Posts Tagged ‘Russian Revolution

15
Mar
09

On This Day, March 15: The Ides of March

March 15, -44

The Ides of March

Gaius Julius Caesar, dictator of Rome, is stabbed to death in the Roman Senate house by 60 conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.

Caesar, born into the Julii, an ancient but not particularly distinguished Roman aristocratic family, began his political career in 78 B.C. as a prosecutor for the anti-patrician Popular Party. He won influence in the party for his reformist ideas and oratorical skills, and aided Roman imperial efforts by raising a private army to combat the king of Pontus in 74 B.C. He was an ally of Pompey, the recognized head of the Popular Party, and essentially took over this position after Pompey left Rome in 67 B.C. to become commander of Roman forces in the east.

In 63 B.C., Caesar was elected pontifex maximus, or “high priest,” allegedly by heavy bribes. Two years later, he was made governor of Farther Spain and in 64 B.C. returned to Rome, ambitious for the office of consul. The consulship, essentially the highest office in the Roman Republic, was shared by two politicians on an annual basis. Consuls commanded the army, presided over the Senate and executed its decrees, and represented the state in foreign affairs. Caesar formed a political alliance–the so-called First Triumvirate–with Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome, and in 59 B.C. was elected consul. Although generally opposed by the majority of the Roman Senate, Caesar’s land reforms won him popularity with many Romans.

In 58 B.C., Caesar was given four Roman legions in Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum, and during the next decade demonstrated brilliant military talents as he expanded the Roman Empire and his reputation. Among other achievements, Caesar conquered all of Gaul, made the first Roman inroads into Britain, and won devoted supporters in his legions. However, his successes also aroused Pompey’s jealousy, leading to the collapse of their political alliance in 53 B.C.

The Roman Senate supported Pompey and asked Caesar to give up his army, which he refused to do. In January 49 B.C., Caesar led his legions across the Rubicon River from Cisalpine Gaul to Italy, thus declaring war against Pompey and his forces. Caesar made early gains in the subsequent civil war, defeating Pompey’s army in Italy and Spain, but was later forced into retreat in Greece. In August 48 B.C., with Pompey in pursuit, Caesar paused near Pharsalus, setting up camp at a strategic location. When Pompey’s senatorial forces fell upon Caesar’s smaller army, they were entirely routed, and Pompey fled to Egypt, where he was assassinated by an officer of the Egyptian king.

Caesar was subsequently appointed Roman consul and dictator, but before settling in Rome he traveled around the empire for several years and consolidated his rule. In 45 B.C., he returned to Rome and was made dictator for life. As sole Roman ruler, Caesar launched ambitious programs of reform within the empire. The most lasting of these was his establishment of the Julian calendar, which, with the exception of a slight modification and adjustment in the 16th century, remains in use today. He also planned new imperial expansions in central Europe and to the east. In the midst of these vast designs, he was assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C., by a group of conspirators who believed that his death would lead to the restoration of the Roman Republic. However, the result of the “Ides of March” was to plunge Rome into a fresh round of civil wars, out of which Octavian, Caesar’s grand-nephew, would emerge as Augustus, the first Roman emperor, destroying the republic forever.

“The Ides of March.” 2009. The History Channel website. 15 Mar 2009, 07:03 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6837.

On This Day

1781 – During the American Revolution, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse took place in North Carolina. British General Cornwallis’ 1,900 soldiers defeated an American force of 4,400.

1820 – Maine was admitted as the 23rd state of the Union.

1892 – New York State unveiled the new automatic ballot voting machine.

1916 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sent 12,000 troops, under General Pershing, over the border of Mexico to pursue bandit Pancho Villa. The mission failed.

1935 – Joseph Goebbels, German Minister of Propaganda banned four Berlin newspapers.

1938 – Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia.

1939 – German forces occupied Bohemia and Moravia, and part of Czechoslovakia.

1944 – Cassino, Italy, was destroyed by Allied bombing.

1955 – The U.S. Air Force unveiled a self-guided missile.

1960 – The first underwater park was established as Key Largo Coral Reef Preserve.

1996 – The aviation firm Fokker NV collapsed.

2002 – U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Associated Press that the U.S. would stand by a 24-year pledge not to use nuclear arms against states that don’t have them.

March 15, 1917

Czar Nicholas II abdicates

During the February Revolution, Czar Nicholas II, ruler of Russia since 1894, is forced to abdicate the throne by the Petrograd insurgents, and a provincial government is installed in his place.

