19 December 1946

The First Indochina War starts.

The First Indochina War began in French Indochina on 19 December 1946, and lasted until 20 July 1954. Fighting between French forces and their Vi?t Minh opponents in the south dated from September 1945. The conflict pitted a range of forces, including the French Union’s French Far East Expeditionary Corps, led by France and supported by B?o ??i’s Vietnamese National Army against the Vi?t Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh and the People’s Army of Vietnam led by Võ Nguyên Giáp. Most of the fighting took place in Tonkin in northern Vietnam, although the conflict engulfed the entire country and also extended into the neighboring French Indochina protectorates of Laos and Cambodia.

At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, the Combined Chiefs of Staff decided that Indochina south of latitude 16° north was to be included in the Southeast Asia Command under British Admiral Mountbatten. Japanese forces located south of that line surrendered to him and those to the north surrendered to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. In September 1945, Chinese forces entered Tonkin, and a small British task force landed at Saigon. The Chinese accepted the Vietnamese government under Ho Chi Minh, then in power in Hanoi. The British refused to do likewise in Saigon, and deferred to the French there from the outset, against the ostensible support of the Vi?t Minh authorities by American OSS representatives. On V-J Day, September 2, Ho Chi Minh had proclaimed in Hanoi the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The DRV ruled as the only civil government in all of Vietnam for a period of about 20 days, after the abdication of Emperor B?o ??i, who had governed under Japanese rule. On 23 September 1945, with the knowledge of the British commander in Saigon, French forces overthrew the local DRV government, and declared French authority restored in Cochinchina. Guerrilla warfare began around Saigon immediately, but the French gradually retook control of the South and North of Indochina. Hô Chi Minh agreed to negotiate the future status of Vietnam, but the talks, held in France, failed to produce a solution. After over one year of latent conflict, all-out war broke out in December 1946 between French and Vi?t Minh forces as Hô and his government went underground. The French tried to stabilize Indochina by reorganizing it as a Federation of Associated States. In 1949, they put former Emperor B?o ??i back in power, as the ruler of a newly established State of Vietnam.

The first few years of the war involved a low-level rural insurgency against the French. In 1949 the conflict turned into a conventional war between two armies equipped with modern weapons supplied by the United States, China and the Soviet Union. French Union forces included colonial troops from the whole former empire Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Laotian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese ethnic minorities, French professional troops and units of the French Foreign Legion. The use of metropolitan recruits was forbidden by the government to prevent the war from becoming even more unpopular at home. It was called the “dirty war” by leftists in France.

The strategy of pushing the Vi?t Minh into attacking well-defended bases in remote parts of the country at the end of their logistical trails was validated at the Battle of Nà S?n. However, this base was relatively weak because of a lack of concrete and steel. French efforts were made more difficult due to the limited usefulness of armored tanks in a jungle environment, lack of strong air forces for air cover and carpet bombing, and use of foreign recruits from other French colonies. Võ Nguyên Giáp, however, used efficient and novel tactics of direct fire artillery, convoy ambushes and massed anti-aircraft guns to impede land and air supply deliveries together with a strategy based on recruiting a sizable regular army facilitated by wide popular support, a guerrilla warfare doctrine and instruction developed in China, and the use of simple and reliable war material provided by the Soviet Union. This combination proved fatal for the bases’ defenses, culminating in a decisive French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.

At the International Geneva Conference on July 21, 1954, the new socialist French government and the Vi?t Minh made an agreement that was denounced by the State of Vietnam and by the United States, but which effectively gave the Vi?t Minh control of North Vietnam above the 17th parallel. The south continued under B?o ??i. A year later, B?o ??i would be deposed by his prime minister, Ngô ?ình Di?m, creating the Republic of Vietnam. Soon an insurgency, backed by the north, developed against Di?m’s government. The conflict gradually escalated into the Vietnam War/American War also known as the Second Indochina War.

8 September 1946

A referendum abolishes the monarchy in Bulgaria.

