Posts Tagged ‘Soviet Union

22
Jun
09

On This Day, June 22: FDR Signs the G.I. Bill

June 22, 1944

FDR signs GI bill

On this day in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the GI bill to provide financial aid to veterans returning from World War II. Upon signing the legislation, Roosevelt voiced his belief that ensuring veterans’ employability was critical to “a sound postwar economy.”

The “GI” bill, named after the slang term for soldiers whose wartime goods and services were “government issued,” provided funding for education, home loans, unemployment insurance, job counseling and the construction of veterans’ hospital facilities. It also greatly strengthened the authority of and scope of services provided by the Veterans Administration. Tuition for advanced education or technical training was covered up to $500 per school year, along with a monthly living allowance while the veteran was in school. GIs could also apply for guaranteed home and business loans.

In his speech at the signing of the bill, Roosevelt acknowledged the sacrifices of America’s men and women in uniform and emphasized the moral responsibility of the American people not to let their veterans down once they returned to civilian life. He and his economic advisors foresaw potential problems as the then-robust wartime economy transitioned to peacetime. He hoped that the GI bill would help prevent a situation in which the return of 2.2 million servicemen from war created massive unemployment, economic depression or social unrest. Also in his speech, Roosevelt appealed to Congress to enact some sort of future legislation that would reassure current civilian workers that their services would still be needed in a post-war economy.

Roosevelt urged that “the goal after the war should be the maximum utilization of our human and material resources.” After his death and the end of the Second World War, veterans of wars in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and U.N.-led coalition conflicts continued to benefit from an evolving GI bill.

“FDR signs GI bill,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=665 [accessed Jun 22, 2009]

 

1807 – British seamen board the USS Chesapeake, a provocation leading to the War of 1812.

1933 – Germany became a one political party country when Hitler banned parties other than the Nazis.

1940 – France and Germany signed an armistice at Compiegne, on terms dictated by the Nazis.

1942 – A Japanese submarine shelled Fort Stevens at the mouth of the Columbia River.

1964 – The U.S. Supreme Court voted that Henry Miller’s book, “Tropic of Cancer”, could not be banned.

1969 – Judy Garland died from an accidental overdose of prescription sleeping aids. She was 47.

1977 – John N. Mitchell became the first former U.S. Attorney General to go to prison as he began serving a sentence for his role in the Watergate cover-up. He served 19 months.

 

June 22, 1941

Germany launches Operation Barbarossa–the invasion of Russia

On this day in 1941, over 3 million German troops invade Russia in three parallel offensives, in what is the most powerful invasion force in history. Nineteen panzer divisions, 3,000 tanks, 2,500 aircraft, and 7,000 artillery pieces pour across a thousand-mile front as Hitler goes to war on a second front.

Despite the fact that Germany and Russia had signed a “pact” in 1939, each guaranteeing the other a specific region of influence without interference from the other, suspicion remained high. When the Soviet Union invaded Rumania in 1940, Hitler saw a threat to his Balkan oil supply. He immediately responded by moving two armored and 10 infantry divisions into Poland, posing a counterthreat to Russia. But what began as a defensive move turned into a plan for a German first-strike. Despite warnings from his advisers that Germany could not fight the war on two fronts (as Germany’s experience in World War I proved), Hitler became convinced that England was holding out against German assaults, refusing to surrender, because it had struck a secret deal with Russia. Fearing he would be “strangled” from the East and the West, he created, in December 1940, “Directive No. 21: Case Barbarossa”–the plan to invade and occupy the very nation he had actually asked to join the Axis only a!

month before!

