Little Bits of History

January 27

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 27, 2017

1945: Auschwitz concentration camp is liberated. The camp was part of the Nazi system built by the Third Reich in Poland. The original camp, Auschwitz I, and the second camp, Auschwitz II-Birkenau were later joined by Auschwitz III-Monowitz. The first of the concentration camps was built in 1940 and the first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941. Auschwitz II-Birkenau went on to become a major site for the Nazi Final Solution to the Jewish Question. Between 1942 and late 1944 trains brought prisoners to the camp in droves. Jews especially were brought here where they were killed in gas chambers filled with the pesticide Zyklon B. At least 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, with about 90% of them Jews. Seventeen percent of all Jews killed in the Holocaust died at this camp.

Jews were not the only people sent to Auschwitz. There were also 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Russian POWs, 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses, and tens of thousands of others. Another targeted group were homosexuals who were persecuted regardless of religion or national origin. The gas chambers were not the only way for prisoners to die. Others were killed by starvation, forced labor, disease, executions, and medical experimentation. The Nazi staff at Auschwitz consisted of about 7,000 members of the German Schutzstaffel or SS and about 12% of the staff was later convicted of war crimes. Rudolf Höss, the camp commandant, was executed for his role in the mass killings.

During the last half of 1944, when the War was coming to an end, not in favor of the Third Reich, there were about 130,000 prisoners held at Auschwitz. As the Soviet Red Army got ever nearer, about half of the prisoners were transported to other, more distant, prisons. As the Red Army entered Poland in November 1944, Himmler ordered the mass scale gassing operations to cease not only at Auschwitz but across the Reich. Creamatorias were dismantled or repurposed into air raid shelters. The SS was ordered to get rid of evidence of the mass executions. To that end, as the Red Army drew ever closer, the remaining staff burned records and demolished many buildings.

At the beginning of the month, Himmler ordered evacuations of all camps. On January 17, 58,000 Auschwitz prisoners began a forced march towards Wodzisław Śląski but thousands died or were killed on the march. On this day, the 322nd Rifle Division of the Red Army liberated the camp were only 7,500 prisoners remained alive along with over 600 corpses. Also found at the camp were 370,000 men’s suits, 837,000 women’s garments, and 8.5 tons of human hair. This date is celebrated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the camp site has been dedicated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The sad and horrible conclusion is that no one cared that Jews were being murdered… This is the Jewish lesson of the Holocaust and this is the lesson which Auschwitz taught us.  – Ariel Sharon

That I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write, to have toast and tea and live my life – that is what is abnormal. – Elie Wiesel

Jews survived all the defeats, expulsions, persecutions and pogroms, the centuries in which they were regarded as a pariah people, even the Holocaust itself, because they never gave up the faith that one day they would be free to live as Jews without fear. – Jonathan Sacks

The Holocaust, taken by itself, is a black hole. To look at it directly is to be swallowed up by it. – David Novak

All Hands Lost

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 27, 2015
Soviet whiskey-class submarine, S-80

Soviet whiskey-class submarine, S-80

January 27, 1961: The Soviet submarine S-80, sinks. It was a whiskey-class submarine which were known in the USSR as Projects 613, 644, and 665. S-80 was of the first Project type and laid down on March 13, 1950 and launched on October 21 of the same year. The sub was delivered to Baku on the Caspian Sea on November 1 for tests and then transferred north along inland waterways. She was commissioned into the Northern Fleet on December 2, 1952. The Northern Fleet has been a unit of the Russian Navy since 1703, when it was used in service of the Russian Empire. From 1917 to 1991 it was part of the Soviet Union and since then part of the Russian Federation. Today, the Fleet has 39 warships and 45 submarines included.

