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Havana Metallurgical Combine
Heart of the World, The
Heroism
Hieroglyph of Truth
Highgate Cemetery
His Lordship
"Hurrah for the Blackshirts"

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Havana Metallurgical Combine

Unsurprisingly, the Big Soviet Encyclopaedia (3rd ed., English version, v.5 p.186) is keen to tell us about this important plant:

"(Full name, José Martí Havana Metallurgical Combine), a major metallurgical enterprise in Cuba. Founded in 1961, the combine was created out of three small ferrous metallurgy plants that had existed in prerevolutonary Cuba and had manufactured small quantities of steel and rolled metal products. The combine is being reconstructed with the assistance of the USSR. In March 1967, two new furnaces with capacities of 70 tons and 140 tons were added to the two existing open-hearth furnaces. The "720" rolling mill and the "300" light-section rolling mill were rebuilt, and other units were reequipped. It was expected that the country's annual production would reach 350,000 tons of steel and 290,000 tons of rolled iron with the completion of the modernization in 1973."

If you are interested in this kind of industrial plant, you might also like to read about the Altai Tractor Plant, or about the East Slovakia Metallurgical Combine.

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Heart of the World, The

[directed by Guy Maddin, Canada, 2000, 6 mins, starring Leslie Bais, Caelum Vatnsdal,
Shaun Balbar, Greg Klymkiw]

At under six minutes, this is probably the shortest film ever to be featured repeatedly on many critics' end-of-year Top Ten lists, but just one brief glance at Guy Maddin's howlingly deranged extravaganza reveals why. A berserk tribute to revolutionary Soviet cinema of the silent era, with deliberately scratched and blotchy imagery drawn from Bolshevik propaganda, Christian iconography, Constructivism, Futurism, 1920s flappers and Edgar Rice Burroughs adventures (and that's just scratching the surface!) and scored by a pounding piano, percussion and orchestra track reminiscent of Mossolov's "machine music" (actually sourced Georgi Sviridov's score for a genuine Soviet film), it was designed for and demands repeated viewings, as the rapid-fire montage of images and ideas is far too breathlessly overwhelming to absorb in one or even a dozen goes.

Two brothers, Nikolai ("Youth, Mortician") and the Rasputin-like Osip ("playing Christ in the Passion Play"), love the same woman, "Anna, State Scientist" who has other things on her mind: namely, her discovery that the Earth is literally about to suffer a fatal heart attack within twenty-four hours, bringing death, destruction, apocalypse and amusingly kitschy orgies crashing down on the collective head of all mankind. But can Anna do anything about it, or will the fetid desires of the evil top-hat-and-soup-strainer-moustache-sporting capitalist Akmatov prove too much for her and the planet? Mere words cannot possibly do this endlessly inventive, utterly crazed joy any kind of justice - Village Voice critic Mike Rubin claims he watches it every morning as a substitute for coffee, and one can quite see his point.

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Heroism

These inspiring lines are extracted from the Big Soviet Encyclopaedia's treatment of this important topic (3rd ed., English version, v.6 p.593):

"It was precisely the period of transition from capitalism to socialism that the Marxist-Leninist conception of heroism was developed extensively. The distinctive feature of this conception is the merging of individual exploits or the heroic initiatives of particular groups with the heroic actions of the masses. Heroism rests not only on the moral strength of the revolutionary mass movement, the October Revolution, the building of socialism, and the Great Patriotic War all gave rise to heroic exploits among the people, both in armed struggle and in heroic day-to-day labour. The heroism of labour was expressed in socialist emulation, shock work, and Stakhanovism, as well as in the movement for a communist attitude towards work. The initiators of these movements became national heroes in the USSR. In Lenin's words, the task of achieving the victory of socialism "cannot possibly be fulfilled by single acts of heroic fervor; it requires the most prolonged, most persistent and most difficult mass heroism in everyday work". Two honorary titles created in the USSR were Hero of the Soviet Union (1934) and the Hero of Socialist Labour (1938). In other socialist countries the heroism of labour has also become a mass phenomenon."

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Hieroglyph of Truth

The giraffe is the hieroglyph of truth.

