Little Bits of History

July 21

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 21, 2017

905: King Louis III is blinded. He was born around 880 and when his father Boso, the King of Provence died, seven year old Louis became king. Provence was larger when Boso came into power, but he had lost part of his lands to Rudolph I of Burgundy, as well as much of the rest of the northern portion of his lands. Louis had only the area around Vienne to rule and his mother, Ermengard was elected to act as regent with support from Louis’s uncle, Richard the Justiciar. They went to a relative in spring, emperor Charles the Fat, and received his recognition along with his protection, as he adopted Louis. Charles died the following year and Ermengard went to Arnulf, his successor, for protection along with a trip to the Pope for his blessing. She got both.

In 890, at the Diet of Valence, the secular and religious leaders heard of Louis’s claims and proclaimed him King of Arles, Provence, and Cisjurane Burgundy.  Beginning in 896, Louis began a number of wars with Saracen pirates who looted the coasts. In 900, Louis, grandson of Emperor Louis II was invited to Italy to help local fiefdoms keep control over various portions of the land. He made his way to Rome where he was crowned by Pope Benedict IV in 901. Although Louis had been able to shoo away the Magyar in northern Italy, they did not stay away. In 902 Louis was defeated and sent back to Provence and he promised never to return.

The Italian nobles needed his assistance in 905 and rather than keep the promise made years earlier, Louis again came to their aid. He was successful in his first few meetings with the enemy, but was defeated at Verona. Berengar I, King of Italy, learned of his nemesis’s return and location and in the dead of night, he had his Bavarian troops sneak into Verona and capture Louis. Louis ran to the church of St. Peter but was captured on this day. As punishment for returning to Italy in spite of his promise, he was blinded. He was also forced to relinquish his Italian and imperial crowns.

Louis returned to Vienne and ruled over Provence for several more years. His cousin, Hugh, Count of Arles was the dominant figure in the area and by 911 Louis had ceded most power to Hugh. Hugh was made Margrave of Provence and Marquis of Vienne. Hugh married Louis’s sister. Louis had been betrothed at one time to Byzantine Emperor Leo VI’s daughter but it is unclear whether he ever married her. Louis had a son, but no mention of the mother’s name was recorded. Although Louis styled himself as Roman Emperor until he died, it was his brother in law who succeeded him to the throne and Louis died in obscurity.

Losers make promises they often break. Winners make commitments they always keep. – Denis Waitley

Promises are like crying babies in a theater, they should be carried out at once. – Norman Vincent Peale

Political promises are much like marriage vows. They are made at the beginning of the relationship between candidate and voter, but are quickly forgotten. – Dick Gregory

Keep every promise you make and only make promises you can keep. – Anthony Hitt

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July 20

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 20, 2017

1940: The Arroyo Seco Parkway opens. The California roadway runs along the Arroyo Seco, a seasonal river. The road connected Los Angeles with Pasadena and was noted as the first freeway in Western United States. The six lanes are now part of State Route 101 and begins on the north side of downtown Los Angeles. The designation of freeway, and the move away from parkways was of significance. Freeways are limited access, high speed roads used to connect two points. The roads of the times were much less traveled and cars were not as ubiquitous as today. Parkways were roads through scenic areas, such as parks, hence the name. As more cars hit the roads and more commuters were on them, a better system was needed to get traffic moving with some flow.

The Arroyo Seco (Spanish for “dry gulch, or streambed”) carries rainfall from the San Gabriel Mountains. Waters travel south through Pasadena into the Los Angeles River – when water flows. During the dry season, the riverbed was used as a faster wagon connection between the two cities. The first survey of the area with an eye to a permanent roadway was done in 1895. In 1897, a proposal for a parkway and a second for a commuter cycle path was made. The latter was partially built by Horace Dobbins in 1899 and a 1.25 mile path opened in 1900. The path had a toll booth included but it never produced a profit. It was taken apart within ten years.

Cars became ever more numerous and various plans were put forth. The debate over the exact route and who would pay for it continued for decades. In order to connect a finally approved road, Los Angeles improved the North Figueroa Street to a four lane road. The citizens of Pasadena were worried about traffic patterns halving their city and traffic patterns resulting from the split. Before construction began, there were nine roads and two rail lines crossing the Arroyo Seco and its valley. There would be more bridges needed as part of the project and only four of the original bridges were kept. More bridges in Pasadena were built to connect each side of the city.

