June 26

1863 Countdown to Infamy: The French naval dispatch steamer Kienchang is attacked when rebel Japanese artillery atop the bluffs surrounding Shimonoseki open fire on her. Damaged in several places, the French vessel escapes with only one wounded sailor. Note: The Japanese rebels fight under the slogan "Revere the Emperor and expel the barbarians!" (Satow, Craig)

[See: Countdown to Infamy.]

1898 Birth: Willi Messerschmitt: German aircraft designer:

Born in Frankfurt, Messerschmitt made his first glider flight at the age of 14, and designed and built his own unpowered aircraft three years later. He set up his own company and began to build motorized aircraft in 1923. His first successful fighter plane, the Bf 109, became a key part of the new Luftwaffe, the Nazi air force, during World War II after being successfully used in the Spanish Civil War. The Bf 109 had one of the largest production runs in the history of aviation.

Messerschmitt also built the first really large transport plane, the six-engine "Gigant." Weighing 50 tons when fully loaded, it mounted up to 15 machine guns. It carried 22 tons of cargo or up to 120 fully equipped infantrymen. Its wingspan of 55 meters (180 ft) approached the 59-m (195-ft) span of the Boeing 747 airliner built nearly 30 years later.

Messerschmitt pioneered the construction of jet- and rocket-powered interceptors. These planes waited until enemy bombers appeared, then flew up swiftly to meet them and attacked at high speed. His rocket plane was designated the Me 163 "Komet," and burned hydrogen peroxide as a fuel. The Komet reached 1,003 km/h (623 mph) in a test in 1941—twice the speed of most fast fighter planes of the day.

Messerschmitt's most serious high-tech effort was the Me 262, the world's first jet fighter to fly in combat. Although it performed well in the air, its engine, which was redesigned to use more plentiful materials rather than the heat-resistant metals of the original design, tended to fail, and the plane did not see a lot of flying time.

After World War II, Messerschmitt was arrested and imprisoned for having used slave labor during the war. He spent two years in prison, then was released and went back into business manufacturing sewing machines and prefabricated housing. In 1958, he returned to the production of aircraft, building a small Italian fighter plane under license. His company later produced an advanced American fighter, the Lockheed F-104. After 1960, the West German aviation industry consolidated into fewer but stronger companies that could compete effectively in the international market. In 1969 this led to the formation of a large combined corporation, Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm. Willi Messerschmitt was named honorary chairman, holding this position until his death.

1904 Birth: Peter Lorre:

As a youth Peter Lorre ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk and, after stage training in Vienna, made his acting debut in Zurich. He remained unknown, traveling for several years and acting in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, until Fritz Lang cast him as the psychopathic child killer in M (1931). After several more films in Germany, Lorre left as the Nazis came to power, going to Paris, London and, in 1935, Hollywood. He played Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment (1935) and a series of Mr. Moto movies during the late 1930s. He began his pairing with Sydney Greenstreet as Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon (1941), continued in Casablanca (1942) and seven other films during the early 1940s. In Germany he wrote, directed and starred in Der Verlorene (1951). After that, somewhat heavier, he played in a string of not-so-stellar efforts, one exception being his role as a clown in The Big Circus (1959). He died the year he made his last movie, playing a stooge in Jerry Lewis' The Patsy (1964). (IMDb)

1910 Vienna:

Hitler: Town of the Mice, Vienna

Hitler returns to the Mannerheim, a home for single men. He had disappeared for a week, to an unknown location, after having received 20 Kronen, his half-share of a large sale of paintings. After having apparently gone through the entire 20 Kronen windfall, he now re-registers at the shelter. [For further details, Click here.]

1915 World War I: List Regiment:

Fromelles Watercolor, 1915, by Hitler

Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment continues to occupy a position at Fromelles, on a level field with water channels, willow trees and willow stalks. In the distance towards the enemy lines lies an insignificant wood, with barbed wire entanglements. Under the direction of their defense-minded commander, Lieutenant General Gustav Scanzoni von Lichtenfels, the regiment works ceaselessly day and night to further fortify their position at Fromelles while fighting off repeated assaults by the enemy. [For further details, Click here.]

1916 World War I: List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler endures trench warfare in Flanders (Artois) with 3 Company, 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment [List Regiment]. [For further details, Click here.]

