Currently viewing the tag: "war"

A profound and fateful transformation took place in the young Dutchwoman. Colored by her travels and sorrows in the Indies, Margaretha Zelle reinvented herself as something startling and new: an exotic dancer called Mata Hari. In 1905 Mata Hari—a Malay term for “sunrise” or the “eye of the day”—broke onto the social scene with a performance in the Musée Guimet, an Asian art museum in Paris. Invitations were issued to 600 of the capital’s wealthy elite. Mata Hari presented utterly novel dances in transparent, revealing costumes, a jeweled bra, and an extraordinary headpiece.
Under any other circumstances, she could have been arrested for indecency, but Margaretha Zelle had very carefully thought through her position. At each performance, she took the time to explain carefully that these were sacred temple dances from the Indies. Mata Hari was sensuous, beautiful, erotic, and emotional; she told tales of lust, jealousy, passion, and vengeance through her dancing, and the public lapped it up. –Why Mata Hari wasn’t a Cunning Spy After All

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a woman who transforms in a remarkable way.

Journaling Prompt: What’s the biggest change you’ve ever made in your life.

Art Prompt: Mata Hari

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of Mata Hari.

Photo Credit: Mata Hari on Wikimedia

Small mushroom clouds were not a particularly uncommon sight around the increasingly smaller suburban village of Opahi, and special rules permitted the residents to always have one NanoNuke in their possession, for the sake of protection of course. With mutually assured destruction, having a personal atomic weapon kept things a little bit more peaceful somehow, and just a little bit calmer as well. Disputes actually resolved themselves very quickly. Of course, if they didn’t, one of the parties in the said dispute wasn’t exactly around anymore to continue it. –MAD Men by Corey Ethan Sutch

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story set in a world where everyone has a button that can kill anyone they get angry with.

Journaling Prompt: Would you want to have the power to launch a nuclear weapon?

Art Prompt: NanoNukes

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction and how it works.

Able Archer 83 is the codename for a command post exercise carried out in November 1983 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). As with Able Archer exercises from previous years, the purpose of the exercise was to simulate a period of conflict escalation, culminating in a simulated DEFCON 1 coordinated nuclear attack. Coordinated from the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) headquarters in Casteau, Belgium, it involved NATO forces throughout Western Europe, beginning on November 7, 1983, and lasting for five days.

The 1983 exercise introduced several new elements not seen in previous years, including a new, unique format of coded communication, radio silences, and the participation of heads of government. This increase in realism, combined with deteriorating relations between the United States and the Soviet Union and the anticipated arrival of Pershing II nuclear missiles in Europe, led some members of the Soviet Politburo and military to believe that Able Archer 83 was a ruse of war, obscuring preparations for a genuine nuclear first strike. In response, the Soviets readied their nuclear forces and placed air units in East Germany and Poland on alert. The apparent threat of nuclear war ended with the conclusion of the exercise on November 11.

Some historians have since argued that Able Archer 83 was one of the times when the world has come closest to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Other incidents that also brought the world close to such a war include the Soviet nuclear false alarm incident that occurred a month earlier and the Norwegian rocket incident of 1995. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a war game that was used as a ruse to conceal the actual operation.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about the political tensions in the world today?

Art Prompt: Able Archer 83

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of nuclear close calls and what we can learn from them today.

Photo Credit: Able Archer 83 After Action Report on Wikimedia

The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory that designed the actual bombs. The Army component of the project was designated the Manhattan District; “Manhattan” gradually superseded the official codename, Development of Substitute Materials, for the entire project. Along the way, the project absorbed its earlier British counterpart, Tube Alloys. The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US $2 billion (about $27 billion in 2016[1] dollars). Over 90% of the cost was for building factories and to produce fissile material, with less than 10% for development and production of the weapons. Research and production took place at more than 30 sites across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or poem about the secret development of a new weapon.

Journaling Prompt: Write about how you feel that we have the ability to destroy ourselves and the planet.

Art Prompt: Manhattan Project

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the Manhattan Project.

