Decoration Day, forerunner of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the day the US remember the men and women who died while serving in the forces. It takes place every year on the last Monday of May. Originally, it was known as Decoration Day and began around the end of the American Civil War.

Memorial DayThe practice of bringing flowers to the graves of departed loved ones had been around for centuries, having evolved out of the practices of various cultures around the world who bring food and other items to gravesites.  But placing flowers on the graves of soldiers began when two Southern ladies were visiting and cleaning the graves of their loved ones. Even people with servants didn’t send them out to maintain the graves of loved ones.  It had to be done by family.  Tombs in New Orleans, before the war, were always whitewashed by family members.  Even the wealthiest and highest ranking members of New Orleans society rolled up their sleeves and cared for their dearly departed themselves.

Union Soldiers

As these ladies were placing flowers upon the graves of Confederate Civil War soldiers, they noticed that the graves of Union soldiers buried nearby were barren.  It was not uncommon for the dead from a Civil War battlefield to be buried in the same area, even though the areas for one side of that conflict were segregated from the other.  The ladies realized that the families of the young men under those headstones were too far from their families to be sent home for burial, much less for family to visit and care for their graves.  Many might not even know where their son, husband, father, nephew or cousin was buried.

This touched the hearts of the women who thought of how they would feel if it were their family who were buried so far away with no one to tend his grave and lay flowers in remembrance.  And hence Decoration Day began.  The ladies took it upon themselves to clean the graves of all the Civil War dead in the cemetery and to bring flowers.  The practice spread, and eventually expanded to include all those who have died in the service of our country.

Red Poppies

In May 1868, Memorial Day was declared an official day to honor all those who died in service to their country and as a means of healing the still-fresh wounds of the American Civil War.  In 1915, during the First World War, the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae inspired a woman from Georgia named Moina Michael to begin wearing red poppies in tribute to dead service men and women from the United States.  The practice has since spread all over the world, becoming a symbol of respect and recognition to all those who serve their countries, as well as a means of raising funds not only for members of the military, but for their widows and children as well.

No one knows when Decoration Day became Memorial Day, it was a gradual process, just as no one knows for certain exactly how or where it began.  The important thing, as US President Lyndon Johnson pointed out in 1966, is the spirit of remembrance and reconciliation the holiday promotes.

Traditionally, Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30 but from 1971, it changed to the last Monday in May.

The American Civil War nearly tore the United States apart before it was even a real nation.  But it taught an invaluable lesson about the importance of those who stand up to fight for what they believe is right.  In the wake of the tragedy of the Civil War, a holiday was born that has spread across the world, unifying us all with an awareness of the importance of those who wear the uniforms of the military.

Kat Smutz

Kat is the author of American Civil War: History In An Hour, American Slavery: History In An Hour, and Lincoln: History In An Hour.

See also article on the Gettysburg Address.

The Cold War: History in an Hour

History for busy people. The Cold War: History in an Hour gives a brilliant overview of the unusual and non-violent war between East and West that lasted nearly fifty years.

From the end of World War Two to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the world lived within the shadow of the Cold War. Russia and America eyed each other with suspicion and hostility. World War Two was too recent to be forgotten and a nuclear Third World War remained a distinct possibility. Post-war Europe was being rebuilt and Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt had to find a way to work together for peace.

The Cold War: History in an Hour will help you understand the dynamics of the politics of the time and how Europe and the rest of the world rebuilt themselves after World War Two.

Love your history? Find out about the world with History in an Hour…

Only 99p. Buy now from iTunesAmazonB&N and other online stores.