The road was designed by Spencer V Cortelyou and AD Griffin with a groundbreaking ceremony on March 22, 1938. The first stretch of road was opened on December 10, 1938 and it contained no bridges. On this day, a 3.7 mile stretch actually connecting Los Angeles to Pasadena opened. The remainder opened on December 30, 1940. The name of the road changed in 1954 when it was called the Pasadena Freeway and it reverted back to Arroyo Seco Parkway in 2010. It covers a total of 8.162 miles. Many of the median plants have been removed for safety features to be added. While state of the art at the time of building, today it is considered to be a narrow and outdated highway. Even so, it has been designated as a State Scenic Highway, National Civil Engineering Landmark, and National Scenic Byway. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.

The road to success is always under construction.- Arnold Palmer

If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one. – Dolly Parton

If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all. – David Livingstone

The road is hard, and you have to get accustomed to it. – Miranda Lambert

July 19

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 19, 2017

1845: The Great New York City Fire breaks out at 2.30 AM. The third story of the JL Van Doren, Oil Merchant and Stearin Candle Manufacturer at 34 New Street in Manhattan was the site of the original blaze. They sold whale oil which helped to quickly spread the fire to surrounding wooden buildings. The City Hall alarm bell rang about 3 AM and fire fighters converged on the area. The Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) was all volunteer at the time and under the command of Chief Engineer Cornelius Anderson, who was on the scene.

The area of the fire was mostly older buildings and the wooden structures sped the fire along. FDNY personnel were joined by members outside their jurisdiction. Fire chiefs and crews came in from Brooklyn, Newark, and Williamsburg. The Croton aqueduct had been completed in 1842 and was able to provide water for those fighting the blaze. Within a couple hours of starting, the blaze had traveled along to a large, multistoried warehouse occupied by Crocker & Warren, where saltpeter was stored. Water was being pumped on the building even from inside the burning structure, but it still caught fire. All were able to escape the building before it exploded between 3.30 and 4 AM. The burning debris flew outward and began more fires.

While no one died in the explosion, the fire engine at the scene was demolished and several of the firemen were injured. There was speculation gunpowder had also been stored in the warehouse, but this proved erroneous. It took ten  and a half hours for the blaze to be extinguished. In that time 345 buildings were destroyed for a loss of $5 to 10 million or about $129 million today. There was much looting during and after the fire, in both businesses and private residences. A total of 26 civilians and 4 firemen died as much of what is today the Financial District in New York City was destroyed.

This was the last of three major fires in New York City, the others in 1776 and 1835. In 1815, the city had banned new construction of wood frame buildings in the densest parts of the city. The fire was halted by the newer construction after the 1835 fire. The newer stone and masonry buildings with iron roofs and shutters were not consumed in the recent blaze. Even with this improvement so clearly demonstrated, it was seen as a time for more proactive stances to fire prevention and firefighting. The city established the Exempt Fireman’s Company whose members were firemen exempt from militia and jury duty.

If Prometheus was worthy of the wrath of heaven for kindling the first fire upon earth, how ought all the gods honor the men who make it their professional business to put it out?  – John Godfrey Saxe

I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire engine.  – Kurt Vonnegut

If you put out the fire, you won’t have to jump out the window!  – Andy Freidricks

When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished.  What he does after that is all in the line of work.  – Edward F. Croker

July 18

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 18, 2017

1290: King Edward I of England issues the Edict of Expulsion. When William the Conqueror came to England in 1066, he instituted a feudal system, appointing lords who were beholden to him and allowing them their rule over the serfs. Merchants and Jews received special status with direct subjugation to the King. Jews were not tied to any particular lord but where at the whim of any king. Each king had to review the charter and determine if Jews would remain in England. The Magna Carta did not include rights for Jews. Christians were not permitted to loan money for profit but Jews did not suffer under this restriction, allowing them to fulfill a valuable service in the communities. Over time, this service came to be seen as usury and the Jews came to be seen, in England and all of Europe, as Jesus killers.

In 1218, Henry III became the first king to demand Jews within his reign wear a badge to mark them out. Between 1219-1272 a total of 49 new taxes were placed on Jews for a total of 200,000 marks, an incredibly high amount. In 1275, it became illegal to lend money with interest and Jews had 15 years to adjust. In 1287, Edward I ordered Jews expelled from the duchy of Gascony. He seized all their assets for the crown. Edward returned to England in 1289, deeply in debt. In the summer of 1290 he called for his knights to impose a new, steep tax and in order to make the citizens more willing to pay it, he offered them expulsion of all Jews from England. The tax was passed, and on this day the Jews were officially sent from England.

