Thursday, August 1, 2019

75th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising


August 1, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising against the occupying German forces.  The Uprising was a major military operation organized by the Polish underground Home Army (Armia Krajowa.) It lasted sixty three days.

The revolt was led General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski who managed to mobilize army of 40,000 soldiers. Unfortunately they only had 2,500 weapons to their disposition.

Badly armed and hungry, fighting on their own, the Poles lost the fight. The Uprising was brutally crushed. The Germans executed more 150,000 civilians - men, women and children. Those who were not murdered on the spot were deported to the concentration camps. At the order of Waffen SS chief Heinrich Himmler, the city was completely destroyed and leveled to the ground never to rise again, like Carthage.

The Warsaw Uprising failed, but it become a great inspirational story to every fighting underground force all over the occupied Europe. 


Why the fiasco? In July 1944 the Russian Red Army was advancing on Eastern Poland. The Polish underground leaders speculated that the German forces would withdraw from Warsaw. Unfortunately, contrary to what the Poles expected, the Germans received an order to defend their positions against the Russians. There were to turn Warsaw into a fortress in fight against the Bolshevism.


Just like Germany, Russia was Poland's archenemy, so no help came from the Russian Army standing nearby and watching the destruction of Warsaw. 

The World War II could have ended much sooner if the Russians moved on and allowed the Allies to conduct a large scale offensive from their territory. Stalin  gave the orders not to interfere. The generals followed.

As the Poles commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Uprising today, they also celebrate the 30th year of free and sovereign Poland. August 1st is not only a symbol of the fight for freedom, it is also a day of remembrance for the historical events that took place in 1989.

By Dominique Allmon

P.S.

One of the most scandalous facts from the post-WWII history is the story of one of the "butchers" of Warsaw - the SS General Heinz Reinefarth. At his orders the troops under his command committed countless atrocities, including the mass murder of Polish civilians in Warsaw in 1944. For his actions during the Warsaw Uprising, on September 30, 1944, Reinefarth  received the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. After the war, this Nazi criminal settled down on the German isle of Sylt where he was elected a mayor of the town called Westerland. The Polish authorities demanded extradition, but Reinefarth was never extradited and went unpunished for his crimes. He died on Sylt in 1979.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

One Small Step For A Man...


"Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. 
July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." - 
text from a commemorative plaque on one of the Eagle's legs.

Fifty years ago, at 10: 56 EDT on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong was ready to step out of the "Eagle" and become the first human being in history to set his foot on the surface of the Moon. 

More than half a billion people all over the world were watching the first televised images. As Armstrong climbed down the ladder, the viewers could hear him say his famous words: 

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

A few minutes later, Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the Moon surface. For Aldrin the Moon was a "magnificent desolation." 

The two astronauts planted an American flag and spent the next two and a half hours exploring the surface of the Moon, collecting rock samples, and taking photographs. 

The mission was a success. It ended when the Columbia capsule carrying the astronauts splashed into the ocean off the coast of Hawaii on July 24, 1969. 

A new era has begun. New missions to the Moon followed over the next three and a half years. Some people, most notably Wernher von Braun, Vice President Spiro Agnew, and the Apollo 11 astronaut Mike Collins, were talking about mission to Mars that could be accomplished before the end of the 20th century. Kids like me hoped that by the year 2000 we would be spending our summer vacations on the Moon. In 1973 NASA abandoned its lunar program and all our dreams became science fiction once again. 

By Dominique Allmon

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lift Off


Fifty years ago on July 16, 1969, an incredible human adventure has begun: Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket at 9:32 ET (13:32 UTC) from Cape Kennedy (formerly Cape Canaveral,) Florida, and headed for the Moon.

The spacecraft carried three American astronauts - Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. It consisted of three parts: a Command Module with the cabin for the three astronauts; a Service Module designed to support the Command Module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a Lunar Module "Eagle" that had two stages - the descent stage for the landing on the Moon's surface, and the ascent stage for the transport of the astronauts back into the lunar orbit.

Almost a million people descended on Cape Kennedy to watch the lift off of Apollo 11. Millions of people all over the world watched the lift off and followed the progress of the mission on television. It would take another four days for the spacecraft to reach its destination.

