History: June 20

June 20

1402 Battle of Angora (Ankara): The Tatars defeat the Turkish Army.

1597 Death: Dutch explorer William Barents, in the Arctic searching for the north-east passage, perishes when his ship becomes trapped in ice.

1624 France and the United Provinces (Netherlands) sign a treaty of nonaggression at Compiegne.

1756 Black Hole of Calcutta: A group of British soldiers, captured while defending Calcutta for the East-India Company, are imprisoned in their infamous cell in India: of 146, 23 will eventually survive.

1782 The US Congress approves the design of the Great Seal. Charles Thomson, the first US official record keeper, made his drawing out of previous designs drawn by three congressional committees. It is Thomson who gives the eagle the prominent position as a US symbol.

1789 French Revolution: The newly proclaimed National Assembly in France meets on the Jeu de Paume tennis court in Paris.

1792 French Revolution: A huge crowd of at least 20,000 storm the Tuilieries in Paris and attempt to negotiate with King Louis XVI.

1819 The 320-ton paddlewheel steamship Savannah becomes the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, arriving in Liverpool after a journey from Savannah, Georgia, of 27 days 11 hours.

1830 Gibraltar becomes a British Crown colony.

1837 Princess Alexandrina Victoria, at 18, becomes Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland following the death of her uncle, King William IV (the Sailor King) at Windsor. During her reign Great Britain will accumulate many new territories becoming the most powerful empire of the 19th century. She will rule for a strong 63 years until her death in 1901.

1854 Crimean War: Charles Lucas, Mate on HMS Hecla, becomes the first winner of the Victoria Cross. "...a foolhardy attack against the formidable fortress of Bomarsund on the east coast of the main island in the Aland chain. In what should have been a reconnaissance led by Captain Hall, developed into a bombardment by three lightly armed ships against the solid walls of the three granite-built fortress towers and heavily fortified casements. The Russians had considerable superiority in firepower with over 100 guns against just 38. Early in the fight, a live shell landed on Hecla’s upper deck. A cry went up for all hands to fling themselves on the deck. One man ignored this advice. 20 year old Charles Lucas ran forward, picked up the round shell with its fizzing fuse, carried it to the rail and dropped it overboard. It exploded with a tremendous roar before it hit the water and two men were slightly hurt. The consequences would have been far more serious but for Lucas’s prompt action.

Captain Hall showed his gratitude for the saving of his ship by promoting Lucas on the spot to Acting Lieutenant. In his report. Hall was also fulsome in his praise for Lucas’s great presence of mind. In turn, Sir Charles Napier echoed this praise and recommended confirmation of Lucas’s promotion. Hall also exaggerated the damage inflicted upon the Russians and earned a stiff rebuke from the Admiralty for putting his ship in unnecessary danger and expending all his ammunition to little effect. None the less, the news was well received by a British public hungry for some offensive movement from their much-vaunted navy..."

1858 Birth: Charles Chesnutt, novelist.

1863 The National Bank of Philadelphia becomes the first bank to receive a charter from the US Congress.

1863 US Civil War: West Virginia is admitted into the Union as the 35th US state, or the 24th state if the secession of the 11 Southern states is taken into account. The same day, Arthur Boreman is inaugurated as West Virginia's first state governor. Settlement of the western lands of Virginia came gradually in the 18th century as settlers slowly made their way across the natural Allegheny Plateau barrier. The region became increasingly important to the Virginia state government at Richmond in the 19th century, but the prevalence of small farms and absence of slavery began to estrange it from the east. Because slaves were counted in allotting representation, wealthy eastern planters dominated the Virginia legislature, and demands by western Virginians for lower taxes and infrastructure development were not met. When Virginia voted to secede after the outbreak of the Civil War, the majority of West Virginians opposed the secession. Delegates met at Wheeling, and on 11 June 1861, nullified the Virginian ordinance of secession and proclaimed "The Restored Government of Virginia," headed by Francis Pierpont. Confederate forces occupied a portion of West Virginia during the war, but West Virginian statehood was nonetheless approved in a referendum and a state constitution drawn up. In April 1863, US President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the admission of West Virginia into the Union effective 20 June 1863.

1887 Four European kings are driven around in the Deadwood stagecoach by Buffalo Bill in a special performance of his Wild West Show for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

1893 A jury in New Bedford, Massachusetts, finds Lizzie Borden innocent of the ax murders of her father and stepmother.

1898 Spanish-American War: The US cruiser Charleston captures the Spanish-ruled island of Guam. The largest of the Mariana Islands in the Pacific, the people of Guam will be granted US citizenship in 1950.

