October 21

1788 Birth: George Combe: Phrenologist: born in Edinburgh. The physician, Franz Josef Gall and his colleague, former student Johan Caspar Spurzheim established phrenology in Paris. Gall identified a number of areas on the surface of the head he linked with specific localizations of cerebral functions with the underlying attributes of the human personality. Gall used the term, "cranioscopy"; Spurzheim, coined the word "phrenology" as he went abroad to evangelize and elaborate upon Gall's concepts. Spurzheim introduced phrenology to Great Britain and a phrenology movement arose there. George Combe, a lawyer, was an important leader who published several influential works on the subject." Note: The spurious 'science' of phrenology will be practiced by many Nazis and those in Volkish and racialist sects.

1797: The USS Constitution, the third of the nation's new warships, is launched.

1854 Nursing: Florence Nightingale and a staff of 38 nurses were sent to Turkey to help treat wounded British soldiers fighting in the Crimean War. [For further information, click here.]

1914 List Regiment (Oct 11 - 20):

Infantry Recruit Adolf Hitler's 1st Company, 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry, are sent by train to the Western Front. The company is in high spirits, singing songs and carrying on as if it were all a grand party. By dawn they are traveling alongside the Rhine and soon catch sight of the giant statue of Germania at Niederwald. The recruits again burst into song, Die Wacht am Rhein. [For further details, Click here.]

Adolf Hitler:

I saw the Rhine for the first time in 1914, when I was on my way to the Western Front. The feelings which the sight of this historic stream inspired in me remain forever graven on my heart. The kindness and spontaneity of the Rhinelanders also made a profound impression on me; everywhere they received us and fêted us in a most touching manner.

The reality of the situation for these young recruits is, however, no cause for celebration. The hastily-trained company is led by reserve officers, as the regimental commander has been inactive for many years. They have only a few machine guns, and their telephone equipment is obsolete, having originally been produced--some years previous--for the British army by a firm in Nuremberg.

Even worse, they have no proper iron helmets, but only oilcloth caps (Landsturmmuetzen) of the very same design as those worn during the 1812 wars of liberation. The enthusiastic recruits take none of this into account, however, as they all expect that the war will be over in a few weeks, and that they will all be home by New Years.

1915 Various:

List Regiment (Oct 4, 1915 - Feb 29, 1916): Gefreiter Adolf Hitler's regiment serves with 16 Reserve Infantry Regiment at Fromelles. [For further details, Click here.]


Siegmund von Sebotendorff dies in Wiesbaden. His funeral is attended by Rudolf von Sebottendorff and his wife. (THP)

1916 World War I: Various:

List Regiment (Oct 9 - Dec 3):

Hitler, who had been fighting almost continuously for two years, finds himself on a hospital train headed for a Red Cross hospital in Beelitz, near Berlin. While his wound is serious, he will recover quickly, and will later write Balthaser Brandmayer: "Am suffering from hunger-induced typhus because I cannot eat bread; additionally I am adamantly denied any sort of jam." [For further details, Click here.]

Lee Smith, in a speech in the British House of Commons:

Security can only be obtained by a scheme by which the nations of Europe and outside agree together that all will guarantee each and each will guarantee all. The purposes of the war will be achieved if there is a League of Nations with an absolute and decisive veto upon any mere aggression, and consideration of any legitimate claims which any of the countries engaged in the War may be able to make good. Go back to the old Liberal tradition and trust yourself boldly to those decent, kindly, humane forces to be found in every man and every nation.

From Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916) by Vladimir Lenin:

Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capitalism is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.

1917 World War I: The first US troops—members of the First Division of the US Army training in Luneville, France, enter the front lines at Sommervillier under French command. They become the first Americans to see action on the front lines of World War I.

List Regiment (October 17-29):

Dispatch Runner Gefreiter Adolf Hitler rejoins his old regiment, now holding down a series of trenches in front of Laon near the Chemin des Dames. While there is "no danger of being taken by surprise, for the canal lay as a natural obstacle between the lines of trenches". But it is still necessary to "build a robust line [since] the highly desired town of Laon lay to our rear . . . . In the first few weeks, we often suffered strong enemy fire. This eased significantly however, in weight as in violence, in December so that one may speak of enjoying Christmas in a quiet sector. [For further details, Click here.]

1918 World War I: Various:

Germany ceases unrestricted submarine warfare: On this day in 1918, a German U-boat submarine fires the last torpedo of World War I, as Germany ceases its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. [For further details, Click here]

Adolf Hitler (Oct 15 - Nov 10):

Gefreiter Adolf Hitler, blinded in a gas attack near Werwick on Oct 14, recovers in the Prussian Reserve Hospital at Pasewalk near Berlin. The doctors at this army hospital, on the cutting edge of medical treatments for gassed soldiers, provide Hitler with very good care, and his sight slowly and painfully begins to return to him over these few weeks. Hitler falls into a deep depression. After over four years on the front lines, his fighting days are over. In four years of war, the List Regiment has lost 3,754 dead, 8,795 wounded, with 678 taken prisoner. This is somewhat above the average for the German Armed Forces as a whole. [For further details, Click here.]

