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Milestones: Wednesday, August 2, 2023

August 2, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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HITLER BECOMES DICTATOR — Adolf Hitler, shocked and enraged by Germany’s defeat in World War I, and the peace settlement with the Allies, and finding a way to rise to power, officially became the dictator of Germany on August 2, 1934. As an intelligence agent for the German army, Hitler had received orders to report on alleged subversive activity within the political parties in Munich. This work led him in turn to join the German Workers’ Party, whose six members were disgruntled army veterans, and he succeeded in his first assignment of generating party propaganda, assumed leadership and changed the group’s name to Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ party) — abbreviated as Nazi. Now Chancellor of Germany, Hitler became the “absolute dictator” — the Fuhrer. Another centripetal force that led to Hitler’s taking complete control of Germany was the death of German President Paul von Hindenburg.

Although Hitler made the grandiose promise that the Third Reich would endure for a millennium, it lasted only 11 years, until Germany’s defeat and Hitler’s own death on April 30, 1945 — ten days after his birthday and reportedly by his own hand, to avoid capture by the Soviets.


SUDDEN THUNDERSTORM — A normal flight from Fort Lauderdale to Dallas on August 2, 1985, took a tragic turn. Strong and sudden wind gusts from a rapidly-developing supercell thunderstorm caused Delta Flight 191 to crash some 6,000 feet short of the runway. Although the pilots had circumvented another developing thunderstorm by diverting from the flight’s original path, they did not abort the landing when they spotted lightning to the north of the airport, and instead of experiencing the usual updraft, they lost control of the plane in a downward wind shear and could not compensate and lost control of the plane. Upon crashing, the plane hit a car, killed its driver, skidded into water tanks and killed 135 people and injured 15 more.

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An investigation revealed that, although the weather had changed severely in the eight minutes before the crash, poor navigational judgment on behalf of the pilots was also blamed; they should have seen the supercells developing from a distance.


HARDING DIES IN OFFICE — U.S. President Warren G. Harding on August 2, 1923 died of a stroke in a San Francisco hotel at age 58. He had just completed a presidential tour of Alaska and the West Coast, a trip that some believed he had taken to escape rumors of corruption within his administration. Many believed the embolism was triggered by worry and stress over the scandals, including the Teapot Dome Affair.

Harding, who in 1920 had won the Presidency in a landslide victory, selected intelligent cabinet leaders, but ones who lacked any concept of civic responsibility or ethics.


NOTORIOUS GUNSLINGER SHOT DEAD — “Wild Bill” Hickok, one of the greatest gunfighters of the American West, was shot to death on August 2, 1876 while playing cards Deadwood, South Dakota. He had become notorious after shooting three men in self-defense, but in sang-froid style. Harper’s New Monthly Magazine later published the sensationalized version of the shooting, catapulting Hickok to fame. Although he became an impressive gunslinger, Hickok gave up gun battles after accidentally killing his own deputy during a shootout in Abilene, Kansas in 1871. Another gunslinger named Jack McCall shot Hickock in the back of the head in a saloon. Only that one bullet from his gun worked, thus saving the lives of others in the saloon. McCall was later convicted and executed.

John Wayne, in his final film, “The Shootist,” initially takes on the alias of “Bill Hickok” before the character’s true identity of J.B. Books is revealed. The movie was released on August 20, 1976, just over a century after Hickock was killed. Books is also a fictional gunfighter, perhaps with Hickock as the inspiration.


FIRST WOMAN TO EARN TWO CONSECUTIVE HEPTATHLON GOLD MEDALS — Jackie Joyner-Kersee on August 2, 1992 became the first woman ever to win two consecutive Olympic gold medals in the heptathlon. Married to UCLA track coach Bob Kersee, who became her trainer, Joyner Kersee won gold in Seoul in the 1988 Olympics. Four years later, Joyner-Kersee was the prominent favorite in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona to win heptathlon gold. She completed the 800 meters in a respectable 2:11, gaining her 7,044 points and the gold medal.

However, her performance was jeopardized during an incident involving rival Sabine Braun of Germany, who, it is believed intentionally ran into her after injuring Joyner-Kersee the previous year.


LAST SHOT OF THE CIVIL WAR — The American Civil War wasn’t fought solely on U.S. soil. The Confederate rebel ship, the C.S.S. Shenandoah, under the command of Captain James I. Waddell, and scouring the Pacific Ocean for Yankee whaling ships, had captured and burned at least 30 vessels. The Shenandoah was in the vicinity of the Aleutian Islands when a British vessel got word to her on August 2, 1865 that the South had lost the war.

Originally a British merchant ship, the Shenandoah had been the last Confederate vessel to set sail and gained a fierce reputation of disrupting the Union’s maritime commerce operations. The Shenandoah also fired the last shot of the Civil War.


IRAQ INVADES KUWAIT — Iraqi military forces, in a nocturnal offensive, invaded their country’s small but oil-rich neighbor on August 2, 1990, around 2 a.m. local time. Quickly overwhelmed and outnumbered, the surviving men of Kuwait’s defense forces retreated to Saudi Arabia, as did the Emir of Kuwait, his family, and other government leaders. Having successfully annexed Kuwait, Iraq acquired control of more than a fifth of the global oil reserves. Moreover, the otherwise landlocked Iraq also gained a coastline along the Persian Gulf.  The  United Nations Security Council swiftly and unanimously condemned Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, demanded the immediate withdrawal and, five days later, globally banned trade with Iraq.

Within a week of the invasion, U.S. forces on August 9, 1990 launched an emergency campaign, Operation Desert Shield, as Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein bolstered the occupying army. In November, the UN Security Council authorized military force against Iraq unless Saddam Hussein withdrew. He remained defiant and on January 16, 1991, the United States launched Operation Desert Storm to free Kuwait.


GERMAN SAILORS MUTINY — The German army, already in trouble against British forces during World  War I, had to deal with mutiny within its own ranks. And such a mutiny broke out on August 2, 1917, aboard the German battleship Prinzregent Luitpold, which was anchored at Wilhelmshaven, a port on the North Sea. A crowd 400-sailors strong marched into town, demanding an end to the war and declaring their unwillingness to fight any more.  Although the army took control of the sailors and got them back to their ships, 75 of the protesters were arrested and imprisoned the next day. Their leaders were brought to trial, convicted and executed.

However, that was not the last of the mutinies, which intensified. In 1918, another large group of demoralized German service personnel, enraged about a raid against the Allied Blockade in the North Sea, staged an even larger mutiny, and the anger  spread, with German soldiers actually carrying the red communist flags.

See previous milestones, here.

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