Adolf Hitler was an Austrian German. He lost his father at the age of 13. Throughout his youth, Hitler dreamed of becoming an artist. He applied twice to the Vienna Academy of Art but was denied entrance both times. After his mother’s death in 1908, Hitler spent four years living on the streets of Vienna, selling postcards of his artwork to make a little money. it is just as likely that Hitler picked up a hatred for Jews while living on the streets of Vienna, a city known at the time for its antisemitism.
Hitler volunteered to serve in the German army once World War I began. Hitler endured and survived four years of war. During this time, he was awarded two Iron Crosses for bravery. He sustained two major injuries during the war. The first occurred in October 1916 when he was wounded by a grenade splinter. The other was in October 1918, when a gas attack caused Hitler to go temporarily blind. It was while Hitler was recovering from the gas attack that the war got over. Hitler was furious that Germany had surrendered and felt strongly that Germany had been “stabbed in the back” by its leaders. Furious at Germany’s surrender, Hitler returned to Munich after the end of World War I, determined to enter politics. In 1919, Hitler became the 55th member of a small antisemitic party called the German Worker’s Party and soon became a party leader. He designed the swastika logo and renamed party to Nazi party.
Hitler had formally renounced his Austrian citizenship in 1925, but at the time did not acquire German citizenship. For almost seven years he was stateless, unable to run for public office, and faced the risk of deportation from Germany. On 25 February 1932, the interior minister of Brunswick, who was a member of the Nazi Party, appointed Hitler as administrator for the state’s delegation to the Reichsrat in Berlin, making Hitler a citizen of Brunswick, and thus of Germany.
In 1932, Hitler ran against von Hindenburg in the presidential elections. Hitler came in second in both rounds of the election, garnering more than 35 per cent of the vote in the final election. Although he lost to Hindenburg, this election established Hitler as a strong force in German politics.
The Communist Manifesto was a product of the social, economic and political turmoil that characterised Europe before 1850. Both of its authors, Marx and Engels, were touched by elements of this turmoil. Like many young Germans, Marx and Engels were profoundly influenced by the German philosopher Georg Hegel who had developed a theory of history that explained change. Collaboration between Marx and Engels began in Paris in 1844. In 1847 they joined an organisation of working-class German exiles, the League of the Just. A number of changes made at the 1847 congress of the League indicate their growing influence within it. The name, for example, was changed to the Communist League. In the aftermath of these changes, Marx and Engels were invited to draft a statement of aims. This was the genesis of The Communist Manifesto which was published on February 21, 1848. It is one of the world’s most-read political manuscripts.
The Communist Manifesto outlines a form of government designed to distribute wealth and eliminate social strata, for, as Marx and Engels wrote: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Detailing the reasons why capitalism led to tension between the well-to-do bourgeoisie and the hard-laboring proletariat, Marx and Engels suggested the working class would soon rise up to overthrow their oppressors — hence the League’s slogan (borrowed from Marx): “Workers of the world, unite!”
Three days after Manifesto was published, February 23rd, riots broke out in France. Germany would see demonstrations next, followed by Denmark and nearly a dozen nations — some as far away as South America. Still, more than a century and a half after its first publication, The Communist Manifesto has a bewildering power over readers. The ideas espoused by Marx and Engels reflect a prescience few works can claim, as the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011 often pointed to the same differences in class Marx touched on 163 years before. Marx and Engels may not have changed the world, but they certainly changed the way we interpret it.
In 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of national emergency. Thousands of opposition political activists, as well as leaders were arrested. Calling elections in 1977 the government released political prisoners and weakened restrictions and censorship on the press. When opposition leaders sought the support of Jayaprakash Narayan for the forthcoming election, he insisted that all opposition parties form a united front.
