June 1 – June 7 2020 /Week in History/

June 1 – June 7 2020 /Week in History/

June 1

1725 – The Order of St. Alexander Nevsky was established in Tsarist Russia

The Prince Alexander Nevsky was recognized as a great defender of the Russian land and Orthodoxy from the Tatars and northern Catholics, and gained fame as a great commander and diplomat. For the feat of patience and endurance in 1549, Alexander Nevsky was canonized. In his honor, the Alexander Nevsky Lavra was founded in St. Petersburg in 1710, where Peter the Great ordered to transport the remains of the prince in 1724.

On June 1, 1725, to fulfill the intention of Peter the Great, Empress Catherine I instituted the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky – one of the highest state awards in Russia that existed until 1917. He became the third Russian order after the order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called and the female order of St. Catherine the Great Martyr.

The order had one degree and consisted of three signs: a golden cross, a red moire ribbon and a star. A cross was worn on a ribbon over the left shoulder, an eight-pointed star on the left side of the chest. The chapel temple of the order was the Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. The motto of the order is “For Works and Fatherland”.

The Order of St. Alexander Nevsky was an award of very high dignity. In peacetime, they were rarely awarded even to the highest dignitaries and generals. In total, over three thousand people were awarded the order. Among those awarded the order: A. Suvorov, M. Platonov, M. Kutuzov, M. Miloradovich, N. Raevsky, P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, F. Ushakov.

As a state award, the order was abolished in 1917. During the Great Patriotic War in 1942, the Soviet Order of Alexander Nevsky was established, which was awarded to officers of the Red Army.

The Imperial Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky was an order of chivalry of the Russian Empire first awarded on 1 June 1725 by Empress Catherine I of Russia.

The Imperial Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky was an order of chivalry of the Russian Empire first awarded on 1 June 1725 by Empress Catherine I of Russia.

June 2

1905 – US President Roosevelt agrees to mediate peace negotiations in the Russo-Japanese War

By the spring of 1905, the Russian Empire suffered heavy defeats in the war with Japan. A revolution began in the country, and the tsarist government needed a peace. Japan, exhausted by bloody battles on land and at sea and gigantic military spending, also longed for reconciliation.

US President Theodore Roosevelt acted as a mediator in resolving the Russo-Japanese conflict, agreeing to take over the functions of an “honest broker” in future peace talks on June 2, 1905, and proposing the city of Portsmouth (New Hampshire) as a venue for them. On August 22, 1905, a peace conference opened there.

The American position on it was not impartial and disinterested. Taking in word “the desire of universal peace to heart”, the US wanted to limit Russia’s influence in Asia and agreed in advance with Japan to differentiate spheres of influence. The Americans got freedom of action in the Philippines, and the Japanese in Korea.

In Portsmouth, Japan demanded for itself the Kuril Islands, Sakhalin and indemnity. Russian Prime Minister Sergei Witte strongly objected, and the negotiations dragged on. In the end, the Russian Emperor Nicholas II agreed to cede southern Sakhalin to the Japanese.

As a result, on September 5, 1905, Russia and Japan signed the Portsmouth Peace Treaty, which concluded the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).

Theodore Roosevelt is an American politician, 25th Vice President of the United States, 26th President of the United States in 1901-1909, representative of the Republican Party, Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 1906.

Theodore Roosevelt is an American politician, 25th Vice President of the United States, 26th President of the United States in 1901-1909, representative of the Republican Party, Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 1906.

June 3

1785 – Parachute Birthday – Francois Blanchard demonstrated the first parachute invented by him

On June 3, 1785, the French balloonist Francois Blanchard (1753–1809) demonstrated in London his parachute designed for jumping from a balloon. Blanchard himself did not dare to try his invention and threw a dog by parachute from a height of 300 m.

The animal landed safely. A year later, in Hamburg, Blanchard conducted the following experiment. This time a ram descended from heaven to earth.

The first daredevil who parachuted from a balloon was the French aeronaut Andre-Jacques Garnerin. It happened on October 22, 1797. His jump from a height of 400 meters above the Paris park Monceau was the first in Europe.