Also available as an audio download and an app for the iPhone / iPad
  • The End of the Second World War: Apocalypse  
  • The Beginning of the Cold War: The Freeze 
  • Three Speeches: “An iron curtain has descended.” 
  • The Marshall Plan“Communism cannot be stopped in Europe” 
  • Berlin: “You cannot abandon this city and this people” 
  • The Bomb “MAD.” 
  • The Korean War: Hot War 
  • American anti-communism‘Reds Under the Bed.’ 
  • Stalin’s Final Years: “I’m finished, I don’t even trust myself.” 
  • Khrushchev: “Different roads to socialism.” 
  • Space Wars: ‘Flopnik’ 
  • The Berlin Wall: “Berlin is the testicles of the West.” 
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis: “We’ll all meet together in Hell.” 
  • The Vietnam War: Unwinnable 
  • Rebellion: 1968 
  • Nixon: ‘Vietnamization’ 
  • China, America and the Soviet Union: ‘Ping-pong diplomacy.’ 
  • The Decline of Detente: ‘Lennonism, not Leninism.
  • Afghanistan: ‘The Soviet Vietnam.’
  • The Polish Pope and Solidarity: “The last nails in the coffin of communism.”
  • The Ex-Actor: “Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root.” 
  • Gorbachev“Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” 
  • 1989: “Time to yield power.”
  • The End of the USSR: “The threat of a world war is no more.”

Reader reviews:

“This book is a good overview of the Cold War… this is a good book and if you are looking to simply get an overview of the Cold War, this book is perfect.”

This audiobook is amazing. Everyone should listen to The Cold War: History in an Hour, genuinely good for revision. Been listening to it all day :)” (Audio review)

“This is a great way to get a foundational knowledge of the Cold War. Considering how long the conflict was and the numerous events that took place, this is an excellent, convenient, and informational read.” (From a professor)

“Very well done, more than worth the $2.95. Concise and entertaining. Loved it.” (Audio review)

“If anyone’s doing history A2 and has an iPhone/iPod touch, download the app ‘the cold war in an hour‘ it’s pretty damn goooooood!

“For those that know the subjects well, it’s probably too fundamental. For simpletons like me, it is brilliant. Split into two parts, the first covers the story in detail – in this case, from the appearance of Stalin to the introduction of Yeltsin, via the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the rise and fall of multiple presidents and prime ministers. The second half is the appendix, with a quick overview of the main characters involved in the subject, and then a great timeline for just the key facts in the order they happened. I really, really enjoyed reading it, learnt quite a lot, and am keen to pick up more of these books. The tagline “history for busy people” fits me perfectly, and with each book only about £1, there’s no excuse not to brush up on some more topics.”

“This is a great way to get a foundational knowledge of the Cold War. Considering how long the conflict was and the numerous events that took place, this is an excellent, convenient, and informational read.”

“A great refresher on what I half remembered from a-levels – nice to have pictures to look at on the new Kindle too. Would recommend.”

“Brilliant, well thought out introduction to the Cold War. If you find massive history books a little intimidating then this is a perfect solution.”

“Read this in about an hour and sure enough I now feel as if I have an idea of what the Cold War was about. Good writing too – you read one bit and want to read the next. Excellent stuff!”

“I really enjoyed this. I looked at some other apps out there on the cold war but plumped for this one. (One competitor wanted me to pay for a collection of wikipedia pages – I don’t think so). I liked the writing style – very readable and accessible. Layout was clear and the ebook flows in a logical, easy-to-follow manner. By the time my train journey was over I genuinely felt more knowledgeable. Good stuff, I look forward to other titles coming out.”

“Does what it says – provides a concise overview of the Cold War that can be read in an hour.”

“Stuck at Gatwick and wanted something to read while I waited. Now (at 31 years) I have a better understanding of the Cold War which I never did before. Brilliant idea, and so many other areas that could be condensed into an hour’s read.”

“Cold War in an hour is an amazing app #historygcse”

“I really enjoyed this informative snapshot of the Cold War. As a complete novice to this subject, it has definitely inspired me to find out more.”

American Slavery: History in an Hour

History for busy people. History in an Hour presents a concise and uncompromising look at the American slave trade, and the huge role African-American slaves played in building ‘The Land of the Free.’

From the first slaves arriving in Jamestown in 1619, the cotton fields in the Southern States and shipbuilding in New England, to the slaves who laid down their lives in war so that Americans could be free, American Slavery in an Hour covers the breadth of the subject without sacrificing important historical and cultural details.

An important and dark time in Black – and American – history, American Slavery in an Hour will explain the key facts and give you a clear overview of this much discussed period of history, as well as its legacy in modern America.