On June 22, 1941, having postponed the invasion of Russia after Italy’s attack on Greece forced Hitler to bail out his struggling ally in order to keep the Allies from gaining a foothold in the Balkans, three German army groups struck Russia hard by surprise. The Russian army was larger than German intelligence had anticipated, but they were demobilized. Stalin had shrugged off warnings from his own advisers, even Winston Churchill himself, that a German attack was imminent. (Although Hitler had telegraphed his territorial designs on Russia as early as 1925–in his autobiography, Mein Kampf.) By the end of the first day of the invasion, the German air force had destroyed more than 1,000 Soviet aircraft. And despite the toughness of the Russian troops, and the number of tanks and other armaments at their disposal, the Red Army was disorganized, enabling the Germans to penetrate up to 300 miles into Russian territory within the next few days.

“Germany launches Operation Barbarossa–the invasion of Russia,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6494 [accessed Jun 22, 2009]

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28
May
09

On This Day, May 28: Belgium Surrenders

May 28, 1940

Belgium surrenders unconditionally

On this day in 1940, after 18 days of ceaseless German bombardment, the king of Belgium, having asked for an armistice, is given only unconditional surrender as an option. He takes it.

German forces had moved into Belgium on May 10, part of Hitler’s initial western offensive. Despite some support by British forces, the Belgians were simply outnumbered and outgunned from the beginning. The first surrender of Belgium territory took place only one day after the invasion, when the defenders of Fort Eben-Emael surrendered.

Disregarding the odds, King Leopold III of Belgium had tried to rally his forces, evoking the Belgian victory during World War I. The Belgian forces fought on, courageously, but were continually overcome by the invaders.

By May 27, the king of Belgium, realizing that his army was depleted and that even retreat was no longer an option, sent an emissary through the German lines to request an armistice, a cease-fire. It was rejected. The Germans demanded unconditional surrender. Belgium’s government in exile, stationed in Paris, repudiated the surrender, but to no avail. Belgium had no army left to fight. In the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill defended King Leopold’s decision, despite the fact that it made the British troops’ position, attempting to evacuate Dunkirk, in northern France, more precarious.

King Leopold refused to flee the country and was taken prisoner by the Nazis during their occupation, and confined to his palace. A Belgian underground army grew up during the occupation; its work including protecting the port of Antwerp, the most important provisioning point for Allied troops on the Continent, from destruction by the Germans.

“Belgium surrenders unconditionally,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6467 [accessed May 28, 2009]

On This Day

1533 – England’s Archbishop declared the marriage of King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn valid.

1774 – The First Continental Congress convened in Virginia.

1863 – The first black regiment left Boston to fight in the U.S. Civil War.

1928 – Chrysler Corporation merged with Dodge Brothers, Inc.

1937 – U.S. President Roosevelt pushed a button in Washington, DC, signaling that vehicular traffic could cross the newly opened Golden Gate Bridge in California.

1961 – Amnesty International, a human rights organization, was founded.

1976 – The Peaceful Nuclear Explosion Treaty was signed, limiting any nuclear explosion – regardless of its purpose – to a yield of 150 kilotons.

1998 – Dr. Susan Terebey discoved a planet outside of our solar system with the use of photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

May 28, 1987

Matthias Rust lands his plane in Red Square

Matthias Rust, a 19-year-old amateur pilot from West Germany, takes off from Helsinki, Finland, travels through more than 400 miles of Soviet airspace, and lands his small Cessna aircraft in Red Square by the Kremlin. The event proved to be an immense embarrassment to the Soviet government and military.

Rust, described by his mother as a “quiet young man…with a passion for flying,” apparently had no political or social agenda when he took off from the international airport in Helsinki and headed for Moscow. He entered Soviet airspace, but was either undetected or ignored as he pushed farther and farther into the Soviet Union. Early on the morning of May 28, 1987, he arrived over Moscow, circled Red Square a few times, and then landed just a few hundred yards from the Kremlin. Curious onlookers and tourists, many believing that Rust was part of an air show, immediately surrounded him. Very quickly, however, Rust was arrested and whisked away. He was tried for violating Soviet airspace and sentenced to prison. He served 18 months before being released.

