09
Nov
08

On This Day, 11-9-2008: A Night Without Light

November 9, 1965

The Great Northeast Blackout

At dusk, the biggest power failure in U.S. history occurs as all of New York state, portions of seven neighboring states, and parts of eastern Canada are plunged into darkness. The Great Northeast Blackout began at the height of rush hour, delaying millions of commuters, trapping 800,000 people in New York’s subways, and stranding thousands more in office buildings, elevators, and trains. Ten thousand National Guardsmen and 5,000 off-duty policemen were called into service to prevent looting.

The blackout was caused by the tripping of a 230-kilovolt transmission line near Ontario, Canada, at 5:16 p.m., which caused several other heavily loaded lines also to fail. This precipitated a surge of power that overwhelmed the transmission lines in western New York, causing a “cascading” tripping of additional lines, resulting in the eventual breakup of the entire Northeastern transmission network. All together, 30 million people in eight U.S. states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec were affected by the blackout. During the night, power was gradually restored to the blacked-out areas, and by morning power had been restored throughout the Northeast.

On August 14, 2003 another major blackout occurred which affected most of Eastern Canada as well as most of the Eastern United States.

“The Great Northeast Blackout.” 2008. The History Channel website. 9 Nov 2008, 10:14 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5510.

On This Day

1872 – A fire destroyed about 800 buildings in Boston, MA.

1906 – U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt left for Panama to see the progress on the new canal. It was the first foreign trip by a U.S. president.

1918 – Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II announced he would abdicate. He then fled to the Netherlands.

1923 – In Munich, the Beer Hall Putsch was crushed by German troops that were loyal to the democratic government. The event began the evening before when Adolf Hitler took control of a beer hall full of Bavarian government leaders at gunpoint.

1935 – United Mine Workers president John L. Lewis and other labor leaders formed the Committee for Industrial Organization.

1961 – Major Robert White flew an X-15 rocket plane at a world record speed of 4,093 mph.

1967 – A Saturn V rocket carrying an unmanned Apollo spacecraft blasted off from Cape Kennedy on a successful test flight.

1976 – The U.N. General Assembly approved ten resolutions condemning the apartheid government in South Africa.

1989 – Communist East Germany opened its borders, allowing its citizens to travel freely to West Germany.

1990 – Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed a non-aggression treaty with Germany.

1998 – A federal judge in New York approved the richest antitrust settlement in U.S. history. A leading brokerage firm was ordered to pay $1.03 billion to investors who had sued over price-rigging of Nasdaq stocks.

November 9, 1938

Nazis launch Kristallnacht

On this day in 1938, in an event that would foreshadow the Holocaust, German Nazis launch a campaign of terror against Jewish people and their homes and businesses in Germany and Austria. The violence, which continued through November 10 and was later dubbed “Kristallnacht,” or “Night of Broken Glass,” after the countless smashed windows of Jewish-owned establishments, left approximately 100 Jews dead, 7,500 Jewish businesses damaged and hundreds of synagogues, homes, schools and graveyards vandalized. An estimated 30,000 Jewish men were arrested, many of whom were then sent to concentration camps for several months; they were released when they promised to leave Germany. Kristallnacht represented a dramatic escalation of the campaign started by Adolf Hitler in 1933 when he became chancellor to purge Germany of its Jewish population.

The Nazis used the murder of a low-level German diplomat in Paris by a 17-year-old Polish Jew as an excuse to carry out the Kristallnacht attacks. On November 7, 1938, Ernst vom Rath was shot outside the German embassy by Herschel Grynszpan, who wanted revenge for his parents’ sudden deportation from Germany to Poland, along with tens of thousands of other Polish Jews. Following vom Rath’s death, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels ordered German storm troopers to carry out violent riots disguised as “spontaneous demonstrations” against Jewish citizens. Local police and fire departments were told not to interfere. In the face of all the devastation, some Jews, including entire families, committed suicide.

In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, the Nazis blamed the Jews and fined them 1 billion marks (or $400 million in 1938 dollars) for vom Rath’s death. As repayment, the government seized Jewish property and kept insurance money owed to Jewish people. In its quest to create a master Aryan race, the Nazi government enacted further discriminatory policies that essentially excluded Jews from all aspects of public life.

Over 100,000 Jews fled Germany for other countries after Kristallnacht. The international community was outraged by the violent events of November 9 and 10. Some countries broke off diplomatic relations in protest, but the Nazis suffered no serious consequences, leading them to believe they could get away with the mass murder that was the Holocaust, in which an estimated 6 million European Jews died.

“Nazis launch Kristallnacht.” 2008. The History Channel website. 9 Nov 2008, 10:15 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52085.

On This Day in Wisconsin

1968 – Earthquake Shakes Wisconsin
On this date one of the strongest earthquakes in the central United States occurred in south-central Illinois. Measured at a magnitude of 5.3, press reports from LaCrosse, Milwaukee, Port Washington, Portage, Prairie Du Chien, and Sheboygan indicated that the shock was felt in these cities. [Source: Mid-America Earthquake Center]

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