The Jewish population of the time was small, approximately 2,000 people. They had failed to comply with the Statute of Jewry, and had continued to charge interest on lent money. This continued to make them unpopular and their expulsion was quickly carried out. There seems to have been no violence associated with their removal, although there are some tall tales to the contrary. The Jews left for Scotland, France, the Netherlands, and Poland, all of them at the time still protecting Jews. The Jews would eventually find other nations just as inhospitable and there was wide resettlements and purges throughout the Middle Ages.

Jews stayed away from England until their formal return in 1655 except for a small group at Domus Conversorum. These were a group of Jews who had converted to Christianity and remained in London. On this day, about 80 residents stayed behind with another 48 converts admitted and records end in 1609. Jews remained banished from the country until Oliver Cromwell looked at wealthy Jews in Amsterdam and wished to invite them, and their lucrative trade, back to England. There had been intermittent attempts to bring Jews back, but it took more than 360 years before Cromwell’s invitation was legalized in 1657.

The observant Jew has his own sense of values. Torah Judaism is his blueprint for this life, his target for existence. – Meir Kahan

It is essential that Christians understand this: Every Jew – secular, religious, assimilated, left-wing, right-wing – fears being killed because he is Jewish. This is the best-kept secret about Jews, who are widely perceived as inordinately secure and powerful. But it is the only universally held sentiment among Jews. – Dennis Prager

Being a Jew, one learns to believe in the reality of cruelty and one learns to recognize indifference to human suffering as a fact. – Andrea Dworkin

I am thrice homeless, as a native of Bohemia in Austria, as an Austrian among Germans, and as a Jew throughout the world. Everywhere an intruder, never welcomed. – Gustav Mahler

July 17

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 17, 2017

1981: The Hyatt Regency Kansas City hosts a tea dance which ends in tragedy. The Hyatt opened on July 1, 1980 and at 40 stories high was the tallest building in the state of Missouri. It lost that status in 1986 and is today the sixth tallest building in the state. It is, today, even taller at 45 stories and is now Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center. Opening was delayed because of an incident on October 14, 1979 when 2,700 square feet of the atrium roof collapsed as a result of a failure of the connections at the northern end. Repairs were made, construction continued, and the hotel opened. One of the features of the building was a multistory high atrium which was spanned by elevated walkways suspended from the ceiling.

The walkways were made of steel, concrete, and glass and connected the second, third, and fourth floors between the north and south wings. Each was about 120 feet long and weighed about 32 tons. The fourth floor was directly above the second floor with the intermediate floor offset. On this day there were approximately 1,600 people gathered for a tea dance. People were positioned above, looking down on the atrium. There were about 40 people on the second level and even more on the third. There were about 18 on the fourth floor level. Construction difficulties had subtly altered the design. This flaw doubled the load on the connection between the fourth floor walkway support beams and the tie rods carrying the weight of both aligned walkways.

Because of the way it was built, it was barely able to support the dead load weight of the structure itself and the added load of about forty people was more than the connectors could maintain. At 7.05 PM, the fourth floor walkway broke free, crashed into the second floor walkway before both landed on the floor of the atrium. There were 111 dead at the scene and three more would die at the hospital. There were 216 more people suffering non-fatal injuries. Rescue efforts took 14 hours and involved 34 fire trucks and EMS units along with doctors from five area hospitals. Survivors were buried beneath over 60 tons of debris. To add to the confusion, the hotel’s sprinkler system was severed and the atrium was flooded, putting trapped people at risk of drowning.

Investigations into the tragedy revealed the change to the original design for the walkways. Part of the alterations were due to manufacturing issues of the beams. Instead, it was decided to suspend the second floor walkway from the fourth floor itself rather than as originally designed. This was a fatal error. The engineers who approved the final drawing, Jack D Gillum and Associates were found guilty of gross negligence, misconduct, and unprofessional conduct. They were not found to be criminally negligent. They lost their engineering licenses and their right to be an engineering firm. It was the worst structural collapse in the US until 2001 when the World Trade Center collapsed.

