This Day in History (25-Feb- 1932) – Adolf Hitler obtains German citizenship by naturalization, which allows him to run in the 1932 election for Reichspräsident

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.



This Day in History (3-Jan-1925) – Benito Mussolini announces he will become dictator of Italy

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini, son of Italian blacksmith, moved to Switzerland at the age of 19 due to poverty, where he became involved in socialist politics. He returned to Italy in couple of years, and worked as a journalist in the socialist press, but he abandoned his party to advocate Italian intervention in World War I. Following the war, in which he served as a rifleman, Mussolini decided his destiny was to rule Italy as a modern Caesar and re-create the Roman Empire.  In March 1919, Mussolini formed the Fascist Party, galvanising the support of many unemployed war veterans. He organised them into armed squads known as Black Shirts, who terrorised their political opponents.

By October 1922, Italy seemed to be slipping into political chaos. The Black Shirts marched on Rome and Mussolini presented himself as the only man capable of restoring order. King Victor Emmanuel invited Mussolini to form a government. Mussolini gradually dismantled the institutions of democratic government and in 1925 made himself dictator, taking the title ‘Il Duce’. He set about attempting to re-establish Italy as a great European power. The regime was held together by strong state control and Mussolini’s cult of personality. In 1935, Mussolini invaded Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and incorporated it into his new Italian Empire. He provided military support to Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Increasing co-operation with Nazi Germany culminated in the 1939 Pact of Steel. Influenced by Hitler, Mussolini began to introduce anti-Jewish legislation in Italy. His declaration of war on Britain and France in June 1940 exposed Italian military weakness and was followed by a series of defeats in North and East Africa and the Balkans.

After the Allied victories of November 1942, Mussolini implored Hitler to make peace with Joseph Stalin and concentrate on defeating the British-American forces. Hitler’s refusal and the Sicilian invasion convinced the king and high command to overthrow Mussolini in July 1943. In September, Italy signed an armistice with the Allies. Mussolini was rescued by German commandos and was installed as the leader of a new government, but had little power. The April 1945 German surrender in Italy forced Mussolini to flee. Insurgents captured and shot him.


This Day in History (24-Dec-1914) – The “Christmas Truce” of World War I Begins

During World War I, a battle line was drawn at the Western Front – stretching from Lorraine in the south to the English Channel in the north. Soldiers dug trenches and erected barbed wire to hold their positions. In places, the trenches were just yards apart and, as the soldiers realised that neither side was going to make any rapid victories or progress, the trenches became more fortified. The opposing forces now had time to regroup and strengthen their lines with more men. The proximity of the enemies also allowed men to shout out to their opponents or stick up signs on wooden boards. After a particularly heavy barrage of missiles or bullets, the soldiers might shout out “Missed” or “Left a bit”.

For much of December it had been wet but on Christmas Eve the temperature dropped and a sharp frost enveloped the landscape. The shouting between troops turned into something more during Christmas Eve. Germans celebrate Christmas on December 24 more than they do on the day itself (in Britain and France, December 25 is the main day of celebration). So on the Western Front on Christmas Eve, German soldiers began to sing carols and place Christmas trees lit with lanterns above the trenches.

As written in one of the British soldier’s letter, “On Christmas Eve the Germans entrenched opposite us began calling out to us ‘Cigarettes’, ‘Pudding’, ‘A Happy Christmas’ and ‘English – means good’, so two of our fellows climbed over the parapet of the trench and went towards the German trenches. Half-way they were met by four Germans, who said they would not shoot on Christmas Day if we did not. They gave our fellows cigars and a bottle of wine and were given a cake and cigarettes. When they came back I went out with some more of our fellows and we were met by about 30 Germans, who seemed to be very nice fellows. I got one of them to write his name and address on a postcard as a souvenir. All through the night we sang carols to them and they sang to us and one played ‘God Save the King’ on a mouth organ.”

The enduring legacy of the informal ‘Christmas truce’ has been positive and it’s looked upon today as a wonderful example of humanity during an dreadfully dark hour of man’s history.


This Day in History (11-Nov-1918) – World War I Ends at the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, was shot to death with his wife by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the problem of Slavic nationalism once and for all. As Russia supported Serbia, an Austro-Hungarian leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention.

On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed. On July 29, Austro-Hungarian forces began to shell the Serbian capital, Belgrade, and Russia, Serbia’s ally, ordered a troop mobilization against Austria-Hungary. France, allied with Russia, began to mobilize on August 1. France and Germany declared war against each other on August 3. After crossing through neutral Luxembourg, the German army invaded Belgium on the night of August 3-4, prompting Great Britain, Belgium’s ally, to declare war against Germany.  Most patriotically assumed that their country would be victorious within months.

By summer of 1918, assaults by the British and French rolled back the German opposition. As September ended, it became clear to German officers that the time to sue for peace had come. On November 9th, Kaiser Wilhelm officially stepped down from the German throne as part of the conditions for the cease-fire. Orders were soon shipped through to commanders near the front lines on both sides: fighting would officially come to an end at November 11, 1918 at 11am. The end of combat operations was greeted with cheers from all angles.

