Monday, November 10, 2014

Breaking free

Bare-faced cheek!... or something of the sort! The plebiscite in Catalunya has delivered a result that we correctly kilted Scots could only have dreamed of.

Will there come a day when the borders of an independent Spanish province will be marked by the release of balloons, as was the case in Berlin yesterday evening? It was a very moving celebration indeed.

What is it about November? Is it a month especially propitious for geopolitical lurches, for events which literally merit entries in the history books? Looking for answers I found that there was one November episode which seems to have been deemed only worth a footnote… the Universal Declaration of Independence proclaimed by Ian Smith in the country then called Rhodesia. UDI took the form of a statement adopted by the country’s cabinet on the 11th of November 1965, announcing that Rhodesia, a British territory in southern Africa that had governed itself since 1923, now regarded itself as an independent sovereign state. I well remember at the time that this impertinence was far from well received in the international corridors of power.

I guess it was easier for a country in faraway Africa. It is not an option for Scotland or Catalunya, I suppose. But then what happened earlier in the year in the Crimea? On this very day in 1942, following the British victory at El Alamein in North Africa during World War II, Winston Churchill stated, "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning".

It is in 2014 surely not the end of independence movents. And presumably future Novembers will also see their share of historical moments.
  • November 1, 1993 - The European Union came into existence as a result of the Maastricht Treaty.
  • November 4, 1890 - The first electrified underground railway system was officially opened in London.
  • November 4, 1942 - During World War II, British troops led by Bernard Montgomery defeated the Germans under Erwin Rommel at El Alamein after a twelve-day battle.
  • November 5th - Remembered as Guy Fawkes Day in Britain, for the anniversary of the failed Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I in 1605
  • November 6, 1917 - During World War I, the Third Battle of Ypres concluded after five months as Canadian and Australian troops took Passchendaele. Their advance, measuring five miles, cost at least 240,000 soldiers.
  • November 7, 1917 - Russian Bolsheviks overthrew the provisional government and the Council of People's Commissars was then established. This event was celebrated each year in the former USSR with parades, massive military displays and public appearances by top Soviet leaders
  • November 8, 1923 - Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch took place in the B├╝rgerbraukeller in Munich. Hitler, Goering and armed Nazis attempted, but ultimately failed, to forcibly seize power and overthrow democracy in Germany.
  • November 9-10, 1938 - Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) occurred in Germany as Nazi mobs burned synagogues and vandalized Jewish shops and homes
  • November 9, 1989 - The Berlin Wall was opened up after standing for 28 years as a symbol of the Cold War. The 27.9 mile wall had been constructed in 1961
  • November 10, 1871 - Explorer Henry M. Stanley found missionary David Livingstone at Ujiji, Africa. Stanley began his search the previous March for Livingstone who had been missing for two years. Upon locating him, he simply asked, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?'
  • November 11, 1918 - In Marshal Foch's railway car in the Forest of Compiegne, the Armistice between the Allied and Central Powers was signed, silencing the guns of World War I effective at 11 a.m... the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
  • November 17, 1989 - Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Prague demanding an end to Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. Riot police and army paratroopers then moved in to crush the revolt
  • November 20, 1947 - England's Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten. Elizabeth was the first child of King George VI and became Queen Elizabeth II upon the death of her father in 1952.
  • November 21, 1920 - The IIrish Republican Army shot and killed 14 British soldiers in Dublin in what became known as "Bloody Sunday."
  • November 22, 1963 - On Elm Street in downtown Dallas, President John F. Kennedy's motorcade slowly approached a triple underpass. Shots rang out. The President was struck in the back, then in the head. He was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital where fifteen doctors tried to save him. At 1 p.m., John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, was pronounced dead
  • November 25, 1783 - At the end of the Revolutionary War, the last British troops left New York City.
  • November 29, 1947 - Palestine was partitioned into Jewish and Arab land by the U.N. General Assembly, resulting in the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel the following year.

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