2 March 1946

Ho Chi Minh is elected the President of North Vietnam.

H? Chí Minh, 19 May 1890 – 2 September 1969, born Nguy?n Sinh Cung, also known as Nguy?n T?t Thành, Nguy?n Ái Qu?c, Bác H? or simply Bác, was a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who was Chairman and First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Vietnam. He was also Prime Minister 1945–1955 and President 1945–1969 of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. He was a key figure in the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 as well as the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

H? Chí Minh led the Vi?t Minh independence movement from 1941 onward, establishing the Communist-ruled Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and defeating the French Union in 1954 at the battle of ?i?n Biên Ph?. He officially stepped down from power in 1965 due to health problems. After the war, Saigon, the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

Any description of H? Chí Minh’s life before he came to power in Vietnam is necessarily fraught with ambiguity. He is known to have used at least 50 :582 and perhaps as many as 200 pseudonyms. Both his place and date of birth are subjects of academic debate since neither is known with certainty. At least four existing official biographies vary on names, dates, places and other hard facts while unofficial biographies vary even more widely.

The 1954 Geneva Accords concluded between France and the Vi?t Minh, allowing the latter’s forces to regroup in the North whilst anti-Communist groups settled in the South. His Democratic Republic of Vietnam relocated to Hanoi and became the government of North Vietnam, a Communist-led one-party state. Following the Geneva Accords, there was to be a 300-day period in which people could freely move between the two regions of Vietnam, later known as South Vietnam and North Vietnam. During the 300 days, Di?m and CIA adviser Colonel Edward Lansdale staged a campaign to convince people to move to South Vietnam. The campaign was particularly focused on Vietnam’s Catholics, who were to provide Di?m’s power base in his later years, with the use of the slogan “God has gone south”. Between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people migrated to the South, mostly Catholics. At the start of 1955, French Indochina was dissolved, leaving Di?m in temporary control of the South.

All the parties at Geneva called for reunification elections, but they could not agree on the details. Recently appointed Vi?t Minh acting foreign minister Pham Van Dong proposed elections under the supervision of “local commissions”. The United States, with the support of Britain and the Associated States of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, suggested United Nations supervision. This plan was rejected by Soviet representative Vyacheslav Molotov, who argued for a commission composed of an equal number of communist and non-communist members, which could determine “important” issues only by unanimous agreement. :89, 91, 97 The negotiators were unable to agree on a date for the elections for reunification. North Vietnam argued that the elections should be held within six months of the ceasefire while the Western allies sought to have no deadline. Molotov proposed June 1955, then later softened this to any time in 1955 and finally July 1956. :610 The Diem government supported reunification elections, but only with effective international supervision, arguing that genuinely free elections were otherwise impossible in the totalitarian North. :107 By the afternoon of 20 July, the remaining outstanding issues were resolved as the parties agreed that the partition line should be at the 17th parallel and the elections for a reunified government should be held in July 1956, two years after the ceasefire. :604 The Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam was only signed by the French and Vi?t Minh military commands, with no participation or consultation of the State of Vietnam. :97 Based on a proposal by Chinese delegation head Zhou Enlai, an International Control Commission chaired by India, with Canada and Poland as members, was placed in charge of supervising the ceasefire. :603 :90,97 Because issues were to be decided unanimously, Poland’s presence in the ICC provided the Communists with effective veto power over supervision of the treaty. :97–98 The unsigned Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference called for reunification elections, which the majority of delegates expected to be supervised by the ICC. The Vi?t Minh never accepted ICC authority over such elections, insisting that the ICC’s “competence was to be limited to the supervision and control of the implementation of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities by both parties”. :99 Of the nine nations represented, only the United States and the State of Vietnam refused to accept the declaration. Undersecretary of state Walter Bedell Smith delivered a “unilateral declaration” of the United States position, reiterating: “We shall seek to achieve unity through free elections supervised by the United Nations to ensure that they are conducted fairly”.

1 March 1565

The city of Rio de Janeiro is founded.

Rio de Janeiro, or simply Rio, is anchor to the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area and the second-most populous municipality in Brazil and the sixth-most populous in the Americas. Rio de Janeiro is the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s third-most populous state. Part of the city has been designated as a World Heritage Site, named “Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea”, by UNESCO on 1 July 2012 as a Cultural Landscape.

