Plus: Georgia O'Keeffe and the Dionne Quintuplets |

March 21, 2019

By Lily Rothman

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On Thursday in a town in Northwest Germany, an American man took ownership of a painting that was once owned by his great-grandparents, who were art collectors and members of Vienna’s Jewish elite before they fled Austria in the 1930s. And while it’s no secret that Nazi officials looted a massive amount of art from the people they oppressed, this particular painting’s journey proved even more tortuous than most. It was looted, recovered by the Allies and then lost again when it was re-purchased by the daughter of Hitler’s photographer.

And yet it has finally made its way back to the family that rightfully owns it. Click here to read the whole story of this painting’s tangled journey home.

Here’s more of the history that made news this week:

The Dionne Quintuplets Are a Cautionary Tale for ‘Kidfluencers’

The quintuplets became associated with a range of products that purportedly played a role in helping them survive

Newly Uncovered Letters Reveal Georgia O’Keeffe's Inspirations

“It is hazy – and my mountain floats out light blue in the distance – like a dream"

The New Zealand Suspect in the History of Fascism

"If we don’t understand that racism was embedded in fascism from the start, we are getting an incomplete picture"

The White Southerners Who Didn’t Want to Secede

Or build Confederate monuments after the Civil War

What Happens When Young Environmental Activists Grow Up

"I don’t see the world with rose-tinted glasses," says one "ecokid" who was featured in TIME 30 years ago


Mar. 21, 1977

Today in 1977: Madame Mao

“As events would prove, Chiang Ch'ing was far less her own person than she believed. In trying to move from the sex of the ‘first rounds’ to the power that ‘sustains interest in the long run,’ she never really won enough power to survive on her own. The very fact that she gave her interviews to Roxane Witke is being used in the current campaign to vilify her past behavior. By talking to an outsider, and showing that outsider intimate details of her private life, Chiang Ch'ing put on the record all the ammunition her enemies would ever need to destroy her.” (March 21, 1977)

Read the full story

Mar. 21, 1960

Today in 1960: The Capital Punishment Debate

“Convict Chessman, 38, has written four books, survived eight different execution dates, outlived the judge who sentenced him to death, and become the world's most famous prisoner, center of impassioned arguments on both sides of the Atlantic. Last week, with Chessman scheduled to die in San Quentin's green octagonal gas chamber next May 2 (execution date No. 9), the California legislature met in Sacramento in a special session called by Governor Edmund Brown, ostensibly to debate capital punishment but in effect to decide the fate of Caryl Whittier Chessman.” (March 21, 1960)

Read the full story

Mar. 22, 1954

This Week in 1954: McCarthyism on Trial

“Joe McCarthy stood pinpointed as never before in his public life. Nobody was challenging his rights as a Senator. Nobody was attacking his license to hunt Communists. But the Army, in taking aim, could not have been more menacing. It had drawn a careful bead on the one-man subcommittee's real brain, the precocious, brilliant, arrogant young man whom McCarthy had come to regard as indispensable—‘as indispensable.’ said Joe, ‘as I am.’ And Roy Cohn, thanks to a lifetime process of self-inflation, presented a lovely target.” (March 22, 1954)

Read the full story


Picture This At the Washington Post, Kevin Ambrose describes finding a woman’s portrait buried at a Civil War battlefield, and what it’s like to hold a little mystery from the past.

Naming Names Speaking of Civil War photography, Sarah Wells at has the story of a computer scientist who’s trying to use facial-recognition software to identify unnamed subjects of that era’s portraits.

Lesson Learned On the occasion of the Jewish holiday of Purim, Ari Lamm writes for Tablet about how political interpretations of the biblical story of Esther have evolved.

Plagued Here’s a Twitter thread from historian of medieval medicine Monica H. Green, showing what’s wrong with the idea that the Black Death disappeared without medical intervention.

In the Sky As Boeing confronts public doubt in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, NPR’s Camila Domonoske looks back at the company’s long history.

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