1899 Birth: Jean Moulin, hero of the French Resistance during WW2. "Jean Moulin was born in Béziers, France, and enrolled in the French Army in 1918, but World War I came to an end before he could see any action. After the war, he resumed his studies and obtained a law degree in 1921. He then entered the prefectoral administration, as chef de cabinet to the deputy of Savoie in 1922, then as sous préfet of Albertville, from 1925 to 1930. He was France's youngest sous préfet at the time. He married Marguerite Cerruti in September 1926, but divorced her in 1928. In 1930, he was the sous préfet of Châteaulin. During that time, he also wrote political satires in the newspaper "Le rire", under the pseudonym Romanin. He became France's youngest préfet in the Aveyron region, in the commune of Rodez, in January 1937. In 1939 he was appointed préfet of the Eure-et-Loir region. The Germans arrested him in June 1940 because he refused to sign a German document that wrongly blamed Senegalese French Army troops for civilian massacres. In prison, he attempted suicide by cutting his throat with a piece of broken glass. This left him with a scar that he would often hide with his scarf. In November 1940, the Vichy government ordered all prefects to dismiss left-wing elected mayors of towns and villages. When Moulin refused he was himself removed from office. He then lived in Saint-Andiol (Bouches-du-Rhône), and joined the resistance. He reached London in September 1941 under the name Joseph Jean Mercier, and met General Charles de Gaulle, who asked him to unify the various resistance groups. On January 1, 1942, he was parachuted in the Alpilles. Under the codenames Rex and Max, he met with the leaders of the resistance groups..."

1900 Death: Baron von Ketteler, the German ambassador in Peking; assassinated by Chinese troops in response to widespread foreign encroachment upon China's national affairs.

1916 Volkishness: Frau Eliza von Moltke, the widow of General Moltke, begins "speaking in tongues" and soon begins writing hundreds of pages of what she claims are the General's supernatural "prophesies," delivered from beyond the grave. Frau Moltke soon names Adolf Hitler as the future leader of Germany, while Hitler is still an unknown messenger on the Western Front. Frau Moltke says it will be General von Ludendorff who will bring Hitler to power and the well-known English writer, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who will name Hitler as the long-awaited German Messiah. (Frau Moltke, Spear)

1923 Death: Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary leader, assassinated on his farm. "A hero to some and a villain to others, Pancho Villa was a brutal modern-day version of Robin Hood. Born a peasant, Doroteo Arango got on the wrong side of the law early; according to legend he shot to death a wealthy hacienda owner who had made advances on his sister. Arango fled into the mountains and then joined a gang led by Francisco "Pancho" Villa; when that Villa was killed, Arango took over his name and his gang. In 1910 the new Villa and his men joined the revolt against Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz. (Among Villa's fellow revolutionaries was another Mexican folk hero, Emiliano Zapata.) The revolution succeeded, but a few years later shifting alliances made Villa an outlaw again. Over the next decade he criss-crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, robbing and rustling cattle to survive, with armies from both sides unable to capture him. (One famous U.S. expedition was led by "Black Jack" Pershing and included future General George S. Patton.) Villa's sympathy for peasants and his early battles against the corrupt Diaz regime made him popular with Mexico's poor, and his exploits were heavily publicized in the U.S. and around the world. In 1920 Villa accepted a deal with a new Mexican government, laying down his arms in exchange for thousands of acres of land in Durango. He was assassinated three years later, though his killers were never captured."

1934 Holocaust: The NDW, soon to be renamed the DFG, agrees to the creation of five posts for assistants to process the "scientific material," available in connection with sterilization, for Professor Fischer, Professor Rüdin (Director of the KWI of Psychiatry in Munich), and Professor von Verschuer (a department head at the KWI of Anthropology under Professor Fischer). (Science)

1935 The Soviet Union recognizes the right of Jews to own private property in Birobidjan.

1936 Church and Reich: The Bavarian Political Police issue orders to take into custody all priests who dare to criticize an order dismissing all nuns teaching in the public schools, which is scheduled to be announced the following day. Vicar General Buchwieser of Munich (in charge of the diocese in the absence of Cardinal Faulhaber) instructs the clergy to read a joint pastoral letter of the Bavarian bishops criticizing this order. That same evening the government gives in and instructs the police to merely record the names of priests who read the pastoral letter. (Lewy)

1936 Austria bans all political meetings and street demonstrations.

1937 The Czech government institutes compulsory military training for all citizens from six to sixty. Actual military call-up is from seventeen to thirty.

