believe that Americans are generally good at heart.  We do not automatically associate them with terrorism or terrorist groups.  We would not think of it.

What if I told you that America has had a long, enduring love affair with terrorist groups born and bred right here in the United States?  And more often than not, we have romanticized them and linked them to a simpler time in this country—the so-called “Good Old Days”.

You probably would call me an anti-American bitch.  And, quite honestly, it would not be the first time someone called me that!

But I want you to think for a moment about some of the people in our history that we have grown to admire through the years, and were even considered heroic figures in their lifetime.  People that we have indeed romanticized when they were, in one sense, a part of domestic terrorist groups.

Only two of these groups are featured in this post, but I hope that it will make you think about many more people our culture has grown to love and admire. Continue reading

Look for the Helpers and Smile

English: Portrait of Charlie Chaplin

English: Portrait of Charlie Chaplin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today would have been Charles Chaplin’s 124th birthday.  To millions all over the world, he was a comedic genius.  To me, he was not.  And when I planned my post for today, I was going to list all the reasons why I feel he was (and still is) the most overrated celebrity in film history.

The tragedy at the Boston Marathon yesterday afternoon changed my plans.  In the wake of that horrible event, I felt that such a post would be extremely inappropriate.

Instead of spitting venom, I want to do my part in spreading a little hope.  And honor the helpers among us.  The brave souls from Boston and everywhere who risk their lives daily during tragedy and what may seem like non-events to the rest of the world deserve nothing less than our respect. Continue reading

3 Must-Reads By F. Scott Fitzgerald

F Scott Fitzgerald

L-R: F. Scotty Fitz, his only child, a daughter, “Scottie”, and wife Zelda Sayre

In case you didn’t know by now, F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite author.  Not only was he an amazing writer, but he was one of those figures in history that lived fast, died young(ish), and should have left a beautiful corpse (oh he was stunning to gawk at…even on bad hair days), but apparently the mortician didn’t do a very good job, slopping makeup everywhere. (Jerk!)

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary works are known the world over for their heartbreakingly beautiful descriptions of one of the fastest decades in the 20th century—the 1920s.  And like most good writers, a lot of it (dare I say most of it) was based on his wild life with his wife Zelda Sayre. Continue reading

An Actor at Auschwitz

Deutsch: Der deutsche Schauspieler Johannes Ri...

Public domain photograph of Johannes Riemann (don’t even get me started…lol) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

German actor Johannes Riemann is hardly a household name these days.  And to American audiences, he was never one to begin with.  That is one of the reasons I decided to talk about him on my blog today.

Another reason—the main reason, in fact—I decided to talk about him today is because of his association with the Nazi Party.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post on Nazi propaganda, many film stars in Germany became members of the National Socialist Party (NSDAP).  By 1933, Riemann pledged his allegiance to the Nazi cause, and in 1939, Adolf Hitler rewarded Riemann for his loyalty by appointing him as a “state actor”. Continue reading

Nazi Propaganda, Destroyer of German Film Stars

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a confession to make:  I did not want to write this post.  I also did not want to write the post about the Reichstag Fire back in February.

Why?

Nazism infuriates me more than anything in the world.  The mere mention of the Third Reich puts me in a bad mood for days, sometimes weeks.  I do not exaggerate.

So why am I bothering with it here?  As a German-American who is fully immersed in researching German history and the arts, I feel that I must.  It is a dark part of German history that I cannot ignore, even though i would like to.

What Was Nazi Propaganda?

Triumph of the Will

Triumph of the Will (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Propaganda was essential for the Nazis to obtain power and control people.  They used posters, books, films, and other materials to show off their so-called “superiority” and cut down anyone they considered an enemy or political suspect.  They used these things to sway public opinion in their favor, essentially scaring people into supporting them.

If you did not submit, you died.  Plain and simple.

Many Germans, such as actors William Dieterle, Conrad Veidt and Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, openly defied the Nazis and barely escaped with their lives.  They were forced out of Germany and had to plant roots in countries far away from the Fatherland, where people did not speak their language or share their culture. Continue reading

Everything Old Is New Again

Laurel & Hardy

My two favorite April Fools, Laurel and Hardy (Photo credit: twm1340)

Happy April Fools Day, everyone!  Spring is in the air, it’s the beginning of a new month, and I am excited about the latest Ultimate Blog Challenge, which starts today!

If you are stopping by from the UBC, welcome to my little space on the web.  I’m glad you stopped by.

For all of you who are new to The Little Jazz Baby (even if you aren’t from the UBC), I will take a moment to explain what this blog is all about.  Here you will information about people, historic events, film, and literature that shaped two fabulous decades—the 1920s and 1930s. Continue reading

Remembering the Reichstag Fire

Reichstag fire

Tinted photograph of the Reichstag Fire

Today I am taking a break from the fun movie posts to remember a dark day in history, a day that many of us wish had never happened—the Reichstag fire of 1933.

The Reichstag building opened in Berlin in 1894 and was home to the Imperial Diet (essentially, the German parliament) of the German Empire and its successor the Weimar Republic (est. 1919) until 1933.

The Night of the Reichstag Fire

At about 10 p.m. on the night of February 27, 1933, the Berlin Fire Department was called out to extinguish a fire had engulfed the Reichstag building, sparked by a smaller fire that was started in the building’s great chamber.

Soon after, a young Dutch Communist named Marinus van der Lubbe was found on the premises and he, along with four other known Communists, was charged with arson and trying to overthrow the government.

The Reichstag Fire Decree

Adolf Hitler, as we all know by now, was mad for power.  The Nazi party needed something to push the Communists out of the way and gain a clear majority at the Reichstag.  Hitler went to President Paul von Hidenburg, convinced him that the fire was a Communist plot, and got him to sign what is now commonly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree.

Hitler used the decree to wage a war on Communism.  Thousands of Communists and suspected Communists were arrested, and the Communist party was prohibited from participating in the 1933 elections, giving the Nazis the majority they needed in the Reichstag.

And with the passage of the Enabling Act in in March that year, Hitler’s rise to power began.  He was able to pass laws and dictate whatever he wanted outside of the Reichstag.

What Happened to Marinus van der Lubbe?

Marinus van der Lubbe

Marinus van der Lubbe (1933)

At trial, the four other Communists arrested were acquitted because of insufficient evidence.  Marinus van der Lubbe confessed to starting the fire on his own and was sentenced to death.

On January 10, 1934, just three days shy of his 25th birthday, he was sent to the guillotine (a favorite of the Nazis) and was beheaded for his crime.

Van der Lubbe May Not Have Acted Alone

One of the theories surrounding the Reichstag fire is that Marinus van der Lubbe may have started the fire on the orders of someone else. And that someone else is of course the Nazi Party.

This theory is plausible considering how the Nazis would do anything to obtain power, and they often used scapegoats to get it.  Van der Lubbe was mentally handicapped, so he was an easy target and could be used to do whatever the Nazis wanted him to do.

After the Reichstag Fire

On August 2, 1934, nearly eight months after van der Lubbe’s brutal execution, Adolf Hitler became the Führer of Germany and began eliminating all opposition.  His reign of terror is well-known, taking down anyone considered a political suspect.  No one was safe from the genocide, but the Jews are who got the brunt of it.  An estimated six million Jews and suspected Jews were executed during the Holocaust.

Like so many events in world history, the Reichstag Fire and the subsequent events that happened in Europe during that time should not be forgotten. This was a dark day in history indeed, and we should treat it as such, and learn from what can happen when we give people too much power.

What are your thoughts on the Reichstag Fire?  Can you imagine what the world would be like today if it had never happened?  Leave a comment below and share what’s on your mind!