March 14

1845 Japan: Captain Mercator Cooper of the American whaling ship Manhattan rescues 22 shipwrecked Japanese sailors. He decides, in defiance of Japanese isolationism, to sail into Edo Bay and return the unfortunate sailors to the Japanese authorities. (Cullen) [See: Countdown to Infamy: Timeline to Pearl Harbor.]

1879 Birth: Albert Einstein:

On March 14, 1879, Albert Einstein is born, the son of a Jewish electrical engineer in Ulm, Germany. Einstein's theories of special and general relativity drastically altered man's view of the universe, and his work in particle and energy theory helped make possible quantum mechanics and, ultimately, the atomic bomb.

After a childhood in Germany and Italy, Einstein studied physics and mathematics at the Federal Polytechnic Academy in Zurich, Switzerland. He became a Swiss citizen and in 1905 was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich while working at the Swiss patent office in Bern. That year, which historians of Einstein's career call the annus mirabilis—the "miracle year"—he published five theoretical papers that were to have a profound effect on the development of modern physics.

In the first of these, titled "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light," Einstein theorized that light is made up of individual quanta (photons) that demonstrate particle-like properties while collectively behaving like a wave. The hypothesis, an important step in the development of quantum theory, was arrived at through Einstein's examination of the photoelectric effect, a phenomenon in which some solids emit electrically charged particles when struck by light. This work would later earn him the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.

In the second paper, he devised a new method of counting and determining the size of the atoms and molecules in a given space, and in the third he offered a mathematical explanation for the constant erratic movement of particles suspended in a fluid, known as Brownian motion. These two papers provided indisputable evidence of the existence of atoms, which at the time was still disputed by a few scientists.

Einstein's fourth groundbreaking scientific work of 1905 addressed what he termed his special theory of relativity. In special relativity, time and space are not absolute, but relative to the motion of the observer. Thus, two observers traveling at great speeds in regard to each other would not necessarily observe simultaneous events in time at the same moment, nor necessarily agree in their measurements of space. In Einstein's theory, the speed of light, which is the limiting speed of any body having mass, is constant in all frames of reference. In the fifth paper that year, an exploration of the mathematics of special relativity, Einstein announced that mass and energy were equivalent and could be calculated with an equation, E=mc2.

Although the public was not quick to embrace his revolutionary science, Einstein was welcomed into the circle of Europe's most eminent physicists and given professorships in Zuerich, Prague, and Berlin. In 1916, he published "The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity," which proposed that gravity, as well as motion, can affect the intervals of time and of space. According to Einstein, gravitation is not a force, as Isaac Newton had argued, but a curved field in the space-time continuum, created by the presence of mass. An object of very large gravitational mass, such as the sun, would therefore appear to warp space and time around it, which could be demonstrated by observing starlight as it skirted the sun on its way to earth. In 1919, astronomers studying a solar eclipse verified predictions Einstein made in the general theory of relativity, and he became an overnight celebrity. Later, other predictions of general relativity, such as a shift in the orbit of the planet Mercury and the probable existence of black holes, were confirmed by scientists.

During the next decade, Einstein made continued contributions to quantum theory and began work on a unified field theory, which he hoped would encompass quantum mechanics and his own relativity theory as a grand explanation of the workings of the universe. As a world-renowned public figure, he became increasingly political, taking up the cause of Zionism and speaking out against militarism and rearmament. In his native Germany, this made him an unpopular figure, and after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933 Einstein renounced his German citizenship and left the country.

He later settled in the United States, where he accepted a post at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He would remain there for the rest of his life, working on his unified field theory and relaxing by sailing on a local lake or playing his violin. He became an American citizen in 1940.

In 1939, despite his lifelong pacifist beliefs, he agreed to write to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on behalf of a group of scientists who were concerned with American inaction in the field of atomic-weapons research. Like the other scientists, he feared sole German possession of such a weapon. He played no role, however, in the subsequent Manhattan Project and later deplored the use of atomic bombs against Japan. After the war, he called for the establishment of a world government that would control nuclear technology and prevent future armed conflict.