Founded in 1 March 1565 by the Portuguese, the city was initially the seat of the Captaincy of Rio de Janeiro, a domain of the Portuguese Empire. Later, in 1763, it became the capital of the State of Brazil, a state of the Portuguese Empire. In 1808, when the Portuguese Royal Court transferred itself from Portugal to Brazil, Rio de Janeiro became the chosen seat of the court of Queen Maria I of Portugal, who subsequently, in 1815, under the leadership of her son, the Prince Regent, and future King João VI of Portugal, raised Brazil to the dignity of a kingdom, within the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarves. Rio stayed the capital of the pluricontinental Lusitanian monarchy until 1822, when the War of Brazilian Independence began. This is one of the few instances in history that the capital of a colonising country officially shifted to a city in one of its colonies. Rio de Janeiro subsequently served as the capital of the independent monarchy, the Empire of Brazil, until 1889, and then the capital of a republican Brazil until 1960 when the capital was transferred to Brasília.

Rio de Janeiro has the second largest municipal GDP in the country, and 30th largest in the world in 2008, estimated at about R$343 billion. It is headquarters to Brazilian oil, mining, and telecommunications companies, including two of the country’s major corporations – Petrobras and Vale – and Latin America’s largest telemedia conglomerate, Grupo Globo. The home of many universities and institutes, it is the second-largest center of research and development in Brazil, accounting for 17% of national scientific output according to 2005 data. Despite the high perception of crime, the city has a lower incidence of crime than Northeast Brazil, but it is far more criminalized than the south region of Brazil, which is considered the safest in the country.

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere and is known for its natural settings, Carnival, samba, bossa nova, and balneario beaches such as Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. In addition to the beaches, some of the most famous landmarks include the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Sugarloaf Mountain with its cable car; the Sambódromo, a permanent grandstand-lined parade avenue which is used during Carnival; and Maracanã Stadium, one of the world’s largest football stadiums. Rio de Janeiro was the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2016 Summer Paralympics, making the city the first South American and Portuguese-speaking city to ever host the events, and the third time the Olympics were held in a Southern Hemisphere city. The Maracanã Stadium held the finals of the 1950 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, and the XV Pan American Games.

28 February 1991

The first Gulf War ends.

In what may well be remembered as the high-water mark of the projection of American power and prestige, it was at Midnight on February 28, 1991 that President George H.W. Bush announced the suspension of combat operations, and an end of Operation Desert Storm. Gulf War One had come to a close.

This Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of that day.

To illustrate how far into the depth of national self-loathing and doubt we have descended, I would invite you, dear reader, to imagine Barack Obama standing humbly, yet resolutely and proud, in the Well of the House of Representatives, as President George Bush the Elder did one week later, on March 7th, and announce to the nation:

…We watched over our sons and daughters with pride, watched over them with prayer. As Commander in Chief, I can report to you that our Armed Forces fought with Honor and Valor, and as President, I can report to the nation that aggression is defeated, the war is over.”

It is difficult for me to ever imagine our first Post-Constitutional, Post-American president delivering a public utterance like this; one that mentioned Pride, Prayer, Honor and Valor in the context of victory over aggression. Oh, he might use the words , in a string of vacuous, empty and platitudinous homilies, in his ever-expansive desire to redound to himself the reflected glory of the hard toil and sacrifice of others, but Barack Obama would never, ever praise the stunning efforts of our military armed forces, and the iron willed strength of our warriors that lead, arrow-straight, to victory.

“Victory”, said President Barack Obama “is not a concept I’m comfortable with”.

Oh, what a winding and dark road we’ve trod these last twenty years, that have lead us to this, the Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama.

The twenty-year journey began on August 2nd, 1990. It is interesting to note that the magnificent, common-sense approach to both energy policy and military strength under the exemplary leadership of Ronald Reagan lead both to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and our thunderous victory over Saddam Hussein. Because Reagan deregulated the domestic energy industry, prices for OPEC oil plummeted thoughout most of his presidency, to the point that the cost of oil on the day of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was a little over $20 a barrel.

