Wednesday, 29 July 2009


Recently I've been revising some half-forgotten topics to teach at A-level if I have to move South (or , more accurately , if anyone down South will employ me).

I picked up a volume of Thucydides I'd bought 2nd hand a few years ago .

Had a wee look at the cover to check the condition (some of my older books are in a helluva state , but this one is very good for its age).

Then I opened it up .

Have a wee look at the stamp .

I'd probably have thought it was a German library stamp , if I wasn't vaguely aware that an Oflag was a German POW camp for officers .

Oflag IX A/Z was located in Rotenburg an der Fulda in Hesse .

"Gepruft" apparently means "passed" , so the book had been checked on arriving at the camp .

Some officer POW from Glasgow (where I bought the book) had been sent this edition of the first true , Greek historian to keep his mind occupied .

He might have been from any regiment , or indeed , service , but I immediately thought of the two brigades of the 51st (Highland) Division captured at St.Valery-en-Caux in 1940 .

Kept by this officer as a treasured link to home and a wider western civilisation throughout the war and still in near-mint condition .

It is all the more unusual because William Heinemann's warehouse in London's dockland , full of this series of books , was burnt down in the Blitz shortly after .

Amazing , eh ?


Dark Lochnagar said...

Excellent. It gives the book an added poinancy. Touching on the discussion we are having on my site, as I was taught only English history and in particular the Tudor period at secondary school, I would make a great teacher down south. Don't expect a "B" in History Higher would cut much mustard nowadays!

The Young Oligarch said...

I got a "B" at Higher as well , DL !

You're showing your age , though , if it was English history you got .

For me it was "The Growth of the Trades Union Movement" (i.e. vote Labour , ya drones !) and Europe 1815 to 1914 (much more interesting).

Now Higher is "Scotland 1850's-1979" (vote Labour , ya drones!) and "Russia in Revolution" (vote Labour , ya drones , or it's the Gulag for you!) .

There is usually a token SNP question , but only about 5 weans a year answer it .

A more politicised exam you could not imagine (until you look at Modern Studies).

Exam I'm beefing up on is A-Level Classical Civilisation -

You might like to have look at the prescribed texts in the specification . You can pick them up for a fiver 2nd hand in some of the bookshops off GW Road .

An excellent framework for study - which is what I'm doing just now .

Dark Lochnagar said...

I have always been fasinated by History, but if your assertions are correct then our kids are not getting enough IMO about the history of Scotland from say 1100 onwards. The old maxim is still true about you not knowing where you are going if you don't know where you have been.

The Young Oligarch said...

Ah , my fellow insomniac , things are changing after the summer .

Such is the lack of political input into the History curriculum that , as soon as the SNP were elected , the exam board designed a new one where there was a compulsory Scottish-only element -
see here -

Looks more SNP-friendly the way they've worded it , but I can tell you , from 2 minutes looking at it that the exact same lessons will be taught using the exact same text books .

The exam paper will look slightly different , however , and one third of it will have the word "Scotland" at the top .

The English exam system gets slated in the press , but it's light years behind ours in the process of decay .