The Janata party was officially launched on 23 January 1977 when the Janata Morcha, Charan Singh’s Bharatiya Lok Dal, Swatantra Party, the Socialist Party of India of Raj Narain and George Fernandes, and the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) joined together, dissolving their separate identities. Although the political ideologies of Janata Party constituents were diverse and conflicting, the party was able to unite under the over-reaching appeal of Jayaprakash Narayan, who had been seen as the ideological leader of the anti-Emergency movement and now the Janata party. Morarji Desai was elected the first party chairman. Ramakrishna Hegde became the party general secretary, and Jana Sangh politician Lal Krishna Advani became the party spokesperson.
As it became clear that Indira’s Emergency rule had been widely unpopular, defections from the Congress (R) government increased. A former Minister of Defence, Jagjivan Ram left the Congress (R) and formed the Congress for Democracy along with the former Chief Minister of Orissa Nandini Satpathy, former Union Minister of State for Finance K. R. Ganesh, former M.P. D. N. Tiwari and Bihar politician Raj Mangal Pandey. Congress for Democracy contested the election with the same manifesto as the Janata party and subsequently merged.
Janata party won a sweeping victory, securing 43.2% of the popular vote and 271 seats. With the support of the Akali Dal and the Congress for Democracy, it had amassed a two-thirds, or absolute majority of 345 seats. Raj Narain defeated Indira in Rae Bareilly constituency. The first non-Congress Government was formed with Moraraji Desai as a Prime Minister. However continuous in-fighting and ideological differences made the Janata government unable to effectively address national problem and was defragmented losing elections in 1980.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was appointed as the Railways and Transport Minister in the Central Cabinet in 1952. Shastriji strove hard to set right and regulate the railways. He succeeded in this to a large extent. There were four classes- first, second, intermediate and third in the railways then. First class compartments offered extreme luxury and were almost heavenly. But the discomfort of passengers in the third class compartments was beyond description. Shastriji reduced the vast disparity. The first class was abolished. The old second came to be known as the first class and the intermediate class as the second class. His idea was to have only two classes of compartments in course of time – the first and the second. It was he who provided more facilities to travelers in third class compartments. It was during his time that fans were provided in the third class compartments. He also worked hard to improve the administration of Railways and to eliminate thefts in the trains.
In 1956, 144 passengers died in an accident that took place near Ariyalur in Tamil Nadu. Just three months before this, an accident had occurred at Mehboob Nagar in which 112 people died. Shastriji was in no way directly responsible for these accidents. Yet he was very much pained. He felt he could not escape the moral responsibility for them. He had submitted his resignation letter to Pandit Nehru when the Mehboob Nagar accident took place. But Nehru had not accepted it. But when the Ariyalur accident took place Shastriji said, ‘I must do penance for this. Let me go.’ So strong was his sense of responsibility.
People used to call him the homeless Home Minister because he did not have a house of his own. He had rented a small house in Allahabad. Even when he was a minister, he used to stay in that house when he went to Allahabad. After a few days the owner of the house let it out to another family. When Shastriji resigned as minister he vacated the government quarters and he did not have a place to line in! Lal Bahadur Shastri was the first person to be posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, (India’s highest civilian award).
In 1967 while Indira Gandhi was PM, the Syndicate consisting of Moraraji Desai and others was controlling Indian National Congress (INC). On Kamaraj’s retirement as party president at the end of 1967, Syndicate foiled Indira’s attempt to have her own men elected to succeed him. Instead, the post went to the conservative Nijalingappa. In May 1967, the Congress Working Committee adopted a radical Ten-Point Programme which included social control of banks, nationalization of general insurance, abolition of princely privileges etc. making it a left wing. However, the Congress right, Syndicate opposed it.
On the death of President Zakir Husain in May 1969, the Syndicate despite Indira Gandhi’s opposition, nominated Sanjiva Reddy, as the Congress candidate for presidentship. As retaliation, Indira took away the Finance portfolio from Desai on the grounds that as a conservative he was incapable of implementing her radical programme. Other Presidential candidates were C.D. Deshmukh and V.V. Giri. At this stage, the Syndicate made a major blunder. To assure Reddy’s election, Nijalingappa met the leaders of Jan Sangh and Swatantra and persuaded them to cast their second preference votes in favour of Reddy. Indira Gandhi immediately accused the Syndicate of having struck a secret deal with communal and reactionary forces in order to oust her from power. She now openly, supported Giri in favour of Reddy and asked Congress MPs and MLAs to vote freely according to their ‘conscience’. In the election, nearly one-third of them defied the organizational leadership and voted for Giri, who won by narrow margin.
