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Berlin Airlift begins

This Day in World History
On 26 June 1948, after three months of Communist rulers blocking the delivery of supplies to the American, British, and French zones of West Berlin, the western powers struck back with a bold response. American and British planes stepped up their process of flying supplies to West Berlin to an around the clock operation and the Berlin Airlift was on.

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Pablo Picasso gives first exhibition outside Spain

This Day in World History
On 24 June 1901, two Spanish artists joined in an exhibition of their works at the Paris gallery of Ambroise Vollard. One of these artists was Francisco Iturrino, who had lived off and on in Paris since 1895 and whom Vollard had mentored. The other was a not-yet-20-year-old named Pablo Picasso, who had been befriended by Iturrino and the gallery owner.

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Napoleon defeated at the Battle of Waterloo

This Day in World History
In a day-long battle near Brussels, Belgium, a coalition of British, Dutch, Belgian, and German forces defeated the French army led by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo led to his second and final fall from power, and ended more than two decades of wars across Europe that had begun with the French Revolution.

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The Last Public Execution in France

By Paul Friedland
73 years ago today, Eugène Weidmann became the last person to be executed before a crowd of spectators in France, marking the end of a tradition of public punishment that had existed for a thousand years. Weidmann had been convicted of having murdered, among others, a young American socialite whom he had lured to a deserted villa on the outskirts of Paris. Throughout his trial, pictures of the handsome “Teutonic Vampire” had been splashed across the pages of French tabloids, playing upon the fear of all things German in that tense summer of 1939. When it came time for Weidmann to face the guillotine, in the early morning hours of 17 June, several hundred spectators had gathered, eager to watch him die.

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Norway gives women partial suffrage

This Day in World History
On 14 June 1907, Norway’s Storting (Stortinget) demonstrated the difficulty faced by women’s suffrage advocates around the world. On the one hand, the national legislature approved a bill that would allow some of Norway’s women to vote for lawmakers and even to win seats in the Storting. On the other hand, the male lawmakers limited voting rights to women who had the right to vote in municipal elections.

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Boris Yeltsin elected Russia’s first President

This Day in World History
On 13 June 1991, millions of Russians went to the polls for the first time in an open election to choose a president. Emerging as winner was 60-year-old Boris Yeltsin, a maverick with a reputation for alcohol abuse who had for some time advocated political and economic reforms.

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Graduates of the Cold War

by Donald Raleigh
Until recently, my office on the fourth floor of Hamilton Hall at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, was the only one along the corridor not occupied by someone affiliated with Carolina’s distinguished Southern Oral History Program (SOHP). I must have walked past promotional posters and announcements about SOHP activities thousands of times over the preceding decade during which I researched and wrote a book on the Russian Civil War in Saratov province, a project for which I spent each summer sifting through voluminous archival collections in the Volga city.

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Crusaders begin the Siege of Jerusalem

This Day in World History
On 7 June 1099, some 13,000 Christian Crusaders reached the outskirts of Jerusalem. They were poised on realizing the key goal of the First Crusade — capture of the holy city.

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What news from Rome?

Nobody ever planned to create a state that would last more than a millennium and a half, yet Rome was able, in the end, to survive barbarian migrations, economic collapse, and even the conflicts between religions that had grown up within its borders. Today we have an image and myth of the indestructible empire. But this view is shifting as new research reveals small details about the life of Romans — emperor to slave — and how the empire survived. We sat down with Greg Woolf, author of Rome: An Empire’s Story, to discuss the enduring appeal of Ancient Rome and the latest breakthroughs in scholarship.

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Picturing Putin’s Russia

By Mark D. Steinberg
Winston Churchill famously called Russia “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”—a phrase that makes me cringe when it shows up in contemporary journalism or student papers. Part of the problem is that we forget Churchill’s point: there IS a key, “Russian national interest.” We are left with a dismissive cliché about Russia as strange and incomprehensible—and thus probably dangerous. Yet this may be less harmful than clichés about how Russians love a strong ruler; Russians have no historical experience with democracy so cannot understand it; Russia will always be alien to “western” values. Frankly, if we want to understand Russia, we may be better off finding Russia mysterious—knowing that there are no easy answers or certainties.

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In Memoriam: Paul Fussell

Scholar Paul Fussell passed away on Wednesday at the age of 88. He was Donald T. Regan Professor Emeritus of English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of several works, including three with Oxford University Press: The Great War and Modern Memory, Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War, and Abroad: British Literary Traveling between the Wars. Named one of the twentieth century’s 100 Best Non-Fiction Books by the Modern Library, The Great War and Modern Memory was the winner of the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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How did Rome last so long?

By Greg Woolf
Edward Gibbon, the English historian dedicated to the study of the Roman Empire, chose to entitle his seminal masterpiece The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire because for him, as for others at the end of the eighteenth century, it was decline and fall that was the real puzzle. Yet our question today is not ‘why did it fall?’ but ‘why did it last so long?’

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Constantine dedicates Constantinople

This Day in World History
Six years before, the emperor had ordered the building of a vast new city. On May 11, 330, construction was sufficiently complete for that city to be dedicated. The Emperor Constantine took part in a solemn mass at St. Eirene, his newly built church, that dedicated the new city to the Virgin Mary. He issued an edict that declared the city New Rome, or the Second Rome, capital of the empire. Within a hundred years, though, the city came to be known by another name — Constantinople.

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Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony premieres

This Day in World History
Back to the audience, facing the orchestra, the composer steadily marked the tempo with his hands. He was not conducting, though — he was deaf. Thus it was that, when the orchestra and chorus finished, he could not hear the applause and cheers of the Vienna audience. When a musician turned him around so he could see the joy on listeners’ faces, Ludwig von Beethoven bowed in gratitude — and wept.

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The Sack of Rome

This Day in World History
On May 6, 1527, a mass of German Lutheran and Spanish Catholic troops—unlikely allies—reached Rome angry at being unpaid for months and resentful of the riches of the papacy. As the soldiers—by now a rampaging mob—entered the Vatican, Pope Clement VII was saying a mass in the Sistine Chapel. With Swiss Guards being slaughtered in St. Peter’s Square, the pope was hustled away to safety in the stout Castel Sant’Angelo. And the sack of Rome was on.

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Derrida and Europe beyond Eurocentrism and Anti-Eurocentrism

By Simon Glendinning
Two months before his death in October 2004, Jacques Derrida gave an interview to the French newspaper Le Monde which turned out to be his last. Although he refused to treat it as an occasion in which to give what he called “a health bulletin,” he acknowledged that he was seriously ill, and the discussion is overshadowed by that fact: there is a strong sense of someone taking stock, someone taking the chance to give a final word.

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