TIME History

United Once Offered Unbelievable ‘Men-Only’ Flights

United Airlines - Super DC
Bill Peters—Denver Post via Getty Images United Airlines - Super DC

It operated these exclusive routes until 1970

Mad Men might have aired its final episode, but don’t worry — all you need to get your fix of jaw-dropping sexism is to open an aviation history book.

Take for instance this find over at the blog Boarding Area, which recently dug up some old ads from between 1953 through 1970. That’s when United Airlines offered flights for “men only,” where wealthy businessmen could enjoy complimentary cigars, cocktails and a full-course steak dinner in the exclusive company of other men (besides the stewardesses, of course).

According to Boarding Area, these flights were operated in two routes, New York to Chicago and Los Angeles and San Francisco. Flights would leave at 5 p.m. in each of the four cities, six days per week, excluding Saturdays.

Here’s how United’s ad copy pitched it:

Relax after a busy day on this special DC-6 mainliner flight. You’ll enjoy the informal, club-like atmosphere. Smoke your pipe or cigar, if you wish, and make yourself more comfortable by using the pair of slippers provided . . . take off your coat, and stretch out in a deep, soft Mainliner seat. Or, enjoy congenial company in the lounge.

Take advantage of may special services on this flight. Closing market quotations are available and you favorite business magazines. If you’d like do some some work, your stewardess will arrange a table for you.

Eat your heart out, Don Draper.



TIME Pop Culture

Watch 100 Years of Filipina Beauty and History in Less Than Two Minutes

The country's rich history has heavily influenced style and beauty trends

The folks over at Cut Video have released the sixth episode of 100 Years of Beauty, taking us not just through a century of beauty in the Philippines, but of Filipino history too.

The video begins with the Spanish-American War at the turn of the century, when indigenous women were adorned with tribal tattoos and shell headpieces.

After U.S. took control of the country, American trends began to heavily influence Filipino beauty. By the 1920s and ’30s, women were inspired by jazz and the silver screen — glamorous updos with heavy makeup became in vogue until Japanese occupation began during World War II.

After the war, the Philippine’s film industry boomed and mestiza (half-Filipino half-Caucasian) actresses set the trend for red lips and rosy cheeks.

America kept influencing beauty trends throughout the ’60s, with big bouffant hair inspired by Jackie O and Imelda Marcos, the wife of Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, moving to the hippie style of the ’70s.

By the 2000s people turned to Korean music and television for style and beauty trends and long straight hair became popular. As the video fast-forwards to present day, K-pop and American culture still dominate women’s styles with full wavy hair and dark brows.

TIME Television

History as Seen on Mad Men: A Timeline

How the show addressed assassinations, political movements and scientific achievements

Over the course of seven seasons, Mad Men—which came to a close on Sunday night—followed Don, Peggy and the rest of Sterling Cooper through a raucous decade. But, though its meticulous attention to period detail has often been praised, the show has always been more about character than events: Assassinations were met with quiet crying scenes; characters’ politics changed slowly over time; entire years were skipped.

And yet some pivotal historical moments did have an impact. Here’s how the show wove real-world story lines into the lives of its fictional characters.

  • The Birth Control Pill Is Approved (May 1960)

    Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) - Mad Men - Season 1, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/AMC
    Doug Hyun / AMC Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss)

    The FDA approved Enovid, the first oral contraceptive for women, in May of 1960. When the series begins in 1960, Joan sends Peggy to a doctor to get a prescription. The condescending doctor tells Peggy he’ll take it away if she is too loose and abuses the drug’s power. Whether Peggy took the pill incorrectly or not, she does end up getting pregnant in the first season.

    Read original 1960 coverage of Enovid, here in the TIME Vault: Pregnancy Control

  • Kennedy Defeats Nixon (Nov. 1960)

    Paul Schutzer—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images 2nd televised debate between Richard M. Nixon & John F. Kennedy (L)

    Sterling Cooper helps create Nixon’s ads, but cannot measure up to the upbeat spots for Kennedy that helped lead him to a surprise victory. But that doesn’t stop the conservative boys at Sterling Cooper from celebrating: In this episode, Harry Crane cheats on his wife with a secretary and gets himself kicked out of this house.

    Read original 1960 coverage of the election, here in the TIME Vault: Candidate Kennedy

  • The Freedom Riders and Civil Rights (1961)

    Freedom Rider & National Guardsman
    Paul Schutzer—The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett An unidentified Freedom Rider cranes his head out of the window of an interstate bus as a National Guardsman stands watch outside, May 1961.

    Though Sterling Cooper is completely white-washed, racial tensions fizzle in the background of the show’s early years. Paul Kinsey heads south to protest with his black girlfriend Sheila after Don takes his spot on a business trip to L.A. in the first season. By 1966, the ad agency jokingly publishes an ad promising equal employment opportunity. When dozens of people show up to interview, the company relents and hires its first black secretary, Dawn.

