Thread: World History
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Old Monday, May 21, 2007
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Default Great Wars

The Holocaust (1933–1945)

“Holocaust” is the term describing the Nazi annihilation of about 6 million Jews (two thirds of the pre-World War II European Jewish population), including 4,500,000 from Russia, Poland, and the Baltic; 750,000 from Hungary and Romania; 290,000 from Germany and Austria; 105,000 from The Netherlands; 90,000 from France; 54,000 from Greece.

The Holocaust was unique in its being genocide—the systematic destruction of a people solely because of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, or sexual preference—on an unmatched scale. Along with the Jews, another 9 to 10 million people—Gypsies, Slavs (Poles, Ukrainians, and Belarussians), homosexuals, and the disabled—were exterminated.


Hitler named German Chancellor (Jan.). Dachau, first concentration camp, established (March). Boycotts against Jews begin (April).


Anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws passed by Reichstag; Jews lose citizenship and civil rights (Sept.).


Buchenwald concentration camp opens (July).


Extension of anti-Semitic laws to Austria after annexation (March). Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass)—anti-Semitic riots and destruction of Jewish institutions in Germany and Austria (Nov. 9). 26,000 Jews sent to concentration camps; Jewish children expelled from schools (Nov. 9–10). Expropriation of Jewish property and businesses (Dec.).


As war continues, Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) follow German army into conquered lands, rounding up and massacring Jews and other “undesirables.”


Goering instructs Heydrich to carry out the “final solution to the Jewish question” (July 31). Deportation of German Jews begins; massacres of Jews in Odessa and Kiev (Nov.); and in Riga and Vilna (Dec.).


Mass killings using Zyklon-B begin at Auschwitz-Birkenau (Jan.). Nazi leaders attend Wannsee Conference to coordinate the “final solution” (Jan. 20). 100,000 Jews from Warsaw Ghetto deported to Treblinka death camp (July).


Warsaw Ghetto uprisings (Jan. and April); Ghetto exterminated (May).


476,000 Hungarian Jews sent to Auschwitz (May–June). D-day (June 6). Soviet Army liberates Maidanek death camp (July). Nazis try to hide evidence of death camps (Nov.).


As Allies advance, Nazis force concentration camp inmates on death marches. Americans liberate Buchenwald and British liberate Bergen-Belsen camps (April). Nuremberg War Crimes Trial (Nov. 1945–Oct. 1946).

Korean War (1950–1953)


North Korean Communist forces invade South Korea (June 25). UN calls for cease-fire and asks UN members to assist South Korea (June 27). Truman orders U.S. forces into Korea (June 27). North Koreans capture Seoul (June 28). Gen. Douglas MacArthur designated commander of unified UN forces (July 8). Pusan Beachhead—UN forces counterattack and capture Seoul (Aug.–Sept.), capture Pyongyang, North Korean capital (Oct.). Chinese Communists enter war (Oct. 26), force UN retreat toward 38th parallel (Dec.).


Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway replaces MacArthur after he threatens Chinese with massive retaliation (April 11). Armistice negotiations (July) continue with interruptions until June 1953.


Armistice signed (July 27). Chinese troops withdraw from North Korea (Oct. 26, 1958), but over 200 violations of armistice noted to 1959.

Vietnam War

U.S., South Vietnam, and Allies versus North Vietnam and National Liberation Front (Viet Cong).


President Truman sends 35-man military advisory group to aid French fighting to maintain colonial power in Vietnam.


After defeat of French at Dien Bien Phu, Geneva Agreements (July) provide for withdrawal of French and Vietminh to either side of demarcation zone (DMZ) pending reunification elections, which are never held. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy (from 1954 onward) send civilian advisers and, later, military personnel to train South Vietnamese.


Communists form National Liberation Front in South.


U.S. military advisers in South Vietnam rise from 900 to 15,000.


Ngo Dinh Diem, South Vietnam's premier, slain in coup (Nov. 1).


North Vietnamese torpedo boats reportedly attack U.S. destroyers in Gulf of Tonkin (Aug. 2). President Johnson orders retaliatory air strikes. Congress approves Gulf of Tonkin resolution (Aug. 7) authorizing president to take “all necessary measures” to win in Vietnam, allowing for the war's expansion.


U.S. planes begin combat missions over South Vietnam. In June, 23,000 American advisers committed to combat. By end of year over 184,000 U.S. troops in area.


B-52s bomb DMZ, reportedly used by North Vietnam for entry into South (July 31).


South Vietnam National Assembly approves election of Nguyen Van Thieu as president (Oct. 21).


