In 1205, the Fourth Crusade, which never quite made it to the Holy Land, instead captured and sacked Constantinople (now Istanbul) to pay the Doge of Venice for their transportation to Egypt. The crusaders spared no one in their savagery: they murdered old and young, they raped women and girls - even nuns - in their frenzy. They also desecrated churches and plundered treasuries, and much of the city was put to the torch.
In celebration of the victory, a prostitute from the crusader army climbed onto the altar of Hagia Sophia and gyrated to obscene songs: barbarism cloaked in the mantle of religious warfare had swept aside one of the great civilizations of history.
On this day in 1873, 12 years after the end of the Civil War, The Colfax massacre (or Colfax Riot, as the events are termed on the official state historic marker) occurred on Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, in Colfax, Louisiana during Reconstruction. In the wake of a contested election for governor of Louisiana and local offices, a white militia, armed with rifles and a small cannon, overpowered freedmen and state militia trying to control the parish courthouse in Colfax, Louisiana. Most of the freedmen were killed after they surrendered, and nearly 50 were killed later that night after being held as prisoners for several hours. Estimates of the number of dead varied. Two U.S. Marshals who visited the site on April 15, 1873 reported 62 fatalities. A military report to Congress in 1875 identified 81 black men who had been killed by name, and also estimated that 15-20 bodies were thrown into the Red River and another 18 secretly buried — for a grand total of "at least 105."
Surviving blacks told investigators that blacks dug a trench around the courthouse to protect it from what they saw as an attempt by white Democrats to steal an election. They were attacked by whites armed with rifles, revolvers and a small cannon. When blacks refused to leave, the courthouse was burned, and the black defenders were shot down. While the whites accused blacks of violating a flag of truce and rioting, black Republicans said that none of this was true. They accused whites of marching captured prisoners away in pairs and shooting them in the back of the head.
The massacre in Colfax gained headlines from national newspapers from Boston to Chicago. Various government forces spent weeks trying to round up members of the white militias. A total of 97 men were indicted. In the end, only nine men were brought to trial for violations of the US Enforcement Act of 1870. It had been designed to provide Federal protection for civil rights of freedmen under the 14th Amendment against actions by terrorist groups such as the KKK. The men were charged with one murder, and charges related to conspiracy against the rights of freedmen. There were two succeeding trials in 1874; in the first, one man was acquitted, while a mistrial was declared in the cases of the other eight. In the next trial, three men were found guilty of conspiracy against the freedmen's right of assembly and 15 other charges. Justice Joseph Bradley, an associate justice of the US Supreme Court happened to attend the trial. After the verdict was in, he ruled that the Enforcement Act was unconstitutional and ordered all the men set free.
When the Federal government appealed the case, it was heard by the US Supreme Court as United States v. Cruikshank (1875). The Supreme Court ruled that the Enforcement Act of 1870 (which was based on the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment) applied only to actions committed by the state, and that it did not apply to actions committed by individuals or private conspiracies. This meant that the Federal government could not prosecute cases such as the Colfax killings. The court said plaintiffs who believed their rights abridged had to seek protection from the state. Louisiana did not prosecute any of the perpetrators of the Colfax massacre, and most southern states would not prosecute any white man for attacks against freedmen.
A monument erected on the site soon after the event commemorated the three white casualties of the "riot", which is what the white community termed the massacre. The monument hails them as "heroes" who fell "fighting for white supremacy".
An official state historical marker, erected in 1950, celebrates the event as "the end of carpetbag misrule in the South" .
On this day in 1919 British troops in India massacred at least 379 (perhaps as many as 1000) unarmed demonstrators in the Amritsar massacre.
The day happened to be Baisakh, one of Punjab's largest religious festivals, and a crowd of 20,000 had gathered to celebrate. Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer feared an uprising, and ordered troops to begin shooting without warning or any order to disperse, and to direct shooting towards the densest sections of the crowd. He continued the shooting, approximately 1,650 rounds in all, until his ammunition was almost exhausted.
Dyer was not charged with any wrong- doing, but was relieved of command for "a mistaken notion of duty". Rudyard Kipling started a fund for "the man who saved India" (General Dyer) and contributed 50 pounds sterling; he raised over 26,000 pounds and presented it to Dyer on his retirement and settling in England.
On this day in 1943, an odd situation occured when the normally immune-to-atrocity-shock Nazis made public the discovery of a mass grave of Polish POWs executed by Soviet forces in the Katyn Forest Massacre. Details of the massacre, which had occured in 1940, were announced in Germany, driving a wedge between the Western Allies, the Polish government-in-exile in London, and the Soviet Union.
The Germans assembled and brought in a European commission consisting of twelve forensic experts and their staffs from Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Croatia, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, and Hungary. Their purpose was to prove that the massacre of the Polish officer corps had been committed by the Soviets in 1940, and not by the Nazis themselves in 1941.
A Nazi poropaganda poster, in French, reads: If the Soviets win - Katyn Everywhere."
"We are now using the discovery of 12,000 Polish officers, murdered by the GPU, for anti-Bolshevik propaganda on a grand style. We sent neutral journalists and Polish intellectuals to the spot where they were found. Their reports now reaching us from ahead are gruesome. The Führer has also given permission for us to hand out a drastic news item to the German press. I gave instructions to make the widest possible use of the propaganda material. We shall be able to live on it for a couple weeks." - Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister
It was not until 1989 that Soviet scholars admitted that Stalin himself had ordered the massacre. In 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev admitted the execution had been carried out by the NKVD and confirmed the existence of two additional burial sites at Mednoye and Piatykhatky.
1945: Gardelegen On this day in 1945, German troops massacred more than 1000 political and military prisoners in Gardelegen, Germany. On Friday, April 13, 1945, 1016 political and military prisoners were locked inside a barn on the Isenschnibbe estate and burned to death. Victims who escaped the burning barn were shot.
About 700 of the bodies were buried in mass graves near the site. American troops arrived before the evidence was completely hidden.
Several days after discovering the atrocity, American troops forced the German residents of the town of Gardelegen to rebury the dead in individually marked graves.
Gardelegen is now a national memorial.
1948: Medical Convoy Massacre
On this day in 1948, the Hadassah Medical Convoy Massacre took place when a convoy bringing medical and fortification supplies and personnel to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, was ambushed by Arab forces. Seventy-nine Jewish residents of the British Mandate of Palestine, mostly doctors and nurses, were killed in the attack.
Born This Day:
1570 - Guy Fawkes
1743 - Thomas Jefferson, who said:
"There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents... There is also an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents; for with these it would belong to the first class... The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent its ascendency."
1825 – Thomas D'Arcy McGee
1866 -Butch Cassidy
1906 -Samuel Beckett, who wrote:
Can it be we are not free? It might be worth looking into.
1939 - Seamus Heaney, who wrote:
I rhyme To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.
It's also the birthday of Jack Chick, born this day in 1924, who is responsible for Chick Tracts, which are hateful little religious publications which are generally found in truck stop rest rooms. I have a large collection of them.
My favorite is The Death Cookie, the story of an unkempt man who wishes to control others.
This man is counseled by a sinister advisor who encourages him to invent the doctrine of the Eucharist. Based on this advice, the man is soon controlling those around him as (da da DAAAA) the Pope.
Last edited by O'Blivion on Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Disclaimer: These are my opinions and not fact as realised in these here United States, lest I give my friends the idea that everyone thinks like me.