    Read original 1961 coverage of the Freedom Rides, here in the TIME Vault: Trouble in Alabama

  • Marilyn Monroe’s Death (Aug. 1962)

    Marilyn Monroe Portrait
    Michael Ochs Archives—Getty Images Actress Marilyn Monroe poses for a portrait in circa 1952.

    The actress overdosed on drugs on Aug. 4, 1962. Roger Sterling is surprised to find Joan Holloway crying over Marilyn’s death in his office. Hollis the elevator operator mourns Marilyn too—or, rather, he muses over how Marilyn’s ex, baseball player Joe DiMaggio, must feel. Peggy is a little colder, pointing out that Playtex’s rejection of their Jackie vs. Marilyn underwear pitch was a blessing in disguise.

    Read original 1962 coverage of Monroe’s death, here in the TIME Vault: The Only Blonde in the World

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis (Oct. 1962)

    Father John Gill (Colin Hanks) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) - Mad Men - Season 2, Episode 13 - Photo Credit: Carin Baer/AMC
    Carin Baer / AMC Father John Gill (Colin Hanks) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) on Mad Men

    The employees at Sterling Cooper worry that any day could be their last during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the U.S. and the Soviet Union ever came to armed conflict during the Cold War. A priest at Peggy’s church tells worshippers they should prepare to meet God. Pete Campbell’s wife even leaves to stay with her parents, while Pete declares that if he’s going to die he wants it to be in Manhattan.

    Read original 1962 coverage of Monroe’s death, here in the TIME Vault: Showdown on Cuba

  • The Kennedy Assassination (Nov. 1963)

    Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse) - Mad Men - Season 3, Episode 12 - Photo Credit: Carin Baer/AMC
    Carin Baer / AMC Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse) in Mad Men

    Betty stares blankly at the television, and Duck pulls the plug so that the tragic events won’t interrupt his dalliance with Peggy. Roger decides not to postpone the wedding of his daughter, Margaret, but everyone spends the reception glued to the TV. The episode is more about the fallout in the Sterling family than about the political ramifications of the assassination.

    Read original 1963 coverage of Kennedy’s death, here in the TIME Vault: “The Government Still Lives”

  • The Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking (Jan. 1964)

    Don Draper (Jon Hamm) - Mad Men - Season 3, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Carin Baer/AMC
    Carin Baer / AMC Don Draper (Jon Hamm) in Mad Men

    In 1957, Readers Digest had reported on the dangers of smoking—and the article was so influential that Sterling Cooper had to create a new strategy for Lucky Strike in the first season. They later lose the account when the Surgeon General confirms that smoking does kill, just as Roger, Don, Bert and Lane are breaking off to start their own firm. Don responds by writing a manifesto, published in the New York Times, about why agencies shouldn’t help sell products that kill people.

    Read original 1964 coverage of the report, here in the TIME Vault: The Government Report

  • Sonny Liston v. Cassius Clay (May 1965)

    Muhammad Ali Knocks Out Liston
    Agence France Presse—Getty Images Sonny Liston lies out for the count after being KO'd in the first round of his return title fight by world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, Lewiston, Maine, May 25, 1965.

    The fight only lasted two minutes and 12 seconds, but formed the backdrop for one of Mad Men’s greatest episodes, “The Suitcase.” Don takes his own swing at Duck Phillips when he calls Peggy a “whore.” Later, a picture of Ali’s victory inspires Don to create a great Samsonite luggage ad.

    Read original 1965 coverage of the fight, here in the TIME Vault: Theater of the Absurd

  • The Beatles at Shea Stadium (Aug. 1965)

    The Beatles
    Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images The Beatles perform at Shea Stadium, New York on Aug. 15, 1965.

    Don bribes his daughter Sally, who is none too happy about his and Betty’s divorce, with tickets to perhaps the most famous concert in the history of rock. She appropriately loses her mind.

    Read a 1965 cover story about rock ‘n’ roll, here in the TIME Vault: Sound of the Sixties

  • Richard Speck Murders (July 1966)

    Mad Men (Season 5)
    Michael Yarish—AMC Dawn Chambers (Teyonah Parris) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) in Mad Men

    The workers at Sterling Cooper become fascinated with the then-unsolved Richard Speck murders in Chicago. Sally learns of the murders from the newspaper and becomes so frightened she cannot sleep. Simultaneously, racial violence rages in Harlem, forcing Dawn to spend the night in Peggy’s apartment.