In the end, on 12 November, the defeated and humiliated Syndicate took disciplinary action against Indira Gandhi and expelled her from the party for having violated party discipline. The party had finally split with Indira Gandhi setting up a rival organization, which came to be known as Congress (R)—R for Requisitionists. The Syndicate-dominated Congress came to be known as Congress (0)—0 for Organization. In the final countdown, 220 of the party’s Lok Sabha MPs went with Indira Gandhi and 68 with the Syndicate. In the All India Congress Committee too 446 of its 705 members walked over to Indira’s side. Indira Gandhi won 1971 elections with 2/3rd Majority.
In the 1971 elections Raj Narain stood against the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in her constituency of Rae Bareili in the state of U.P. Raj Narain lost with a huge margin. He brought out an election petition against Indira Gandhi alleging that she won the election by flouting the election laws. The suit was instituted against her in the Allahabad High Court. Raj Narain’s primary contention was that Indira Gandhi had infringed the provisions of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 during her campaign as she had been assisted by a Gazetted government officer who was on duty – Yashpal Kapur, the police, the armed forces, used government vehicles, exceeded the prescribed limit on campaign expenditure and had also distributed liquor and clothing to the voters in the constituency.
Hearing of the case began on 15 July 1971 before Justice B.N. Lokur, who rejected Raj Narain’s request of the prime minister being called to depose before the court and also for certain government documents be placed before the court so as the court could take cognizance of them. Raj Narain did not admit defeat and moved the Supreme Court where a 3-judge bench heard his request and allowed the appeal. The case proceeded in the Allahabad High court until 1974 when Mrs. Gandhi filed an appeal in the Supreme Court requesting “privilege” for not having to produce the “blue book” (Rules and Instructions for the Protection of Prime Minister when on Tour or in Travel) in the court as evidence. A bench of five Supreme Court judges allowed her appeal setting aside the order of the High Court demanding the production of the Blue Book, and directed the case to the High Court this time to be heard by a single judge, Justice J.L.Sinha.
The case was heard accordingly and the verdict was delivered on the 12th of June 1975 charging the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to be guilty of corrupt practice for having used the government officers in her campaign and unseating her from the membership of the Lok Sabha. Justice Sinha also granted the respondent’s a stay for 20 days on the verdict. The events subsequently led to the imposition of emergency in India.
In 1950, the nations of Europe were still struggling to overcome the devastation wrought by World War II, which had ended 5 years earlier. Robert Schuman was an influential political figure in post war France, serving as Prime Minister between 1947 and 1948. He then took on the role of Foreign Minister between 1948 and 1953. France’s main concern at this time was to prevent another invasion by Germany. Determined to prevent another such terrible war, European governments concluded that pooling coal and steel production would – in the words of the Declaration – make war between historic rivals France and Germany “not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible”. It was thought – correctly – that merging of economic interests would help raise standards of living and be the first step towards a more united Europe.
The Schuman Declaration was presented by Schuman on 9 May 1950. It proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), whose members would pool coal and steel production. Membership of the ECSC was open to other countries as well. The ECSC was founding by France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. ECSC introduced a common steel and coal market across the member countries with freely set market prices, and without internal import/export duties or subsidies.
The success of ECSC led to further steps, foreseen by Schuman, being taken with the creation of the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community. The two European Commissions of the latter Rome Treaties and the High Authority merged into a single European Commission in the 1960s. Further intergovernmental, (non-supranational), bodies and areas of activities were created leading to the creation of the European Union in 1993. The Declaration is viewed as one of the main founding events of the EU and the event is commemorated annually as Europe Day and Schuman himself is considered one of the Founding fathers of the European Union.