Throughout the early stanzas of the Iran/Iraq war, during a period of intense domestic U.S. oil price controls and industry regulation, the price of oil was trading in the $30-$50 per barrel region, and this wealth kept the Hussein Kelptocracy propped up and able to function. But, by the end of the Reagan presidency, the price dropped into the low $20’s, where it remained stuck until the end of the 1980’s.

Saddam, bereft of his oil revenues, needed cash. He was in hock to everybody, most notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. So, he did what any self-respecting bully would do: He attacked his neighbors to whom he owned the most money in the summer of 1990.

The conventional wisdom at the time was that Sad-em wouldn’t stop in Kuwait, and would turn left, and pounce on Saudi Arabia. At the time King Fahd supplied about 35% of our imported oil. So, under the leadership of the elder Bush, a massive coalition military force, consisting at it’s height of nearly one-million men, was assembled as a defensive shield in the sands of Araby.

After the usual multi-national United Nations hi-jinx, in which the Arab beligerents insisted on linking the Iraqi-Kuwaiti question to the age-old whipping boy Israel, along with the last dying gasps of Gorbachev’s USSR as it tried desperately to remain relevant, the air campaign began in earnest on January 16th, 1991. By February 28th, after a one-hundred hour ground offensive, the war was over. Saddam was driven out of Kuwait. On the streets of Kuwait City, there were riotous celebrations, with the celebrants chanting “George Boosh! George Boosh!” In these scenes alone were the stock footage for the victorious re-election campaign for President Bush, that was certain to be waged in only eighteen months.

Somewhere along the way, though, a small recession intervened, a heretofore unknown and insignificant southern Governor name Bill Clinton intervened in these plans, calling it “the worst economy in 50 years”. The rest, they say, is history.

But what of this history?

What IF we’d never bothered to check the gates of Fahd’s kingdom, and thus allowed Saddam to have his way with the Saudi Arabian oil fields? This, at the very least, would have cut off the source of immense wealth that was just beginning to pour into the radicalized Wahhabist movement, and would have likely killed it in the cradle.

Also, it wouldn’t have given the anti-Western fig-leaf to the likes of Osama bin Laden; remember, his only brief with the US was our parking of our AWACS and our F-16’s on Saudi Holy Ground, and allowing our female military to prance around without burkas. Such was the hatred-germ in the fevered mind of Mr. bin Laden.

Would a Saddam-controlled Saudi Arabia been better, or worse, for American interests in the world? Looking through the long lens of twenty years, who’s to say? We never would have wound up fighting a second Gulf War, bin Laden would be just some unknown Middle-eastern trust-funder trying to figure out how to keep his garments so sparkling white in his filthy cave. There would have been no 9/11. There would have been no Howard Dean. And thus, there would have been no Barack Obama.

Also, I think it is unlikely we would have witnessed the explosive growth of radicalized political Islam. Yes, a wealthy and powerful Saddam Hussein would have offered his own set of special and horrendous difficulties and trials, but don’t forget: One of his proposals for backing out of Kuwait was his insistence that other nations should leave other occupied areas including Syria’s removal from Lebanon . It is hard to imagine a middle-eastern dictator with even a tiny smidgen of realpolitik pragmatism, but, there it is. My, how things have changed…

Now we have a Mid East hurling headlong into the 9th century, and any of that age-old and thread-bare “stability” is gone with the wind. Which brings us back to where we are today: February 28th, 2011.

The only reason any of this is germane is because we categorically, and generationally, refuse to get our domestic energy policy in order. We insist that third-world basket-case nations shoulder the burden of our energy exploration, extraction and refining demands. Thus, we send our valorous Armed Forces hither and yon to protect oil fields. We have, up to this point, been rich enough to pay others to put up with this dirty business or energy extraction. But, this house of cards is crashing down around our ears.

We went to King Fahd’s defense only because the stable and predictable supply of world wide petroleum was in our best national interests. If all the man had in his backyard was sand, we wouldn’t have lifted a finger Or, conversely, we wouldn’t have lifted a finger to defend the Saudi Royal Family if we had all the oil and coal and natural gas and oil shale and nuclear power we needed right here in the United States for the next ten generations, thank you. Deal with Saddam yourself, Mr. Fahd.