Photo Credit: Trinity shot on Wikimedia

In May 1915, Princess Irene was moored in Saltpan Reach, on the Medway Estuary in Kent between Port Victoria and Sheerness, being loaded with mines in preparation for deployment on a minelaying mission. At 11:14 GMT on 27 May, Princess Irene exploded and disintegrated…

A Court of Inquiry was held into the loss of Princess Irene. Evidence was given that priming of the mines was being carried out hurriedly and by untrained personnel. A faulty primer was blamed for the explosion. Following the loss of HMS Natal on 30 December 1915 and HMS Vanguard on 9 July 1917, both caused by internal explosions, suspicion was raised at the inquiry into the loss of Natal that sabotage was to blame for the loss of all four ships. A worker at Chatham Dockyard was named as a suspect, but a thorough investigation by Special Branch cleared him of any blame –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about sabotage.

Journaling Prompt: How do you sabotage yourself?

Art Prompt: Sabotage

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a story of sabotage and the role it has played in world events.

Photo Credit: HMS Princess Irene on Wikimedia

After the outbreak of World War II, the castle was converted into a high security prisoner-of-war camp for officers who had become security or escape risks or who were regarded as particularly dangerous. Since the castle is situated on a rocky outcrop above the River Mulde, the Germans believed it to be an ideal site for a high security prison.

The larger outer court, known as the Kommandantur, had only two exits and housed a large German garrison. The prisoners lived in an adjacent courtyard in a 90 ft (27 m) tall building. Outside, the flat terraces which surrounded the prisoners’ accommodation were constantly watched by armed sentries and surrounded by barbed wire. Although known as Colditz Castle to the locals, its official German designation was Oflag IV-C and it was under Wehrmacht control.

Although it was considered a high security prison, it had one of the highest records of successful escape attempts. This could be owing to the general nature of the prisoners that were sent there; most of them had attempted escape previously from other prisons and were transferred to Colditz, because the Germans had thought the castle escape-proof.

One lavish scheme even included a glider, the “Colditz Cock”, that was kept in a remote portion of the castle’s attic, completed in the winter of 1944–45, but following the Great Escape, in which 50 escapees were executed, all further escape attempts were officially discouraged and the glider was never used. When the camp was liberated by the Americans in late April, 1945 the glider was brought down from the hidden workshop to the attic below and assembled for the prisoners to see. It was at this time that the only known photograph of the glider was taken. For some time after the war the glider was regarded as either a myth or tall story, as there was no solid proof that the glider had existed and Colditz was then in the Soviet Occupation Zone. Bill Goldfinch, however, took home the drawings he had made when designing the glider and, when the single photograph finally surfaced, the story was taken seriously. –Colditz Castle on Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write an escape story set in a POW camp in a castle.

Journaling Prompt: What historic place from WWII would you like to visit and why?

Art Prompt: Escape

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about Colditz Castle.

Photo Credit: Colditz on Wikimedia

Chemical weapons have been used for millennia in the form of poisoned spears and arrows, but evidence can be found for the existence of more advanced forms of chemical weapons in ancient and classical times.

Ancient Greek myths about Hercules poisoning his arrows with the venom of the Hydra monster are the earliest references to toxic weapons in western literature. Homer’s epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, allude to poisoned arrows used by both sides in the legendary Trojan War (Bronze Age Greece).

Some of the earliest surviving references to toxic warfare appear in the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The “Laws of Manu,” a Hindu treatise on statecraft (c. 400 BC) forbids the use of poison and fire arrows, but advises poisoning food and water. Kautilya’s “Arthashastra”, a statecraft manual of the same era, contains hundreds of recipes for creating poison weapons, toxic smokes, and other chemical weapons. Ancient Greek historians recount that Alexander the Great encountered poison arrows and fire incendiaries in India at the Indus basin in the 4th century BC.

Arsenical smokes were known to the Chinese as far back as c. 1000 BC and Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” (c. 200 BC) advises the use of fire weapons. In the second century BC, writings of the Mohist sect in China describe the use of bellows to pump smoke from burning balls of mustard and other toxic vegetables into tunnels being dug by a besieging army. Other Chinese writings dating around the same period contain hundreds of recipes for the production of poisonous or irritating smokes for use in war along with numerous accounts of their use. These accounts describe an arsenic-containing “soul-hunting fog”, and the use of finely divided lime dispersed into the air to suppress a peasant revolt in 178 AD.

