History: December 31

December 31

1600 Queen Elizabeth I grants a charter to the "company of merchants of London trading to the East Indies": The East India Company.

1695 A window tax is imposed in England, which results in many being bricked up.

1841 The State of Alabama enacts the first dental legislation in the United States on this day. Ever since, Alabama has been known as The Bicuspid State.

1851 In Austria, the constitution of 1849 is abolished leading to an increase in imperial power.

1877 President Rutherford B. Hayes becomes the first US President to celebrate his silver wedding anniversary in the White House. The First Couple reenact their marriage ceremony on this, their 25th anniversary.

1879 Edison gives the first public demonstration of incandescent lighting.

1880 Birth: George Marshall. "Few Americans in the twentieth century have left a greater legacy to world peace than George C. Marshall (1880-1959). As chief of staff of the United States Army during World War II, it fell to Marshall to raise, train, and equip an army of several million men. It was Marshall who selected the officer corps and it was Marshall who played a leading role in planning military operations on a global scale. In the end, it was Marshall whom British Prime Minister Winston Churchill hailed as "the true organizer of victory." Yet history will associate Marshall foremost as the author of the Marshall Plan. The idea of extending billions of American dollars for European economic recovery was not his alone. He was only one of many Western leaders who realized the tragic consequences of doing nothing for those war-shattered countries in which basic living conditions were deplorable and still deteriorating two years after the end of the fighting. But Marshall, more than anyone else, led the way. In an address at Harvard University on June 5, 1947, Marshall, in his capacity as secretary of state, articulated the general principles of the Marshall Plan. Between 1948 and 1951, the United States contributed more than thirteen billion dollars of economic, agricultural, and technical assistance toward the recovery of free Europe. The Marshall Plan was generally acclaimed a success in its day and has admirably withstood the rigors of historical inquiry. Moreover, it gave impetus to the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and to the European Common Market. In recognition of Marshall's world leadership, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953."

1908 Birth: Simon Wiesenthal, at Buczacz in Austria-Hungary.

1911 Marie Sklodowska Curie receives the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her isolation of the element of metallic radium and other discoveries in the field of chemistry. She is the first person to be awarded a second Nobel Prize, eight years after she became the first woman ever to be honoured with the Nobel Prize.

1915 WW1: Appalling losses have been suffered during 1915 on both sides: 612,000 Germans, 1,292,000 French, and 279,000 British. The year ends with no appreciable shift in the battle lines scarring the landscape from the North Sea to the Swiss Alps. Russian casualties on the Eastern Front are more than 2 million men, about half POW's. Combined German and Austrian casualties exceed 1 million.

1916 WW1: General Joffre retires, and is succeeded by General Nivelle.

1916 WW1: The Romanian army, with belated Russian support, holds only one tiny foothold in their own country. The remnants of the Romanian armies have been driven north into Russia, and the bulk of Romania's wheat fields and oil wells have fallen into German hands.

1927 Volkishness: The priory of Staufen at Dietfurt near Sigmaringen is formally consecrated by the Swabian ONT. Rituals are performed in a grotto chapel beneath the old fort, under the priorate of Count Hochberg, until the end of the 1930s. (Roots)

1930 Weimar: Germania, the daily newspaper of the Catholic Center Party, features an article saying of the Nazis: "Here we are no longer dealing with political questions but with a religious delusion which has to be fought with all possible vigor." (Lewy)

1931 Weimar: The SS Engagement and Marriage Order, a product of Himmler's bizzare intellect, is officially announced. Under this regulation, no member of the SS is allowed to marry until both his and his prospective bride's geneology has been analyzed by a new SS department, directed by Richard Walther Darré (above). This department will eventually be designated as the Office of Race and Settlement. The order states: "Permission to marry will be granted or refused solely and exclusively on the basis of criteria of race and hereditary health." Himmler himself will spend hours pouring over photographs of SS men and their prospective brides with a magnifying glass, searching for 'racial charactoristics' indicating 'non-Ayran' progenitors. (Science)

