Daily Archives: May 12, 2015

Richard Sorge



Sorge was born in Baku in 1895. Azerbaijan was then part of the Russian Empire. Sorge was ethnically German. He grew up fluent in German and Russian. His name in German means ”worry”. A memorial there commemorates him. Sorge joined the Bolshevik Party. Richard Sorge was part of the Russian Revolution. He was clever, devious and a gifted linguist.

He posed as a journalist. He moved around Europe spying for the Soviet Union.

In the 1930s he spied on Germany. The Soviet Government were worried that the German Government – led by A. Hitler – would invade the Soviet Union. Sorge was able to inform Moscow of German plans.

Sorge moved to Japan under a false identity. He spied on the Japanese and was able to warn the Soviets of Japanese plans. Sorge learnt that the Japanese would not attack the Soviet Far East unless Moscow fell. Stalin then felt it safe to transfer troops from the Soviet Far East to Europe. This helped save Moscow.

He was made a hero of the Soviet Union.

The Japanese eventually caught Sorge and convicted him of espionage. He was held in prison in ghastly conditions. In 1943 he was executed by hanging.


1. When was Sorge born?

2. In which city was he born?

3. What was his ethnicity?

4. What was his political conviction?

5. What job did he pretend to do in the 1920s?

6. In which Far Eastern land did he spy?

7. How did he die?

8. What honour was he given?

9. How did he help save Moscow?

10. What do you make of him?

Martin Luther King.


Martin Luther King Junior.

Dr King was born in the United States in 1928. His father was a minister of religion. Ministers of religion were often seen as the leaders of the African-American community. African-Americans almost never rose to other prominent positions in those days due to discrimination. It was almost impossible for them to be Congressmen, generals or judges.

His first name was Martin Luther. His father was also named Martin Luther King. Therefore the man who is the subject of this article was known as Martin Luther King Junior. The word junior is to distinguish him from his father. His surname was King. He went to university at the age of 16 and did very well. He completed a PhD which is why he is known as Doctor. He was ordained as a Baptist minister. People sometimes called him ‘Reverend’ which is a respectful title for a religious leader.

Dr King led a congregation in Alabama in the 1950s. He was saddened and incensed by the mistreatment of African-Americans. Almost 100 years after the abolition of the slavery African- Americans were still heavily discriminated against. Anti-black attitudes were widespread among whites. In the southern states there were Jim Crow laws. These banned black people from certain jobs. Inter racial marriage was forbidden. The two races had to be separate in public facilities. African-Americans in the southern states found it almost impossible to vote. The constitution prohibited states from preventing people voting on the grounds of colour. White officials would find excuses to prevent the African-American populace from voting. African-Americans who tried to exercise their democratic rights were terrorised by the Ku Klux Klan. The authorities would invent grandfather clauses. In order to be allowed to vote one had to be able to prove that one’s grandfather has exercised this right. This was usually impossible for African Americans. This clause was seldom enforced against whites. Sometimes there was a poll tax – only people earning above a certain amount and eligible for this tax were suffered to vote. There was another strategy used to deprive black people of their democratic entitlements. States would invent a literacy test and only those with a sufficiently high level of literacy or constitutional knowledge would be allowed to cast a vote. In practice this was only enforced against those of African stock. Many whites would have failed this test particularly the racialists.

Dr King has an incredibly melodic and mighty speaking voice. There was a compelling rising and falling cadence to his orations. He managed to energise and inspire his audiences. His mesmeric voice became recognised by millions in the United States and abroad.

Dr King led protests to de-segregate public transport and schools. The police would often arrest Dr King and his followers. He spent brief periods in prison. Dr King preached against using violence. Dr King received hate mail. His property was vandalised. Racists verbally abused him on the street. In the middle of the night he received menacing phone calls. In those days there was no caller ID. White supremacists sent him death threats but he did not back down.

