On this day: Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses

The 24th of April, 1933 is considered to be the day Nazi Germany began their persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as it is the date the Bible Student headquarters in Magdeburg were seized by police. This came only a few months after Adolf Hitler came to power.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Below is a Nazi renouncement document.

If Jehovah's Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Nazi renouncement document.

From 1935 onwards, many people who kept their religion were sent to concentration camps.

The persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues today, with Russia outlawing the religion only days ago.

On this day: the destruction of Duckett’s Grove

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Rare image of the house pre-fire. X

Duckett’s Grove, a great house in County Carlow, Ireland, was destroyed by fire on the 20th of April, 1933.

Built around 1830 for the Duckett family, they lived at the house until 1916, when a family dispute between the only remaining family members – none of them male (males would usually inherit) – led to the house’s management being taken over by locals.

By 1930 the house was being used by the Irish Republican Army, and when they left the property it was still in good condition.

In 1933, a week after local farmers – who had been managing the estate – reported a minor fire at the house, Duckett’s Grove burnt in earnest over the course of a night.

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Today, the frame of the house still stands.

Bitter Harvest

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While everybody knows about the Holocaust, there was another major genocide in Europe in the 20th century that is almost unknown.

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The Holodomor, Stalin’s manufactured famine/genocide, is believed to have killed up to ten million people in Ukraine in the 1930s. Still denied by Moscow, this genocide has received little to no attention from the West, and none whatsoever from Hollywood.

A new film is due out now which tackles this topic, focusing on a Ukrainian Cossack couple. Keep an eye out for Bitter Harvest this month.

On this day: the premiere of Little Women

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The 1933 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic book Little Women premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York on the 16th of November. Starring Katharine Hepburn as Jo, Frances Dee as Meg, Jean Parker as Beth, and Joan Bennett as Amy, all of the girls’ characters were played by women significantly older. Spring Byington played Marmee.

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In its initial run, the film broke attendance records, and it went on to be nominated for a number of Academy Awards. Husband-and-wife scriptwriting team Victor Heerman and Sarah Y. Mason won for their screenplay.

 

 

On this day: the collapse of the Wisconsin State Capitol

In one of history’s more successful April Fools’ jokes, in 1933 it was reported in the Madison Capital-Times that the Wisconsin State Capitol had collapsed. X

In one of history’s more successful April Fool jokes, in 1933 it was reported in the Madison Capital-Times that the Wisconsin State Capitol had collapsed. 1st April 1933.

The joke tricked plenty of people, even though the article said: “Officials Say Legislature Generated Too Much Hot Air.”

In one of history’s more successful April Fool jokes, in 1933 it was reported in the Madison Capital-Times that the Wisconsin State Capitol had collapsed.

The article finished by announcing it was an April Fools’ Day joke, but it still prompted angry letter-writers to respond.

The original article:

Extra! Explosions Blow Dome Off State Capitol! Blame Solons; Extra! Officials Say Legislature Generated Too Much Hot Air Wisconsin’s beautiful $8,000,000 capitol building was in ruins today, following a series of mysterious explosions which blasted the majestic dome from its base and sent it crashing through the roof of the east wing. At 7:30 this morning the first mighty explosion occurred, rocking the dome and shattering windows throughout the city. This was followed immediately by two lesser blasts, which sent showers of granite chips down upon the heads of pedestrians.

More Detonations Follow After an interval of about 2 minutes, three more detonations followed in rapid succession, shattering pillars and toppling the dome from its supports. Huge blocks of granite were tossed into the air like feathers. With the sixth and final blast, the huge dome caved in on the east side, and the heavy mass of stone and steel collapsed. Falling in an arc, the dome split into a dozen parts as it struck the east wing roof, which was crushed like a cardboard box. The wing was demolished into a heap of crumbled stone, into which was mingled the shattered granite blocks and pillars of the dome. Hundreds of pedestrians and motorists about the Capitol square miraculously escaped death and serious injury as the heavy missiles hurtled through the air to the streets below. Granite chips were thrown through a score of store windows, and a heavy pall of dust and smoke hung over the square after the explosions.

Quency Many Fires A major catastrophe was prevented when all six Madison fire companies arrived on the scene, putting out the dozens of small blazes which followed the explosions in various offices throughout the building. More than 1,000 lives were saved due to the fact that the explosions occurred early in the morning before state employees at the capitol had come to work. After police had ascertained that no one had been killed or seriously injured, an investigation of probable causes for the series of explosions was started immediately.

Eye Solons Authorities were considering the possibility that large quantities of gas, generated through many weeks of verbose debate in the senate and assembly chambers, had in some way been ignited, causing the first blast. It is believed the other five blasts were indirectly caused by the first, which set off excess quantities of hot air that had seeped from the assembly and senate chambers into other rooms in the building.

April Fool!

December 1930: the Moscow execution of Ukrainian musicians

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In December 1930, 337 Ukrainian musicians were executed in Russia in an attempt to eliminate Ukrainian culture. Some historians place the date of the execution as 1933, but as with most things that happened in the Soviet Union, records are hard to come by.

Starved peasants on a street in Kharkiv, 1933.

Dead peasants in Ukraine during the genocide.

This atrocity took place around the same time as the Holodomor, Stalin’s genocide in Ukraine that rivalled the Holocaust for deaths.

Read more about the execution of the musicians.