Tag Archives: history

Breathtaking Brittany — Multiple Posts Coming Up!

We’re on the road in Brittany right now — taking a much needed holiday. I’ll have a whole series of posts from Dinan and Morlaix and the Finistere and Quimper. From ancient towns filled with half-timbered or stone buildings to pre-historic standing stones to gothic cathedrals — this part of France is simply stunning.

Just a tease or two — so shhhh — come back soon!

Rooftop Jumble in the historic city of Quimper in the Finistere Brittany, France.

Side entry of the Cathedral in Quimper, Brittany, France.

Standing stones near Camaret-sur-Mer

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The Medieval Abbey of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives in Normandy

There is no way to miss this impressive abbey from anywhere within the small town of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives. And it is easily visible as you drive across the Calvados countryside, too. It’s quite wonderful to be living a mere ten minutes away from a place like this.

Founded in 1011 by Countess Lesceline, the aunt of William the Conqueror — the abbey has undergone a variety of extensions and renovations over the subsequent centuries and those renovations continue right into the present day. Here’s a small photo essay of this truly gorgeous abbey.

A glimpse of the medieval abbey towers of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives can be seen all throughout the town and from several miles/kilometres away as you drive across the landscape of Calvados in Normandy, France. Founded in 1011 by Lesceline, the aunt of William the Conqueror, the abbey has been enlarged, rebuilt, or renovated several times over the following centuries.

A glimpse of the medieval abbey towers of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives can be seen all throughout the town and from several miles/kilometres away as you drive across the landscape of Calvados in Normandy, France. Founded in 1011 by Lesceline, the aunt of William the Conqueror, the abbey has been enlarged, rebuilt, or renovated several times over the following centuries.

Exterior view of stained glass-filled chapels at the Abbey in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

Exterior view of stained glass-filled chapels at the Abbey in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

Chapel containing the grave of Lesceline, the aunt of William the Conqueror and founder of the abbey in 1011.

Chapel containing the grave of Lesceline, the aunt of William the Conqueror and founder of the abbey in 1011.

The gravestone of Lesceline, the aunt of William the Conqueror and founder of the abbey in 1011.

The gravestone of Lesceline, the aunt of William the Conqueror and founder of the abbey in 1011.

The main altar area of the abbey.

The main altar area of the abbey.

A side aisle in the abbey.

A side aisle in the abbey.

A rather curious set of stairs to nowhere.

A rather curious set of stairs to nowhere.

Abbey interior.

Abbey interior.

Lovely angles and arches.

Lovely angles and arches.

A drawing of the original layout -- much of which on the outer perimeter facing the gardens is being restored at present.

A drawing of the original layout — much of which on the outer perimeter facing the gardens is being restored at present.

These are the buildings along the outer part of the Abbey complex -- the ones that are facing the gardens in the illustration above. The French government sold these buildings off after the Revolution and they have gradually been repurchased. Some of them are in perilous condition and are being properly renovated now.

These are the buildings along the outer part of the Abbey complex — the ones that are facing the gardens in the illustration above. The French government sold these buildings off after the Revolution and they have gradually been repurchased. Some of them are in perilous condition and are being properly renovated now.

Simple chairs against a lovely metalwork enclosure near the main altar.

Simple chairs against a lovely metalwork enclosure near the main altar.

The ever-present candles.

The ever-present candles.

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MORE Vintage World War II Posters from Germany

Today is the final article from the German Historical Museum in Berlin, Germany.

With the exception of one bit of commentary further down, I am going to let the artwork speak for itself. These are all original posters that are rarely seen outside of Europe. And in spite the horrors of this period in history, I am grateful that someone thought to preserve these for posterity.

 

Hitler Election Campaign Poster

Hitler Election Campaign Poster


 
Hindenburg and Hitler Poster

Hindenburg and Hitler Poster


 
Raised Arm Salute

Raised Arm Salute


 
Hitler believed that his war was a contemporary religious and racial Crusade.

Hitler believed that his war was a contemporary religious and racial Crusade.


 
The worker and the soldier are apparently united against Socialism. The red star and Hammer & Sickle symbol on the jacket of the bottom figure reference the Russians aka USSR -- Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. And that same figure has clothing that references the stars and stripes of the USA and a top hat with the British flag on it. Interesting political statement!

The worker and the soldier are apparently united against Socialism. The red star and Hammer & Sickle symbol on the jacket of the bottom figure reference the Russians aka USSR — Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. And that same figure has clothing that references the stars and stripes of the USA and a top hat with the British flag on it. An interesting and layered political statement!