In the northern states many whites became increasingly sympathetic to the plight of blacks in the South. The KKK’s murders were exposed. The Ku Klux Klan set off a bomb in Dr King’s church and murdered four little children. The murder of these girls was widely publicised. It was a barbarous act that

Some Southern white politicians signed a document called the Southern Manifesto. It said that no change should be made in race relations. All but three Southern Congressmen signed. One of those who refused to sign was Lyndon Baines Johnson who was a Texas Congressman.

The US Presidents after the war all gradually ended racial discrimination. Dr King pressed them to do more and do it faster. Lyndon Baines Johnson became president in 1963. He has the Voting Rights Act passed. President Johnson wanted King to speak out in favour of military action in Vietnam. Dr King refused to do so. He said fighting in Vietnam was neither necessary or moral.

In 1968 Dr King went to help at a demonstration by poor workers who were seeking higher wages. Dr King was shot dead. Riots erupted across the United States. A white supremacist named James Earl Ray convicted of Dr King’s murder.

James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to murder in a plea bargain. This way he avoided death by electric chair. He later retracted his confession. He claimed he was innocent and only said he was guilty because he was terrified of being electrocuted. His conviction was never overturned. Ray wrote to Dexter King, the son of Martin Luther King. Dexter visited Ray in prison and became convinced that this man was innocent. Nevertheless Ray remained in prison until the day he died in 1998.


1. When was Dr King born?

2. WHat was his first name?

3. In which country was he born?

4. Why was he known as doctor?

5. What was his job?

6. What was the situation of African Americans in the 1950s?

7. What did people do to Dr King to try to stop him leading the Civil Rights Movement?

8. What did President Johnson do?

9. How did Dr King die?

10. What is your opinion of him? (6)

The American Mafia from the 1930s onwards.


In 1922 the Fascist Party took office in Italy. There were many bad things about the Fascists but they were effective in cracking down on the Mafia. The America Mafia found their ties with the Italian Mafia were weakened. Many Italian Mafiosi moved to the United States at this time.

The Mafia made huge amounts of money in the 1920s due to selling illegal alcohol. The Mafia often invested this in legitimate businesses.

In 1933 President Roosevelt persuaded Congress to repeal the Prohibition Act. This meant that alcohol was legal again. The Mafia lost a lucrative source of income. The Mafia continued to make money through armed robberies, protection rackets and other crimes.

In 1941 Italy declared war on the United States. Most Mafiosi were strongly anti-Fascist. This was not for political reasons but because Mussolini had beaten them in Italy.

In 1943 the United States prepared to invade Sicily. The US GOvernment spoke to some Mafiosi in prison in the United States. These Mafia leaders agreed to speak to their Mafia friends in Italy. The Mafia in Italy was willing to help the US Army conquer Italy in return for Mafia dons being released from prison in the United States. The US invasion of Sicily was quite easy. This is partly because the Mafia there assisted the US Army and persuaded many Italian soldiers to surrender without a fight. The US honoured its promise. Mafia leaders were set free from American prisons in return for going back to Italy.

After the Second World War the American Mafia resumed its activities. Because it was now easy to travel between the United States and Italy the Mafia became more powerful. Moreover, the postwar Italian Government was weak. The Communist Party in Italy was strong and won 25% of the vote. The US Government was very worried that Communists might win office in Italy. The US Government was willing to co-operate with anyone including the Mafia to thwart the Communists. The Mafia in Italy regained influence that they had not had for decades.

The Mafia in Italy started smuggling heroin to the United States. The Mafia on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean started to grow wealth again from this illicit trade.

In the late 1940s Las Vegas opened many casinos and hotels. The Mafia bought many of these enterprises. It was a way to invest illegal money and also a means of laundering money. The Mafia also bought many properties in Cuba.

The Mafia moved from strength to strength through the 1950s. In 1959 Communists took power in Cuba. The Mafia had all their properties their confiscated. In the 1960s the US Government under Kennedy made a major drive to defeat the Mafia. There were quite a few successful prosecutions. The FBI placed informers inside the Mafia.