In 1950, he published his unified field theory, which was quietly criticized as a failure. A unified explanation of gravitation, subatomic phenomena, and electromagnetism remains elusive today. Albert Einstein, one of the most creative minds in human history, died in Princeton in 1955. (

1883 Death: Karl Marx: German philosopher and father of Communism

In the final part of Das Kapital Marx deals with the issue of revolution. Marx argued that the laws of capitalism will bring about its destruction. Capitalist competition will lead to a diminishing number of monopoly capitalists, while at the same time, the misery and oppression of the proletariat would increase. Marx claimed that as a class, the proletariat will gradually become "disciplined, united and organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production" and eventually will overthrow the system that is the cause of their suffering. [For further details, Click here]

1900 USA: Congress ratifies the Gold Standard Act. (AP)

1915 World War I: Sinking of the German cruiser Dresden:

On this day in 1915, the British ships Kent and Glasgow corner the German light cruiser Dresden in Cumberland Bay, off the coast of Chile. After raising the white flag, the Dresden's crew abandoned and scuttled the ship, which sank with its German ensign flying. Dresden, a 3,600-ton light cruiser, was one of the fastest ships in the German Imperial Navy, capable of traveling at speeds of up to 24.5 knots. The sister ship of the Emden, it was one of the first German ships to be built with modern steam-turbine engines. The British navy possessed faster ships, but luckily for Dresden, it had never had to face one. In continuous service since its introduction in 1909, Dresden traveled over 21,000 miles between August 1, 1914 and March 1915, more than any other German cruiser in action during the early months of World War I. [For further details, Click here.]

1918 World War I: The first seagoing ship made of concrete is launched at Redwood City, California, near San Francisco: The SS Faith. The ship cost $750,000 to build.

A nation-wide effort was made in 1917-18 to put a merchant fleet at sea and to replenish the tonnage lost following German submarine sinkings in the North Atlantic. One end-product of that vigorous effort in shipbuilding was a 40-ship 'stone fleet' whose hulls were made from sand, gravel, and cement that enmeshed a fabric woven of steel rods. That shipbuilding activity was essentially an experiment intended to test whether concrete and steel mesh was a reasonable alternative for steel conservation. The choice was sound.

1931 Wunderwaffen: Johannes Winkler launches Astris, Europe's first liquid-fuel rocket. (Burrows, Piszkiewicz) [See: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.]

1933 Weimar: The Communists (KPD) tries to establish an anti-Nazi coalition with the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). (THP) [See: Leon Trotsky on The Rise of Hitler and the Destruction of the German Left.]

1935 The New York Times quotes President Roosevelt as saying: "In the distant past my ancestors may have been Jews. All I know about the origin of the Roosevelt family is that they are apparently the descendents of Claes Martenszen van Roosevelt who came from Holland." (See March 7, 1934) (THP)

1937 Church and Reich: A papal encyclical, Mit Brennender Sorge (With Burning Sorrow) is published, dealing with the condition of the Catholic Church in Germany and condemning Nazi racism.

Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community‑-however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things‑-whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God.

1938 Anschluss: Various:

After lingering for two days in Linz, Hitler continues his triumphal tour of Austria with a visit to Vienna, where he stays at the Imperial Hotel. When Hitler tours the city in a procession of cars, Himmler rushes ahead to supervise the dismantling of explosive charges attached to a bridge on the rout. [See: Austria: The Other Germany.]

British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, addresses the House of Commons:

His Majesty's Government have throughout been in the closest touch with the situation. The Foreign Secretary saw the German Foreign Minister on the 10th of March and addressed to him a grave warning on the Austrian situation and upon what appeared to be the policy of the German Government in regard to it . . . . Late on the 11th of March our Ambassador in Berlin registered a protest in strong terms with the German Government against such use of coercion, backed by force, against an independent State in order to create a situation incompatible with its national independence . . . .