World War I had resulted in an estimated 30 million deaths and injuries among the troops, with an additional 10 million civilian casualties. The advent of new technologies to deal death — tanks, airplanes equipped with bombs, mustard gas — wreaked destruction on unprecedented levels. Saddling the Germans with heavy responsibility and extensive financial obligations, the Treaty of Versailles announced on June 28, 1919, triggered the World War II.



This Day in History (23-Oct-1946) – The United Nations General Assembly Convenes in New York for the First Time

As the world recovered from World War II, officials from all over the planet convened in Flushing in the New York City borough of Queens on October 23, 1946. The United Nations General Assembly, meeting for the first time in the metropolis that would later house its headquarters, has since become the primary international body for humanitarian aid — though it has fallen short of being the peacemaker many hoped it would be due to Cold War divisions and diverse political interests.

The idea for an organization to help mete out peace first arose during the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. With leadership in many nations reluctant to commit to the enforcement of League decisions, including the United States Congress, the organization quickly fell apart by the middle of the 1930s. As battles raged on multiple fronts during World War II, leaders from the United States, Soviet Union and Great Britain began a series of discussions about creating a more secure international organization in 1943 at meetings in Moscow and Tehran. The slow process for determining how the group would function, which would later grow to include a wide variety of governments and non-government organizations, came to a head when the United Nations Conference on International Organization met in San Francisco during April 1945.  With 51 founding members, the organization has grown to include 193 nations today.

Due to its unique international character, and the powers vested in its founding Charter, the Organization can take action on a wide range of issues, and provide a forum for its 193 Member States to express their views, through the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and other bodies and committees. The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe. UNO is best known for peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, in order to achieve its goals and coordinate efforts for a safer world for this and future generations. There are currently more than 100,000 UN peacekeepers in 16 peace operations.


This Day in History (18-Jul-1925) – Hitler publishes Mein Kampf (My Struggle)

Although it is thought of as having been ‘written’ by Hitler, Mein Kampf is not a book in the usual sense. Hitler never actually sat down and wrote, but instead dictated it to Rudolf Hess while pacing around his prison cell in 1923-24 and later at an inn at Berchtesgaden. Reading Mein Kampf is like listening to Hitler speak at length about his youth, early days in the Nazi Party, future plans for Germany, and ideas on politics and race. In his book, Hitler divides humans into categories based on physical appearance, establishing higher and lower orders, or types of humans. At the top, according to Hitler, is the Germanic man with his fair skin, blond hair and blue eyes. Hitler refers to this type of person as an Aryan. He asserts that the Aryan is the supreme form of human, or master race. Hitler assigns the inferior position to Jews and the Slavic peoples, notably the Czechs, Poles, and Russians.

Mein Kampf also provides an explanation for the military conquests later attempted by Hitler and the Germans. Hitler states that since the Aryans are the master race, they are entitled simply by that fact to acquire more land for themselves. But in order to achieve this, Hitler states, Germany must first defeat its old enemy France, to avenge the German defeat of World War I and to secure the western border. Hitler bitterly recalls the end of the First World War, saying the German Army was denied its chance for victory on the battlefield by political treachery at home.

When Mein Kampf was first released in 1925 it sold poorly. However, after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, millions of copies were sold. It was considered proper to own a copy and to give one to newlyweds, high school graduates, or to celebrate any similar occasion. But few Germans ever read it cover to cover. Although it made him rich, Hitler would later express regret that he produced Mein Kampf, considering the extent of its revelations. Those revelations concerning the nature of his character and his blueprint for Germany’s future served as a warning to the world. A warning that was mostly ignored.



This Day in History (15-Jul-1916) – Boeing Co (Pacific Aero) formed by William Boeing in Seattle Wash

In 1916 William Boeing and Navy engineer Conrad Westervelt founded the Pacific Aero Products Company in Seattle, and they built the B&W seaplane. When one year later Westervelt was recalled to active service in World War I, the company was renamed to the Boeing Airplane Company. During World War I the company manufactured aircraft for Navy training and patrol. Next to building airplanes the company at first also exploited an airline, and in 1919 they started the first international postal line between Seattle and Victoria in British Columbia. In 1927 Boeing built its first commercial airplane, the Model 40. In 1929 Boeing merged with engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, and they founded the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation. Its growth was spectacular and it subsequently purchased several regional airlines, and in 1931 it was renamed to United Air Lines. But in 1934 they had to deal with federal antitrust actions and were required to split up the company into three different companies; the Boeing Airplane Company, Pratt & Whitney and United Airlines.

During World War II Boeing produced hundreds of the B-17 Flying Fortress, that became the main U.S. bomber. This airplane was cherished by the pilots, because even half shot to pieces it would still manage to remain in the air and safely return. By 1944 the Seattle factory produced sixteen B-17 aircraft per day! Another aircraft was the B-29 bomber, the most famous of which was the Enola Gay, that carried the first atomic bomb to Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. It was followed in 1952 by the B-52 bomber. In 1958 it brought out the 707, which would prove to be a huge commercial success, and this model was succeeded by the 727, the 737 and the 747. In 1979 it extended to the 767, in 1990 to the 777. Its most recent offspring is the new 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial and military aircraft, and it controls more than half of the market for jet aircraft, next to military jets and helicopters, missile systems and space technology.  Boing is the largest exporter in the United States by dollar value.