The 'Spanish flu' epidemic starts in Britain, eventually killing approximately twice as many as had died in World War I.

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.

In the fall of 1918 the Great War in Europe was winding down and peace was on the horizon. The Americans had joined in the fight, bringing the Allies closer to victory against the Germans. Deep within the trenches these men lived through some of the most brutal conditions of life, which it seemed could not be any worse. Then, in pockets across the globe, something erupted that seemed as benign as the common cold. The influenza of that season, however, was far more than a cold. In the two years that this scourge ravaged the earth, a fifth of the world's population was infected. The flu was most deadly for people ages 20 to 40. This pattern of morbidity was unusual for influenza which is usually a killer of the elderly and young children. It infected 28% of all Americans (Tice). An estimated 675,000 Americans died of influenza during the pandemic, ten times as many as in the world war. Of the U.S. soldiers who died in Europe, half of them fell to the influenza virus and not to the enemy (Deseret News). An estimated 43,000 servicemen mobilized for WWI died of influenza (Crosby). 1918 would go down as unforgettable year of suffering and death and yet of peace. [For further details, Click here.]

1921 Harding publicly condemns lynching:

On this day in 1921, President Warren G. Harding delivers a speech in Alabama in which he condemns lynchings: illegal hangings committed primarily by white supremacists against African Americans in the Deep South. (History.com)

1923 Weimar: Communists take over the States of Saxony and Thuringia and plan to take over the entire country from these bases.

1933 Hitler's Germany withdraws from the League of Nations.

1936 Holocaust:

Julius Streicher initiates a new anti-Jewish campaign with an exhibition entitled "World Enemy Number One: Jewish Bolshevism.

1937 Spanish Civil War:

Franco's troops capture Gijon, securing their control of northwest Spain.

1939 World War II: Various:

Britain: As war heats up with Germany, the British war cabinet holds its first meeting in the underground war room in London.

Poland: Germans deport Poles from Poznan, largest city of western Poland (250,000 people), in establishing "pure and Germanic provinces." (THP)

Euthanasia: The first "euthanasia" questionnaires are distributed to mental hospitals. They are completed, in their capacity as "experts," by Professors Heyde, Mauz, Nitsche, Panse, Pohlisch, Reisch, C. Schneider, Villinger, and Zucker, all of whom are professors of psychiatry, and thirty-nine other doctors of medicine. Their payment is 5 pfennigs per questionnaire when more than 3,500 are processed per month, and up to 10 pfennigs when there are less than 500. A cross signifies death. There are 283,000 questionnaires to be processed. These experts mark at least 75,000 with a cross. (THP)

1940 World War II:

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill taunts Adolf Hitler in a radio broadcast: "We are waiting for the long-promised invasion. . . .so are the fishes.

1941 World War II: Various:

Barbarossa: Zhukov moves from the successful defense of Leningrad to take command of Moscow's defenses. (Clark II)

France: A copy of the notice in the newspaper Le Phare:

Notice. Cowardly criminals in the pay of England and of Moscow killed, with shots in the back, the Feldkommandant of Nantes on the morning of 20 October 1941. Up to now the assassins have not been arrested. As expiation for this crime I have ordered that 50 hostages be shot to begin with. Because of the gravity of the crime, 50 more hostages will be shot in case the guilty should not be arrested between now and 23 October 1941 by midnight. Note: After the attack on two German officers at Nantes on 20 October 1941 and in Bordeaux a few days later, the German Army decided to make an example.

Barbarossa: In the Ukraine, German forces capture Stalino in the industrial Donets Basin.

Germans massacre men, women, and children in Yugoslavia

On this day in 1941, German soldiers go on a rampage, killing thousands of Yugoslavian civilians, including whole classes of schoolboys.

Despite attempts to maintain neutrality at the outbreak of World War II, Yugoslavia finally succumbed to signing a "friendship treaty" with Germany in late 1940, finally joining the Tripartite "Axis" Pact in March 1941. The masses of Yugoslavians protested this alliance, and shortly thereafter the regents who had been trying to hold a fragile confederacy of ethnic groups and regions together since the creation of Yugoslavia at the close of World War I fell to a coup, and the Serb army placed Prince Peter into power. The prince-now the king--rejected the alliance with Germany-and the Germans retaliated with the Luftwaffe bombing of Belgrade, killing about 17,000 people.

With Yugoslavian resistance collapsing, King Peter removed to London, setting up a government-in-exile. Hitler then began to carve up Yugoslavia into puppet states, primarily divided along ethnic lines, hoping to win the loyalty of some-such as the Croats-with the promise of a postwar independent state. (In fact, many Croats did fight alongside the Germans in its battle against the Soviet Union.) Hungary, Bulgaria, and Italy all took bites out of Yugoslavia, as Serb resisters were regularly massacred. On October 21, in Kragujevac, 2,300 men and boys were murdered; Kraljevo saw 7,000 more killed by German troops, and in the region of Macva, 6,000 men, women, and children were murdered.

