Posts Tagged ‘Mikhail Gorbachev

12
Jun
09

On This Day, June 12: Tear Down This Wall

June 12, 1987

Reagan challenges Gorbachev

On this day in 1987, in one of his most famous Cold War speeches, President Ronald Reagan challenges Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive Communist era in a divided Germany.

In 1945, following Germany’s defeat in World War II, the nation’s capital, Berlin, was divided into four sections, with the Americans, British and French controlling the western region and the Soviets gaining power in the eastern region. In May 1949, the three western sections came together as the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), with the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) being established in October of that same year. In 1952, the border between the two countries was closed and by the following year East Germans were prosecuted if they left their country without permission. In August 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected by the East German government to prevent its citizens from escaping to the West. Between 1949 and the wall’s inception, it’s estimated that over 2.5 million East Germans fled to the West in search of a less repressive life.

With the wall as a backdrop, President Reagan declared to a West Berlin crowd in 1987, “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.” He then called upon his Soviet counterpart: “Secretary General Gorbachev, if you seek peace–if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe–if you seek liberalization: come here, to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Reagan then went on to ask Gorbachev to undertake serious arms reduction talks with the United States.

Most listeners at the time viewed Reagan’s speech as a dramatic appeal to Gorbachev to renew negotiations on nuclear arms reductions. It was also a reminder that despite the Soviet leader’s public statements about a new relationship with the West, the U.S. wanted to see action taken to lessen Cold War tensions. Happily for Berliners, though, the speech also foreshadowed events to come: Two years later, on November 9, 1989, joyful East and West Germans did break down the infamous barrier between East and West Berlin. Germany was officially reunited on October 3, 1990.

Gorbachev, who had been in office since 1985, stepped down from his post as Soviet leader in 1991. Reagan, who served two terms as president, from 1981 to 1989, died on June 5, 2004, at age 93.

“Reagan challenges Gorbachev,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52611 [accessed Jun 12, 2009]

On This Day

1099 – Crusade leaders visited the Mount of Olives where they met a hermit who urged them to assault Jerusalem.

1812 – Napoleon’s invasion of Russia began.

1838 – The Iowa Territory was organized.

1918 – The first airplane bombing raid by an American unit occurred on World War I’s Western Front in France.

1926 – Brazil quit the League of Nations in protest over plans to admit Germany.

1929 – Anne Frank was born in Germany. She wrote in her diary about growing up in occupied Amsterdam during World War II. She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945.

1937 – The Soviet Union executed eight army leaders under Joseph Stalin.

1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was fatally shot in front of his home in Jackson, MS.

1967 – State laws which prohibited interracial marriages were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

1979 – Bryan Allen flew the Gossamer Albatross, man powered, across the English Channel.

1985 – The U.S. House of Representatives approved $27 million in aid to the Nicaraguan contras.

1992 – In a letter to the U.S. Senate, Russian Boris Yeltsin stated that in the early 1950’s the Soviet Union had shot down nine U.S. planes and held 12 American survivors.

June 12, 1942

Anne Frank receives a diary

On this day, Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl living in Amsterdam, receives a diary for her 13th birthday. A month later, she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis in rooms behind her father’s office. For two years, the Franks and four other families hid, fed and cared for by Gentile friends. The families were discovered by the Gestapo, which had been tipped off, in 1944. The Franks were taken to Auschwitz, where Anne’s mother died. Friends in Amsterdam searched the rooms and found Anne’s diary hidden away.

Anne and her sister were transferred to another camp, Bergen-Belsen, where Anne died of typhus a month before the war ended.

Anne’s father survived Auschwitz and published Anne’s diary in 1947 as The Diary of a Young Girl. The book has been translated into some 30 languages.

“Anne Frank receives a diary,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=4000 [accessed Jun 12, 2009]

18
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-18-2008: Soviet Coup

Soviet hard-liners launch coup against Gorbachev

On this day in 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is placed under house arrest during a coup by high-ranking members of his own government, military and police forces.