1933 President Roosevelt appoints Henry Morgenthau, Jr. as Secretary of the Treasury.

1935 James G. McDonald resigns as League of Nations High Commissioner for the Relief of Refugees.

1938 An internal SS report states that 22.7 % of the SS membership still belongs to the Catholic faith (despite all pressures to leave the Church). (Lewy)

1938 Dr. R. N. Harger's 'drunkometer', the first breath test for car drivers, is officially introduced in Indianapolis.

1942 Church and Reich: During 1942 a number of Catholic officers serving in Russia and Poland have reported to the episcopate about the murder of the Jews. One such officer, Dr. Alfons Hildebrand, took special leave from his unit near Minsk to report the massacres he had witnessed to Cardinal Faulhaber. Dr. Joseph Müller, an officer in Canaris' Military Intelligence Service and a confidant of Cardinal Faulhaber, also kept the episcopate well informed about the systemic atrocities committed in Poland. Another source of information was Dr. Hans Globke, a Catholic and high official in the Ministry of the Interior entrusted with handling racial matters. (Dehler; Lewy)


1942 The Secret Diary of Anti-Hitler Conspirator Ulrich von Hassel: (Ebenhausen) "The last day of a year that has unremittingly worsened the German situation more and more. Did ever any man in history assume with such wantonness such a terrible responsibility. Has any people ever yielded with such apathy?"

1943 WW2: Nazis burn alive 59 Polish villagers in a granery at Karpiowak as reprisal for anti-occupation activities.

1944 WW2: Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens is sworn in as regent and Papendreou resigns.

1944 WW2: In Poland, the Communist dominated Committee of National Liberation based in Lublin assumes the title of Provisional Government. The government-in-exile in London protests to no avail.

1944 WW2: Hungary declares war on Germany.

1944 WW2: The British XXX Corps captures Rochefort at the western end of the Ardennes salient.

1946 US President Truman formally declares an end to all hostilities in the Second World War.

1955 General Motors becomes the first US corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year. The company’s annual report to stockholders lists a net income of $1,189,477,082 in revenues.

1957 Death: Douglas M. Kelly, an American psychiatrist who examined the Nuremberg defendants. "On New Years Eve he went up to the attic of his house while his family was downstairs. He suddenly appeared on the staircase and announced that he had just swallowed the cyanide capsule found on Hermann Goring. Then he collapsed dead." If Gorings statements in his letter to the Nuremberg Commandant of 11 October 1946 are correct, Kelly would have had two opportunities of acquiring the cyanide from Goring. (1) The capsule he had hidden in his clothing so that it would be discovered, which it was. (2) The capsule which Goring said he had kept hidden in his tin of ointment.

1960 The farthing ceases to be legal tender in Britain.

1962 Governor Edmund G. Brown, of California, announces that his state is now the most populous of the 50 United States. New York’s governor, Nelson Rockefeller, disagrees and refuses to concede. New York and California have been feuding ever since.

1971 Austrian Kurt Waldheim takes over as UN secretary-general after U Thant retires.

1973 A three-day work week is introduced in Britain to conserve energy during a miners' strike and oil crisis that will last until 9 Mar 1974.

1981 In Ghana, President Hilla Limann's civilian government is overthrown in a military coup led by Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings.

1986 The State of Florida passes Illinois to become the fifth most populous state in the country. In the lead: California, New York, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

1994 Bosnia's Muslim-led government signs an agreement for a four-month cease-fire in Bosnia, the 1,000th day of the bitter Serb siege of Sarajevo.

1995 American tanks and troops roll into Bosnia to keep the peace after US army engineers beat the Balkan winter and complete a pontoon bridge over the river Sava.

1995 Calvin & Hobbes make their last comic strip appearance.

2001 The war rhetoric and tensions between India and Pakistan appear to ease after Pakistan arrests over 30 Islamic militant leaders. India's foreign minister calls the arrests "a step in the correct direction."

2001 Anti-Taliban forces move towards Baghran, 118 miles (190 km) northwest of Kandahar, in search of Mullah Mohammed Omar. U.S. officials say they have "credible" evidence senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders are in the Baghran region.

2001 Michael Bloomberg is sworn in as the new Mayor of New York City taking effect at midnight. Rudy Giuliani closes the NYSE and celebrates New Years Eve with New Yorkers in Time Square.











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