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On this day September 29, 1954

Eleven countries signed a convention establishing the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), currently the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.

Blue founding members

Blue founding members

The acronym CERN originally stood, in French, for Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (European Council for Nuclear Research), which was a provisional council for setting up the laboratory.

The organization was established by the following 11 European governments; Belgium, Denmark, West Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands and United Kingdom.

Today the organization has twenty European member states, and is currently the workplace of approximately 2,600 full-time employees, as well as some 7,931 scientists and engineers (representing 580 universities and research facilities and 80 nationalities). Read More…

On this day July 20, 1944

Adolf Hitler survived an assassination attempt by German Resistance member Claus von Stauffenberg, who hid a bomb inside a briefcase during a conference at the Wolfsschanze military headquarters in East Prussia.

The conference room after the explosion

The conference room after the explosion

The  plot was a failed attempt to kill Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, inside his “Wolf’s Lair” field headquarters near Rastenburg, East Prussia.

The plot was the culmination of the efforts of the German Resistance to overthrow the Nazi regime.

The failure of both the assassination and the military coup d’état which was planned to follow it led to the arrest of at least 7,000 people by the Gestapo. Read More…

On this day June 30, 1934

The Night of the Long Knives, Adolf Hitler’s violent purge of his political rivals in Germany, takes place when the Nazi regime carried out a series of political executions, most of those killed being members of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the paramilitary Brownshirts.

Ernst Röhm

Ernst Röhm

Adolf Hitler moved against the SA and its leader, Ernst Röhm, because he saw the independence of the SA and the penchant of its members for street violence as a direct threat to his power.

Hitler also wanted to conciliate leaders of the Reichswehr, the official German military.

They both feared and despised the SA and in particular feared Röhm’s ambition to absorb the Reichswehr into the SA under his own leadership.

Finally, Hitler used the purge to attack or eliminate critics of his regime, especially those loyal to Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen, and to settle scores with old enemies. Read More…

On this day June 13, 1886

King Ludwig II of Bavaria is found dead in Lake Starnberg south of Munich at 11:30 PM.

Around 6:00 pm, Ludwig asked Gudden to accompany him on a walk along the shore of Lake Starnberg. Gudden agreed, and told the guards not to follow them. The two men never returned. At 11:30 that night, searchers found both the king and Gudden dead, floating in the shallow water near the shore.

Ludwig’s death was officially ruled a suicide by drowning, but this has been questioned. Ludwig was known to be a strong swimmer, the water was less than waist-deep where his body was found, and the official autopsy report indicated that no water was found in his lungs. Ludwig had expressed suicidal feelings during the crisis, but the suicide theory does not fully explain Gudden’s death. Read More…

On this day June 4, 1939

The German ocean liner MS St. Louis, carrying 963 Jewish refugees seeking asylum from Nazi persecution, was denied permission to land in the United States, after already having been turned away from Cuba.

Schröder negotiates landing permits

Schröder negotiates landing permits

St. Louis sailed from Hamburg in May 1939, carrying one non-Jewish and 936 (mainly German) Jewish refugees seeking asylum from Nazi persecution.

On the ship’s arrival in Cuba, the Cuban government under Federico Laredo Brú refused the passengers both entry as tourists or political asylum. This prompted a near-mutiny. Two passengers attempted suicide and dozens more threatened to do the same. However, 29 of the refugees did manage to disembark at Havana. Read More…

Second round of Climate Change negotiations

The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 16) negotiations continued this week in Bonn, Germany. The 4,500 attendees include government delegates from 182 governments, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions. COP 16 which will be held in Cancún, Mexico in November.

Luis Alfonso de Alba, Mexico’s special representative for climate change, told Reuters, “Mexico does not want to raise false expectations but we certainly are ambitious”.

Negotiating under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the next negotiating session will take place in August, followed by a second one-week intersessional meeting in June, before Cancún. The talks were designed to discuss issues that were not resolved at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen. Read More…

Horst Köhler resigns as President of Germany

Today Köhler announced his resignation as President of Germany. This came after German politicians criticized comments made by Köhler in relation to overseas military deployments.

“In my estimation, we are in general on our way, indeed in our society as a whole, to understand that a country of our size, with that orientation and therefore dependency on export, needs to know, that in case of doubt or emergency a military deployment is necessary, to preserve our interests, for example free trade routes, for example preventing regional instability, which will assuredly affect negatively our chances to safeguard jobs and income through exports.”

Horst Köhler, Interview with Deutschland radio, on 22 May 2010.

He issued a statement saying, “I declare my resignation from the Office of President, with immediate effect.” The resignation was considered a “surprise,” and both pundits and opposition politicians labelled it “an overreaction.”

As stipulated by the Grundgesetz, the powers of the vacant office are executed by the President of the Bundesrat Jens Böhrnsen.