The repercussions in the Soviet Union were immediate. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sacked his minister of defense, and the entire Russian military was humiliated by Rust’s flight into Moscow. U.S. officials had a field day with the event–one American diplomat in the Soviet Union joked, “Maybe we should build a bunch of Cessnas.” Soviet officials were less amused. Four years earlier, the Soviets had been harshly criticized for shooting down a Korean Airlines passenger jet that veered into Russian airspace. Now, the Soviets were laughingstocks for not being able to stop one teenager’s “invasion” of the country. One Russian spokesperson bluntly declared, “You criticize us for shooting down a plane, and now you criticize us for not shooting down a plane.”

“Matthias Rust lands his plane in Red Square,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2681 [accessed May 28, 2009]

12
Apr
09

On This Day, April 12: FDR Dies

April 12, 1945

President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies

While on a vacation in Warm Springs, Georgia, President Roosevelt suffers a stroke and dies. His death marked a critical turning point in U.S. relations with the Soviet Union, as his successor, Harry S. Truman, decided to take a tougher stance with the Russians.

By April 1945, Roosevelt had been elected president of the United States four times and had served for over 12 years. He had seen the United States through some of its darkest days, from the depths of the Great Depression through the toughest times of World War II. In early 1945, shortly after being sworn in for his fourth term as president, Roosevelt was on the verge of leading his nation to triumph in the Second World War. Germany teetered on the brink of defeat, and the Japanese empire was crumbling under the blows of the American military. In February 1945, Roosevelt traveled to Yalta in the Soviet Union to meet with Russian leader Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to discuss the postwar world. Roosevelt returned from these intense meetings drawn and sick. He vacationed in Warm Springs, Georgia, but the rest did not lead to recuperation. On April 12, 1945, he suffered a massive stroke and died.

Roosevelt left a controversial legacy in terms of U.S.-Soviet relations. Critics charged that the president had been “soft” on the communists and naive in dealing with Stalin. The meetings at Yalta, they claimed, resulted in a “sellout” that left the Soviets in control of Eastern Europe and half of Germany. Roosevelt’s defenders responded that he made the best of difficult circumstances. He kept the Grand Alliance between the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain intact long enough to defeat Germany. As for Eastern Europe and Germany, there was little Roosevelt could have done, since the Red Army occupied those areas. Roosevelt’s successor, Harry S. Truman, decided that a “tougher” policy toward the Soviets was in order, and he began to press the Russians on a number of issues. By 1947, relations between the two former allies had nearly reached the breaking point and the Cold War was in full swing.

“President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2635 [accessed Apr 12, 2009]

 

On This Day

1204 – The Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople.

1782 – The British navy won its only naval engagement against the colonists in the American Revolution at the Battle of Saints, off Dominica.

1811 – The first colonists arrived at Cape Disappointment, Washington.

1861 – Fort Sumter was shelled by Confederacy, starting America’s Civil War.

1864 – Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest captured Fort Pillow, in Tennessee and slaughters the black Union troops there.

1944 – The U.S. Twentieth Air Force was activated to begin the strategic bombing of Japan.

1961 – Soviet Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin became first man to orbit the Earth.

1963 – Police used dogs and cattle prods on peaceful civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, AL.

1981 – The space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral, FL, on its first test flight.

1989 – In the U.S.S.R, ration cards were issued for the first time since World War II. The ration was prompted by a sugar shortage.

April 12, 1861

Fort Sumter fired upon

The American Civil War begins when Confederates fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

The fort had been the source of tension between the Union and Confederacy for several months. After South Carolina seceded, the state demanded the fort be turned over but Union officials refused. A supply ship, the “Star of the West,” tried to reach Fort Sumter on January 9, but the shore batteries opened fire and drove it away. For both sides, Sumter was a symbol of sovereignty. The Union could not allow it to fall to the Confederates, although throughout the Deep South other federal installations had been seized. For South Carolinians, secession meant little if the Yankees still held the stronghold. The issue hung in the air when Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office on March 4, stating in his inauguration address: “You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors.”