Love your history? Find out about the world with History in an Hour…

Only 99p. Buy now from iTunesAmazonB&N and other online stores.

Also available as an audio download and as an app for the iPhone / iPad.


  • The New World
  • The Middle Passage – the Atlantic Slave Trade
  • The Human Cargo
  • Welcome to the New World
  • Non-Existent Rights
  • The Abolitionists
  • The Concept of Freedom
  • The Educated Slave
  • The Beginning of the End
  • North vs. South
  • “Manifest Destiny”
  • Uncle Tom
  • John Brown
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Secession
  • The American Civil War
  • The End of Slavery in the US
Readers’ reviews:

“Lots of fantastic facts on slavery crammed onto a delightful book. Would recommend this for anyone interested in the history of slavery.”

“A clear and concise explanation of the origins of the American Civil War and the beginnings and end of slavery, as well as introducing key figures in both American and African-American history. Well worth reading.”

“Quick overview with all the key points. Details influencing people who allowed the slave trade to continue for so long and who fought for its abolishment. Another good read in this series of ‘history in an hour’.”

“The books in this series I really like as I am usually short of time, but feel they provide a quick but thorough briefing on a historical topic of interest. They are well written and get staight to the point. They give me the feeling (illusion?) that I keeping myself informed. This book on slavery is harrowing but absolutely fascinating too.”

1066: History in an Hour

History for busy people. William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066 changed the country forever. 1066: History In An Hour is a concise exploration of that eventful year.

During the year 1066, England had three different kings and fought three huge battles in defence of the realm, including the bloody Battle of Hastings. The result was the Norman Conquest which defined England during the Middle Ages.

1066 in an Hour will guide you through the politics and personalities of the Norman invasion. It will help you understand why William the Conqueror was victorious and introduce you to the new king and subsequent ancestor to the Plantagenets and Tudors.

Love your history? Find out about the world with History in an Hour…

Only 99p. Buy now from iTunesAmazonB&N and other online stores.

Also available as an audio download and an app for the iPhone / iPad.


  • The Background to 1066
  • January 1066: The Death of a King
  • The First Omen?
  • The Witan Decide
  • The Contenders Emerge
  • February / March 1066: Developments Abroad
  • April 1066: A Divine Omen?
  • Tostig Godwinson: A New Problem
  • May 1066: Tostig Returns to England
  • Tostig Flees England
  • June 1066: Harold’s Fleet is Ready
  • The Norwegians
  • August 1066: Ready For War
  • September 1066: Problems At Home
  • The Northern Problem
  • September 20th: The Battle of Fulford Gate
  • The Norwegians Take York
  • September 25th: The Battle of Stamford Bridge
  • September 28th: The Normans Arrive
  • October 1066: Harold Heads South
  • Preparing For Battle
  • October 14th: The Battle of Hastings
  • The Aftermath
  • The Process of Conquest
  • The Capital Rebels
  • December 25th: The Coronation of William I
  • A Conquered People

Reader reviews:

Another great book in the History in an hour series. An informative and insightful look into the year of 1066. Also a useful guide at the end of the book which gives more detail on each of the people involved in the events of this year. A good read!”

“This was my first “History in an Hour” purchase and I wasn’t disappointed. As someone who really loves history, I’ve discovered there just aren’t enough hours in the day to read everything I want in great detail. That’s why the quick overview format works so well for me. The book is exactly as advertiseda solidly researched book that highlights everything you need to know to get a good understanding of the events of 1066.”

“Bought this to read on the plane. Great read, covers all the key dates/people/events and almost acted as a guidebook when I visited the area. History in an hour is a good format and the author shows real skill in covering all the important details whilst remaining brief and easy to take in. Great for students, tourists and people with an hour to kill. I know as I fit all three categories!”

“Puts this chapter of English and European history into quick context and basic order. Allows imagination to fill the gaps. No real need to go deeper. Will now buy next ‘in an hour’ book.”

“The Norman Invasion and 1066 and all that neatly summarised into one hour’s worth of reading. An excellent introduction to the subject. Thank you.”