 
Kampffront -- Battle Front Black White Red

Kampffront — Battle Front Black White Red


 
I’d like to make a few comments about the final poster. As we stood in front of it, it was clear that it was a poster for a film, but I had no idea what the context was. As I researched the title, I discovered that this was a rather infamous movie that served its purpose — to create a divisive attitude of resentment and outright hatred of the Jews in Europe.

Jud Suss ended up being considered to be one of the most anti-semetic films of all time and it was well attended in every movie theatre. It was fully supported by Hitler’s devoted follower and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945 — Joseph Goebbels.

The artwork of the poster was even meant to summon up negative emotions amongst the everyday German population by showing the title character with a deeply green and reptilian skin colour and sinister-looking yellow eyes. I have placed a link to the article about this film in the paragraph above.
 

Poster advertising the anti-semetic film Jus Suss.

Poster advertising the anti-semetic film Jus Suss.


 

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse at this rather strange social and political time period.

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Vintage World War II Posters from Germany

In this second part of the visit to the Zeughaus, the late 17th and early 18th Century building that houses the German Historical Museum in Berlin, the Deutsches Historisches Museum — I must admit that it was both fascinating and a bit off-putting.

In the lead-up to those galleries full of nationalistic poster art, there are exhibits of social history that explained the frightful poverty and economic collapse in Germany in the period leading up to World War II.

Since there are so many images, I have decided to do a 3rd post about this museum. With the exception of the one rather depressing ink drawing style poster from the 1930s showing a starving family, today’s article shows lots of happy and upbeat propaganda to reinforce the message that the German people were unified in their thinking and to drum up feelings of purposefulness about their cause.

 

A 1930s poster showing a woman and child in extreme poverty.

A 1930s poster showing a mother and children in extreme poverty.


 
1936 Winter Olympics poster

1936 Winter Olympics poster


 
Silhouette of the top of the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin overlaid onto this poster for the summer Olympics.

Silhouette of the top of the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin overlaid onto this poster for the summer Olympics.


 
The German ideal of happy families with blonde hair and healthy bodies was highly encouraged.

The German ideal of happy families with blonde hair and healthy bodies was highly encouraged.


 
More perfect-looking blonde children to create Hitler's future Utopia.

More perfect-looking blonde children to create Hitler’s future Utopia.


 
And of course, the idea was heavily promoted that once this temporary messiness of war was over, all good German working families would have prosperity and their own car for drives in the countryside. Recognise the early Volkswagon?

And of course, the idea was heavily promoted that once this temporary messiness of war was over, all good German working families would have prosperity and their own car for drives in the countryside. Recognise the early Volkswagon?


 
Whether you are a university educated man who works with his brain or a tradesman who works with his hands, the we're-all-in-this-together approach is on display in this propaganda poster.

Whether you are a university educated man who works with his brain or a tradesman who works with his hands, the we’re-all-in-this-together approach is on display in this propaganda poster.


 
The glamourous airships or Zeppelins were still flying into the late 1930s. They provided a mental boost to the German public about their superiority with the construction of these massive airships.

The glamourous airships or Zeppelins were still flying into the late 1930s. They provided a mental boost to the German public about their superiority with the construction of these massive airships.


 
The era of the Zeppelins came to an end in 1937 with the Hindenburg Disaster which took the lives of 35 out of 97 people on board. All remaining German airships were ordered to be destroyed in 1940. The article at the link above is quite comprehensive and if you are interested in that sort of aviation history, it’s definitely worth the time to read through it.

The third and final article from this museum in Berlin shows World War II posters from Germany that are significantly less sunny and optimistic. Watch for those in my next article.

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A Day At The Zeughaus — The German Historical Museum in Berlin

We weren’t sure what to expect when we visited the German Historical Museum in Berlin, more correctly known by the actual name Deutsches Historisches Museum on the wonderful street, Unter den Linden. The charming street name translates to under the linden trees.

The museum is housed in an equally historical building, the Zeughaus — the oldest building on Unter den Linden and a former arsenal built between 1695 and 1730 in the Baroque architectural style.

Although ancient and relatively contemporary history is always interesting, both of us are quite curious about the historical periods from the 1920s through the 1940s — and this museum certainly didn’t let us down in that regard. It has halls full of information, remnants of those decades gone by, and a large collection on the emergence of the German Third Reich. Below is a small selection of what is on display.

