Category Archives: 20TH CENTURY HISTORY

Cold War paranoia

Cold War paranoia


The poster Don’t Brag About Your Job was displayed in government and military offices dealing with sensitive material in the early 1960s. It is a strange cousin of the public health campaigns produced by the Central Office of Information, the government’s communications agency after the Second World War. Using a genial cartoon style like that which encouraged children to cross the road with care or smokers to give up, this breezy design alluded to a period of deep anxiety when the Cold War seemed to be getting hotter by the day.

Helen Duncan – The medium who cheated?

Helen Duncan – The medium who cheated?

As a child, Scottish-born Helen Duncan earned the nickname Hellish Nell for her tomboyish exploits. She alienated her peers with bizarre behaviour and sinister predictions, and her mother predicted that one day she would be burnt as a witch. In 1910 Helen, at the age of 20, married invalided soldier Henry Duncan, whom she had ‘first met in her dreams’, and Henry neglected his business of cabinet-making to help her develop as a psychic and to help raise their six children.

Ernst Thälmann – Hitler’s forgotten rival

Ernst Thälmann – Hitler’s forgotten rival

One man who would have relished today’s crisis, just as he hoped to benefit hugely from the interwar slump, was the German communist leader Ernst Thälman. He is little remembered today but, in his time, was seen as Hitler’s great rival in the battle for power on the streets of Weimar Germany.

The White Rose, Silenced Voices of Hitler’s Germany

The White Rose, Silenced Voices of Hitler’s Germany

Fifty-four years ago three German students were arrested. A few days later they were hauled before the Volksgerichtshof (“People’s Court”), sentenced to death and executed by beheading the same day. Within a few months many more arrests were made, and, in a second trial, three additional death sentences were handed down. (The “People’s Court,” I should add, existed outside the German constitution. It was created by the NSDAP, the National Socialist Party, in 1934 for the sole purpose of eliminating Hitler’s enemies.)