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Hitler: History in an Hour

What made a failed Austrian artist into the most reviled and destructive personality of the Twentieth Century? Where did the seeds of his rabid anti-Semitism lie? How did a marginalised loner become such a moving force in Germany? How could a nation have fallen for such a maverick? What made him so determined to bring about war?

Read about Hitler as a boy and his relationship with his overbearing father, and about Hitler as a daydreaming drop-out in Vienna and Munich. Read about his routines, obsessions, his ideas and idiosyncrasies, and about the women in his life. Learn about Hitler’s experiences as a soldier during the First World War, and about Hitler as an employee of a Soviet Republic.

Read about how Hitler entered politics and slowly manipulated politicians and civilians; and outmanoeuvred leaders and nations through bullying, diplomacy, charm and lies to achieve complete power leading ultimately to the bloodiest war in history.

Learn about his final days within the oppressive cauldron of his bunker as the Third Reich crumbled around him and, with his health deteriorating, his ultimate, dramatic demise.

This, in an hour, is the story of Adolf Hitler.

Only 99p. Buy now from iTunesAmazonB&N and other online stores.

Also available as an audio download and an app for the iPhone / iPad


  • Hitler the Boy
  • Hitler the Youth
  • Hitler the Drop-out
  • Hitler the Soldier
  • Hitler the Agitator
  • Hitler the Revolutionary
  • Hitler the Martyr
  • Hitler the Politician
  • Hitler the Leader
  • Hitler the Diplomat
  • Hitler the Warlord
  • Hitler the Man:
  •     Hitler’s Women
  •     Hitler’s Health
  • Hitler the Anti-Semite
  • Hitler the End

Reader reviews:
“Again a well written factual book that offers great insight in an easy to digest way. It offers information yet encourages further reading. It covers Hitler’s birth, death and everything in-between.”

“Does exactly what it says on the tin. Interesting, informative and concise and well worth the purchase price to improve your general knowledge.”

Good stuff. A great audio book for 60 minutes while taking a run.”

“A high level and interesting story of Hitler’s life. Excellent introduction for the novice reader who does not want a PHD in the subject.”

“Appearance: This app has a nice appearance with a textbook kind of icon because of the faded brown color that matches well with the app itself.  User Interface: This app has some pretty smooth controls with no crashes and easy to navigate.  Organization: Everything is put in chronological order and in neat folders. Very handy when you want to continue reading from where you left off.  Information: Probably the most informative app on Hitler in the appstore. Contains a HUGE amount of information ranging from how he became who he was to his personal life and health. I can almost guarantee that you will learn something new from this app. A variety of pictures are included to provide a better visual in learning.  Overall: Excellent informative app that is great for leisure reading or a source for writing a research paper. This app lets you truly understand the man that has impacted history and caused the Holocaust. If you are getting this app (which I highly recommend) be sure to also pick up Nazi Germany in an Hour because these two apps go hand in hand. Well worth getting and I can assure that you will enjoy this app!”

This well-crafted app is perfect for those searching for a brief, compelling introduction or companion guide to the man behind the world’s most brutal war in history.”

This is excellent for a thorough account of Hitler the man and his activities during WW2. Read in conjunction with others in the series it gives a comprehensive overview of the whole period.”

“This particular book about Hitler gives you a broad overview of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. Rupert Colley has written an excellent introduction to one of the most despised tyrants of the 20th century.”

Fantastic 1-hour read! I very much enjoy historic books, but I find myself reading way into the early morning… 

The author gave enough information to keep the reader interested. The one surprise I really liked was at the end when you are given a literal breakdown of people of the book & a historical outline. 

Highly recommend this book.”

“Approx 60 million people died in world war two. 6 million jewish civilians were tortured and murdered. This is a must read for an insight into who Hiltler was, how he formed his beliefs and how he controlled a population. Just right for an introduction to this subject. Although saying that I’ve been reading on this subject for 20 years now and I still enjoyed this ‘introduction’. Read this alongside ‘world war two history in an hour’ also.”

Excellent book, easy to read. For someone who tends to ignore history books due to the wordy and lengthy nature, this books holds the readers attention. After reading this book it has inspired me to read many more of the ‘history in an hour’ books.”