1937 Resistance: Jehovah's Witnesses throughout Germany secretly distribute the "Open Letter," which supplies detailed accounts of Nazi atrocities. (Smith)

1938 Holocaust: German Jews are forbidden to work in the stock and commodity exchanges.

1939 General Walther von Brauchitsch issues a directive ordering cooperation between the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS (SS- Verfuegungstruppen).

1939 Holocaust: Professor Fischer declares in a lecture: "When a people wants, somehow or other, to preserve its own nature, it must reject alien racial elements, and when these have already insinuated themselves, it must suppress them and eliminate them. The Jew is such an alien and, therefore, when he wants to insinuate himself, he must be warded off. This is self-defense. In saying this, I do not characterize every Jew as inferior, as Negroes are, and I do not underestimate the greatest enemy with whom we have to fight. But I reject Jewry with every means in my power, and without reserve, in order to preserve the hereditary endowment of my people." (Science)

1940 WW2: Most of the Polish 2nd Division, 14,000 soldiers, cross the Franco-Swiss border after the fall of France.

1940 WW2: June 20-21 378 Polish prisoners from Pawiak Prison are executed by the Nazis near Palmiry.

1940 WW2: The French delegation leaves for Compiegne to begin armistice negotiations with the Germans.

1940 WW2: Admiral Raeder again brings up the invasion of Britain. Again Hitler fails to respond. (Duffy)


1942 Holocaust: All Jewish schools in Greater Germany are closed. (Persecution)

1942 WW2: Tobruk is captured as the Germans breakthrough into Egypt.

1943 Race riots erupt in Detroit. Federal troops will be sent in two days later to quell the violence, which will result in more than 30 deaths.

1944 WW2: The battle of the Philippine Sea ends. "...American searches failed to locate the Japanese fleet until 15:40. However the report made was so garbled that Mitscher did not know what had been sighted, or where. At 16:05 another report was received that was clearer, and Mitscher decided to launch a full-out strike even though there was only 75 minutes to sunset. The attack went in at 18:30. Ozawa had been able to put up very few fighters to intercept—no more than 35 according to later estimates, but these few were skilfully handled, and the Japanese ships' anti-aircraft fire was intense. The US raid, however, contained 216 planes, and the majority were able to press the attack. The first ships sighted by the US strike were oilers, and two of these were damaged so severely that they were later scuttled. The carrier Hiyo was attacked by 4 Grumman Avengers from the Belleau Wood, and hit by at least one of their torpedoes, and later sank.

The carriers Zuikaku, Junyo and Chiyoda were damaged by bombs, as was the battleship Haruna. 20 American aircraft were lost in this strike. At 20:45 the first US planes began to return to TF 58. Mitscher took the decision to fully illuminate the carriers, despite the risk of attack from submarines and night-flying aircraft, and the picket destroyers fired starshells to help the planes find the task groups. Despite this 80 of the returning aircraft were lost, some crashing on flight decks, the majority going into the sea. Many of the crews were nevertheless rescued over the next few days. That night Ozawa received orders from Toyoda to withdraw from the Philippine Sea. US forces gave chase, but the battle was over. The four Japanese attacks used 373 carrier aircraft, of which 130 returned to the carriers, and several more were destroyed onboard the two carriers destroyed on the first day. After the second day the totals were three carriers and 395 aircraft. Losses on the US side on the first day were only 23, and on the second 100, most due to night landings. The losses to the Japanese were irreplaceable. In the battle of Leyte Gulf a few months later, their carriers were used solely as a decoy due to the lack of aircraft, and aircrews to fly them..."

