Matt Hefler Presents: On This Day December 19, 1984

On this day (December 19th) in 1984: British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher signs historic Sino-British Joint Declaration with Chinese Premier  Zhao Ziyang. The agreement outlined the manner in which Britain would hand over control of the island of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China in 1997. See full treaty along with others as recorded by the UN here.

Following the deadly crackdown known as the “Tiananmen Square massacre”, Sino-British relations grew strained. The British government took a number of actions designed to protect Hong Kong, including granting 50,000 British passports to Hong Kong residents. Nevertheless control was transferred in 1997.

Hong Kong is again in the headlines after months of protests by democratic activists. The Chinese Communist Party has instituted a number of measures to consolidate its control over the former British colony. A controversial new security law targets what Beijing considers “subversion” or “collusion with foreign forces” and is raising serious concerns amongst human rights observers.

The UK government declared the new law to be a “’clear and serious’ violation” of the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984. In response, the Government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson extended the rights open to visit or remain in Britain to nearly three million residents of Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the Chinese Government declared that the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 was “a historical document that no longer had any practical significance.”

Matt Hefler Presents: On This Day November 25, 1981

The Scarman report attributes serious riots in Brixton that occurred the previous April to significant economic and social problems within Britain’s denser urban centres. Although the report lamented disadvantages inherent in being a person of colour in Britain at this time, Lord Scarman’s inquiry also noted that there was no excuse for violence and praised the response of authorities overall in managing the disturbances. The BBC examined the Scarman report here. Youtube has more here:

Matt Hefler Presents: On This Day November 24, 1989

On this day (November 24th) in 1989: All the leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia resign in anticipation of democratic reforms. Following the resignations, a Federal Assembly abolishes the Communists’ constitutionally-dictated hold on power. Next month Alexander Dubcek is elected chairman while Vaclav Havel becomes the president, a development considered to have concluded the “Velvet Revolution.” Havel died in 2011 and the Czech airport at Prague was renamed in his honour in 2012. PBS discussed the weight of Havel’s legacy here.

Matt Hefler Presents: On This Day November 23, 1923

On this day (November 23rd) in 1923: A coalition government with Gustav Stresemann as Chancellor collapses in Berlin with the exit of the Social Democrats. The centrist Wilhelm Marx is appointed Chancellor while Stresemann moves to Foreign Minister. In this position, Stresemann would preside over some of the most functional years of the German Weimar Republic. Stresemann is known in particular for being instrumental in the reconciliation between Germany and France, for which both he and French Prime Minister Aristide Briand were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926. Learn more about this period in this video here:

Matt Hefler Presents: On This Day November 22, 1963

On this day (November 22nd) in 1963: Could there ever be any doubt? On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated by a gunman in Dallas, Texas. The president was riding with his wife Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally’s partner Nellie when he was shot by a former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald. Though Kennedy had not yet announced that he was running for re-election, the trip came as a series of pseudo-electoral visits throughout key states. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president of the United States. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president of the United States. There remain questions around the momentous assassination:

Matt Hefler Presents: On This Day November 21, 1940

On this day (November 21st) in 1940: A German bomber attacks the area around Bletchley Park, home of the main operations of the British Government Code & Cipher School (GC&CS). The GC&CS was the UK Signals Intelligence Agency, the forerunner of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the organizations credited with cracking the German ENIGMA enciphering system. Though facilities at Bletchley Park were damaged, it seems clear the Germans had little idea of the significance of the target. Learn more about Bletchley Park here:

Matt Hefler Presents: On This Day November 20, 1945

On this day (November 20th) in 1945: The Nuremberg Trials, the International Military Tribunal established to prosecute top Nazi war criminals, begin in Germany. The trials prosecuted highly-prominent members of the political, judicial and economic leadership of Nazi Germany, including Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe Hermann Göring, many of whom were directly involved in Holocaust. Along with the other ad hoc tribunals established by the victorious allies following the Second World War, the trials were a watershed moment in the development of international law and the laws of war. Judges from the Big Three countries who had won the war, the United States of America, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the United Kingdom, as well as France, presided over the proceedings. Check out more on the trials here:

Matt Hefler Presents: On This Day November 19, 1977

Egyptian president Anwar Sadat makes an historic visit to Israel, the first such trip taken by an Arab leader to the Jewish state. The visit had clear indications for the establishment of regularized relations between the two countries and was world news. The Israeli Knesset commemorated the trip 40 years later, and the important peace deal to which it led. Listen to more commentary on the visit below:

Matt Hefler Presents: On This Day November 18, 1960

On this day (November 18th) in 1960: President George W. Bush visits the United Kingdom. The BBC reported that the first full state visit by an American president was accompanied by some of the tightest security that London had ever experienced. Part of the reason for the controversy of the visit stemmed from the War in Iraq; the polarizing conflict had resulted in the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein just six months before. The American president was treated to all the trappings of a state visit including a meal with HM Queen Elizabeth II

Matt Hefler Presents: On This Day November 13, 1941

German submarine U-81 attacks and sinks the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal in the Mediterranean Sea, 150 miles off Gibraltar. Attack resulted in 1 death with 1,487 survivors. The escort of destroyers returned fire with 130 depth charges, but U-81 escaped. U-Boats were a constant threat to shipping and naval forces throughout the Second World War.