Good detail and facts, fascinating to see how certain events enabled him to have the power he gained.”

“Short and to the point covering all the details needed! Good to get a background of his prominent points in history.”

Pearl Harbor – the Day of Infamy, a summary

How Japan’s hollow victory spelt the end for Hitler

On 7 December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the US. In just two hours it destroyed a large part of the US fleet docked in Pearl Harbor and, in one stroke, forever destroyed US isolationism, united the country for war and made the conflict global.

The US may have been expecting war but the attack on Pearl Harbor took it totally by surprise. Yet 11 months before, a lone voice had predicted such a possibility. On the 27 January 1941, the US ambassador in Japan, Joseph Grew, cabled the White House warning that the Japanese might ‘attempt a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor using all their military facilities’.

As 1941 wore on, the likelihood of war became more apparent but the US ignored Grew’s prediction, believing that conflict, if it came, would either start in the US-controlled Philippines or the Dutch or British possessions in Southeast Asia.

Certainly, US president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, believed war was a distinct possibility – ‘They [the Japanese] hate us,’ he said privately, ‘sooner or later, they’re going to come after us’. He also feared what would happen to the US if Japan overran Britain’s possessions in the Southeast Asia –  ‘If Great Britain goes down,” Roosevelt said, “all of us in all the Americas would be living at the point of a gun.’

Continue reading

Famous Quotes – Second World War


“This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by eleven o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you that no such understanding has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.”
Neville Chamberlain – 3 September 1939

“I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
Winston Churchill – 13 May 1940, three days after becoming Prime Minister.

“We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.”
Winston Churchill – To Parliament – 4 June 1940

“Dunkirk has fallen… with it has ended the greatest battle of world history. Soldiers! My confidence in you knew no bounds. You have not disappointed me.”
Adolf Hitler – 5 June 1940

“Never in the field of human conflict, has so much, been owed by so many, to so few!”
Winston Churchill – September 1940

“Fuhrer, we are on the march! Victorious Italian troops crossed the Greco-Albanian frontier at dawn today!”
Benito Mussolini – (to Adolf Hitler) 28 October 1940

“I shall say it again and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt – 30 October 1940

The war against Russia will be such that it cannot be conducted in a knightly fashion. This struggle is one of ideologies and racial differences and will have to be conducted with unprecedented, unmerciful and unrelenting harshness.”
Adolf Hitler – March 1941

“As a soldier he is a bad politician and as a politician is an equally bad soldier.”
Adolf Hitler on Churchill, May 1941

“I’ve had my fill of Hitler. These conferences called by a ringing of a bell are not to my liking; the bell is rung when people call their servants. And besides, what kind of conferences are these? For five hours I am forced to listen to a monologue which is quite fruitless and boring.”
Benito Mussolini – to his son-in-law, 10 June 1941

“The Red Army and Navy and the whole Soviet people must fight for every inch of Soviet soil, fight to the last drop of blood for our towns and villages…onward, to victory!”
Josef Stalin – July 1941

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt – 8 December 1941

“We are now in this war. We are all in it, all the way.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt – 9 December 1941

“Before we’re through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell!”
Admiral Halsey – December 1941

“To die for the Emperor is to live forever.”
Japanese Army Slogan

“Everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaized, and the other half negrified.”
Adolf Hitler – January 1942

“This war is a new kind of war. It is warfare in terms of every continent, every island, every sea, every air lane in the world.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt – 23 February 1942

“People die, but books never die.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt – 23 April 1942, in reference to the burning of books in Nazi Germany.