1917 World War I: Various:

First US troops arrive in France:

During World War I, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops land in France at the port of Saint Nazaire. The landing site had been kept secret because of the menace of German submarines, but by the time the Americans had lined up to take their first salute on French soil, an enthusiastic crowd had gathered to welcome them. However, the "Doughboys," as the British referred to the green American troops, were untrained, ill-equipped, and far from ready for the difficulties of fighting along the Western Front.

One of U.S. General John J. Pershing's first duties as commander of the American Expeditionary Force was to set up training camps in France and establish communication and supply networks. Four months later, on October 21, the first Americans entered combat when units from the U.S. Army's First Division were assigned to Allied trenches in the Luneville sector near Nancy, France. Each American unit was attached to a corresponding French unit . . . . 

After four years of bloody stalemate along the Western Front, the entrance of America's well-supplied forces into the conflict was a major turning point in the war. When the war finally ended on November 11, 1918, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and more than 50,000 of these men had lost their lives.

List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16th RIR are deployed for Phase 1 operations in Flanders, Belgium. [For further details, Click here.]

1918 World War I (June 17-27): List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16th RIR continues a ten-day rest, during which time they pick up 329 reinforcements and an influx of lightly wounded and mildly sick men from field hospitals. [For further details, Click here.]

1921 Birth: Violette Szabo: French World War II secret agent:

Violette Bushell, the daughter of an English father and a French mother, was born in France on 26th June, 1921. She spent her early childhood in Paris where her father drove a taxi. Later the family moved to London and she was educated at a Brixton Secondary School. At the age of fourteen Violette left school and became a hairdresser's assistant. Later she found work as a sales assistant at Woolworths in Oxford Street.

During the Second World War Violette met Etienne Szabo, an officer in the Free French Army. The couple decided to get married (21st August 1940) when they discovered that Etienne was about to be sent to fight in North Africa. Soon after giving birth to a daughter, Tania Szabo, Violette heard that her husband had been killed at El Alamein. She now developed a strong desire to get involved in the war effort and eventually joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE). She told a fellow recruit: "My husband has been killed by the Germans and I'm going to get my own back." . . . . Violette was parachuted into France where she had the task of obtaining information about the resistance possibilities in the Rouen area. Despite being arrested by the French police she completed her mission successfully and after being in occupied territory for six weeks she returned to England.

Violette returned to France in June 1944 but while with Jacques Dufour, a member of the French Resistance, was ambushed by a German patrol. By providing covering fire Szabo enabled Dufour to escape. Szabo was captured and taken to Limoges and then to Paris. After being tortured by the Gestapo she was sent to Ravensbrueck Concentration Camp in Germany. Sometime in the spring of 1945, with Allied troops closing in on Nazi Germany, Violette Szabo was executed. She was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre and the George Cross. Her story is told in the book and film entitled Carve Her Name With Pride.

1933 Various:

Protocols:The Federation of Jewish Communities of Switzerland and the Berne Jewish Community bring an action against five members of the Swiss National Front, seeking a judgment that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a forgery and a prohibition of their publication. (See May 14, 1935)

Nazi Germany:The disingenuously named Academy of German Law is established:

From the testimony of Hans Frank at Nuremberg:

The Academy of German Law was the principal seat of the most prominent legal brains in Germany in the theoretical and practical fields. Right from the beginning I attached no importance to the question whether the members were members of the Party or not. Ninety per cent of the members of the Academy of German Law were not members of the Party. Their task was to prepare laws, and they worked somewhat on the lines of an advisory committee in a well organised parliament. It was also my idea that the advisory committee of the Academy should replace the legal committees of the German Reichstag, which was gradually fading into the background in the Reich.

1935 Nazi Germany: The German Labor Service (Arbeitdienst) is established and excludes all 'non-Aryans' from national labor service. (THP):

The RAD was created in 1934 as the official labor service of the German state and the Nazi party. The RAD was an outgrowth of previous labor organizations that existed largely as a result of the economic hardships being faced by Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. In their initial manifestation, these labor organizations focused on supplying labor for agricultural related duties and relieving some of the strain of high unemployment—remember that the Great Depression was a worldwide depression and Germany likely suffered more as a result of her defeat in World War I. With the consolidation and renaming of various labor services over time, and the rise to power of the Nazis under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, six-month service in the newly named RAD became compulsory for young men aged 18 to 25. Upon completion of their RAD service, the young men then entered military service. (An exemption was given to young men who signed up for officer training, in which case their compulsory RAD service was waived.)