A referendum on becoming a republic was held in Bulgaria on 8 September 1946. The result was 95.6% in favour of the change, with voter turnout reported to be 91.7%. Following the referendum, a republican constitution was introduced the following year.

5 July 1946

The bikini first goes on sale after debuting during an outdoor fashion show at the Molitor Pool in Paris, France.

On July 5, 1946, French designer Louis Reard unveils a daring two-piece swimsuit at the Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris. Parisian showgirl Micheline Bernardini modeled the new fashion, which Reard dubbed “bikini,” inspired by a news-making U.S. atomic test that took place off the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean earlier that week.

European women first began wearing two-piece bathing suits that consisted of a halter top and shorts in the 1930s, but only a sliver of the midriff was revealed and the navel was vigilantly covered. In the United States, the modest two-piece made its appearance during World War II, when wartime rationing of fabric saw the removal of the skirt panel and other superfluous material. Meanwhile, in Europe, fortified coastlines and Allied invasions curtailed beach life during the war, and swimsuit development, like everything else non-military, came to a standstill.

In 1946, Western Europeans joyously greeted the first war-free summer in years, and French designers came up with fashions to match the liberated mood of the people. Two French designers, Jacques Heim and Louis Reard, developed competing prototypes of the bikini. Heim called his the “atom” and advertised it as “the world’s smallest bathing suit.” Reard’s swimsuit, which was basically a bra top and two inverted triangles of cloth connected by string, was in fact significantly smaller. Made out of a scant 30 inches of fabric, Reard promoted his creation as “smaller than the world’s smallest bathing suit.” Reard called his creation the bikini, named after the Bikini Atoll.

In planning the debut of his new swimsuit, Reard had trouble finding a professional model who would deign to wear the scandalously skimpy two-piece. So he turned to Micheline Bernardini, an exotic dancer at the Casino de Paris, who had no qualms about appearing nearly nude in public. As an allusion to the headlines that he knew his swimsuit would generate, he printed newspaper type across the suit that Bernardini modeled on July 5 at the Piscine Molitor. The bikini was a hit, especially among men, and Bernardini received some 50,000 fan letters.

Before long, bold young women in bikinis were causing a sensation along the Mediterranean coast. Spain and Italy passed measures prohibiting bikinis on public beaches but later capitulated to the changing times when the swimsuit grew into a mainstay of European beaches in the 1950s. Reard’s business soared, and in advertisements he kept the bikini mystique alive by declaring that a two-piece suit wasn’t a genuine bikini “unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring.”

In prudish America, the bikini was successfully resisted until the early 1960s, when a new emphasis on youthful liberation brought the swimsuit en masse to U.S. beaches. It was immortalized by the pop singer Brian Hyland, who sang “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” in 1960, by the teenage “beach blanket” movies of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, and by the California surfing culture celebrated by rock groups like the Beach Boys. Since then, the popularity of the bikini has only continued to grow.

20 April 1946

The League of Nations officially dissolves, handing over power to the United Nations.

April 20, 1946 – The League of Nations Is Officially Disbanded.
The League of Nations was first formed in 1919. The final version of the Covenant of the League of Nations became Part I of the Treaty of Versailles, but could only begin to function, formally and officially, after the Peace Treaty of Versailles came into effect. Thus, the League of Nations was not officially inaugurated until January, 1920.

The 32 original Members of the League of Nations were also Signatories of the Versailles Treaty. In addition, 13 other States were invited to accede to the Covenant. The League of Nations was open to all other States, providing they fulfilled certain requirements. At its greatest extent, from September 1934 to February 1935, it had 58 members.

The League was the first international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing wars through collective security and disarmament and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration. Other issues in this and related treaties included labor conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, human and drug trafficking, the arms trade, global health, prisoners of war, and protection of minorities in Europe. At its greatest extent from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members.

The League was marked by notable failures, most glaringly, in preventing the invasion of Manchuria by Japan, the annexation of Ethiopia by Italy, and the onset of World War II. The powerlessness of the League contributed to the alienation from it by the Member States.

It did have a number of successes, however, including cooperative ventures that were transferred to the United Nations.