1946 Nuremberg War Crimes Trials: The wily Albert Speer, Hitler's minister of armaments, testifies. "...DR. FLACHSNER (Speer's counsel): ...Herr Speer, the Prosecution charges you with coresponsibility for the entire number of foreign workers who were transported to Germany. Your Codefendant Sauckel has testified in this connection that first of all he worked for you in this matter, so that his activity was primarily determined by your needs. Will you please comment on this? SPEER: Of course, I expected Sauckel to meet above all the demands of war production, but it cannot be maintained that he primarily took care of my demands, for beginning with the spring of 1943 I received only part of the workers I needed. If my maximum had been met, I should have received all of them. For this I need cite but one example. During that same period some 200,000 Ukrainian women were made available for housework, and it is quite certain that I was of the opinion that they could be put to better use in armaments production. It is also clear that the German labor reserve had not been fully utilized. In January 1943 these German reserves were still ample. I was interested in having German workers-including, of course, women-and this nonutilization of German reserves also proves that I cannot be held solely responsible for covering the essential needs, that is, for demanding foreign labor...DR. FLACHSNER: ...Herr Speer, I should like to go back to your testimony of 18 October 1945. In it you stated several times that you knew that the workers from occupied countries were being brought to Germany against their will. The Prosecution alleges that you approved of the use of force and of terror. Will you comment on that? SPEER: I had no influence on the method by which workers were recruited. If the workers were being brought to Germany against their will that means, as I see it, that they were obliged by law to work for Germany. Whether such laws were justified or not, that was a matter I did not check at the time. Besides, this was no concern of mine..."

1947 Death: Benjamin Bugsy Siegel, shot dead at the Beverly Hills mansion of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, at the order of mob associates.

1952 Birth: Vikram Seth, novelist.

1960 The Federation of Mali (& Senegal) becomes independent of France.

1961 Newly independent Kuwait is admitted to the Arab League, but admission to the UN is blocked by the Soviet Union.

1963 Cold War: The United States and the Soviet Union finalize a hotline agreement; a direct phone line for emergency communications between the two superpowers.

1967 Muslim-American Boxer Muhammad Ali is convicted in Houston of violating Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted. Ali's conviction will ultimately be overturned by the US Supreme Court.

1967 The American Independent Party is formed to back segregationist George Wallace of Alabama for president.

1969 High grade crude oil deposits are discovered in the North Sea.

1973 Juan Peron returns to Argentina after an 18-year exile.

1977 The $7.7 billion, 789-mile Alaskan Oil pipeline, begins carrying oil across Alaska.

1979 Death: ABC News correspondent Bill Stewart, shot to death in Managua, Nicaragua, by a member of President Anastasio Somoza's national guard.

1986 President Reagan has two benign polyps removed from his colon at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.

1988 Liuetenant General Henry Namphy declares himself president of Haiti after troops storm the national palace and depose civilian President Leslie Manigat.

1990 The Agra diamond is sold for a record £4,070,000 at Christie's.

1990 South African black nationalist Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie, arrive in New York City for a ticker-tape parade in their honor as they began an eight-city fundraising tour.

1990 President George HW Bush breaks off US diplomatic contact with the Palestine Liberation Organization after the PLO refuses to act against a factional leader plotting to attack Israel.

1991 The German parliament narrowly votes in favor of moving its capital from Bonn to Berlin.

1991 Boris Yeltsin, president of the Soviet republic of Russia, meets with President George HW Bush in Washington, DC.

1992 Czech leader Vaclav Klaus and Slovak leader Vladimir Meciar agree to split Czechoslovakia in two.

1994 A bomb tears through Muslim worshippers at the Imam Reza mausoleum in Mashhad, northeast Iran, killing at least 25 people and wounding 70.

1995 A military court acquits Air Force Captain James Wang of charges in connection with the April 1994 downing of two US Army helicopters over Iraq. He'd been the senior director of an AWACS plane that failed to warn two US jets that the choppers were friendly.

1995 After mounting pressure from the environmental group Greenpeace and government ministers in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and elsewhere, Shell oil company decides not to dump the disused oil rig Brent Spar in the North Atlantic.

1996 Whitewater: Attorney General Janet Reno asks that the Whitewater counsel be allowed to investigate the matter of FBI background checks. A panel of judges will agree the next day.

1996 Russian President Boris Yeltsin fires three of the most powerful members of his administration amid charges they wanted to cancel presidential elections and use force to retain positions and power.

1997 Russia pledges to stop targeting Japan with nuclear missiles in a major step to repair uneasy relations with Tokyo.

1997 Turkey ends its first experiment with an Islamic-influenced government when the president asks conservative politician Mesut Yilmaz to form a government, after the leader of the Islamic Welfare Party resigns as premier.

1997 Four major US tobacco companies and several state attorneys general, after months of negotiations, agree to a $368.5 billion settlement to recover the costs of smoking-related illnesses.

1999 NATO formally ends its bombing campaign of Yugoslavia as Serb forces complete their withdrawal from Kosovo.

2000 Taiwan's new president invites his Chinese counterpart to take part in a peace effort similar to one begun by North and South Korea.








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