Since becoming secretary of the Communist Party in 1985 and president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1988, Gorbachev had pursued comprehensive reforms of the Soviet system. Combining perestroika (“restructuring”) of the economy–including a greater emphasis on free-market policies–and glasnost (“openness”) in diplomacy, he greatly improved Soviet relations with Western democracies, particularly the United States. Meanwhile, though, within the USSR, Gorbachev faced powerful critics, including conservative, hard-line politicians and military officials who thought he was driving the Soviet Union toward its downfall and making it a second-rate power. On the other side were even more radical reformers–particularly Boris Yeltsin, president of the most powerful socialist republic, Russia–who complained that Gorbachev was just not working fast enough.

The August 1991 coup was carried out by the hard-line elements within Gorbachev’s own administration, as well as the heads of the Soviet army and the KGB, or secret police. Detained at his vacation villa in the Crimea, he was placed under house arrest and pressured to give his resignation, which he refused to do. Claiming Gorbachev was ill, the coup leaders, headed by former vice president Gennady Yanayev, declared a state of emergency and attempted to take control of the government.

Yeltsin and his backers from the Russian parliament then stepped in, calling on the Russian people to strike and protest the coup. When soldiers tried to arrest Yeltsin, they found the way to the parliamentary building blocked by armed and unarmed civilians. Yeltsin himself climbed aboard a tank and spoke through a megaphone, urging the troops not to turn against the people and condemning the coup as a “new reign of terror.” The soldiers backed off, some of them choosing to join the resistance. After thousands took the streets to demonstrate, the coup collapsed after only three days.

Gorbachev was released and flown to Moscow, but his regime had been dealt a deadly blow. Over the next few months, he dissolved the Communist Party, granted independence to the Baltic states, and proposed a looser, more economics-based federation among the remaining republics. In December 1991, Gorbachev resigned. Yeltsin capitalized on his defeat of the coup, emerging from the rubble of the former Soviet Union as the most powerful figure in Moscow and the leader of the newly formed Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Soviet hard-liners launch coup against Gorbachev.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Aug 2008, 04:48 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52838.

 

On This Day

1227 – The Mongol conqueror Ghengis Khan died.

1587 – Virginia Dare became the first child to be born on American soil of English parents. The colony that is now Roanoke Island, NC, mysteriously vanished.

1846 – Gen. Stephen W. Kearney and his U.S. forces captured Santa Fe, NM.

1914 – The “Proclamation of Neutrality” was issued by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. It was aimed at keeping the U.S. out of World War I.

1920 – Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Amendment guaranteed the right of all American women to vote.

1958 – Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita” was published.

1962 – Ringo Starr made his first appearance as a Beatle at a Cavern Club show.

1963 – James Meredith graduated from the University of Mississippi. He was the first black man to accomplish this feat.

1973 – The Doobie Brothers’ “China Grove” was released.

1997 – Beth Ann Hogan became the first coed in the Virginia Military Institute’s 158-year history.

 

 

Woman suffrage amendment ratified

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is ratified by Tennessee, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land. The amendment was the culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by woman suffragists. Its two sections read simply: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” and “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

“Woman suffrage amendment ratified.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Aug 2008, 04:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5271.

Australia and New Zealand decide to withdraw troops from Vietnam

Australia and New Zealand announce the end of the year as the deadline for withdrawal of their respective contingents from Vietnam. The Australians had 6,000 men in South Vietnam and the New Zealanders numbered 264. Both nations agreed to leave behind small training contingents. Australian Prime Minister William McMahon proclaimed that the South Vietnamese forces were now able to assume Australia’s role in Phuoc Tuy province, southeast of Saigon and that Australia would give South Vietnam $28 million over the next three years for civilian projects. Total Australian losses for the period of their commitment in Vietnam were 473 dead and 2,202 wounded; the monetary cost of the war was $182 million for military expenses and $16 million in civilian assistance to South Vietnam.

“Australia and New Zealand decide to withdraw troops from Vietnam.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Aug 2008, 04:51 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1284.

22
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-22-08: INF Treaty

Gorbachev accepts ban on intermediate-range nuclear missiles

In a dramatic turnaround, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev indicates that he is willing to negotiate a ban on intermediate-range nuclear missiles without conditions. Gorbachev’s decision paved the way for the groundbreaking Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with the United States.

