Topic: European history
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The Dreyfus affair
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.
- "The Dreyfus affair" | 2013-06-23 | 13 Upvotes 2 Comments
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.
- "Pilecki's Report" | 2020-01-23 | 104 Upvotes 20 Comments
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.
- "Price revolution" | 2018-06-16 | 33 Upvotes 5 Comments
The General Crisis of the 17th Century
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.
- "The General Crisis of the 17th Century" | 2015-06-15 | 89 Upvotes 95 Comments
The Albanian Civil War in 1997 was sparked by pyramid scheme failures
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).
- "The Albanian Civil War in 1997 was sparked by pyramid scheme failures" | 2020-08-30 | 68 Upvotes 60 Comments
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.
- "Whipping Boy" | 2020-11-29 | 11 Upvotes 2 Comments
Z (Military Symbol)
"Z" is one of several symbols painted on military vehicles of the Russian Armed Forces involved in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The symbol has been used in Russian popular culture as a sign of support for the invasion. Displaying any of the symbols on vehicles in public is illegal in Kazakhstan.
- "Z (Military Symbol)" | 2022-03-07 | 61 Upvotes 49 Comments
The Stalin Note, also known as the March Note, was a document delivered to the representatives of the Western Allies (the United Kingdom, France, and the United States) from the Soviet Union in Germany on 10 March 1952. Soviet general secretary and premier Joseph Stalin put forth a proposal for a German reunification and neutralisation with no conditions on economic policies and with guarantees for "the rights of man and basic freedoms, including freedom of speech, press, religious persuasion, political conviction, and assembly" and free activity of democratic parties and organizations.
James Warburg, a member of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, testified before the committee on 28 March 1952 and observed that the Soviet proposal might be a bluff, but he thought that it seemed "that our government is afraid to call the bluff for the fear that it may not be a bluff at all" and might lead to "a free, neutral, and demilitarised Germany", which might be "subverted into Soviet orbit". That led to an exchange of notes between the West and the Soviet Union, which eventually ended after the West had insistence for a unified Germany to be free to join the European Defence Community and to be rearmed, demands that Stalin rejected.
West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the Western Allies characterised Stalin's move as an aggressive action that attempted to stall the reintegration of West Germany. However, there was later a debate on whether a chance for reunification had been missed. Six years after the exchange, two West German ministers, Thomas Dehler and Gustav Heinemann, blamed Adenauer for not having explored the chance of reunification.
Hitler and Mannerheim Recording
The Hitler and Mannerheim recording is a recording of a private conversation between Adolf Hitler, Führer of Nazi Germany, and Field Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Defence Forces. It took place on a secret visit made to Finland by Hitler to honour Mannerheim's 75th birthday on 4 June 1942, during the Continuation War, a sub-theatre of World War II. Thor Damen, a sound engineer for the Finnish broadcaster Yleisradio (YLE) who had been assigned to record the official birthday proceedings, recorded the first eleven minutes of Hitler and Mannerheim's private conversation—without Hitler's knowledge. It is the only known recording of Hitler speaking in an unofficial tone.
- "Hitler and Mannerheim Recording" | 2022-06-26 | 11 Upvotes 1 Comments
Operation Gladio is the codename for clandestine "stay-behind" operations of armed resistance that were organized by the Western Union (WU), and subsequently by NATO and the CIA, in collaboration with several European intelligence agencies. The operation was designed for a potential Warsaw Pact invasion and conquest of Europe. Although Gladio specifically refers to the Italian branch of the NATO stay-behind organizations, "Operation Gladio" is used as an informal name for all of them. Stay-behind operations were prepared in many NATO member countries, and some neutral countries.
During the Cold War, some anti-communist armed groups engaged in the harassment of left-wing parties, torture, terrorist attacks, and massacres in countries such as Italy. The role of the CIA and other intelligence organisations in Gladio—the extent of its activities during the Cold War era and any responsibility for terrorist attacks perpetrated in Italy during the "Years of Lead" (late 1960s–early 1980s)—is the subject of debate.
In 1990, the European Parliament adopted a resolution alleging that military secret services in certain member states were involved in serious terrorism and crime, whether or not their superiors were aware. The resolution also urged investigations by the judiciaries of the countries in which those armies operated, so that their modus operandi and actual extension would be revealed. To date, only Italy, Switzerland and Belgium have had parliamentary inquiries into the matter.
The three inquiries reached differing conclusions as regarded different countries. Guido Salvini, a judge who worked in the Italian Massacres Commission, concluded that some right-wing terrorist organizations of the Years of Lead (La Fenice, National Vanguard and Ordine Nuovo) were the trench troops of a secret army, remotely controlled by exponents of the Italian state apparatus and linked to the CIA. Salvini said that the CIA encouraged them to commit atrocities. The Swiss inquiry found that British intelligence secretly cooperated with their army in an operation named P-26 and provided training in combat, communications, and sabotage. It also discovered that P-26 not only would organize resistance in case of a Soviet invasion, but would also become active should the left succeed in achieving a parliamentary majority. The Belgian inquiry could find no conclusive information on their army. No links between them and terrorist attacks were found, and the inquiry noted that the Belgian secret services refused to provide the identity of agents, which could have eliminated all doubts. A 2000 Italian parliamentary report from the left wing coalition Gruppo Democratici di Sinistra l'Ulivo reported that terrorist massacres and bombings had been organised or promoted or supported by men inside Italian state institutions who were linked to American intelligence. The report also said the United States was guilty of promoting the strategy of tension. Operation Gladio is also suspected to have been activated to counter existing left-wing parliamentary majorities in Europe.
The US State Department published a communiqué in January 2006 that stated claims the United States ordered, supported, or authorized terrorism by stay-behind units, and US-sponsored "false flag" operations are rehashed former Soviet disinformation based on documents that the Soviets forged.
The word gladio is the Italian form of gladius, a type of Roman shortsword.
- "Operation Gladio" | 2022-10-03 | 123 Upvotes 55 Comments