The mission to the Moon was initiated on May 25, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy issued his famous challenge to Congress and the American people: “I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

Incredible 410,000 people were involved in the mission's success, many nameless, but many well known and remembered to this day. The Saturn V rocket itself was a pet project of a German aerospace engineer, former SS Wernher von Braun, who was involved in  the construction of the V2 rocket in Peenemünde during the WWII. The American space program included a few more Germans with a Nazi past, some of them war criminals like Arthur Rudolph who also worked on the V2; and  Hubertus Strughold who conducted various medical experiments on inmates from the concentration camp in Dachau.

These "details" cast a very dark shadow over the American space program. They were not revealed to the American public at that time. In the middle of Cold War, NASA simply wanted to succeed in the space race against the Soviets and this would not have been possible without the knowledge and expertise of the German scientists. History was made. The mission was a success. This was all that mattered.

By Dominique Allmon

*Hitler's secret V2 project at Peenemünde was an incredible advancement in war technology with grim statistics. In 1944 more than 1,300 rockets were fired at England, Belgium and France killing 2,724 people in Britain alone. Estimated 20,000 slave workers lost their lives in harsh working conditions at the facilities at Peenemünde and Mittelwerk manufacturing the deadly weapon.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

For Their Memory - 75th D-Day Anniversary


If you are able
Save for them a place inside of you
And save one backward glance
When you are living
For the place they can no longer go
Be not ashamed to say you love them
Thought you may
Or may not have always
Take what they have left
And what they have taught
With their dying
An keep it with you own
And in that time
When men decide and feel safe
To call the war insane
Take a moment to embrace
Those gentle heroes you left behind
By Major Michael Davis O’Donnell 

Poem source here
Image source here

Monday, April 22, 2019

Earth Day, Zero Waste And The World Without Us


As millions of people all over the world are preparing for the annual Earth Day celebrations, it is almost impossible not to notice that despite many nature preserving initiatives not much has changed on our planet since last year. The climate change debate goes on, resources are being mindlessly wasted, and the Earth population grows exponentially only to pollute and destroy what is left of natural habitats of so many endangered species.
"Human population growth is probably the single most serious long-term threat to survival. We’re in for a major disaster if it isn’t curbed - not just for the natural world, but for the human world.The more people there are, the more resources they’ll consume, the more pollution they’ll create, the more fighting they will do. We have no option. If it isn’t controlled voluntarily, it will be controlled involuntarily by an increase in disease, starvation and war." - Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
There was a poll on Tweeter some time ago: Participants were asked to vote on what was their biggest concern for planet Earth: 
  • climate change
  • wasteful use of resources 
  • environmental pollution. 
This short-lived poll was freshly published when I saw it. Most participants worried about the climate change, naturally, since this is all they hear from the media and public figures. Hardly anybody bothered about the pollution caused by the ever expanding humanity or the wasteful use of resources. In the world that uses the right to pollute as tradable commodity, nothing will ever change for the better. 

We are like the passengers on an overcrowded ship of fools drifting to our own destruction. The unfortunate thing is that at the same time we are taking so many other species down with us.


Environmental pollution, systematic destruction of ecosystems, shrinking habitats of countless species, unsustainable living, mindless ab-use of resources, and uncontrolled population growth, left many parts of the planet in a pitiful shape. In my own lifetime Earth population almost doubled and it is going to double again before this century is over. So, is it a wonder that some people envision Earth without humans?

In the past, wars, natural disasters, famines, genocide, and virulent diseases decimated Earth population over and over again keeping the numbers in check, but thanks to technological advances, people are now healthier and more affluent than ever, and there hasn't been a major war for a long time. Small, local conflicts do not cause enough damage, and most diseases do not kill quickly enough to have any impact on the world's population.  

At some point the Earth will become completely uninhabitable to the ever growing population and we will finally see the Malthusian law in action. Our numbers will decline rapidly and we will eventually vanish leaving this beautiful planet to recover from the devastation caused by us.

“The world today has 6.8 billion people. That's heading up to about nine billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care and reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.” - Bill Gates, in 2010

"The World Without Us" is a title of a highly readable, intelligently written, and well researched book by Alan Weisman. Published in 2017, this books touches many aspects of our existence on Earth and invites readers to a deep reflection.

Mr. Weisman presents a population model where every human female is limited to bearing one child only. In this model, by the year 2100 world's population would drop to the levels of the 19th century or ca. 1, 6 billion. Such drastic reduction in population will allow all the other species still existing on our planet to recover and repopulate the wasteland left by the departed billions of humans. 