Gorbachev’s change of mind was the result of a number of factors. His own nation was suffering from serious economic problems and Gorbachev desperately wanted to cut Russia’s military spending. In addition, the growing “no-nukes” movement in Europe was interfering with his ability to conduct diplomatic relations with France, Great Britain, and other western European nations. Finally, Gorbachev seemed to have a sincere personal trust in and friendship with Ronald Reagan, and this feeling was apparently reciprocal. In December 1987, during a summit in Washington, the two men signed off on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons.

“Gorbachev accepts ban on intermediate-range nuclear missiles.” 2008. The History Channel website. 20 Jul 2008, 05:22 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2736.

 

On This Day

1376 – The legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin leading rats out of town is said to have occurred on this date.

1587 – A second English colony was established on Roanoke Island off North Carolina. The colony vanished under mysterious circumstances.

1796 – Cleveland was founded by Gen. Moses Cleaveland.

1798 – The USS Constitution was underway and out to sea for the firs time since being launched on October 21, 1797.

1812 – English troops under the Duke of Wellington defeated the French at the Battle of Salamanca in Spain.

1933 – Wiley Post ended his around-the-world flight. He had traveled 15,596 miles in 7 days, 18 hours and 45 minutes.

1937 – The U.S. Senate rejected President Roosevelt’s proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court.

1943 – American forces led by Gen. George S. Patton captured Palermo, Sicily.

1946 – 90 people were killed when Jewish extremists blew up a wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

1955 – U.S. Vice-President Richard M. Nixon chaired a cabinet meeting in Washington, DC. It was the first time that a Vice-President had carried out the task.

1991 – Police arrested Jeffrey Dahmer after finding the remains of 11 victims in his apartment in Milwaukee. Dahmer confessed to 17 murders and was sentenced to life in prison.

1998 – Iran tested medium-range missile, capable of reaching Israel or Saudi Arabia.

2003 – In northern Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s sons Odai and Qusai died after a gunfight with U.S. forces.

 

Battle of Atlanta continues

Confederate General John Bell Hood continues to try to drive General William T. Sherman from the outskirts of Atlanta when he attacks the Yankees on Bald Hill. The attack failed, and Sherman tightened his hold on Atlanta.

“Battle of Atlanta continues.” 2008. The History Channel website. 20 Jul 2008, 05:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2255.

The Preparedness Day bombing

In San Francisco, a bomb at a Preparedness Day parade on Market Street kills 10 people and wounds 40. The bomb was hidden in a suitcase. The parade was organized by the city’s Chamber of Commerce in support of America’s possible entrance into World War I. San Francisco was suffering through severe labor strife at the time, and many suspected that anti-war labor radicals were responsible for the terrorist attack.

Labor leader Tom Mooney, his wife Rena, his assistant Warren K. Billings, and two others were soon charged by District Attorney Charles Fickert with the bombing. The case attracted international interest because all evidence, with the exception of a handful of questionable witness accounts, seemed to point unquestionably to their innocence. Even after confessions of perjured testimony were made in the courtroom, the trial continued, and in 1917 Mooney and Billings were convicted of first-degree murder, with Billings sentenced to life imprisonment and Mooney sentenced to hang. The other three defendants were acquitted. Responding to international outrage at the conviction, President Woodrow Wilson set up a “mediation commission” to investigate the case, and no clear evidence of their guilt was found. In 1918, Mooney’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

During the next two decades, many groups and individuals petitioned California to grant the two men a new trial. By 1939, when evidence of perjury and false testimony at the trial had become overwhelming, newly elected Governor Culbert Olson pardoned Mooney and commuted Billing’s sentence to time served. Billings was not officially pardoned until 1961.

“The Preparedness Day bombing.” 2008. The History Channel website. 20 Jul 2008, 05:18 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5198.

Dillinger gunned down

Outside Chicago’s Biograph Theatre, notorious criminal John Dillinger–America’s “Public Enemy No. 1”–is killed in a hail of bullets fired by federal agents. In a fiery bank-robbing career that lasted just over a year, Dillinger and his associates robbed 11 banks for more than $300,000, broke jail and narrowly escaped capture multiple times, and killed seven police officers and three federal agents.