Crowned on May 26, 1894, Nicholas was neither trained nor inclined to rule, which did not help the autocracy he sought to preserve in an era desperate for change. The disastrous outcome of the Russo-Japanese War led to the Russian Revolution of 1905, which the czar diffused only after signing a manifesto promising representative government and basic civil liberties in Russia. However, Nicholas soon retracted most of these concessions, and the Bolsheviks and other revolutionary groups won wide support. In 1914, Nicholas led his country into another costly war, and discontent in Russia grew as food became scarce, soldiers became war-weary, and devastating defeats on the eastern front demonstrated the czar’s ineffectual leadership.

In March 1917, the army garrison at Petrograd joined striking workers in demanding socialist reforms, and Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate. Nicholas and his family were first held at the Czarskoye Selo palace, then in the Yekaterinburg palace near Tobolsk. In July 1918, the advance of counterrevolutionary forces caused the Yekaterinburg Soviet forces to fear that Nicholas might be rescued. After a secret meeting, a death sentence was passed on the imperial family, and Nicholas, his wife, his children, and several of their servants were gunned down on the night of July 16.

“Czar Nicholas II abdicates.” 2009. The History Channel website. 15 Mar 2009, 07:04 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4838.

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13
Mar
09

On This Day, March 13: Russian Czar Assassinated

March 13, 1881

Czar Alexander II assassinated

Czar Alexander II, the ruler of Russia since 1855, is killed in the streets of St. Petersburg by a bomb thrown by a member of the revolutionary “People’s Will” group. The People’s Will, organized in 1879, employed terrorism and assassination in their attempt to overthrow Russia’s czarist autocracy. They murdered officials and made several attempts on the czar’s life before finally assassinating him on March 13, 1881.

As czar, Alexander did much to liberalize and modernize Russia, including the abolishment of serfdom in 1861. However, when his authority was challenged, he turned repressive, and he vehemently opposed movements for political reform. Ironically, on the very day he was killed, he signed a proclamation–the so-called Loris-Melikov constitution–that would have created two legislative commissions made up of indirectly elected representatives.

He was succeeded by his 36-year-old son, Alexander III, who rejected the Loris-Melikov constitution. Alexander II’s assassins were arrested and hanged, and the People’s Will was thoroughly suppressed. The peasant revolution advocated by the People’s Will was achieved by Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1917.

“Czar Alexander II assassinated.” 2009. The History Channel website. 13 Mar 2009, 02:01 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4833.

On This Day

1519 – Cortez landed in Mexico.

1639 – Harvard University was named for clergyman John Harvard.

1781 – Sir William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus.

1861 – Jefferson Davis signed a bill authorizing slaves to be used as soldiers for the Confederacy.

1868 – The U.S. Senate began the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson.

1902 – In Poland, schools were shut down across the country when students refused to sing the Russian hymn “God Protect the Czar.”

1925 – A law in Tennessee prohibited the teaching of evolution.

1935 – Three-thousand-year-old archives were found in Jerusalem confirming some biblical history.

1940 – The war between Russia and Finland ended with the signing of a treaty in Moscow.

1963 – China invited Soviet President Khrushchev to visit Peking.

1964 – 38 residents of a New York City neighborhood failed to respond to the screams of Kitty Genovese, 28 years old, as she was stabbed to death.

March 13, 1865

Confederacy approves black soldiers

In a desperate measure, the Confederate States of America reluctantly approve the use of black troops as the main Rebel armies face long odds against much larger Union armies at this late stage of the war.

The situation was bleak for the Confederates in the spring of 1865. The Yankees had captured large swaths of southern territory, General William T. Sherman’s Union army was tearing through the Carolinas, and General Robert E. Lee was trying valiantly to hold the Confederate capital of Richmond against General Ulysses S. Grant’s growing force. Lee and Confederate president Jefferson Davis had only two options. One was for Lee to unite with General Joseph Johnston’s army in the Carolinas and use the combined force to take on Sherman and Grant one at a time. The other option was to arm slaves, the last source of fresh manpower in the Confederacy.

The idea of enlisting blacks had been debated for some time. Arming slaves was essentially a way of setting them free, since they could not realistically be sent back to the plantation after they had fought. General Patrick Cleburne had suggested enlisting slaves a year before, but few in the Confederate leadership considered the proposal, since slavery was the foundation of southern society. One politician asked, “What did we go to war for, if not to protect our property?” Another suggested, “If slaves will make good soldiers, our whole theory of slavery is wrong.” Lee weighed in on the issue and asked the Confederate government for help. “We must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves be used against us, or use them ourselves.” Lee asked that the slaves be freed as a condition of fighting, but the bill that passed the Confederate Congress on March 13 did not stipulate freedom for those who served.