In 1960s James Lovelock proposed his now slightly forgotten Gaia hypothesis. He envisioned Earth as a living organism that is currently under assault. If we disappeared, the Earth would recover. Things are not that simple, though, since what we are going to leave behind will take ages to dissipate. 

Alan Weisman presents various scenarios, from the restoration of the changed pH of farmland soil, to the cleanup of water pollution, urban wasteland, and the nuclear waste deposits. Evolution will take its natural turn. The fittest species will survive and adapt to new conditions. New species might evolve and repopulate areas that are today almost devoid of life. Without humans life on earth will go on no matter what damage we have done here. The Chernobyl disaster zone is a clear proof to it: Life has returned and genetically altered or damaged species thrive there now despite all odds. 

Earth without humans may seem like a nightmare to most, but it is most probably an inevitable if not welcome, scenario. And while we are still here, we could start taking better care of the environment we live in. The piles of garbage that we leave behind are more than just embarrassment.

The time before every Earth Day is filled with activity and fills every environmentally conscious  human being with hope. In March thousands of school children all over the world demonstrated against the climate change. This demonstration of environmental awareness was followed by a large scale clean up of beaches, national parks, and other areas where people left trash.

More and more people are embracing an ecologically sustainable lifestyle. Some  propose radical  Zero Waste solutions; many more try to at least recycle and reuse whatever they can. At consumers demand, single use plastic packaging is gradually disappearing from the market, and researchers are coming up with new, biodegradable packaging materials.  

Earth Day gatherings and rallies are perfect for the exchange of ideas and implementation of new solutions. Without a doubt, our existence is toxic to the planet and we must clean up our act whether we believe in climate change or not. Mindless consumption and careless use of resources must stop. Instead of trading in carbon credits, we should allow innovation and try to collectively reduce our carbon footprint. And last but not least, we must respect other species and acknowledge their right to existence on this planet.

Happy Earth Day! 

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon@2019

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Happy Year of the Earth Pig


Millions of Chinese all over the world are getting ready to celebrate the Chinese  New Year. In Chinese calendar 2019 is the Year of the Earth Pig. It begins at midnight on February 5, and ends on January 24, 2020. The Chinese New Year is also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival and is celebrated in Korea and Vietnam.

Pig, or wild boar, is one of the twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac. A Buddhist story tells us that the pig was the last to arrive at a feast given by the Buddha. 

The Chinese astrologers assign zodiac signs to the Five Elements: metal, water, wood, fire and earth.  The zodiac sign returns every twelve years, but a particular combination of the zodiac sign and the element occurs only every sixty years. This means that the next Earth Pig will be celebrated in 2079! 

 Year of the Pig Mug by Jimmo Designs

People born in a year of the Pig are considered to be diligent, compassionate, and generous. Once they set a goal, they will devote all their energy to achieving it. Pigs rarely seek help from others, but they will not refuse to give others a hand. They have a great sense of responsibility and usually finish projects they started. Pigs are easily fooled because in their honesty and innocence they never suspect trickery.

According to Chinese astrologers and Feng Shui masters, 2019 will be a very joyful and prosperous year. It will be a good year for friendship and romance, and a great year to invest and make money because Pigs attract success, good fortune, and prosperity.

Interestingly, Pig years are believed to be rather unlucky for those born in a year of the Pig since they stand in conflict with Tai Sui or god of age in Chinese mythology. This means that Pigs have to be a little more vigilant and work a little harder if they want to excel. This is a god time to learn new skills. For everybody else, astrological predictions for the New Year depend on their year of birth and how their zodiac animal relates to the Pig. 

2019 is the last year in the twelve year cycle. Since all the animals are now at the Buddha's feast we can all relax and enjoy life a bit more. Take the necessary brake that you postponed for too long. Go on vacation, pamper yourself, but never lose your focus. You are, after all, the master of your own fortune.

Wishing everyone Happy Chinese New Year 
and a very prosperous Year of the Earth Pig!
Dominique Allmon


恭喜發財


Dominique Allmon©2019 

Images: Journey to the West and 2019 Year of the Pig Greeting Cards from Jimmo Designs. Cards are available on Redbubble & Year of the Pig Mug available at Jimmo Designs