March 8

1801 Anglo-Ottoman force takes Abukir Bay:

During the Napoleonic Wars, combined British and Ottoman forces successfully establish a foothold in French-occupied Egypt at Abukir Bay. In taking the strategic naval port, some 1,100 British soldiers perished, including Sir Ralph Abercromby, the commander of the amphibious operation.

In the summer of 1798, French General Napoleon Bonaparte and his Army of the Orient landed at Abukir, an Egyptian bay between Alexandria and the Rosetta mouth of the Nile. Napoleon intended Egypt to serve as a launching point for his attacks on British interests in India. His army won a brilliant victory over Egyptian forces at the Battle of the Pyramids in July, but in September, British Admiral Horatio Nelson destroyed the French fleet in Abukir Bay and left Napoleon's forces trapped in Egypt.

The Ottoman Empire, of which Egypt was a province, subsequently allied itself with Great Britain and declared war on France. In July 1799, the French repulsed Ottoman forces attempting to land at Abukir. Later that year, Napoleon abandoned his army, evaded the British Royal Navy blockade, and traveled back to France to join in a coup against the French revolutionary government. While Napoleon assumed the leadership of France and set about defending the country against a coalition of European powers, his Army of the Orient struggled to hold on to Egypt. In March 1801, an Anglo-Turkish force successfully landed at Abukir Bay, and in September Napoleon lost Malta to the British, compelling him to restore Egypt to the Ottoman Empire in 1802. (

1879 Birth: Otto Hahn, German chemist: Worked in London under Sir William Ramsay and at McGill University (discovering radioactinium) under Ernest Rutherford. In Germany with Fritz Strassmann in 1938 he discovered fission of uranium and thorium, the phenomenon of which was then explained by Lise Meitner and Otto Robert Frisch. While he discovered fission, he was not a part of Germany's atomic bomb program. For his discovery he was awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, but was unable to collect his award due to his being held prisoner in Britain.

1917 Various:

Russia: February Revolution begins:

By 1917, most Russians had lost faith in the leadership ability of the czarist regime. Government corruption was rampant, the Russian economy remained backward, and Nicholas repeatedly dissolved the Duma, the Russian parliament established after the Revolution of 1905, when it opposed his will. However, the immediate cause of the February Revolution—the first phase of the Russian Revolution of 1917—was Russia's disastrous involvement in World War I. Militarily, imperial Russia was no match for industrialized Germany, and Russian casualties were greater than those sustained by any nation in any previous war. Meanwhile, the economy was hopelessly disrupted by the costly war effort, and moderates joined Russian radical elements in calling for the overthrow of the czar.

On March 8, 1917, demonstrators clamoring for bread took to the streets in the Russian capital of Petrograd (now known as St. Petersburg). Supported by 90,000 men and women on strike, the protesters clashed with police but refused to leave the streets. On March 10, the strike spread among all of Petrograd's workers, and irate mobs of workers destroyed police stations. Several factories elected deputies to the Petrograd Soviet, or "council," of workers' committees, following the model devised during the Revolution of 1905.

On March 11, the troops of the Petrograd army garrison were called out to quell the uprising. In some encounters, regiments opened fire, killing demonstrators, but the protesters kept to the streets, and the troops began to waver. That day, Nicholas again dissolved the Duma. On March 12, the revolution triumphed when regiment after regiment of the Petrograd garrison defected to the cause of the demonstrators. The soldiers, some 150,000 men, subsequently formed committees that elected deputies to the Petrograd Soviet.

The imperial government was forced to resign, and the Duma formed a provisional government that peacefully vied with the Petrograd Soviet for control of the revolution. On March 14, the Petrograd Soviet issued "Order No. 1," which instructed Russian soldiers and sailors to obey only those orders that did not conflict with the directives of the Soviet. The next day, March 15, Czar Nicholas II abdicated the throne in favor of his brother Michael, whose refusal of the crown brought an end to the czarist autocracy.