S-80 served with the Northern Fleet until July 1957 when the sub was overhauled at Severodvinsk. At that time, she was converted to Project 644 (Whiskey-Twin-Cylinder) and given the ability to launch guided missiles when two SS-N-3 Shaddock anti-ship missile tubes were added externally. She was ready to return to sea by April 1959. On this day, S-80 was operating in the Barents Sea located north of Sweden and Finland as well as north and west of Russia. The water is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean to the north, Kara Sea to the east, and the Greenland and Norwegian Seas to the west. The sub was at snorkel depth and using its diesel engines. A submarine snorkel is a device which makes it possible for a sub to operate submerged while still taking air from above the surface.

Weather conditions showed a sea state of 6 (waves 13 to 20 feet or “very rough”) and a temperature of ⁰F 23. At 1.27 AM the sub dropped below snorkel depth. This should have activated an automatic snorkel valve shutoff, preventing water from entering the system. The de-icing system which should have warmed the valve with hot water from the diesel engines had been shut off and the valve became jammed with ice. Seawater flooded the air intakes of the engines and they immediately failed. The machinist in the compartment was unfamiliar with the valve system and did not shut the ventilation flapper valve quickly enough. By the time he found the correct valve, the force of the incoming water had bent the handle and made it inoperable. The compartment filled and the sub became uncontrollable.

As the up-angle passed 45⁰ the boat slowed, then halted, and then fell backward and sunk until it was grounded. Three more compartments were crushed when the sub hit the seabed. Twenty-four crewman survived in the after compartments and made an attempt to escape using IDA-51 apparatuses – a rebreathing system permitting carbon dioxide to be absorbed so the air can be recycled. All 68 people aboard the sub died and their fate remained unknown for over seven years. The wreckage was discovered on June 23, 1968 and was eventually able to be raised.

I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea. – H. G. Wells

Our film examines the heroism, courage and prowess of the Soviet submarine force in ways never seen before. – Kathryn Bigelow

In the long course of history, having people who understand your thought is much greater security than another submarine. – J. William Fulbright

This is no job for a UN committee. It needs the same kind of unwavering dedication and the kinds of people that got us the first nuclear submarine and the first man on the moon. – Wilson Greatbatch

Also on this day: Globetrotters – In 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game.
Guy Fawkes’s Trial – In 1606, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were brought to trial.
Apollo I Fire – In 1967, during a test flight the capsule of Apollo 1 burns, killing three.
It’s All Greek – In 1870, Kappa Alpha Theta was formed.
Young Liberals of Norway – In 1909, the political party formed.

Young Liberals of Norway

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 27, 2014
Unge Venstre

Unge Venstre

January 27, 1909: Unge Venstre (UV) forms. The literal translation for the Norwegian political group is Young Left, however that gives the English speaker the wrong connotation. They are not Socialists but rather Liberals and so it is more often translated into English as Young Liberals of Norway. They are the youth league of the Norwegian political party Venstre. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to change the name to be more reflective of the ideology but Liberal Ungdom (Liberal Youth) has consistently been defeated in successive congresses.

The UV are strongly in favor of fighting climate change and call it “the greatest threat of our time” on their website. In line with this cause, they support renewable energy and campaign against gas power station construction unless carbon capture and storage are part of the plan. Their goal of protecting the environment works across many different sectors. They believe in free trade and the removal of tariffs and are the most pro-immigrant group in Norway. However, they believe all people seeking citizenship must be able to speak the language. They support Norwegian membership in the EU. They advocate for the decriminalization of all drug use. They support the use of rehabilitation rather than punishment for drug addicts.

While the UV is closely related to Venstre, they are independent from the larger party. They cooperate and the leader of the UV is automatically a member of the Sentralstyret (the central governing body of the party). However, the two groups often differ with their party platforms and have some differing opinions on national policies. Some of the biggest differences revolve around Norway’s joining of the EU and the drug policies supported by the two groups. The younger group wishes to see clean heroin supplied to addicts, decriminalization as listed above, and intellectual property reform, especially with regard to file sharing of music.