Serb partisans, fighting under the leadership of the socialist Josef "Tito" Brozovich, won support from Britain and aid from the USSR in their battle against the occupiers. "The people just do not recognize authority . . . they follow the Communist bandits blindly," complained one German official reporting back to Berlin. (History.com)

From the Duty Book of Captain Shigeshi Uchida:

The NGS's orders and directives to be sent out prior to the outbreak of war were discussed and decided. They were all drafted by me. It is expected that we are going to war on 8 December. The operational plan of this coming war was completed. (Dillon)

[See: Countdown to Infamy: Timeline to Pearl Harbor.]

From the Diary of Rear Admiral Giichi Nakahara:

INTERNAL CONDITIONS OF THE HOMELAND (REPORTED BY ITO) The Navy is now left behind and the general situation is that the tables were turned to our disadvantage. The Navy has to stand firm. MEETING OF THE CHIEFS OF THE BUREAUS AND DEPARTMENTS: Political Affairs—about the National policy that was decided on 3 September. Now the diplomatic relations with the United States are not turning out favorably to us or showing any sign of hope. On the other hand, there is an operational disadvantage. Here opinions disagree. Army 2,1000,000 + Navy 1,800,000 = 3,900,000—hypothesis is simply to employ them sometime during November. Preparation has begun concerning the employment of "Second to Finish." (Dillon)

1942 World War II: Eight American and British officers land from a submarine on an Algerian beach to take the measure of the Vichy French to the Operation Torch landings.

[See: Why Did the US Join the Fight Against Hitler?]

1944 World War II: The US First Army captures Aachen, the first major German city to fall to the Allies. Several more days are required to flush the last, steadfast German defenders out of hiding.

[See: Wunderwaffen: Hitler's Deception and the History of Rocketry.]

1959 Von Braun moves to NASA

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order transferring the brilliant rocket designer Wernher von Braun and his team from the U.S. Army to the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Von Braun, the mastermind of the U.S. space program, had developed the lethal V-2 rocket for Nazi Germany during World War II.

Wernher von Braun was born into an aristocratic German family in 1912. He became fascinated with rocketry and the possibility of space travel after reading Hermann Oberth's The Rocket into Interplanetary Space (1923) when he was in his early teens. He studied mechanical engineering and physics in Berlin and in his free time assisted Oberth in his tests of liquid-fueled rockets. In 1932, Von Braun's rocket work attracted the attention of the German army, and he was given a grant to continue his work. He was eventually hired to lead the army's rocket artillery unit, and by 1937 he was the technical director of a large development facility located at Peenemuende on the Baltic Sea.

Von Braun's rocket tests impressed the Nazi leadership, who provided generous funding to the program. The most sophisticated rockets produced at Peenemünde were the long-range ballistic missile A-4 and the anti-aircraft missile Wasserfall. The A-4 was years ahead of rockets being produced in other nations at the time. It traveled at 3,600 mph, was capable of delivering a warhead a distance of more than 200 miles, and was the first rocket to enter the fringes of space. In 1944, the Nazis changed the name of A-4 to V-2 and began launching the rockets against London and Antwerp. The V stood for Vergeltung-the German word for "vengeance"-and was an expression of Nazi vindictiveness over the Allied bombardment of Germany. The V-2s took many lives but came too late to influence the outcome of the war.

Von Braun and 400 members of his team fled before the advancing Russians in 1945 and surrendered to the Americans. U.S. troops quickly seized more than 300 train-car loads of spare V-2 parts, and the German scientists were taken to the United States, eventually settling at Fort Bliss, Texas, where they resumed their rocketry work. At first, they were closely supervised because of their former allegiance to Nazi Germany, but it soon became apparent that they had fully shifted their loyalty to America and the great scientific opportunities it provided for them.

In 1950, von Braun and his team, which now included Americans, were transferred to Huntsville, Alabama, to head the U.S. Army ballistic-weapons program. During the 1950s, von Braun enthusiastically promoted the possibilities of space flight in books and magazines. In 1955, he became a U.S. citizen.

The USSR successfully launched Sputnik-the world's first artificial satellite-in October 1957, but von Braun's team was not far behind with its launching of the first American satellite-Explorer 1-in January 1958. In July of that year, President Eisenhower signed legislation establishing NASA, and on October 21 von Braun was formally transferred to the new agency. Von Braun, however, did not really go anywhere; NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center was built around von Braun's headquarters in Huntsville. In 1960, he was named the Marshall Center's first director.

At Huntsville, von Braun oversaw construction of the large Saturn launch vehicles that kept the United States abreast of Soviet space achievements in the early and mid 1960s. In the late 1960s, von Braun's genius came to the fore in the space race, and the Soviets failed in their efforts to build intricate booster rockets of the type that put the first U.S. astronauts into a lunar orbit in 1968. Von Braun's Saturn rockets eventually took 27 Americans to the moon, 12 who walked on the lunar surface. Von Braun retired from NASA in 1972 and died five years later. (History.com)

1969 Willy Brandt is elected Chancellor of West Germany, at the head of a Social Democrat-FDP coalition.

Edited by Levi Bookin (Copy editor)

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