On Wednesday we went down to London, and went around the Imperial War Museum with Breff and Jim (my parents). I don’t think I’ve ever been before, and whilst I wouldn’t make a habit of going, it was very interesting.
There were a few things you had to look at a few times to work out what they were – including this strange and fragile looking object that was about 7 feet long, and 4 feet high – any ideas on what it is (answer at the end of the post) :-
There was also what I think the first jet fighter in the world- the Heinkel HE-162 ‘Salamander’ (thanks to someone who tagged a photo I had put on Flickr) :-
The building also had a fairly cool roof structure, with diamond-shaped curved supports:-
But, it wasn’t the various warfare artifacts that stuck in the mind. It was the Holocaust exhibition. The exhibition tells the story across the years up to and during the Second World War. What really stuck was the gradual nature of the build-up. No stage was acceptable (and by half-way they were truly disturbing), but I’ve never spent an hour going through each stage of escalation before, and seeing how incremental it was – there didn’t appear to be a master plan, just a hatred of non-Teutonic types amongst a few leaders who then used propaganda to spread their view. It was also an unpleasant reminder that many countries tried to reduce or refuse entry to Jewish refugees for fear of overwhelming their own countries, and generating the same anti-semitic behaviour at home. We see that same behaviour today, though now with the tag of ‘blocking economic migrants’ (not sure economic migrancy is bad BTW – feels like a free market isn’t free unless there is free labour mobility. That subject can wait for another day). The final room, with a model and records of Auschwitz was shocking, even though I knew well what to expect. We were in Poland a couple of years ago, but didn’t go to Auschwitz since we didn’t think it appropriate for the kids (who were 10 and 12 at the time) – I’m glad we made that call since even the model was awful. I was very glad to leave, though not as glad as I was that I went.
On a lighter note – the strange object at the top of the post? Apparently it was an observation bubble that was dropped down below a Zeppelin so that they could see the ground even if they were above the cloud. It had a 1500 metre cable, with a telephone link, so the observer riding in it could relay what they saw. 1500 metres seems an awful long cable for a cloud, so I can’t help thinking that it was partly to get themselves out of range. It looked very fragile, so I suspect it wasn’t the first pick of the crew to ride in the bubble!