Fact of the day: 30th June

On this day in 1997 the United Kingdom transferred sovereignty over Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China.

The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China referred to as “the Handover” internationally or “the Return” in China, took place on 1 July 1997, and marked the end of British rule in Hong Kong.

The handover ceremony was held at the new wing of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai on the night of 30 June 1997.


The principal British guest was Charles, Prince of Wales who read a farewell speech on behalf of the Queen. The newly elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, the British Foreign Minister Robin Cook, the departing Hong Kong governor Chris Patten and General Sir Charles Guthrie, Chief of the Defence Staff of the United Kingdom, also attended.

Representing China were the President of the People’s Republic of China, Jiang Zemin; and Tung Chee-hwa, the first Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

This event was broadcast on several television and radio stations across the world.


Fact of the day: 12th June

On this day in 1942 Anne Frank received a diary for her thirteenth birthday.

Anne Frank is one of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Her wartime diary “The Diary of a Young Girl” has been the basis for several plays and films.

Born in the city of Frankfurt in Weimar Germany, she lived most of her life in or near Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. Born a German national, Frank lost her citizenship in 1941. She gained international fame posthumously after her diary was published. It documents her experiences hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.

The Frank family moved from Germany to Amsterdam in 1933, the year the Nazis gained control over Germany. By May 1940, they were trapped in Amsterdam by the German occupation of the Netherlands.

As persecutions of the Jewish population increased in July 1942, the family went into hiding in some concealed rooms in the building where Anne’s father worked. After two years, the group was betrayed and transported to concentration camps.


Anne Frank and her sister, Margot Frank, were eventually transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died of typhus in March 1945.

Otto Frank, the only survivor of the family, returned to Amsterdam after the war to find that Anne’s diary had been saved, and his efforts led to its publication in 1947. It has since been translated into many languages.

It was translated from its original Dutch and first published in English in 1952 as The Diary of a Young Girl. The blank diary, which was given to Anne on her thirteenth birthday, chronicles her life from 12 June 1942 until 1 August 1944.

Fact of the day: 14th May

On this day in 1970 the Red Army Faction was established in West Germany.

The Red Army Faction existed from 1970 to 1998, committing numerous operations, especially in late 1977, which led to a national crisis that became known as “German Autumn.”

It was held responsible for thirty-four deaths, including many secondary targets, such as chauffeurs and bodyguards, and many injuries in its almost thirty years of activity.

Although better-known, the RAF conducted fewer attacks than the Revolutionary Cells (German: Revolutionäre Zellen, RZ), which is held responsible for 296 bomb attacks, arson and other attacks between 1973 and 1995.

Although Meinhof was not considered to be a leader of the RAF at any time, her involvement in Baader’s escape from jail in 1970 and her well-known status as a German journalist led to her name becoming attached to it.


There were three successive incarnations of the organization:

  • The “first generation” which consisted of Baader and his associates,
  • The “second generation” RAF, which operated in the mid to late 1970s after several former members of the Socialist Patients’ Collective joined, and
  • The “third generation” RAF, which existed in the 1980s and 1990s.

On 20 April 1998, an eight-page typewritten letter in German was faxed to the Reuters news agency, signed “RAF” with the submachine-gun red star, declaring that the group had dissolved.

Fact of the day: 13th May

On this day in 1950 the first round of the Formula One World Championship was held at Silverstone.

The 1950 British Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 13 May 1950 at the Silverstone Circuit in Silverstone, England.

It was the first World Championship Formula One race in the modern era, as well as the fifth British Grand Prix, and the third to be held at Silverstone after motor racing resumed after World War II.

It was the first round of the 1950 World Drivers’ Championship and the fifth race of the season.

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The race, contested over 70 laps, was won by Giuseppe Farina for the Alfa Romeo team after starting from pole position timed 2:13:23.6, with an average speed of 146.378 km/h.

Luigi Fagioli finished second in another Alfa Romeo, and Reg Parnell third in a third Alfa Romeo.

The race followed the non-championship Pau Grand Prix and San Remo Grand Prix (both won by Juan Manuel Fangio), the Richmond Trophy (won by Reg Parnell) and the Paris Grand Prix (won by Georges Grignard).

Fact of the day: 9th May

On this day in 1942 The SS murdered 588 Jewish residents of the Podolian town of Zinkiv. The Zoludek Ghetto (in Belarus) is destroyed and all its inhabitants murdered or deported.

In 1942, the Nazis began Operation Reinhard, the systematic deportation of Jews to extermination camps. Nazi authorities throughout Europe (e.g., France, Italy and many others) would deport Jews to ghettos in Eastern Europe or most often directly to extermination camps.

Almost 300,000 people were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto alone to Treblinka over the course of 52 days. In some ghettos, local resistance organizations staged ghetto uprisings. None were successful, and the Jewish populations of the ghettos were almost entirely killed.

On June 21, 1943, Heinrich Himmler issued an order to liquidate all ghettos and transfer remaining Jewish inhabitants to concentration camps. A few ghettos were re-designated as concentration camps and existed until 1944.

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Fact of the day: 26th April

On this day in 1933 the Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, was established.


The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe. Hermann Göring formed the unit in 1933. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of SS national leader, Heinrich Himmler who in 1936 was appointed Chief of German Police (Chef der Deutschen Polizei) by Hitler.

In 1936, Himmler made it a suboffice of the Sicherheitspolizei  (“Security Police”). Then from 27 September 1939 forward, it was administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt  (“Reich Main Security Office”) and was considered a sister organization of the Sicherheitsdienst  (“Security Service”). According to historian Rupert Butler, “From its creation in 1933 until its death in May 1945, anyone living in Nazi controlled territory lived in fear of a visit from the Gestapo…”


Fact of the day: 12th April

On this day in 1945 U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt died whilst in office; Vice-president Harry Truman was sworn in as the 33rd President.

Roosevelt dominated the American political scene during the twelve years of his presidency, and his policies and ideas continued to have significant impacts for decades afterward. He orchestrated the realignment of voters that created the Fifth Party System. FDR’s New Deal Coalition united labour unions, big city machines, white ethnics, African Americans, and rural white Southerners. His work also influenced the later creation of the United Nations and Bretton Woods. Roosevelt is consistently rated by scholars as one of the top three U.S. Presidents, along with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.


Roosevelt’s death was met with shock and grief across the U.S. and around the world. His declining health had not been known to the general public. Roosevelt had been president for more than 12 years, longer than any other person, and had led the country through some of its greatest crises to the impending defeat of Nazi Germany and within sight of the defeat of Japan as well.

Less than a month after his death, on May 8, the war in Europe ended. President Harry S. Truman, , dedicated Victory in Europe Day and its celebrations to Roosevelt’s memory, and kept the flags across the U.S. at half-staff for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period, saying that his only wish was “that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day.”