In the mid-1940’s, we departed down the path of overt obsequiousness to the Soviet game-plan of world-wide communist domination. This lead to a 50-year arms race that created a Total-State in America with which we are still dealing, and for which we are still paying. It also, not unimportantly, nearly wiped out civilization on a number of occasions during that time. We can thank the left for this.

Similarly, we are today well down the path of overt obsequiousness to radical environmentalism, and our inability to show these people the door in our public policy discourse. There simply is no room for their radical ideology, and their false science, in a world where far too much of our energy comes from places it shouldn’t,–when we can obtain all the energy we need right here at home.

Twenty years ago tomorrow marks the anniversary of one of the most stunning victories ever achieved by the Armed Forces of the United States. As George Herbert Walker Bush so beautifully and movingly observed at the time, they did so with great honor, and with great valor. Their sacrifice and power stands to this day as an exemplary light to our nation.

The sad fact is, though, we usually extend these military risks only as a response to great folly on the part of the political Left, in tandem with the inability of the Right to stand against it. If we’d stood up with Whittaker Chambers and insisted that our most valuable atomic secrets were already in the hands of the Soviets, perhaps things would have been different in 20th century America. Perhaps if we’d stood four-square against the Jane Fondas and Robert F. Kennedy Jrs, and insisted on a rational energy policy in this nation, we wouldn’t have run afoul of Saddam Hussein and his oil-lust on the Arabian peninsula twenty years ago.

This is a lesson we still have time to learn. But just barely. Learning this lesson NOW, TODAY would be a fine and fitting tribute to those magnificent warriors I recall here tonight, twenty years on. It is a lesson, once learned, will help insure we don’t have to fight another war like theirs.

27 February 1900

The British Labour Party is founded.

In 1899, a Doncaster member of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, Thomas R. Steels, proposed in his union branch that the Trade Union Congress call a special conference to bring together all left-wing organisations and form them into a single body that would sponsor Parliamentary candidates. The motion was passed at all stages by the TUC, and the proposed conference was held at the Memorial Hall on Farringdon Street on 26 and 27 February 1900. The meeting was attended by a broad spectrum of working-class and left-wing organisations—trades unions represented about one third of the membership of the TUC delegates.

After a debate, the 129 delegates passed Hardie’s motion to establish “a distinct Labour group in Parliament, who shall have their own whips, and agree upon their policy, which must embrace a readiness to cooperate with any party which for the time being may be engaged in promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour.” This created an association called the Labour Representation Committee, meant to co-ordinate attempts to support MPs sponsored by trade unions and represent the working-class population. It had no single leader, and in the absence of one, the Independent Labour Party nominee Ramsay MacDonald was elected as Secretary. He had the difficult task of keeping the various strands of opinions in the LRC united. The October 1900 “Khaki election” came too soon for the new party to campaign effectively; total expenses for the election only came to £33. Only 15 candidatures were sponsored, but two were successful; Keir Hardie in Merthyr Tydfil and Richard Bell in Derby.

Support for the LRC was boosted by the 1901 Taff Vale Case, a dispute between strikers and a railway company that ended with the union being ordered to pay £23,000 damages for a strike. The judgement effectively made strikes illegal since employers could recoup the cost of lost business from the unions. The apparent acquiescence of the Conservative Government of Arthur Balfour to industrial and business interests intensified support for the LRC against a government that appeared to have little concern for the industrial proletariat and its problems.

Labour Party Plaque from Caroone House, 14 Farringdon Street
In the 1906 election, the LRC won 29 seats—helped by a secret 1903 pact between Ramsay MacDonald and Liberal Chief Whip Herbert Gladstone that aimed to avoid splitting the opposition vote between Labour and Liberal candidates in the interest of removing the Conservatives from office.

In their first meeting after the election the group’s Members of Parliament decided to adopt the name “The Labour Party” formally. Keir Hardie, who had taken a leading role in getting the party established, was elected as Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, although only by one vote over David Shackleton after several ballots. In the party’s early years the Independent Labour Party provided much of its activist base as the party did not have individual membership until 1918 but operated as a conglomerate of affiliated bodies. The Fabian Society provided much of the intellectual stimulus for the party. One of the first acts of the new Liberal Government was to reverse the Taff Vale judgement.

The People’s History Museum in Manchester holds the minutes of the first Labour Party meeting in 1906 and has them on display in the Main Galleries. Also within the museum is the Labour History Archive and Study Centre, which holds the collection of the Labour Party, with material ranging from 1900 to the present day.

