RIP, Last Living Dude Who Tried To Kill Hitler

A lot of you talk a big game about what you would have done if you’d had a clear shot at Hitler, or going back in time to smother Hitler when he was in prison writing Mein Kampf, or even giving boy Hitler enough wedgies that he never bothered anyone again. But let’s face it: killing or otherwise deterring Hitler wasn’t easy. Just ask this dead guy who tried to wipe him off the face of the earth.

Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist died last week in Munich, at the not at all Hitler-truncated age of 90. Now this dude was serious about killing Hitler. Even at 22, as a student, von Kleist “offered to wear an explosive vest on a visit to the Nazi leader.” That didn’t happen, but von Kleist did then participate in the July 20 plot to blow up Hitler in his Wolf’s Lair field headquarters—this affair later accidentally lampooned by Tom Cruise in Valkyrie.

But yeah! This man came as close as anyone did to icing the Führer, and we should all be thankful that armed, principled resistance to fascism doesn’t require a time machine, right? Also, that von Kleist was not one of the five thousand people executed in the wake of this assassination attempt—including his father—is pretty impressive. Rest in peace, you total badass. 

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Stonehenge: Britain’s Most Exclusive Night Club

Hey, this makes sense: you know how the English are, like, a little too into the club scene? And like to drink so hard from noon onward that you can find them passed out in big piles around bus stop benches around 9 AM? Well it turns out there is some tradition to that—archaeologists are now saying Stonehenge was the only thing that ever united prehistoric Britain. For giant parties.

According to Discovery News, these parties (feasts? keggers? raves?) “would have been attended by up to one tenth of the British population at one time,” which sounds indistinguishable from the Ministry of Sound on a night when university freshers get in free. Even people from Scotland came down, probably just to start fist fights.

There are also some allegedly “elite” families buried under Stonehenge, so there’s a great dancing-on-graves aspect to this as well. All in all, it looks less and less like the mysterious monument is some kind of observatory, or calendar, or alien beacon. Or the aliens are just waiting for another good party. “That place got too touristy,” you can practically hear them scoff.

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Classic Rich People: Paying For Hair From Dead People

I don’t care what you say your reasons are: if you are a collector of what The New York Times calls “historical hair,” spending literally thousands of dollars at auctions for memorabilia that grew from the heads of war heroes and classical composers, you are trying to carry out a fetish game of some sort. Admit it.

Especially when you consider the actual people whose hair it was, and the methods by which said hair was obtained—a “snippet” from Edgar Allan Poe “that a Poe cousin obtained by leaning into the writer’s coffin”—you’re dealing with some series voodoo shit right here. I’m freaked out at the thought of handling “a single mustache hair pulled from John Dillinger’s death mask.” Jesus, have these hobbyists ever seen a horror movie?

You can get right the hell out of here with that bad juju. Go invoke the dead spirit of George Washington in a séance if you want, but you’re not allowed to complain when he reincarnates as a vengeful, axe-wielding demon general. If you ask me, however, there’s got to be a cheaper way to get yourself cursed.

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Let’s Demolish Adolf Hitler’s House!

From Braunau-am-Inn, Austria, where the 500-year-old birthplace of one Adolf Hitler still stands, the news is odd: member of Russian parliament Frantz Klintsevich is trying to raise funds—to the tune of $2.8 million—in order to buy and then raze the offending structure.

To each his own! Some of us prefer to see history come alive; some, to bury it once and for all. But the latter impulse seems especially misguided in these circumstances, as the building

… had been used as a facilities for people with learning disabilities. Now it is being leased by a woman in her sixties who wishes to remain anonymous. The Austrian government has said it has only leased the home to people with no history of admiring the Austrian dictator.

Okay? So back off, Russia. You had your chance to pillage and destroy symbolic bits of architecture when you won the war. And it’s no use complaining that the other Allies wouldn’t let you—I’m sure they’d have been more than happy to warm their rations over that roaring bonfire.

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The Times Is “Live”-Blogging The Civil War For The Next Three Years

Looking for some rainy-day reading? A feature called “DISUNION” in The New York Times’ opinion pages has taken on the formidable task of blogging “America’s most perilous period—using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded.” In real time. This could get snarky.

While I don’t think this series will do the numbers that something like Freakonomics’ “What Do Real Thugs Think of The Wire?,” there’s a density of information here that is refreshing and, not to put too nerdy a point on it, awesome. Take this recent post about the illicit trade between the Union and Confederacy:

Government officials and military officers were bribed to shut their eyes. As the historian Ludwell Johnson wrote, “Cotton permits were sold on the streets of New York; soldiers were bribed; traders were blackmailed; Treasury agents were disgraced.” In January 1863 Charles Dana, who was a special investigating agent for War Secretary Edwin M. Stanton, wrote from Memphis, “the mania” for cotton had “corrupted and demoralized the army.”

Dirty cotton. Demoralizing cotton. COTTON PERMITS. This just goes to show what can change in a scant hundred fifty years. And I for one would like to see us in a scorched-earth conflict over textile markets once again. That’s basically what the War of Cotton Aggression was about, right? I’m ready for my citizenship test now.  

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Montreal Preview: Ritz-Carlton

Having hosted Queen Elizabeth, Sophia Loren and The Stones, as well as acting as the backdrop to the first wedding of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, the Ritz- Carlton Montrèal is certainly not wanting for history. But a $150 million renovation is bringing it dazzlingly into the 21st Century, just in time for its 100th birthday.

But not content with just a dolling up of its lobby and rooms, the Ritz is now sporting an architecturally impressive glass and steel addition. And while the Palm Court has a dazzling new elegan-tay look, it’s the anticipation of Daniel Boulud’s Maison Boulud that really has Quebec epicures all atwitter. The many-Michelin-starred chef arrives for the first time in Canada’s Francphone capital, and the competition for tables in the ethereal courtyard is sure to be fierce. Another glamorous century awaits.