Posts Tagged ‘Germany

28
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-28-08: World War I

Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia

On July 28, 1914, one month to the day after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were killed by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, effectively beginning the First World War.

Threatened by Serbian ambition in the tumultuous Balkans region of Europe, Austria-Hungary determined that the proper response to the assassinations was to prepare for a possible military invasion of Serbia. After securing the unconditional support of its powerful ally, Germany, Austria-Hungary presented Serbia with a rigid ultimatum on July 23, 1914, demanding, among other things, that all anti-Austrian propaganda within Serbia be suppressed, and that Austria-Hungary be allowed to conduct its own investigation into the archduke’s killing. Though Serbia effectively accepted all of Austria’s demands except for one, the Austrian government broke diplomatic relations with the other country on July 25 and went ahead with military preparedness measures. Meanwhile, alerted to the impending crisis, Russia—Serbia’s own mighty supporter in the Balkans—began its own initial steps towards military mobilization against Austria.

In the days following the Austrian break in relations with Serbia, the rest of Europe, including Russia’s allies, Britain and France, looked on with trepidation, fearing the imminent outbreak of a Balkans conflict that, if entered into by Russia, threatened to explode into a general European war. The British Foreign Office lobbied its counterparts in Berlin, Paris and Rome with the idea of an international convention aimed at moderating the conflict; the German government, however, was set against this notion, and advised Vienna to go ahead with its plans.

On July 28, 1914, after a decision reached conclusively the day before in response to pressure from Germany for quick action—apart from Kaiser Wilhelm II, who by some accounts still saw the possibility of a peaceful diplomatic resolution to the conflict, but was outmaneuvered by the more hawkish military and governmental leadership of Germany—Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. In response, Russia formally ordered mobilization in the four military districts facing Galicia, its common front with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. That night, Austrian artillery divisions initiated a brief, ineffectual bombardment of Belgrade across the Danube River.

“My darling one and beautiful, everything tends towards catastrophe and collapse,” British naval official Winston Churchill wrote to his wife at midnight on July 29. He was proven right over the next several days. On August 1, after its demands for Russia to halt mobilization met with defiance, Germany declared war on Russia. Russia’s ally, France, ordered its own general mobilization that same day, and on August 3, France and Germany declared war on each other. The German army’s planned invasion of neutral Belgium, announced on August 4, prompted Britain to declare war on Germany. Thus, in the summer of 1914, the major powers in the Western world—with the exception of the United States and Italy, both of which declared their neutrality, at least for the time being—flung themselves headlong into the First World War.

“Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.” 2008. The History Channel website. 27 Jul 2008, 02:09 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=828.

The Russians mobilized faster than the Germans had counted on, causing Germany to withdraw important elements of its army from attacking France thus dooming the attack on France to failure and forced the Germans into a two-front war.  World War I as it is now known destroyed the great monarchies of Europe, cost millions of lives, bankrupted empires and elevated Serbia to an almost mythical status of being the little nation that will eventually bring about Armageddon.

 

On This Day

1540 – King Henry VIII’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, was executed. The same day, Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

1794 – Maximilien Robespierre was sent to the guillotine. He was a leading figure in the French Revolution.

1821 – Peru declared its independence from Spain.

1866 – The metric system was legalized by the U.S. Congress for the standardization of weights and measures throughout the United States.

1868 – The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was declared in effect. The amendment guaranteed due process of law.

1945 – A U.S. Army bomber crashed into the 79th floor of New York City’s Empire State Building. 14 people were killed and 26 were injured.

1965 – U.S. President Johnson announced he was increasing the number of American troops in South Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000.

1998 – Serbian military forces seized the Kosovo town of Malisevo.

1998 – Monica Lewinsky received blanket immunity from prosecution to testify before a grand jury about her relationship with U.S. President Clinton.

 

 

Bonus Marchers evicted by U.S. Army

During the Great Depression, President Herbert Hoover orders the U.S. Army under General Douglas MacArthur to evict by force the Bonus Marchers from the nation’s capital.

Two months before, the so-called “Bonus Expeditionary Force,” a group of some 1,000 World War I veterans seeking cash payments for their veterans’ bonus certificates, had arrived in Washington, D.C. Most of the marchers were unemployed veterans in desperate financial straits. In June, other veteran groups spontaneously made their way to the nation’s capital, swelling the Bonus Marchers to nearly 20,000 strong. Camping in vacant government buildings and in open fields made available by District of Columbia Police Chief Pelham D. Glassford, they demanded passage of the veterans’ payment bill introduced by Representative Wright Patman.