All Russian professionals and aviation enthusiasts know the name of Gleb Kotelnikov, the inventor of the airborne backpack parachute. Designed by him in 1911, the first parachute in the world to save pilots fully met the requirements for aircraft rescue equipment of the time.

Today, the scope of parachute systems is very wide. Personal or landing parachutes are used for landing from the air, saving people and as sports equipment in parachuting. Cargo, brake, stabilizing parachutes, spacecraft parachutes and other varieties are also used.

Blanchard did not dare to try his invention and threw the dog by parachute from a height of 300 m.

Blanchard did not dare to try his invention and threw the dog by parachute from a height of 300 m.

June 4

1897 – In St. Petersburg, the construction of the cruiser Aurora began

The cruiser received its name in honor of the frigate “Aurora”, which defended Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky during the Crimean War (1853-1856). The construction of the ship began (May 23) on June 4, 1897 in St. Petersburg at the New Admiralty shipyard. The cruiser Aurora was launched in May 1900, and in July 1903 it entered service with the warships of the Russian fleet.

During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, the cruiser received a baptism of fire in the Battle of Tsushima. Returning to the Baltic Sea, it sailed for a long time as a training ship, on which the naval corps midshipmen were practicing. During the First World War, it took an active part in hostilities in the Baltic Sea.

In 1917, the Aurora crew actively participated in the February and October revolutionary events, as well as the ensuing civil war and the repulsion of foreign intervention.
In the years 1922-1923, the cruiser became a training ship, on which cadets of naval schools underwent naval training until 1940.

During the Great Patriotic War, during the Leningrad blockade, Aurora stood near a wall in the port of Oranienbaum (now the city of Lomonosov) and was subjected to fascist shelling and bombing.

In 1948, the cruiser was moored at the Petrograd embankment of Leningrad and until 1956 was used as a training base for the Leningrad Nakhimov school. Subsequently, it was turned into a ship-museum. To date, the cruiser is a branch of the Central Naval Museum.

Cruiser

Cruiser “Aurora”.

June 5

1967 – The Six Day War Begins Between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan

On June 5, 1967, at about 9 a.m., Israeli aviation bombed and destroyed the Egyptian Air Force with a lightning strike, establishing complete air supremacy. The armed attack of Israel on Egypt, Jordan and Syria, called the Six Day War, began.

As a result, Israeli troops captured the entire Sinai Peninsula (with access to the east coast of the Suez Canal) and the Gaza region of Egypt, the western bank of the Jordan River and the eastern sector of Jerusalem near Jordan and the Golan Heights near Syria. Thus, Israel increased its territory by four times and did not intend to leave the annexed lands of the Arab states. 350 thousand Arabs were forced to leave their homeland.

On November 22, 1967, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution “On a political settlement of the Middle East conflict and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied Arab territories.”

However, the Israeli government ignored it. Israeli planes continued to raid the UAR, while the Egyptian army continued to strike at Israeli fortifications east of the Suez Canal. By 1970, hostility reached its peak. Even Soviet pilots participated in combat flights from Egypt, and the matter actually went to the clash of two superpowers. Only thanks to the ceasefire between Egypt and Israel on the Suez Front, signed on August 7, 1970, this conflict was avoided.

Subsequent events exacerbated Arab-Israeli relations. On March 16, 1972, the Israeli Knesset parliament passed a resolution calling the indisputable “historical right of the Jewish people to biblical Israeli land.”

Arab countries “did not remain in debt.” In October 1973, a new war broke out in the Middle East, which showed the futility of a further solution to the Arab-Israeli crisis by armed means.

Israeli soldiers near the Western Wall after the capture of Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers near the Western Wall after the capture of Jerusalem.

June 6

1944 – The Norman operation began, which opened a “second” front during the Second World War

The Allied strategic landing operation in Normandy (France), which went down in history as the Norman operation, or Operation Overlord, opened the Western, or so-called “second,” front in Europe during the Second World War. In terms of scale and number of human (more than 3 million people) and technical forces participating in it, it is considered the largest landing operation of World War II.