Lincoln did not try to send reinforcements but he did send in food. This way, Lincoln could characterize the operation as a humanitarian mission, bringing, in his words, “food for hungry men.” He sent word to the Confederates in Charleston of his intentions on April 6. The Confederate Congress at Montgomery, Alabama, had decided on February 15 that Sumter and other forts must be acquired “either by negotiation or force.” Negotiation, it seemed, had failed. The Confederates demanded surrender of the fort, but Major Robert Anderson, commander of Fort Sumter, refused.

At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, the Confederate guns opened fire. For thirty-three hours, the shore batteries lobbed 4,000 shells in the direction of the fort. Finally, the garrison inside the battered fort raised the white flag. No one on either side had been killed, although two Union soldiers died when the departing soldiers fired a gun salute, and some cartridges exploded prematurely. It was a nearly bloodless beginning to America’s bloodiest war.

“Fort Sumter fired upon,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2168 [accessed Apr 12, 2009]

02
Apr
09

On This Day, April 2: Petersburg Line Broken

April 2, 1865

Union captures Petersburg line and General Hill is killed

After a ten-month siege, Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant capture the trenches around Petersburg, Virginia, and Confederate General Robert E. Lee leads his troops on a desperate retreat westward.

The ragged Confederate troops could no longer maintain the 40-mile network of defenses that ran from southwest of Petersburg to north of Richmond, the Rebel capital 25 miles north of Petersburg. Through the winter, desertion and attrition melted Lee’s army down to less than 60,000, while Grant’s army swelled to over 120,000. Grant attacked Five Forks southwest of Petersburg on April 1, scoring a huge victory that cut Lee’s supply line and inflicted 5,000 casualties. The next day, Lee wrote to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, “I think it absolutely necessary that we should abandon our position tonight…”

Grant’s men attacked all along the Petersburg front. In the predawn hours, hundreds of Federal cannon roared to life as the Yankees bombarded the Rebel fortifications. Said one soldier, “the shells screamed through the air in a semi-circle of flame.” At 5:00 in the morning, Union troops silently crawled toward the Confederates, shrouded in darkness. Confederate pickets alerted the troops, and the Yankees were raked by heavy fire, but the determined troops poured forth and began overrunning the trenches. Four thousand Union troops were killed or wounded, but a northern officer wrote, “It was a great relief, a positive lifting of a load of misery to be at last let at them.”

Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill, a corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia and one of Lee’s most trusted lieutenants, rode to the front to rally his men. As he approached some trees with his aide, two Union soldiers emerged and fired, killing Hill instantly. Hill had survived four years of war and dozens of battles only to die during the final days of the Confederacy. When Lee received the news, he quietly said “He is at rest now, and we who are left are the ones to suffer.”

By nightfall, President Davis and the Confederate government were in flight and Richmond was on fire. Retreating Rebel troops set ablaze several huge warehouses to prevent them from being captured by the Federals and the fires soon spread. With the army and government officials gone, bands of thugs roamed the streets looting what was left.

“Union captures Petersburg line and General Hill is killed.” 2009. The History Channel website. 2 Apr 2009, 11:12 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2155.

On This Day

1513 – Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sighted Florida. The next day he went ashore.

1792 – The U.S. Congress passed the Coinage Act to regulate the coins of the United States. The act authorized $10 Eagle, $5 half-Eagle & 2.50 quarter-Eagle gold coins & silver dollar, dollar, quarter, dime & half-dime to be minted.

1801 – During the Napoleonic Wars, the Danish fleet was destroyed by the British at the Battle of Copenhagen.

1917 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson presented a declaration of war against Germany to the U.S. Congress.

1958 – The National Advisory Council on Aeronautics was renamed NASA.

1982 – Argentina invaded the British-owned Falkland Islands. The following June Britain took the islands back.

1996 – Lech Walesa resumed his old job as an electrician at the Gdansk shipyard. He was the former Solidarity union leader who became Poland’s first post-war democratic president.