“The fruits of victory are tumbling into our mouths too quickly.”
Emperor Hirohito of Japan, 29 April 1942

“Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt – 6 May 1942

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Winston Churchill – 10 November 1942

“Soldiers of the Reich! This day you are to take part in an offensive of such importance that the whole future of the war may depend on its outcome.”
Adolf Hitler – 5 July 1943

“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely”
General Dwight D. Eisenhower – 6 June 1944

“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower – June 6, 1944, on the Normandy Landings

“Defend Paris to the last, destroy all bridges over the Seine and devastate the city.”
Adolf Hitler – August 1944

“Attacks on cities are strategically justified in so far as they tend to shorten the war and so preserve the lives of allied soldiers.”
Arthur “Bomber” Harris – 29 March 1945

“If the war is lost, the nation will also perish. This fate is inevitable. There is no necessity to take into consideration the basis which the people will need to continue a most primitive existence. On the contrary, it will be better to destroy things ourselves because this nation will have proved to be the weaker one and the future will belong solely to the stronger eastern nation [Russia]. Besides, those who remain after the battle are only the inferior ones, for the good ones have been killed.”
Adolf Hitler – March 1945

“Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now.”
Harry S. Truman – 13 April 1945 on taking over as US President following the death of Roosevelt.

Read World War Two In An Hour by Rupert Colley

Famous Quotes – Cold War

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“We have to get tough with the Russians. They don’t know how to behave. They are like bulls in a china shop. They are only 25 years old. We are over 100 and the British are centuries older.  We have got to teach them how to behave.”
Harry Truman, April 1945″From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”
Winston Churchill, March 5, 1946

“The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want.”
Harry S. Truman, March 3, 1947 (ahead of the Marshall Plan).

“People of this world, look upon this city and see that you should not and cannot abandon this city and this people.”
Ernst Reuter, Mayor of West Berlin during the Berlin blockade, September 9, 1948

“The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because the enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer – the finest homes, the finest college educations, and the finest jobs in Government we can give.”
Joseph McCarthy, February 9, 1950.

“In the simplest of terms, what we are doing in Korea is this: We are trying to prevent a third world war.”
Harry S. Truman, April 16, 1951

“He suddenly opened his eyes and looked at everyone in the room. It was a terrible gaze, mad or maybe furious and full of fear of death… Then something incomprehensible and frightening happened. … He suddenly lifted his left hand as though he were pointing to something above and bringing down a curse on us all. … The next moment, after a final effort, the spirit wrenched itself free of the flesh.”
Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, recounting her father’s death on March 3, 1953.

“Senator; you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
Joseph Welch, US Army Attorney, to Joseph McCarthy, June 9, 1954.

“If you don’t like us, don’t accept our invitations and don’t invite us to come to see you. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you.”
Nikita Khrushchev, November 18, 1956

“America has been in existence for 150 years and this is the level she has reached. We have existed not quite 42 years and in another seven years we will be on the same level as America. When we catch you up, in passing you by, we will wave to you.”
Nikita Khrushchev, July 24, 1959

“The Earth is blue… how wonderful. It is amazing”
Yuri Gagarin, April 12, 1961 (during his space flight)

“Nobody intends to put up a wall!”
Walter Ulbricht, Leader of the GDR, June 15, 1961 – 2 months before the Berlin Wall was erected.

“A wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.”
John F. Kennedy, August 1961 (on the construction of the Berlin Wall)

“Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.”
John F. Kennedy, September 25, 1961

“I am a Marxist-Leninist and I will be one until the last day of my life.”
Fidel Castro, December 2, 1961

“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas have endurance without death.”
John F. Kennedy, December 14, 1962.

“Berlin is the testicles of the West, every time I want the West to scream, I squeeze on Berlin.”
Nikita Khrushchev, 1962.

“Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades. All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words Ich bin ein Berliner.”
John F. Kennedy, June 26, 1963.

“There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.”
John F. Kennedy, June 26, 1963.

“[Communism] has never come to power in a country that was not disrupted by war or internal corruption or both.”
John F. Kennedy, July 1963

“The survivors (of a nuclear war) would envy the dead.”
Nikita Khrushchev, July 20, 1963

“In free society art is not a weapon…Artists are not engineers of the soul.”
John F. Kennedy, October 26, 1963

“If you (the USA) start throwing hedgehogs under me, I shall throw a couple of porcupines under you.”
Nikita Khrushchev, November 7, 1963.

“We are not going to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.”
Lyndon B. Johnson, October 21, 1964 on US involvement in the Vietnam War.