U.S. has almost 525,000 men in Vietnam. In Tet offensive (Jan.–Feb.), Viet Cong guerrillas attack Saigon, Hue, and some provincial capitals. In My Lai massacre, American soldiers kill 300 Vietnamese villagers (March 16). President Johnson orders halt to U.S. bombardment of North Vietnam (Oct. 31). Saigon and N.L.F. join U.S. and North Vietnam in Paris peace talks.


President Nixon announces Vietnam peace offer (May 14)—begins troop withdrawals (June). Viet Cong forms Provisional Revolutionary Government. U.S. Senate calls for curb on commitments (June 25). Ho Chi Minh, 79, North Vietnam president, dies (Sept. 3); collective leadership chosen. Some 6,000 U.S. troops pulled back from Thailand and 1,000 marines from Vietnam (announced Sept. 30). Massive demonstrations in U.S. protest or support war policies (Oct. 15).


U.S. troops invade Cambodia in order to destroy North Vietnamese sanctuaries (May 1).


Congress bars use of combat troops, but not air power, in Laos and Cambodia (Jan. 1). South Vietnamese troops, with U.S. air cover, fail in Laos thrust. Many American ground forces withdrawn from Vietnam combat. New York Times publishes Pentagon papers, classified material on expansion of war (June).


Nixon responds to North Vietnamese drive across DMZ by ordering mining of North Vietnam ports and heavy bombing of Hanoi-Haiphong area (April 1). Nixon orders “Christmas bombing” of North to get North Vietnamese back to conference table (Dec.).


President orders halt to offensive operations in North Vietnam (Jan. 15). Representatives of North and South Vietnam, U.S., and N.L.F. sign peace pacts in Paris, ending longest war in U.S. history (Jan. 27). Last American troops departed in their entirety (March 29).


Both sides accuse each other of frequent violations of cease-fire agreement.


Full-scale warfare resumes. South Vietnam premier Nguyen Van Thieu resigns (April 21). South Vietnamese government surrenders to North Vietnam; U.S. Marine embassy guards and U.S. civilians and dependents evacuated (April 30). More than 140,000 Vietnamese refugees leave by air and sea, many to settle in U.S. Provisional Revolutionary Government takes control (June 6).


Election of National Assembly paves way for reunification of North and South.

The Persian Gulf War (Jan. 16, 1991–April 6, 1991)


Iraq invades its tiny neighbor, Kuwait, after talks break down over oil production and debt repayment. Iraqi president Saddam Hussein later annexes Kuwait and declares it a 19th province of Iraq (Aug. 2). President Bush believes that Iraq intends to invade Saudi Arabia and take control of the region's oil supplies. He begins organizing a multinational coalition to seek Kuwait's freedom and restoration of its legitimate government. The UN Security Council authorizes economic sanctions against Iraq. Bush orders U.S. troops to protect Saudi Arabia at the Saudis' request and “Operation Desert Shield” begins (Aug. 6). 230,000 American troops arrive in Saudi Arabia to take defensive action, but when Iraq continues a huge military buildup in Kuwait, the President orders an additional 200,000 troops deployed to prepare for a possible offensive action by the U.S.-led coalition forces. He subsequently obtains a UN Security Council resolution setting a Jan. 15, 1991 deadline for Iraq to withdraw unconditionally from Kuwait (Nov. 8).


Bush wins congressional approval for his position with the most devastating air assault in history against military targets in Iraq and Kuwait (Jan. 16). He rejects a Soviet-Iraq peace plan for a gradual withdrawal that does not comply with all the UN resolutions and gives Iraq an ultimatum to withdraw from Kuwait by noon Feb. 23 (Feb. 22). The president orders the ground war to begin (Feb. 24). In a brilliant and lightning-fast campaign, U.S. and coalition forces smash through Iraq's defenses and defeat Saddam Hussein's troops in only four days of combat. Allies enter Kuwait City (Feb. 26). Iraqi army sets fire to over 500 of Kuwait's oil wells as final act of destruction to Kuwait's infrastructure. Bush orders a unilateral cease-fire 100 hours after the ground offensive started (Feb. 27). Allied and Iraqi military leaders meet on battlefield to discuss terms for a formal cease-fire to end the Gulf War. Iraq agrees to abide by all of the UN resolutions (Mar. 3). The first Allied prisoners of war are released (Mar. 4). Official cease-fire accepted and signed (April 6). 532,000 U.S. forces served in Operation Desert Storm. There were a total of 147 U.S. battle deaths during the Gulf War, 145 nonbattle deaths, and 467 wounded in action.
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