    Read original 1966 coverage of the case, here in the TIME Vault: 24 Years to Page One

  • The Vietnam War (Nov. 1955–April 1975)

    Mad Men (Season 5)
    Michael Yarish—AMC (L-R) Joe Harris (S.E. Perry), Ruth Harris (Alyson Reed), Greg Harris (Samuel Page), Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) and Gail Holloway (Christine Estabrook) in Mad Men

    Joan’s doctor husband, Greg, serves in Vietnam. When he reveals to her that he volunteered to go back for a second tour, she breaks up with him. In a later season, Don uses connections to help the son of Sylvia Rosen, with whom he is having an affair, avoid being placed in a dangerous spot when he’s drafted. In the final season, Glen Bishop announces he’s enlisted.

    Read a 1965 cover story about the war, here in the TIME Vault: The Turning Point in Viet Nam

  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s Assassination (April 1968)

    Martin Luther King at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church
    The Washington Post/Getty Images Martin Luther King speaks at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church February 1968 in Washington, DC.

    Peggy and Megan are both up for advertising awards at a ceremony that’s interrupted by Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Don encourages his secretary Dawn to go home, assuming that the news has hit her hard because of her race. She tells him she would prefer to stay and work.

    Read original 1965 coverage of King’s death, here in the TIME Vault: An Hour of Need

  • The Moon Landing (July 1969)

    Robert Morse as Bertram Cooper - Mad Men _ Season 7, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Courtesy of AMC
    Courtesy of AMC Robert Morse as Bertram Cooper in Mad Men

    Despite being a momentous event, the moon landing took backseat to Bert Cooper’s dancing departure. Bert dies on his couch just as man takes his first steps on the moon—but is seen again, in Don’s hallucinations.

    Read a 1969 cover story about the moon landing, here in the TIME Vault: Man on the Moon

  • The Newsweek Sexism Lawsuit (1970)

    Courtesy of AMC Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris in Mad Men

    Forty-six women sued Newsweek Magazine for workplace gender discrimination in 1970 and won. When Joan threatens to take legal action against McCann Ericson for sexism, she references Newsweek and the feminist movement as precedent.

    Read original 1970 coverage of the lawsuit, here in the TIME Vault: Woman-Power

TIME History

You’re Remembering Reagan Wrong

President Ronald Reagan in Washington in 1983.
Bachrach—Getty Images President Ronald Reagan in Washington in 1983.

H.W. Brands teaches history at the University of Texas at Austin. His latest book is Reagan: The Life.

Reagan was more than a visionary; he was a brilliantly successful politician

For 30 years Ronald Reagan has been a hero to Republicans and conservatives, his presidency regarded as the crucial moment when America began to turn back from the misguided liberalism of the New Deal to the truths of individual liberty and personal opportunity on which this country had rested from its founding. Yet as much as those on the right have revered Reagan, they have been unable to recapture his magic and repeat his success. The Reagan Revolution has had no second act.

The reason for this is that Reagan’s accomplishment has been widely misunderstood. Reagan is remembered for his compelling vision for America: a vision of self-reliance, limited government, stout defense, and world leadership toward freedom. And he is remembered for his ability to communicate this vision, better than anyone else of his generation or after. In a long political career, Reagan gave hundreds of speeches, but all were riffs on the single theme of expanding liberty. There is nothing of substance in any of Reagan’s speeches that doesn’t resonate today with nearly everyone right of center, from mainstream conservatives to Tea Party activists.

Yet Reagan was more than a speechmaker, more than a visionary. He was also a brilliantly successful politician. Reagan had no military experience—beyond performing in films for the army during World War II—but he instinctively understood the difference between strategy and tactics. His strategic goal was to shrink government at home and defeat communism abroad. (On the latter he memorably told Richard Allen, who became his national security adviser: “My theory of the Cold War is: We win and they lose.”) But Reagan recognized that progress came in stages, and that a step forward was a step in the right direction, even if it didn’t achieve the goal all at once. “If Reagan told me once he told me fifteen thousand times,” James Baker, Reagan’s chief of staff and later his Treasury secretary, recalled in an interview: “‘I’d rather get 80 percent of what I want than go over the cliff with my flags flying.’”

In case after case, Reagan demonstrated the flexibility necessary to advance his conservative agenda. He called for cutting taxes, and he was astonishingly successful in doing so, reducing by half the top rate on personal income. But he was willing to accept slight tax increases when necessary to consolidate gains already made and to achieve other conservative goals, such as streamlining the tax code and putting Social Security on a sounder footing. His willingness to accept less than his maximum program similarly made possible broad deregulation of business and a landmark immigration reform act.