While awaiting a vote on the issue, the veterans conducted themselves in an orderly and peaceful fashion, and on June 15 the Patman bill passed in the House of Representatives. However, two days later, its defeat in the Senate infuriated the marchers, who refused to return home. In an increasingly tense situation, the federal government provided money for the protesters’ trip home, but 2,000 refused the offer and continued to protest. On July 28, President Herbert Hoover ordered the army to evict them forcibly. General MacArthur’s men set their camps on fire, and the veterans were driven from the city. Hoover, increasingly regarded as insensitive to the needs of the nation’s many poor, was much criticized by the public and press for the severity of his response.

“Bonus Marchers evicted by U.S. Army.” 2008. The History Channel website. 27 Jul 2008, 02:25 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5215.

Worst modern earthquake

At 3:42 a.m., an earthquake measuring between 7.8 and 8.2 magnitude on the Richter scale flattens Tangshan, a Chinese industrial city with a population of about one million people. As almost everyone was asleep in their beds, instead of outside in the relative safety of the streets, the quake was especially costly in terms of human life. An estimated 242,000 people in Tangshan and surrounding areas were killed, making the earthquake one of the deadliest in recorded history, surpassed only by the 300,000 who died in the Calcutta earthquake in 1737, and the 830,000 thought to have perished in China’s Shaanxi province in 1556.

The Chinese government was ill-prepared for a disaster of this scale. The day following the quake, helicopters and planes began dropping food and medicine into the city. Some 100,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army were ordered to Tangshan, and many had to march on foot from Jinzhou, a distance of more than 180 miles. About 30,000 medical personnel were called in, along with 30,000 construction workers. The Chinese government, boasting self-sufficiency, refused all offers of foreign relief aid. In the crucial first week after the crisis, many died from lack of medical care. Troops and relief workers lacked the kind of heavy rescue training necessary to efficiently pull survivors from the rubble. Looting was also epidemic. More than 160,000 families were left homeless, and more than 4,000 children were orphaned.

Tangshan was eventually rebuilt with adequate earthquake precautions. Today, nearly two million people live there. There is speculation that the death toll from the 1976 quake was much higher than the official Chinese government figure of 242,000. Some Chinese sources have spoken privately of more than 500,000 deaths.

“Worst modern earthquake.” 2008. The History Channel website. 27 Jul 2008, 02:43 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6972.

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07
May
08

On This Day, 5-7-08: Germany Surrenders

Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies at Reims

On this day in 1945, the German High Command, in the person of General Alfred Jodl, signs the unconditional surrender of all German forces, East and West, at Reims, in northwestern France.

At first, General Jodl hoped to limit the terms of German surrender to only those forces still fighting the Western Allies. But General Dwight Eisenhower demanded complete surrender of all German forces, those fighting in the East as well as in the West. If this demand was not met, Eisenhower was prepared to seal off the Western front, preventing Germans from fleeing to the West in order to surrender, thereby leaving them in the hands of the enveloping Soviet forces. Jodl radioed Grand Admiral Karl Donitz, Hitler’s successor, with the terms. Donitz ordered him to sign. So with Russian General Ivan Susloparov and French General Francois Sevez signing as witnesses, and General Walter Bedell Smith, Ike’s chief of staff, signing for the Allied Expeditionary Force, Germany was-at least on paper-defeated. Fighting would still go on in the East for almost another day. But the war in the West was over.

Since General Susloparov did not have explicit permission from Soviet Premier Stalin to sign the surrender papers, even as a witness, he was quickly hustled back East-into the hands of the Soviet secret police, never to be heard from again. Alfred Jodl, who was wounded in the assassination attempt on Hitler on July 20, 1944, would be found guilty of war crimes (which included the shooting of hostages) at Nuremberg and hanged on October 16, 1946-then granted a pardon, posthumously, in 1953, after a German appeals court found Jodl not guilty of breaking international law.

“Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies at Reims.” 2008. The History Channel website. 7 May 2008, 12:36 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6446.

1274 – The Second Council of Lyons opened in France to regulate the election of the pope.

1429 – The English siege of Orleans was broken by Joan of Arc.

1525 – The German peasants’ revolt was crushed by the ruling class and church.

1912 – The first airplane equipped with a machine gun flew over College Park, MD.

