Do the Russians Really Have a Piece of Hitler’s Skull?

Here’s an interesting story from CNN on a skull fragment long claimed by the Russians to be that of Nazi German Dictator Adolf Hitler.

Of course, most everyone is familiar with the story of Hitler’s suicide in his bunker deep in the heart of Berlin just as World War II came to an end in 1945.  The Fuehrer’s remains were burned and buried in a bomb crater just outside the bunker and later unearthed by the Russians.  Since then, they have possessed this skull fragment (first publicized, I believe, after the fall of the Soviet Union).

However, it seems University of Connecticut researchers dispute Russian claims, arguing on the basis of DNA evidence that the skull fragment is not in fact Hitler’s but rather belonged to a woman.

The story of the UConn researchers’ DNA work on the supposed Hitler bone fragments, as well as additional research they conducted, was the subject of a History Channel documentary in September with the rather sensational title, “Hitler’s Escape.”

But, if you’re a ninety-something Nazi down in Uruguay, before you go off the deep end yelling “za Fuehrer lives!,” you should know that UConn researchers said there is “nothing in their findings that significantly challenges the conclusion that Hitler died in the bunker.”     

If nothing else, the controversy has at least led to the surfacing of documentation on how the former Soviet government disposed of what are presumed to have been the rest of Hitler’s remains — which are believed to have been destroyed about 1970.

If you’re interested, Greensboro Public library has lots of books on Hitler.  Our most recent acquisitions include Pat Buchanan’s controversial Churchill, Hitler, and “The Unnecessary War”:  How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, and Warlords:  An Extraordinary Re-creation of World War II through the Eyes and Minds of Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin by Simon Berthon and Joanna Potts.

N.C. Unemployment Down Slightly in November

The News & Record reported today that North Carolina’s jobless rate dropped .1% in November to 10.8%.

The same report includes a forecast from UNC-Charlotte economist John Connaughton.  Unfortunately, Connaughton is decidedly downbeat, for he sees little likelihood of a vigorous economic expansion in the near term owing especially to damage suffered by the financial sector and the resulting credit squeeze.

Please remember to check out Greensboro Public Library’s job links if you’re actively searching for work.

Unemployment Getting Better?

With national unemployment at 10.0%, but down .2% from its October high, some, such as Newsweek’s Daniel Gross, are arguing that the jobs situation is beginning to turn around.    

As evidence, Gross points to the November jobs data which shows that job losses slowed to 11,000 last month.  That’s the best we’ve done since the recession started.  He also notes the service sector has actually been adding jobs lately, and that more temporary jobs are being created as well.

However, Paul Krugman threw a little cold water on all the unemployment optimists in his blog the other day.  He pointed out that in order for us to reach “more or less full employment in 5 years,” we need to add an average of a whopping 300,000 jobs per month.  We’ve obviously got a long way to go to reach that point. 

At any rate, if you’re caught in the employment squeeze and looking for a job, be sure and check out Greensboro Public Library’s page for job seekers.

Christie’s Sale of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane Sets Record Price for American Literature

An extremely rare copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane and Other Poems , the author’s first published work, broke a record for American literature at a Christie’s auction in New York on Friday when it realized $662,500. 

You can view Christie’s online catalog here for a description of the lot, provenance, etc. 

Only twelve copies of this very ordinary looking forty page pamphlet have been found — and one of these, the University of Virginia copy, actually disappeared from Alderman Library Special Collections back in the early 1970s.  It is believed that no more than fifty copies of the book were printed when Poe, while living in Boston in 1827, secured a journeyman printer named Calvin F.S. Thomas to help him publish the work anonymously.    

Of the twelve known copies, only two are in private hands and likely to find their way to auction, as William Self’s copy did Friday.  The rest are owned by institutions.   

I had the pleasure of seeing one of these two privately owned copies, the Susan Jaffe Tane copy, at the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, some years ago.  This, the twelfth and last copy to turn up, was discovered in a New Hampshire antique barn in early 1988, then auctioned at Sotheby’s.          

For many years Tamerlane and Other Poems was known only from a brief reference in Poe’s second work, Al Aaraaf, where he referred to the little pamphlet as having been “suppressed.” 

It was not until 1860, eleven years after Poe’s death, that the first copy of Tamerlane turned up — Poe himself even seems not to have retained a copy.  After that, there were occasional finds until the publication of Vincent Starrett’s Saturday Evening Post article in 1927, “Have You a Tamerlane in Your Attic?,” literally drove a few from the dusty attics of New England and New York.

At any rate, the still anonymous buyer of the Self copy now has the pleasure of being one of the few who can own the book that’s sometimes called the “black tulip” or “holy grail” of American literature.

If you’d like to learn more about Edgar Allan Poe’s life, Greensboro Public Library’s holdings include the recent Poe:  A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd, and Kenneth Silverman’s Edgar A. Poe:  Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance, the latter of which is probably the best biography of the famous writer.  We also have many collections of Poe’s poetry and prose.

Greensboro Welcomes New and Returning City Council Members

Tuesday evening, December 1st, the City of Greensboro’s newly elected Council was sworn in.

This ceremony was preceded by tributes to outgoing Mayor Yvonne Johnson and outgoing Council members Mike Barber and Sandra Anderson Groat.  

As most of you probably know, the City Council is composed of a Mayor and eight Council members (five of whom represent districts, while the other three are at large members representing the entire city).  Council establishes policy, and a City Manager executes Council policy and manages City departments.  This is called the Council-Manager form of government.

Our current Council members are:  Mayor Bill Knight; Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Vaughan, At Large; Robbie Perkins, At Large; Danny Thompson, At Large; T. Dianne Bellamy-Small, District 1; Jim Kee, District 2; Zack Matheny, District 3; Mary C. Rakestraw, District 4; and Trudy Wade, District 5.

To determine which district you live in, you can search here.

Please remember that if you’re interested in following Council meetings, but unable to attend in person, you can still watch the meetings on cable television Channel 13, as well as on your computer.

Here’s a Macabre Auction Find: Two of Galileo’s Fingers & a Tooth

I thought this was an interesting, if morbid, story:  two of the famous scientist Galileo Galilei’s fingers and one of his teeth recently turned up at an auction

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was of course the famous Italian scientist who is probably best remembered for the first telescopic observations of the Moon, Jupiter, and Venus, and his support of the Copernican system which placed the sun at the center of the universe.  For his obstinate defense of the latter, he was eventually tried for heresy by the Catholic Inquisition. 

In 1737, some ninety-five years after his death, Galileo’s remains were exhumed for reburial in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, and it was at this time that three fingers, a tooth, and a vertebra were removed by some of his admirers.  The whereabouts of one finger and the vertebra had been known, but the other fingers and the tooth had been lost for over 100 years until their recent rediscovery.    

Plans are underway to put the newly found relics on display at Florence’s Institute and Museum of the History of Science.  Follow this link for the Museum’s description of the recent find.    

If you’re interested, Greensboro Public Library has some books about Galileo, including Galileo’s New Universe:  The Revolution in Our Understanding of the Cosmos by Stephen P. Maran and Laurence A. Marschall (2009); The Earth Moves:  Galileo and the Roman Inquisition by Dan Hofstadter (2009); Galileo’s Daughter:  A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel (1999); and Michael Sharratt’s Galileo:  Decisive Innovator (1996).