Prior to Germany's instigation of war in 1939, the RAD worked to reclaim marshlands, build dikes, build and repair roads, plant trees and harvest annual crops. With Germany's general mobilization in late August 1939, over 1,000 RAD units were transferred over to the general military, primarily the Army, where they worked as construction troops in direct support of the military. RAD units served on all fronts in World War II, from Norway to the Mediterranean, and from France to Russia. RAD members carried weapons, manned anti-aircraft batteries and were eligible for combat medals. In April 1945, the RAD died with the criminal regime from which it sprang.

1935 Demilitarized Zone: From the minutes of the working committee of the Reich Defense Council:

Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Jodl: The demilitarized zone requires special treatment. In his speech of the 21st of May and other utterances, the Fuehrer has stated that the stipulations of the Versailles Treaty and the Locarno Pact regarding the demilitarized zone are being observed. To the aide-memoire of the French charge d'affaires on recruiting offices in the demilitarized zone, the Reich Government has replied that neither civilian recruiting authorities nor other offices in the demilitarized zone have been entrusted with mobilization tasks, such as the raising, equipping, and arming of any kind of formations for the event of war or in preparation therefor. Since political complications abroad must be avoided at present under all circumstances, only those preparatory measures that are urgently necessary may be carried out. The existence of such preparations or the intention of making such preparations must be kept in strictest secrecy in the zone itself as well as in the rest of the Reich.

1938 Holocaust: Nazis in Austria order all "non-Aryans" dismissed from all Jewish-owned firms, and close the parks of Vienna to Jews. Jewish schoolchildren are completely segregated.

[See: Austria: The Other Germany.]

1940 World War II: Various:

France: At 1:35 a.m. CET, all acts of war between the French and German armed forces cease officially.

Romania: The Soviets issue an ultimatum to Romania to evacuate Bessarabia within four days. King Carol complies. The Soviets, coveting Romania's substantial oil resources, seize Bessarabia and part of Bucovina.

German Ambassador in the USSR (Schulenburg) to German Foreign Office:

For the Reich Minister personally. Instruction carried out at 9 o'clock this evening at Molotov's office. Molotov expressed his thanks for the understanding attitude of the German Government and its readiness to support the Soviet Union in achieving its claims.

Molotov stated that the Soviet Government also desired a peaceful solution, but repeatedly stressed the fact that the question was particularly urgent and could brook no further delay. I pointed out to Molotov that Soviet renunciation of Bucovina, which never belonged even to Tsarist Russia, would substantially facilitate a peaceful solution.

Molotov countered by saying that Bucovina is the last missing part of a unified Ukraine and that for this reason the Soviet Government must attach importance to solving this question simultaneously with the Bessarabian question. Nevertheless, I gained the impression that Molotov did not entirely dismiss the possibility of renunciation of Bucovina in the course of the negotiations with Rumania. Molotov stated that our wishes concerning the Volksdeutsche could certainly be met in a manner similar to the arrangement in Poland. Molotov promised to consider most favorably our economic interests in Rumania.

In conclusion, Molotov stated that he would report the German point of view to his Government and inform me of its attitude as soon as possible. Molotov added that there had been no discussion of the matter in Moscow or in Bucharest, up to the present. He further mentioned that the Soviet Government simply wished to pursue its own interests and had no intention of encouraging other states (Hungary, Bulgaria) to make demands on Rumania.

German Ambassador in the USSR (Schulenburg) to German Foreign Office:

Following the conversation which the Italian Ambassador, Rosso, had with Foreign Commissar Molotov on June 20, the latter summoned Rosso yesterday afternoon. Molotov explained that he had reported the Italian Government's views to his Government, which had approved them. The Soviet Government was of the opinion that Italian-Soviet relations should be re-established quickly and definitely and should be put on the same basis as those of Germany and the Soviet Government. Molotov stated in this connection that the Soviet Government and Germany were on excellent terms and that the relations between Germany and the Soviet Government were working out very well.