Reagan is often cited as an enemy of government. The most frequently quoted line from his first inaugural address has him saying, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” But what is almost always omitted is the prefatory clause: “In this present crisis…” Reagan was not an enemy of government, and he did not think government was the enemy of the American people. He believed government should be smaller than it had become by the 1980s, and that it should be more efficient, but he didn’t believe it should be dismantled. As Greg Leo, who served in the Reagan administration told me, “We were not anarchists; we were conservatives.”

Reagan’s tactical flexibility appeared in other arenas. He was famous for declaring the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” He had no doubt that communism was the most pernicious of modern creeds, and that the Kremlin was, as he put it in the same speech, “the focus of evil in the modern world.” Reagan directed the rebuilding of American defenses to combat communism and bolster freedom. Yet even as he built up arms, he sought ways to negotiate them down. Indeed, the purpose of the arms buildup was to make arms reductions possible—to convince the Russians they couldn’t beat the United States in an arms race.

Reagan repeatedly sought to engage Soviet leaders in negotiations, to no initial avail. “They kept dying on me,” he said of the Moscow gerontocracy. But the emergence of Mikhail Gorbachev gave Reagan someone to negotiate with, and in the culmination of an unprecedented series of summits, Reagan and Gorbachev eliminated one whole class of nuclear weapons and laid the basis for dramatic additional cuts in the superpower arsenals. Visiting Moscow during his last year in office, Reagan was asked whether he still considered the Soviet Union an evil empire. “No,” he said simply. Later prompted to explain, he acknowledged that even communists could change for the better. “There is quite a difference today in the leadership and in the relationship between our two countries.”

Reagan brought another crucial attribute to conservatism. Righteous indignation, at times amounting to anger, has often characterized the conservative movement. From Barry Goldwater to the Tea Party, many conservatives have seemed to like feeling beset and aggrieved. Reagan could get righteously angry, as when the Soviets shot down a Korean airliner in 1983. “Words can scarcely express our revulsion at this horrifying act of violence,” he declared.

But anger wasn’t Reagan’s natural mode. He was an optimist at heart, and in every speech he conveyed his belief that America’s best days were ahead. Goldwater frowned and warned; Reagan smiled and invited. Reagan’s philosophy differed hardly at all from Goldwater’s, but Reagan’s vote-getting power surpassed anything Goldwater could muster. Reagan genuinely believed America was a “shining city on a hill,” as he said again and again, and he made Americans believe it, too.

Reagan refused to demonize his foes. Instead he charmed them, with a few exceptions, including Tip O’Neill, the Democratic Speaker of the House and the embodiment of the liberalism Reagan sought to reverse. Reagan conspired in the impression that he and O’Neill shared a bond that transcended political differences, but it was an act. “Although photographs taken after their meetings suggested a sort of underlying Irish camaraderie between the two men, the reality was that they were hammer and anvil,” said Donald Regan, of Irish descent himself, who served as Reagan’s Treasury secretary and then chief of staff. After one meeting with O’Neill, Reagan told Regan, “I don’t know what the hell’s the matter with the man. I just can’t seem to reach him.”

Reagan reached most other people he encountered. He didn’t point fingers; he told jokes. He understood, from years on the lecture circuit, the disarming value of humor: that getting people to laugh with you is halfway to getting them to agree with you. He used humor more effectively than any president since Abraham Lincoln. Reagan was not an especially warm person, but he appeared to be. Many people disliked his policies, but almost no one disliked him.

Reagan’s enduring value as a conservative icon stems from his resolute preaching of the conservative gospel, in words that still warm the hearts of the most zealous conservatives. Yet Reagan’s value as a conservative model must begin with recognition of his flexibility in the pursuit of his conservative goals. He understood that the point of politics, ultimately, is not to make speeches but to make progress, and that progress often requires compromise. It’s a lesson for today’s conservatives—and reformers of any stripe.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Fast Food

Here’s How McDonald’s Became the King of Burgers

Signs are posted on the exterior of a McDonald's restaurant on April 22, 2015 in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Signs are posted on the exterior of a McDonald's restaurant on April 22, 2015 in San Francisco.

As the iconic burger chain turns 75, it faces some of its biggest challenges ever

It is in no way surprising that McDonald’s recent troubles have drawn so much media attention. It’s not just because it’s a huge company, it’s because it is one of a small handful of corporations that are closely associated with the idea America itself, part of our national identity. And that has been the case for most of McDonald’s 75-year history.

There are many reasons for this, but the chief one might have been expressed best by the quotation TIME chose to open its September 17, 1973 cover story on McDonald’s: “The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they nourish themselves.” The quote came from The Physiology of Taste, written in 1826 by Jean Brillat-Savarin.

 McDonald's 1973

The cover story was titled “The Burger That Conquered the Country.” At the time—and for decades thereafter—nobody could seriously argue the title’s point. McDonald’s has faced stiff competition all along, from Burger King, from Wendy’s, from Taco Bell, and from any number of other fast-food chains. But none of those competitors ever came close to McDonald’s, especially in terms of image. McDonald’s—even now, when it faces some of its greatest challenges ever—is America’s burger joint.