The new provincial government, tolerated by the Petrograd Soviet, hoped to salvage the Russian war effort while ending the food shortage and many other domestic crises. It would prove a daunting task. Meanwhile, Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik revolutionary party, left his exile in Switzerland and crossed German enemy lines to return home and take control of the Russian Revolution. (

World War I: Sir Frederick Maude on Operations Leading to the Fall of Baghdad:

During the night of the 8th-9th, after an intense bombardment of the opposite bank, an attempt was made to ferry troops across the Diala River from four separate points. The main enterprise achieved a qualified success, the most northern ferry being able to work for nearly an hour before it was stopped by very deadly rifle and machine-gun fire, and we established a small post on the right bank. When day broke this party of seventy of the Loyal North Lancashires had driven off two determined counter-attacks and were still maintaining themselves in a small loop of the river bend. For the next twenty-two hours, until the passage of the river had been completely forced, the detachment held on gallantly in its isolated position under constant close fire from the surrounding buildings, trenches, and gardens, being subjected to reverse as well as enfilade fire from distant points along the right bank. [For further details, Click here]

1918 The first case of Spanish flu occurs, the start of a devastating pandemic:

The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, known today as World War I (WWI), at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351. Known as "Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe" the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster. [For further details, Click here]

1933 Austria: Dollfuss suspends freedom of the press in Austria:

He was sure of the solid backing of the peasantry and above all of the Lower Austrian peasantry who, in his time even more than today, were the squat pillar of state. Just as the peasants revered him as their image and their benefactor, so the Catholic Church blessed him as one of her most ardent sons. Indeed, for the Vatican. Dollfuss' appearance on the Vienna scene might almost have been providential. It was almost exactly a year after Pope Pius XI had produced his famous encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno' ; and now, in one Catholic country of Europe at least, a vigorous and devout social reformer had come to power who was to try and turn those ideas into reality. [For further details, Click here]

1934 USA: Nazi sympathizers stage incidents at Columbia University in New York.

1938 Austria: More than 2,000 Nazi demonstrators march through the center of Vienna shouting anti-Jewish slogans. (THP)

Schuschnigg gives Seyss-Inquart advance notice of his intention to conduct a plebiscite:

From Seyss-Inquart's testimony before the IMT: The day before Dr. Schuschnigg announced in Innsbruck the plan for the plebiscite he called me in and informed me of his plan. I asked him at that time whether the decision was unalterable, and he affirmed that. I expressed my concern that this might lead to difficulties; but I promised him that I would help him wherever I could, either to make the best of this plebiscite or to bring about a suitable outcome—suitable, that is to say, even for the National Socialists. Of course, I had continual contact with the Austrian National Socialists, since I was the liaison man ... on the same evening I was also approached by Dr. Jury who in some way had already heard of the plan for the plebiscite. I did not tell him that I had given my assent to Dr. Schuschnigg, though on account of my function as liaison man as laid down in the agreement of 12 February, I should not have allowed silence to be imposed on me; yet, I did keep silent.

1940 Various:

US Secretary of the Interior Harold Laclair Ickes has dinner with Archduke Otto von Habsburg (Hapsburg) and his brother Felix in Washington. Habsburg tells him that "Hitler had disclosed to a very confidential group, which included two Austrians, one of whom, is in the confidence of Otto, that his ultimate objective is the United States, after he has conquered Europe." Ickes writes in his diary the next day: "I am convinced that this is absolutely what Hitler would attempt to do." (THP)

World War II: From notes of a meeting of department heads of the Government General:

One thing is certain. The authority of the Governor General [Hans Frank] as the representative of the will of the Fuehrer and the will of the Reich in this territory is certainly strong, and I have always emphasized that I would not tolerate misuse of this authority. I have made this known anew at every office in Berlin, especially after Herr Field Marshal Goering on 12-2-1940, from Karin Hall, had forbidden all administrative of offices of the Reich, including the Police and even the Wehrmacht, to interfere in administrative matters of the Government General. There is no authority here in the Government General which is higher as to rank, stronger in influence, and of greater authority than that of the Governor General. Even the Wehrmacht has no governmental or official functions here of any kind; it has only security functions and general military duties - it has no political power whatsoever. The same applies to the Police and the SS. There is here no state within a state, but we are representatives of the Fuehrer and of the Reich.