1915 – The Lusitania, a civilian ship, was sunk by a German submarine. 1,198 people were killed.

1937 – The German Condor Legion arrived in Spain to assist Franco’s forces.

1939 – Germany and Italy announced a military and political alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.

1942 – In the Battle of the Coral Sea, Japanese and American navies attacked each other with carrier planes. It was the first time in the history of naval warfare where two enemy fleets fought without seeing each other.

1946 – Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corp. was founded. The company was later renamed Sony.

1954 – The United States and the United Kingdom rejected the Soviet Union’s bid to join NATO.

1958 – Howard Johnson set an aircraft altitude record in F-104.

1975 – U.S. President Ford declared an end to the Vietnam War.

1977 – Rookie Janet Guthrie set the fastest time on opening day of practice for the Indianapolis 500. Her time was 185.607.

1984 – A $180 million out-of-court settlement was announced in the Agent Orange class-action suit brought by Vietnam veterans who claimed they had suffered injury from exposure to the defoliant while serving in the armed forces.

1992 – A 203-year-old proposed constitutional amendment barring the U.S. Congress from giving itself a midterm pay raise was ratified as the 27th Amendment.

1997 – A report released by the U.S. government said that Switzerland provided Nazi Germany with equipment and credit during World War II. Germany exchanged for gold what had been plundered or stolen. Switzerland did not comply with postwar agreements to return the gold.

1999 – In Belgrade, Yugoslavia, three Chinese citizens were killed and 20 were wounded when a NATO plane mistakenly bombed the Chinese embassy.

 

French defeated at Dien Bien Phu

In northwest Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh forces decisively defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu, a French stronghold besieged by the Vietnamese communists for 57 days. The Viet Minh victory at Dien Bien Phu signaled the end of French colonial influence in Indochina and cleared the way for the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel at the conference of Geneva.

“French defeated at Dien Bien Phu.” 2008. The History Channel website. 7 May 2008, 12:26 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4981.

Pontiac’s plot is foiled

On this day in 1763, Major Henry Gladwin, British commander of Fort Detroit, foils Ottawa Chief Pontiac’s attempt at a surprise attack. Romantic lore holds that Gladwin’s Seneca mistress informed him of the western Indians’ plans for an uprising.

When Pontiac arrived at the fort with his men, who were concealing weapons under their trading blankets, they discovered that Gladwin had assembled his men and prepared them for a defense of the fort. Knowing that, without the element of surprise, their efforts would not be successful, Pontiac withdrew and instead laid siege to the fort for the rest of the summer, while his allies successfully seized 10 of 13 British forts in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions by June 20. The western Indians’ efforts to unite all Native Americans in an attempt to free themselves of addictions to European trade goods and alcohol, guided by their spiritual leader, a Delaware named Neolin, seemed to be succeeding. However, the French failed to come to the Indians’ aid in driving the British back to the Atlantic as hoped, dooming the rebellion.

“Pontiac’s plot is foiled.” 2008. The History Channel website. 7 May 2008, 12:28 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=615.

12
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-12-08: Anschluss

Germany annexes Austria

On March 12, 1938, German troops march into Austria to annex the German-speaking nation for the Third Reich.

In early 1938, Austrian Nazis conspired for the second time in four years to seize the Austrian government by force and unite their nation with Nazi Germany. Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg, learning of the conspiracy, met with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in the hopes of reasserting his country’s independence but was instead bullied into naming several top Austrian Nazis to his cabinet. On March 9, Schuschnigg called a national vote to resolve the question of Anschluss, or “annexation,” once and for all. Before the plebiscite could take place, however, Schuschnigg gave in to pressure from Hitler and resigned on March 11. In his resignation address, under coercion from the Nazis, he pleaded with Austrian forces not to resist a German “advance” into the country.

