Fight them on the beaches

One of the best known speeches given in the English language is Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches”, the common title given to a speech delivered to  the House of Commons on June 4, 1940.

The most quoted section is “we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” It consists of words entirely derived from Anglo-Saxon roots except for one; surrender (which comes, somewhat unsurprisingly given the context, from old French).

What is less well known is that on sitting back down he whispered to a fellow MP  “I don’t know what we’ll fight them with – we shall have to slosh them on the head with bottles – empty ones, of course.”

The birth of Nazi architecture

The Haus der Kunst (literally House of Art) is an art museum in Munich, Germany. It is famous as the first piece of public architecture that was built under the Nazi regime. Andrew Graham-Dixon’s excellent programme ‘The Art of Germany‘ on BBC 4 told how the gallery was built in accordance with an emerging Nazi ideology on art and architecture. The building would champion the new style in both disciplines – the first display was a celebration of 2,000 years of German art.

The building is also one of the most important surviving pieces of major Nazi architecture, and one of the few that still serves its original purpose (the only other notable example being the Berlin Olympic Stadium which continues to be used as a sporting venue). Although the Haus der Kunst is still an art gallery, it is fair to assume that Hitler and Speer would not have approved of the modern displays (a recent example being the work of Gilbert and George!)
The building’s Nazi origins can be guessed at from the architecture, but there are more obvious clues. The swastika motif was embedded in mosaics in the in the ceiling panels of its front portico and can still be seen today.
A surprising range of Nazi buildings survive (albeit with different m0dern-day uses), including Berlin Tempelhof Airport (now used as a events and exhibition venue in the middle of Berlin’s newest and largest park), the Kongresshalle in Nuremburg (now a museum of the cause and consequences of National Socialism) and the Air Ministry Building (now Detlev Rohwedder House and home of the German Finance Ministry).

Beguines – the good women of northern Europe

Amidst the fervant religiosity of the Crusades a female movement emerged at the start of the 12th century. Across the Low Countries and the German lands women began to live alone, and devoted themselves to prayer and good works. They were not nuns, they did not take vows or give up property, but they devoted themselves to attending to the poor.

About the beginning of the 13th century some of them grouped their cabins together to form a community, called a Beguinage. The movement would decline over the 16th century, but survived with a handful of Beguines into the 21st century.

The Art of Germany, Andrew Graham-Dixon, BBC 4