9 June 1923

Bulgaria’s military takes over the government in a coup d’état.

The Bulgarian coup d’état of 1923, also known as the 9 June coup d’état, was a coup d’état in Bulgaria implemented by armed forces under General Ivan Valkov’s Military Union on the eve of 9 June 1923. Hestitantly legitimated by a decree of Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria, it overthrew the government of the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union headed by Aleksandar Stamboliyski and replaced it with one under Aleksandar Tsankov.

Background
The Bulgarian army, defeated in World War I, was limited in size of 20,000 men by the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine. A shadow of its former glory, the army retained weapons hidden away for better times. In 1919 a group of officers led by Generals Ivan Valkov and Velizar Lazarov – and joined by Kimon Georgiev and Damyan Velchev – formed the Military Union. This organization grew over the next couple of years to effectively command the army.

After the war Aleksandar Stamboliyski was released from prison in an effort to quell the civil unrest against the wartime government and Tsar Ferdinand. The result had mixed success: Ferdinand abdicated in favor of his son, Boris III, and Stamboliyski became Prime Minister in 1919. His new agrarian government brought about reforms that, although may have been popular with the farmers who comprised over 80% of the population of Bulgaria, were unpopular amongst the upper-middle class parties. Even more dangerous for Stamboliyski’s government was that the armed forces was not allowed to nominate the Minister of Defence and had no representation in cabinet since the end of the war. This meant that Stamboliyski’s government had no support from the army. As the power of the Military Union grew the civilian government was in danger of being overthrown by an unloyal army.

To the dismay of opposition parties and Tsar Boris III, the BANU and Communist Party polled a combined total of 59% of the votes in the 1920 elections. The middle-class, business men and aristocrats worried for their interests that, for the first time, were being seriously challenged by the peasants. As the agrarian government grew more and more autocratic, even sidelining the tsar. A group of the old bourgeois parties ran together in the April 1923 elections as the Constitutional Bloc but only won 17 seats. Fraud and the newly effective first-past-the-post voting system were the culprits; although the BANU was still relatively popular amongst the countrymen. In 1922 after gaining the approval by a plebiscite, the government began trying and imprisoning leaders of opposition parties for their roles in previous wars. In the face of repression, the bourgeois parties decided that the overthrow of the government was a necessity to their survival. Based in the Macedonian region of Bulgaria the nationalist and revolutionary Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization carried out attacks against Greece and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in attempt to free the Bulgarian lands under Greek and Yugoslav rule. On March 23, 1923 Stamboliyski signed the Treaty of Niš pledging to suppress their activities. The organization, until now at peace with the government, now began plotting against it.

Preparations
Opposition parties met with leaders of the Military Union to prepare for the coup. The Military Union, wanting to give an appearance of legality to the ouster of Stamboliyski, needed a civilian government to hand over power to.

Coup
On the morning of June 9, 1923, before dawn, the order was given for the garrisons in Sofia to block roads, cut telephone lines, and take control of key objectives such as police stations, post offices and train stations. After three hours, the coup was successful. By 5 a.m. a new government led by Aleksandar Tsankov installed in Sofia. The next morning the leaders of the coup meet with Tsar Boris at his palace in Vrana. After a six-hour meeting they convinced him to sign a decree legitimizing the new cabinet, on the condition the new government include agrarians and avoid repression. Both of these conditions were ignored.

Aleksandar Stamboliyski was away from the capital on the day of the coup. He was arrested five days later and handed over to Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization fighters in his home town of Slavovitsa who brutally tortured him for hours, and cut off his hand, before finally murdering him.

Aftermath
Despite the initial success, the new government was still in danger. In several places, the coup met with the opposition of agrarian activists and individual communist volunteers, an event known in Bulgarian historiography as the June Uprising. The uprising was largely unorganized in its essence, lacking a common leadership – after the death of Stamboliyski – and a nationwide radius of action. Despite large-scale activity by the rebels around Pleven, Pazardzhik and Shumen, it was quickly crushed by the new government. Crucial was the inactivity of the Bulgarian Communist Party.

