History Impossible
An Impossible Interview II: CJ Killmer

An Impossible Interview II: CJ Killmer

February 2, 2020
In this inaugural 2020 episode of History Impossible (and on the one year anniversary no less!), I sit down with CJ Killmer, host of the long-running and incredibly well-done Dangerous History Podcast. CJ has been one of my long-time inspirations for his capacity for detailed, deep dives into parts of history I literally had no interest in for most of my life (i.e. The American Civil War) and manage to completely draw me in with his nuanced, but strong takes.
 
In this conversation, we discuss a wide range of topics, from anarchism to the Civil War's moral gray areas to the long-held notion of the American civic religion before moving on to get into the weeds as to why Woodrow Wilson just might be one of the most nefarious presidents in American history. It was a fun, in-depth, and incredibly illuminating conversation and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did having it.
Music provided by Pudge and Punk Rock Opera.

History Impossible has been made possible by the following generous supporters on Patreon and PayPal:

  • Elias Borota
  • Matthew Dakus
  • Gavin Edwards
  • Peter Hauck
  • Trevor Lindborg
  • Jose Martinez
  • Judy McCoid
  • Kostas Moros
  • Molly Pan
  • John Pisano
  • PJ Rader
  • Martin Reddin
  • Stephen Roblem
  • Emily Schmidt
  • Jake Smith
  • Matthew Wilson
  • Ricky Worthey
The Prisoner on the River Kwai (Forgiveness)

The Prisoner on the River Kwai (Forgiveness)

December 20, 2019

Content Warning: This episode contains graphic depictions of physical and psychological torture.

A world away from the war raging across the European continent, a completely different theater of warfare was being conducted by the Empire of Japan and the Allied forces in Asia. Immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, attacks were made against the British Empire's and French territories in Southeast Asia, including the supposedly impregnable fortress of Singapore. After Singapore fell and the 80,000 troops taken prisoner would soon come to learn their own version of horror shared by victims of Hitler's hatred across the globe. 

Under the rule of the Japanese, starvation, relentless corporal punishment, and torture were the rule. Good treatment including proper food and medical care was the exception. And this was all exacerbated by the brutal slave labor being instituted to accomplish the greatest and arguably most sadistic railway project ever endeavored by a modern nation: to create the connecting railway between Burma and Thailand, then called Siam. Thousands would die and many more would suffer. And at the center of this was a man named Eric Lomax.

Lomax suffered as many others suffered during his time enslaved by the Japanese--beaten, interrogated, and tortured for the simple act of drawing a map of the railway and assisting in making a radio. He would remain a prisoner of their cruelty even long after the Japanese surrendered in August of 1945. Nightmares, emotional self-destruction, and callousness towards those he loved most. And then he would learn the identity of one of his torturers.

This episode of History Impossible--the finale of 2019--covers all this and more.

Special thanks to the musical talents by Eric Harper with "Os Ventos Detras Os Montes" and Magnus Moone with "Pin Lights".

History Impossible has been made possible by the following generous supporters on Patreon and PayPal:

  • Elias Borota
  • Matthew Dakus
  • Gavin Edwards
  • Peter Hauck
  • Trevor Lindborg
  • Jose Martinez
  • Judy McCoid
  • Kostas Moros
  • Molly Pan
  • John Pisano
  • PJ Rader
  • Stephen Roblem
  • Emily Schmidt
  • Jake Smith
  • Matthew Wilson
  • Ricky Worthey

Please consider joining the ranks of ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, or perhaps even investors, producers, and executive producers over at www.patreon.com/historyimpossible

The American Executioners (Vengeance)

The American Executioners (Vengeance)

November 5, 2019

Content Warning: This episode contains extremely graphic depictions of genocide, torture, and human experimentation.

On April 29th, 1945, one day before Adolf Hitler killed himself, the true evil of the National Socialists--and the necessity of crushing them--finally became known to the American men fighting through Germany. It all began with seeing a set of boxcars, filled from stem to stern with the starved, decaying bodies of thousands of Jews who had been traveling by rail for weeks, as their captors fled the approaching Allied forces without a care in the world for the miserable existence of their human cargo. From the train tracks and moving into the camp known as Dachau, the American troops were then greeted by both the words "Arbeit macht frei" adorning the camp's gates contrasted with the starving, skeletal, and dying faces of the prisoners housed within. 

