Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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Oradour-sur-Glane: The Village Massacred in WW2 and Preserved Since Then

On 10 June 1944, at around 2 PM, four days after the Allied invasion of Normandy, approximately 150 Waffen-SS soldiers entered the tranquil village of Oradour-sur-Glane in the Limosin region of south central France. For no apparent reason, Hitler’s elite troops destroyed every building in this peaceful village and brutally murdered a total of 642 innocent men, women and children, a tragedy which has gone down in history as one of the worst war crimes committed by the German army in World War II.

A new village of Oradour-sur-Glane was built after the war, at the northwest of the site of the massacre, where ruined remnants of the former village still stand as a memorial to the dead and a representative of similar sites and events. Its museum includes items recovered from the burned-out buildings: watches stopped at the time their owners were burned alive, glasses melted from the intense heat, and various personal items and money.

To this day there is no universally agreed explanation as to why the SS acted as they did, or why they chose Oradour for their attack. The town had been far from any center of conflict, was not, nor had ever been an active resistance stronghold.

There is one theory has to what may have happened. On June 9, 1944, the day before the massacre, a German office named Helmut Kämpfe was kidnapped by the Resistance and taken to Breuilaufa by way of Limoges where he was killed the same day. Whilst he was being driven through Limoges, Kämpfe managed to throw his personal papers out of the vehicle as a clue to his whereabouts; they were found and handed in to his commanding officer Sylvester Stadler.

The same day, another officer, Karl Gerlach and his driver were kidnapped by the Resistance and might have been taken to Oradour-sur-Vayres, about 35 miles away to the south of Oradour-sur-Glane. The two towns are very similar in appearance and Gerlach might have mistaken Oradour-sur-Glane for Oradour-sur-Vayres. Gerlach managed to escape and he report to Stadler what had happened.

Sylvester Stadler believed that the kidnapped officer Kämpfe was being held prisoner at Oradour-sur-Glane. He ordered Adolf Diekmann and his soldiers to proceed to Oradour-sur-Glane and take about thirty villagers hostages to negotiate the release of Helmut Kämpfe. Diekmann instead ordered the population exterminated and the village burned to the ground.

Stadler felt Diekmann had far exceeded his orders and began a judicial investigation. Diekmann was killed in action shortly afterward during the Battle of Normandy, and a large number of the third company, which had committed the massacre, were themselves killed in action within a few days, and the investigation was suspended.

The massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane was not the only collective punishment reprisal action committed by the Waffen SS: other well-documented examples include the French towns of Tulle, Ascq, Maillé, Robert-Espagne, and Clermont-en-Argonne; the Soviet village of Kortelisy (in what is now Ukraine); Lithuanian village of Pirčiupiai; the Czechoslovakian villages of Ležáky and Lidice (in what is now the Czech Republic); the Greek towns of Kalavryta and Distomo; the Dutch town of Putten; Serbian towns of Kragujevac and Kraljevo; Norwegian village of Telavåg; and the Italian villages of Sant’Anna di Stazzema and Marzabotto. Furthermore, the Waffen SS executed hostages (random or selected in suspect groups) throughout France as a deterrent to resistance.

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Strange Airport : Princess Juliana Airport and Maho Beach

Maho Beach is located on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. If you love watching airplanes takeoff and land, this should be your next holiday destination, because sitting right next to the Maho Beach is the busy Princess Juliana International Airport. Aircrafts approaching the airport comes from the direction of the sea and because they must touch down as close as possible to the beginning of runway 10 due to its short length, the aircraft on their final approach flies over the beach at minimal altitude.

You can lie on the beach and watch the underbelly of a 747 thundering within a few dozen yards over your head; the blast from the jet engine blowing sand and belongings all over the place. The thrilling approaches and ease of access for shooting spectacular images makes the airport one of the world’s favorite places among plane spotters.

Watching airliners pass over the beach is such a popular activity that daily arrivals and departures airline timetables are displayed on a board in most bars and restaurants on the beach, and the Sunset Beach Bar and Grill has a speaker on its outside deck that broadcasts the radio transmissions between pilots and the airport’s control tower.

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‘Giant Mermaid’ Sculpture in Hamburg’s Alster Lake

A giant sculpture of a woman bathing in the picturesque Alster Lake in Hamburg, Germany, has caught the attention of both tourist and locals. The 12-foot-tall floating artwork was designed in three pieces by artist Oliver Voss, advertising executive and head of the advertising academy Miami Ad School. The sculpture was sponsored by a cosmetics company named Soap & Glory.

I’m not sure why this sculpture is called ‘mermaid’ as one can distinctly see her legs.

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Photo: Axel Heimken / AP, Photo creditPhoto creditPhoto credit, Photo: Marcus Brandt / EPA, Photo: Reuters via DesignYourTrust, Photo: Reuters via DesignYourTrust

Brushless Paintings by Amy Shackleton

Amy Shackleton is a 25-year old Torornto based artist who paints without brushes. Instead, she uses gravity. Shackleton uses ketchup like bottles to squeeze copious amount of paint onto the canvas and then rotates it to manipulate the flow of the paint. As the paint streaks down the canvas she guides it to create curves, lines, splashes and landscapes.

In a 30-hour time-lapse video posted on YouTube, Shackleton can be seen working on a new urban landscape painting titled “Terrace City.”

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Vivid Sydney Festival 2010

Vivid Sydney – the festival of art, music, light, and ideas is the largest international music and light show in the Southern Hemisphere. The festival that is held annually in Sydney brings together large scale light installations and projections, music performances, creative ideas, stimulating discussions and debates, showcasing Sydney as a major creative hub in the Asia-Pacific Region. The festival began on May 27 and will continue till June 21, 2010. Last year’s show attracted 200,000 locals and visitors.

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Photo Courtesy: Getty Images, Reuters

Snake Burgers

A restaurant in Indonesia’s capital city Djakarta is serving snake burgers made from local snakes.

The kitchen area resembles a factory floor, with snakes everywhere – in various states of preparation. The snakes are first beheaded, then peeled to remove their scaly skin. Next, the carcasses move to the cleaning and fileting area, and finally the meat is minced, ground, and blended with seasonings.

The snake patties are then fried, topped with the usual condiments and sandwiched between sesame seed buns. According to China Radio International Online (CRI), the burgers “taste like chicken”.

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[via Inventor Spot]