“Dillinger gunned down.” 2008. The History Channel website. 20 Jul 2008, 05:19 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5200.

Deportations from Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka begin

On this day in 1942, the systematic deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto begins, as thousands are rounded up daily and transported to a newly constructed concentration/extermination camp at Treblinka, in Poland.

“Deportations from Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka begin.” 2008. The History Channel website. 20 Jul 2008, 05:25 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6527.

12
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-12-08: Boris Yeltsin

Yeltsin resigns from Communist Party

Just two days after Mikhail Gorbachev was re-elected head of the Soviet Communist Party, Boris Yeltsin, president of the Republic of Russia, announces his resignation from the Party. Yeltsin’s action was a serious blow to Gorbachev’s efforts to keep the struggling Soviet Union together.

In July 1990, Soviet Communist Party leaders met in a congress for debate and elections. Gorbachev, who had risen to power in the Soviet Union in 1985, came under severe attack from Communist Party hard-liners. They believed that his political and economic reforms were destroying the Party’s control of the nation. Gorbachev fired back at his critics during a speech in which he defended his reforms and attacked the naysayers as backward-looking relics from the dark past of the Soviet Union. He was rewarded with an overwhelming vote in favor of his re-election as head of the Communist Party. Just two days after that vote, however, Yeltsin shattered the illusion that Gorbachev’s victory meant an end to political infighting in the Soviet Union. Yeltsin had been a consistent critic of Gorbachev, but his criticisms stemmed from a belief that Gorbachev was moving too slowly in democratizing the Soviet political system. Yeltsin’s dramatic announcement of his resignation from the Communist Party was a clear indication that he was demanding a multiparty political system in the Soviet Union. It was viewed as a slap in the face to Gorbachev and his policies.

During the next year and a half, Gorbachev’s power gradually waned, while Yeltsin’s star rose. In December 1991, Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union officially dissolved. Yeltsin, however, retained his position of power as president of Russia. In their own particular ways, both men had overseen the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

Yeltsin remained president of Russia until December 31, 1999, when he resigned. Despite his attempts at economic reform, his tenure in office saw the country’s economy falter badly, including a near-complete collapse of its currency. His administration was also marked by rampant corruption, an invasion of Chechnya and a series of bizarre incidents involving Yeltsin that were reputedly a result of his alcoholism. Yeltsin’s opponents twice tried to impeach him. With his resignation, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin became acting president until new elections could be held. On March 26, 2000, Putin became Russia’s new president.

“Yeltsin resigns from Communist Party.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 10:24 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2726.

1543 – England’s King Henry VIII married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr.

1862 – The U.S. Congress authorized the Medal of Honor.

1864 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln witnessed the battle where Union forces repelled Jubal Early’s army on the outskirts of Washington, DC.

1941 – Moscow was bombed by the German Luftwaffe for the first time.

1954 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a highway modernization program, with costs to be shared by federal and state governments.

2000 – Russia launched the Zvezda after two years of delays. The module was built to be the living quarters for the International Space Station (ISS.)

Russians halt German advance in a decisive battle at Kursk

On this day in 1943, one of the greatest clashes of armor in military history takes place as the German offensive against the Russian fortification at Kursk, a Russian railway and industrial center, is stopped in a devastating battle, marking the turning point in the Eastern front in the Russians’ favor.

“Russians halt German advance in a decisive battle at Kursk.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 10:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6517.

Ferraro named vice presidential candidate

Walter Mondale, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, announces that he has chosen Representative Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his running mate. Ferraro, a daughter of Italian immigrants, had previously gained notoriety as a vocal advocate of women’s rights in Congress.

“Ferraro named vice presidential candidate.” 2008. The History Channel website. 11 Jul 2008, 10:29 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5173.

11
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-11-08: Johnny Appleseed Day

First cases reported in deadly influenza epidemic

Just before breakfast on the morning of March 11, Private Albert Gitchell of the U.S. Army reports to the hospital at Fort Riley, Kansas, complaining of the cold-like symptoms of sore throat, fever and headache. By noon, over 100 of his fellow soldiers had reported similar symptoms, marking what are believed to be the first cases in the historic influenza epidemic of 1918. The flu would eventually kill 675,000 Americans and more than 20 million people (some believe the total may be closer to 40 million) around the world, proving to be a far deadlier force than even the First World War.

