July 2

1837 Japan (Exact Date Unknown): Charles W. King, an American businessman, sails an unarmed American merchant ship (the SS Morrison, above) to Japan in a unilateral attempt to open trade with the shy islanders. As a ploy to gain entry to the forbidden Japanese market, seven Japanese sailors who had been shipwrecked off the American coast (Oregon) and whom he is ostensibly returning to their homeland, accompany him. His quest proves unsuccessful; the Japanese fire on his ship as soon as he enters the harbor, ultimately forcing him to beat a wise retreat.

Note: When King returns to the United States in 1839, he will write a popular book detailing his adventure and complaining bitterly that the American flag had been fired on without provocation by a foreign government. He suggests that the next contacts with Japan "had better be left to the stronger and wiser action of the American Government." (Sewall)

[See: Countdown to Infamy: Timeline to Pearl Harbor.]

1876 Birth: Wilhelm Cuno, in Suhl, Germany:

[Cuno] studied law in Berlin and Heidelberg, before joining the German civil service. In 1907, [he] was appointed as assessor in the German treasury department, and helped draft bills for the Reichstag. During the First World War Cuno headed the department that had the responsibility of maintaining grain supplies. Later he served in the food ministry and as an advisory to the government on the war economy.

In December 1918 Cuno became chairman of the Hamburg-American Line, Germany's largest shipping company. After refusing two offers to join the German government [he] accepted the post of chancellor in November 1922. The French invasion of the Ruhr in January, 1923, caused Cuno political problems. His policy of passive resistance was unpopular in Germany and in August, 1923 he was forced to resign as chancellor.

Cuno returned to private industry and once again became chairman of Hamburg-American Line. [He] died on 3 January, 1933.

1877 Birth: Hermann Hesse: German-born poet, novelist and painter

In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. His best-known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game (also known as Magister Ludi), each of which explores an individual's search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality . . . . 

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Hesse registered himself as a volunteer with the Imperial army, saying that he could not sit inactively by a warm fireplace while other young authors were dying on the front. He was found unfit for combat duty, but was assigned to service involving the care of war prisoners.

On 3 November 1914, in the Neue Zuercher Zeitung, Hesse's essay "O Friends, Not These Tones" ("O Freunde, nicht diese Toene") appeared, in which he appealed to German intellectuals not to fall for patriotism. What followed from this, Hesse later indicated, was a great turning point in his life: For the first time, he found himself in the middle of a serious political conflict, attacked by the German press, the recipient of hate mail, and distanced from old friend . . . . 

Hesse observed the rise to power of Nazism in Germany with concern. In 1933, Berthold Brecht and Thomas Mann made their travels into exile and, in both cases, were aided by Hesse. In this way, Hesse attempted to work against Hitler's suppression of art and literature that protested Nazi ideology. Hesse was clearly not a racist. "[H]is third wife was Jewish and his opposition to anti-Semitism was expressed publicly long before then." Hesse was criticized for not condemning the Nazi party, but his failure to criticize or support any political idea stemmed from his "politics of detachment . . . . At no time did he openly condemn (the Nazis), although his detestation of their politics is beyond question." From the end of the 1930s, German journals stopped publishing Hesse's work, and it was eventually banned by the Nazis.

1900 The First Zeppelin

The construction of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin's first airship, LZ-1, began in June, 1898 in a floating wooden hangar on the Bodensee (Lake Constance) at Manzell (Friedrichshafen) in Southern Germany, not far from the Swiss border. The movable, floating shed allowed the ship to be positioned into the wind to enter or leave its hangar.

The ship was completed in the winter of 1899, but Count von Zeppelin decided to wait until the summer of 1900 before attempting to fly his invention. The ship was inflated with hydrogen gas in June, and made its maiden flight on July 2, 1900. The first flight lasted about 18 minutes and covered about 3-1/2 miles over the lake.

LZ-1 (Luftschiff Zeppelin 1) was 420 feet long, 38-1/2 feet in diameter, and contained approximately 399,000 cubic feet of hydrogen in 17 gas cells made of rubberized cotton fabric. Two metal gondolas were suspended below the ship (one forward and one aft) and each gondola housed a 4-cylinder water-cooled Daimler gasoline engine producing about 14 horsepower. Each engine was connected by long shafts to two outrigger propellers mounted on either side of the hull. Pitch was controlled by a sliding weight suspended under the hull which could be shifted fore and aft; there were no elevators for pitch control, or fins for stability.