In the 1970s President Nixon declared war on drugs. The Mafia’s involvement in drug trafficking meant that the FBI and the  Drug Enforcement Agency went to great lengths to put Mafia dons behind bars. Armed robberies were no longer easy. There were increasingly sophisticated anti robbery strategies used by banks. Even in the drugs trade the Mafia was pushed out by other groups. Black gangs, Colombian gangs and Cuban gangs started to defeat the Mafia.

In the 1980s some major Mafia organisations were defeated. By the 1990s the last of the notorious Mafia kingpins was busted. John Gotti – once called the Teflon Don – was sentenced to life imprisonment.


1. What was Prohibition?

2. Which president abolished Prohibition?

3. Why did the Mafia hate Fascism?

4. What is special about Las Vegas/

5. What role did the Mafia play in the US invasion of Italy?

6. Why did the Mafia enjoy a resurgence in the late 1940s?

7. Why did the Mafia lose their properties in Cuba?

8. Why did the Mafia decline from the 1960s onwards?

9. Who declared war on drugs?

10. What do you think of this organisation? (6)

Mercedes G-класс.


Mercedes G-класс.

Это автомобиль, и он очень красивый!  Буква G в его названии, является сокращением слова gelandwagen что в переводе с немецкого означает “внедорожник”. Этот  автомобиль повышенной проходимости по пересеченной местности.

Впервые автомобиль  был изготовлен в Австрии, а  с 1979 года он собирается немецкий автомобильной компанией Mercedes -Benz. Карл Бенц основал свою компанию более 100 лет назад,  и назвал ее в честь своей дочери Mercedes.

Характерные черты автомобиля – прямоугольные очертания кузова и его рамная конструкция. Первоначально это был военный автомобиль, а  сейчас существует  также его  гражданская версия.

Mercedes G-класс,  довольно дорогой  спортивный внедорожник. Он безопасный и комфортный.

Это автомобиль с постоянным полным приводом и двигателем в передней части.


  1. Что такое Mercedes G класс?
  2. Что означает G в названии автомобиля?
  3. Какая страна производит данный автомобиль?
  4. Где он впервые был собран?
  5. Каково было его первоначальное назначение?
  6. Чем  хорош этот автомобиль?
  7. Ездили ли  вы на этом автомобиле?
  8. Вам нравится этот автомобиль?

Gucci po Ruski (Gucci.)



Известный модный бренд Gucci, был основан человеком по имени Гуччио Гуччи в 1921 году. Будучи итальянцем, Гуччи  основал свою компанию во Флоренции. Трое сыновей Гуччио Гуччи также вошли в семейный бизнес.
Gucci продает одежду и товары класса люкс. Годовой оборот Gucci составляет около $ 5 000 000 000, но имейте в виду, что это не только прибыль! Есть еще затраты на ведение бизнеса.
Марка Gucci уже давно популярна в Западной Европе и Северной Америке. Также в других частях мира были открыты роскошные магазины этой марки. Gucci имеет несколько магазинов в бывших советских республиках, таких как Казахстан. Все больше магазинов Gucci открывается на Дальнем Востоке.
Грейс Мугабе – Первая леди Зимбабве. Ее страсть к дорогой одежде и сумках привела к тому, что она была прозвана ее врагами Гуччи Грейс. Некоторые люди завидуют тем, кто может позволить себе одежду от Gucci. Одни из самых известных товаров от Gucci – это шарфы, куртки и ремни.
Gucci является самой продаваемой итальянской маркой. Марка Gucci является символом богатства и элегантности. Люди готовы платить большие деньги за товары от Gucci .
Компания Gucci озабочена подделкой своей продукции, таким образом, люди, продающие подделки, крадут у Gucci доли на рынках сбыта.