26 February 1980

Egypt and Israel establish full diplomatic relations.

Egypt–Israel relations are foreign relations between Egypt and Israel. The state of war between both countries which dated back to the 1948 Arab–Israeli War culminated in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and was followed by the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty a year after the Camp David Accords, mediated by US president Jimmy Carter. Full diplomatic relations were established on January 26, 1980. Egypt has an embassy in Tel Aviv and a consulate in Eilat. Israel has an embassy in Cairo and a consulate in Alexandria.

Their shared border has two official crossings, one at Taba and one at Nitzana. The crossing at Nitzana is for commercial and tourist traffic only. The two countries’ borders also meet at the shoreline of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea.

Peace between Egypt and Israel has lasted for more than thirty years and Egypt has become an important strategic partner of Israel. In January 2011, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister known for his close ties to Egyptian officials, stated that “Egypt is not only our closest friend in the region, the co-operation between us goes beyond the strategic.

Nevertheless, the relationship is sometimes described as a “cold peace”, with many in Egypt skeptical about its effectiveness. The Arab-Israeli conflict kept relations cool and anti-Israeli incitement is prevalent in the Egyptian media.

Israel-Egypt Armistice Commission building
In 2003, Egyptian Air Force UAVs entered Israeli airspace and overflew the nuclear research facilities at Nahal Sorek and Palmachim Airbase. Israel threatened to shoot the drones down.

Although diplomatic relations were established in 1980, the Egyptian ambassador to Israel was recalled between 1982 and 1988, and again between 2001 and 2005 during the Second Intifada.

During the final years of the Mubarak administration, the leading Egyptian official conducting contacts with Israel had been the head of Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman. Suleiman was ousted from power at the same time as Mubarak, and Israel was said to have very few channels of communication open with Egypt during the events of 2011.

Egypt undermined the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip by opening the Rafah border to persons in May 2011. The Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian parliament wished to open trade across the border with Gaza, a move said to be resisted by Egypt’s Tantawi government.

After an exchange of rocket fire between Gaza and Israel in March 2012, the Egyptian parliamentary committee for Arab affairs urged the Egyptian government to recall its ambassador to Israel from Tel Aviv, and deport Israel’s ambassador in Egypt. This was largely symbolic since only the ruling military council can make such decisions.

Relations have improved significantly between Israel and Egypt after the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état,[16] with close military cooperation over the Sinai insurgency. Notably, Israel has permitted Egypt to increase its number of troops deployed in the Sinai peninsula beyond the terms of the peace treaty. These developments, along with deteriorating Israel-Jordan relations, have led some to brand Egypt as Israel’s “closest ally” in the Arab world,[20] while others assert that relations remain relatively cold. Sisi has maintained the policy of previous Egyptian presidents of pledging not to visit Israel until Israel recognizes Palestinian statehood, although his Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, has visited Israel.

25 February 1991

The Warsaw Pact is abolished.

The Warsaw Pact, formally known as the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, was a collective defence treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland among the Soviet Union and seven Soviet satellite states of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955, during the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact was the military complement to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, the regional economic organization for the socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe. The Warsaw Pact was created in reaction to the integration of West Germany into NATO in 1955 per the London and Paris Conferences of 1954, but it is also considered to have been motivated by Soviet desires to maintain control over military forces in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Warsaw Pact was established as a balance of power or counterweight to NATO; there was no direct confrontation between them. Instead, the conflict was fought on an ideological basis and in proxy wars. Both NATO and the Warsaw Pact led to the expansion of military forces and their integration into the respective blocs. Its largest military engagement was the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, which, in part, resulted in Albania withdrawing from the pact less than a month later. The Pact began to unravel in its entirety with the spread of the Counter-Revolutions of 1989 through the Eastern Bloc, beginning with the Solidarity movement in Poland and its electoral success in June 1989.

East Germany withdrew from the Pact following reunification with West Germany in 1990. On 25 February 1991, the Pact was declared at an end at a meeting of defence and foreign ministers from the six remaining member states in Hungary. The USSR itself was dissolved in December 1991, although most of the former Soviet republics formed the Collective Security Treaty Organization shortly thereafter. Throughout the following 20 years, the seven Warsaw Pact countries outside the USSR each joined NATO, as did the three Baltic states that had been part of the Soviet Union.

