This Day in History – May 27th – Hijinx, Humor, and Insight

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NewsWhistle is pleased to feature Gary Jenneke’s “This Day In History” column.

You can read the original at Gary’s THIS DAY IN HISTORY blog — or scroll down to enjoy Gary’s unique look at life’s comings and goings.

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THIS DAY IN HISTORY… MAY 27

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1907 – Bubonic Plague discovered in San Francisco.

This was the 2nd outbreak of the disease and was contained more efficiently than the deadly 1900-02 outbreak. That one, centered in Chinatown, spread because of the denial of California Governor Henry Gage. He refused to listen to the advice of one of the nation’s leading epidemiologists, Dr. Joseph Kinyoun, because of what it might do to the state’s economy. In an address to the California legislature Gage attacked Kinyoun and said “Plague fakers” were casting a shadow on California. Besides the plague deniers, there was also the thought that if it did exist, it affected only a vulnerable population, the Chinese, so it did not justify a radical reaction such as a quarantine. The situation was finally addressed when other states threatened to stop doing business with California. The second outbreak in 1907 was dealt with quickly, based on what was learned from the first. Also most of the victims of the second one were white.

Any of this sound familiar? I wonder if they called the first outbreak the “Chinese Plague”?

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1940 – Le Paradis Massacre.

1940 – Beginning of Dunkirk evacuation.

In a massive and miraculous boat lift, 338,000 British and French troops were evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk, France and brought to England. What isn’t as well known is that some had to stay behind, fighting a rear guard action to protect those on the beaches. The Royal Norfolk Regiment was battling a fanatical SS regiment. Ninety-nine “Norfolks” became separated from their regiment in the fighting. The British soldiers ran out of ammunition and were forced to surrender. German SS officer Fritz Knoechlein had them lined up against a barn, set up two machine guns and the massacre commenced. Two British soldiers, playing dead, survived. They were first cared for by a French couple, then captured by the regular Germany army, the Wehrmacht, and became POWs. One was badly injured and the Germans returned him to the English. The other spent five years in POW camps and survived to the end of the war and testified in the trial of Fritz Knoechlein who was executed for his crime in 1949.

Dunkirk has always been heralded as a miracle that helped save England. But I’ve often wondered about those luckless few who were left behind to protect the masses who escaped. That was one tough short straw they drew.

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1942 – Assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich.

Heydrich was a ruthless top Nazi official who helped script the Final Solution. His nickname was “The Butcher,” and his goal was to exterminate all Jews in Nazi occupied territories. He was stationed in Prague, Czechoslovakia when the assassination attempt, named Operation Anthropoid, was launched. A handful of Czech resistance fighters were airlifted from London and parachuted into their home country. Heydrich was riding in a car with an open roof in Prague when the attack took place. A bomb was thrown, missing going into the open car, but still severely wounding Heydrich. Nevertheless, he chased after his attackers but they escaped. A massive manhunt and reprisals followed. Hitler was enraged and ordered 10,000 Czechs to be executed. He was talked down from that number but the retaliation was still severe with whole villages being wiped out. Heydrich lived until June 4th when he succumbed to his wounds. All the attackers were tracked down and died, either shot or by their own hand. 13,000 Czechs were jailed and over 5,000 murdered as a result of this attack.

The harsh reprisal tactic apparently worked for this was the only assassination attempt by the Allies on a Nazi official during the war.

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Birthdays:

1902 – Celius Dougherty.

Pianist and composer. Born in Glenwood, Minnesota, Dougherty went to the University of Minnesota to study music, won a Schubert Prize for piano competition, and used the scholarship money to attend Juilliard School. He lived in New York City for fifty years and in that time composed over 200 songs. He also toured as an accompanist to a number of singers including Marian Anderson. (That alone is impressive.) In the early 1930s he was part of an artist colony that included such names as Thornton Wilder and Edward G. Robinson. He continued to compose songs until the 1960s when he retired. Dougherty passed away in 1986.