The first flight of LZ-1 was the culmination of years of planning by Count Zeppelin, but as a first attempt the ship had understandable weaknesses: LZ-1 was overweight, and a severe lack of engine power and speed made it difficult to control in even slight winds; the engines themselves were unreliable, and one failed during the short maiden flight; the ship suffered from poor controllability due to its lack of horizontal or vertical stabilizing fins and control surfaces, and the sliding weight system jammed, eliminating pitch control; and most importantly, the structure itself lacked rigidity due to its weak tubular frame, which hogged during flight, with its center portion rising high above its drooping bow and stern.

Attempts were made to increase the rigidity of the framework and address the other problems, and two additional flights were made, but the flights did not impress the military representatives in attendance that Zeppelin’s project deserved public funds, and Count Zeppelin was out of money. Zeppelin was forced to dismantle LZ-1. But while LZ-1 itself was not a success, Count von Zeppelin’s basic concept—of a long rigid metal frame containing individual gas cells and covered by fabric—was sound, and formed the basis for all future zeppelin airships.

1915 World War I: Various:

List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment occupy a position at Fromelles—pictured above in a drawing by Hitler—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.]

Terror: The Senate reception room in the U.S. Capitol was damaged by a homemade bomb built by Erich Muenter, a former Harvard professor who was upset by sales of U.S. munitions to the Allies in World War I.

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

1916 World War I: Various:

Battle of Verdun: Despite the appalling British losses of the first day, Gen. Henry S. Rawlinson's British Fourth Army and Gen. Edmund Allenby's Third Army continue with a series of small, limited attacks. Falkenhayn, determined to check the advance, begins shifting reinforcements from the Verdun front.

The Battle of Verdun is considered the greatest and lengthiest in world history. Never before or since has there been such a lengthy battle, involving so many men, situated on such a tiny piece of land. The battle, which lasted from 21 February 1916 until 19 December 1916, caused over an estimated 700,000 dead, wounded, and missing. The battlefield was not even a square ten kilometres. From a strategic point of view there can be no justification for these atrocious losses. The battle degenerated into a matter of prestige of two nations literally for the sake of fighting.

Birth: Hans-Ulrich Rudel: Stuka dive-bomber pilot during World War II: Rudel is famous for being the most highly decorated German serviceman of the war. He was the only one awarded the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. Rudel flew 2530 combat missions and successfully attacked many tanks, trains, ships and other ground targets, claiming a total of 2000 targets destroyed - including 519 tanks, a battleship, two cruisers and a destroyer. Neither cruiser sinking however is confirmed by Russian records; smaller warships may have been the actual targets. He also shot down 9 aircraft. After the war Rudel became a close friend and confidante of the Argentine president Juan Peron.

1917 World War I: Various:

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

Greece declares war on Central Powers:

[Several] weeks after King Constantine I abdicates his throne in Athens under pressure from the Allies, Greece declares war on the Central Powers, ending three years of neutrality by entering World War I alongside Britain, France, Russia and Italy.

Constantine, educated in Germany and married to a sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II, was naturally sympathetic to the Germans when World War I broke out in the summer of 1914, refusing to honor Greece’s obligation to support Serbia, its ally during the two Balkan Wars in 1912-13. Despite pressure from his own pro-Allied government . . . and British and French promises of territorial gains in Turkey, Constantine maintained Greece's neutrality for the first three years of the war, although he did allow British and French forces to disembark at Salonika in late 1914 in a plan to aid Serbia against Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian forces.

By the end of 1915, with Allied operations bogged down in Salonika and failing spectacularly in the Dardanelles, Constantine was even less inclined to support the Entente, believing Germany clearly had the upper hand in the war. He dismissed Venizelos in October 1915, substituting him with a series of premiers who basically served as royal puppets. Meanwhile, civil war threatened in Greece, as Constantine desperately sought promises of naval, military, and financial assistance from Germany, which he did not receive. After losing their patience with Constantine, the Allies finally sent an ultimatum demanding his abdication on June 11, 1917; the same day, British forces blockaded Greece and the French landed their troops at Piraeus, on the Isthmus of Corinth, in blatant disregard of Greek neutrality. The following day, Constantine abdicated in favor of his second son, Alexander.

On June 26, Alexander reinstated Venizelos, who returned from exile in Crete, where he had established a provisional Greek government with Allied support. With a pro-Allied prime minister firmly in place, Greece moved to the brink of entering World War I. On July 1, Alexander Kerensky, the Russian commander in chief and leader of the provisional Russian government after the fall of Czar Nicholas II the previous March, ordered a major offensive on the Eastern Front, despite the turmoil within Russia and the exhausted state of Kerensky’s army. The offensive would end in disastrous losses for the Russians . . . . The following day, Greece declared war on the Central Powers . . . . Over the next 18 months, some 5,000 Greek soldiers would die on the battlefields of World War I.