I imagine that according to the temperament of the individual the events which are in our minds to-day will be the cause of regret, of sorrow, perhaps of indignation. They cannot be regarded by His Majesty's Government with indifference or equanimity. They are bound to have effects which cannot yet be measured. The immediate result must be to intensify the sense of uncertainty and insecurity in Europe. Unfortunately, while the policy of appeasement would lead to a relaxation of the economic pressure under which many countries are suffering to-day, what has just occurred must inevitably retard economic recovery and, indeed, increased care will be required to ensure that marked deterioration does not set in. This is not a moment for hasty decisions or for careless words. We must consider the new situation quickly, but with cool judgement . . . .

As regards our defence programs, we have always made it clear that they were flexible and that they would have to be reviewed from time to time in the light of any development in the international situation. It would be idle to pretend that recent events do not constitute a change of the kind that we had in mind. Accordingly we have decided to make a fresh review, and in due course we shall announce what further steps we may think it necessary to take.

From The Nightmare Years 1930-1940 by William L. Shirer:

At 4 PM on Monday, I broadcast a report on Prime Minister Chamberlain's statement to the Commons on Hitler's conquest. The immediacy of radio fascinated me. "Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain," I began, "arose to make a statement in the House of Commons a half-hour ago." It was still coming in over the news ticker as I began to report.

What Chamberlain said did not surprise me, but it disturbed me, as had a statement to the Commons on the Austrian situation he made on March 2. Then he had pretended that "What happened [at Berchtesgaden] wes merely two statesmen [Hitler and Schuschnigg] had agreed upon certain measures for the improvement of relations between the two co8untries." In Vienna I had read that statement with astonishment. I knew that the British legation in Vienna had provided Chamberlain with the details of Hitler's Berchtesgaden ultimatum to Schuschnigg. The prime minister's deceit shocked me.

Now, as I read his statement over the air, I became skeptical of much of what he was saying. He was telling the Commons that his new foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, had told the new German foregn minister, Ribbentrop, in London twenty-four hours before A. Hitler's march into Austria "that the British government attached the greatest importance to all measures being taken to ensure that the plebiscite in Austria was carried out without interference or intimidation from Germany." He himself, Chamberlain added, had made very earnest representations in the same sense. I wondered.

The prime minister finally got to the point of what he had to say: "The hard fact is that nothing could have arrested what was actually happened [in Austria] unless this country and other countries had been prepared to use force."

That was true enough. But I wondered what the future of Great Britain could be if it were unwilling to use force to counter Nazi force.

Winston Churchill—still out of power—addresses the House of Commons in a much more realistic and farsighted manner:

The gravity of the event of March 12 cannot be exaggerated. Europe is confronted with a program of aggression , nicely calculated and timed, unfolding stage by stage, and there is only one choice open, not only to us but to other countries, either to submit, like Austria, or else to take effective measures while time remains to ward off the danger, and if it cannot be warded off to cope with it . . . .

If we go on waiting upon events, how much shall we throw away of resources now available for our security and the maintenance of peace? How many friends will be alienated, how many potential allies shall we see go one by one down the grisly gulf? How many times will bluff succeed until behind bluff ever-gathering forces have accumulated reality? . . . . Where are we going to be two years hence, for instance, when the German Army will certainly be much larger than the French Army, and when all the small nations will have fled from Geneva to pay homage to the ever-waxing power of the Nazi system, and to make the best terms that they can for themselves? . . . .

Vienna is the center of the communications of all the countries which formed the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, and of the countries lying to the southeast in Europe. A long stretch of the Danube is now in German hands. The mastery of Vienna gives to Nazi Germany military and economic control of the whole of the communications of Southeastern Europe, by road, by river and rail. What is the effect of this on the structure of Europe? What is the effect of it on what is called the balance of power, such as it is—upon what is called the "Little Entente [Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia]"? I must say a word about this group of powers called the Little Entente. Taken singly, the three countries of the Little Entente may be called powers of the second rank, but they are very powerful and vigorous states, and united they are a Great Power. They have hitherto been, and are still, united by the closest military agreement. Together they make the complement of a Great Power and of the military machinery of a Great Power. Romania has the oil, Yugoslavia has the minerals and raw materials. Both have large armies, both are mainly supplied with munitions from Czechoslovakia. To English ears, the name of Czechoslovakia sounds outlandish. No doubt they are only a small democratic state, no doubt they have an army only two or three times as large as ours, no doubt they have a munitions supply only three times as great as that of Italy, but still they are a virile people, they have their rights, they have their treaty rights, they have a line of fortresses, and they have a strongly manifested will to live, a will to live freely.

