13
Dec
08

On This Day, 12-13-2008: Nanking

December 13, 1937

The Rape of Nanking

During the Sino-Japanese War, Nanking, the capital of China, falls to Japanese forces, and the Chinese government flees to Hankow, further inland along the Yangtze River.

To break the spirit of Chinese resistance, Japanese General Matsui Iwane ordered that the city of Nanking be destroyed. Much of the city was burned, and Japanese troops launched a campaign of atrocities against civilians. In what became known as the “Rape of Nanking,” the Japanese butchered an estimated 150,000 male “war prisoners,” massacred an additional 50,000 male civilians, and raped at least 20,000 women and girls of all ages, many of whom were mutilated or killed in the process.

Shortly after the end of World War II, Matsui was found guilty of war crimes by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and executed.

“The Rape of Nanking.” 2008. The History Channel website. 13 Dec 2008, 05:12 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=5599.

1577 – Five ships under the command of Sir Francis Drake left Plymouth, England, to embark on Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe. The journey took almost three years.

1636 – The United States National Guard was created when militia regiments were organized by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

1862 – In America, an estimated 11,000 Northern soldiers were killed or wounded when Union forces were defeated by Confederates under General Robert E. Lee, at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

1944 – During World War II, the U.S. cruiser Nashville was badly damaged in a Japanese kamikaze suicide attack. 138 people were killed in the attack.

1981 – Authorities in Poland imposed martial law in an attempt to crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. Martial law ended formally in 1983.

1998 – Puerto Rican voters rejected U.S. statehood in a non-binding referendum.

2000 – U.S. Vice President Al Gore conceded the 2000 Presidential election to Texas Gov. George W. Bush. The Florida electoral votes were won by only 537 votes, which decided the election. The election had been contested up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which said that the Florida recount (supported by the Florida Supreme Court) was unconstitutional.

December 13, 1942

Goebbels complains of Italians’ treatment of Jews

On this day, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels records in his journal his contempt for the Italians’ treatment of Jews in Italian-occupied territories. “The Italians are extremely lax in their treatment of Jews. They protect Italian Jews both in Tunis and in occupied France and won’t permit their being drafted for work or compelled to wear the Star of David.”

Joseph Goebbels had made the persecution, and ultimately the extermination, of Jews a personal priority from the earliest days of the war, often recording in his diary such statements as: “They are no longer people but beasts.” “Their destruction will go hand in hand with the destruction of our enemies.” “[T]he Jews … are now being evacuated eastward. The procedure is pretty barbaric and is not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews.” It was on his recommendation that all Jews in occupied Paris be forced to wear a yellow star on the left side of their coats or jackets in order to identify and humiliate them.

His vituperative anti-Semitism, which included blaming the war itself on the Jews in a screed published in the German magazine Das Reich, could not be contained within the boundaries of Germany. He expected the same of his allies. But, truth be told, in the earliest days of fascism, Mussolini had denied any truth to the idea of a “pure” race and had counted Jews among his close colleagues-and was even a Zionist!

But with Italy’s failing fortunes militarily, Mussolini needed to stress the Italians’ “superiority” in some sense, and so began to mimic many of the racial and anti-Jewish legislation of the Nazis. Nevertheless, Mussolini never had the stomach-or the conviction-for the extremes of Goebbels, Goering, and Hitler. And certainly the majority of the Italian people never subscribed to the growing anti-Semitic rhetoric of the regime. In fact, the Italians refused to deport Jews from Italy-or from Italian-occupied Croatia or France-to Auschwitz.

The majority of Italians’ courage to reject the worst of fascist ideology–its anti-Semitism–remains one bright spot in Italy’s otherwise appalling World War II record.

“Goebbels complains of Italians’ treatment of Jews.” 2008. The History Channel website. 13 Dec 2008, 05:11 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6642.

On This Day in Wisconsin: December 13

1864 – Emil Seidel Born
On this date Emil Seidel was born in Ashland, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Wisconsin when he was a child. As a young man he lived in Germany where he trained as a woodcarver. While in Germany, Seidel became a socialist and when he returned to the United States he joined the Socialist Party of America. He settled in Milwaukee and in 1904 Seidel and eight other socialists were elected as city aldermen. In 1910, the Socialist Party in Milwaukee selected Seidel as their candidate for mayor. With the support of Victor Berger’s newspaper, the Milwaukee Leader, and the city’s large German-born population, Seidel became the first socialist mayor of a major city in the United States. One of Seidel’s achievements was to introduce the country’s first worker’s compensation program in 1911. Other initiatives included adult and worker education classes and free medical and dental examinations for school children. Emil Seidel also served as a city alderman from 1916 to 1920 and again from 1932 to 1936. He died on 24th June, 1947. [Source: University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Archives]

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