April 2, 1979

Anthrax poisoning kills 62 in Russia

The world’s first anthrax epidemic begins in Ekaterinburg, Russia (now Sverdlosk), on this day in 1979. By the time it ended six weeks later, 62 people were dead. Another 32 survived serious illness. Ekaterinburg, as the town was known in Soviet times, also suffered livestock losses from the epidemic.

As people in Ekaterinburg first began reporting their illnesses, the Soviet government announced that the cause was tainted meat that the victims had eaten. Since the town was known in intelligence circles for its biological-weapons plant, much of the rest of the world was immediately skeptical of the Soviet explanation.

It was not until 13 years later, in 1992, that the epidemic was finally explained: workers at the Ekaterinburg weapons plant failed to replace a crucial filter, causing a release of anthrax spores into the outside air. The wind carried the spores to a farming area and infected people and livestock in the area. Had the town been downwind from the plant at the time of the release, the death toll might have been considerably higher.

Anthrax is a bacterium that can enter the body through multiple routes. It is most deadly when it is inhaled. It prompts the production of toxic molecules that destroy essential proteins in the body’s cells, usually in the lymph nodes.

In 2001, anthrax spores were used as a weapon of terror in the United States. Spores were mailed to media organizations and members of the U.S. Senate. Five people died and another 13 were infected, but survived. The investigation into who was responsible is ongoing.

“Anthrax poisoning kills 62 in Russia.” 2009. The History Channel website. 2 Apr 2009, 11:15 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=391.

08
Mar
09

On This Day, March 8: The Evil Empire

March 8, 1983

Reagan refers to U.S.S.R. as “evil empire”…again

Speaking to a convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Florida on this day in 1983, President Ronald Reagan publicly refers to the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” for the second time in his career. He had first used the phrase in a 1982 speech at the British House of Commons. Some considered Reagan’s use of the Star Wars film-inspired terminology to be brilliant democratic rhetoric. Others, including many within the international diplomatic community, denounced it as irresponsible bombast.

Reagan’s aggressive stance toward the Soviet Union became known as the Reagan Doctrine. He warned against what he and his supporters saw as the dangerous trend of tolerating the Soviets’ build-up of nuclear weapons and attempts to infiltrate Third World countries in order to spread communism. Advocating a “peace through strength” policy, Reagan declared that the Soviets “must be made to understand we will never compromise our principles and standards [nor] ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire.” To do so would mean abandoning “the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”

Reagan proposed a policy that went beyond the Truman Doctrine of containment, urging active intervention. He vowed to increase U.S. military spending and to use force if necessary to roll back communist expansion in Third World nations. His administration provided military aid to Nicaraguan groups fighting the leftist Sandinista government and gave material support to the Afghan mujahedeen in their ongoing war against Soviets. At the same time, he reassured Americans that he would pursue an “understanding” with totalitarian powers and cited the United States’ effort to limit missile development as a step toward peace.

Reagan’s doctrine came at the same time as a surge in international and domestic protests against the U.S.-Soviet arms race. His opponents blamed the administration for causing the largest increase in American military spending since the beginning of the Cold War, a policy that swelled the nation’s budget deficit.

The Soviet economy ultimately collapsed in the late 1980s, ending decades of communist rule in Russia and Eastern Europe. Americans disagreed as to the cause: while economists and Reagan’s critics claimed the Soviet empire had buckled under the weight of its own bloated defense spending and a protracted war in Afghanistan, Reagan and his supporters credited his hard-line anti-communist policies for defeating Soviet communism.

“Reagan refers to U.S.S.R. as ?evil empire??again.” 2009. The History Channel website. 8 Mar 2009, 01:19 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=272.

 

On This Day

1618 – Johann Kepler discovered the third Law of Planetary Motion.

1853 – The first bronze statue of Andrew Jackson is unveiled in Washington, DC.

1855 – A train passed over the first railway suspension bridge at Niagara Falls, NY.

1862 – The Confederate ironclad “Merrimack” was launched.