1942 World War II: Dutch surrender on Java after two months of fighting: Java is an island of modern-day Indonesia, and it lies southeast of Malaysia and Sumatra, south of Borneo, and west of Bali. The Dutch had been in Java since 1596, establishing the Dutch East India Company, a trading company with headquarters at Batavia (modern-day Jakarta), which the Dutch commandeered in 1619. The Dutch East India Company began to assert greater and greater control over the Muslim kingdoms of the East Indies, transforming them into vassal states, with peasants growing rice, sugar, pepper, and coffee for the Dutch government. The company was dissolved in 1799 because of debts and corruption, and the Dutch government took control of the East Indies directly.

The British supplanted the Dutch in Java for a brief period (1811-1816), but the Dutch returned to power, slowly granting native Javanese more local control, even giving them a majority on the People's Council. But on January 11, 1942, the Japanese declared war on the Royal Dutch government with its invasion of Borneo and the Island of Celebes, a date that also marked the beginning of the end of the Dutch presence in the East Indies. Sumatra was the next site of Japanese occupation, with paratroopers and troops landing from transports on February 14-16. Seven thousand British and Australian troops reinforced the Dutch fighters on Java, but the Allies pulled out of the fight in late February at the approach of two more large Japanese invasion forces that arrived on March 1.

The Dutch finally ended all resistance to the superior Japanese forces on March 8, surrendering on Java. Java's independence of colonial control became a final fact of history in 1950, when it became part of the newly independent Republic of Indonesia. (

1943 World War II: Various:

Bethnal Green: The highest casualty rate for those killed on the Underground during 'the blitz' occurs this day at Bethnal Green Station, England. Fifteen hundred people, rushing down the stairs into the tube shelter on the night of a heavy bombing raid, are crushed into one another when someone in the front stumbles. A hundred and seventy three people are killed. The extent of the disasters and the number of people killed will not be disclosed until after the war.

Japanese troops counter-attack American forces on Hill 700 in Bougainville in a five day battle:

Many casualties resulting from malaria and other tropical diseases. U.S. Marine operations to expand the Allied beachhead resulted in the battles of Piva Trail, Coconut Grove, Piva Forks, and Hellzapoppin Ridge and Hill 600A. The Marines were later replaced by the US Army's Americal Division. The US Army defended the beachhead against a major Japanese counterattack from March 9 - March 17, 1944, at Hill 700, Cannon Hill and Hill 260. The counterattack was defeated with heavy losses for the Japanese, who then withdrew the majority of their forces into the deep interior and to the north and south ends of the island. The Japanese, isolated and cut off from outside assistance, primarily concentrated on survival. [For further details, Click here]

1944 World War II: War in Burma:

The strategic need to keep open the supply routes to China dictated the Burma campaign. After the loss of the Burma Road, the British wanted to supply China via the Hump until they could recapture it. The American General Joseph Stilwell thought it better to build a new road through north Burma to link up with the Burma Road close to the Chinese border. He prevailed and this influenced the conduct of the campaign. [For further details, Click here]

1945 World War II: Various:

Churchill to General Ismay:

Late on Monday night General Bedell Smith volunteered to me at Reims the statement that he hoped that two divisions might be available to clear Holland immediately after the passage of the Rhine. I understand he contemplated American divisions. I am of the opinion that a military plan should now be concerted to prevent the horrors which will befall the Dutch, and incidentally to extirpate the rocket-firing points in Holland at the earliest moment. I consider that if it were inevitable, which I doubt, a certain delay might be accepted in the main advance on Berlin. I am prepared to telegraph to the President on these lines, but I should like first of all to hear your views . . . . If it is true that the German forces in Holland are now almost entirely static and that all the effective fighting units have left, there is no need to dwell upon the military task and overweight it.