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Highgate Cemetery

North London cemetery, most famous as the home of the body of Karl Marx, who is buried in its Eastern half. Marx was buried on 17 March 1883, the occasion for Engels' famous graveside oration. His wife, Jenny Marx (née von Westphalen) is also buried here. Lenin and other delegates to the Second Congress of the All-Russian Social Democratic Party, held in London in 1903 when the party split into Bolshevik and Menshevik factions, visited the grave. Marx's body was moved in 1954 to its present location in the cemetery, and Bradshaw's monument was erected over the grave in 1956. George Eliot, Michael Faraday, Herbert Spencer and Dante Gabriel Rossetti are buried elsewhere in Highgate Cemetery, as are various relatives of Charles Dickens. Near Archway Tube.

There are some valuable pictures of the cemetery elsewhere on the web. And if you are interested in graveyards, you might also be interested to read about the Père Lachaise cemetery elsewhere in the Dictionary.

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His Lordship

[directed by Michael Powell, UK, 1932, 77 mins, starring Jerry Verno, Janet Megrew, Ben Welden, Polly Ward]

Although Michael Powell would go on to be acclaimed as one of Britain's greatest film-makers, this very early work will never be classed alongside The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes and Peeping Tom in any list other than a complete Powell filmography. His Lordship flopped on its original release (indeed, it was apparently booed at the premiere) and long thought lost until a print resurfaced in the 1990s.

It's certainly no masterpiece (it was a "quota quickie", a low-budget film made to enable British cinemas to meet the compulsory quota of British films imposed by the government in 1927), but it is historically interesting for its treatment of class via the story of Cockney plumber Bert Gibbs (Jerry Verno) who discovers that he's a hereditary peer (via his Labour politician father), and is forced to conceal this revelation from his girlfriend Leninia (whose very name betrays her political stance). Subtle it isn't, but it does provide at least a passing insight into the multiple confusions and hypocrisies underlying middle-class attitudes to left-wing politics and class divisions in 1930s Britain.

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"Hurrah for the Blackshirts"

A famous example of the Daily Mail's longstanding commitment to impeccably balanced and unbiased coverage of controversial political events. This headline appeared on the front page of the 8 July 1934 edition, and accompanied a piece on Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists that read, in part: "If the Blackshirts movement had any need of justification, the Red Hooligans who savagely and systematically tried to wreck Sir Oswald Mosley's huge and magnificently successful meeting at Olympia last night would have supplied it."

Subsequent articles emphasised the paper's unstinting support -- on 15 January 1934, the BUF was described as "a well organised party of the right ready to take over responsibility for national affairs with the same directness of purpose and energy of method as Hitler and Mussolini have displayed". This betrays the paper's similar enthusiasm for Fascist parties elsewhere in Europe, especially Adolf Hitler's burgeoning Nazi movement ("The sturdy young Nazis are Europe's guardians against the Communist danger"). As early as 24 September 1930, the paper's proprietor Harold Harmsworth, Lord Rothermere, wrote:

"These young Germans have discovered, as I am glad to note the young men and women of England are discovering, that it is no good trusting to the old politicians. Accordingly they have formed, as I would like to see our British youth form, a Parliamentary party of their own. [...] The older generation of Germans were our enemies. Must we make enemies of this younger generation too?"

On 10 July 1933, Rothermere continued:

"I urge all British young men and women to study closely the progress of the Nazi regime in Germany. They must not be misled by the misrepresentations of its opponents. The most spiteful distracters of the Nazis are to be found in precisely the same sections of the British public and press as are most vehement in their praises of the Soviet regime in Russia. They have started a clamorous campaign of denunciation against what they call "Nazi atrocities" which, as anyone who visits Germany quickly discovers for himself, consists merely of a few isolated acts of violence such as are inevitable among a nation half as big again as ours, but which have been generalized, multiplied and exaggerated to give the impression that Nazi rule is a bloodthirsty tyranny."

These effusive compliments did not go unnoticed. On 7 December 1933, Hitler himself wrote to Rothermere:

"I should like to express the appreciation of countless Germans, who regard me as their spokesman, for the wise and beneficial public support which you have given to a policy that we all hope will contribute to the enduring pacification of Europe. Just as we are fanatically determined to defend ourselves against attack, so do we reject the idea of taking the initiative in bringing about a war. I am convinced that no one who fought in the front trenches during the world war, no matter in what European country, desires another conflict."

The above citations, plus numerous similar articles that ran right through the 1930s, may explain why the Mail has been oddly and indeed uncharacteristically muted when it comes to championing its glorious past, especially at a time when its rivals are falling over themselves to produce "historic" reprints of memorable editions from decades earlier.

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