Topic: European history

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The Dreyfus affair

France Military history Politics Military history/Intelligence Judaism Military history/French military history Jewish history European history Military history/European military history

The Dreyfus Affair (French: l'affaire Dreyfus, pronounced [lafɛːʁ dʁɛfys]) was a political scandal that divided the Third French Republic from 1894 until its resolution in 1906. "The Affair", as it is known in French, has come to symbolise modern injustice in the Francophone world, and it remains one of the most notable examples of a complex miscarriage of justice and antisemitism. The role played by the press and public opinion proved influential in the conflict.

The scandal began in December 1894 when Captain Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason. Dreyfus was a 35-year-old Alsatian French artillery officer of Jewish descent. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris, and was imprisoned on Devil's Island in French Guiana, where he spent nearly five years.

In 1896, evidence came to light—primarily through an investigation instigated by Georges Picquart, head of counter-espionage—which identified the real culprit as a French Army major named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy. When high-ranking military officials suppressed the new evidence, a military court unanimously acquitted Esterhazy after a trial lasting only two days. The Army laid additional charges against Dreyfus, based on forged documents. Subsequently, Émile Zola's open letter J'Accuse…!, stoked a growing movement of support for Dreyfus, putting pressure on the government to reopen the case.

In 1899, Dreyfus was returned to France for another trial. The intense political and judicial scandal that ensued divided French society between those who supported Dreyfus (now called "Dreyfusards"), such as Sarah Bernhardt, Anatole France, Henri Poincaré and Georges Clemenceau, and those who condemned him (the anti-Dreyfusards), such as Édouard Drumont, the director and publisher of the antisemitic newspaper La Libre Parole. The new trial resulted in another conviction and a 10-year sentence, but Dreyfus was pardoned and released. In 1906, Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army. He served during the whole of World War I, ending his service with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He died in 1935.

The affair from 1894 to 1906 divided France into pro-republican, anticlerical, Dreyfusards and pro-Army, mostly Catholic "anti-Dreyfusards". It embittered French politics and encouraged radicalisation.

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Pilecki's Report

Military history Poland Hungary Military history/World War II Jewish history European history Military history/Polish military history Military history/European military history

Witold's Report, also known as Pilecki's Report, is a report about the Auschwitz concentration camp written in 1943 by Witold Pilecki, a Polish military officer and agent of the Polish resistance. Pilecki volunteered in 1940 to be imprisoned in Auschwitz to organize a resistance movement and send out information about it. His was the first comprehensive record of a Holocaust death camp to be obtained by the Allies. He escaped from the camp in April 1943.

The report includes details about the gas chambers, "Selektion" and the sterilization experiments. It states that there were three crematoria in Auschwitz II able to cremate 8000 people daily.

Pilecki's Report preceded and complemented the Auschwitz Protocols, compiled from late 1943, which warned about the mass murder and other atrocities taking place inside the camp. The latter consists of the Polish Major's Report by Jerzy Tabeau, who escaped with Roman Cieliczko on 19 November 1943 and compiled a report between December 1943 and January 1944; the Vrba-Wetzler report; and the Rosin-Mordowicz report.

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Price revolution

Economics European history

The Price Revolution, sometimes known as the Spanish Price Revolution, was a series of economic events that occurred between the second half of the 15th century and the first half of the 17th century, and most specifically linked to the high rate of inflation that occurred during this period across Western Europe. Prices rose on average roughly sixfold over 150 years. This level of inflation amounts to 1–1.5% per year, a relatively low inflation rate for modern-day standards, but rather high given the monetary policy in place in the 16th century.

Generally it is thought that this high inflation was caused by the large influx of gold and silver from the Spanish treasure fleet from the New World, including Mexico, Peru, and the rest of the Spanish Empire.

Specie flowed through Spain, increasing Spanish prices, and then spread over Western Europe as a result of Spanish balance of payments deficit. This enlarged the monetary supply and price levels of many European countries. Combined with this influx of gold and silver, population growth and urbanization perpetuated the price revolution. According to this theory, too many people with too much money chased too few goods.