1918 World War I (June 17-27): List Regiment: Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's 16th RIR endures trench warfare at Passy sur Marne. [For further details, Click here.]

1932 Eugenics: A committee of the Prussian State Health Council advises and recommends that a law on sterilization be brought in under the title: "Eugenics in the service of public welfare." The law was to permit the "voluntary" sterilization of the same groups of persons (with the exception of alcoholics) as were later specified in the law of 14 July 1933.

1933 Church and Reich: Final agreement on the Concordat is reached despite the news of continuing arrests of priests in Germany. Franz von Papen reports Pius XI "had insisted on the conclusion of the Concordat because he wanted to come to an agreement with Italy and Germany as the countries which, in his opinion, represented the nucleus of the Christian world."

1934 Nazi Germany: The Night of the Long Knives (or the Roehm Putsch):

By 1934, Adolf Hitler appeared to have complete control over Germany, but like most dictators, he constantly feared that he might be ousted by others who wanted his power. To protect himself from a possible coup, Hitler used the tactic of divide and rule and encouraged other leaders such as Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler and Ernst Roehm to compete with each other for senior positions. One of the consequences of this policy was that these men developed a dislike for each other.

From Hermann Goering's IMT testimony:

At that time this matter presented a real danger, as a few SA units, through the use of false passwords, had been armed and called up. At one spot only a very short fight ensued and two SA leaders were shot. I deputized the police, which in Prussia was then already under Himmler and Heydrich, to make the arrests. Only the headquarters of Roehm, who himself was not present, I had occupied by a regiment of the uniformed police subordinated to me. When the headquarters of the SA leader Ernst in Berlin were searched, we found in the cellars of those headquarters more submachine guns than the whole Prussian police had in its possession.

After the Fuehrer, on the strength of the events which had been met with at Wiessee, had ordered who should be shot in view of the state of national emergency, the order for the execution of Ernst, Heydebreck, and some of the other Roehm collaborators was issued. There was no order to shoot the other people who had been arrested. In the course of the arrest of the former Reich Chancellor Schleicher, it happened that both he and his wife were killed. An investigation of this event took place and it was found that when Schleicher was arrested, according to the statements of the two witnesses, he reached for a pistol, possibly in order to kill himself, whereupon the two men raised their pistols and Frau Schleicher threw herself upon one of them to hold him, causing his revolver to go off. We deeply regretted that event. In the course of that evening I heard that other people had been shot as well, even some people who had nothing at all to do with this Roehm Putsch.

The Fuehrer came to Berlin that same evening. After I learned this, later that evening or night, I went to him at noon the next day and asked him to issue an order immediately, that any further execution was under any circumstances forbidden by him, the Fuehrer, although two other people who were deeply involved and who had been ordered by the Fuehrer to be executed, were still alive. These people were consequently left alive. I asked him to do that because I was worried lest the matter should get out of hand—as, in fact, it had already done to some extent—and I told the Fuehrer that under no circumstances should there be any further bloodshed. This order was then given by the Fuehrer in my presence, and it was communicated at once to all offices. The action was then announced in the Reichstag, and it was approved by the Reichstag and the Reich President as an action called for by the state of national emergency. It was regretted that, as in all such incidents, there were a number of blunders. The number of victims has been greatly exaggerated. As far as I can remember exactly today, there were 72 or 76 people, the majority of whom were executed in southern Germany . . . .

But as a final remark on the Roehm Putsch I should like to emphasize that I assume full responsibility for the actions taken against those people—Ernst, Heydebreck, and several others—by the order of the Fuehrer, which I carried out or passed on; and that, even today, I am of the opinion that I acted absolutely correctly and with a sense of duty. That was confirmed by the Reich President, but no such confirmation was necessary to convince me that here I had averted what was a great danger to the state.

[See: Hitler Kills His Best Friend.]

1935 Switzerland officially bans three German anti-Jewish publications: Der Stuermer, Reichsdeutsche, and Allemane.

1937 Various:

Holocaust: Severe limitations are put on the number of Jewish pupils (already partially restricted in 1933) allowed to attend German schools. (THP)

Aviatrix Amelia Earhart—and her copilot Fred Noonan—disappear over the Pacific Ocean during the last leg of an attempted flight around the world at the equator.