Desertion: Hitler's high command issues orders for the execution of soldiers who surrender without being wounded or desert their units. They are to "be shot at once." In one incident four officers are summarily executed for allowing the Americans to capture the Rhine bridge at Remagen before they could blow it up. (THP) [See: Why Did Hitler Insist on No Surrender?]

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:The Soviets finish their presentation and the prosecution rests.

Testimony of Air Force General Karl Bodenschatz:

No, I never heard of the atrocities. The very first time I heard was last year, when I reported to the Reich Marshal—to be exact it was the middle of March 1945—when I reported my departure on sick leave. The Reich Marshal told me during lunch that very many Jews must have perished there and that we should have to pay dearly for it. That was the first time that I heard of crimes against the  Jews. [For the full testimony, Click here.]

[See: Are There Any Lasting Effects From the Nuremberg Trials?]

Testimony of Field Marshal Erhard Milch:

I had the impression that by these experiments the SS wanted to make themselves important in Hitler's eyes. These were the words also used by the chief of the medical department to me. During a long report on quite different questions I mentioned this matter briefly to the Reich Marshal, because I had to expect that one day he would be approached by Himmler, and perhaps would not know anything about the whole question. The Reich Marshal asked me, when I told him about such and such experiments, "What does this mean?" I gave him the reply which I had been given by the Medical Inspector. I told him that we did not want to have anything to do with them, and that we repudiated them. He said he was exactly of the same opinion, but I should be very careful not to provoke the SD or treat them badly. What the experiments were about I do not know, neither do I know what was done to the people; I do not know it even now. [For the full testimony, Click here.]

[See: Is It Revisionism or Denial, and Why Does it Matter?]

1950 Volkswagen: VW bus, icon of counterculture movement, goes into production:

The VW bus was reportedly the brainchild of Dutch businessman Ben Pon, an importer of Beetles to the Netherlands, who saw a market for a small bus and in 1947 sketched out his concept. Volkswagen engineers further developed the idea and in March 1950, the vehicle, with its boxy, utilitarian shape and rear engine, went into production. The bus eventually collected a number of nicknames, including the "Combi" (for combined-use vehicle) and the "Splittie" (for its split windshield); in Germany it was known as the "Bulli." In the U.S., it was referred to by some as a hippie van or bus because it was used to transport groups of young people and their camping gear and other supplies to concerts and anti-war rallies. Some owners painted colorful murals on their buses and replaced the VW logo on the front with a peace symbol. According to "Bug" by Phil Patton, when Grateful Dead musician Jerry Garcia died in 1995, Volkswagen ran an ad featuring a drawing of the front of a bus with a tear streaming down it.

The bus was only the second product offering for Volkswagen, a company whose history dates back to the 1930s Germany. In 1933, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and announced he wanted to build new roads and affordable cars for the German people. At that time, Austrian-born engineer Ferdinand Porsche (1875-1951) was already working on creating a small car for the masses. Hitler and Porsche later met and the engineer was charged with designing the inexpensive, mass-produced Volkswagen, or "people's car." In 1938, work began on the Volkswagen factory, located in present-day Wolfsburg, Germany; however, full-scale vehicle production didn't begin until after World War II.

In the 1950s, the Volkswagen arrived in the U.S., where the initial reception was tepid, due in part to the car's historic Nazi connection as well as its small size and unusual rounded shape (which later led to it being dubbed the "Beetle"). In 1959, the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach launched a groundbreaking campaign that promoted the car's diminutive size as a distinct advantage to consumers, and over the next several years VW became the top-selling auto import in the U.S. In 1972, the VW Beetle passed the iconic Ford Model T as the world's best-selling car, with over 15 million vehicles produced. [Just For Fun, See: The Fuehrer's Mercedes.]