In the 1973 article (in which McDonald’s main product is rather quaintly referred to as a “ham burger”—two words), TIME declared that if Brillat-Savarin’s quote was correct, “America’s destiny manifestly depends to no small degree on the ham burgers, French fries and milkshakes served beneath the golden arches of McDonald’s.”

Though it would grow much, much larger in the years ahead, McDonald’s was by 1973 a fully realized entity. It employed 130,000 employees in nine countries, and operated 2,500 outlets in the United States. And although Time declared that it “gone from a uniquely American to a truly global operation,” its image remained fully American, as it still does 42 years later—for better and, in some respects, worse.

Our destiny since then has manifested itself largely in our waistlines, a concern that in 1973 was just starting to creep into the national dialogue. The company most often cited by health-conscious critics of our food economy is, of course, McDonald’s. Our economic destiny meanwhile has in recent years manifested itself in the form of a growing wealth gap, with low-wage retail jobs taking the place of vanishing, high-wage manufacturing jobs. The company most-often cited in discussions of this problem (along with Wal-Mart) is, again, McDonald’s.

In the past few years, these trends have hit critical mass, to McDonald’s detriment. Consumer tastes for quick meals remained static for decades. Now they’re changing. Largely motivated by health concerns, but also by the desire for higher-quality eats, diners are increasingly opting for “fast-casual” outlets like Chipotle and Panera Bread. In response, McDonald’s is grasping for solutions that might not exist.

MORE These Are the States With the Most McDonald’s

At the same time, the company is facing pressure on the labor front. In 1973, most of its employees were teenagers working as burger flippers and “window girls.” Now, most of it workers are adults, many of them trying to support families. Last month, the company said it was raising wages and increasing benefits, though that applies only to employees of company-owned outlets, not to franchisees, meaning that most McDonald’s workers aren’t affected.

Officially, McDonald’s traces its history only back to 1955, when businessman Ray Kroc joined the company as a franchise agent. But the first McDonald’s (“McDonald’s Barbecue Restaurant”) actually opened on May 15, 1940, in San Bernardino, Calif. Kroc, impressed by the company’s production-line methods, purchased the chain from the McDonald brothers in 1961, and set about turning it into a burger leviathan.

The chain now includes about 30,000 outlets (14,000 in the United States) in 119 countries and employs about 1.7 million people.

By 1987, TIME was declaring “McDonald’s as a corporation looks more and more like a case study in how to concentrate on providing one service exceedingly well.” Despite all the grief it was taking from critics of its fatty, salt-laden fare and its monolithic corporate image, the company was still largely beloved. “McDonald’s has become such a pervasive reference point in American life that many consumers think of the company as a public institution—one that is often more reliable than the post office or the phone company,” wrote Stephen Koepp.

The company’s growth continued more or less unabated until after the 2008 recession, when the restaurant industry as a whole was hit hard—fast food included. As recently as 2005, TIME was describing fast food as a “quintessentially American dining experience” and a “perfect expression of those bedrock values of efficiency, thriftiness and speed.” Total spending on fast food had quadrupled in the preceding decade.

But even then, fast-food chains—McDonald’s definitely included—saw the writing on the wall, and were working to change their images. Consumers still wanted to dine out, but they were looking for a more pleasant experience, and healthier food. Stores were redesigned, menus were upgraded. Then the recession hit.

Fallen Arches,” read a headline in Fortune magazine last November. “Can McDonald’s Get Its Mojo Back?” The company “has risen to the top of the fast-food chain by being comfortably, familiarly, iconically ‘mass market’ and so ubiquitous as to be the Platonic ideal of ‘convenient,'” wrote Fortune‘s Beth Kowitt. “Neither of these selling points, however, is as high as it was even a decade ago on Americans’ list of dining priorities. A growing segment of restaurant goers are choosing ‘fresh and healthy’ over ‘fast and convenient,’ and McDonald’s is having trouble convincing consumers that it’s both. Or even can be both.”

MORE This Is Why Shake Shack Will Never Be McDonald’s

So much for “providing one service exceedingly well.” If people don’t want that one service, what’s a company to do? McDonald’s is still looking for answers, from making burgers more customizable to adding various new menu items (and subtracting others) to launching attention-getting promotional campaigns with varying degrees of success.

Kale, of all things, provides a nice microcosm for McDonald’s challenges. Several months back, the company made fun of the trendy, often-mocked “superfood” in TV advertisements. Over a camera close-up of the lettuce on a Big Mac, the narrator intoned: “This will never be kale.” Earlier this month, McDonald’s started test-marketing a breakfast bowl consisting of turkey sausage, egg whites, and … kale.

