Norway is a small country — only 5 million inhabitants—but we have our own language, currency, and king, not to mention a surprising number of TV shows. This article highlights some of my favourites, and is therefore heavy on comedy and light on drama.

Anyway, let’s start with a classic…


In August 1914, a German military aircraft on a reconnaissance flight was brought down by French artillery near Bertrix, Belgium. The pilot died; his observer survived to tell the story. But how much truth did his tale contain?

22 August 1914 dawned foggy and grey in northern France. Nevertheless, “Lieutenant J” and his observer boarded their airplane for a reconnaissance flight that took them from Sedan over the Belgian border. North of Bertrix, heavy rain forced them to descend to an altitude of 1000 m — within range…


Children born in the twenty-first century have quite a different relationship to World War I than their great-grandparents or even parents. For this young generation, the war is a purely historical event. …


Do you want to find out more about your family member who served in the German Imperial Army and died during World War I? Here is a list of free sources to help you get started with your research.

These tips use only sources available for free online. They don’t require further human interaction like e-mailing the archives in Berlin and they certainly don’t require you to pay money to access databases or to get other people to do the research for you. You also don’t need to leave…


How I taught myself to read this archaic German script

Over the course of the past 18 months, I have acquired several pandemic skills. Most of them are of questionable utility. I doubt that any prospective employer, for example, will care that I have learned to make lasagna from scratch or knit Shetland lace. (Of course, who knows. …


How a German soldier from World War I helped me to mourn my grandfather’s death 100 years later

For the past half a year, I’ve been transcribing and translating the correspondence of World War I-era German soldiers. I’ve learned to read Kurrentschrift and Sütterlin, the archaic German scripts in use at the time, and gotten a glimpse into the lives of men who are otherwise unknown to history…


Like many people living in these interesting times, I have taken up journal-writing. Though I may no longer be a practicing historian, I felt a duty, as it were, to leave something for the historical record. …


Postcard depicting an officers’ casino during World War I. Courtesy of Mick/Grobby on the Great War Forum.

On 1 August 1915, German army reservist Albert Bordfeld sat down and wrote a postcard to the reverend pastor in his hometown of Ohrum in Saxony. “How are you all doing?” he asked. “Hopefully very well. Who would have thought that the war would last so long?”

One year prior…


During World War I, women knitted millions of socks for soldiers at the front. The task of ensuring the quality of these socks fell to organizations such as the Red Cross. To guarantee a “perfect standard of sock for our boys,” they faced more challenges than you might realize.

“The best reason for knitting for the soldiers is that it is hardly possible to make an uncomfortable hand-knitted sock,” wrote a Canadian journalist in 1915. In fact, as anyone who has ever knitted a sock (or attempted to knit one) will know, there are a multitude of ways in…


What happens when you need tires but lack the rubber with which to make them? Here’s a look at how life changed in Germany during World War I when the country was prevented from importing “black gold.”

A car in Germany with “Eisenreifen”— steel tires — during World War I. From Der Weltkrieg in Bildern und Dokumenten by Hans F. Helmolt. http://resolver.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/SBB0000A9DA00000000

Rubber, wrote Marcel Chausson in his doctoral thesis in 1912, is one of the “essential cogs of modern life.” Were it to suddenly disappear, “we would have to give up air brakes, bicycles and automobiles which, deprived of their tires, would be condemned to die on the spot. …

Knitting&Death

I used to be a medievalist. Random fact accumulator, knitter, and reader of Sütterlin script.

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