Today many are asking why Parisians have been attacked in their own city, and by their own people. But for many years the question for those following the issues of foreign policy and religion was why France had suffered so little terrorism in comparison to other European states.
In order to celebrate Trivia Day, we have put together a quiz with questions chosen at random from Very Short Introductions online. This is the perfect quiz for those who know a little about a lot. The topics range from Geopolitics to Happiness, and from French Literature to Mathematics. Do you have what it takes to take on this very short trivia quiz and become a trivia master? Take the quiz to find out.
Each year on 16 December, in the little Belgian town of Bastogne, a celebrity arrives to throw bags of nuts at the townsfolk. This year, it will be Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde who observe the tradition. It dates from Christmas 1944, when attacking Germans overwhelmed and surrounded the small town and demanded that the US forces defending Bastogne to surrender.
By December 1914 the Great War had been raging for nearly five months. If anyone had really believed that it would be ‘all over by Christmas’ then it was clear that they had been cruelly mistaken. Soldiers in the trenches had gained a grudging respect for their opposite numbers, after all, they had managed to fight each other to a standstill.
As voting on the Place of the Year shortlist continues, we’d like to spotlight a second contender in the race – Scotland. Scotland drew the world’s attention this year as a referendum was held for the country’s independence in September 2014.
Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember those who have died in the line of duty. It is observed by a two-minute silence on the ’11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month’, in accordance with the armistice signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente on 11 November, 1918. The First World War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.
The years 2013 and 2014 mark the tercentenary of the peace settlement that put an end to one of the major and most devastating wars in early-modern European history, the War of the Spanish Succession (1700–1713/1714). The war erupted after the death without issue of the last Habsburg king of Spain, Charles II (1665–1700). Charles’s death triggered a violent conflagration of the European diplomatic system, which the major rulers of Europe had anticipated with dread but had proven incapable of averting.
The construction or recertification of a nuclear power plant often draws considerable attention from activists concerned about safety. However, nuclear powered US Navy (USN) ships routinely dock in the most heavily populated areas without creating any controversy at all. How has the USN managed to maintain such an impressive safety record? The USN is not alone, many organizations, such as nuclear public utilities, confront the need to maintain perfect reliability or face catastrophe.
On 9 November 1989, at midnight, the East German government opened its borders to West Germany for the first time in almost thirty years: a city divided, families and friends separated for a generation, reunited again. For much of its existence, attempting to cross the wall meant almost certain death, and around 80 East Germans were killed in the attempt, shot down by the border guards as they tried to make their escape. With this announcement, however, the gates were thrown open.
For 40 years, Germans living behind the Iron Curtain in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) had first-hand experience of a big state, with full near-full employment and heavily subsidized rent and basic necessities. Then, when the Berlin Wall fell, and East Germany was effectively taken over by West Germany in the reunification process, they were plunged into a new capitalist reality.
The collapse of the Berlin Wall twenty-five years ago this month prompted a diverse range of musical responses. While Mstislav Rostropovich celebrated the momentous event by giving a very personal, impromptu performance of Bach’s Cello Suites in front of the Wall two days after it had been breached, David Hasselhoff regaled Berliners from atop of what remained of the Wall on New Year’s Eve of 1989 with a glitter-studded rendition of his chart hit “Looking for Freedom.”
I emerged after a long day in the soundproofed cabins at the back of the reading room in the onetime Institute of Marxism-Leninism, which pieces of black sticky tape now proclaimed as the ‘Institute of the Labour Movement’. It was spring 1990 and I was in East Berlin, as one of the first western researchers into the German Democratic Republic.
Time passes quickly. As we track the progression of events hundred years ago on the Western Front, the dramas flash by. In the time it takes to answer an e-mail the anniversary of another battle has come and gone.
This season marks the silver anniversary of the wildfire revolutions that swept across Eastern Europe in the summer and autumn of 1989. The upheavals led to the liberation of Eastern Europe from Soviet control, the Reunification of Germany and the demise of the Soviet Union itself two years later. Its dizzying speed and domino effect caught everyone by surprise, be it the confused communist elites, veteran Kremlinologists and even the participants themselves.
In December 2013, Turkish authorities arrested the sons of several prominent cabinet ministers on bribery, embezzlement and smuggling charges. Investigators claimed that the men were contributing members in a conspiracy to illicitly trade Turkish gold for Iranian oil gas (an act which, among other things, violates the spirit of United Nations’ sanctions targeting Tehran). The scheme purportedly netted a vast fortune in proceeds in the form of dividends and bribes.
One hundred years ago today, far from the erupting battlefields of Europe, a small German force in the city of Tsingtau (Qingdao), Germany’s most important possession in China, was preparing for an impending siege. The small fishing village of Qingdao and the surrounding area had been reluctantly leased to the German Empire by the Chinese government for 99 years in 1898, and German colonists soon set about transforming this minor outpost into a vibrant city boasting many of the comforts of home, including the forerunner of the now-famous Tsingtao Brewery.