Czechoslovakia is at this moment isolated, both in the economic and in the military sense. Her trade outlet through Hamburg, which is based upon the Peace Treaty, can of course be closed at any moment. Now her communications by rail and river to the south, and beyond the south to the southwest, are liable to be severed at any moment. Her trade may be subjected to tolls of a destructive character, of an absolutely strangling character. Here is a country which was once the greatest manufacturing area in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is now cut off, or may be cut off at once, unless out of the discussions which must follow arrangements are made securing the communications of Czechoslovakia. She may be cut off at once from the sources of her raw materials in Yugoslavia and from the natural markets which she has established there. The economic life of this small state may be very largely strangled as a result of the act of violence which was perpetrated last Friday night. A wedge has been driven into the heart of what is called the Little Entente, this group of countries which have as much right to live in Europe unmolested as any of us have the right to live unmolested in our native land. (Churchill)

From The Manchester Guardian:

On the day on which she was to have voted on her freedom and independence, Austria was last night officially proclaimed a "State of the German Reich." The Anschluss has been brought into being. A month hence the Austrian people will be asked to say what they think of it.

The law—enacted by the Austrian government and "accepted" by the Germans—states: On the basis of the Federal Constitution law regarding the extraordinary measures within the scope of the Constitution, the Federal Government has resolved;

1. Austria is a state of the German Reich.

2. On Sunday, April 10, a free and secret plebiscite of the German men and women of Austria over twenty years of age will take place regarding the reunion with the German Reich.

It is explained in Berlin that Austria now becomes a Federal State of the Reich, such as Bavaria, Saxony and Wuerttemberberg. Austria, like Bavaria, will retain her own Government, and for the present the existing laws will remain in force.

Herr Hitler has incorporated the Austrian Army in the German Army and placed it under his command.

Last night it was announced that President Miklas had resigned at the request of Dr. Seyss-Inquart, the Nazi Chancellor, who took over the President's powers.

In all countries—except Italy and Japan, partners with Germany in the anti-Comintern Pact—the annexing of Austria is condemned.

1939 Czechoslovakia: German troops fully occupy the provinces of Bohemia and Moravia. Monsignor Josef Tiso proclaims the independence of Slovakia and establishes an independent Axis state under the Fascist Hlinka Party. Slovak Nazis launch a wave of terror against Slovakian Jews. Note: After the war, Tiso will be arrested, imprisoned, and executed by the Communist government in Prague.

1942 Resistance: A number of Jews, who had been sent to work on a farm near Ilja in western Russia, escape into the woods and join a partisan group. (THP) [See: Jewish War Heroes.]

1943 World War II: Germans recapture Kharkov: German troops re-enter Kharkov, the second largest city in the Ukraine, which had changed hands several times in the battle between the USSR and the invading German forces.

Kharkov was a high-priority target for the Germans when they invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, as the city was a railroad and industrial center, and had coal and iron mines nearby. Among the most important industries for Stalin's war needs was the Kharkov Tanks Works, which he moved out of Kharkov in December 1941 into the Ural Mountains. In fact, Joseph Stalin was so desperate to protect Kharkov that he rendered a "no retreat" order to his troops, which produced massive casualties within the Red Army over time.