It seems that McDonald’s still hasn’t decided which one service it wants to provide exceedingly well. But America will likely be watching.

TIME Germany

102-Year-Old Who Fled Nazis to Become Oldest Doctorate Recipient

German pediatrician Ingeborg Rapoport, 97, speaks during an interview in her house in Berlin
Thomas Peter—Reuters German pediatrician Ingeborg Rapoport, 97, speaks during an interview in her house in Berlin on July 3, 2009.

Ingeborg Rapoport was refused an opportunity to defend her thesis in Nazi Germany.

A 102-year-old retired neonatologist successfully defended her doctoral thesis on Wednesday, 77 years after the Nazi regime denied her the opportunity.

Ingeborg Rapoport will become the oldest person to receive a doctoral degree at a ceremony at the University of Hamburg next month, the Wall Street Journal reports. Her thesis, which she submitted in 1938, focused on diphtheria, an infectious disease that was the leading cause of death among children in Europe at the time.

Rapoport was raised a Protestant but her mother was Jewish, leading officials at the time to deem her ineligible for academic advancement. She emigrated to the United States in 1938 and eventually received an M.D. from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

TIME History

Putin’s Russia Has To Deal With the Legacy of World War II

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine.

The Soviet Union’s Victory Day, May 9, was the one Soviet holiday that belonged to everyone

Having spent my first 16 years in the Soviet Union, I grew up hearing very little about World War II and a great deal about the “Great Patriotic War”—the German invasion in June 1941 and the four-year “sacred war” that followed. The war was a centerpiece of official propaganda; but it was also a living collective memory of hardship, loss, and survival. The Soviet Union’s Victory Day, May 9, was the one Soviet holiday that belonged to everyone, even to people like my parents and grandparents who quietly hated the Soviet regime. Now, on the 70th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat, the war and the victory are a legacy that seem to divide far more than they unite—a subject of often bitter contention between Russia and its ex-Soviet neighbors, between Russia and the West, and between Kremlin-loyal “patriots” and pro-Western liberals within Russia.

Of course, the legacy of the war was never simple. In our history lessons in Soviet school, we heard about the very real heroism of Soviet men and women who fought in the Red army and in partisan guerilla units; but we did not learn that the Soviet leadership knowingly threw tens of thousands of barely trained, sometimes barely armed or fed draftees into the maw of the German war machine. We did not learn that the NKVD, Joseph Stalin’s secret police, and the dreaded military intelligence force SMERSH (an abbreviation for “death to spies”), had men marching behind regular forces ready to gun down anyone who tried to run or retreat. We were told about the perfidious German attack on the USSR—but the Soviet-German pact was glossed over, and there was no mention of the fact that Soviet troops and government officials in the path of the invasion initially fled in panicked disarray.

I learned about the other side of the Great Patriotic War from personal stories, from my parents, from clandestine foreign radio broadcasts and forbidden literature that found its way into our home. I learned that a family friend’s father was arrested and imprisoned in 1941 for “sabotaging morale” because, while listening to Stalin’s first post-invasion radio address among neighbors, he imprudently remarked that the Soviet leader’s voice sounded very sad. I learned that for millions, U.S. food aid had been essential to wartime survival. (My mother, who was five when the war started, still has fond memories of Spam.) I learned that many across the Soviet Union initially welcomed the Germans as liberators from Communism, and that most Soviet POWs bitterly fought repatriation after the war’s end—not surprisingly, since their homecoming usually ended in the gulag as punishment for the “treason” of letting themselves be captured alive.

Today, the war still haunts Russia and is, perhaps more than ever, at the center of a national mythology; but the war myth lives on in an unrecognizable world. Historical ironies abound. Who could have thought that, 70 years after the Soviet victory, a unified Germany would be a world power and the Soviet Union would be no more? Who could have imagined that in this anniversary year, the two largest former Soviet republics, Russia and Ukraine, would be at not-quite-declared war with each other—and that Germany would be the peace broker?

The disputed legacy of the war is entangled with the Russia-Ukraine conflict. In Kremlin propaganda today, the government in Kiev is routinely branded fascist or even pro-Nazi, a nest of banderovtsy—followers of Stepan Bandera, the controversial wartime Ukrainian nationalist who fought against Soviet rule and at one point allied himself with the Germans but was later imprisoned by them. Many pro-Kiev Ukrainians do, in fact, view Bandera as a hero who fought for his country’s liberation, which pro-Kremlin Russians gleefully point out as proof of Nazi sympathies. A year ago, the Russian media pounced on reports that the governor of Ukraine’s Kherson region gave a Victory Day speech hailing Hitler as a liberator from the Communist yoke. What the governor actually said was that a modern-day “aggressor”—Vladimir Putin—was seeking to encroach on Ukraine’s borders on the pretext of stopping the persecution of ethnic Russians, just as Hitler had once tried to use liberation from communism as justification for his conquests.