The measure did nothing to stop the destruction of the Confederacy. Several thousand blacks were enlisted in the Rebel cause, but they could not begin to balance out the nearly 200,000 blacks that fought for the Union.

“Confederacy approves black soldiers.” 2009. The History Channel website. 13 Mar 2009, 01:57 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2134.

12
Mar
09

On This Day, March 12: Fireside Chats

 

March 12, 1933

FDR gives first fireside chat

On this day in 1933, eight days after his inauguration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his first national radio address or “fireside chat,” broadcast directly from the White House.

Roosevelt began that first address simply: “I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking.” He went on to explain his recent decision to close the nation’s banks in order to stop a surge in mass withdrawals by panicked investors worried about possible bank failures. The banks would be reopening the next day, Roosevelt said, and he thanked the public for their “fortitude and good temper” during the “banking holiday.”

At the time, the U.S. was at the lowest point of the Great Depression, with between 25 and 33 percent of the work force unemployed. The nation was worried, and Roosevelt’s address was designed to ease fears and to inspire confidence in his leadership.
Roosevelt went on to deliver 30 more of these broadcasts between March 1933 and June 1944. They reached an astonishing number of American households, 90 percent of which owned a radio at the time.

Journalist Robert Trout coined the phrase “fireside chat” to describe Roosevelt’s radio addresses, invoking an image of the president sitting by a fire in a living room, speaking earnestly to the American people about his hopes and dreams for the nation. In fact, Roosevelt took great care to make sure each address was accessible and understandable to ordinary Americans, regardless of their level of education. He used simple vocabulary and relied on folksy anecdotes or analogies to explain the often complex issues facing the country.

Over the course of his historic 12-year presidency, Roosevelt used the chats to build popular support for his groundbreaking New Deal policies, in the face of stiff opposition from big business and other groups. After World War II began, he used them to explain his administration’s wartime policies to the American people. The success of Roosevelt’s chats was evident not only in his three re-elections, but also in the millions of letters that flooded the White House. Farmers, business owners, men, women, rich, poor–most of them expressed the feeling that the president had entered their home and spoken directly to them. In an era when presidents had previously communicated with their citizens almost exclusively through spokespeople and journalists, it was an unprecedented step.

“FDR gives first fireside chat.” 2009. The History Channel website. 12 Mar 2009, 10:41 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4829.

On This Day

1664 – New Jersey became a British colony. King Charles II granted land in the New World to his brother James (The Duke of York).

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

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

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.

1933 – President Paul von Hindenburg dropped the flag of the German Republic and ordered that the swastika and empire banner be flown side by side.

1938 – The “Anschluss” took place as German troops entered Austria.

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

1947 – U.S. President Truman established the “Truman Doctrine” to help Greece and Turkey resist Communism.

1959 – The U.S. House joined the U.S. Senate in approving the statehood of Hawaii.

1993 – Janet Reno was sworn in as the first female U.S. attorney general.

1994 – A photo by Marmaduke Wetherell of the Loch Ness monster was confirmed to be a hoax. The photo was taken of a toy submarine with a head and neck attached.

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.

March 12, 1917

Russian army lends support to rebels in February Revolution

After being called out to quell workers’ demonstrations on the streets of Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), regiment after regiment of soldiers in the city’s army garrison defect to join the rebels on March 12, forcing the resignation of the imperial government and heralding the triumph of the February Revolution in Russia.

The most immediate cause of discontent among the Russian people was the country’s disastrous participation in the First World War. Despite enjoying success against Austria-Hungary in the first years of the war, the czar’s armies had suffered repeated crushing defeats at the hands of the German army on the Eastern Front. When combined with Russia’s backward economy, its repressive government and its huge population of hungry and frustrated peasants, defeat on the battlefield pushed the country into full-scale revolution in 1917.

Demonstrators took to the streets of Petrograd, the Russian capital, on March 8, 1917, clashing with police but refusing to leave the streets. By March 10, all of Petrograd’s workers were on strike; the next day, the troops of the Petrograd army garrison were called out to quell the uprising.

In some initial encounters, the regiments opened fire, killing some workers; the total number killed reached about 1,500. Though the demonstrators fled after being fired upon, they refused to abandon the streets altogether and returned to confront the soldiers again. Soon, many troops began to waver when given the order to fire on the demonstrators, even allowing some to pass through their lines. On March 12, regiment after regiment defected to join the demonstrators. Within 24 hours, the entire Petrograd garrison—some 150,000 men—had joined the February Revolution, ensuring its triumph.