The great advantage of a hotel is that it is a refuge from home life. – George Bernard Shaw

We sat around on a hotel balcony with a bottle of wine and tried to figure out how you would go about blowing up a planet. That’s the kind of conversations science fiction writers have when they get together. We don’t talk about football or anything like that. – Kevin J. Anderson

I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. And much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad. – Josephine Baker

I need something truly beautiful to look at in hotel rooms. – Vivien Leigh

July 16

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 16, 2017

1769: La Misión San Diego de Alcalá is founded. Spanish friar Junipero Serra founded the first Franciscan mission in The Californians, a province in New Spain. Translated into English the mission’s name was The Mission of Saint Didacus of Acalá.  Didacus was a Franciscan lay brother and served with the first group of missionaries to the Canary Islands. He died in 1463. The Jesuits had tried to bring their faith to The Californians earlier and their first mission failed. By 1697, they were successful in establishing a foothold. The Jesuits founded a total of 18 missions in the lower ⅔ of Baja California Peninsula. They were expelled in 1767 and the Franciscans were brought in. A new governor was also brought in to oversee the transition.

Serra was born in Spain and came to the Spanish colonies in 1749, landing in Veracruz. His group then had to travel to Mexico City via the Camino Real or royal path. During the trip, Serra was bitten by something which caused his leg to swell. It became infected and never properly healed; it bothered him for the rest of his life. He was placed in charge of the Sierra Gorda Spanish Inquisition in 1752 and found several natives to be witches of the “most detestable and horrible” sort. This was his only report on the matter. Serra was also a practitioner of self punishment. While other missionaries of the time also did this, none were quite so extreme as Serra.

When King Carlos expelled the Jesuits, Serra was brought north. The first Europeans arrived at what is today San Diego by sea when they landed there on April 11. The first overland group arrived on June 29. Many of the early explorers died en route either from starvation or accident. Sierra arrived on July 14 and two days later a cross was raised and Father Serra held the first Mass. With that, the Mission San Diego de Alcalá was officially founded. In just a few months, food had run low and there were still no permanent buildings. The local inhabitants resented the incursion of Spaniards and attacked within a month. They considered abandoning the mission.

Father Serra was fearful of leaving, believing that if abandoned, “centuries might come and go” before any Europeans returned and were able to save the souls, if not the bodies of the natives. Luckily, a supply ship arrived in time to save the fledgling mission. The mission grew and eventually became the city of San Diego which now covers 372 square miles and has a population of 1.4 million people. It is the second largest city in California and the eighth largest in the United States. They mark this date as the founding and the city was incorporated on March 27, 1850. It passed from Spain, to Mexico, to the California Republic before becoming part of the US in 1848.

Thank God I arrived the day before yesterday, the first of the month, at this port of San Diego, truly a fine one, and not without reason called famous. – Junipero Serra

Well, when I was a kid, I grew up in San Diego next to the ocean. The ocean was my friend – my best friend. – Robert Ballard

The bridge to Coronado Island off San Diego was built because the mob had a hotel there and needed a way to get people out there. – Don Winslow

I need to surf – surf and yoga. Whenever I’m in L.A., I go down to San Diego to surf for the weekend, and I always come back perfect. – Rodrigo Santoro

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July 15

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 15, 2017

2006: Twitter launches. Odeo, a podcasting company, held a daylong brainstorming session with board members. Jack Dorsey, an undergrad student at New York University, brought up the idea of using a SMS service to communicate with a small group. They went with the idea and the original project code name was twttr, a name inspired by Flickr (an image hosting site) and using the five character length of American SMS short codes. At the time, twitter.com was already registered elsewhere and it would take six months after the launch on this date before the new company could purchase the name and change the name of their service/product to Twitter. Work on the project began on March 21, 2006 with Dorsey’s first tweet. He posted, at 9.50 PM Pacific Standard Time, “just setting up my twttr”.

The first prototype, developed by Dorsey and Florian Weber, was for internal Odeo employees only. The full version became available to the public on this day. In October Biz Stone, Evan Williams, and Dorsey along with some other Odeo staff formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo and its assets which included odeo.com and twitter.com. in 2007, the product was featured at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) which boosted use by three times. The following month, Twitter spun off as its own company. Part of the original problem was the vague idea of what Twitter actually was.

The SMS concept allows people to post and read “tweets” but there were constraints. The most obvious one was the length permitted for any single tweet – 140 characters. Twitters wasn’t exactly like anything that had gone before. It was listed as a social media and a microblogging site. It was simply a new idea and users began tweeting more and more. Twitter grew dramatically. In 2007, it hosted 400,000 tweets per quarter and by 2008 it had grown to 1,000,000. In February 2010, there were 50 million tweets per day. A year later, 140 million tweets per day were posted.