Molotov then declared that in his opinion the war would last until next winter, that there were some political questions, however, which had to be solved without delay, and that he could briefly characterize the Soviet Government's relations with various countries as follows: With Hungary the Soviet Government was maintaining good relations. Certain Hungarian requests were considered reasonable by the Soviet Government. Bulgaria and the Soviet Union were good neighbors. The Soviet-Bulgarian relations were strong and could be strengthened even more. The Bulgarian demands for Dobruja and for access to the Aegean Sea were considered justified by the Soviet Government, which had recognized them and had no objections to their realization. The Soviet Union's attitude toward Rumania was known. The Soviet Union would prefer to realize her claims to Bessarabia (Bucovina was not mentioned) without war, but, if that was impossible because of Rumanian intransigence, she was determined to resort to force. Regarding other areas of Rumania, the Soviet Government would communicate with Germany.

The Soviet Government regards Turkey with deep suspicion. This was a result of Turkey's unfriendly attitude toward Russia and other countries, by which Molotov obviously meant Germany and Italy. Soviet suspicion of Turkey was intensified by the Turkish attitude in regard to the Black Sea, where Turkey desired to play a dominant role, and the Straits, where Turkey wanted to exercise exclusive jurisdiction. The Soviet Government was reducing a Turkish threat to Batum, against which it would have to protect itself toward the south and southeast, in which connection the German and Italian interests would be considered.

In the Mediterranean, the Soviet Government would recognize Italy's hegemony, provided that Italy would recognize the Soviet Government's hegemony in the Black Sea. Ambassador Rosso wired Molotov's statements to his Government with the comment that he considered them very sensible and recommended that they be acted upon as soon as possible.

German Ambassador in the USSR (Schulenburg) to German Foreign Office:

For the Reich Foreign Minister personally. Molotov summoned me this afternoon and declared that the Soviet Government, on the basis of his conversation with me yesterday, had decided to limit its demands to the northern part of Bucovina and the city of Czernowitz. According to Soviet opinion the boundary line should run from the southernmost point of the Soviet West Ukraine at Mt. Kniatiasa, east along the Suczava and then northeast to Hertza on the Pruth, whereby the Soviet Union would obtain direct railway connection from Bessarabia via Czernowitz to Lemberg. Molotov added that the Soviet Government expected German support of this Soviet demand.

To my statement that a peaceful solution might more easily be reached if the Soviet Government would return the Rumanian National Bank's gold reserve, which had been transferred for safekeeping to Moscow during World War I, Molotov declared that this was absolutely out of the question, since Rumania had exploited Bessarabia long enough.

Regarding further treatment of the matter Molotov has the following idea: The Soviet Government will submit its demand to the Rumanian Minister here within the next few days and expects the German Reich Government at the same time urgently to advise the Rumanian Government in Bucharest to comply with the Soviet demands, since war would otherwise be unavoidable. Molotov promised to inform me immediately as soon as he had spoken to the Rumanian Minister. Regarding the Rumanian Government's attitude toward the new Soviet Minister, Molotov appeared to be annoyed and pointed out that the Minister had not yet been given any opportunity to present his credentials, although the customary time had expired.

Turkey declares neutrality:

Turkey was precariously positioned, prime real estate for both the Soviet Union to the north and the Axis Powers to the west. For the Soviets, an occupied or "satellite" Turkey could be yet another buffer zone, protection against invasion. For Germany, it was a means to an end, a bridge to conquests in the Middle East. Turkey could not afford to antagonize one or the other.

But that position would not hold. By the time the Soviet Union had re-conquered Crimea from Germany in 1944, Turkey needed to be seen as an "ally" of the Russian Bear so as not to invite, unwittingly, Russian troops onto its territory. Consequently, Turkey stopped chrome shipments to Germany and—with added prodding by Winston Churchill—declared itself "pro-Allied" but still not a belligerent. But by February 1945, Turkey, anticipating Hitler's defeat, finally formally declared war on Germany.

1941 World War II: Various:

Finland declares war against Russia.

Barbarossa: German armored forces of Panzergruppe 1 (von Kleist) capture Lutsk and Dubno in eastern Poland (USSR territory).