Three days later, Czar Nicholas II abdicated the throne in favor of his brother Michael, who refused the crown, ending the czarist regime and leaving Russia in the hands of a new provisional government, led by Russia’s minister of war, Alexander Kerensky, and tolerated by the Petrograd Soviet, the worker’s council formed by the February rebels. Kerensky hoped to salvage the Russian war effort while ending the food shortage and many other domestic crises. It would prove a daunting task: in April, Vladimir Lenin, founder of the radical socialist group known as the Bolsheviks, returned to Russia from exile to lead the October (or Bolshevik) Revolution and take over power of the country.

“Russian army lends support to rebels in February Revolution.” 2009. The History Channel website. 12 Mar 2009, 10:57 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=339.

02
Mar
09

On This Day, March 2: Rolling Thunder

March 2, 1965

First Rolling Thunder raid conducted

Operation Rolling Thunder begins with more than 100 United States Air Force jet bombers striking an ammunition depot at Xom Bang, 10 miles inside North Vietnam. Simultaneously, 60 South Vietnamese Air Force propeller planes bombed the Quang Khe naval base, 65 miles north of the 17th parallel.

Six U.S. planes were downed, but only one U.S. pilot was lost. Capt. Hayden J. Lockhart, flying an F-100, was shot down and became the first Air Force pilot to be taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese. Lockhart was released in 1973 when U.S. POWs were returned under provisions of the Paris Peace Accords.

The raid was the result of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s decision in February to undertake the sustained bombing of North Vietnam that he and his advisers had been considering for more than a year. The goal of Rolling Thunder was to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the southern part of North Vietnam and the slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam. In July 1966, Rolling Thunder was expanded to include North Vietnamese ammunition dumps and oil storage facilities as targets and in the spring of 1967 it was further expanded to include power plants, factories, and airfields in the Hanoi-Haiphong area.

The White House closely controlled Operation Rolling Thunder and President Johnson occasionally selected the targets himself. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam. A total of nearly 900 U.S. aircraft were lost during Operation Rolling Thunder. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson halted it on October 31, 1968, under increasing domestic political pressure.

“First Rolling Thunder raid conducted.” 2009. The History Channel website. 2 Mar 2009, 11:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1704.

 

On This Day

1807 – The U.S. Congress passed an act to “prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States… from any foreign kingdom, place, or country.”

1836 – Texas declared its independence from Mexico and an ad interim government was formed.

1877 – In the U.S., Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner of the 1876 presidential election by the U.S. Congress. Samuel J. Tilden, however, had won the popular vote on November 7, 1876.

1899 – Mount Rainier National Park in Washington was established by the U.S. Congress.

1901 – The U.S. Congress passed the Platt amendment, which limited Cuban autonomy as a condition for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

1908 – In Paris, Gabriel Lippmann introduced three-dimensional color photography at the Academy of Sciences.

1917 – The Russian Revolution began with Czar Nicholas II abdicating.

1917 – Citizens of Puerto Rico were granted U.S. citizenship with the enactment of the Jones Act.

1946 – Ho Chi Minh was elected President of Vietnam.

1949 – The B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II landed in Fort Worth, TX. The American plane had completed the first non-stop around-the-world flight.

1969 – In Toulouse, France, the supersonic transport Concorde made its first test flight.

2004 – NASA announced that the Mars rover Opportunity had discovered evidence that water had existed on Mars in the past.

March 2, 1969

Soviet Union and Chinese armed forces clash

In a dramatic confirmation of the growing rift between the two most powerful communist nations in the world, troops from the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China fire on each other at a border outpost on the Ussuri River in the eastern region of the USSR, north of Vladivostok. In the years following this incident, the United States used the Soviet-Chinese schism to its advantage in its Cold War diplomacy.

The cause of the firefight between Soviet and Chinese troops was a matter of dispute. The Soviets charged that Chinese soldiers crossed the border between the two nations and attacked a Soviet outpost, killing and wounding a number of Russian guards. The intruders were then driven back with heavy casualties. The Chinese report indicated that it was the Soviets who crossed the border and were repulsed. Either way, it was the first time that either side openly admitted to a clash of arms along the border, though it had been rumored for years that similar run-ins were occurring. Ever since the early-1960s, relations between the two communist superpowers had deteriorated. China charged that the Soviet leadership was deviating from the pure path of Marxism, and by the mid-1960s, Chinese leaders were openly declaring that the United States and the Soviet Union were conspiring against the Chinese Revolution.