The decision to create a second front in Western Europe against fascist Germany was made by representatives of the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition – the USSR, the USA and Great Britain – in the spring of 1942 at the talks in London and Washington, and at the Tehran Conference in 1943, the Western allies approved the deadlines – they pledged to open a second front in May 1944. The operation was extremely classified, and it was preceded by major work to misinform the enemy about the time and place of the operation. It is this fact, as well as the suddenness of the landing of a large group of troops on the unequipped coast and the close interaction of the ground forces, air forces and naval forces that made it possible to transfer a large number of troops and materiel in a short time through the pouring zone. The main allied forces that took part in the operation were the armies of the USA, Great Britain, Canada and the French resistance movement.

The defense of the coast of Northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands was provided by the troops of the German Army Group B under the command of Field Marshal Evin Rommel, consisting of more than 500 thousand people, two thousand tanks, about 7 thousand guns and mortars with the support of aviation in 160 aircraft. The Allied forces under the command of General Dwight Eisenhower exceeded the opposing group of German troops in personnel and tanks by three times, artillery and warships – 2 times, aircraft – more than 60 times. The Norman operation began in the early morning of June 6, 1944, its goal was to conquer the bridgehead on the continent, to break through and advance through France. Even at night, landing ships were concentrated in the English Channel, and the beaches of Normandy were determined as the landing points. And the allied aviation struck at strategically important military targets of the enemy and at its rear.

The landing was carried out for several days, both day and night. German troops, which suffered significant losses from aircraft and naval artillery fire, did not show much resistance. By the end of the first day, the allied forces captured five bridgeheads with a depth of 2 to 9 km.

The battle of Normandy lasted about three months (ended August 31), and in parallel with it, and in addition, from August 15, American and French troops successfully conducted the South French operation, which further weakened the Germans. And the main reason that did not allow to strengthen the Wehrmacht troops in the west was the offensive of Soviet troops in Belarus.

The Norman operation ended with the liberation of Paris and the fall of the Thalesian cauldron. And the allied forces advancing from the north and south of France, after these two operations joined together and continued the advance to the German border, freeing almost the entire territory of France. All this led to the collapse of the German Western Front, and German troops were able to restore a new line of defense on the western border of Germany only a month later, with the help of the Siegfried Line.

Allied forces after landing in Normandy

Allied forces after landing in Normandy. 

June 7

1632- In the Indian Empire of the Mughals, the mausoleum of the Taj Mahal was laid

The Taj Mahal Mausoleum was laid in Agra, the then capital of the Indian Mughal Empire, (according to one version) on June 7, 1632 in honor of Mumtaz Mahal, the beloved wife of Emperor Shah Jahan (by the way, he himself was later buried there). Construction lasted more than 20 years.

Researchers believe that the author of the project of this masterpiece of world architecture was the emperor Shah Jahan himself, who was fond of architecture and construction from his youth . At the same time, the name of the chief architect, the Muslim Ustad-Isa, also reached us. Over 20,000 people took part in the work. In addition to Indian masters, the best architects invited from Persia, Turkey, Samarkand and even Venice participated in it.

Taj Mahal is  built completely of white marble. Its architectural design is based on the Arab-Muslim concept of absolute symmetry, where each element harmoniously fits into the main structure of the building.
The building stands on a high square platform. The main dome rises to 64 meters high and is surrounded by four small domes. The entire composition is completed by four minarets. Inside and outside, the mausoleum is decorated with magnificent floral ornaments, and vaulted passages are decorated with Arabic script, imprinting in stone the texts of some chapters (suras) from the Koran.

The architectural ensemble of the mausoleum also includes a mosque, a guest house and a park. The Taj Mahal itself stands on the western side of the complex, on the banks of the Jamuna River. The park is divided into 4 equal parts by channels intersecting in the center, and each of them, in turn, is divided into 4 parts by narrower channels.

The Taj Mahal Mausoleum is rightfully considered a masterpiece of world architecture.

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the southern bank of the river Yamuna in the Indian city of Agra.

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