Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers

Rafael Trujillo, Partying Dictator

Not that Rafael Trujillo's murderous reign is redeemed by his party animal ways, but it's always nice to see someone who doesn't let his work stand in the way of having fun.

First he arrives at LA and smashes another boat, then avoids fees by declaring himself a ship of war.

Source: The Los Angeles Times 21 Jun 1958, Sat Page 2

Then he insults our national holiday and causes an uproar on Catalina Island.

Source: The Los Angeles Times 05 Jul 1958, Sat Page 1

Of course, none of this jovial playboy behavior prevented him from getting assassinated three years later.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Mar 22, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Dinners, Banquets, Parties, Tributes, Roasts and Other Celebrations, Oceans and Maritime Pursuits, 1950s, Outrageous Excess, North America

The Stasi Scent Library

The East German Stasi did a number of strange things, but perhaps the strangest was its attempt to create a scent library of its population. It was analogous to a fingerprint library, and was based on the premise that everyone had a unique scent which could be used to track them, if need be. From Dog Law Reporter:

The most interesting use of police dogs concerned scent identification, a method analyzed by Dutch and other researchers, but adapted by the unique paranoia of the Stasi. As early as 1973, the Stasi began collecting smell samples of a large number of citizens. Sometimes this was done with a special chair that the subject was asked to sit on during a visit to the police station. The chair had a dust cloth on top of the seat that was clamped into place by a removable frame. The subject had to sit in the chair for ten minutes, but after the interrogation was over, the dust cloth was removed and stored in a glass jar.

Sometimes Stasi officials did not bother with being subtle and merely told subjects to put a cloth under their armpits or even under their pants in the groin area. The cloth was carefully handled by tweezers in an effort not to allow contamination by other human scents.

Stasi Smelling Jars

Posted By: Alex - Tue Feb 23, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Police and Other Law Enforcement, Smells and Odors

Toy Hitler

A popular toy in Nazi Germany was a miniature model of Hitler. It came in six action poses, including Hitler in an army jeep and in an open car doing the Nazi salute.

Not many of these toy Hitlers survive, so if you have one, for some reason, it's probably worth some money. One of them was featured on Antiques Roadshow in 2012.

Newsweek - Dec 26, 1938

Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 16, 2020 - Comments (5)
Category: Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Toys, 1930s

Sing along with Khrushchov coloring book, an update

Eight months ago I posted about a coloring book published in 1962 titled The Sing Along with Khrushchov Coloring Book. I noted that, although I had come across references to the book in newspapers, I hadn't been able to find any images of it online. Nor were there any used copies for sale. And only two libraries in the U.S. had copies of it. It was really obscure!

But I was just contacted by Elaine Woodward who revealed that her grandfather, who was on the American Hungarian Federation in DC, had once given her a copy, which she still had. She was kind enough to scan it and send it to me. So here it is, rescued from obscurity!

I've posted two sample images below. Or click here to read the whole thing (pdf file).

Note that the book spells Khrushchev with an 'o' rather than an 'e'... so the title was misspelled in my original post.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Oct 12, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Art, Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Politics, Books, 1960s

Hitler’s Toilet Seat

December 1969: ex-RAF pilot Guy Harris put a toilet seat up for auction that he claimed to have removed from Hitler's bunker in Berlin. He said he had found it in the private apartment used by Hitler and Eva Braun.

According to Harris, he and other British soldiers had been allowed in the bunker by the Russians, who had already removed everything they believed to be of value. But they evidently hadn't thought Hitler's toilet seat was of any value. So Harris took it.

When he got back to England, he first installed it in his 90-foot yacht on the Thames. Later he moved it to his home in Twickenham, before finally deciding to sell it.

There's no record, however, of whether he did manage sell it. At least, none that I can find.

Albany Democrat Herald - Dec 18, 1969

Los Angeles Times - Dec 17, 1969

As it turns out, Harris wasn't the only soldier to have nabbed a Hitler toilet seat. There are two more floating around out there. One was taken from Hitler's mountain retreat, the Berghof. The other from Hitler's private yacht, the Aviso Grille. This latter one is currently located in an auto repair shop in New Jeresy. More info: Anchorage News

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 16, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Bathrooms, Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, 1960s

Sing Along with Khrushchev Coloring Book

A few days ago, Paul posted about a Khrushchev coloring book authored by Jack Davis. Another Khrushchev coloring book was created in 1962 by the Hungarian cartoonist Victor Vashi with text by Ilona Fabian.

I haven’t been able to find any photos or scans of it online. And according to Worldcat, it’s only held by two US libraries. So, it’s extremely obscure. However, its existence establishes Khrushchev coloring books as a tiny, but existing literary genre.

Knoxville News Sentinel - Jan 20, 1963

Some selections from the text ran in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Apr 18, 1963):

Posted By: Alex - Wed Feb 12, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Art, Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Politics, Books, 1960s

Khrushchev’s Top Secret Coloring Book

Finally, some artwork that might amuse the Soviet dictator, from the great Jack Davis.

Buy your copy through the link below.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jan 30, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Art, Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Books, 1960s

Gaddafi: A Living Myth

With Libya in the news, perhaps it's time to revisit Gaddafi: A Living Myth, the 2006 opera that was billed as an "all singing, all dancing, free-spirited version of the Dictator's life."

Here's a catalog of contemporary reactions.

Speaking before the September premiere of his new commission, Gaddafi: A Living Myth, English National Opera artistic director John Berry averred that it could "redefine opera".

The piece, written by members of Asian Dub Foundation, was billed in advance as a venture of extraordinary audacity, addressing contemporary politics in music that would set our old friend the Classical Music Establishment by its ears.

Some of us had doubts long before the premiere. In December 2005, writing in this paper about the state of affairs at English National Opera, I said: "A commissioned opera from Asian Dub Foundation has had to be put off - and it's not hard to guess why."

When it was finally unveiled, there was not much pleasure to be had from seeing this gloomy prognostication confirmed.

The critics did their worst: "Cliche and bombast ... "repetitive and incoherent ... laughably wooden" ... "as cynical as Simon Cowell" ... "embarrassingly redolent of sixth-form earnestness" ... "long stretches of jaw-dropping banality" ... "risible moments that look and sound like a Middle Eastern version of Springtime For Hitler". Worst of all, almost every review used the word "brave".

Alas, I cannot find a video of the actual production. Here are two of the creators discussing it.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jan 23, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Bombast, Bloviation and Pretentiousness, Crowds, Groups, Mobs and Other Mass Movements, Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Music, Avant Garde, Twentieth Century, Twenty-first Century, Cacophony, Dissonance, White Noise and Other Sonic Assaults

Follies of the Madmen #448

Kills germs with dictatorial efficiency!

Posted By: Paul - Wed Oct 16, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Business, Advertising, Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Hygiene, Stereotypes and Cliches, 1960s

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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