At the 1943 Tehran Conference, the Allied powers agreed to create a new body to replace the League: the United Nations. Many League bodies, such as the International Labour Organisation, continued to function and eventually became affiliated with the UN. The designers of the structures of the United Nations intended to make it more effective than the League.

The final meeting of the League of Nations took place on April 18, 1946 in Geneva. This session concerned itself with liquidating the League: it transferred assets to the UN, returned reserve funds to the nations that had supplied them, and settled the debts of the League. Robert Cecil, a British lawyer, politician and diplomat and one of the architects of the League of Nations, said:
Let us boldly state that aggression wherever it occurs and however it may be defended, is an international crime, that it is the duty of every peace-loving state to resent it and employ whatever force is necessary to crush it, that the machinery of the Charter, no less than the machinery of the Covenant, is sufficient for this purpose if properly used, and that every well-disposed citizen of every state should be ready to undergo any sacrifice in order to maintain peace … I venture to impress upon my hearers that the great work of peace is resting not only on the narrow interests of our own nations, but even more on those great principles of right and wrong which nations, like individuals, depend.

The League is dead. Long live the United Nations.”

The Assembly passed a resolution that “With effect from the day following the close of the present session of the Assembly, the League of Nations shall cease to exist except for the sole purpose of the liquidation of its affairs as provided in the present resolution.”

17 January 1946

The UN Security Council meets for the first time.

The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946 at Church House, Westminster, London. Since its first meeting, the Security Council has taken permanent residence at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. It also travelled to many cities, holding sessions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1972, in Panama City, Panama, and in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1990.

A representative of each of its members must be present at all times at UN Headquarters so that the Security Council can meet at any time as the need arises.

8 September 1946

95.6% of the voter in Bulgaria vote in favor of abolishing the monarchy.

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When Soviet troops arrived in Bulgaria, they were welcomed by the populace as liberators from German occupation. On September 9, 1944, five days after the Soviet declaration of war, a Fatherland Front coalition deposed the temporary government in a bloodless coup. Bulgaria held the earliest and most widespread war crimes trial in postwar Europe; almost 3,000 were executed as war criminals. Bulgaria emerged from the war with no identifiable political structure; the party system had dissolved in 1934, replaced by the pragmatic balancing of political factions in Boris’s royal dictatorship. This condition and the duration of the war in Europe eight months after Bulgaria’s surrender gave the communists ample opportunity to exploit their favorable strategic position in Bulgarian politics.

In a national referendum in September 1946, however, an overwhelming majority voted to abolish the monarchy and proclaim Bulgaria a people’s republic. After two years of postwar turmoil, Bulgarian political and economic life settled into the patterns set out by the new communist constitution ratified in December 1947. Dimitrov argued that previous Bulgarian attempts at parliamentary democracy were disastrous and that only massive social and economic restructuring could ensure stability. By the end of 1947, Bulgaria had followed the other East European states in refusing reconstruction aid from the Marshall Plan and joining the Communist Information Bureau.

17 April 1946

Syria gets its independence from the French occupation.

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In June 1940, after the Franco-German armistice, the French in Syria announced that they would cease hostilities against Germany and Italy and recognize the Vichy government. Political uncertainty and the growing scarcity of goods and rising prices caused unrest, which was led by one of the prominent nationalists, Shukri al-Quwatli. In May 1941 the Vichy government allowed German aircraft to land and refuel en route to Iraq, and in June, British, Commonwealth, and Free French forces invaded Syria. French troops resisted for a month, but Damascus was occupied on June 21, and hostilities ceased at midnight on July 11–12.

There followed two years of disagreement about the transfer of authority from the French administration to the Syrian and Lebanese governments. A crisis took place in 1945, when the French refusal to transfer control of the local armed forces led to disorders, culminating in a French bombardment of Damascus and British intervention. After long negotiations and discussion in the UN Security Council, agreement was reached on simultaneous British and French withdrawal from Syria and Lebanon. Withdrawal from Syria was completed by April 1946. Syria had already become a founder member of the UN and of the Arab League.