Twitter held its IPO in 2013 and claimed more than 200 million monthly users and over 500 million tweets daily. Their first day of stock trading began at $26 and ended at $44.90 which valued the company at $31 billion. In January 2016, it was announced that more characters would be added to tweets, but only the first 140 would show and any extras would need to be asked for. While the majority of tweets are “pointless babble” or “conversational” there is great potential for the site to be used for actual news transmission. During the 2016 US Presidential election, Twitter was the largest source of breaking news with 40 million tweets sent by 10 PM Eastern Standard Time. Today, there are about 320 million active users and the company has 25 offices around the world.  They have about 4,000 employees.

Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand. – Amy Jo Martin

There are a lot of pros and cons about social media; it’s just how you choose to handle it and how you have to be prepared for the negatives as well. – Aubrey Peeples

The dark side of social media is that, within seconds, anything can be blown out of proportion and taken out of context. And it’s very difficult not to get swept up in it all. – Nicola Formichetti

What’s interesting about Twitter and the influencers that someone follows – like, say, Shaquille O’Neal – is that they see someone who is using the exact same tools that they have access to, and I think that inspires this hope to be able to really engage with someone like him. – Jack Dorsey

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July 14

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 14, 2017

1789:  The citizens of France storm the Bastille. King Louis XVI led the county into an economic crisis, in part because France intervened on behalf of the fledgling country, America, in their quest for freedom from the British Empire. This was exacerbated by a regressive system of taxation, a system which imposed a greater burden on the poor who could ill-afford it than on the rich, who had more power in the creating of systems. In May and June, the Estates General met with the three “estates” represented. The First Estate was the clergy, the Second was the nobility, and the Third represented the commoners. The Second Estate invoked protocols which brought the meeting to a standstill and the commoners instead, reformed themselves into the National Assembly, giving themselves the task of creating a constitution.

The King was not amused and at first opposed the efforts. However, the commoners were not to be deterred. They formed a National Guard, sporting the three-colored cocardes of blue, white, and red – a combination of the red and blue of Paris and the white of the king. Paris was close to insurrection and supported the Assembly. Tensions rose during the early days of July and the masses broke into the prisons of the Abbaye and released French guards who had been incarcerated for, as rumor went, not firing on crowds of Parisians. They demanded the King pardon the guards and now the guards themselves were considered by the crown to be unreliable.

On July 11, Jacques Neker, the finance minister sympathetic to the common man, was fired and banished. News leaked the next day, a Sunday, and the people of Paris felt a coup was about to take place and locals feared an amassing of troops at Versailles. Conflicts, both armed and unarmed began on July 12 and continued as misinformation and panic spread through Paris. While the King tried to gain some control, the troops under his command were not entirely trustworthy. The streets of Paris were flooded by angry over-taxed citizens confronting any face of authority. The Bastille, a fortress inside Paris, was used as a prison but by this time, was only holding seven men.

The crowd still thought of the building as a symbol of royal tyranny and the public stormed the fortress after calls for surrender were ignored. The fortress was held by 82 regular troops plus 32 grenadiers who had arrived a week earlier. There were fewer than 1,000 people outside. Around 1.30 PM, the crowds broke in and confusion reigned. Soldiers fired into the mob. By 5.30 they had taken control of the Bastille. Less than 100 died in the actual fighting, 98 attackers and one defender. The King learned of the event the next day and asked if it was a revolt and received the answer, “No sire, it’s not a revolt; it’s a revolution.”

Rien. Nothing. – King Louis XVI’s diary entry for this day

Do with me what you will, it is the last sacrifice. – (At the guillotine)

I die perfectly innocent of all the pretended crimes laid to my charge – I forgive all those who have had any hand in my misfortunes, and I pray that my blood may be of use in restoring happiness to France – And you, unhappy people! – pleading for his life

I die innocent of all the crimes imputed to me. I pardon the authors of my death, and pray God that the blood you are about to shed will never fall upon France. – King Louis XVI’s last words

July 13

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 13, 2017

1490: Holy Trinity Church is painted. The small church is located in Hrastovlje, a village in southwestern Slovenia. It is located at the northern portion of the Istria peninsula on the Adriatic Sea. It is a small village covering just 1.17 square miles and has under 150 people living there. Hrastovlje has the only major spring in Slovenian Istria and is an important source of water for the coastal area. The early written sources from the 14th century list the village as Cristoglan and as Cristoviae in 1581 and then as Christoja in the late 1700s. The village is named after oak trees. What the village is most famous for is the Holy Trinity Church.