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The General Crisis of the 17th Century

History Military history Military history/Early Modern warfare European history

The "General Crisis" is the term used by some historians to describe the period of widespread conflict and instability that occurred from the early 17th century to the early 18th century in Europe and in more recent historiography in the world at large. The concept is much debated by historians; there is no consensus.

The term was coined by Eric Hobsbawm in his pair of 1954 articles entitled "The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century" published in Past and Present.

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The Albanian Civil War in 1997 was sparked by pyramid scheme failures

Military history European history Military history/Balkan military history Organized crime Albania Military history/European military history Military history/Post-Cold War

The Albanian Civil War was a period of civil disorder in Albania in 1997, sparked by pyramid scheme failures. The government was toppled and more than 2,000 people were killed. It is considered to be either a rebellion, a civil war, or a rebellion that escalated into a civil war.

By January 1997, Albanian citizens, who had lost a total of $1.2 billion (an average of $400 per person countrywide) took their protest to the streets. Beginning in February, thousands of citizens launched daily protests demanding reimbursement by the government, which they believed was profiting from the schemes. On 1 March, Prime Minister Aleksandër Meksi resigned and on 2 March, President Sali Berisha declared a state of emergency. On 11 March the Socialist Party of Albania won a major victory when its leader, Bashkim Fino, was appointed prime minister. However, the transfer of power did not halt the unrest, and protests spread to northern Albania. Although the government quelled revolts in the north, the ability of the government and military to maintain order began to collapse, especially in the southern half of Albania, which fell under the control of rebels and criminal gangs.

All major population centres were engulfed in demonstrations by 13 March and foreign countries began to evacuate their citizens. These evacuations included Operation Libelle, Operation Silver Wake and Operation Kosmas.. The United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1101, authorised a force of 7,000 troops on 28 March to direct relief efforts and restore order in Albania. The UN feared the unrest would spread beyond Albania's borders and send refugees throughout Europe. On 15 April, Operation Alba was launched and helped restore rule of law in the country. After the unrest, looted weapons were made available to the Kosovo Liberation Army, many making their way to the Kosovo War (1998–99).

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Whipping Boy

European history

A whipping boy was a boy educated alongside a prince (or boy monarch) in early modern Europe, who received corporal punishment for the prince's transgressions in his presence. The prince was not punished himself because his royal status exceeded that of his tutor; seeing a friend punished would provide an equivalent motivation not to repeat the offence. An archaic proverb which captures a similar idea is "to beat a dog before a lion." Whipping was a common punishment of tutors at that time. There is little contemporary evidence for the existence of whipping boys, and evidence that some princes were indeed whipped by their tutors, although Nicholas Orme suggests that nobles might have been beaten less often than other pupils. Some historians regard whipping boys as entirely mythical; others suggest they applied only in the case of a boy king, protected by divine right, and not to mere princes.

In Renaissance humanism, Erasmus' treatises "The Education of a Christian Prince" (1516) and "Declamatio de pueris statim ac liberaliter instituendis" (1530) mention the inappropriateness of physical chastisement of princes, but do not mention proxy punishment. Hartley Coleridge wrote in 1852, "to be flogged by proxy was the exclusive privilege of royal blood. ... It was much coveted for the children of the poorer gentry, as the first step in the ladder of preferment." John Gough Nichols wrote in 1857, "the whole matter is somewhat legendary, and though certain vicarious or rather minatory punishments may have been occasionally adopted, it does not seem likely that any one individual among the King's schoolfellows should have been uniformly selected, whether he were in fault or not, as the victim or scape-goat of the royal misdemeanours". In current English, a "whipping boy" is a metaphor which may have a similar meaning to scapegoat, fall guy, or sacrificial lamb; alternatively it may mean a perennial loser or a victim of group bullying.

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