#TodayInHistory – January 203 min read
January 20 – Some important events on this day
1156 👉🏼 According to the legend, freeholder Lalli slays English crusader Bishop Henry with an axe on the ice of Lake Köyliönjärvi in Finland
1265 👉🏼 First English Parliament summoned other than by royal command (in this instance by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester) mets in Westminster Hall
1841 👉🏼 China cedes Hong Kong to the British during the 1st Opium War
1921 👉🏼 Republic of Turkey declared out of remnants of Ottoman Empire
1942 👉🏼 Nazi officials hold notorious Wannsee Conference in Berlin to organize the “final solution”, the extermination of Europe’s Jews.
Of the many notorious Nazi meetings during World War II, perhaps none is more infamous than the gathering at the villa in the Wannsee suburb in Berlin on this day. Here several senior officials of the SS and Nazi Germany, headed by Reinhard Heydrich (Heinrich Himmler’s deputy) gathered to plan and coordinate the ‘Final Solution to the Jewish Question’, that is the transport and extermination of the Jews in the death camps.
The Wannsee Conference was extremely important in transitioning the Holocaust from intimidation, beating and harassment of Jewish people in the occupied territories to the planned, systematic extermination that encompassed virtually every arm of the Nazi German bureaucracy.
Adolf Eichmann prepared a list of estimated Jewish populations in countries both occupied and not occupied by Nazi Germany. The minutes of the conference make it clear that deliberately euphemistic language was used; ‘evacuation’, for instance, meant transportation to the death camps in Eastern Europe and extermination. After the conference, the Wannsee Protocol (the minutes of the meeting) were distributed to all participants; a copy was discovered after the war in 1947.
By the end of the war in 1945, some six million Jews and millions of others classified as undesirable by Nazi Germany had been murdered in death camps like Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor and the multitude of concentration camps.
1945 👉🏼 Franklin D. Roosevelt sworn-in for an unprecedented (and never to be repeated) 4th term as US President
1968 👉🏼 Houston Cougars defeat the UCLA Bruins 71-69 to win basketball’s Game of the Century and end UCLA’s 47 game winning streak
1981 👉🏼 The US diplomats and citizens held hostage at the US embassy in Tehran are released and begin their journey home after 444 days.
In 1979, a year of enormous social unrest in Iran came to a head with the collapse of the country’s monarchy and the establishment by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of an Islamic Republic. Iran went from being a pro-Western, American-backed nation to one of its arch enemies.
This new state of affairs is best symbolized by the 444-day hostage crisis at the US Embassy in Tehran. On November 4, 1979, students broke through the gates of the compound and took most of the staff hostage. Six who had evaded capture were rescued by a Canadian-American effort in early 1980.
For over a year the standoff continued. US President Jimmy Carter, coming to the end of his term, authorized a disastrous rescue attempt called Operation Eagle Claw, which resulted in the deaths of eight American soldiers. After long and tense negotiations, Iran released the remaining hostages on this day, at the exact moment that newly sworn-in President Ronald Reagan completed his inaugural address.
The hostage crisis remains the longest in recorded history.
1981 👉🏼 Ronald Reagan inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States of America
1982 👉🏼 Heavy metal musician Ozzy Osbourne bites the head off a bat on stage in Des Moines, Iowa
2009 👉🏼 Barack Obama, inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America, becomes the United States’ first African-American president
2017 👉🏼 Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America and Mike Pence as the 48th Vice President