Hitler's troops first entered Kharkov in October 1941. In May 1942, the Soviets launched an effective surprise attack on the Germans just south of Kharkov, enabling the Red Army to advance closer to the occupied city, and finally re-enter it on February 16, 1943. Hitler began planning an immediate recapture as early as February 21—Red Army Day—hoping that success there would reverse the Soviet momentum of the previous three months. On March 10, German troops launched their major offensive; the Soviets had already suffered the loss of 23,000 soldiers and 634 tanks in the recapture and defense of Kharkov and were forced to rely on 1,000 Czech troops for aid.

On March 14, the tide in Kharkov turned again, and the Germans took the city once more. "We have shown the Ivans we can withstand their terrible winter. It can hold no fear for us again," wrote an SS officer. This proved to be a meaningless boast when the Red Army liberated the city that summer, and untrue, as the brutal Soviet winter actually did take a terrifying toll on German troops. (

1945 World War II: Heaviest bomb of the war:

In 1943, Dr. Barnes Wallis designed an 8,600-pound bomb for use against German dams. He then outdid himself by building the "Tall Boy" bomb, which weighed 12,000 pounds. This heavy bomb was used against targets on both land and sea. Finally, Wallis enlarged Tall Boy to make the 22,000-pound Grand Slam bomb. The Grand Slam was so big that it could only be carried one at a time by strong four-engine bomber planes, which had to be specially refitted for the purpose. On March 14, 1945, the 617 Squadron of Britain's Royal Air Force (nicknamed the "Dambusters") attacked the Bielefeld railway viaduct in Germany. One plane, flown by RAF pilot C.C. Calder, carried the first Grand Slam: a bomb which had never been tested. The tremendous force of that Grand Slam (and the Tall Boys carried by the rest of the squadron) successfully destroyed the viaduct and caused a mini-earthquake. Grand Slam bombs were used 40 more times during the war.

[See: The Last Days of the Third Reich.]

1946 Various:

Death: Karl Haushofer: Bavarian general and geopolitician who became closely associated with Rudolf Hess and, through him, Hitler. Haushofer had a lifelong interest in magic and mysticism. His doctrine of Lebensraum (Germany's right to living space in the East) became a cornerstone of Nazi ideology. Throughout the 1920's and 30's, he served as one of Hitler's most trusted political advisors. Haushofer's influence declined sharply after Rudolf Hess flew away. On this day, he kills his wife, Martha, and then commits ritual suicide (Hari Kari) in the traditional Japanese manner.

Nuremberg Tribunal: Hermann Goering answers questions put by his counsel:

Dr Stahmer: What did you understand by the term 'Master race'?

Goering: I myself understood nothing by it. In none of my speeches, in none of my writings, will you find that term. It is my view that if you are a master you have no need to emphasize it.

Dr Stahmer: What do you understand by the concept "living space"?

Goering: That conception is a very controversial one. I can fully understand that powers who together - I refer only to the four signatory powers - call more than three-quarters of the world their own, explain this idea differently. But for us, where 144 people live in 1 square kilometer, the words 'living space' meant the proper relation between a population and its nourishment, its growth, and its standard of living.

Dr Stahmer: An expression which is always recurring is that of 'seizure of power.'

Goering: I should like to call 'seizure of power' a terminus technicus. We might just as well have used another term, but this actually expresses as clearly as possible what did in fact occur, that is to say, we seized power.

From the letters of Thomas Dodd:

This is the second Goering day as he was on the stand all day and he has made a most unusual witness, and I think quite a frank one. He admitted responsibility for many of the offenses and he is not cringing or crawling. He will go down fighting - somehow he makes me think of a captured lion. Of course I am not forgetting his part in all this business and much less am I unmindful of the facts that all of these top flight Nazis are spellbinders and fakers—that is how they did it—or part of how they did it anyway." [See: Are There Any Lasting Effects From the Nuremberg Trials?]

1965 Israel accepts West Germany's request to establish diplomatic relations.

1990 Gorbachev elected president of the Soviet Union:

The Congress of People's Deputies elects General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev as the new president of the Soviet Union. While the election was a victory for Gorbachev, it also revealed serious weaknesses in his power base that would eventually lead to the collapse of his presidency in December 1991. [For further details, Click here.]

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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