The church was built in the 12th century  or maybe 300 years later and there are two theories as to its origins. The first is that it was a Romanesque church and the second was that it was an Istrian variant of Early Venetian Renaissance architecture from hundreds of years later. The Roman Catholic church was built on bare rock and so does not have a deep foundation. It is made mostly of stone which is typical of the entire region. As typical, it was never covered and so construction methods are obvious. The top of the spire was rebuilt at some time, but the reasons are unknown.

It has only two windows (and a third was walled up in the past. This was due to local climate concerns. In the summers, the blazing heat could not permeated the interior and in the winter, the howling winds were kept out. The church is quite small, only 38 feet by 19 feet, smaller than most village churches. It also has a stone bell tower, while most of the smaller churches in the region sport wooden towers. At some point, a wall was built around the entire church in order to protect it from invading Turks. A new entrance was also built when the wall was erected. In 1896, a hole was knocked into a wall to add another window and damaged some of the frescoes inside.

On this day, local artist Johannes de Castua finished painting the Gothic frescoes lining the interior of the church. Some of them include letters in Glagolitic script, the oldest known Slavic writing. The most famous of the frescoes is entitle Danse Macabre or Dance of Death, which is pretty much just what it seems, Death inviting people from all walks of life on a dance to the grave. The artwork was commissioned by the parish priest and at some point covered over with a layer of plaster. In 1949, academic sculptor Jože Pohlen discovered them. The small church has been restored and the frescoes can be seen on the walls and ceiling.

Opera, next to Gothic architecture, is one of the strangest inventions of Western man. It could not have been foreseen by any logical process. – Kenneth Clark

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. – Mark Twain

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. – Khalil Gibran

Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely. – Buddha

July 12

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 12, 2017

1943: The Battle of Prokhorovka is fought. The location is about 55 miles southeast of Kursk in the Soviet Union. During World War II, Kursk was part of what the Germans called the Eastern Front. The Axis powers and Finland stood against the Soviets, Poland, and other Allies as battles raged through the Northern, Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe. The Russians called it the Great Patriotic War. On this day, one of the largest tank battles in military history took place as a battle inside the greater Battle of Kursk. Prokhorovka was a tactical victory for Germany and an operational victory for the Soviets. Beginning in April 1943, the Germans began to amass for Operation Citadel with the prime objective of surrounding and destroying Soviet troops in Kursk.

A week earlier, the Wehrmacht launched its offensive. The tanks of the 4th Panzer Army with the Army Detachment Kempf attacked the Soviet defenses of the Voronezh Front. The Germans were slowing advancing and then the Soviets launched their own counteroffensive, Operation Kutuzov. Coming from divergent directions, tanks rumbled across the open spaces. Germans were led by Hermann Hoth while the Soviets were led by Nikoklai Vatutin. The Germans had three Panzer divisions in the battle while the Soviets had seven tank corps and three rifle corps. That meant the Germans had 290 tanks and assault guns while the Soviets had about 610 tanks and self-propelled guns.

At 5.45 AM, reports came into the German headquarters notifying them of the sound of many tank engines as the Soviets got ready for an attack. Around 6.50 AM, the Germans were able to move forward and move Soviet infantry out of the way. Moving slowly forward, the Soviets began an artillery barrage at 8 AM and as the last shell fell around 8.30 the call came out for the 5th Guards Tank Army to begin their advance. The 500 behemoths moved forward with about 430 tanks in the first wave and 70 in the second and encountered two waves of Panzers. The Soviet tanks were moving downhill and carried the 9th Guards Airborne Division on their hulls. The Germans, exhausted from a week of fighting, were not ready for the engagement.

Both sides had air support with the Soviets flying 893 sorties to the German’s 654. At the end of the day, the Germans still held Hill 252.2 but were exhausted by the effort. While they were in a position to outflank the Soviets, they were unable to actually do so because of the efforts already expended. The Germans had 68-80 tanks and assault guns destroyed or damaged while the Soviets lost 300-400 tanks and self propelled guns, either totally destroyed or damaged. The Germans reported 842 soldiers killed, wounded or missing while Soviet records were not as precise. They may have lost as many as 5,500 men for the day. The larger Battle of Kursk, fought between July 5 and August 23, 1943 ended in a decisive Soviet victory.

If the tanks succeed, then victory follows. – Heinz Guderian

Tanks being deployed far forward is an indication of offensive action; tanks in depth is an indication of defensive action. – Norman Schwarzkopf

Tanks come in two forms: the dangerous, deadly kind and the ‘liberating’ kind. – Robert Fisk

The children of the world, what they want and what they need are health clinics and schools, not tanks or armed helicopters or fighter jets. – Óscar Arias