Not bad for a kid from a small town in Minnesota. One reason I included in today’s post is I spent six years of my childhood in that same small town. I can’t say that I remember any Dougherty’s though.

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1923 – Henry Kissinger.

Politician. This is from Wikipedia.org: “Kissinger remains a controversial and polarizing figure in American politics, both condemned as an alleged war criminal by many journalists, political activists, and human rights lawyers, as well as venerated as a highly effective U.S. Secretary of State by many prominent international relations scholars.”

That pretty much says it all.

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1907 – Rachel Carson – Silent Spring

1912 – John Cheever – 1979 Pulitzer Prize

1915 – Herman Wouk – 1951 Pulitzer Prize

1925 – Tony Hillerman – Navajo mystery novels

1930 – John Barth – The Floating Opera

Writers.

May 27th was a good day for writers to be born. I’ve read at least one book by all of them. While all are talented and have interesting aspects of their writing, the books I found the most enjoyable were the novels of Herman Wouk.

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ABOUT GARY JENNEKE

At various junctures of his life, Gary has been an indifferent grade school student, poor high school student, good Navy radioman, one-time hippie, passable college student, inveterate traveler, dedicated writer, miscast accountant (except for one interesting stint at a Communist café), part-time screenwriting teacher, semi-proud veteran, unsuccessful retiree and new blogger.

You can reach him at gary@newswhistle.com.

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CREDITS

The above information was sourced from the following sites and newspapers.

Sources:

OnThisDay.com

Private-Prague-Guide.com

SFGate.com

LeParadisMassacre.com

Wikipedia.org

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We’d also like to thank the following photographers and videographers for the use of their images:

* Lead-In Image (sunset art)  – Everett Historical / Shutterstock.com – “Military evacuation of Dunkirk during World War 2. Thousands of British and French troops wait on the dunes of Dunkirk beach for transport to England. May 26-June 4, 1940.”

dunkirk evacuation - shutterstock - first

* Celius Dougherty (video) – Eastman Community Music School / YouTube.com

* Henry Kissinger (video) – CBS / YouTube.com

* Outro (Man-In-Museum Cartoon) – SkyPics Studio / Shutterstock.com

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OTHER DAYS IN HISTORY …

December 2

December 3

December 5

December 8

* December 9

December 11

December 12

* December 13

* December 15

December 16

December 18

* December 19

December 22

December 23

December 24

December 25

December 28

January 1

January 3

* January 4

January 6

January 7

January 8

January 11

* January 12

* January 14

January 15

January 17

January 19

January 22

January 23

January 24

January 28

January 29

February 1

February 2

February 3

February 5

* February 9

February 10

* February 12

February 14

February 15

February 20

February 21

February 22

February 25

February 28

February 29

March 2

March 4

March 6

* March 9

March 11

March 12

March 14

March 15

March 17

March 19

March 21

March 22

March 23

March 27

March 28

March 29

April 2

April 3

April 4

April 6

April 9

* April 11

April 13

April 16

April 18

April 21

April 22

April 23

April 26

April 28

April 29

May 1

May 2

* May 3

May 5

May 6

May 9

May 10

May 11

* May 13

May 16

May 17

* May 22

May 24

* May 26

May 29

June 1

June 3

June 8

June 10

June 13

June 17

June 18

June 21

June 24

June 28

June 29

July 2

July 3

* July 9

July 13

July 15

July 19

July 23

July 25

July 30

July 31

* August 3

August 7

August 10

August 11

August 16

August 17

August 21

August 24

August 25

* August 28

August 31

September 2

September 5

September 6

September 8

September 11

September 12

September 15

September 16 

September 17

September 21

September 23

September 25

September 26

September 27

September 30

October 1

October 3

October 4

October 5

October 7

October 10

October 11

* October 12

October 14

October 15

October 16

October 18

October 20

October 24

October 25

October 26

October 27

October 30

October 31

November 1

November 3

* November 4

November 5

November 6

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11

November 13

November 14

November 15

November 16

* November 17

November 18

* November 19

November 20

November 23

November 24

November 26

November 28

November 29

November 30

* Stay tuned for more!

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