In Putin’s Russia, war commemorations increasingly feature tributes to the odious Stalin, a mass murderer of his own people who probably did more to lose the war than to win it: he near-fatally undermined Soviet defenses by wiping out much of the Soviet army’s officer corps in the purges of the late 1930s and ignored warnings of an imminent German attack. In my Soviet childhood, Stalin’s role in the war was barely mentioned. In recent years, Victory Day posters featuring Stalin have cropped up on billboards and buses, while television programs about have increasingly portrayed him as a wise military commander, minimizing his blunders or blaming them on his henchmen.

Debate about the war is still possible to a degree unthinkable in Soviet days; but this debate is more and more circumscribed. A dangerously vague law passed by the puppet parliament and signed by Putin last year threatens those deemed guilty of “denigrating” or “falsifying” Russia’s war history—for instance, arguing that the Soviet “liberation” of Eastern Europe was simply a different brand of subjugation—with heavy fines and up to five years’ imprisonment.

Overly pro-Western views of the war are frowned upon as well. The official Soviet and Russian narrative has always downplayed the role of the USSR’s British and American allies (if our history textbooks in school mentioned D-Day, it was a throwaway line); but today’s levels of officially cultivated hostility and paranoia may have reached an all-time high. A startlingly popular line of thought holds that England and the United States deliberately sabotaged a Russian-German alliance to preserve their geopolitical dominance. An April 23 article in the major pro-government newspaper Vzglyad (“Look”) argues that Germany’s “unification” of Europe and non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union “posed a mortal threat” to “the Anglo-Saxon project” until Hitler attacked the USSR—probably, the author insinuates, in exchange for some unspecified promises from London.

Meanwhile, Russia’s embattled liberals worry that the official Great Patriotic War cult is draining the life from genuine memories and emotions evoked by the war—and manipulating these emotions in the service of a new, domestic brand of fascism. A biting satirical poem by one of Russia’s preeminent modern writers, Dmitry Bykov, in the independent Novaya Gazeta offers a description of the Third Reich filled with in-your-face parallels to modern-day Russia: a leader hailed for reclaiming the nation’s historical lands and restoring its self-confidence; a lie-recycling state propaganda machine that targets Anglo-Saxons as the enemy; attacks on “national traitors” and on “degenerate art.” Pointing out the dismal fate of the Reich’s leaders, Bykov concludes his verse with a celebration of Victory—“the one that was, the one that’s still to come,/Though it is very, very far away.”

Putin’s Russia is not Hitler’s Germany; but the authoritarian nationalism it has embraced, with its peculiar mix of self-aggrandizement and grievance, is a danger to other nations and to itself. If this toxic ideology is to be exorcised, Russians will have to confront the complicated truths of their great war beyond the official myth.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME History

My Quest to Find the First Zero

Sunrise over Angkor Wat Temple
Getty Images

Amir D. Aczel is the author of the book Finding Zero: A Mathematician's Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers.

It's humanity’s great invention

At 1:35 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2013, in a deserted, dusty shed in a clearing in what was once a lush, dense tropical forest a few miles southeast of the imposing ancient temple of Angkor Wat in northwest Cambodia, I had a rendezvous with history.

I found myself standing in front of a long-lost archaeological artifact whose importance for the history of science could not be overstated. It had taken me five years of intense effort to find this piece of stone. After talking to experts on three continents, and trekking through jungles, arid fields, sweltering deserts, and ragged mountains in India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, I was finally here, in front of the object I had almost lost hope of ever finding.

The artifact was a 5-foot-by-3-foot stone slab weighing half a ton, with ancient writings in a lost language chiseled into its smooth face. The language was Pre-Angkorian Old Khmer, an ancient form of the language of present-day Cambodia. This stele once adorned the wall of a 7th century temple at a place called Sambor on the Mekong River, all the way across the country, and it bore a description of the gifts made to this temple from the people of the area, including a list of slaves, five pairs of oxen, and white rice for the subsistence of those who worshipped there.

But what made it so important was its date. The inscription began: “The Çaka era entered year 605 on the fifth day of the waning moon.” It was this number, 605, that was so overwhelmingly important. Because we know that the Çaka dynasty began in AD 78, we can date the artifact exactly: to the year AD 683. This makes the “0” in “605” the oldest zero ever found of our base-10, “Hindu-Arabic” number system.