The group was formed by Anders L. Kirkhusmo who was also the first President. Since the group is the Young portion of the liberal party, the leaders are only in place for a few years – until they become a bit too old. Kirkhusmo was really a bit too old to have the job. Born in 1865, he was 44 when he created the UV. Today, Tord Hustveit is President and is 22 years old. Alve Eide and Baard Salvesen are the Vice Presidents and are 21 and 23 respectively. Yvonne Ruyter is 19 and the youngest member of the central board and there are two 24 year olds serving, Sindre Horn and Ingrid Keenan.

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. – Friedrich Nietzsche

A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age. – William Shakespeare

The duty of youth is to challenge corruption. – Kurt Cobain

Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope. – Aristotle

Also on this day: Globetrotters – In 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game.
Guy Fawkes’s Trial – In 1606, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were brought to trial.
Apollo I Fire – In 1967, during a test flight the capsule of Apollo 1 burns, killing three.
It’s All Greek – In 1870, Kappa Alpha Theta was formed.

Guy Fawkes’s Trial

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 27, 2013
Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes

January 27, 1606: The conspirators in the assassination plot against King James I are brought to trial. Robert Catesby had hoped for leniency and toleration toward Catholics. By May 1604, it was obvious they would remain a persecuted sect. James I became King of Scotland in 1567 and became King of England and Ireland in 1603 after Elizabeth I died. When the Catholics realized the Protestant monarch would continue to persecute them, they plotted to bring about a revolution in the hopes of seating James’s daughter, a Catholic, on the throne.

Several men conceived of a plan in the hope of religious freedom – at least for themselves. Even some titled men were involved in the plot. They employed Guy Fawkes, an expert with explosives and with years of military experience. In May 1604, they leased rooms adjacent to the House of Lords and began to bring in gunpowder. The plan was to assassinate the King and disrupt the governmental process by also killing other important figures.

The Black Plague came to London and was particularly virulent. Parliament was suspended until 1605. Instead of opening sessions early in the new year, sessions were postponed until October 3. During this lull, the plotters found a vacant coal merchant’s cellar under the House of Lords and began to fill it with gunpowder. They eventually concealed 36 barrels (1,775 pounds) of the substance under the building. If they had been successful, they would have reduced many of the near buildings to rubble, including Westminster Abbey.

The plotters tipped off Catholics, warning them not to be present when the Gunpowder Plot was scheduled. Loyal Catholics tipped off the authorities and at midnight on November 5, 1605 Guy Fawkes was arrested near 20 kegs of gunpowder. Under torture, he finally gave names of co-conspirators but only those men already dead or already known to the King. The men were brought to Westminster Hall. The sensational trial lasted one day and spectators paid up to 10 shillings to watch the proceedings. On January 31, Fawkes and several co-conspirators were taken to Old Palace Yard where they were drawn and quartered. Fawkes jumped as he was hanged, breaking his neck and dying instantly, thus eluding the torture of disembowelment and quartering.

“A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy.” – Guy Fawkes

“Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot to surrender,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.” – Traditional Guy Fawkes night song

“Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up King and Parli’ment.” – Traditional Guy Fawkes night song

“Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.” – Traditional Guy Fawkes night song

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Guy Fawkes was born in 1570 into a Protestant family. His mother’s family consisted of recusant Catholics, or those who refused to attend Anglican services. As such, they were subject to punishments under the laws of the Church of England. Guy’s cousin became a Jesuit priest ministering to Catholics. When Guy was 8, his father died. His mother remarried, this time to a Catholic. He received a Catholic education and associated with many who were avoiding the Recusancy Acts punishments. His childhood associates would also be co-conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot. There is mention that Guy married and had a son, but there is a lack of confirmation amid the extant records.

Also on this day: Globetrotters – In 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game.
Apollo I Fire – In 1967, during a test flight the capsule of Apollo 1 burns, killing three.
It’s All Greek – In 1870, Kappa Alpha Theta was formed.