24 February 1920

The Nazi Party is founded.

This article is about the German Nazi Party that existed from 1920 to 1945. For the ideology, see Nazism. For other Nazi Parties, see Nazi Party.
The National Socialist German Workers’ Party. German: About this soundNationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated NSDAP, commonly referred to in English as the Nazi Party, was a far-right political party in Germany that was active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of Nazism. Its precursor, the German Workers’ Party , existed from 1919 to 1920.

The Nazi Party emerged from the German nationalist, racist and populist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post-World War I Germany. The party was created as a means to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch nationalism. Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist rhetoric, although such aspects were later downplayed in order to gain the support of industrial entities and in the 1930s the party’s focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes.

Pseudo-scientific racism theories were central to Nazism. The Nazis propagated the idea of a “people’s community”. Their aim was to unite “racially desirable” Germans as national comrades, while excluding those deemed either to be political dissidents, physically or intellectually inferior, or of a foreign race. The Nazis sought to improve the stock of the Germanic people through racial purity and eugenics, broad social welfare programs and a collective subordination of individual rights, which could be sacrificed for the good of the state and the “Aryan master race”. To maintain the supposed purity and strength of the Aryan race, the Nazis sought to exterminate Jews, Romani and Poles along with the vast majority of other Slavs and the physically and mentally handicapped. They imposed exclusionary segregation on homosexuals, Africans, Jehovah’s Witnesses and political opponents. The persecution reached its climax when the party-controlled German state organised the systematic genocidal killing of an estimated 5.5 to 6 million Jews and millions of other targeted victims, in what has become known as the Holocaust.

The party’s leader since 1921, Adolf Hitler, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg on 30 January 1933. Hitler rapidly established a totalitarian regime known as the Third Reich. Following the defeat of the Third Reich at the conclusion of World War II in Europe, the party was “declared to be illegal” by the Allied powers, who carried out denazification in the years after the war.

23 February 1934

Leopold III becomes King of Belgium.

orn Leopold Philippe Charles Albert Meinrad Hubertus Marie Miguel in Brussels, Leopold III was crowned King of Belgium on 23 Feb 1934. The WW1 veteran of the 12th Belgian Regiment very briefly attempted to resist the invading German troops in May 1940 before he surrendered. The Belgian people, who thought their King had given up too quickly, accused him of treason, but Leopold III tried proved the accusers wrong by refusing to obey Nazi policies. London, however, never recognized his right to rule.

During the winter of 1944 to 1945, he and the royal family were placed under arrest on Heinrich Himmler’s orders and they were not freed until May 1945 when the American troops reached the last location of their captivity, Strobl, Austria. He spent the next six years in exile in Switzerland due to the accusations of him being a German collaborator. In 1950, a referendum showed a slight majority of Belgians favoring his return, but upon his return he realized the nation was deeply divided over his rule. On the verge of a civil war within Belgium, Leopold III abdicated on 16 Jul 1951 and passed the crown to his son Baudouin.

22 February 2011

New Zealand’s second deadliest earthquake happens in Christchurch, killing 185 people.

At 12.51 p.m. on Tuesday 22 February 2011, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake caused severe damage in Christchurch and Lyttelton, killing 185 people and injuring several thousand.

The earthquake’s epicentre was near Lyttelton, just 10 km southeast of Christchurch’s central business district. It occurred nearly six months after the 4 September 2010 earthquake.

The earthquake struck at lunchtime, when many people were on the city streets. More than 130 people lost their lives in the collapse of the Canterbury Television and Pyne Gould Corporation buildings. Falling bricks and masonry killed 11 people, and eight died in two city buses crushed by crumbling walls. Rock cliffs collapsed in the Sumner and Redcliffs area, and boulders tumbled down the Port Hills, with five people killed by falling rocks.

Although not as powerful as the magnitude 7.1 earthquake on 4 September 2010, this earthquake occurred on a shallow fault line that was close to the city, so the shaking was particularly destructive.