Some of the men wept. Some frantically prayed to an unresponsive god. Some clenched their fingers so tightly into their palms that blood trickled to the ground beneath their feet. Some swore revenge, even if nothing had been done to them personally. And some achieved this revenge, if only vicariously and on behalf of the victims of Dachau. This is the story of that vicarious revenge, an examination of the events leading up to it, and a meditation on the ethics of summary execution committed by American troops against Nazis with their hands raised in surrender.

History Impossible has been made possible by the following generous supporters on Patreon:

  • Elias Borota
  • Peter Hauck
  • Trevor Lindborg
  • Jose Martinez
  • Judy McCoid
  • Kostas Moros
  • Molly Pan
  • John Pisano
  • PJ Rader
  • Emily Schmidt
  • Matthew Wilson

Please consider joining the ranks of ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, or perhaps even investors, producers, and executive producers over at www.patreon.com/historyimpossible

An Impossible Pop Quiz: The Werewolves of the Fourth Reich

An Impossible Pop Quiz: The Werewolves of the Fourth Reich

October 21, 2019

It's the end of one era and the beginning of another. With the launch of History Impossible's Patreon, things with the Pop Quiz are different. This will be the final free episode the Pop Quiz series, which will now be accessible to the supporters of History Impossible at the 5 dollar level or higher (along with other great goodies).

So to celebrate, Molly and Alex took a trip down memory lane about werewolves, Nazism, Nazi terrorists, and Nazi trauma. It was, believe it or not, a lot of fun! Many things were discussed, including the notion that Nazis don't actually exist anymore as well as the non-resemblance of the tragic Franz Oppenhoff to Mr. Moneybags (or was it Colonel Sanders?).

In any event, it's about as silly as they come and while it's understandable that this lighter, relaxed fit version of History Impossible isn't for everyone (we do read those iTunes reviews here! Thanks for the constructive criticism, by the way), it's a fun way to exorcise the demons that can arise from reading about all the awful things human beings do to each other. 

So for her final pop quiz as we've all come to expect, the question inevitably comes up: how did Molly do? What grade did she get? Sit back, fix yourself a Halloween-themed drink, tune in, and find out!

The Werewolves of the Fourth Reich (Trauma)

The Werewolves of the Fourth Reich (Trauma)

October 2, 2019

On April 30th, 1945, Adolf Hitler's brain was ripped apart by the bullet he'd fired through his skull. That is how we believe the Second World War ended. But in reality, the struggle to crush the most evil of regimes and its ideas was just beginning and arguably never ended. This is the story of how that struggle began with the Germans who refused to believe that the end--their end--had come, and as a result, transformed (if only metaphorically) into packs of werewolves, men who had unleashed the beast lurking somewhere within them, causing one of the least discussed insurgencies in modern history.

In this epic tale covering both the Nazi ideology's supernaturally-minded roots themselves as well as the results of crushing Nazism and the origins of our sheer terror at the regime and ideology's meaning, we'll dive into some of the strangest ideas and most desperate figures we've covered in History Impossible so far. From the occult and esoteric origins of the Nazi religion to the unrepentant true believers in the Fuhrer (some of whom thought him to be alive). From the bombings of Allied occupiers' administrations to the assassinations of collaborators and "traitors". From the decapitation wires strung across the roads of rural Germany to the sugar packets filled with explosive powder. From the streets of Berlin to the streets of Charlottesville.

Welcome to the Fourth Reich. 

Many thanks to the musicians who contributed their work to this episode, including Kai Engel with their song "Dark Alley".

An Impossible Interview I: Daniele Bolelli

An Impossible Interview I: Daniele Bolelli

September 2, 2019

In this special edition of History Impossible, a trend is broken: this is not about a particular story in history. This is about a man. Or rather, a conversation with a man. The one, the only, Daniele Bolelli, host of popular podcasts History on Fire and The Drunken Taoist and known for semi-regular appearances on popular podcasts like the Joe Rogan Experience and the Duncan Trussell Family Hour.

Daniele has been in History Impossible's corner since day one and some wonderful collaborations have come out of it, including the episode we both crafted concerning Lyudmila Pavlichenko, better known as Lady Death back in July, not to mention some upcoming collaborations we'll both be filling you all in on in the coming months.

So in this conversation, Daniele and I cover a wide range of topics, of course including history, but with dashes of politics, philosophy, and literature. There's even a "debate" about the merits of Blood Meridian! Fingers crossed that we don't manage to alienate significant portions of our audiences (with apologies to Jordan Peterson fanboys), but for the rest of you who stick around, enjoy the conversation!

