Vaguely Interesting Snippets | 30 March – 5 April  

  • Future president of the USA, John F. Kennedy, spent a summer’s vacation from his university studies at Harvard touring Europe. His journey included a spell in Nazi Germany and he only made it to London on 1 September 1939. He was in the gallery of the House of Commons to hear the United Kingdom’s declaration of war on Germany.
  • The food colorants cochineal and carmine are made from ground insects. The crushed corpses of South America’s Dactylopius coccus produce a vivid red.
  • For eight years pupils at a primary school in Hull learnt music from Mrs Kent. She was a kindly, passionate and committed  music teacher. Unbeknownst to them (or their parents) she was also the Duchess of Kent. The Duchess gave incognito music lessons at Wansbeck Primary School, Longhill, east Hull, between 1996 and 2004.
  • The USA accounted for 45.7% of the world’s military spending in 2011. This was over 50% more than the next nine countries combined. The top six military spenders are the USA ($739.3bn), China ($89.8bn), the UK ($62.7bn), France ($58.8bn), Japan ($58.4bn) and Russia ($52.7bn).
  • Mildred Harnack was the only American women to be executed by the Nazis and the only American women to be executed for treason during World War II. She had been part of the ‘Red Orchestra’, a Soviet-led spy ring in Berlin. After her first trial, Harnack was sentenced to six years in prison. This ‘lenient’ sentence was overturned and, in the second trial, Harnack was sentenced to death. Mildred Harnack was guillotined on 16 February 1943.