The earliest recorded use of gas warfare in the West dates back to the fifth century BC, during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Spartan forces besieging an Athenian city placed a lighted mixture of wood, pitch, and sulfur under the walls hoping that the noxious smoke would incapacitate the Athenians, so that they would not be able to resist the assault that followed. Sparta was not alone in its use of unconventional tactics in ancient Greece; Solon of Athens is said to have used hellebore roots to poison the water in an aqueduct leading from the River Pleistos around 590 BC during the siege of Kirrha.

There is archaeological evidence that the Sassanians deployed chemical weapons against the Roman army in the Siege of Dura Europos in the third century AD. Research carried out on the collapsed tunnels at Dura-Europos in Syria suggests that the Persians used bitumen and sulfur crystals to get it burning. When ignited, the materials gave off dense clouds of choking sulfur dioxide gases which killed 20 Roman soldiers in a matter of two minutes. This is the earliest evidence of gas warfare.

In the late 15th century, Spanish conquistadors encountered a rudimentary type of chemical warfare on the island of Hispaniola. The Taíno threw gourds filled with ashes and ground hot peppers at the Spaniards to create a blinding smoke screen before launching their attack. –Wikipedia


Fiction Writing Prompt: Create a chemical weapon for your protagonist to use.

Journaling Prompt: How afraid of terrorism are you? Why do you feel that way?

Art Prompt: Chemical warfare

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of chemical warfare.

Photo Credit: Gustave Moreau on Wikimedia

TODAY WAS A day like any other day for a spy skulking behind enemy lines. Shai hid in a tangle of evergreen hedge as soldiers marched down a path skirting fields. A village lay in the distance, but not a thread of smoke or a single barking dog or laughing child gave evidence that someone might be living there. –Kate Elliott, Traitors’ Gate

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a day in the life of a spy behind enemy lines.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel when you aren’t being completely honest about who you are?

Art Prompt: Behind enemy lines

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of a famous spy.

Photo Credit: Wendell on Flickr

Imagine it’s 1942, and you’re a member of Britain’s Royal Air Force. In a skirmish above Germany, your plane was shot out of the sky, and since then you’ve been hunkered down in a Prisoner of War camp. Your officers have told you it’s your duty to escape as soon as you can, but you can’t quite figure out how—you’ve got no tools and no spare rations, and you don’t even know where you are.

One day, though, you’re playing Monopoly with your fellow prisoners when you notice a strange seam in the board. You pry it open—and find a secret compartment with a file inside. In other compartments, other surprises: a compass, a wire saw, and a map, printed on luxurious, easily foldable silk and showing you exactly where you are, and where safety is. You’ve received a package from Christopher Clayton Hutton—which means you’re set to go. –How Millions Of Secret Silk Maps Helped POWs Escape Their Captors in WWII by Cara Giaimo

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story about a POW who escapes.

Journaling Prompt: When you were going through a tough time, what do you wish someone would have given you?

Art Prompt: Silk maps

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about silk maps and POWs during WWII.

Photo Credit: Joe Saunders on Flickr

During World War I (and, to a lesser extent, World War II) the Dolomites saw extremely fierce fighting. The year 1915 had Austro-Hungarian forces taking up strategic positions in the Dolomites to protect themselves from the advancing Italian army, and over the next few years both sides created and relied upon via ferrata as a method of moving through the mountains…

Italians referred to the battles in the Dolomites as il fronte vertical. Soldiers were fighting not only the enemy, but the elements as well: 60,000 World War I soldiers are thought to have died in avalanches in this relatively small mountain range. Temperatures plunged to 40 degrees below freezing for days on end as troops huddled in the mountainside huts and tunnels. –Ladders Through Time: Hiking the Dolomites’ Via Ferratas by Charlie Boscoe

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story in which troops have to improvise  in order to survive.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the toughest hike or climb you ever did.

Art Prompt: Via Ferrata

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the Via Ferrata and its role in WWI.

Photo Credit: Jan on Flickr