The Cultural Revolution

Like much of China, the Cultural Revolution (known more officially as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution) is mired in mystery and intrigue. Few would recognize – let alone fathom – that almost 45 million Chinese (estimates vary from 30 to 45 million) died during a period of roughly twenty years between the Great Leap Forward in…

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 Iran-Iraq War, 1980-88

Weekend greetings to my fellow history buffs! This month commemorates 35 years since Iraq’s declaration of war against The Islamic Republic of Iran in September of 1980. The Iran-Iraq war is the longest conventional war of the 20th century and, having lasted 8 years, cost upwards of 1 million lives and billions of dollars in damage…

70 Years After Hiroshima and Nagasaki

This past week marked an ominous, momentous and transformational event of the twentieth century that few would deny has narrated and punctuated the past 70 years of warfare in the modern age. Few events during the Second World War (and since) capture our collective imagination, fear and horror as much as the atomic bombing of…

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…

70th Anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day

May 8th marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of Germany’s unconditional surrender in 1945. In the wake of Adolf Hitler’s suicide on April 30, 1945, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz was appointed President of the Third Reich in the final 20 days before surrender. Provisionally signed in Reims, France on May 7th, Germany’s full unconditional…

The Battle (and rape) of Berlin 1945

This year we will mark 70 years since the end of World War II. It is difficult ethically to weigh loses in one battle over loses in another in a means to declare which conflict was more brutal and severe. However, symbolically the battle for Berlin, which ended on May 2, 1945, was the zenith…

Marking 150 Years Since the Surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox

This past week marked 150 years since General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate Army at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. The American Civil War was an event of paramount importance to the formation of the modern United States, with remnants of social and racial division still present in relations between African Americans and Caucasians to…

A Distant Corner of the Eastern Front, 1914

Two Jews stand disconsolately among the ashes of wooden houses burnt to the ground in their Galician town in 1914, only brick chimney stacks left standing. A photograph that was probably taken in August or September during or shortly after what was known as the Battle of Galicia, which ended in a crushing Russian victory…

Monsieur Romieu – a ‘man of talents’

At a time of international conflict two centuries ago, did Britain assassinate an enemy agent while the world was looking the other way? Matthew Teller delves into a story of intrigue and possible skulduggery in Persia. September 1805. Britain and France are at war. Napoleon is massing an army at Boulogne, ready to invade England….

19 priceless monuments lost in conflict

The  countless monuments, art, artifacts and history of civilizations lost to conflict are each a tragedy in their own right. It is a cruel irony that the Middle East, a region so blessed with the treasures of early human civilizations, is also among those most troubled by conflict. As the violence threatens to annihilate some…

The Leonardo hidden from Hitler in case it gave him magic powers

One of the world’s most famous self-portraits is going on rare public display in the northern Italian city of Turin. Very little is known about the 500-year-old, fragile, fading red chalk drawing of Leonardo da Vinci but some believe it has mystical powers. There is a myth in Turin that the gaze of Leonardo da…

Discovery of two vessels from WWII convoy battle off North Carolina

A team of researchers led by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries have discovered two significant vessels from World War II’s Battle of the Atlantic. The German U-boat 576 and the freighter Bluefields were found approximately 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina. Lost for more than 70 years, the discovery of the two…

Polish President marks anniversary of German invasion with address to Bundestag

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski has delivered an address to the German Bundestag in commemoration of the Nazi invasion of Poland 75 years ago. Polish relations with Germany have developed at an extraordinary pace following the fall of the Iron Curtain, and certainly serves as a model for historical reconciliation among fellow European nations. Let us…

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…