The next TWO articles after this one will have a very specific theme. They will be photo essays of original World War II proganda posters distributed by the Nazi government of the time. So do come back and see some of that artwork that is rarely seen outside of Europe.

 

The courtyard of the German Historical Museum, established in the historic Zeughaus building, contains an I.M. Pei designed roofline over the large courtyard.

The courtyard of the German Historical Museum, established in the historic Zeughaus building, contains an I.M. Pei designed roofline over the large courtyard.


 
SculptureOverCourtyardArch
 
A vintage petrol pump from the 1920s-40s.

A vintage petrol pump from the 1920s-40s.


 
Vintage motorcycle

Pre-World War II motorcycle


 
Vintage coffee set

Complete coffee set


 
A display of vintage lingerie and clothing is right next to a display filled with old typewriters!

Rather oddly — a display of vintage lingerie and clothing is right next to a display filled with old typewriters!


 
Sailor ceramic statue -- advertising art.

Sailor ceramic statue — advertising art.


 
A poster for the 1927 Fritz Lang masterpiece film -- Metropolis.

A poster for the 1927 Fritz Lang masterpiece film — Metropolis.


 
Row of German uniform jackets with a swastika on each of them.

Row of German uniform jackets with a swastika on each of them.


 

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Musee des Arts et Metier in Paris – Part 3

In the final part of the visit to the Musee des Arts et Metier in Paris, we’ll look at some of the more industral objects and end with a room setting.

There were some truly wonderful and historical objects in this museum, but the largest percentage of them were enclosed in glass cases for their protection since they are quite valuable and culturally significant to the history of French design. However, since the museum galleries are splendidly well lit, that made it practically impossible to take a picture without some sort of glare or reflection, so I’m sticking to a few last pictures of things that were not encased in glass.

I don’t often share pictures of industrial objects, but they do quite often make me say “Oooo!” out loud. And there’s something quite wonderful about the technology of the early to mid 20th Century that I find especially appealing. Here are two examples.

The first one is a 1910 airplane engine — the inside — the structural elements that hold that set of propellers in place as the power zooms through the engine. I just think it’s gorgeous.

 

Close-up sideview  of 1910 French designed airplane engine.

Close-up sideview of 1910 French designed airplane engine.


 

Then there’s this early sound system for a movie projection set up in a cinema. The French were pioneers in film technology and they were quite early adopters of this new form of entertainment.

 

An early movie theatre sound system.

An early movie theatre sound system.


 

Finally, we were surprised to see just how many schoolchildren, from primary school age through high school age, were in the museum on the weekday that we attended. The museum is a fantastic educational resource for these students to learn about the wonderful inventions through the ages that their fellow Frenchmen have been either involved in or directly responsible for.

 

Students at a lecture inside the newer wing of the Musee des Arts et Metier in Paris.

Students at a lecture inside the newer wing of the Musee des Arts et Metier in Paris.


 

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Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris – Part Two

In this second part of our visit to the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris, today we’ll take a peek at some of the LARGE items that are displayed within the converted medieval priory portion of this extraordinary museum.

Designed to mimic the shape of a bat’s wings, this very early airplane by Clement Ader was designed between 1893 and 1897. The very fragile piece of engineering is suspended from the rather ornate ceiling inside the stairwell.

 

Very early aeroplane (airplane) designed by Clement Ader between 1893-1897

Very early aeroplane (airplane) designed by Clement Ader between 1893-1897


 
Ornate staircase in the Musee des Arts et Metier in Paris.

Ornate staircase in the Musee des Arts et Metier in Paris.


 
The high vaulted ceilings and ornate arches of the old church create the most impressive of the exhibition spaces. It’s quite stunning to walk into this vast area and look up to see several vintage airplaces hanging from the ceiling. On the floor below are old steam engines in a variety of sizes.
 
Planes above, trains below, automobiles in tiered racks on the side.

Planes above, trains below, automobiles in tiered racks on the side.


 
On the side of the large chapel are several levels of metal platforms, reached by stairs, which contain a variety of vintage automobiles — all perched high above the ground floor below. It could be a bit of a challenge for anyone with vertigo!
 
Vintage cars on suspended racks high above the floor below.

Vintage cars on suspended racks high above the floor below.


 
A timeless glimpse into the past.

A timeless glimpse into the past.


 
Hope you have enjoyed a peek at this wonderful museum which should be on everyone’s ‘must see’ list when they visit Paris.

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