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Thread: Who Do You Think You Are?

  1. #281
    FORT Fogey
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    Re: Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC)

    Quote Originally Posted by ibot2much View Post
    There was a POW camp in my city for Italian POWs and when the camp changed to an industrial park, they discovered a religious shrine that the men had made. It has been preserved and is now the center of a social area of the park. I also heard from the older residents of the city that the men were allowed to come to Sunday dinner at houses of people who were of Italian heritage......I found that amazing.
    If I remember correctly, the German POWs in Algona invited the residents to come join their Christmas celebration so they could see the nativity.

    One of the points that Chelsea Handler's episode made nicely clear was that not everyone who was in the German (or Italian) armies necessarily held strong political beliefs. They were just drafted or conscripted and had little choice in the matter. Also, by the time the war was winding down, many of them were also quite disillusioned with what had happened. Though my branch of German relatives had immigrated to the U.S in 1924, partially because my grandfather, who had served in WWI, was adamant about the fact that his sons would not end up serving a Kaiser and that the conditions of the armistice would almost certainly lead to yet another war, there were more distant relatives that were stuck in positions similar to Chelsea Handler's grandfather's. They weren't particularly thrilled to be soldiers. They simply didn't think they had an option that wouldn't endanger themselves or their families.

    As for my grandfather, he did end up sending one son to war--only on the American side. Fortunately for him, the fact that he spoke excellent English, high German, and low German made him very valuable to his battalion's leaders once they got to Austria, as the actual army translator knew only high German (and according to my uncle, not very well). His older brother was given a deferment, because my grandfather couldn't have managed the farm without him (and would have been on the older end of draftable age anyway), and the remaining son was simply too young to be drafted and later got a college/seminary deferment, so he never served in the military at all.

  2. #282
    FORT Fogey libgirl2's Avatar
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    Re: Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC)

    My grandfather was in the German army. He wasn't a Nazi, he was a farmer who got drafted. I'm glad this episode proved the point that not everyone was a bloodthirsty Nazi.
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  3. #283
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    Re: Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC)

    I meant to add that I assume part of the reason POWs held in America were given more leeway than you might expect is that there really wasn't much worry that they were going to escape, because if they did, where would they go? It's not like an American or British soldier in Europe, who might reconnect with his unit (or at least a similar unit) or the underground. German and Italian POWs were an entire ocean away from their units, and the likelihood of them getting that far was slim to none, especially since a number of the camps were in relatively isolated, rural locations. The people in charge of the camps knew that and the prisoners themselves knew that. Once they were hauled all the way to America, they had to realize that the war was effectively over for them, and at least some of them must have been fine with that, while others, like Chelsea Handler's grandfather, seemed to take it as a revelation of a different, better kind of life that might be available to them in the U.S. and ended up immigrating as soon as they could. Given what Chelsea found out about the utter poverty her grandparents had come from, that kind of reaction is understandable. Seems like he thought he and his kids might have a better chance in the U.S. than in Germany after he'd been to the U.S. Funny how those camps may have actually encouraged some soldiers to immigrate.

  4. #284
    Mixing Old Fashioneds PhoneGrrrl's Avatar
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    Re: Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC)

    The story of Zooey Deschanel's great great great (how many ever greats) grandmother as a Quaker abolitionist was fascinating. OTOH, ZD's vocal fry was SO damn annoying, I almost turned it off. They could have told the same story with Emily, who doesn't go out of her way to be a "twee girl." The woman is 33; don't sound like a high schooler.

  5. #285
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    Re: Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC)

    I don't know. Normally vocal fry bugs me, but I don't really notice it with Zoey as much as I do with some others (Kardashians, I'm looking at you!). Frankly, Emily is just as much of an oddball as Zoey, but in different ways. I thought the story was so interesting that I guess I didn't pay attention to her voice as much.

    I thought it was so cool that she got to go to the site of the conflict and see where her ancestors lived and that she was able to get so much information about them. I found her to be gracious and charming and thought she asked intelligent questions.
    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov

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  6. #286
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    Re: Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC)

    I've noticed that everyone so far has been very good about telling the experts who've been helping them thank you, even when the news hasn't been especially good. For that matter, I'm glad they haven't shied away from stories that aren't terribly happy in a lot of respects. It makes the point that when you do genealogical research not everything you find is necessarily going to be pleasing.
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  7. #287
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    Re: Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC)

    I really enjoyed Cindy Crawford's episode. I sort of have the same goals with my family tree - how far back can I get? I can relate to her excitement because I've gotten back really far and to some pretty major historical figures. I actually did some genealogical research for a friend and linked her back to Charlemagne. Considering that he had 20 children, there are millions of descendants out there, but not all of them can trace their lineage back to him.

    Cindy's episode reminded me of Brooke Shields' episode with the huge scroll of generations back to royalty. As the article on HuffPo said about Cindy being related to royalty, "Because, of course."

    I rewatched Chris O'Donnell's episode tonight as well and enjoyed it again. Having been to Fort McHenry myself, I know how moving it is to be there with that HUGE American flag on the spot where Key was inspired to write the National Anthem. I happened to be there on a nice, windy day, so the flag looked great against a clear sky. Perfect sunny weather too - the pictures were beautiful! I'm sure it adds even more to the experience to have an ancestral connection to the fort.
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    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov

    I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"

  8. #288
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    Re: Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC)

    I was very saddened that Chris did not know where Fort McHenry was or that it was the site of the inspiration for our National Anthem. Not the brightest bulb.
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  9. #289
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    Re: Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC)

    I didn't know a thing about Fort McHenry until I went there...... and I majored in history. It's not something that's taught in schools outside of that region, particularly not in California where I grew up, just as I'm sure, children on the east coast don't learn about the California missions.

    I thought Chris asked good questions and seemed pretty well-informed.
    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov

    I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"

  10. #290
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    Re: Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC)

    Quote Originally Posted by Newsboi View Post
    I was very saddened that Chris did not know where Fort McHenry was or that it was the site of the inspiration for our National Anthem. Not the brightest bulb.
    I'm not. If he didn't know who wrote the National Anthem or what inspired it? Then I would be disappointed. He also could have simply forgotten the history he learned in school. I'm willing to cut him some slack. Some of us know these things because we are into history while others find history a massive bore. I wouldn't call them dumb because of it, just that they don't have an interest in the subject.
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