This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
On this day in 1945, Twenty-four high-ranking Nazis go on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, for atrocities committed during World War II.
The Nuremberg Trials were conducted by an international tribunal made up of representatives from the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain. It was the first trial of its kind in history, and the defendants faced charges ranging from crimes against peace, to crimes of war, to crimes against humanity. Lord Justice Geoffrey Lawrence, the British member, presided over the proceedings, which lasted 10 months and consisted of 216 court sessions.
British War Cabinet documents, released on 2 January 2006, have shown that as early as December 1944, the Cabinet had discussed their policy for the punishment of the leading Nazis if captured. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had then advocated a policy of summary execution in some circumstances, with the use of an Act of Attainder to circumvent legal obstacles, being dissuaded from this only by talks with US leaders later in the war. In late 1943, during the Tripartite Dinner Meeting at the Tehran Conference, the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, proposed executing 50,000-100,000 German staff officers. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, joked that perhaps 49,000 would do. Churchill denounced the idea of “the cold blooded execution of soldiers who fought for their country.” However, he also stated that war criminals must pay for their crimes and that in accordance with the Moscow Document which he himself had written, they should be tried at the places where the crimes were committed. Churchill was vigorously opposed to executions “for political purposes.” According to the minutes of a Roosevelt-Stalin meeting during the Yalta Conference, on February 4, 1945, at the Livadia Palace, President Roosevelt “said that he had been very much struck by the extent of German destruction in the Crimea and therefore he was more bloodthirsty in regard to the Germans than he had been a year ago, and he hoped that Marshal Stalin would again propose a toast to the execution of 50,000 officers of the German Army.”
US Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., suggested a plan for the total denazification of Germany; this was known as the Morgenthau Plan. The plan advocated the forced de-industrialisation of Germany. Roosevelt initially supported this plan, and managed to convince Churchill to support it in a less drastic form. Later, details were leaked to the public, generating widespread protest. Roosevelt, aware of strong public disapproval, abandoned the plan, but did not adopt an alternate position on the matter. The demise of the Morgenthau Plan created the need for an alternative method of dealing with the Nazi leadership. The plan for the “Trial of European War Criminals” was drafted by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and the War Department. Following Roosevelt’s death in April 1945, the new president, Harry S. Truman, gave strong approval for a judicial process. After a series of negotiations between Britain, the US, Soviet Union and France, details of the trial were worked out. The trials were set to commence on 20 November 1945, in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg.
284 – Diocletian is chosen as Roman Emperor.
762 – During An Shi Rebellion, Tang Dynasty, with the help of Huihe tribe, recaptured Luoyang from the rebels.
1194 – Palermo is conquered by Emperor Henry VI.
1407 – A truce between John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy and Louis of Valois, Duke of Orleans is agreed under the auspices of John, Duke of Berry. Orleans would be assassinated three days later by Burgundy.
1695 – Zumbi, the last of the leaders of Quilombo dos Palmares in early Brazil, is executed.
1700 – Great Northern War: Battle of Narva – King Charles XII of Sweden defeats the army of Tsar Peter the Great at Narva.
1739 – Start of the Battle of Porto Bello between British and Spanish forces during the War of Jenkins’ Ear.
1789 – New Jersey becomes the first U.S. state to ratify the Bill of Rights.
1820 – An 80-ton sperm whale attacks the Essex (a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts) 2,000 miles from the western coast of South America (Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby-Dick is in part inspired by this story).
1845 – Argentine Confederation: Battle of Vuelta de Obligado.
1861 – American Civil War: Secession ordinance is filed by Kentucky’s Confederate government.
1910 – Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero issues the Plan de San Luis Potosi, denouncing President Porfirio Diaz, calling for a revolution to overthrow the government of Mexico, effectively starting the Mexican Revolution.
1917 – World War I: Battle of Cambrai begins – British forces make early progress in an attack on German positions but are later pushed back.
1917 – Ukraine is declared a republic.
1923 – Rentenmark replaces the Papiermark as the official currency of Germany at the exchange rate of one Rentenmark to One Trillion (One Billion on the long scale) Papiermark
1940 – World War II: Hungary becomes a signatory of the Tripartite Pact, officially joining the Axis Powers.
1943 – World War II: Battle of Tarawa (Operation Galvanic) begins – United States Marines land on Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands and suffer heavy fire from Japanese shore guns and machine guns.
1945 – Nuremberg Trials: Trials against 24 Nazi war criminals start at the Palace of Justice at Nuremberg.
1947 – The Princess Elizabeth marries Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten at Westminster Abbey in London.
1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis ends: In response to the Soviet Union agreeing to remove its missiles from Cuba, U.S. President John F. Kennedy ends the quarantine of the Caribbean nation.
1969 – Vietnam War: The Cleveland Plain Dealer publishes explicit photographs of dead villagers from the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.
1974 – The United States Department of Justice files its final anti-trust suit against AT&T. This suit later leads to the break up of AT&T and its Bell System.
1975 – Francisco Franco, Caudillo of Spain, dies after 36 years in power.
1979 – Grand Mosque Seizure: About 200 Sunni Muslims revolt in Saudi Arabia at the site of the Kaaba in Mecca during the pilgrimage and take about 6000 hostages. The Saudi government receives help from French special forces to put down the uprising.
1984 – The SETI Institute is founded.
1985 – Microsoft Windows 1.0 is released.
1989 – Velvet Revolution: The number of protesters assembled in Prague, Czechoslovakia swells from 200,000 the day before to an estimated half-million.
1991 – An Azerbaijani MI-8 helicopter carrying 19 peacekeeping mission team with officials and journalists from Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan was shot down by Armenian military forces in Khojavend district of Azerbaijan.
1992 – In England, a fire breaks out in Windsor Castle, badly damaging the castle and causing over £50 million worth of damage.
1993 – Savings and loan crisis: The United States Senate Ethics Committee issues a stern censure of California senator Alan Cranston for his “dealings” with savings-and-loan executive Charles Keating.
1994 – The Angolan government and UNITA rebels sign the Lusaka Protocol in Zambia, ending 19 years of civil war (localized fighting resumes the next year).
1998 – A court in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan declares accused terrorist Osama bin Laden “a man without a sin” in regard to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
1998 – The first module of the International Space Station, Zarya, is launched.
2001 – In Washington, D.C., U.S. President George W. Bush dedicates the United States Department of Justice headquarters building as the Robert F. Kennedy Justice Building, honoring the late Robert F. Kennedy on what would have been his 76th birthday.
2003 – After the November 15 bombings, a second day of the 2003 Istanbul Bombings occurs in Istanbul, Turkey, destroying the Turkish head office of HSBC Bank AS and the British consulate.
2008 – After critical failures in the US financial system began to build up after mid-September, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches its lowest level since 1997.
Christian Feast Day:
Edmund the Martyr (Church of England)
Child Day (Canada)
Children’s Day (Egypt)
Children’s Day (Pakistan)
Day of National Sovereignty (Argentina)
Revolution day (Mexico)
Teacher’s Day or Ngay nha giao Viet Nam (Vietnam)
Transgender Day of Remembrance (LGBT community)
Universal Children’s Day (International)
Wedding day of Queen Elizabeth II, official flag day. (United Kingdom)
Zumbi Day (Brazil)