1942 World War II: Various:

Rudolf Hess is transported 200 miles from Camp Z to POW Reception Station, Maindiff Court in South Wales, before the war an admission clinic for the County Mental Hospital at nearby Abergavenny. Hess abruptly quits complaining of being poisoned and drugged; begins sleeping proper hours, eats without complaint, and exercises frequently. Hess' disposition becomes sunny and cheerful, and a car is provided for chauffeur-driven rides in the countryside literally whenever he pleases. (THP)

[See: Was Rudolf Hess 'Crazy'?]

Holocaust: Based on information smuggled out by the Polish underground, the BBC broadcasts that 700,000 Jews have been murdered by the Nazis.

North Africa: The Afrikakorps captures Sidi Barrani, Sollum and Halfaya Pass in Libya.

[See: The Mediterranean Strategy.]

War in the Air: The RAF launches a 1,000-bomber raid on Bremen which causes heavy damage to the Focke-Wulf plant and devastates 27 acres of the inner city (49 aircraft lost).

1943 Various:

Church and Reich: Bishop Preysing sends word to the other bishops by messenger that the divorce decree has again been postponed. He asks the other bishops to each write letters to all government ministries inquiring in strong language about the whereabouts of the deportees, demanding pastoral care for the "non-Aryan" Christians and threatening a public protest. "Beyond this," he says, "one should speak clearly about the outrages inflicted upon the Jews in general." (THP)

Joseph Goebbels speaks at the opening a wartime art exhibition:

Were one to imagine Western culture without its contributions from Germany and Italy, much would be missing. As obvious as this may be, one has to repeat it now and again to give a short but persuasive reply to the enemy's arrogant talk. They love to pretend to be the protectors and defenders of an art and culture that they themselves have not created, or to which they made at best a modest contribution that could vanish without much harm to the cultural edifice. The art treasures they possess were mostly stolen by their armies in Europe or the rest of the world. They have hardly any cultural achievements of their own, and those that they do have stem from the spiritual consciousness of that part of the world that they today are trying to destroy.

1944 World War II: Various:

Normandy: the British Second Army (Dempsey) begins a major offensive in the area of Caen (Operation Epsom):

The logistics of transporting men, weapons, and supplies proved to be a real problem for the Allies in Normandy. The Normandy bocage, the hedgerows and dense thickets in the field, were often intraversable to the tanks, let alone to ordinary transport vehicles. The great caravan of men and equipment had to travel along the roads, which often were virtually destroyed by shelling, and which, when they led through a village, were usually blocked by the piles of rubble that had previously been homes, churches, and farms. Several operations that the Allies undertook in Normandy (such as Epsom, June 28th-July 2nd, the first attempt to take Caen from the West; and Goodwood, July 18th-19th, the somewhat successful attempt to encircle Caen from the East and take the high ground to the South) were failures, or only half successes, largely due to the fact that reinforcements, although they were available, simply could not make it through the traffic in time to broaden the front.

Russian front: 40,000 troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte are surrounded by the Red Army in the area of Vitebsk.

1945 UN Charter signed: In the Herbst Theater auditorium in San Francisco, delegates from 50 nations sign the United Nations Charter, establishing the world body as a means of saving "succeeding generations from the scourge of war." The Charter was ratified on October 24, and the first U.N. General Assembly met in London on January 10, 1946.

Despite the failure of the League of Nations in arbitrating the conflicts that led up to World War II, the Allies as early as 1941 proposed establishing a new international body to maintain peace in the postwar world. The idea of the United Nations began to be articulated in August 1941, when U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter, which proposed a set of principles for international collaboration in maintaining peace and security. Later that year, Roosevelt coined "United Nations" to describe the nations allied against the Axis powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan. The term was first officially used on January 1, 1942, when representatives of 26 Allied nations met in Washington, D.C., and signed the Declaration by the United Nations, which endorsed the Atlantic Charter and presented the united war aims of the Allies.

In October 1943, the major Allied powers—Great Britain, the United States, the USSR, and China—met in Moscow and issued the Moscow Declaration, which officially stated the need for an international organization to replace the League of Nations. That goal was reaffirmed at the Allied conference in Tehran in December 1943, and in August 1944 Great Britain, the United States, the USSR, and China met at the Dumbarton Oaks estate in Washington, D.C., to lay the groundwork for the United Nations. Over seven weeks, the delegates sketched out the form of the world body but often disagreed over issues of membership and voting. Compromise was reached by the "Big Three"—the United States, Britain, and the USSR—at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, and all countries that had adhered to the 1942 Declaration by the United Nations were invited to the United Nations founding conference.