For the United States, the breakdown of relations between the Soviet Union and China was a diplomatic opportunity. By the early 1970s, the United States began to initiate diplomatic contacts with China. (Relations between the two nations had been severed in 1949 following the successful communist revolution in China.) In 1972, President Richard Nixon surprised the world by announcing that he would visit China. The strongest impetus for this new cordiality toward communist China was the U.S. desire to use the new relationship as leverage in its diplomacy with the Soviet Union, making the Russians more malleable on issues such as arms control and their support of North Vietnam in the on-going Vietnam War. Pitting these two communist giants against one another became a mainstay of U.S. diplomacy in the later Cold War era.

“Soviet Union and Chinese armed forces clash.” 2009. The History Channel website. 2 Mar 2009, 11:22 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2594.

02
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-2-08: Ussuri River Incident

1807 – The U.S. Congress passed an act to “prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States… from any foreign kingdom, place, or country.”

1836 – Texas declared its independence from Mexico and an ad interim government was formed.

1877 – In the U.S., Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner of the 1876 presidential election by the U.S. Congress. Samuel J. Tilden, however, had won the popular vote on November 7, 1876.

1897 – U.S. President Cleveland vetoed legislation that would have required a literacy test for immigrants entering the country.

1899 – Mount Rainier National Park in Washington was established by the U.S. Congress.

1901 – The U.S. Congress passed the Platt amendment, which limited Cuban autonomy as a condition for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

1908 – In Paris, Gabriel Lippmann introduced three-dimensional color photography at the Academy of Sciences.

1917 – The Russian Revolution began with Czar Nicholas II abdicating.

1919 – In the Soviet Union, the first Communist International (Comintern) meets in Moscow.

1933 – The motion picture King Kong had its world premiere in New York.

1946 – Ho Chi Minh was elected President of Vietnam.

1969 – Russian and Chinese forces exchange fire at a border outpost on the Ussuri River in eastern Russia.

1974 – Postage stamps jumped from 8 to 10 cents for first-class mail.

1995 – Russian anti-corruption journalist Vladislav Listyev was killed by a gunman in Moscow.

2000 – In Great Britain, Chile’s former President Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was freed from house arrest and allowed to return to Chile. Britain’s Home Secretary Jack Straw had concluded that Pinochet was mentally and physically unable to stand trial. Belgium, France, Spain and Switzerland had sought the former Chilean leader on human-rights violations.

Ussuri River Incident

At a time in world history when it seemed Communism was on the verge of realizing the Marxist dream of global revolution, the two principle Communist nations, China and the Soviet Union, squabbled over an island in the Ussuri River.  A squabble which allowed the United States to make inroads into Communist China and eventually led to diplomatic relations between the United States and China.

The first incident as reported by CNN’s Bruce Kennedy in an online article, Chinese-Soviet border clashes:  Centuries-old dispute became open combat during Cold War, occurred on March 2, 1969. 

Christian Ostermann, of the Cold War International History Project, recently uncovered a report, sent to East Germany’s leadership, in which the Soviet Union describes its version of the first deadly border clash, which took place on Damansky, or Zhen Bao, Island on March 2, 1969:

“Our observation posts noted the advance of 30 armed Chinese military men on the island of Damansky. Consequently, a group of Soviet border guards was dispatched to the location where the Chinese had violated the border. The officer in charge of the unit and a small contingent approached the border violators with the intention of registering protests and demanding (without using force) that they leave Soviet territory, as had been done repeatedly in the past. But within the first minutes of the exchange, our border guards came under crossfire and were insidiously shot without any warning. At the same time, fire on the remaining parts of our force was opened from an ambush on the island and from the Chinese shore.” http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/episodes/15/spotlight/

Colonel David M Marks in his report about the Ussuri River Incident wrote, “The Chinese claimed that from 23 January 1967 until 2 March 1969 Soviet troops intruded into Damansky sixteen times, using “helicopters, armored cars and vehicles.” The Chinese further assert that the Soviets were guilty of  “ramming Chinese fishing boats, robbing Chinese fishermen, turning high-pressure hoses on fishermen, assaulting and wounding Chinese frontier guards, seizing arms and ammunition, and even violating Chinese air space by overflights.” Finally, the Chinese charged that the Soviets provoked a total of 4189 border incidents from the breakdown of border negotiations on 15 October 1964 to the March 1969 incident. Thus, there was an increasing degree of border tension and dispute beginning with the January phase of the Cultural Revolution and extending to the end of that period of Chinese history, 1966-68.” http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1971/jul-aug/marks.html

At first glance it would appear that at a time in history when Communist Revolution seemed poised to spread throughout the world, the truth was something less clear and it may actually be stated that global Communism controlled by the Kremlin was in fact waning.

A Chinese saying goes: ” Whoever understands the times is a great man.”  http://au.china-embassy.org/eng/zt/zgxz/t46100.htm




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