Unlike the agrarians, the Communists Party of Bulgaria had a strong military organization. It was well supplied with arms by BCP followers within the barracks and, unlike the party of the agrarians, was already in the grip of the notorious communist iron discipline. Its position could have decided between the success or failure of the coup. In a move that would prove fatal to both the agrarians and later themselves, the communists did not take part in the June Uprising. Its leadership regarded both the uprising and the coup as “struggle for power between the urban and rural bourgeoisie” and as a replacement of one military dictatorship – that of the rural bourgeoisie and their ‘posse comitatus’, with another – that of the urban upper middle class. The party’s stance of neutrality allowed the new government to crush the rebels and consolidate its power.

Arrested rebels in Vratsa
Under pressure from the Comintern, who condemned their inactivity, the Communist Party made preparations in August for an uprising the following month. This short time frame did not allow for nationwide organization. Furthermore, the new government was made aware of the impending rebellion and subjected the communists to mass arrests. This crippling pre-emptive blow crippled the rebels and who finalized plans for an uprising on the eve of September 23. The insurrection was put down by the army. Thousands of rebels were killed without charge or trial.
This marked the debut of Aleksandar Tsankov’s reign of “white terror”, prompting the future bombing of the St Nedelya Church, prompting, in turn, martial law and an intensification of the terror.

28 April 1923

Wembley Stadium is opened.

The stadium’s first turf was cut by King George V, and it was first opened to the public on 28 April 1923. Much of Humphrey Repton’s original Wembley Park landscape was transformed in 1922–23 during preparations for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924–25. First known as the British Empire Exhibition Stadium or simply Empire Stadium, it was built by Sir Robert McAlpine for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 extended to 1925.

The stadium cost £750,000 and was constructed on the site of an earlier folly called Watkin’s Tower. The architects were Sir John Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton and the head engineer Sir Owen Williams. It was originally intended to demolish the stadium at the end of the Exhibition, but it was saved at the suggestion of Sir James Stevenson, a Scot who was chairman of the organising committee for the Empire Exhibition. The ground had been used for football as early as the 1880s

At the end of the exhibition, an entrepreneur Arthur Elvin started buying the derelict buildings one by one, demolishing them and selling the scrap. The stadium had gone into liquidation after it was pronounced “financially unviable”. Elvin offered to buy the stadium for £127,000, using a £12,000 downpayment and the balance plus interest payable over ten years.

After complications following the death of James White, the original Stadium owner, Elvin bought Wembley Stadium from the new owners, Wembley Company, at the original price, since they honoured Elvin’s original deal. They then immediately bought it back from Elvin, leaving him with a healthy profit. Instead of cash, he received shares, which gave him the largest stake in Wembley Stadium, and he subsequently became chairman.

The electric scoreboard and the all-encircling roof, made from aluminium and translucent glass, were added in 1963.

The Royal Box in April 1986.
The stadium’s distinctive Twin Towers became its trademark and nickname. Also well known were the 39 steps needed to be climbed to reach the Royal box and collect a trophy. Wembley was the first pitch to be referred to as “Hallowed Turf”, with many stadia around the world borrowing this phrase. In 1934, the Empire Pool was built nearby. The “Wembley Stadium Collection” is held by the National Football Museum. The stadium closed in October 2000 and demolition commenced in December 2002, completing in 2003 for redevelopment. The top of one of the twin towers was erected as a memorial in the park on the north side of Overton Close in the Saint Raphael’s Estate.

26 May 1923

The first Le Mans 24 hours is held.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest active sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, France. It is one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world and is often called the “Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency”. The event represents one leg of the Triple Crown of Motorsport; other events being the Indianapolis 500, and the Monaco Grand Prix.

The race is organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and runs on the Circuit de la Sarthe, which contains a mix of closed public roads and a specialist racing circuit, in which racing teams have to balance speed with the cars’ ability to race for 24 hours without sustaining mechanical damage.

Since 2012, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. In 2017, it will be the third round of the season.The race has over the years inspired imitating races all over the globe, popularizing the 24-hour format at places like Daytona, Nürburgring, Spa-Francorchamps, and Bathurst. The American Le Mans Series and Europe’s Le Mans Series of multi-event sports car championships were spun off from 24 Hours of Le Mans regulations. Other races include the Le Mans Classic, a race for historic Le Mans race cars of years past held on the Circuit de la Sarthe, a motorcycle version of the race which is held on the shortened Bugatti version of the same circuit, a kart race, a truck race , and a parody race 24 Hours of LeMons.