Debra Gross Aczel

At least six centuries before, the Mayans of Mesoamerica had used a zero glyph in their calendrical calculations within a number system based on 18 and 20, and in the second millennium B.C. the Babylonians had employed a blank, and later another notational device, to mark a missing numeral within their base-60 number system (a relic of that ancient convention is how we measure time). But the Cambodian stone inscription bears the first known zero within the system that evolved into the numbers we use today. At this very early stage, it was represented by a wide dot rather than the familiar circle.

The zero inscription that I rediscovered in 2013 was first sighted in the Sambor temple in 1891 by Adhémar Leclère, a French colonial official. When the Cambodian National Museum was opened in 1920, it was taken and placed there on display. A French scholar named George Cœdès, who was a prolific translator of Old Khmer and Sanskrit inscriptions, studied this stele and published a groundbreaking article in which he used it to prove that the zero—the keystone to our number system—is of Asian origin, rather than European or Arab origin, as many scholars had believed at that time. Cœdès’s article established our entire understanding of the history of numbers.

For reasons that are still unclear, in 1969 the artifact was removed from the museum, and thereafter disappeared. In the mid-1970s, Cambodia came under the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge, and over several years, Pol Pot’s henchmen tortured and murdered about 2 million people and destroyed much of Cambodia’s art and cultural heritage. It has been estimated that more than 10,000 ancient statues and archaeological artifacts were purposely smashed, and many others were looted and taken out of the country—their return now a matter of negotiation between governments. Therefore, few historians believed that the stele with the first zero still existed or could be found.

One of my first memories is of numbers. My father was the captain of a cruise ship that sailed throughout the Mediterranean, often calling at Monaco, and when I was very young, a ship’s steward would sneak me into the famous Casino de Monte Carlo. There I saw magical, ornate numbers on the roulette tables: half red and half black, and one special round circle of a number alone in green. Its image was etched in my mind, and in part led me to pursue a career in numbers as a mathematician and statistician. I became obsessed with wanting to find the origins of numbers, and when I first learned of the importance of the lost inscription from Sambor, I was determined to try to find it at all costs.

On March 27, 2015, Her Excellency Phoeurng Sackona, Cambodia’s Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, received me formally in her office in Phnom Penh and gave me the welcome news that, by her personal order, the inscription bearing the zero had now been transferred to the Cambodian National Museum, where it once was, and where it belongs. Everyone will be able to see this testimony to humanity’s great invention of the place-holding decimal zero: the ingenious device that allows us to represent numbers clearly and efficiently, and to distinguish, for example, between 12, 120, and 1002.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Internet

New Google Doodle Honors Trailblazing Journalist Nellie Bly

As a reporter, she defended the poor and condemned the corrupt

While Jules Verne’s characters went “around the world in 80 days,” Nellie Bly, the pseudonym for journalist Elizabeth Cochrane, broke that record by more than a week, which is one of many reasons Google is celebrating the trailblazing reporter’s 151st birthday on Tuesday with a musical Doodle.

Bly was born in Pittsburgh on May 5, 1864, and it was a scathing “letter to the editor” to protest a misogynistic article that launched her remarkable career. Impressed by the missive’s prose, the editor for the Pittsburg Dispatch offered her a job at the paper — where Cochrane began to use the penname Nellie Bly.

She developed a reputation as a defender of the marginalized, covering slums, conditions for working girls and even getting expelled from Mexico for exposing official corruption.

In 1887, she moved to the New York World and worked under the one and only Joseph Pulitzer. Here she would reach the pinnacle of her career by writing Nellie Bly’s Book: Around the World in Seventy-Two Days. The World printed daily updates of Bly’s adventure and when she completed the final leg back from San Francisco to New York, she was saluted with brass bands and fireworks everywhere she went.

The Google Doodle features a song written by Karen O of the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs and is accompanied by an animation honoring Bly as a civil rights pioneer.

TIME Internet

New Google Doodle Celebrates International Labour Day

New Google Doodle Celebrates Labour Day

The holiday has its origins in the 19th century labor movement

It may have a different date in the U.S., but many countries around the world will be taking a public holiday Friday to celebrate the international Labour Day, and Google is marking the event with a new Doodle

Labour Day, also called International Workers’ Day or May Day, has its origins in the late 19th century labor movement. One of the most significant contributors to Labour Day was the Haymarket Massacre.

On May 4, 1886, a Chicago, Ill., bombing killed seven police officers along with four civilians. The dynamite blast was a response to the killings of peaceful demonstrators by police the day before. After the bombing, eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to death. The case created international headlines because the evidence suggested none of those eight men actually threw the bomb.

Three years later, a French socialist party created an international day to honor the labor movement and marked May 1 in commemoration of the Haymarket Massacre.

The Google Doodle honors the Labor Day origins with graphics showing traditional manual labor tools such as a wrench and tape measure.

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