On April 25, 1945, the United Nations Conference on International Organization convened in San Francisco with 50 nations represented. Three months later, during which time Germany had surrendered, the final Charter of the United Nations was unanimously adopted by the delegates. On June 26, it was signed. The Charter, which consisted of a preamble and 19 chapters divided into 111 articles, called for the U.N. to maintain international peace and security, promote social progress and better standards of life, strengthen international law, and promote the expansion of human rights. The principal organs of the U.N., as specified in the Charter, were the Secretariat, the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Trusteeship Council.

On October 24, 1945, the U.N. Charter came into force upon its ratification by the five permanent members of the Security Council and a majority of other signatories. The first U.N. General Assembly, with 51 nations represented, opened in London on January 10, 1946. On October 24, 1949, exactly four years after the United Nations Charter went into effect, the cornerstone was laid for the present United Nations headquarters, located in New York City.

1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: US Justice Robert Jackson departs Washington to meet with his Allied counterparts in London to discuss legal proceedings against Nazi officials. Numerous disagreements are discussed, including whether to use the adversarial system favored by the Americans and British, or the inquisitive system favored by the French and Soviets. The Allies agree to prohibit the use of the defense of superior orders, although they agree to allow its consideration in mitigation of sentence. (Maser II) [Note: Jackson was a member of the US Supreme Court, and therefore used the title even when not sitting in a judicial capacity. He also seemed to have lost the art of cross-examination with his elevation to the Bench.]

[See: Are There Any Lasting Effects From the Nuremberg Trials?]

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 164 of deliberations, former German Foreign Minister and diplomat Constantin von Neurath faces tough examination by Counselor Raginsky Assistant Prosecutor for the USSR:

Counselor Raginsky: In this order of yours, in the penultimate paragraph, it is stated, "The responsibility for all acts of sabotage will be borne not only by the individual perpetrators, but by the entire Czechoslovak population." This means that not only guilty persons have to be punished, but there were punishments set up for innocent people too. With this order you inaugurated the mass terrorism against the Czech population.

Von Neurath: Not at all. It only meant that the moral responsibility for any possible acts was to be laid to the account of the Czech people.

Counselor Raginsky: Well, in Lidice, was this not applied in practice? Was it only a question of the moral responsibility there?

Von Neurath: Yes, yes.

Counselor Raginsky: In this order you state the following: "Those who do not take these necessities into account will be considered enemies of the Reich." To the enemies of the Reich you applied only the principles of moral responsibility and nothing else?

Von Neurath: Yes, if someone did not obey orders, then naturally he was punished.

Counselor Raginsky: That is exactly what I am trying to determine and that is why I put this question to you, that just by this order of August 1939 you started the general terrorism of a massacre and punishment of innocent people.

Von Neurath: Well, I do not know how you can draw this conclusion from this warning.

Counselor Raginsky: We are going now to the deductions which we can make out of this. [For the full text of today's proceedings, Click here.]

From The Nuremberg Trial by Ann and John Tusa:

Fritzsche, like many others, accepted Neurath's view of himself as a conservative aristocrat with a strong sense of duty and inbred decency. Like Papen he projected the image of a high-minded public servant. Fritzsche added to his respect of a German class and tradition pity for the oldest defendant. Neurath sat next to him every day in the dock, straight-backed and still. But on occasion he would drop his head on Fritzsche's shoulder as if asleep, but in fact in a faint. His neighbors would pick the old man up and a guard would advise him to go and rest in his cell. But Neurath would pull himself together and insist on remaining, stiff and dignified again . . . .

During his testimony in chief Neurath retained the 'mild and quiet' manner,' the look of 'handsome distinction' which impressed early observers at the trial. Papen thought it was Neurath's 'Swabian temperment' which 'never allowed him to get flustered.' He claimed ignorance of concentration camps and illegalities by the Gestapo . . . .

As the cross-examination wore on, Neurath became ''red-faced with anger and outraged dignity.' No wonder since such irreparable damage was done to his defence and above all to his pose of selfless aristocratic service.