It’s All Greek

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 27, 2012

Kappa Alpha Theta

January 27, 1870: Bettie Locke (Hamilton), Alice Allen (Brant), Bettie Tipton (Lindsay), and Hannah Fitch (Shaw) hold an initiation ceremony. The four women began Kappa Alpha Theta at Indiana Asbury University. The name changed to DePauw University in 1884. The school was founded in 1837 after Methodist Bishop, Francis Asbury, proposed the idea and helped to raise funds. The original class held five students with one professor. During the Civil War, many men left higher learning to engage in defending ideals. In 1867, the university began to accept women scholars.

The four founders sought to form friendships and encourage other women to join emerging coeducational colleges. They based their new organization on similar groups. Bettie Locke had experience with Beta Theta Pi, her father’s fraternity, and Phi Gamma Delta, her brother’s fraternity. Bettie’s father suggested she start her own Greek society. Bettie and Alice worked together to write a constitution, planned ceremonies, designed a badge, and sought out other like-minded women on campus. It took them three years of planning, but they finally held initiation ceremony and became the first Greek-letter society for women.

Fraternities and sororities, from the Greek words for brother and sister, are social organizations for North American undergraduate students. Although found in Europe, these are usually called “corporations” on The Continent. These groups can be social fraternities, honor societies, or service based. These groups are named with two or three Greek letters, after the initials of a Greek motto. The groups are usually gender specific with young men joining fraternities and young women in sororities. Although Kappa Alpha Theta is for young women only, they refer to themselves as a fraternity.

Kappa Alpha Theta is usually shortened to Theta. The badge designed by the founders was worn to chapel on March 14, 1870. The society’s colors are Black and Gold (the colors of the badge). Their symbols are a Kite and Twin Stars. Theta at Asbury soon grew to 22 members and by year’s end had spread to ten other campuses in Indiana and surrounding states. Today there are 128 college chapters with more than 210,000 collegiate lifetime members. The Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation was founded in 1960. They offer scholarships to members and support educational programs. They participate in Court Appointed Special Advocates, a program to help abused and neglected children.

What fraternities and sororities are about is to be there to give people that helping hand, especially the youth. – Alexandreena Dixon

Women are a sisterhood. They make common cause in behalf of the sex; and, indeed, this is natural enough, when we consider the vast power that the law gives us over them. – William Cobbett

“I think it’s very critical for the Greeks to establish an identity of what they are really like and that the social is one aspect. It is much more than that. (It’s) the brotherhood, the sisterhood, the leadership development (and) the community service. – Don Robertson

All Greek houses face the stereotypes of being the partying type. But this isn’t what we are about; we are about sisterhood and positive relationships. – Cara Snyder

Also on this day:

Globetrotters – In 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game.
Guy Fawkes’s Trial – In 1606, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were brought to trial.
Apollo I Fire – In 1967, during a test flight the capsule of Apollo 1 burns, killing three.

Apollo I Fire

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 27, 2011

Apollo I fire damage

January 27, 1967: Disaster strikes the NASA Apollo Program. Testing for preflight began for Apollo 204, the first Apollo manned mission. The launch of Apollo I was to take place on February 21, 1967. Instead, during this preflight test, three astronauts lost their lives as fire spread through the Command Module. Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee entered the Apollo at 1:00 PM on this date. It was a Friday afternoon. Problems were evident right from the start.

First, Grissom noted a “sour smell” to the oxygen when connected to the spacecraft system. The spacesuit loop was tested and Grissom elected to continue with the test. A high oxygen flow indicator would periodically trigger the master alarm. It was thought crew movement was responsible for this aberration and the crew elected to continue. There were difficulties with the communications between the crew and the control room and that problem became more widespread. This delayed the countdown which was put on hold at 5:40 PM.

At 6:31 PM, the count was about ready to pick up where it had left off. Again there was another spike in the oxygen flow. Grissom is thought to have moved slightly. Four seconds later, it is assumed Chaffee was speaking when the calm assertion was broadcast, “Fire, I smell fire.” Two seconds later, White’s voice [more insistent] broadcast, “Fire in the cockpit.” The quickest escape was theoretically possible in 90 seconds. However, it had never been accomplished in that short of a time.