Also thanks to Punk Opera for their badass song, "The Road", used at the end of the episode.

An Impossible Pop Quiz: The Great Hollywood Coverup

An Impossible Pop Quiz: The Great Hollywood Coverup

August 14, 2019

After a mega-sized two-parter episode of History Impossible, it seems only fitting that listeners get a pseudo-mega-sized Pop Quiz episode (if only because there was indeed more ground to cover).

Ms. Molly's recap of the Great Hollywood Coverup is certainly fun and full of the usual holes and minor errors that chip away at her final grade, but in the end, she did (relatively) well recapping all the events and theories surrounding the mysterious murder of William Desmond Taylor. 

Extra credit was also to be had by Molly, though, not only because she managed to make Alex realize a major unfilled hole from the original narrative, but because she entertains with her own pet theory about who was behind the murder of the director. It, like all the theories, has its limitations, but in Alex's opinion, it makes for the best story. 

So kick back with a nice summer cocktail, put your feet up, and give these two chuckleheads theorizing about a dead Hollywood film director a listen. 

The Great Hollywood Coverup Part II: Dames, Drug Dealers, and Dragoonery

The Great Hollywood Coverup Part II: Dames, Drug Dealers, and Dragoonery

July 26, 2019

When we last left the side of renowned and loved silent film director William Desmond Taylor, he was lying dead on the floor of his bungalow and his valet was shrieking for someone--anyone--to help. Little did the valet know that "help" would indeed come, but the only people being helped were the ones who hired William Desmond Taylor to clean up the tarnished image Hollywood had earned for itself.

In the second part of our epic story involving the unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor, as well as the greatest cover-up in Hollywood's relatively short history that followed it up and set the scene for the next century, we'll be looking not just at the crime scene and the shenanigans that occurred there, thanks to Taylor's employers, but also the LAPD's primary theory of who killed Taylor and why that's most likely wrong. Then we'll look at all three major accounts that have been explored in our main secondary sources of who could have done it and who was responsible.

We'll dive into the life of an obsessed teenage girl and her wicked stage mother and the political powers that protected them, the enraged drug dealers and an actress struggling with an addiction to their product, the failed actors and filmmakers who moonlighted as bottom-feeding petty criminals, and the powerful moguls who loomed over it all and made it impossible for Hollywood to ever be the same again; all in the epic conclusion of History Impossible's The Great Hollywood Coverup.

The Great Hollywood Coverup Part I: Moving Pictures, Moral Crusaders, and Murder

The Great Hollywood Coverup Part I: Moving Pictures, Moral Crusaders, and Murder

June 30, 2019

Nearly 100 years ago, scandal after scandal was rocking the new kid in town, the motion picture business; Tinseltown; Hollywood. Overdoses on mercury bichloride, cocaine-addicted starlets, prostitution and drug rings, suicides, and an alleged raucous orgy ending in the rape and murder of an actress by one of the top stars. This was all occurring while this new art form was under constant scrutiny by Christian fundamentalists and early feminist activists on a moral crusade to "clean up" and save America from its sinful trajectory off which Hollywood's leaders seemed hellbent on profiting.

It seemed like the wolves were closing in until Hollywood's leading power broker--the man who understood and capitalized on Americans' fascination with fame--decided to place one of his most loyal directors in charge of presenting a cleaner, more dignified image of Hollywoodland. And almost without missing a beat, that director was found dead in his home, bringing down all the heat Hollywood's leading power-broker wanted least.

In the first part of this epic duology of History Impossible, we'll be looking at this power broker's place at the dawn of Hollywood and in the original culture war, the mysterious actor from England with a shrouded past that he hired as his propagandist, and the ominous circumstances leading up to that actor's death. Stay tuned for Part II in the coming weeks.

An Impossible Pop Quiz: The White Death

An Impossible Pop Quiz: The White Death

May 16, 2019

The Pop Quiz returns for a much lighter, more fun episode (or fun recounting for Molly, at least) of the third episode of History Impossible, the story of Simo Häyhä, the White Death, the Magic Shooter.

Give this quiz a listen to see how Molly manages to find such a cold-blooded bad-ass mass-killer so "cute", manage to call him a butt-face, and still be in awe of his accomplishments and monk-like temperament. Also make sure to sympathize with Mr. von Sternberg as his patience is eternally tried by puns and silliness coming from his history-phobic significant other.

So fix yourself a nice drink, kick back, and listen to two amateurs attempt to dissect the deeper meanings behind the man--the phenomenon--known as The White Death.