The initial outbreak of the disease, reported at Fort Riley in March, was followed by similar outbreaks in army camps and prisons in various regions of the country. The disease soon traveled to Europe with the American soldiers heading to aid the Allies on the battlefields of France. (In March 1918 alone, 84,000 American soldiers headed across the Atlantic; another 118,000 followed them the next month.) Once it arrived on a second continent, the flu showed no signs of abating: 31,000 cases were reported in June in Great Britain. The disease was soon dubbed the “Spanish flu” due to the shockingly high number of deaths in Spain (some 8 million, it was reported) after the initial outbreak there in May 1918.

The flu showed no mercy for combatants on either side of the trenches. Over the summer, the first wave of the epidemic hit German forces on the Western Front, where they were waging a final, no-holds-barred offensive that would determine the outcome of the war. It had a significant effect on the already weakening morale of the troops–as German army commander Crown Prince Rupprecht wrote on August 3: “poor provisions, heavy losses, and the deepening influenza have deeply depressed the spirits of men in the III Infantry Division.” Meanwhile, the flu was spreading fast beyond the borders of Western Europe, due to its exceptionally high rate of virulence and the massive transport of men on land and aboard ship due to the war effort. By the end of the summer, numerous cases had been reported in Russia, North Africa and India; China, Japan, the Philippines and even New Zealand would eventually fall victim as well.

The Great War ended on November 11, but influenza continued to wreak international havoc, flaring again in the U.S. in an even more vicious wave with the return of soldiers from the war and eventually infecting an estimated 28 percent of the country’s population before it finally petered out. In its December 28, 1918, issue, the American Medical Association acknowledged the end of one momentous conflict and urged the acceptance of a new challenge, stating that “Medical science for four and one-half years devoted itself to putting men on the firing line and keeping them there. Now it must turn with its whole might to combating the greatest enemy of all—infectious disease.”

537 – The Goths began their siege on Rome.

1665 – A new legal code was approved for the Dutch and English towns, guaranteeing religious observances unhindered.

1824 – The U.S. War Department created the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Seneca Indian Ely Parker became the first Indian to lead the Bureau.

1847 – John Chapman ‘Johnny Appleseed’ died in Allen County, Indiana. This day became known as Johnny Appleseed Day.

1861 – A Confederate Convention was held in Montgomery, Alabama, where a new constitution was adopted.

1865 – Union General William Sherman and his forces occupied Fayetteville, NC.

1888 – The “Blizzard of ’88” began along the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard shutting down communication and transportation lines. More than 400 people died.(March 11-14)

1901 – U.S. Steel was formed when industrialist J.P. Morgan purchased Carnegie Steep Corp. The event made Andrew Carnegie the world’s richest man.

1907 – U.S. President Roosevelt induced California to revoke its anti-Japanese legislation.

1927 – The Flatheads Gang stole $104,250 in the first armored-car robbery near Pittsburgh, PA.

1941 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the Lend-Lease Act, which authorized the act of providing war supplies to the Allies.

1946 – Communists and Nationalists began fighting as the Soviets pulled out of Mukden, Manchuria.

1965 – The Rev. James J. Reeb, a white minister from Boston, died after being beaten by whites during a civil rights disturbances in Selma, Alabama.

1977 – More than 130 hostages held in Washington, DC, by Hanafi Muslims were freed after ambassadors from three Islamic nations joined the negotiations.

1985 – Mikhail Gorbachev was named the new chairman of the Soviet Communist Party.

1986 – Popsicle announced its plan to end the traditional twin-stick frozen treat for a one-stick model.

1993 – Janet Reno was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become the first female attorney general.

2002 – Two columns of light were pointed skyward from ground zero in New York as a temporary memorial to the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

2004 – In Madrid, Spain, several coordinated bombing attacks on commuter trains killed at least 190 people and injured more than 2,000.




November 2019
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 281 other followers