The next day, March 12, Hitler accompanied German troops into Austria, where enthusiastic crowds met them. Hitler appointed a new Nazi government, and on March 13 the Anschluss was proclaimed. Austria existed as a federal state of Germany until the end of World War II, when the Allied powers declared the Anschluss void and reestablished an independent Austria. Schuschnigg, who had been imprisoned soon after resigning, was released in 1945. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4830

Public Notice urges recognition of “humane ladies”

On this day in 1776, in Baltimore, Maryland, a public notice appears in local papers recognizing the sacrifice of women to the cause of the revolution. The notice urged others to recognize women’s contributions and announced, “The necessity of taking all imaginable care of those who may happen to be wounded in the country’s cause, urges us to address our humane ladies, to lend us their kind assistance in furnishing us with linen rags and old sheeting, for bandages….” On and off the battlefield, women were known to support the revolutionary cause by providing nursing assistance. But donating bandages and sometimes applying them was only one form of aid provided by the women of the new United States. From the earliest protests against British taxation, women’s assent and labor was critical to the success of the cause. The boycotts that united the colonies against British taxation required female participation far more than male—in fact, the men designing the non-importation agreements generally chose to boycott products used mostly by women.

Tea and cloth are perhaps the best examples of these products. While most schoolchildren have read of the men who dressed as Mohawk Indians and dumped large volumes of tea into Boston Harbor as a form of opposition to the hated Tea Act, few realize that women–not men–drank most of the tea in colonial America. Samuel Adams and his friends may have dumped the tea in the harbor, but they were far more likely to drink rum than tea when they returned to their homes. Conveniently, their actions served to deprive their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters, not themselves. The colonists only resorted to an attempted boycott of rum in 1774, after Britain had closed the port of Boston.

Similarly, when John Adams and other men in power thought it best to stop importing fine British fabrics with which to make their clothing during the protests of the late 1760s, it had little impact on their daily lives. Wearing homespun cloth may not have been as comfortable nor look as refined as their regular clothing, but it was Abigail and other colonial wives and homemakers, not John and his fellow men, who were forced to spend hours spinning clothes to create their families’ wardrobes.

Thus, in 1776, when Abigail begged John to “remember the ladies” while drafting the U.S. Constitution, she was not begging a favor, but demanding payment of an enduring debt. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=308

1496 – Jews were expelled from Syria.

1755 – In North Arlington, NJ, the steam engine was used for the first time.

1789 – The U.S. Post Office was established.

1884 – The State of Mississippi authorized the first state-supported college for women. It was called the Mississippi Industrial Institute and College.

1894 – Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time.

1903 – The Czar of Russia issued a decree providing for nominal freedom of religion throughout his territory.

1904 – After 30 years of drilling, the tunnel under the Hudson River was completed. The link was between Jersey City, NJ, and New York, NY.

1909 – Three U.S. warships were ordered to Nicaragua to stem the conflict with El Salvador.

1923 – Dr. Lee DeForest demonstrated phonofilm. It was his technique for putting sound on motion picture film.

1930 – Ghandi began his 200-mile march to the sea that symbolized his defiance of British rule over India.

1940 – Finland surrendered to Russia ending the Russo-Finnish War.

1985 – Former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon announced that he planned to drop Secret Service protection and hire his own bodyguards in an effort to lower the deficit by $3 million.

1989 – About 2,500 veterans and supporters marched at the Art Institute of Chicago to demand that officials remove an American flag placed on the floor as part of an exhibit.

1999 – Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic became members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). All three countries were members of the former Warsaw Pact.

2003 – In Utah, Elizabeth Smart was reunited with her family nine months after she was abducted from her home. She had been taken on June 5, 2002, by a drifter that had previously worked at the Smart home.

Truman Doctrine is announced

In a dramatic speech to a joint session of Congress, President Harry S. Truman asks for U.S. assistance for Greece and Turkey to forestall communist domination of the two nations. Historians have often cited Truman’s address, which came to be known as the Truman Doctrine, as the official declaration of the Cold War. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2604

1930: Gandhi leads civil disobedience

In his boldest act of civil disobedience against British rule in India to date, Mahatma Gandhi begins a long march to the sea in protest of the British salt tax. Joined by thousands of protesters, Gandhi and his followers eventually reached the Arabian Sea, where they made their own salt by evaporating sea water. The march, which resulted in the arrest of Gandhi and 60,000 others, earned new international respect and support for the leader and his movement. Gandhi’s nonviolent methods, including dramatic hunger strikes, eventually did bring to fruition his goal of Indian independence in 1947. In 1948, a Hindu extremist’s bullet ended his life at the age of 78.  http://www.thehistorychannel.co.uk/site/this_day_in_history/this_day_March_12.php

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
George Washington

It is our true policy to steer clear of entangling alliances with any portion of the foreign world.
George Washington

A president either is constantly on top of events or, if he hesitates, events will soon be on top of him. I never felt that I could let up for a moment.
Harry S. Truman




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