John Taylor, the oculist who blinded Bach and Händel

If I asked you what Bach and Händel had in common, there would be more than one answer. They were both famous composers, born in the same year and originally from what is now Germany. However, there is another thing that links them: they both died practically blind because of eye operations performed on them…Continue readingJohn Taylor, the oculist who blinded Bach and Händel

Luz Long, the German athlete who befriended Jesse Owens and helped him win at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

On 13 July 1943, a death occurred in the British field hospital in Acate, in the Sicilian province of Ragusa (Italy), which did not particularly attract the attention of the staff. After all, it was an enemy, a Luftwaffe obergefreiter (lance corporal) who was badly injured in defence of the island during the Allied invasion…Continue readingLuz Long, the German athlete who befriended Jesse Owens and helped him win at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

What’s the origin of the right and left terms in politics?

Why do we use the terms right and left in politics to identify ideologies or concepts on a one-dimensional axis? Everything has its origin in the French RevolutionContinue readingWhat’s the origin of the right and left terms in politics?

Yi Sun-sin, the Korean admiral who stopped the Japanese invasion of his country without ever being defeated or losing a single ship

In recent years the memory of some Spanish sailors such as Blas de Lezo or Alvaro de Bazan who were never defeated in their military careers has been recovered. These are not unique cases and there is at least one – a contemporary of the second one – who surpasses them because not only did…Continue readingYi Sun-sin, the Korean admiral who stopped the Japanese invasion of his country without ever being defeated or losing a single ship

Eduard Bloch, the Jewish doctor whom Hitler helped to leave Germany in 1940

In March 1941 it had been about a year and a half since the outbreak of World War II, but there were still eight months before Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States entered the fighting. That’s why Collier’s Weekly, one of the most important and widely read weeklies in the country at the…Continue readingEduard Bloch, the Jewish doctor whom Hitler helped to leave Germany in 1940

When Allies and Germans fought together in World War II: The Battle for Castle Itter

Austria seems to have a certain magnet for unusual military events. It was in the Austrian village of Itter in the Tyrol that one of the strangest battles of the entire Second World War took place. It was liberated on May 5, 1945, just five days after Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker, and…Continue readingWhen Allies and Germans fought together in World War II: The Battle for Castle Itter

Rettungsboje, the rescue buoy devised by the Germans in World War II to save downed pilots

Searching for a castaway lost at sea is an arduous and often frustrating task. Unless the search area can be narrowed down a lot, the task can be prolonged so long that probably when he or she is finally located – if at all – he or she is already dead from hypothermia, dehydration or…Continue readingRettungsboje, the rescue buoy devised by the Germans in World War II to save downed pilots

The enigmatic 512 Manuscript describing an ancient Mediterranean civilization in pre-Hispanic Brazil

Like a Lovecraft tale, the Rare Works section of the National Library of Brazil jealously guards a strange ten-page document baptized with the suggestive name of Manuscript 512. It narrates an eighteenth-century expedition during which the ruins of an ancient city were discovered that seemed to have developed a classical civilization in the Mediterranean style.…Continue readingThe enigmatic 512 Manuscript describing an ancient Mediterranean civilization in pre-Hispanic Brazil

10 heroines of World War II

The history of the Second World War is full of heroic actions carried out by men and women, often little known but whose work was indispensable in the discourse of war. Women were actively involved in virtually every aspect of the conflict, both military and civilian. For example, the British intelligence service (SOE) had 55…Continue reading10 heroines of World War II

How many times has the Vatican’s Swiss Guard come into combat?

If anyone thinks that the Vatican’s Swiss Guard has a mere representative function and that its members are only there to adorn the corners or take pictures with tourists, they are totally wrong. It is a military corps that really has the mission of looking after the Pope’s safety and guarding that small state. And…Continue readingHow many times has the Vatican’s Swiss Guard come into combat?