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92 year-old WWII veteran and movie bootlegger is soldiers' hero

MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. — One of the world’s most prolific bootleggers of Hollywood DVDs loves his morning farina. He has spent eight years churning out hundreds of thousands of copies of “The Hangover,” “Gran Torino” and other first-run movies from his small Long Island apartment to ship overseas.

“Big Hy” — his handle among many loyal customers — would almost certainly be cast as Hollywood Enemy No. 1 but for a few details. He is actually Hyman Strachman, a 92-year-old, 5-foot-5 World War II veteran trying to stay busy after the death of his wife. And he has sent every one of his copied DVDs, almost 4,000 boxes of them to date, free to American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

/ April 29, 2012, 1:39am / 50

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Gentlemen, we may not make history tomorrow, but we shall certainly change the geography.

— General Plumer on the 42 tons of explosives that were to be detonated on 7 June 1917

April 29, 2012, 12:00am / 91

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POWs taken during the liberation of Holland

POWs taken during the liberation of Holland

/ April 28, 2012 / 22

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By the fourth day of the march, the old National Road was lined with fresh corpses. Hundreds of dead, sprawled on the shoulders, strewn in the drainage ditches.First Lieutenant Ed Thomas of Grand Rapids, Michigan, caught sight of his captain and company commander lying in a ditch, dead from a bayonet wound…Bernard Fitzpatrick kept passing corpses clad in faded blue hospital pajamas. Filipinos mostly, the cripples and amputees who had left their beds in the field hospital after the Japanese had assured them they were free to walk home.In the heat the bodies began to rot and it wasn’t long before great swarms of flies were feasting on them. During the day dogs and pigs joined the flies and at night the smell of death lured large carnivorous lizards down from the hills, but it was the crows that commanded the carrion, crows standing wing to wing on the bloated bodies, tearing at the flesh, crows roosting patiently on the wire fences along the road or, as Private Wince “Tennessee” Solsbee noticed, always circling overhead, waiting for their next meal to drop.

Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and its Aftermath, Michael & Elizabeth M. Norman

By the fourth day of the march, the old National Road was lined with fresh corpses. Hundreds of dead, sprawled on the shoulders, strewn in the drainage ditches.

First Lieutenant Ed Thomas of Grand Rapids, Michigan, caught sight of his captain and company commander lying in a ditch, dead from a bayonet wound…Bernard Fitzpatrick kept passing corpses clad in faded blue hospital pajamas. Filipinos mostly, the cripples and amputees who had left their beds in the field hospital after the Japanese had assured them they were free to walk home.

In the heat the bodies began to rot and it wasn’t long before great swarms of flies were feasting on them. During the day dogs and pigs joined the flies and at night the smell of death lured large carnivorous lizards down from the hills, but it was the crows that commanded the carrion, crows standing wing to wing on the bloated bodies, tearing at the flesh, crows roosting patiently on the wire fences along the road or, as Private Wince “Tennessee” Solsbee noticed, always circling overhead, waiting for their next meal to drop.

Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and its Aftermath, Michael & Elizabeth M. Norman

/ April 28, 2012 / 33

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The German 4th Army, after being captured at Minsk in Byelorussia (Belarus), being marched through the streets of Moscow.

The German 4th Army, after being captured at Minsk in Byelorussia (Belarus), being marched through the streets of Moscow.

/ April 28, 2012 / 63

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US Navy sailors escorting a Japanese POW for interrogation after fishing him out of the water.

US Navy sailors escorting a Japanese POW for interrogation after fishing him out of the water.

/ April 28, 2012 / 33

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The French Resistance: By June 1944, there were thought to be at least 100,000 members of the French Resistance—known as the maquis in the rural areas. They published underground newspapers, spied for the Allies, sabotaged armaments factories, derailed trains, smuggled downed airmen into neutral Spain, and in some cases attacked German soldiers outright. During the liberation of Paris they played a significant part, and by October of that year their numbers swelled to 400,000. However in the first two years of the occupation, most people had kept their faith with Marshal Petain—seen as the “savior of France” during World War I—and supported his government in Vichy and opposition to this Nazi-supporting government was carried out only by a tiny, uncoordinated minority. However, in January 1943, General de Gaulle, who was still based in London, sent his emissary Jean Moulin to begin the difficult task of organize the splintered resistance cells into one cohesive army. In May 1943, Moulin successfully formed the National Council of Resistance, only to be captured by the Gestapo and tortured. He died in transport to Nazi Germany. Nevertheless the Resistance continued on, aided then by the Free French in London, Britain’s clandestine Special Operations Executive (SOE) set up by Churchill and the RAF who parachuted in weapons and agents. With the help of the BBC, coded messages were broadcast to the maquis all across France, allowing the Resistance to respond via their own clandestine radio operators called pianistes. A dangerous occupation, pianistes had a expiration date of six months due to the German excellent radio-detection equipment. It was early in the war that the Resistance discovered stealing dynamite from the Germans was much more productive than creating their own. Because of this, blowing up military trains was their preferred means of attack because it led to fewer civilian casualties. In the run-up to Overlord in June 1944, the Resistance disrupted German communication and, after the D-Day landings, hampered German reinforcements getting to the front. The Resistance also provided the Allies with maps and blueprints of the German defenses between Cherbourg and Le Havre, with details of German deployments. During the liberation of France, the Resistance actively fought alongside their Free French compatriots and helped take over the city before the Allies officially arrived.

The French Resistance: By June 1944, there were thought to be at least 100,000 members of the French Resistance—known as the maquis in the rural areas. They published underground newspapers, spied for the Allies, sabotaged armaments factories, derailed trains, smuggled downed airmen into neutral Spain, and in some cases attacked German soldiers outright. During the liberation of Paris they played a significant part, and by October of that year their numbers swelled to 400,000.

However in the first two years of the occupation, most people had kept their faith with Marshal Petain—seen as the “savior of France” during World War I—and supported his government in Vichy and opposition to this Nazi-supporting government was carried out only by a tiny, uncoordinated minority. However, in January 1943, General de Gaulle, who was still based in London, sent his emissary Jean Moulin to begin the difficult task of organize the splintered resistance cells into one cohesive army. In May 1943, Moulin successfully formed the National Council of Resistance, only to be captured by the Gestapo and tortured. He died in transport to Nazi Germany. Nevertheless the Resistance continued on, aided then by the Free French in London, Britain’s clandestine Special Operations Executive (SOE) set up by Churchill and the RAF who parachuted in weapons and agents. With the help of the BBC, coded messages were broadcast to the maquis all across France, allowing the Resistance to respond via their own clandestine radio operators called pianistes. A dangerous occupation, pianistes had a expiration date of six months due to the German excellent radio-detection equipment.

It was early in the war that the Resistance discovered stealing dynamite from the Germans was much more productive than creating their own. Because of this, blowing up military trains was their preferred means of attack because it led to fewer civilian casualties. In the run-up to Overlord in June 1944, the Resistance disrupted German communication and, after the D-Day landings, hampered German reinforcements getting to the front. The Resistance also provided the Allies with maps and blueprints of the German defenses between Cherbourg and Le Havre, with details of German deployments. During the liberation of France, the Resistance actively fought alongside their Free French compatriots and helped take over the city before the Allies officially arrived.

/ April 28, 2012 / 53

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We shall have to do the whole thing over again in twenty-five years, at three times the cost.

— Lloyd George reflecting on the Treaty of Versailles, 1919

April 28, 2012, 12:35pm / 131

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