25th October 1913 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Godesberg (then  in Prussia, now Bad Godesburg, part of Bonn in Germany) – Nikolaus ‘Klaus’ Barbie, “The Butcher of Lyons”, son of a bitter, angry World War 1 veteran wounded at Verdun and taken prisoner by the French. After World War 2 Barbie junior worked first for the British until 1947 and then joined the 66th Detachment of the US Army counter intelligence corps, who refused to hand him to the French for war crimes. In 1965 he joined the West German foreign intelligence agency, later emigrating to Bolivia, from where he was extradited to France in 1983. Convicted to life imprisonment in 1987, aged 74, he died 4 years later, at 77, of natural causes.


Accidents: Three die and 20 are injured in a train collision at Waterloo junction in London.


Society and culture: In Britain the “Spectator” magazine, announces the creation (before today’s accident) of a Royal Commission “to inquire into the relation between the railway companies and the State in respect of matters other than safety of working and conditions of employment, and to report what changes, if any, are desirable”. [Spectator, 25th October 2013].


Crime of Passion: In California, Mrs. Elizabeth Amelia Drown, after failing twice to shoot herself in her jealous grief for her husband’s affair with another woman, finds that the shots have woken her husband. His last words may well have been “What if I do love her? Go away. I’m going to bed.”


4th May 1913 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY, in  the Royal Palace at Athens, a few weeks after her grandfather King George I was assassinated (18th March 1913) –  Katherine zu Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, Princess of Greece and Denmark; god-child of the entire Greek Army and Navy; exiled in Switzerland, Sicily and Florence; schoolgirl in England; princess in Greece; nurse in South Africa; Major’s wife in Baghdad (“Lady Katherine Brandram”); and last surviving great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria until her death in 2007.  Must surely be worth a movie?

World Affairs: Bolivia elects a “new” President – Ismael Montes Gamboa, a 52 year old general who has previously held the office between 1904 and 1909.

Arms Race: The New York Shipbuilding Company launches a cruiser previously ordered by the Chinese Qing Dynasty which has in the meantime been overthrown. She will be sold to the Greek Navy in 1914 and renamed the “Elli”.

Society and Culture: In Harpad, Kerala, India – Swami Nirmalananda (born Tualis Charan Dutta in Calcutta – now Kolkata) opens an ashram where a strict end to the observance of all caste distinctions will be observed.