“Capitalism is using its money; we socialists throw it away.”
Fidel Castro, November 8, 1964

“You have opened a new chapter in the relations of the American and Chinese people… I am confident that this beginning of our friendship will certainly meet with majority support of our two peoples.”
Chou En-lai, Chinese premier, April 14, 1971 on the US ping-pong team’s visit to China.

“There can be no whitewash at the White House.”
Richard Nixon, April 30, 1973

“No words can describe the depths of my regret and pain at the anguish my mistakes over Watergate have caused the nation and the presidency – a nation I so deeply love and an institution I so greatly respect.”
Richard Nixon, September 8, 1974.

“When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
Richard Nixon, May 19, 1977

“Under Lenin the Soviet Union was like a religious revival, under Stalin like a prison, under Khrushchev like a circus, and under Brezhnev like the U.S. Post Office.”
Jimmy Carter, November 7, 1977

“This is the moment of your defeat; you have just put in the last nails in the coffin of communism.”
Lech Walesa, December 13, 1981

“Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root.”
Ronald Reagan, June 8, 1982

“I like Mr Gorbachev, we can do business together.”
Margaret Thatcher commenting on the new Soviet leader, December 17, 1984.

“Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Ronald Reagan, June 12, 1987

“The threat of a world war is no more.”
Mikhail Gorbachevfarewell speech signifying the end of the USSR and the Cold War, December 1991.

“By the grace of God, America won the cold war.”
George Bush, Snr., January 28, 1992

Read about the Cold War in The Cold War: History In An Hour by Rupert Colley, published by Harper Press and available in digital formats and audio.

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Hospital ship Armenia torpedoed by the Nazis

On the 7 November 1941, the Soviet hospital ship, the Armenia, was torpedoed and sunk by the Nazis. It was one of the worse maritime disasters in history. All but eight of the 7,000 passengers perished on a ship designed for not more than a thousand. A comparatively modest 1,514 died on the Titanic (1912) and 1,198 on the Lusitania (1915) yet the sinking of the Armenia on 7 November 1941 is all but lost to history.

Armenia shipSunk in the Black Sea, the exact location of the wreck is still a mystery and for years, the question remained – was a hospital ship, identified by a Red Cross, a legitimate target?

A stricken city

Designed for 980 passengers and crew, over seven times that number had surged onto the ship in the Crimean port of Yalta that fateful night of 7 November 1941. The reason was blind panic. The Nazi war machine, which had invaded the Soviet Union less than five months before, had overrun the Crimean peninsula and was bearing down on Yalta. People expected the city to fall within a matter of hours. The only possible means of escape for its stricken population was by sea – the roads outside the city having been sealed off by the Germans.

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The Gunpowder Plot – a Summary

Like all good conspiracy stories, the tale of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 is one that combines elements of mystery, intrigue, suspense and of course, deception.  It is the story of a small band of disaffected Catholics who, unhappy with the constraints placed on their religion by Protestant monarchs, undertake to challenge the religious status quo by committing the ultimate act of terrorism – the destruction of both King and Parliament.

The Break From Rome

The malcontent felt by this group of would-be terrorists did not spring up overnight.  In fact, the seeds had been sown some seventy years earlier during the reign of Henry VIII.  During the 1530s Henry, in his desperation to divorce Catherine of Aragon in favour of Anne Boleyn, incurred the wrath of Rome by declaring that he, and not the Pope, was the Supreme Head of the Church in England.  This act of defiance on Henry’s part culminated in England’s break from Rome and gave the new Protestant religion, which had been sweeping the Continent, a foothold in England.

Thanks to the legitimacy afforded to it by Henry VIII and subsequent Tudor monarchs (apart from a brief interlude during the reign of the staunchly Catholic Mary I), Protestantism became England’s official religion. Catholics were forced to abandon their allegiance to the Pope and instead accept the reigning monarch as leader of the Church.  Anyone who refused to do this was viewed as a potential traitor to the Crown and was subjected to heavy fines, imprisonment or even death.  In the face of such persecution, many Catholics were forced to practice their faith in secret.  Tensions simmered and an insidious atmosphere of mistrust, suspicion and fear prevailed.  It was against this sinister backdrop that the Gunpowder Plot was hatched.

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