1938 Holocaust: Almost 40,000 Austrian Jews are taken into 'protective custody.'

[See: Austria: The Other Germany.]

1940 World War II: Various:

Battle of Britain: The German High Command issues an order entitled 'The War Against England.' Goering gives instructions for an air blockade and attacks on British shipping.

[See: Why Did Hitler Lose The Battle of Britain?]

War at Sea: The British liner Arandora Star is sunk off the west coast of Ireland:

On July 2 1940, having left Liverpool unescorted the day before, under the command of Edgar Wallace Moulton, she was bound for St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador and Canadian internment camps with nearly 1,500 German and Italian internees, including 86 POWs, being transported from Britain. Most were elderly Italians, who were resident in Britain. The ship was bearing no Red Cross sign, which could have shown that she was carrying prisoners, and especially civilians.

At 6.58 AM off the northwest coast of Ireland, she was struck by a torpedo from the German submarine U-47, commanded by U-Boat ace Guenther Prien. It is assumed that U-47 mistook her grey wartime livery for that of an armed merchant cruiser. U-47 fired its single damaged torpedo at Arandora Star. All power was lost at once, and thirty five minutes after the torpedo impact, Arandora Star sank. Over eight hundred lives were lost.

1941 World War II: Various:

Barbarossa: On the extreme southern front in the East, troops of the German 11th (von Schobert) and the Rumanian 3rd (Dumitrescu) and 4th Rumanian (Ciuparea) Armies begin an offensive from Moldavia toward Vinnitsa and the Black Sea port of Odessa.

War in the Air: The RAF carries out night raids on Bremen and Cologne:

The raids were useful propaganda for the Allies and particularly for Harris and the concept of a Strategic Bombing Offensive. Bomber Command's poor performance in bombing accuracy during 1941 had led to calls for the force to be split up and diverted to other urgent theatres i.e. Battle of the Atlantic. A headline-grabbing heavy raid on Germany was a way for Bomber Command AOC Arthur "Bomber" Harris to demonstrate to the War Cabinet that given the investment in numbers and technology Bomber Command could make a vital contribution to victory.

China breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany and Italy.

1942 Holocaust: The BBC features a broadcast by Polish-Jewish spokesman Szmul Zygielbojm, who states bluntly that the Nazis' strategy in Poland consists of the "planned extermination of a whole nation by means of shot, shell, starvation, and poison gas." (THP)

1943 World War II: The US Fifteenth Air Force, based in Libya, raids three airfields in southern Italy. The Fifteenth Air Force, along with the Eighth Air Force and RAF Bomber Command, became the instruments used by the Allies to carry the strategic air offensive to Axis occupied Europe and Germany. A total of around 2,110 bombers were lost on operations by its fifteen B-24 and six B-17 bombardment groups, while its seven fighter groups claimed a total of 1,836 enemy aircraft destroyed. [For further details, Click here.]

1944 World War II: Various:

Field Marshal von Rundstedt resigns as C-in-C of German forces in the West and is replaced by FM von Kluge.

Italy: German troops evacuate Siena.

WUnderwaffenDas Reich publishes Harald Jansen's Erste V.1-Bilanz article:

Weeks passed and now the missiles fly overhead. The invasion concentrated men and material in the southeast of the island, and increased their vulnerability. Even in the first week, there was a division of labor between German warplanes and the new weapon. The long-range bombers received an ally. The V-1 took its place. This is unsettling for our opponents, and represents a two-fold danger to their war effort, unless they find a defense as quickly as possible. The enemy's propaganda is based on the glories of four-motored bombers, on the fanfare of air power and shouts of triumph over burning German cities. The citizens of London were told: "1940 will not be repeated. The Germans can no longer do anything to us."

[See: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.]

War in the Air: Allied bombing and mine-laying raid on Hungary:

[As] part of Operation Gardening—the British and American strategy to lay mines in the Danube River by dropping them from the air—American aircraft also drop bombs and leaflets on German-occupied Budapest.

Hungarian oil refineries and storage tanks, important to the German war machine, were destroyed by the American air raid. Along with this fire from the sky, leaflets threatening "punishment" for those responsible for the deportation of Hungarian Jews to the gas chambers at Auschwitz were also dropped on Budapest. The U.S. government wanted the SS and Hitler to know it was watching. Admiral Miklos Horthy, regent and virtual dictator of Hungary, vehemently anticommunist and afraid of Russian domination, had aligned his country with Hitler, despite the fact that he little admired him. But he, too, demanded that the deportations cease, especially since special pleas had begun pouring in from around the world upon the testimonies of four escaped Auschwitz prisoners about the atrocities there. Hitler, fearing a Hungarian rebellion, stopped the deportations on July 8. Horthy would eventually try to extricate himself from the war altogether-only to be kidnapped by Hitler's agents and consequently forced to abdicate.

