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In recent years, the service of troops from France’s then-colonies in both world wars has been the object of sustained presidential attention. EPA/Philippe Wojazer

Reconciliation or récupération? Indigenous soldiers in WWI

In vogue among the political left during the events in Paris in May 1968, the French term récupération refers to the danger of “the Establishment”, be it the government or a political party, seizing on…
Many parties have a vested interest in shaping the way we remember the Great War ahead of its centenary, but some are more equal than others. EPA/Thomas Bregardis

Who owns the myths and legends of the Great War centenary?

When prime minister Tony Abbott declared at Villers-Bretonneux that “no place on earth has been more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than these fields in France”, Australian attention focused again…
Serbian infantry, 1914.

World War I: in the beginning …

With the exquisite turn of phrase for which she was so highly regarded, Barbara Tuchman once likened the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war against Serbia of 28 July 1914 to an example of “the bellicose…
The Wall of Death at the former Auschwitz concentration camp – a place for solemnity, not smiles. Nicole Low/AAP Image

Death tourism, Auschwitz selfies, and online souvenirs

Ouch. I think my entire body physically cringed when I came across the latest story of a misjudged tweet gone viral this week: the case of Breanna Mitchell, the naïve teenager and self-styled “Princess…
It is quite clear that Abbott is a western traditionalist when it comes to his interest in the past. Dean Lewins/ AAP

Tony Abbott’s history

Wherever does our prime minister get his technique for historical analysis? Just before last week’s chaotic carbon tax repeal scenes in Canberra, prime minister Tony Abbott offended the People’s Republic…
The Vandals were buried beneath the awful weight of metaphor. Dr Case

Vandals took the handles – but what else did they do?

It might seem a stretch to say history has been unkind to the Vandals. After all, this barbarian group did as much as anyone to sound the last rites of the Roman Empire in the west. They captured the rich…
The key, as so often in sport, is timing. Joe Castro/AAP Image

Aussie Rules rules thanks to the eight-hour working day

Why is AFL the main sport in Victoria and the other southern States while New South Wales and Queensland follow rugby? That’s long been a vexed question, but we may now be closer to an answer. In Melbourne…
The 1981 coup leaders claimed to be defending the Spanish monarchy, but King Juan Carlos ensured they did not succeed. Manuel Perez Barriopedro/Wordpress

Of kings and coups: Thailand could learn from Juan Carlos

I clearly remember the BBC news on February 23, 1981. The second item concerned an attempted coup in Spain in which armed soldiers marched into the Cortes (parliament) and took its members hostage. Their…
What links the former Soviet Union to the Russia we know today? Rob Ketcherside

Back in the USSR: my life as a ‘spy’ in the archives

Spies were a glamour news item in Western (and Soviet) press in the 1960s; it was the age of Kim Philby, British spymaster-cum-Soviet spy, and the endless media hunt for the “fifth man” of the Cambridge…
Heidegger’s Nazi ties and anti-Semitism are indisputable. Can the man be separated from his philosophy?

Heidegger’s notebooks reveal an early blindness to the Nazis’ reality

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is easily the most controversial philosopher in the 20th century. To a large extent this is due to his implication in Nazism, which is a scandal to some, a fascinating spectacle…

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