1953 Spandau Prison: Albert Speer begins work on his Spandau Draft in a series of letters smuggled out of Spandau to his friend, Rudolf Walters:

I began writing as if it was the most natural thing in the world—I have made it easy for myself. I did not begin with Hitler, but with my childhood.

1957 Egypt opens the Suez Canal:

Following Israel's withdrawal from occupied Egyptian territory, the Suez Canal is reopened to international traffic. However, the canal was so littered with wreckage from the Suez Crisis that it took weeks of cleanup by Egyptian and United Nations workers before larger ships could navigate the waterway.

The Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas across Egypt, was completed by French engineers in 1869. For the next 88 years, it remained largely under British and French control, and Europe depended on it as an inexpensive shipping route for oil from the Middle East.

In July 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the canal, hoping to charge tolls that would pay for construction of a massive dam on the Nile River. In response, Israel invaded in late October, and British and French troops landed in early November, occupying the canal and other Suez territory. Under pressure from the United Nations, Britain and France withdrew in December, and Israeli forces departed in March 1957. That month, Egypt took over control of the canal and reopened it to commercial shipping. Ten years later, Egypt shut down the canal again following the Six Day War and Israel's occupation of the Sinai peninsula. It remained closed for eight years, ending when Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat reopened it in 1975 after peace talks with Israel. (

1959 George Lincoln Rockwell founds the American Nazi Party in Arlington, Virginia:

[Rockwell] mistakenly believed Pablo Picasso to be Jewish. Visited Ezra Pound during the psychiatric hospital years. Picketed the White House with a placard reading "SAVE IKE FROM THE KIKES!" protesting Dwight D. Eisenhower's deployment of troops to the Middle East. Invented the phrase "White Power" in 1966 during a debate with Black Panther Stokely Carmichael. Heralded Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam as the "Black people's Hitler."

1982 United States accuses Soviets of using poison gas:

The United States government issues a public statement accusing the Soviet Union of using poison gas and chemical weapons in its war against rebel forces in Afghanistan. The accusation was part of the continuing U.S. criticism of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. [For further details, Click here.]

1983 Cold War: Reagan again refers to U.S.S.R. as "evil empire":

Reagan's aggressive stance toward the Soviet Union became known as the Reagan Doctrine. He warned against what he and his supporters saw as the dangerous trend of tolerating the Soviets' build-up of nuclear weapons and attempts to infiltrate Third World countries in order to spread communism. Advocating a peace through strength policy, Reagan declared that the Soviets must be made to understand we will never compromise our principles and standards [nor] ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire. To do so would mean abandoning the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.

Reagan proposed a policy that went beyond the Truman Doctrine of containment, urging active intervention. He vowed to increase U.S. military spending and to use force if necessary to roll back communist expansion in Third World nations. His administration provided military aid to Nicaraguan groups fighting the leftist Sandinista government and gave material support to the Afghan mujahedeen in their ongoing war against Soviets. At the same time, he reassured Americans that he would pursue an understanding with totalitarian powers and cited the United States' effort to limit missile development as a step toward peace.

Reagan's doctrine came at the same time as a surge in international and domestic protests against the U.S.-Soviet arms race. His opponents blamed the administration for causing the largest increase in American military spending since the beginning of the Cold War, a policy that swelled the nation's budget deficit.

The Soviet economy ultimately collapsed in the late 1980s, ending decades of communist rule in Russia and Eastern Europe. Americans disagreed as to the cause: while economists and Reagan's critics claimed the Soviet empire had buckled under the weight of its own bloated defense spending and a protracted war in Afghanistan, Reagan and his supporters credited his hard-line anti-communist policies for defeating Soviet communism. (

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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