1. Когда была основана компания Gucci?
2. Как звали г-на Гуччи?
3. В каком городе была основана эта компания?
4. Кто был по национальности Гуччи?
5. Сколько сыновей у Гуччио Гуччи?
6. Перечислите наиболее известные товары от Gucci?
7. Кто такая Гуччи Грейс?
8. Каков годовой доход Gucci?
9. Назовите шесть стран, в которых есть магазины Gucci.
10. Что вы думаете о Gucci?

Al Capone



Alphonse Capone was born in New York in 1899. His parents have migrated from Italy. He became known as Al Capone. He did not pronounce the ‘e’ on the end of his name because that would emphasise his Italian parentage. Capone was one of eight children in a working class family.

There was quite a lot of anti-Italian prejudice at the time. Much of this was straightforward racism. To some extent it was due to the Mafia.

Al Capone dropped out of school as a teenager. He worked as a barman. He soon got involved in the Five Points Gang. This gang took its name for a place in New York where five roads came together: five points. Capone was involved in robberies and controlling prostitutes. This supplemented his meagre income as a barman.

Capone had an Irish girlfriend: Mae Coughlin. They had a baby. A few weeks after their baby was born they married. Some Italian-Americans disapproved of Capone marrying someone who was not of Italian stock. He was involved in a fight which had him stabbed in the face. He was known as scar face. He was sensitive about this and tried to hide the wound.

In 1919 the United States outlawed most alcohol. Al Capone and his comrades saw an opportunity. They could make money from selling illegal alcohol. The gang soon stopped armed robberies and devoted themselves to selling alcohol. This was a less risky business and more lucrative.

In the early 1920s Capone started to grow rich. He also moved up in the pecking order of the Five Points Gang. Police officers and judges could usually be bought off. The policemen in New York were often Irish. The Irish saw drinking as totally acceptable and they were reluctant to enforce the law against something they saw as innocent.

Other gangs were also selling alcohol. There were rows between the gangs about who could sell and where. Capone authorised the murders of rival gangsters. The situation became too dangerous for Capone in New York. He moved to Chicago in the mid 1920s.

Capone set up the same bootleg business in Chicago. He was a multi millionaire by modern standards. He had alcohol made illegally in the United States. He organised alcohol to be smuggled in from Canada across the lake. Canadian whiskey and Canada Dry Gin were very popular. He ran illegal bars called speakeasies. He donated a lot of money to Mayor Thompson. The Mayor of Chicago guaranteed Capone that he would run his business without interference from the police.

Capone lived lavishly. He tipped generously. He gave money to the church. He also ordered the murders of men in gangs who intruded on what he said was his territory. Everyone knew how he made his money. It could not be proved. No one would testify against him. He was widely reported in the newspaper. He loved publicity.

In the late 1920s a woman at the Justice Department had an idea about how to tackle organised crime. She suggested they prosecute gangsters for tax evasion. This idea seemed daft at first but Federal prosecutors were persuaded to go with it.

In the early 1930s the Federal Government prosecuted Capone for non payment of Federal taxes. There were receipts for the properties he had bought, the clothes, the cars, the jewellery etc… He had millions of dollars but had not paid a cent of tax in years. The evidence was so strong that he was convicted of millions of dollars of tax evasion. In 1934 he was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.

At first Capone took it in his stride. He was confident he could win on appeal. He was sent to prison but first of all managed to bribe the prison governor and guards into giving him special treatment. Then he was moved to a prison very far from Chicago. This was Alcatraz. Alcatraz is an island off San Francisco. The governor was an extremely honest man and refused bribes and so did the guards. Capone tried to impress the other prisoners by ordering the guards about. Capone was put in the punishment cell. Capone discovered he was treated like other prisoners. Other prisoners started to mock him for now being powerless.

Capone was depressed. He has lost everything. He was also losing his mind. He had contracted a disease called syphilis. This attacks the nervous system and causes insanity. Capone became mentally ill. After a few years he was a broken man. He was released on grounds of ill health in 1942. He retired to Florida. He lived quietly and died in 1947.