1907 – The British House of Commons turned down a women’s suffrage bill.

1910 – The King of Spain authorized women to attend universities.

1911 – In Europe, International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time.

1917 – Russia’s “February Revolution” began with rioting and strikes in St. Petersburg. The revolution was called the “February Revolution” due to Russia’s use of the Old Style calendar.

1917 – The U.S. Senate voted to limit filibusters by adopting the cloture rule.

1921 – French troops occupied Dusseldorf.

1945 – Phyllis Mae Daley received a commission in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. She later became the first African-American nurse to serve duty in World War II.

1946 – The French naval fleet arrived at Haiphong, Vietnam.

1954 – France and Vietnam opened talks in Paris on a treaty to form the state of Indochina.

1965 – The U.S. landed about 3,500 Marines in South Vietnam. They were the first U.S. combat troops to land in Vietnam.

1966 – Australia announced that it would triple the number of troops in Vietnam.

 

March 8, 1782

Pennsylvania militiamen senselessly murder Patriot allies

On this day in 1782, 160 Pennsylvania militiamen murder 96 Christian Indians–39 children, 29 women and 28 men–by hammering their skulls with mallets from behind as they kneel unarmed, praying and singing, in their Moravian Mission at Gnadenhuetten in the Ohio Country. The Patriots then piled their victims’ bodies in mission buildings before burning the entire community to the ground. Two boys managed to survive, although one had lost his scalp to his attackers. Although the militiamen claimed they were seeking revenge for Indian raids on their frontier settlements, the Indians they murdered had played no role in any attack.

This infamous attack on non-combatants led to a loss of faith in the Patriots by their Indian allies and reprisals upon Patriot captives in Indian custody. The Indians resurrected the practice of ritualized torture, discontinued during the Seven Years’ War, on the men they were able to apprehend who had participated in the Gnadenhuetten atrocity.

Although the Moravians and their Indian converts were pacifists who refused to kill under any circumstances, they found other ways to assist the Patriot cause. Like other Indian allies who refused to kill fellow Indians, they aided the Patriots by working as guides and spies. The German Moravian missionaries were also supplying the Americans with critical information, for which they were later arrested and tried by the British.

None of this protected the Indians when 160 members of the Pennsylvania militia decided to act as judge, jury and executioner. The Delaware Indians they murdered were neutral pacifists. Their Christian missionaries were aiding the Patriot cause. Furthermore, they did not live in the manner described as “savage” by European settlers–they were instead engaged in European-style settled agriculture in their mission village. There was no political, religious or cultural justification for the militiamen’s indiscriminate brutality during the Gnadenhuetten massacre; the incident is sadly illustrative of the anti-Indian racism that sometimes trumped even political allegiances during the American Revolution.

“Pennsylvania militiamen senselessly murder Patriot allies.” 2009. The History Channel website. 8 Mar 2009, 01:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=304.

07
Mar
09

On This Day, March 7: The Rhineland

March 7, 1936

Hitler reoccupies the Rhineland

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler violates the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pact by sending German military forces into the Rhineland, a demilitarized zone along the Rhine River in western Germany.

The Treaty of Versailles, signed in July 1919–eight months after the guns fell silent in World War I–called for stiff war reparation payments and other punishing peace terms for defeated Germany. Having been forced to sign the treaty, the German delegation to the peace conference indicated its attitude by breaking the ceremonial pen. As dictated by the Treaty of Versailles, Germany’s military forces were reduced to insignificance and the Rhineland was to be demilitarized.

In 1925, at the conclusion of a European peace conference held in Switzerland, the Locarno Pact was signed, reaffirming the national boundaries decided by the Treaty of Versailles and approving the German entry into the League of Nations. The so-called “spirit of Locarno” symbolized hopes for an era of European peace and goodwill, and by 1930 German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann had negotiated the removal of the last Allied troops in the demilitarized Rhineland.