1946 Death: Yosuke Matsuoka: Diplomat and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan: Yosuke Matsuoka was born in Japan in 1880. When he was thirteen he went to live with relatives in the United States. He studied law and graduated from the University of Oregon in 1900. Matsuoka returned to Japan and joined the foreign service. After 18 successful years as a diplomat he became director of the South Manchurian Railroad. In 1933 Matsuoka led the Japanese delegation to the League of Nations that walked out in protest after the Lytton Commission report was critical of the country's role in Manchuria.

Fumimaro Kondoye appointed Matsuoka as his foreign minister in July 1940 and successfully negotiated the Tripartite Pact with Nazi Germany in September 1940. The following year he visited the Soviet Union and signed a non-aggression treaty with Joseph Stalin on 14th April 1941. Matsuoka was replaced by Soemu Toyoda as foreign minister in July 1941.

After the Second World War Matsuoka was arrested and charged with war crimes. However, he died on 26th June 1946, before the trial could take place.

1948 Cold War: Berlin Airlift begins:US and British pilots begin delivering food and supplies by airplane to Berlin after the city is isolated by a Soviet Union blockade.

When World War II ended in 1945, defeated Germany was divided into Soviet, American, British and French zones of occupation. The city of Berlin, though located within the Soviet zone of occupation, was also split into four sectors, with the Allies taking the western part of the city and the Soviets the eastern. In June 1948, Josef Stalin's government attempted to consolidate control of the city by cutting off all land and sea routes to West Berlin in order to pressure the Allies to evacuate. As a result, beginning on June 24 the western section of Berlin and its 2 million people were deprived of food, heating fuel and other crucial supplies.

Though some in U.S. President Harry S. Truman's administration called for a direct military response to this aggressive Soviet move, Truman worried such a response would trigger another world war. Instead, he authorized a massive airlift operation under the control of General Lucius D. Clay, the American-appointed military governor of Germany. The first planes took off from England and western Germany on June 26, loaded with food, clothing, water, medicine and fuel.

By July 15, an average of 2,500 tons of supplies was being flown into the city every day. The massive scale of the airlift made it a huge logistical challenge and at times a great risk. With planes landing at Tempelhof Airport every four minutes, round the clock, pilots were being asked to fly two or more round-trip flights every day, in World War II planes that were sometimes in need of repair.

The Soviets lifted the blockade in May 1949, having earned the scorn of the international community for subjecting innocent men, women and children to hardship and starvation. The airlift—called die Luftbrucke or "the air bridge" in German—continued until September 1949, for a total delivery of more than 1.5 million tons of supplies and a total cost of over $224 million. When it ended, the eastern section of Berlin was absorbed into Soviet East Germany, while West Berlin remained a separate territory with its own government and close ties to West Germany. The Berlin Wall, built in 1961, formed a dividing line between East and West Berlin. Its destruction in 1989 presaged the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and marked the end of an era and the reemergence of Berlin as the capital of a new, unified German nation.

1963 Cold War: Ich bin ein Berliner: President John F Kennedy visits West Berlin:

President John F. Kennedy expresses solidarity with democratic German citizens in a speech on this day in 1963. In front of the Berlin Wall that separated the city into democratic and communist sectors, he declared to the crowd, "Ich bin ein Berliner" or ["I am from Berlin."]

In his speech, Kennedy assured West Germans that free nations still stood by the people of the democratically controlled sectors of Berlin who had lived within the hostile borders of East Germany since the end of World War II. Immediately after the war, the city of Berlin was divided into West Berlin, comprised of American, British and French-administered democratic enclaves, and East Berlin, an East German communist-controlled area. In an early confrontation of the Cold War, West Berliners had endured a Soviet-imposed blockade of their part of the city between June 1948 and May 1949 that cut off their food and energy supplies. In response, the Allied Military Air Transport Service had flown food, coal and school supplies into the city in an unprecedented logistical feat known as "Operation Vittles" or the "Berlin Airlift."

At the time of Kennedy's speech to West Berliners in 1963, the city's democratic enclave remained a tiny but strategically important foothold for democracy within communist-controlled Eastern Europe.

The Urban Legend:

A "Berliner" is a type of jelly doughnut made in Berlin. The story goes that he should have said "Ich bin Berliner" (I am a citizen of Berlin), and that "Ich bin ein Berliner" really means "I am a jelly doughnut." Click here for the facts.

1968 Pacific: Iwo Jima and Bonin Islands are returned to Japan by the US.

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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