One photograph taken before World War II shows what was at stake

Albert Einstein under guard at Cromer, England in 1933 — Bettmann/Getty Images

It’s the stuff of cloak and dagger cliffhangers and bestseller suspense novels. It’s also part of the historical record of the twentieth century, a snapshot from a perilous time that carries with it to this day some unsettling ‘what if?’ ramifications.

The year is 1933 and the setting is a primitive-looking vacation lodge, or “holiday hut” as they were known in England, near the quiet seaside town of Cromer. The man at the center of the photograph is, of course, Albert Einstein, still today one of the most famous faces on the planet. As for the woman and two men…

Take heart, writers and professionals, even the Greats have had their moments of torturous self-doubt

John Steinbeck —

“I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people.”- Author John Steinbeck writing in his private journal in 1938 — two years before he won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Grapes of Wrath.

The Impostor Syndrome: A registered term in psychology that was introduced to academic circles in 1978, it defines a curious malady: the struggle or inability to quiet the self-doubt that mocks one for achieving or trying to achieve whatever it is we dream of doing.

Put more bluntly, it’s the nagging lines running in an endless loop through the back of our…

Here is the true story behind ‘The Exorcist’ — the scariest movie ever made

A still shot from the 1973 film The Exorcist —

Cottage City, Maryland in 1949 was a small suburban community as quaint and wholesome as the name would suggest. Residents back then never locked their doors at night and never expected any trouble. Not in their town. And certainly nothing like this.

On August 20th of that year, the Washington Post carried a front-page story telling of “one of the most remarkable experiences of its kind in recent religious history.” The story concerned a fourteen-year-old boy from Cottage City who had apparently been the victim of demonic possession and was subsequently saved only through the ancient Catholic rite of exorcism.

Another place you can look for writing inspiration

Immigrants arriving in America —

How wonderfully fitting it was for me, a writer who loves telling personal and family histories, to find out my surname — Stolt — also happens to be the Swedish word for ‘proud.’

Stolt — proud.

Yep, that works damn good by me.

Because over 130 years ago, on November 26, 1889 to be exact, my paternal grandfather boarded a ship for the first time in his life in the port city of Göteborg, Sweden, and embarked on a week’s-long winter voyage across the North Atlantic that was anything but safe and luxurious. Based on the historical record, the boat…

How 13 minutes meant the difference between life and death for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party

Adolf Hitler speaking in Munich in 1939 —

John Wilkes Booth. Lee Harvey Oswald. James Earl Ray.

These names are forever etched in history and in our collective mind, representing not only cold-blooded murderers but more so the haunting question of what might have happened had they not done what they did.

Then there is Georg Elser.

How one soldier’s story still haunts the Vietnam War generation

American Prisoners of War in Vietnam —

As written in the United States Military Code of Conduct:

Article IIIIf I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

Article IVIf I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades.

In many ways, his story has become, nearly half a century later, one of…

How ‘Hitler’s Filmmaker’ came to define and defy the role of art in World War Two

Leni Riefenstahl in a portrait pose in the 1930s — Wikipedia

Imagine for a moment you’re a world-class artist fueled by ambition. At a young age you’re a technical innovator in your field, possessed of a unique eye for staging events and conveying ideas to the rest of the world on the grandest of scales. You’re also the only woman working in the male-dominated industry of filmmaking. And yet, your greatest creative work — and everyone agrees it is masterful — is to be forever tied to the rise and power of one Adolf Hitler.

A talent that cannot be denied. The professional opportunity of a lifetime. …

On hallowed and tortured ground in 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s words forever defined the promise of a democratic nation

The only known photograph of Abraham Lincoln (upper center) at Gettysburg —

With the possible exception of Thomas Jefferson, no elected leader in our nation’s history has preached and worshipped more effectively at the altar of the written word than Abraham Lincoln.

Thankfully so, since at no other time were clear and inspiring words more needed than after the three-day bloodletting near the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the Civil War. It fell on President Lincoln to deliver those words — a mere 272 — at a formal dedication ceremony for a new cemetery in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.

Now, 157 years later, the political climate and chaotic discourse running throughout…

Honor and controversy still surround the claims of several men that they were the last survivor of America’s most terrible war

Three unidentified Confederate soldiers —

The last man standing. For every armed conflict ever fought, with every army ever assembled, the laws of mortal man dictate that only one can truly lay claim to being the last warrior left alive. Only one is the last to enter Valhalla, the mythic palace where dead warriors rest.

This is what is happening now with veterans of World War II. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 389,292 of the roughly sixteen million American World War II veterans are still alive as of 2020. However, almost 370 of those veterans are dying every day. …

One ill-fated training exercise almost spelled disaster for the Allies in World War II

Code name: Exercise Tiger. It was late April 1944 and military men on both sides of the English Channel knew what would be coming soon: the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe, most commonly known as the D-Day. As this day drew nearer, tensions were growing and the stakes were getting higher.

On the Allied side, there were, of course, the tactical strategies and planning of exactly when, where, and how the invasion would be launched. …

Kent Stolt

Wisconsin-based writer, storyteller and history buff. Keep it simple. Make it real.

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