The Battle of Verdun 1916

The Battle of Verdun is rightly considered one of the more horrendous and lengthiest battles in history. Lasting almost 10 months between February and December 1916, the Battle of Verdun cost an estimated 700,000-800,000 casualties (dead, wounded, and missing) in an area no larger than 10 square kilometres. The German assault which commenced on February…

The Siege of Belgrade, 1456

Have you ever wondered why most Christian (i.e. Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) churches ring their bells at noon every day? Pope Callixtus III (1455-1458) ordered the bells of every European church to be rung every day at noon, as a call to pray for the Hungarian and Crusader victory defending the fortress at Belgrade (then Nándorfehérvár as…

The Srebrenica Massacre

This past week marked 20 years since the Srebrenica massacre. More than 8,000 predominately Bosniak Muslims were killed by the Bosnian Serb Army under the command of Ratko Mladic (a war criminal currently on trial in the Hague). The context in which the horrors of the Srebrenica massacre occur may be traced partially to the…

Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo

The sheer number of historical anniversaries and commemorations in 2015 has certainly kept me busy. Today marks the bicentenary (200 years) since the world-changing Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, which pitted the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte against the Duke of Wellington and allied forces. In terms of significance, the Battle of Waterloo decisively…

Remembering Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” Speech

On June 12, 1987 President Ronald Reagan, standing before the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with the Berlin Wall looming behind him, issued his famous challenge to the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” President Reagan’s words that day have been credited with placing considerable pressure on the Soviet…

Infection Control 600 Years Before the CDC

Modern health authorities combating the Ebola virus in West Africa might look into the past for inspiration. During the medieval period and into the early 20th century, plague—The Black Death—was a feared and incurable infection, spreading rapidly through Europe along trade routes. As a result, authorities in port cities through the ages were especially vigilant…

Podcast: The Nazi-Soviet Pact

Although this past August 23, 2014 marks the date in which the Nazi-Soviet Pact (also know as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) was signed in 1939, History Today is featuring a podcast delivered by Roger Moorhouse to discuss the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939-41. You can read Roger’s article on the subject, Under Two Flags , in the…

Paris 1944: True stories behind liberation from the Nazis

On the morning of 19 August 1944, a 28-year-old Frenchman called Georges Loiseleur hurried down to the street from his flat on the Quai des Grands-Augustins. Paris was abuzz. A short distance away, he could hear chaotic sounds from the Ile de la Cite, where police had come out for the Resistance and taken control…

How the first world war changed the world

“ON JULY 28th 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, beginning the first world war. In the following four years, millions would lose their lives. What else changed? Economies shrank, stagnated and hyperinflated. It took over a decade for the German economy to recover to its size in 1913. Industry was weakened across Europe. As the continent splurged…

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the origins of World War I

Today marks the ominous commemoration of the one of the most significant historical events of the 20th century: the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914 by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist. This event would bring Europe and other parts of the world to war, and…

D-Day anniversary: ‘World-changing’ day remembered

The D-Day anniversary offers a unique moment to remember the world-changing Allied landings in Normandy. By the end of D-Day on 6 June 1944, the Allies had established a foothold in France – an event that would eventually help bring the war to an end. Upwards of 12,000 lives would be lost on D-Day, and…

Paris history: The construction of the Pont Neuf.

Paris history: The construction of the Pont Neuf. The invention of Paris began with a bridge. Today, people simply flash an image of the Eiffel Tower to evoke Paris instantly. It’s the monument that offers immediate proof that you are looking at the City of Light. In the 17th century, the Eiffel Tower’s role was played…

Black Death skeletons unearthed by Crossrail project

Black Death skeletons unearthed by Crossrail project BBC News – Skeletons unearthed in London Crossrail excavations are Black Death victims from the great pandemic of the 14th Century, forensic tests indicate.

We Made It Happen | Celebrating 25 Years Since the Fall of Communism

We Made It Happen | Our Victory Over Communism Twenty-five years ago, we made it happen. We defeated communism. This blog celebrates that victory and pays tribute to our heroes who fought for our freedom and brought the Iron Curtain down. Celebrate with us! Tell us your own story or one from your family. Perhaps you…

Sarajevo: the crossroads of history – FT.com

Sarajevo: the crossroads of history – FT.com On a street corner here 100 years ago, a 19-year-old Serb nationalist shot the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and triggered the first world war. The assassin, Gavrilo Princip, is still a potent and divisive symbol.

Ukraine maps chart Crimea’s troubled past

Ukraine maps chart Crimea’s troubled past If Crimea were to join Russia after the planned referendum on 17 March, it would be the latest of many changes to the map of Ukraine during the country’s troubled past.