Because of the cramped quarters, White’s headrest had to be lowered before he could reach above and behind his left shoulder to activate a ratchet-type device which would release the first in a series of latches. According to a source, White had managed to make almost a full turn of the ratchet before being overcome by smoke. Ground technicians ran to the trapped men, but the heat and smoke was extreme. Even at their own peril, the ship itself could explode, the technicians finally got the hatch open. It was too late. The three astronauts had died of carbon monoxide poisoning along with burns from the fire. Doctors also treated 27 of the ground crew for smoke inhalation with two of them being hospitalized. This test became known as Apollo 1. Apollo 2 and 3 were never designated and Apollo 4 was launched in November 1967.

“The Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly alone, our home that must be defended like a holy relic. The Earth was absolutely round. I believe I never knew what the word round meant until I saw Earth from space.” – Aleksei Leonov

“My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity.” – Edgar Mitchell

“A Chinese tale tells of some men sent to harm a young girl who, upon seeing her beauty, become her protectors rather than her violators. That’s how I felt seeing the Earth for the first time. I could not help but love and cherish her.” – Taylor Wang

“To me, there is something superbly symbolic in the fact that an astronaut, sent up as assistant to a series of computers, found that he worked more accurately and more intelligently than they. Inside the capsule, man is still in charge.” – Adlai Stevenson

Also on this day:
Globetrotters – In 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game.
Guy Fawkes – In1606, the Gunpowder Plot conspirators were brought to trial.


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Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 27, 2010

Harlem Globetrotters

January 27, 1927: The Harlem Globetrotters play their first game. In the beginning, the Globetrotters were a serious team of African-American basketball players who played competitively, beating professional teams. The team was created by Abe Saperstein in 1926. Although formed in Chicago, it was named after the African-American community in New York City Saperstein was born in London in 1902. He not only began the team, first called the Savoy Big Five, but coached as well. The name later changed to Harlem Globetrotters, with the second word giving a sense of world travel to the small team. Saperstein was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971 and at 5′ 5″ may be the shortest man so honored.

In 1950, the first African-American male was drafted into the NBA. As the NBA began allowing a market for African-American talent, the Globetrotters had a harder time getting top-notch players. Creating a niche was one way to gain a following. The Globetrotters gradually added comedy to their sport and added to their waning success.

On January 12, 1998, the Globetrotters played their 20,000th career game. This is an unprecedented achievement. No other professional sports team has ever reached this number of  games. The Chicago Cubs are the closest with just under 18,000 [as of the 1-12-98 date]. To date, they have played over 25,000 games. They lost only two games over a 38 year period and had a 2,495 game winning streak end in Martin, Tennessee on January 5, 1971 playing against the New Jersey Reds [score was 100-99].

Over the years many men have played for the Globetrotters. They have ranged in height from 5 foot 3 inches to 7 foot  3 inches. The most famous name on the roster outside of basketball would probably be Bill Cosby. They have retired five numbers over the years: 13 was Wilt Chamberlain, 20 was Marques Haynes, 22 was Curly Neal, 36 was Meadowlark Lemon, and 50 was Reece Tatum. There have been eight honorary Harlem Globetrotters: Henry Kissinger, Bob Hope, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Whoopi Goldberg, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Pope John Paul II, Jesse Jackson, and Matt Tubb.

“Any American boy can be a basketball star if he grows up, up, up.” – Bill Vaughn

“This is the second most exciting indoor sport, and the other one shouldn’t have spectators.” – Dick Vertleib

“These are my new shoes. They’re good shoes. They won’t make you rich like me, they won’t make you rebound like me, they definitely won’t make you handsome like me. They’ll only make you have shoes like me. That’s it.” – From a Charles Barkley commercial for basketball shoes, 1993

“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.” – Wilt Chamberlain

Also on this day, in1606 the Gunpowder Plot conspirators were brought to trial.