5th September 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in Colombo in British Ceylon  – Arthur Terence Sahanandan Paul, pioneering Sri Lankan cardiothoracic surgeon.



Protest: In Zimmerwald, Switzerland, delegates from international socialist parties in 11 countries hold a conference to advocate anti-militarist and pacifist policies and (for some) international socialist revolution, later making this small Swiss town a part of the foundation myth of the Soviet Union.


17th May 1915 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Zurich – Marcel Roland de Quervain, Swiss glaciologist, “known for his fundamental work on the metamorphism and physical properties of snow.”



Anatolia: In the Armenian city of Van, in eastern Turkey, the one month long siege of the city by Ottoman forces intent on suppressing Armenian activists is relieved by the arrival of Russian troops from the city of Malazgirt, temporarily under Russian control.


On the (British) Home Front: The Liberal Government (Asquith’s first ministry) is brought down by high levels of unpopularity, partly fuelled by the continuing failures at Gallipoli.


19th July 1914 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in Charleroi, Belgium – René Pedroli, Swiss professional road bicycle racer.


World Affairs: In Vienna, the Austro-Hungarian council of ministers approves the final draft of the ultimatum to Serbia, but delays sending it because the French President is currently on a state visit to its ally, Russia.


Migration: In Vancouver harbour, Indian migrants who have been detained on the SS Komataga and denied permission to disemabark for nearly two months take control of the engine room to prevent the vessel from leaving.  A battle ensues when armed police arrive on a tugboat and turn the hoses on the migrant ship.


Extreme Weather: Istanbul is hit by a freak tornado which causes loss of life, destruction of property and crops and is followed by lightning strikes with more casualties including the death of a group sheltering under a tree.

Click to access Onder_Kocaturk-The_Great_Storm_and_Tornado_Incident_in_Istanbul.pdf

13th July, 1914 (Monday)


~ In Leuk, Switzerland – Franz Xaver Baron von Werra, fighter pilot and flying ace shot down and captured over Britain. Incarcerated in a Canadian POW camp, and “generally regarded as the only Axis POW  to succeed in escaping from a Canadian prisoner of war camp and returning to Germany”.  He arrived back in Germany in 1941, via the US, Mexico, South America and Spain. [Wikipedia].


~ In Surrey, England – Squadron Leader Wilfrid Thomas Page, mentioned in despatches, June 1942, shot down and killed in the English Channel, November 1943.


World Affairs:  From Sarajevo, the Austrian investigators of the Archduke’s assassination report that “there is nothing to prove or even to suppose that the Serbian government is accessory to the inducement for the crime, its preparations, or the furnishing of weapons. On the contrary, there are reasons to believe that this is altogether out of the question” [Fromkin – “Europe’s Last Summer – Why the World went to War in 1914].


Crime: In the village of Camerata Cornello in Northern Italy,  56 year old Simone Pianetti shoots and kills seven people who have ruined his life and reputation, including the town clerk, the priest and the doctor. He escapes to the mountains, and is never brought to justice.


Society and culture: In London, at the Kensington Registrar’s office, Novelist D.H.Lawrence marries Frieda Weekley (nee von Richthofen), the former wife of his erstwhile modern languages professor at University College, Nottingham.


~ In Milwaukee, Senators are busy investigating the causes of prostitution in Wisconsin (“Prostitutes testimony”),  and “committee staff questioned several madams and prostitutes about how they got into ‘the sporting life’ and what caused men and women to engage in it”


21st March 1914 (Saturday)


~ In Japan – Sakae Ōba, the “Fox of Saipan” who led a small group of Japanese who held out against US forces deep in the jungle on the Island of Saipan for 16 months after the Battle of Saipan, eventually being induced to surrender several months after the official surrender of the Japanese nation.


~ In Baden, Switzerland – Professor Sir Fritz Caspari; Heidelberg Undergraduate, Oxford (Rhodes) scholar; Professor of Intellectual History and Diplomat of the German Bundesrepublik.