The earthquake brought down many buildings damaged the previous September, especially older brick and mortar buildings. Heritage buildings suffered heavy damage, including the Provincial Council Chambers, Lyttelton’s Timeball Station, the Anglican Christchurch Cathedral and the Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. More than half of the buildings in the central business district have since been demolished, including the city’s tallest building, the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

Liquefaction was much more extensive than in September 2010. Shaking turned water-saturated layers of sand and silt beneath the surface into sludge that squirted upwards through cracks. Thick layers of silt covered properties and streets, and water and sewage from broken pipes flooded streets. House foundations cracked and buckled, wrecking many homes. Irreparable damage led to the demolition of several thousand homes, and large tracts of suburban land were subsequently abandoned.

The government declared a national state of emergency the day after the quake. Authorities quickly cordoned off Christchurch’s central business district. The cordon remained in place in some areas until June 2013. Power companies restored electricity to 75 per cent of the city within three days, but re-establishing water supplies and sewerage systems took much longer.

21 February 1848

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto.

On February 21, 1848, The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx with the assistance of Friedrich Engels, is published in London by a group of German-born revolutionary socialists known as the Communist League. The political pamphlet–arguably the most influential in history–proclaimed that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” and that the inevitable victory of the proletariat, or working class, would put an end to class society forever. Originally published in German as Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, the work had little immediate impact. Its ideas, however, reverberated with increasing force into the 20th century, and by 1950 nearly half the world’s population lived under Marxist governments.

Karl Marx was born in Trier, Prussia, in 1818–the son of a Jewish lawyer who converted to Lutheranism. He studied law and philosophy at the universities of Berlin and Jena and initially was a follower of G.W.F. Hegel, the 19th-century German philosopher who sought a dialectical and all-embracing system of philosophy. In 1842, Marx became editor of the Rheinische Zeitung, a liberal democratic newspaper in Cologne. The newspaper grew considerably under his guidance, but in 1843 the Prussian authorities shut it down for being too outspoken. That year, Marx moved to Paris to co-edit a new political review.

Paris was at the time a center for socialist thought, and Marx adopted the more extreme form of socialism known as communism, which called for a revolution by the working class that would tear down the capitalist world. In Paris, Marx befriended Friedrich Engels, a fellow Prussian who shared his views and was to become a lifelong collaborator. In 1845, Marx was expelled from France and settled in Brussels, where he renounced his Prussian nationality and was joined by Engels.

During the next two years, Marx and Engels developed their philosophy of communism and became the intellectual leaders of the working-class movement. In 1847, the League of the Just, a secret society made up of revolutionary German workers living in London, asked Marx to join their organization. Marx obliged and with Engels renamed the group the Communist League and planned to unite it with other German worker committees across Europe. The pair were commissioned to draw up a manifesto summarizing the doctrines of the League.

Back in Brussels, Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto in January 1848, using as a model a tract Engels wrote for the League in 1847. In early February, Marx sent the work to London, and the League immediately adopted it as their manifesto. Many of the ideas in The Communist Manifesto were not new, but Marx had achieved a powerful synthesis of disparate ideas through his materialistic conception of history. The Manifesto opens with the dramatic words, “A spectre is haunting Europe–the spectre of communism,” and ends by declaring: “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world, unite!”

In The Communist Manifesto, Marx predicted imminent revolution in Europe. The pamphlet had hardly cooled after coming off the presses in London when revolution broke out in France on February 22 over the banning of political meetings held by socialists and other opposition groups. Isolated riots led to popular revolt, and on February 24 King Louis-Philippe was forced to abdicate. The revolution spread like brushfire across continental Europe. Marx was in Paris on the invitation of the provincial government when the Belgian government, fearful that the revolutionary tide would soon engulf Belgium, banished him. Later that year, he went to the Rhineland, where he agitated for armed revolt.

The bourgeoisie of Europe soon crushed the Revolution of 1848, and Marx would have to wait longer for his revolution. He went to London to live and continued to write with Engels as they further organized the international communist movement. In 1864, Marx helped found the International Workingmen’s Association–known as the First International–and in 1867 published the first volume of his monumental Das Kapital–the foundation work of communist theory. By his death in 1884, communism had become a movement to be reckoned with in Europe. Twenty-three years later, in 1917, Vladimir Lenin, a Marxist, led the world’s first successful communist revolution in Russia.