However, just four years later, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party seized full power in Germany, promising vengeance against the Allied nations that had forced the Treaty of Versailles on the German people. In 1935, Hitler unilaterally canceled the military clauses of the treaty and in March 1936 denounced the Locarno Pact and began remilitarizing of the Rhineland. Two years later, Nazi Germany burst out of its territories, absorbing Austria and portions of Czechoslovakia. In 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, leading to the outbreak of World War II in Europe.

“Hitler reoccupies the Rhineland.” 2009. The History Channel website. 7 Mar 2009, 05:20 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4815.

On This Day

0322 BC – Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, died.

1774 – The British closed the port of Boston to all commerce.

1848 – In Hawaii, the Great Mahele was signed.

1850 – U.S. Senator Daniel Webster endorsed the Compromise of 1850 as a method of preserving the Union.

1876 – Alexander Graham Bell received a patent (U.S. Patent No. 174,465) for his telephone.

1906 – Finland granted women the right to vote.

1918 – Finland signed an alliance treaty with Germany.

1925 – The Soviet Red Army occupied Outer Mongolia.

1945 – During World War II, U.S. forces crossed the Rhine River at Remagen, Germany.

1954 – Russia appeared for the first time in ice-hockey competition. Russia defeated Canada 7-2 to win the world ice-hockey title in Stockholm, Sweden.

1965 – State troopers and a sheriff’s posse broke up a march by civil rights demonstrators in Selma, AL.

1971 – A thousand U.S. planes bombed Cambodia and Laos.

1989 – Poland accused the Soviet Union of a World War II massacre in Katyn.

1994 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parodies that poke fun at an original work can be considered “fair use” that does not require permission from the copyright holder.

March 7, 1941

British forces arrive in Greece

On this day, a British expeditionary force from North Africa lands in Greece.

In October 1940, Mussolini’s army, already occupying Albania, invaded Greece in what proved to be a disastrous military campaign for the Duce’s forces. Mussolini surprised everyone with this move against Greece, but he was not to be upstaged by recent Nazi conquests. According to Hitler, who was stunned by a move that he knew would be a strategic blunder, Mussolini should have concentrated on North Africa by continuing the advance into Egypt. The Italians paid for Mussolini’s hubris, as the Greeks succeeded in pushing the Italian invaders back into Albania after just one week, and the Axis power spent the next three months fighting for its life in a series of defensive battles.

Mussolini’s precipitate maneuver frustrated Hitler because it opened an opportunity for the British to enter Greece and establish an airbase in Athens, putting the Brits within striking distance of valuable oil reserves in Romania, which Hitler relied upon for his war machine. It also meant that Hitler would have to divert forces from North Africa, a high strategic priority, to bail Mussolini out of Greece-and postpone Hitler’s planned invasion of the Soviet Union.

The Brits indeed saw an opening in Greece, and on March 7, 1941, Prime Minister Winston Churchill diverted troops from Egypt and sent 58,000 British and Aussie troops to occupy the Olympus-Vermion line. But the Brits would be blown out of the Pelopponesus Peninsula when Hitler’s forces invaded on the ground and from the air in April. Thousands of British and Australian forces were captured there and on Crete, where German paratroopers landed in May.

“British forces arrive in Greece.” 2009. The History Channel website. 7 Mar 2009, 05:20 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6734.

06
Mar
09

On This Day, March 6: Georgi Malenkov

March 6, 1953

Georgi Malenkov succeeds Stalin

Just one day after the death of long-time Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Georgi Malenkov is named premier and first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Malenkov’s tenure was extremely brief, and within a matter of weeks he was pushed aside by Nikita Khrushchev.

Malenkov was one of the few old-time Bolsheviks who had survived Stalin’s bloody purges of the 1930s. A quiet figure who seemed to prefer working in the background, Malenkov was not taken seriously by many of his peers in the Soviet government, but under Stalin’s watchful eye he proceeded up the Communist Party hierarchy throughout the 1930s and 1940s. By the late-1940s it was widely assumed that he would succeed Stalin. When Stalin died in March 1953, Malenkov took the position of premier and first secretary of the Communist Party. It appeared that he might have a reformist streak, as he called for cuts in military spending and eased up on political repression in the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc nations. These actions might have proved his undoing. In just two weeks, his main political opponent in the Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev, had organized a coalition of political and military leaders against Malenkov and took over as first secretary.

