20# The true story of Silent Night

It was 1914 when soldiers on both sides of the battlefield somewhere in France were enduring a dark and frozen Christmas Eve night. World War I, or the Great War, as it is called still today, eventually took the lives of more than 10 million people. And, of course, the mostly soldiers of that Christmas Eve were contemplating much more beyond their longings for home and warmth and family. When soldiers on the German line placed candles on small Christmas trees and raised them above their trenches it touched the…

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Le Mort Homme: a memorial to the soldiers who died in the bloody battles to control Verdun in World War I

In World War I, the battle of Verdun was a really brutal battle that lasted from February 21 to December 18, 1916. Each meters around the French city was fought over by hundreds of thousands of French and German soldiers, and more from the farthest reaches of the European empires. There was 302 days of bloodshed, and historians still argue over how many actually died, with some estimates claimed near a million, from both sides. Even after the battle, technically won by the French, the story of Verdun wasn’t over:…

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Edith Cavell: the heroine nurse of England

Every year, two chosen nurses lay a wreath on the statue of such as Edith Cavell near Trafalgar Square in central London. Meanwhile, some 320 km north-east of the capital, a memorial service is held in the church at the rural village of Swardestone, where she was born. Edith was a nurse working in occupied Belgium during the First World War and was executed by a German firing squad on this day, October 12, 1915 , for helping about 200 British and French soldiers to escape the country. She was…

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The Battle of the Somme: the bloodiest day in British military history

The First World War Battle of the Somme began on this day, July 1, 1916. It was one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history and the worst ever for the British army. About 19,240 men died on that first day, an incredible report of one killed every five seconds. Trench warfare along the western front in France had been going on for nearly two years, locking in stalemate the Germans on one side and the French and British on the other. The front had hardly moved but for a…

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11 historic dishes born from tough times that you easily can make at home!

To limit supermarket trips during social distancing, and while restaurants in lot of coutries are still closed, many home chefs are looking for ways to use every last bit of what’s in their cupboard or refrigerator. Even though COVID-19 pandemic may feel like an uncharted experience, actually history is filled with examples of cooks more or less expert getting creative in times of hardship. Like this. From the crispy burger born during the Great Depression to the simple delights of “desperation pies,” but also an apple pie that tastes just…

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Spanish Flu: the deadliest epidemic in human history

From 1918 to 1920, a strain of influenza known as Spanish flu caused a global pandemic, spreading rapidly and killing indiscriminately young, old, sick and otherwise-healthy people, and at least 10% of patients died. Estimates vary on the exact number of deaths caused by the disease, but it is thought to have infected a third of the world’s population and it caused a never seen number of dead: from 50 to 100 million people died in just over a year. The greatest historical cause that led to such a number…

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Fort de la Chartreuse: the fort that was never used…as a fort!

The Fort de la Chartreuse is an about 150-year-old fortification that once should have been defend the Amercœur neighborhood of Liège in Belgium, but is now an abandoned big ruin that is slowly being overtaken by foliage and graffiti. Built between 1817 and 1823, the fortress rests on the grounds of a former Carthusian (Ordre des Chartreux) monastery in operation until the French Revolution, on an elevated hill in Liège, and it is part of the fortification line along the river Meuse which crosses Belgium. It was originally built by…

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Access forbidden for a century – the French “Red Zone”: a no-go area since WWI

If we think of France, we probably think of the magic of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the scents of Provence, the lavender fields, the glamor of the Croisette during the Cannes Festival or the enchanting castles of the Loire. But France is not only art and beauty, and especially during the First World War, its landscape was much more macabre. Even today there is an area which was declared “red”, that is subject to high risk and in which access has been forbidden for over a century. More than a…

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Mallow Bay: the largest fleet of sunken ships in the United States

If there were ever a place that could be described as a ship graveyard, it is the murky waters of Mallows Bay. The history of these maritime vessels in the U.S. is preserved in an unlikely place: at the bottom of a river! Here, nearly 200 military shipwrecks, dating as far back as the Revolutionary War and including ships from the Civil War and both World War I and World War II, were deliberately sunk over centuries, in an area of the Potomac River called Mallows Bay, in Maryland. At…

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William Hope: the most famous medium in London and his photographies.

During the period of World War I in England, William Hope was a well known and popular character: he was not only a spiritual medium, able to contact the dead, but is said to be famous also because he was able to photograph the spirits. Obviously the work of medium attracted many criticisms and many accused him of fraud. Despite the criticisms, his work as a medium continued and there were really lot of people who decided to rely on him. Many wanted to know how their loved ones were…

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22# Silent Night and the Christmas truce.

This story is probably another chapter in the book of the countless Christmas legend, and another checkbox in our advent calendar! It was 1914 ,and soldiers on both sides of the battlefield somewhere in France were enduring a dark and frozen Christmas Eve night. During World War I, the Great War, eventually more than 10 million people died, and it is doubtless that the men of that Christmas Eve were contemplating much more beyond their longings for home and warmth and family. When soldiers on the German line placed candles…

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20# The Halifax Christmas Disaster of 1917

The northern seaport city of Halifax, Nova Scotia on the eastern Canadian sea board, was recently in the news for the commemorative events surrounding the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Halifax was in fact the city of rescue for the Titanic, and more than 100 victims from the sinking are buried there, forever making the city a tourist destination for Titanic’s story enthusiasts. But there is another story, happened just five short years after the so famous sinking of the Titanic. December 1917. All we know the…

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