#TodayInHistory – November 203 min read
November 20 – Some important events on this day.
284 👉🏼 Roman soldier Diocletian proclaimed Emperor by the army
762 👉🏼 Bögü, Khan of the Uyghurs, conquers Lo-Yang, capital of the Chinese Empire
1695 👉🏼 Zumbi, the last King of the Quilombo dos Palmares in early Brazil and ex-slave, is executed and decapitated, his head displayed on a pike to dispel any legends of his immortality
1805 👉🏼 Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fidelio”, his only opera, premieres in Vienna
1815 👉🏼 Second Treaty of Paris: France and her allies agree France will pay indemnities after Battle of Waterloo, ending the Napoleonic Wars
1820 👉🏼 American vessel sunk by sperm whale
The American whaler Essex, which hailed from Nantucket, Massachusetts, is attacked by an 80-ton sperm whale 2,000 miles from the western coast of South America.
The 238-ton vessel was in pursuit of sperm whales, specifically the precious oil and bone that could be derived from them, when an enraged bull whale rammed the ship twice and capsized the vessel. The 20 crew members escaped in three open boats, but only five of the men survived the harrowing 83-day journey to the coastal waters of South America, where they were picked up by other ships.
Most of the crew resorted to cannibalism during the long journey, and at one point men on one of the long boats drew straws to determine which of the men would be shot in order to provide sustenance for the others. Three other men who had been left on a desolate Pacific island were saved later.
Interestingly, the first capture of a sperm whale by an American vessel was in 1711, marking the birth of an important American industry that commanded a fleet of more than 700 ships by the mid 18th century. And Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick (1851) was inspired in part by the story of the Essex itself….
1984 👉🏼 McDonald’s makes its 50 billionth hamburger
1914 👉🏼 US State Department starts requiring photographs for passports
1917 👉🏼 Ukrainian Republic declared
1917 👉🏼 1st successful tank use in battle, at the Battle of Cambrai in World War I as Britain uses the new technology to break through German lines
1945 👉🏼 The Nuremberg war trials begin as 24 Nazi leaders are put on trial before judges representing the victorious Allied powers.
At the end of World War II in Europe, the victorious Allied powers created the first international court to try war criminals from Nazi Germany. Headquartered in the German city of Nuremberg, the first and most famous trials of the major war criminals were held between November 20, 1945 and October 1, 1946, with verdicts announced on September 30 and October 1.
In the end, a large number of senior Nazi leaders were sentenced to death, including Hermann Goering (who killed himself with cyanide the night before his sentence was to be carried out), Karl Dönitz, Martin Bormann (who was missing but sentenced to death in abstentia), Alfred Jodl, Joachim von Ribbentrop and various others. Some leaders, like Rudolf Hess and Albert Speer, were given prison terms in Spandau Prison. The death sentences were carried out on October 16, 1946.
Described as “the greatest trial in history” by one of the presiding judges, Nuremberg was a leap in international law, and would set a precedent for trying war crimes in an international court. The effect of Nuremberg can be seen in the modern-day International Criminal Court and with the prosecution of criminals for actions during wars in Yugoslavia and beyond.
1986 👉🏼 World Health Organization announces first global effort to combat AIDS
2019 👉🏼 Oxford Dictionaries word of the year is “climate emergency”
2019 👉🏼 Snakes lived with hind legs for 70 million years (Najash rionegrina), according to research from La Buitrera Palaeontological Area, Argentina, published in “Science Advances”