In February 1955, this same group voted Malenkov out as premier and a Khrushchev puppet, Nikolai Bulganin, took over. Malenkov seethed at this action and in 1957 joined in a plot to overthrow Khrushchev. When the attempt failed, he was dismissed from his government positions and expelled from the Communist Party. Instead of imprisonment, Malenkov faced the disgrace of being sent to Kazakhstan to serve as the manager of a hydroelectric operation. He died in 1988.

Malenkov was a transition figure from the iron-fisted dictatorship of Joseph Stalin to the more moderate regime instituted by Nikita Khrushchev. In an ironic turn of affairs, Khrushchev eventually supported many of the reforms first put forward by Malenkov.

“Georgi Malenkov succeeds Stalin.” 2009. The History Channel website. 6 Mar 2009, 05:15 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2598.

On This Day

1521 – Ferdinand Magellan discovered Guam.

1820 – The Missouri Compromise was enacted by the U.S. Congress and signed by U.S. President James Monroe. The act admitted Missouri into the Union as a slave state, but prohibited slavery in the rest of the northern Louisiana Purchase territory.

1836 – The thirteen-day siege of the Alamo by Santa Anna and his army ended. The Mexican army of three thousand men defeated the 189 Texas volunteers.

1857 – The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision ruled that blacks could not sue in federal court to be citizens.

1944 – During World War II, U.S. heavy bombers began the first American raid on Berlin. Allied planes dropped 2000 tons of bombs.

1946 – Ho Chi Minh, the President of Vietnam, struck an agreement with France that recognized his country as an autonomous state within the Indochinese Federation and the French Union.

1957 – The British African colonies of the Gold Coast and Togoland became the independent state of Ghana.

1960 – Switzerland granted women the right to vote in municipal elections.

1960 – The United States announced that it would send 3,500 troops to Vietnam.

1967 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his plan to establish a draft lottery.

1973 – U.S. President Richard Nixon imposed price controls on oil and gas.

March 6, 1951

The Rosenberg trial begins

The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg begins in New York Southern District federal court. Judge Irving R. Kaufman presides over the espionage prosecution of the couple accused of selling nuclear secrets to the Russians (treason could not be charged because the United States was not at war with the Soviet Union). The Rosenbergs, and co-defendant, Morton Sobell, were defended by the father and son team of Emanuel and Alexander Bloch. The prosecution includes the infamous Roy Cohn, best known for his association with Senator Joseph McCarthy.

David Greenglass was a machinist at Los Alamos, where America developed the atomic bomb. Julius Rosenberg, his brother-in-law, was a member of the American Communist Party and was fired from his government job during the Red Scare. According to Greenglass, Rosenberg asked him to pass highly confidential instructions on making atomic weapons to the Soviet Union. These materials were transferred to the Russians by Harry Gold, an acquaintance of Greenglass. The Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb (and effectively started the Cold War) in September 1949 based on information, including that from Greenglass, they had obtained from spies.

The only direct evidence of the Rosenberg’s involvement was the confession of Greenglass. The left-wing community believed that the Rosenbergs were prosecuted because of their membership in the Communist Party. Their case became the cause celebre of leftists throughout the nation.

The trial lasted nearly a month, finally ending on April 4 with convictions for all the defendants. The Rosenbergs were sentenced to death row on April 6. Sobell received a thirty-year sentence. Greenglass got fifteen years for his cooperation. Reportedly, the Rosenbergs were offered a deal in which their death sentences would be commuted in return for an admission of their guilt. They refused and were executed.

“The Rosenberg trial begins.” 2009. The History Channel website. 6 Mar 2009, 05:18 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=929.




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