18th March 1914 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: In Vienna, Austria  – Heinrich Herzog, son of Jacques Herzog, sole owner of the bank Herz & Strauss, and his wife Franziska Bamberger. In 2002 Mr Herzog junior (aged 88) was successful in his claim for an amount of 156,000 swiss francs from an [unnamed] Swiss Bank. According to Mr Herzog’s testimony

“his father’s bank had business relations with the Bank in Switzerland, as well as with another bank in Zurich, Switzerland, and a company in Zug, Switzerland. The Claimant also stated that his paternal uncle, Emil Herzog, made frequent trips to Basel, Switzerland, where he deposited assets. Emil Herzog committed suicide in Vienna in 1938. According to the information provided by the Claimant, his father, who was Jewish, was arrested with the Claimant’s mother by the Gestapo in March 1938 and put in jail in Vienna, and his bank was liquidated by the Nazis. The Claimant explained that his father managed to flee Austria to the United States later in 1938”.

Click to access Herz_and_Strauss.pdf

8th December 1913 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Brooklyn, New York, to Romanian immigrant parents – Delmore Schwartz, poet and short story writer who died of heart failure at 52. Described by singer Lou Reed as “the first great man that I ever met”, Schwartz was the model for Von Humboldt Fleischer in Saul Bellow’s “Humboldt’s Gift”


Society and culture – revolving doors

~ In German speaking Switzerland, the Gstadd Palace luxury hotel opens its doors for the very first time. Happy Centenary!


~ In St Helens, Lancashire, England – the “Robin Hood” public house closes its doors for the very last time.


~ In Kentish town, North London, the “Gaumont” cinema opens its doors for the very first time, with a showing of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The House of Temperley”, Britain’s tenth full-length feature film.


~ Meanwhile  the “Picture House” in Halifax, Yorkshire, opens its door to a new film “Sixty Years A Queen”, celebrating the life and reign of Queen Victoria, twelve years after her death.


Colonial Unrest: In Punjab, North Western British India, the revolutionary newspaper of the Indian Independence Movement, “Ghadar”, is published for the first time.


3rd December 1913 (Wednesday)


~ In Diest, Belgium – Omer  Rudolphe Jean burggraaf Vanoudenhoven, Flemish shoemaker and liberal politician.


~ In Oberhausen, Germany – Helmut Israel Marx, refugee from the Netherlands, in neutral Switzerland in 1942, seeking a visa for Santo Domingo.

Click to access NY_AR_DORSA_00012_00683.pdf

4th November 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: In Switzerland, Paul Irniger – fraudster, robber and murderer who became, at the age of 25, the second to last person judicially executed in Switzerland – guillotined on the 25th August 1939.


Crime and Punishment: In Wolverhampton, England, Josiah Davies murders his landlady, for which crime he will be convicted in December 1913 and executed (hanged) in March 1914.


World Affairs:

~ In Constantinople (now Istanbul) in Turkey, representatives of the Ottoman Empire and of Persia sign a protocol defining the boundary between Persia and the Turkish lands (which are now part of Iraq).


~ The Kingdom of Bavaria, which has been “annexed” by the German Empire since 1871 (when the crown was offered to King William I of Prussia) amends its constitution to include a clause specifying that if a regency for reasons of incapacity lasts for ten years with no expectation that the King will ever be able to reign, the Regent can proclaim the end of the regency and assume the crown himself. Bavaria’s most recent two kings have been Ludwig II (1864-1886) who “bankrupted the country building fairytale castles and hosting Wagner concerts”, before he was mysteriously drowned, and his younger brother and successor King Otto, who was declared insane in 1875. King Otto was “by some accounts not even aware that he had become King” [Colonel J’s Bavaria].


Natural Disasters: in the Apurimac region of Peru an earthquake kills 155 people.


A sign of the times?  The pre-dreadnought class steel armoured battleship launched in 1891 – HMS “Empress of India” is ignominiously used for target practice, presumably by her fully dreadnought class successors, and sent to a watery grave.