Posts Tagged ‘Robert Jarvik

23
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-23-2008: Ribbontrop-Molotov Pact

The Hitler-Stalin Pact

On this day in 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact, stunning the world, given their diametrically opposed ideologies. But the dictators were, despite appearances, both playing to their own political needs.

After Nazi Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, Britain had to decide to what extent it would intervene should Hitler continue German expansion. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, at first indifferent to Hitler’s capture of the Sudetenland, the German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia, suddenly snapped to life when Poland became threatened. He made it plain that Britain would be obliged to come to the aid of Poland in the event of German invasion. But he wanted, and needed, an ally. The only power large enough to stop Hitler, and with a vested interest in doing so, was the Soviet Union. But Stalin was cool to Britain after its effort to create a political alliance with Britain and France against Germany had been rebuffed a year earlier. Plus, Poland’s leaders were less than thrilled with the prospect of Russia becoming its guardian; to them, it was simply occupation by another monstrous regime.

Hitler believed that Britain would never take him on alone, so he decided to swallow his fear and loathing of communism and cozy up to the Soviet dictator, thereby pulling the rug out from the British initiative. Both sides were extremely suspicious of the other, trying to discern ulterior motives. But Hitler was in a hurry; he knew if he was to invade Poland it had to be done quickly, before the West could create a unified front. Agreeing basically to carve up parts of Eastern Europe-and leave each other alone in the process-Hitler’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, flew to Moscow and signed the non-aggression pact with his Soviet counterpart, V.M. Molotov (which is why the pact is often referred to as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact). Supporters of bolshevism around the world had their heretofore romantic view of “international socialism” ruined; they were outraged that Stalin would enter into any kind of league with the fascist dictator.

But once Poland was German-occupied territory, the alliance would not last for long.

“The Hitler-Stalin Pact.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Aug 2008, 04:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6560.

 

On This Day

1838 – The first class was graduated from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, MA. It was one of the first colleges for women.

1839 – Hong Kong was taken by the British in a war with China.

1902 – Fannie Merrit Farmer opened her cooking school, Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery, in Boston, MA.

1914 – Tsingtao, China, was bombarded as Japan declared war on Germany in World War I.

1926 – Rudolph Valentino died. He was 31 and had been a silent film star.

1927 – Nicola Sacco and Bartolemeo Vanzetti were executed in Boston, MA, for the murder of two men during a 1920 robbery.

1947 – Margaret Truman, U.S. President Truman’s daughter, gave her first public performance as a singer. The event was at the Hollywood Bowl and had an audience of 15,000.

1959 – In the Peanuts comic strip, Sally debuted as an infant.

1979 – Soviet dancer Alexander Godunov defected while the Bolshoi Ballet was on tour in New York City.

1987 – Robert Jarvik and Marilyn Mach vos Savant were married. The event was called the “Union of Great Minds” since Savant had an IQ of 228 and Jarvik was the inventor of the artificial heart.

1998 – Boris Yeltsin dismissed the Russian government again.

2001 – California Congressman Gary Condit gave an interview to ABC’s Connie Chung. Condit denied involvement in Chandra Levy’s disappearance and avoided directly answering questions about whether they had an affair.

 

Dolley Madison saves portrait from British

On this day in 1814, first lady Dolley Madison saves a portrait of George Washington from being looted by British troops during the war of 1812.

According to the White House Historical Society and Dolley’s personal letters, President James Madison left the White House on August 22 to meet with his generals on the battlefield, as British troops threatened to enter the capitol. Before leaving, he asked his wife Dolley if she had the “courage or firmness” to wait for his intended return the next day. He asked her to gather important state papers and be prepared to abandon the White House at any moment. The next day, Dolley and a few servants scanned the horizon with spyglasses waiting for either Madison or the British army to show up. As British troops gathered in the distance, Dolley decided to abandon the couple’s personal belongings and save the full-length portrait of former president and national icon George Washington from desecration by vengeful British soldiers, many of whom would have rejoiced in humiliating England’s former colonists.

Dolley wrote to her sister on the night of August 23 that a friend who came to help her escape was exasperated at her insistence on saving the portrait. Since the painting was screwed to the wall she ordered the frame to be broken and the canvas pulled out and rolled up. Two unidentified “gentlemen from New York” hustled it away for safe-keeping. (Unbeknownst to Dolley, the portrait was actually a copy of Gilbert Stuart’s original). The task complete, Dolley wrote “and now, dear sister, I must leave this house, or the retreating army will make me a prisoner in it by filling up the road I am directed to take.” Dolley left the White House and found her husband at their predetermined meeting place in the middle of a thunderstorm.

The next night, August 24, British troops enjoyed feasting on White House food using the president’s silverware and china before burning the building. Although they were able to return to Washington only three days later when British troops moved on, the Madisons were not again able to take up residence in the White House and lived out the rest of his term in the city’s Octagon House. It was not until 1817 that newly elected President James Monroe moved back into the reconstructed building.

“Dolley Madison saves portrait from British.” 2008. The History Channel website. 23 Aug 2008, 04:54 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=55386.

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