Archives For History

restored Spanish colonial houses in Havana

Water trucks, like the one on the left, are a common sight in Cuba, there to provide fresh water where infrastructure isn’t working or is simply not available.

There’s only so much you can learn about a city in a day, but what struck me most in Havana was the stark difference between the tourist zone and what lay beyond its invisible borders.

Old Havana is the heart of the tourist district, a collection of beautiful narrow streets stained with age and disrepair and lined mainly with two-floor colonial-era houses, many with slender balconies wide enough for hanging clothes to dry and watching the street bustle below.

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taxi driver looks at camera through rear view mirror

I had a remarkable and revealing exchange with a Cuban taxi driver when I was in Santiago, Chile last September. With today’s news about the re-establishing of relations between the United States and Cuba, I thought it a good time to post this.

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young man stands in front of historial Berlin Wall photo outdoors

Franz Hildebrandt-Harangozo at the Berlin Wall memorial trail on Bernauer Strasse, September 2014.

It signalled the end of the Cold War and cleared the way for German reunification, but for a generation of young people born after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, its impact is first and foremost a family affair.

Read the full article on The Local Germany, here.

This mini-documentary originally aired on DW’s (Deutsche Welle) Inside Europe on November 2, 2014. It is a radio version of a story I reported for Deutsche Welle online (DW.de).

One of Germany’s oldest music publishing houses marked its official return to Leipzig in October, more than 75 years after its owner, Henri Hinrichsen and his family, lost nearly everything in the Holocaust. His granddaughter, Martha Hinrichsen, born in New York, never thought she’d live to see it happen. Tomas Urbina went to meet her at the publishing house home in Leipzig.

woman in her sixties stands in front of wrought iron gate

Martha Hinrichsen, granddaughter of Henri Hinrichsen, at the ‘Florentine’ gate of her grandfather’s former home and music publishing house in Leipzig, October 2014.

Dispossessed of his famous company, Jewish music publisher Henri Hinrichsen was put to death in Auschwitz. His grandchildren can finally celebrate the return to Leipzig of his Edition Peters – more than 75 years later.

Read the full article on Deutsche Welle (DW), here.

a run down country estate

The Haus am Bogensee, north of Berlin. Source: Flickr user Stadtkatze (https://www.flickr.com/photos/stadtkatze/7085231647).

After two failed attempts, Berlin is trying again to sell the sprawling estate and villa once known as Joseph Goebbels’ illicit love nest, but so far, nobody’s buying.

The address of the former villa of Hitler’s propaganda minister is as misleading as it is revealing.

Number One, Friendship Place, northeast of Berlin, is thought to have been where Joseph Goebbels produced some of his most virulent speeches against Jews. But it’s also where Goebbels wooed the starlets of the Berlin’s Babelsberg film studios.

Read the full article on The Local Germany, here.

young people visit Berlin Wall memorial

A collection of audio clips on the construction of the Berlin Wall that became a short article.

Read the full article on The Local Germany, here.

Franco Urbina standing in a dimly lit corridor
Photo: My father, Francisco Urbina, in the corridors under the seats of 
Santiago's National Stadium, where thousands of political prisoners were held.

Radio: Black Box – breaking the silence of my father’s past

Last September, Chile marked the 40th anniversary of the military coup that toppled elected Marxist President Salvador Allende, on September 11, 1973. The coup led to 17 years of brutal dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet that deeply affected so many families, like my own.

The anniversary gave me chance to talk to my father about what had happened to him during that dark time, something he’d never talked about before with anyone.

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Juan Guzman stands on a street corner wearing sunglasses

My afternoon with the judge who put Pinochet on trial

The morning had been eventful enough. I’d just finished double-ending an interview for CBC radio’s The Sunday Edition and then conducted my own with former judge Juan Guzmán, the Chilean judge who prosecuted Pinochet for crimes against humanity in Chile. As our interview wrapped up, I made an off-hand comment that set me up for an amazing afternoon.

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a screen grab of an article from cbc.ca

Behind the article: Chile on the 40th anniversary of the coup

The image above is of an article I wrote for the CBC News website while in Santiago, Chile for the 40th anniversary of the country’s military coup, on September 11.

What struck me while I was there was the feeling of being in the midst of a month-long period of national catharsis, both of the people and of the country’s media outlets, an opening of wounds that were never given a chance to heal and a telling of stories that had never before been heard. And they poured out.

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