One day after the deportations stopped, a Swedish businessman, Raoul Wallenberg, having convinced the Swedish Foreign Ministry to send him to the Hungarian capital on a diplomatic passport, arrived in Budapest with 630 visas for Hungarian Jews, prepared to take them to Sweden to save them from further deportations.

Holocaust: Lithuania: The SS takes the last 3,000 Jews of Vilna, laborers in a factory, and murders them at Ponary. Thousands are killed in Shauliai and Kovno. Thousands more are evacuated to labor camps near Stutthof and Dachau. (THP)

1947 Cold War: USSR rejects Marshall Plan assistance:

Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov walks out of a meeting with representatives of the British and French governments, signaling the Soviet Union's rejection of the Marshall Plan. Molotov's action indicated that Cold War frictions between the United States and Russia were intensifying.

On June 4, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave a speech in which he announced that the United States was willing to offer economic assistance to the war-torn nations of Europe to help in their recovery . . . . The Soviet reaction to Marshall's speech was a stony silence. However, Foreign Minister Molotov agreed to a meeting on June 27 with his British and French counterparts to discuss the European reaction to the American offer.

Molotov immediately made clear the Soviet objections to the Marshall Plan. First, it would include economic assistance to Germany, and the Russians could not tolerate such aid to the enemy that had so recently devastated the Soviet Union. Second, Molotov was adamant in demanding that the Soviet Union have complete control and freedom of action over any Marshall Plan funds Germany might receive. Finally, the Foreign Minister wanted to know precisely how much money the United States would give to each nation. When it became clear that the French and British representatives did not share his objections, Molotov stormed out of the meeting on July 2. In the following weeks, the Soviet Union pressured its Eastern European allies to reject all Marshall Plan assistance. That pressure was successful and none of the Soviet satellites participated in the Marshall Plan. The Soviet press claimed that the American program was "a plan for interference in the domestic affairs of other countries." The United States ignored the Soviet action and, in 1948, officially established the Marshall Plan and began providing funds to other European nations.

Publicly, U.S. officials argued that the Soviet stance was another indication that Russia intended to isolate Eastern Europe from the West and enforce its communist and totalitarian doctrines in that region. From the Soviet perspective, however, its refusal to participate in the Marshall Plan indicated its desire to remain free from American "economic imperialism" and domination.

1973 Death: Ferdinand Schoerner: Field marshal in the German Wehrmacht during World War II: German veterans particularly criticized Schoerner for a 1945 order that all soldiers, found behind the front lines, who did not possess written orders, were to be executed without trial. This is mentioned in both the writings of Siegfried Knappe and Hans von Luck. Schoerner was also generally seen as very devoted to Hitler, a view that is seen as confirmed by Hitler's appointment of Schoerner as his replacement as Commander-in-Chief of the German Army on his suicide.

1987 Death: Karl Linnas: an Estonian who was sentenced to capital punishment during the Holocaust trials in Soviet Estonia in 1961. He was later deported from the United States to the Soviet Union.

Linnas was tried in absentia and sentenced to death by a Soviet court in 1962 on charges that during the German occupation, between 1941 and 1943, he was the commandant of a Nazi concentration camp at Tartu and had personally shot innocent civilians - men, women and children. After Soviet armies pushed the Germans out of Estonia, Linnas fought with the German army and was wounded in 1944. Then he stayed in Displaced Person camps in Germany until emigrating to the USA in 1951.

2010 Adolf returns: A German man who had an Adolf Hitler speech ringtone and a picture of the Nazi dictator on his mobile phone could be jailed for three years.

Authorities seized the 54-year-old's phone at Harburg Station, near the northern city of Hamburg, on Tuesday. The arrest came after fellow train passengers, shocked at the sound of Hitler screaming, alerted the police."It was an original speech by Adolf Hitler which ended with the phrase 'Sieg Heil'," police spokesman Ruediger Carstens told reporters. "He also had a photo of Hitler standing in front of a swastika.

"Police handed the case over to prosecutors. Under German law, the man could face up to three years in prison or a fine. The public display of Nazi symbols like the swastika was banned in Germany at the end of World War II.

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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